WIP

A Trick for Knitting with Beads

I’ve really been on a beaded project kick lately – even adding beads to projects whose patterns didn’t already call for them. It can be frustrating and tedious. I don’t like the stringing method for adding beads, but I also haven’t been very successful with the crochet hook method. The holes in those little size 6 beads are too small/inconsistent, and I end up with lots of unusable beads.

So here’s my little trick for being able to use beads with very small holes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a slow process – but for me, it works better than the other methods.

I start with some very, very thin wire; it’s as thin as thread, but holds its shape. I’m not sure what gauge/size it is (it’s from my craft project stash and was purchased a long time ago), but I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to find something similar in the beading supply aisle at the craft store. I fold a piece of this wire in half, and then stick it through the loop where I’m going to place my next bead.

Knitting with Beads

Next, I thread both of the loose ends of the wire through the bead.

Knitting with Beads

I pull the bead down the wire and slip it over the yarn.

IMG_2211

I remove the wire, and I’m left with a bead on the yarn.

Knitting with Beads

Finally, I pull the yarn loop taut and continue knitting. As you can see, it’s still a bit of a fussy process – but it works for me. 🙂

Knitting with Beads

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Pausing to Note Progress

Too often, I focus my attention on the finished product – not on what I learned while in the process of creating something. That applies to a lot of areas of life, but in the interest of staying on topic, I’ll take a moment to pause and take note of what I’ve learned so far while working on my current project.

Shawl Progress

Using the right tool for the job.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve already seen that I’m in the process of making the Monica shawl. It’s a gorgeous (free) pattern that’s knit with lace-weight yarn. I went through three different needle sizes when I was starting out, and got way too far into the project before I finally conceded that it wasn’t working.

None of the needles I tried at first (Boye Needlemaster and Knit Picks Caspian) were bad in and of themselves – they just weren’t right for this pattern. Luckily, my new set of interchangeable Addi Click needles (LOVE!!!) arrived while I was in the midst of frogging this for the umpteenth time. I chose a larger needle size, and never looked back. Note that the needles pictured are from my first attempts and are not the ones that I ended up using.

Shawl in Progress

New knitting skills.

I also picked up a few new technical knitting skills with this pattern – a win in my book, even if it was hard-earned because of all the failed attempts.

  • Comfortably (somewhat) reading lace charts
  • Knitted-on borders
  • Estonian knitting nupps – I used the crochet hook method in the video below, and it was so much easier!

Happy knitting!

 

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Try, Try Again

As much as I’d like to share a post about a successful project that’s DONE (on the heels of my failed attempt to salvage an old project), here’s another cautionary tale. This time, it’s about the importance of counting your stitches when working crochet in the round… even when your pattern doesn’t provide a stitch/chain space count for a particular round. Especially when the pattern doesn’t provide a count. Do the math. Count the stitches.

If you zone out during a simultaneous Netflix/crochet session (ahem), you’ll make a rookie-level mistake that costs you hours and hours of effort. See that out-of-focus loop in the center of this (terribly blurry, so sorry) snapshot? Yep, that’s one skipped stitch that completely wrecked the tension and counts on every subsequent round.

Skipped Crochet Stitch

Which means all of the off-white stitches in the photo below have now been frogged – a process that took twenty minutes in itself. It’s times like these that it’s important to remember that the process, not the finished product, is what I really enjoy. 🙂 So help me feel better about this – what frustrating crochet/knitting mistakes have you made?

Table Topper

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123 Little Stars

My current project is easily the biggest long-term project I’ve ever done. I feel as though I write that about every project, but that probably just means that I continue to build my skills and my patience. It’s a tablecloth that’s made up of many, many star motifs. One hundred and twenty three of them, in fact – or there will be, once it’s done. I finally worked up the courage to count.

Midnight Star Motif

I’m getting close(ish) to being done, and it’s made me think about how the project has mirrored other aspects of life lately. Lots of frantic activity, but the progress seems so slow. Everyone else seems to be getting through projects and moving on to others, but the comparison is useless – we’re all working toward very different goals.

But overall – I’m pretty happy with my project. 🙂 What are you working on?

P.S. I found this knitting blog challenge at Pixels and Purls and thought it sounded like fun. At the very least, I’ll refer to it from time to time if I need a topic. I’m going out of order, but I’ll still consider this post to be part of it, in response to “What is currently on your needles (hook, in my case)?”

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A Study in Contrasts

My most recent projects are on opposite ends of my fiber-crafting ability spectrum. He’s a little bit bulky-weight and knit, she’s a little bit cotton thread and crocheted.

Crochet and Knitting Projects

I ran out of thread while in the middle of one project, and had to wait until my order for more arrived. (Booooo. Hisssss.) In the midst of the waiting, I started the other. This is rare for me – I prefer to work on my projects one at a time. I usually work until completion, even when the project gets mind-numbingly boring and I reach what I like to refer to as my “point of despair.” As in, “Will this project EVER be done? I cannot make one. More. Stitch.” But then I do, and eventually it gets finished.

Crocheting and Knitting Projects

The thread crochet project is the Wild Rose table runner by Elizabeth Hiddleson, which I waxed poetic about in a previous post. I’m making it with Curio thread in Comfrey. I bought the thread without a project in mind – you’ll definitely need two balls of it for this table runner.

Crocheting Project

My “killing time” project is a GAP-tastic cowl made with Brava yarn in bulky. (Noticing a theme? Both this and the thread are from my amazing box of yarn.)

Knitting Project

It seems that many knitters/crocheters work on several projects at the same time, so I’m curious – am I alone in only working on one project at a time (most of the time)? Which do you prefer – working on several projects or just one, and why?

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Wintery Weekend Projects

I spent most of this weekend trying to stay warm. If I needed any proof that winter is here, I definitely got it when I left work on Friday. This is the view out the windshield as I waited for my car to warm up enough to scrape. And yet another reason why it’s good to have a portable hobby such as knitting or crochet. 🙂 Do you usually carry a WIP in your purse/bag?

ice and yarn

As you can see, I’m working on a project with my Rowan Angora Haze. It’s so fluffy! I decided to make the Judy Beret, my first knit hat. Wish me luck! I’ve already frogged it at least three times. It seems slouchy, but my gauge is pretty accurate so it must just be the design. Does anybody know how easy it would be to shrink it a little if it comes out too loose for my liking?

I just wish my skin wasn’t sensitive to this fiber. It’s not unbearable, but I don’t know that I will be able to keep the project for myself, and I don’t see myself working with angora any time soon. But.. I won the yarn, and it was just too pretty to resist. What can I say, I suffer for my art. 🙂

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There’s No Crying in Casting On

Learning a new skill is incredibly humbling. I have crocheted for a long time, and feel fairly confident in my abilities when I start a new pattern. Knitting, though? A whole different story. I think it’s good to be put back in the position of a beginner – it makes you appreciate how far you have come!

I have no problem admitting that getting started (using a garter stitch tab) on my Haruni shawl was difficult for me. (If you recall, I had some Chroma in my stash that I wanted to use for this project.) Ironically, I used the crochet provisional cast-on method to get started – and that’s the part that gave me trouble!

haruni shawl in progress

In hindsight, I have no idea why creating a garter stitch tab was so darn tough. I just kept trying, frogging, and trying again. Finally, I watched the video below for help. It was incredibly useful. What did we ever do before YouTube? Oh, but it’s important to note (as the video’s creator does in the comments) that at the end, she should have placed the last three stitches on her left needle, then knitted them onto her right. Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense right now – all will be revealed when you watch. 🙂

I’m happy to report that I finally made a garter stitch tab that I am satisfied with, and the Haruni shawl is done! Update to come.

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“Mini” and Mega Doily Progress

You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure (and when I say nothing, I mean nothing), you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.

“Chick flicks” are hit or miss with me, but I do love Julie & Julia. (In no small part thanks to this guy and this lady, who also made this movie a favorite of mine.) The quote above really resonates with me, because it can apply to any hobby or passion. If you love something, then it can provide a lot of comfort to you when everything else is unpredictable.

Sunburst Pineapple Doily

With that being said, you don’t always get the results that you expect – even with your favorite hobby. The chocolate cream pie that Julie makes in the film may turn out beautifully 99 percent of the time, but not always. Likewise, my craft projects don’t always come out exactly how I envisioned. But that doesn’t make the process any less rewarding.

I’ve had to make some modifications as I have worked on my latest projects, for example. The “mini” and mega doilies that I am making for an upcoming contest were originally supposed to be identical. But circumstances (the store running out of thread, and a diameter that was quickly surpassing the contest guidelines) have forced me to reimagine how these will turn out.

Sunburst Pineapple Doily

I’m still excited about the idea, though, and every modification helps me get better at improvising and will (hopefully) ultimately help me to design my own creations one of these days (years?). As much as I am enjoying the projects, I am also looking forward to the next big thing. It’s way past time to get out the knitting needles again.

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The “Mini” Doily & Mega Doily Challenge

My next projects are the product of my overachieving nature. I am getting ready to enter some knit and crochet items in a local contest. Last year was my rookie year in this contest, and I had some beginner’s luck. Just enough to get me fired up to go again this year. 🙂

Sunburst Pineapple Crochet Hooks

Part of the entry for this contest involves paying for tags. The thing about the tags is that you buy them in increments of 10. You don’t have to use 10, but you have the tags. I had 18 items (I know) to enter, and just under a month until the contest. Two unused tags. Sitting there smugly. Mocking me.

I looked through the remaining categories and came up with an idea for an experiment that would be interesting and give me two more entries in categories that I hadn’t already entered. While perusing Ravelry, I have seen quite a few blankets that have been made from doily patterns. They’re elegant and unique, but I haven’t really had a reason to make one. Until now.

Aunt Lydia's & I Love This Yarn

Presenting my own personal “Mini” Doily & Mega Doily Challenge (mini in quotation marks because the finished doily is actually a decent size), to be made from the Sunburst Pineapple Doily pattern. Using #10 crochet thread (Aunt Lydia’s in River Blue) and Aran-weight yarn (I Love This Yarn in Antique Teal), I am making two versions of this pattern: one an afghan, one a centerpiece.

Sunburst Pineapple Doily Challenge

I picked this pattern because it is relatively flat, and isn’t too lacy to be an effective afghan. Plus, it’s also pretty in its original thread crochet form. I crocheted the first few rounds on each one separately, and am now proceeding round by round, switching between projects. Let me tell you now that this makes every round seem ridiculously long.

Here’s the project after ten rounds. Fingers crossed that they both turn out!

Sunburst Pineapple Doily Challenge

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Block Party: Between-Meal Centerpiece Edition

After seeing an awesome time-lapse video project that my husband made, I demanded requested a video of my own. He put together a quick time-lapse video while I blocked the Between-Meal Centerpiece.

Many thanks to him for making this video for me.

I have to be in the mood to block a piece, but when I am, it’s so much fun. (And it’s important, as the great Doris Chan explains much better than I can.) That’s when a project really starts to show its true potential instead of looking, as the Between-Meal Centerpiece project once did, like a tangled mess.

Between-Meal Centerpiece

I didn’t really block my projects properly until I had a good way to do it – namely, some good blocking board material. I use Step2 24″ Playmats. A lot of fiber crafters use similar playmats for blocking, and I can personally confirm that they are, indeed, awesome.

Between-Meal Centerpiece

I think 24″ is a nice, generous size for blocking a doily, and I love that they can be connected to block a long piece (such as a scarf) or a larger square piece (such as a baby afghan). These, plus regular old ball-head pins, are my go-to blocking tools. (Side note: ball-head pins, in my experience, are ridiculously hard to find in big-box stores. But why?)

Between-Meal Centerpiece

Usually I just block with water and spray starch. I know that many prefer liquid starch, but that seems like a hassle to me. Convince me otherwise? I’ll try it if it’s worth it. 🙂