gift


Week of Discussion: Day Four – Selfish Knitters

This week I am featuring the best of the Ravelry discussion boards. Each day I highlight a particular group, forum, or topic that I personally find either interesting, informative, inspiring, or just plain cool! Be sure to log in to your Ravelry account to be able to view boards/threads! (It is free to sign up and well worth it if you ask me!)

Day One: Gorgeous Gradients

Day Two: Yarn (one of the main Ravelry forums)

Day Three: Lovin’ the Freebies!


Day Four – Selfish Knitters & Crocheters

This hat is one of the very few occasions where I agreed to knit something for another person after they made a specific request. I still wasn’t super comfortable with the whole thing since I feel like the finished item was pretty imperfect, but I think he appreciated it…

This group was a bit of a godsend for me. As I have posted in the past, I have a real problem knitting things for other people, in part because I never think it is good enough, but also because I can’t bare to part with something I spent so many hours working on. I also always worry that whoever I knit something for won’t appreciate the item as much as I think they should based upon how much work I put into it. My list of knit-worthy people is pretty short, let me tell you, and for a while I was feeling fairly guilty over this, but then I found this group and it was like, “Man, it isn’t just me! These people really get how I feel!”.

I get that a lot of people would probably find this group offensive or rude or just wrong, but to me this isn’t a negative forum. It isn’t about never knitting for anyone else, but rather making the choice to only knit for people who you know will appreciate and use what you have made for them. It is also giving yourself permission to decline a request, as well as providing various scripts for doing so politely but clearly.

 

Good thread to check out:

  • What are we selfishly knitting for ourselves today? – Yes, another thread where people post pictures of their projects. I really like this, though, because people are generally really excited about the projects and really looking forward to the finished project.

Behold the joy my knitting has brought Chickpea the cat…

This is possibly the most hilarious and proudest moment of my knitting career.

2015-05-07 17.50.36

Holy hell, it was completely worth it to knit that hat just for this picture. That cat is so unimpressed, it is just fantastic. There is something so funny about a murderous cat. So yeah, mission accomplished for this project. I am super happy that my sister and her partner are happy with the hat. On top of that they have requested matching hats, and which I may have to do…

 

 

 


Chickpea the cat has been knit a hat 3

Chickpea - The soon-to-be hat recipient!

Chickpea – The soon-to-be hat recipient!

My sister put a link on my Facebook wall to a story about knitted hats for cats, and then said she was “putting in an order” for me to make one for her cat, Chickpea.

Well, wish granted!

Chickpea's Cat ToqueStill not sure the original request was sincere, but it is too late for that now! LOL I could have purchased the patterns that were done up by the person in the article, but frankly it is a hat for a cat… It doesn’t need to be perfect. God knows the cat isn’t going to care and will probably hate it no matter what I do! LOL Anyway, I felt pretty confident I could wing it, and I was right! I think I was actually fairly ingenious in how I constructed it. (Not going to get in to it now, I have plans to do up a pattern in the near future.) I wanted to make sure that there would be holes for Chickpea’s ears to go through, but I also didn’t want a ton of seaming or weird boxy edges. Success on both fronts. Also, hello scrap yarn! I used gradient King Cole Riot DK yarn (remnants from my Shawl En Mousse et Vagues) because it is frankly really pretty and a good weight for this type of thing. It is actually 100% wool and fairly nice yarn that I used on this hat. The yarn also made a pretty fantastic looking pompom thanks to the colour transition.  And finally, I knit it at a relatively loose gauge so that it would have a lot of stretch. The cat in question lives a couple provinces away so I tried to make it a size that would fit any cat’s head. It has been a while since I owned a cat so most of this was just guessing.

Anyway, I’m pretty damned proud of this stupid thing. Yes, it is a toque for a cat, and yes I know full well that it is likely to go unused apart from the couple of pictures taken of her wearing it when it first arrives. It only took me a couple hours, so even getting one or two hilarious pictures of Chickpea wearing the hat will make it worth it!

ETA: I have been sent a picture and holy crap is it awesome!


Wool-free knits for the home

I have some people in my life who aren’t wool friendly. Either by preference or due to allergy, some people just don’t want wool things. I feel bad for them for wool is a pretty fantastic fiber with a lot of pretty amazing qualities and since learning to knit my appreciation and love of wool has exploded. Plus, in terms of yarn to knit with, it has been my experience that wool is just nicer and more comfortable to knit with.

But I digress. Sometimes you want to knit something for someone and wool is just out of the question, and that is a situation I am currently faced with. My eldest sister Amy is allergic to wool, and yet I would like to knit her something. I had originally planned to knit her mittens but that ended badly (to put it mildly). And where the winter is coming to a close I think I’d like to knit her something she could use all year around. I don’t have it in me to knit her a blanket (the one I am making for myself is enough, thank you very much) so I am left with items for the home. After doing some pattern searching on Ravelry I have come up with a couple of ideas.

Dishcloths

Dishcloths like Grandmother’s Favourite (free pattern) are the obvious choice and clearly a very popular design. I’m not in love with the idea of making some dishcloths as it seems so cliche and a bit of a cop out.  Their utility and the high likelihood of their being used is appealing though. If I did make her some dishcloths they would have to be interesting or special or unique in some way. Something like Sinkmates (paid pattern) would allow me to make it at least a bit interesting with different colours of borders. The interest could come from the shape of the cloths, like in The Almost Lost Washcloth (free pattern). The vaguely floral shape is at least a little more fun. The other option would be to make them more interesting by using a different stitch pattern like in the pattern Three Dishcloths (free pattern). More interesting or not, they would still be dishcloths and a little boring.

Potholders

See, this is where I start to gain interest. There is SO MUCH POTENTIAL for awesomeness in potholders, mostly because they are very often done in double knitting so you can make them in fun patterns and much more personalized. Like these awesome Star Trek Pot Holders (free pattern). We’re all Trekkies so this would be pretty cool. Hell, I want to make these for myself! Or what about this Pizza Potholder (free pattern)! Amy loves pizza so maybe this is a brilliant idea. Of, of course, I could always go the more grown up route and just make them pretty and classy, like these Scrollwork DF-Square in 2 Options (paid pattern). Super pretty and probably would be at least interesting to knit. The problem with potholders, though, is that I always feel like they should be done in wool for the best heat resistance and safety etc.

Other Various Options

Amy likes to drink tea so maybe a tea cosy would be good, like the Cabled cafetière & tea cosy(free pattern). I think it looks quite nice actually, but a problem arises in terms of teapot size and whether it would fit. I feel like I would have to buy a teapot, knit a cosy to fit it, and then give her both the teapot and the cosy, and I’m pretty positive she already has at least one teapot.

I really like this Home Pillow (paid pattern) and I think it would be a nice little gift, especially since Amy has semi-recently purchased her first home. It would be easy to add a second word or motif on the back as well to make it more personalized. I always worry about giving people large items for their home like this because it is pretty presumptuous that your gift will fit their style.

Maybe something small and simple, like A Burst Of Light Tealight Cosy (free pattern). One, it wouldn’t take me very long to make it. I’d probably be able to make a couple as a little set. It would be fun to show off some different stitch patterns, a different pattern for each one. And I really think they are quite pretty, with the light shining through the knit, showing off the stitch detail. Then again, the only reason why I think these are so cute is very likely because I am a knitter and a non-knitter may find them kind of cheesy.

 

Many options to decide from. As yet I haven’t been able to decide what would be best.

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:

Grandmother’s Favorite by Traditional Design

Sinkmates by Lorilee Beltman

The Almost Lost Washcloth by Julie Tarsha

Three Dishcloths by Joan James

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Star Trek Potholders by Ilana MacDonald

Pizza Potholder by Lina Wolf

Scrollwork DF-Square in 2 Options by Wineta

Cabled cafetière & tea cosy by Ruth Churchman

The Home Pillow by Fifty Four Ten Studio

A Burst Of Light Tealight Cosy by Emma Percy

 

 


Basic Striped hat (aka.This should not have been this hard)

Simple striped wool cap in grey and greenWHY GOD WHY!  Why do I agree to make things for other people?! Every single time I agree/offer to make something for someone else it instantly turns what should have been a quick and easy project into a behemoth of frustration. I’ve posted about this phenomenon on the Ravelry boards, and I am not unique in this. There are multiple theories as to why knit items for other people are so prone to mistakes and frustration.

– Making something for someone else we get much more focused on it being perfect, so small issues that we’d normally let slide get blown in to huge frog-worthy mistakes.

– Any sort of time crunch results in our normal knitting pace to be accelerated. This results in more mistakes, simply because we’re rushing.

– The added stress that comes with knowing the item is for someone else can affect tension, and that can cause all sorts of problems.

Whatever the reason, I never have more trouble with a project than when I am knitting it for someone else.
Take a basic striped hat, for example. Top down, simple, no complicating design elements like cables or fancy colourwork… I could do that in my sleep and it should have taken max two evenings to complete, right? Well, that would be the reality if I was knitting it for me.

This time, however, I was asked to make a hat by my friend Ryan who was starting a new job and moving to a different city. He wouldn’t let me pay for his sushi lunch as a farewell gesture, but he did mention I think three times during that lunch how he would love a knitted hat. Well, fine. How hard could a basic hat be? Hell, I had four days before his last day of work to finish it and give it to him which would be plenty of time, even with a buffer for “knit for someone else” screw ups.

Yeah, the damned thing took me two weeks. Granted, most of that time was me actively avoiding knitting the hat because I was scared of making another mistake that would necessitate my frogging it and starting over, but still… two weeks! Here is what happened:

  • Got about half way through the hat doing a self-designed stranded pattern. After realizing how hideous the hat was looking I frogged it.
  • Restarted and got about 25% through it only to have my husband remark that the top of the hat was looking pretty nipple-like. He was right so I frogged it.

    Top-Down No Math Hat: The Manly Version

    This hat cast on/shaping method is really tidy and simple and the end result is a really nice looking hat… once I switched to an 8 segment hat. 6 segments resulted in a big knit nipple on top. 

  • Restarted and frogged 2 additional times for nipple-top issues
  • Switched to a 8 segment hat top to create a flatter hat top and restarted for a FIFTH time.
  • I got to the point where I was finished with the increases and liking how it was looking. This then led me to worry about noticing or making a mistake that would have forced me to frog and restart so I sort of ignored the project for a week.
  • Finally, on Sunday, I rage finished it while watching the Daytona 500 (during commercial breaks, and the multiple red and yellow flags)
  • I told Ryan that I am finally done the hat and have arranged for his wife to pick it up this afternoon. (I am also giving her a couple bottles of wine.)
  • Now I am going through the “It isn’t good enough, look at all the mistakes, it isn’t going to fit, why did I put yellow stripes, everyone hates yellow…” crippling self doubt.

I don’t know… I actually rather like the hat and am pretty happy with how it turned out, but I still worry. For example, it fits me great and I find it comfortable and warm without being excessive. I measured his head before I started and his head is only slightly smaller than mine, so I am praying that it fits him as well, but I’m still concerned. Plus, Ryan is so damned polite and gracious that he would never give me any sort of indication if he didn’t like it. Damn him!

 

Anyway, project notes…

  1. I used Paton’s Classic Worsted yarn in Jade and Grey Mix. Nice yarn to work with though I was surprised at how much dye came out when I blocked the hat. The yellow stripes were done in leftover fisherman’s wool that I had dyed myself.
  2. Size US6 needles were used for the body of the hat which resulted in a nice gauge. Switched to a US5 needle for the ribbed edge. Probably could have gone down to a US4 for the ribbing.
  3. I used the Top-Down No Math Hat: Manly Version method for starting the hat. Pretty brilliant and easy way of doing a hat, and I really like the subtle swirl the technique creates. I will be using this method again. HOWEVER! Doing it with six segments is what caused the nipple-y top problem and things didn’t normalize until I switched to an 8 segment hat, so when/if I make a hat using this method it will absolutely be an 8 segment hat.

    My jogless stripes are far from being jogless. I think it actually looks pretty horrible. :(

    My jogless stripes are far from being jogless. I think it actually looks pretty horrible. 🙁

  4. My cast off (Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast off) created problems. Rather than keeping the ribbed edge all snug and nice it sort of stretched the edge out. It looks fine when the hat is on, but just looking at the hat flat on a table it sort of curls up and out. It really drives me insane. I needed a stretchy cast off but apparently that one created too much bulk or something. Blarg.
  5. I really effed up my stripes. My jogless stripes are anything other than jogless. They are all misaligned and stupid looking. I showed my husband and he had no idea what the hell I was complaining about and didn’t see anything effed up, so maybe I’m overreacting, but I definitely see it and it bothers me.
  6. Speaking of the stripes, I tried really hard to keep them random looking,varying the repeats and widths and colour changes. I am pretty happy with how that ended up.