Monday, February 13, 2012

Works in Progress

I've been super busy trying to learn how to read knitting patterns and make sweaters. Knitting a sweater is one of my goals for this year so I am making good progress on my goals. Now that I have some limited experience with flat sweater making I have to learn how to do it in the round. Then I'll be able to make socks and tackle more interesting sweater patterns.

Knitted newborn baby sweater and cap made with new yarn. This is my first set. The sweater still needs to be sewn together.  The cap is not really a set with the sweater but for now it is the only one that I've made in complementary colours.  This was a learning experience in every way.  I learned how to read a pattern, how to add cast on stitches to a work in progress,  and how to shape the neckline.  

This knitted baby sweater is my second attempt at knitting a flat sweater.  This one will fit a 3 month old baby with added room for ease.  I have changed up the pattern in the first photo (above) with mixed results. I added a crochet insert in each sleeve (visible on the under sleeve to the right of the photo), added a crocheted edge all around the outside of the sweater and a button for extra interest.   It is made with unused yarn from the thrift store. I have one more skein of this yarn and I'm hoping it is enough to make matching booties.

 This is the latest item I am making and the first crochet item I've made in this pattern which is a ripple or wave pattern.  This item is being crocheted with odd balls of yarn in (mostly) complementary colours.

I thought this would be a lap blanket to drap over the the wing chair in the master bedroom.  In talking to mom, I realized she needs it more than I do.  She will cover her lap when she is driving around in her chair. The colours seem busy, but they will coordinate with a lot of her wardrobe.

I've had mixed success with these projects so far. I'm finding I don't have a lot of patience for starting and re-doing things when I make mistakes. I also don't have a great deal of patience for reading patterns and/or waiting for long periods to be able to ask someone for help.  I do belong to a group of knitters and crocheters but most of them are not experienced knitters and are learning like me. We also meet very infrequently, so it isn't much help as of yet.  So then I go on line and try to find the answers to my issues.

There are a lot of video tutorials on line but I find they generally leave some important aspect of the learning process, or the pattern, unaddressed. Not everyone out there is a good teacher though they may be excellent knitters or crocheters.  I need detailed instructions and I also need to have the patterns explained to me in a way that it helps me remember the patterns. I don't learn well by simply watching. I need to understand HOW a pattern works and the potential issues and solutions beforehand.

For example, one instructor said he had had a difficult time for years with uneven ends a the ripple afghan (That is a ripple afghan in my bottom photo. The bottom edges need to be uneven and "wavy". It is the sides of the afghan that can become uneven and they aren't supposed to be.) similar to the one in my bottom photo above). Then he went on to explain his version of how to make the ripples.  When I went to view and follow his written instructions, they were incorrect.  One small error but it makes a huge difference to a beginner.  He also  never did say how to make sure you don't get uneven side edges in your finished product to save everyone else the grief that he himself experienced.  In the end, I abandoned his video lesson and I resorted to a set of written instructions I had on hand.  The end result, is a pattern which is somewhat different than those that I've been viewing on line.  At least I did learn enough from the video tutorials to make more sense of the printed pattern I have.

Initially, I intended to make the crocheted afghan with the yarns in my yarn stash.  I quickly discovered that this won't really work. I don't have enough skeins in the right weights and colours to make a lap afghan. Even though my yarns are mixed washable fibres in 3.5 or 4 weight yarn, I still found that the cheaper yarn at the slightly heavier weight made a difference in the stitches and things became a little less even than I would like.  I will try to resolve any uneven edges with a border finish at the end of the project but I won't be able to do anything about the stitches in the body of the afghan.  I also realized that it isn't a good idea to mix inexpensive yarns with more expensive yarns. In the above example, the blues and whites at the bottom of the photo are less expensive yarns and it really comes across in the feel and size of the stitches. Nonetheless, it is a good practice piece. I think my second attempt will be better and I've already decided on the colours (burgundy/dark red, cream, orange, tan, maybe green) for my living room lap afghan. On second thought, I think I will skip all the colours and make it shades of green which will be more neutral.

Based on what I've learned, I will buy all my yarn in advance.  I will use a larger size hook (size 6 instead of 5) and I will work the stitches in double crochet stitch,  rather than single crochet. I think these steps will ensure a smoother finish, a looser stitch and a smoother feel to the finished product.

If any of you are crocheters and have tips for me based on what I've shared, please do drop me a line!


Diane said...

Well done Joyful you are doing a great job there. I hate knotting, but I am happy to crochet all day. Diane

Fred Alton said...

Fantastic work, Penny! Your description of the "would be" teacher and how he left out critical information makes me want to preach. (But then, I guess it doesn't take much to do that! Ha.) I think that is how many "wanna-be" Bible teachers approach the subject. Results can be disastrous. ☺

momto8 said...

just wonderful!! and you just started knitting flat bay sweaters?! My daughter knitted everyone Christmas far the favorite gifts they got!!
good luck...your stuff looks great!!

Vicki Boster said...

Output baby sweaters are just beautiful! You are doing a wonderful job- especially for a beginner! There are utube videos for almost every stitch and those have been helpful to me. I can't help you with crochet- it is like a foreign language to me-/ but your afghan is stunning!! Great job- beautiful yarns--/

Thank you for visiting me- I LOVE hearing from you!

kerichjoy said...

You guys all rock! I need the encouragement as I don't feel very proficient at what I'm doing.

Fred, you are so right about "wanna-be" preachers. I've seen and heard too many of them for my liking.

Blessings to you all.

Carol Kilgore said...

Women in my family and in my husband's family either knit or crochet or both. All have tried to teach me. I. Am. Hopeless. But I have other talents :)

Joyful said...

I understand you. I taught myself to crochet as a teen but I could never knit until I took a proper lesson about a year or more ago. My problem had always been knitting too tight. That problem seems to have mostly vanished so there is hope. Perhaps you should try with someone you don't know ;-)

Mildred said...

You are very creative! Love the yellow baby sweater! So cute!

Joyful said...

Merci, Mildred for your kind comments.

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