On Finishing

I have too many projects in progress at the moment. All with their own excuses of why I haven't finished. Oh, I'll get to them eventually. Have I mentioned I love to start projects?  

I wanted to start on Staci's new felted Christmas stockings pattern, but this stocking was starting to collect dust. I looked back at my Ravelry page and realized I started it 3 years ago! What was happening 3 years ago? Let's see... I had a 5-year-old and an 8 year-old. It probably got close to Christmas and things got busy. Then I had hand surgery of all things to hold a knitter back. Then it was summer. Then I forgot where I was. Then... who knows? So I finally pulled it out and figure out where I left off in the pattern. In the end it only took me a couple hours to finish it!

Motivated, I turned to the Scarf-in-a-scarf. Why was it taking me a year to knit a simple garter stitch scarf? I decided to switch needles and, viola, I was done in a few days. Cheers to Addi Turbos! I decided to make it a Christmas gift which makes me even more excited to have one off the list. 

So, I allowed myself to start on those felted stockings and look at finishing another project that I'd put aside this summer.

Lesson learned? Maybe. I will certainly stop to think about why something is hibernating and consider changing a needle or even just giving up. But, I'm looking at my yarn stash and thinking of casting on for a a new sweater...


Knit Like a 4th Grader

Introducing the next generation of knitters.

I'm teaching a knitting class at my son's elementary school this semester. It's my first time and it was somewhat thrown together at the end of last year. I have 7 students ranging from 2nd to 5th grade. I wanted to limit it to 3rd to 5th, but one very focused 2nd grader was allowed in.

Each week I panic a little before the class. I have a "curriculum" planned, but the first day taught me it might not work out as I planned. Each class I leave full of warm fuzzies. These little knitters are such sweet kids, it's been a joy to spend time with them. I guess knitters are that way at any age. 

We started very simply. I provided them with needles with 10 stitches already cast on and a row or two started. They use bright neon yarn in colors of their choice and and carry it in a fun little tote bag. 

Each week I give them one more step and some other little treat. Last week we made pom poms. This week I gave them a coloring page. 

After the third class I finally feel like we're on to something. They are all at different levels and have begun to work together. One student has me pull out her stitches and start over about 10 times in class because she wants it done right. Another decided to start showing her friend how to finger knit. A girl from Spain who is still a little rusty on her English has plowed ahead, helped her classmates cast on and is thinking about the sweaters she will knit for her dog. 

The best part is - they have no agenda! The adult project knitter in me worries that they are disappointed that after 3 lessons we still are on the very basics. They don't care. They love hanging out, giggling with each other, playing with yarn. They are sad when I say it's time to go. 

We have 7 more lessons to go. We'll make yarn out of t-shirts, learn to read patterns and hopefully finish something to show. Next week we might play Cat's Cradle because when I mentioned it they didn't know what I was talking about. (Kids these days!) It will be fun to see where we end up. 

I may even have enough confidence to do it again next semester and add some lessons for moms. 



Worlds Colliding

I was chatting over Facebook with "our friend Vivian" whom Staci and I have mentioned on the podcast and again in the latest episode. I wasn't sure if she was listening yet, so I was letting her know she was famous. 

After listening she said that she knows Dr. Markman who is co-host of the podcast, Two Guys on Your Head that I mention in the episode. We joked he could be a guest on the show and we could talk about the psychology of knitting. 

Then, this morning in the car, I was listening to the radio and the latest episode came on. They discuss The Hedonic Treadmill and happiness in relationship to meeting goals. 

I had to laugh when I heard Dr. Markman say, "Working to achieve something can be great, as long as you enjoy the process of working to achieve something... if we spend our lives focused on the projects of our lives rather than the process of our lives, then we don't really have any fun."

Sound familiar

Maybe we can have a psychologist come talk to us about your knitting questions! Are process knitters intrinsically happier than project knitters as they knit along The Hedonic Treadmill? Are project knitters ruining their enjoyment of the process and not as satisfied with the finished product? Hmmm, the researcher in me wants to do a study on this. 

Gotta catch 'em all. Details on the pattern I used on my  Ravelry  page.  Yarn is  Knit Picks Wool of the Andes . 

Gotta catch 'em all. Details on the pattern I used on my Ravelry page.  Yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes

This weekend, I'm not going to nag myself about the 5 projects I have in progress. I have no goals for when to finish them and I have a lot of obstacles in the way [feeding kids, laundry, sleep...]. I will enjoy the process (I really do).

Meanwhile... when the finished product does create a lot of enjoyment... 

I stayed up last night making a Pokéball for my youngest. I improvised the circle and will make a chart so I can improve on it next time, but he said he didn't care. He loves it so much that he couldn't wait to show all his friends on the way to class. (They loved it, too.)  Knitting little things for little people is so much fun. I have a feeling there will be more of these in my very near future. Like tonight.

Worsted Weight Yarns from knitpicks.com

Trust the Pattern

Do you ever have a project that you just can't look at for a while? Something goes wrong and you have to put it away to deal with later. 

That's Waterlily for me. My Ravelry notes say I started it last February, but called it "End of summer" so I think I did the bulk of the work in the summer. But, the lace caught me up and I had to do-over. It got shoved in a bag, life got busy and I kind of forgot about it. I really hate leaving projects unfinished. I may put it away for a while, but I always pick it up and either give up entirely or push to finish. 

I made it a goal to work on it when I had some quiet time this summer. Finally the day arrived. I've made it through a good inch of lace and all is going well. I still have a life line in, just in case. 

Waterlily in progress from Pompom Quarterly. Yarn from  String Theory .  

Waterlily in progress from Pompom Quarterly. Yarn from String Theory.  

I recently made it through another lace project, and I realized my issue. I use markers when going along with a lace chart, placing markers in between the repeats as one should. But, sometimes those repeats include something like a knit2together and then my marker is off. What do I do here? I tried to force it to work within the markers and inevitably the lace goes wonky. (Technical term.)  

Staci recommends this to knitters writing in often: TRUST THE PATTERN. Duh, I told myself, just move the markers. As I get to the end, magically, the stitch count works. 

It's not just lace patterns, sometimes if you can't visualize what the pattern will do, just go with it and maybe it will make sense. 

Now, what about that argyle Christmas stocking... 

P.S. Can I just tell you how much I love Pompom Quarterly? It's delightful. When it comes in the mail it is wrapped in tissue with a hand-written thank you note. The stories, patterns and images are lovely.  

Hand Dyed Yarns from knitpicks.com

Dipping into Design

Part of my reason for taking the basics course for TGKA is to get my head around designing. I get inspiration from so many sources, but have yet to put it down in a pattern. 

Color block tee in progress. 

Color block tee in progress. 

The biggest challenge is time. I have work (other than VeryPink work), kids, house, life (and let's be honest, Facebook and other worthless distractions). Some days I don't get to knit at all. Some days it's just 20 minutes before bed. How do I find time to work through a design in there? Plus, being the project knitter that I can be makes it a challenge to work through the process, not to the finish line. 

I am working on a simple knit-in-the-round top that I hope to get on paper, but I purposely chose chunky yarn so I can get it out there and see how it goes. I'll let you know!

I've been dabbling with this idea for a while. I have a tendency to try to study-up before jumping in. If you're interested in designing, but not sure where to start, there are some books to get started that I've enjoyed:

The Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Bud. This has several basic designs with charts allowing you to adjust for gauge and size. It's really intimidating when you first thumb through, but try not to freak out! You just pick a row and column to figure out your stitch counts. You're not really designing, but creating a custom project and getting a sense of design.

Knitwear Design Workshop by Interweave. The thing I love about this book is it starts with the absolute basics - take your body measurements. And, each project type has a step-by-step worksheet. 

Another design I'm noodling on is going to use this amazing recycled sari silk yarn. I'm really excited about this project, but want to keep the details on the down-low until I get it together. It's for a special non-profit so it may be months before it's revealed. I was inspired when cleaning out my craft closet and rediscovered the leftovers from a bag I made years ago (sorry for the bad photography here!). To use stash yarn, support a female-empowering yarn company and support a local non-profit - I call that a triple win! 

 Stay tuned. 

The Power of Knitting

About a year ago, I learned of Peyton's Heart Project through a series of connections through friends, my sorority and the local news. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about suicide and bullying. The project is named after 13-year-old Peyton James who committed suicide after tormented by years of bullying. It's a tragic story. Thirteen years old. 

The project has really grown over the past year or so. They now collect hearts in honor of specific people and events. It has spread across the globe. They gathered a big collection of hearts that they left throughout Orlando after the nightclub shooting recently.

Hearts ready to be scattered and found.    (Yarn:  KnitPicks Swish Worsted Brights )

Hearts ready to be scattered and found. 

(Yarn: KnitPicks Swish Worsted Brights)

I loved the idea of secretly leaving hearts for kids to find to promote a message of positivity. I left a few around the neighborhood and high school. I know one was found and posted to the Facebook page. I encouraged my mom and knitting group to make some as well. 

Just last week, I was exchanging messages with a friend from high school who lives in California. She found a heart while vacationing in Nevada, looked up the Facebook page and found a link to one of my posts. She said she never heard of the story, but after looking up the website she used the heart to talk to her kids about Peyton's story, bullying and suicide. I was amazed by the small world-ness of it and then how powerful a simple knit or crocheted heart can be. 

Does your yarn have a story?

It brings it back to "why knitting." It's more than making socks and sweaters. Taking the time to collect the supplies, find the pattern, and put a little of your soul into a project can make even a simple heart extra special. Yarn bombing and "craftivism" make a statement. Like any art form might go unappreciated by some, but if it reaches a few - it matters.

I have plans for my classes to try yarn bombing and dropping Peyton Hearts as part of our school's random acts of kindness message. Learning to make a knit heart teaches shaping, for sure, but I feel like this part of knitting and sharing this side of it is as important as making hats to give as gifts.  

There are countless other organizations collecting caps for premies and scarves for the homeless. Church groups or individuals make prayer shawls for those in need. I'll share more about these stories, but I'd love to hear more. What charities have you knit for and why? 

My Knitting Homework - TKGA Basics, Basics, Basics

This spring I decided to take the Basics course through The Knitting Guild Association. It's a 3-lesson course to cover basics like increases, decreases and gauge. 

Swatches from lesson 1 - but one is wrong! Do-over was required. Glad I double-checked. 

Swatches from lesson 1 - but one is wrong! Do-over was required. Glad I double-checked. 

Staci was surprised, suggesting I already knew how to do it all. And, while that's true that I know what to do if I'm reading a pattern, I never really thought about why I'd use that stitch or set up in a certain way. It's been a good learning experience so far and the feedback has been helpful.

I have been stalking the pages of the Masters program for about a year. I get ready to sign up and then a big work project or some other excuse shows up. I think, "I'll do it after I'll finish that sweater." Then I find myself lurking again. I have been hesitating to give myself "knitting homework" and make my relaxing time another to-do. 

But, as I begin to take on teaching others, I feel the need to be more of an expert. I also want to take some of the designs from my head and into reality. Sure, I could sit down with books, magazines and my friend who makes knitting videos, but I'm a classroom learner. I won't go to the gym to workout on my own, but I'm a regular (some might say obsessive) at the group classes. I need structure and external deadlines. I just do.

Not only have I learned about stitches, it has been an exercise in learning to be a process knitter instead of a project knitter. Staci and I talk about this a lot. Project knitters want that thing - the end result and try to get there quickly, sometimes skipping over mistakes just to get something done. Process knitters don't blink at ripping out. As long as they are sitting and knitting, it doesn't matter how long it takes. I've been a project knitter for a while, but I'm getting to be more of a process knitter. (This top really helped me get through some of that - from my old blog.) 

Lesson 1 came back with good feedback. She didn't tell me I was a terrible knitter (okay, maybe that's another hesitation in the back of my head). On to lesson 2...

Stay tuned for more updates on my progress and journey to be a Master! 


New Chroma Yarn Colors from Knit Picks

Why teach kids to knit?

Sometimes when knitting in public at a doctor's office or waiting for a kid, I'll catch the attention of a child. Some are shy about it and others downright stare at me. I can tell if they don't have a crafty person in their family. They are curious and fascinated. I wish I could sit them down and teach them a row or two.

The response I get from adults ranges:

Sentimental - "My mom/grandma used to do that. I never learned..."  

Sarcastic - "You know that you can buy socks, right?"

Or a look like I might as well be churning butter.

Crafty people get it. In today's world of instant gratification and throw away clothes and toys, it's nice to have something that takes more time, thought and skill to produce. When you sit at a computer all day producing emails and electronic output, it's satisfying to create something you can hold in your hands. 

Numerous studies have recently been shared about the health benefits of knitting. When you sit with your work, your mind and your heart quiets. Unless it's a particularly challenging pattern, you can let you mind wander to think deep thoughts or no thoughts. 

Even creating just a little pom pom brings pride and joy.  (Yarn:  KnitPicks Swish Brights )

Even creating just a little pom pom brings pride and joy.  (Yarn: KnitPicks Swish Brights)

For children, the ability to sit and knit has so many benefits. Knitting increases fine motor skills. It teaches patience, attention and "stick-to-it-iveness". To make something beautiful (or not) with your hands and produce something tangible that you can share with others creates pride like no other. It teaches a little history and a whole lot of math

I don't expect my students to stick with knitting through all their school years. Life gets busy with school, sports, jobs, romance, and college dreams. But, I hope they can turn to it in times of boredom or stress or when they just need to feel something in their hands. I hope they will connect with other knitters of all ages when they wear their finished knits. I hope that those who will put it away will rediscover it in adulthood when they find they need a creative outlet again.

I look forward to starting them on their knitting journey and see what their young hands create.