Archive for ‘tools’

April 23, 2017

Being Noticed

I knit in public all the time. I knit while I’m in waiting rooms. I knit on the bus. I knit while walking to the post office. It is always awesome when someone notices and comments, even if they think I’m crocheting (well, sometimes I am crocheting, but you know what I mean). And when it’s a fellow crafter, and they ask what it is you’re making, and want to talk a little shop, that can be even better. I was at the garage, getting an oil change, and a woman came in to drop something off for the cashier, but she spotted me in the waiting area and came over to see what I was making first.

Knitting with wire

I knit with wire. It doesn’t hurt me.

It’s really awesome when you can say, “I’m knitting with wire!” and your admirer’s eyes widen a bit in appreciation.

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February 16, 2014

I think I’m in love

(If you now have an Eddie Money song on endless repeat in your head, you’re welcome!) (And I was going to post this on Friday for Valentine’s Day, but life happened.)

Some time ago, the lovely NEPatty (Ravelry name) lent me a pair of ChiaGoo Twist Red Lace tips and a few cables to go with them (two of the Red Lace, and one of the Spin), to help me in my quest for the Best Interchangable Needles EVAR. I liked them so much . . . I still haven’t sent them back to her. In fact, it’s been so long that she suggested they’ve acclimated to the atmosphere in my house, and I should just keep them. I am going to send them back to her, though. Especially since I finally succumbed to temptation and bought myself a complete set, sizes 2 to 15. “Love” might be a strong word for how I feel about them, but then again, maybe not.

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August 11, 2012

Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink

I should really read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” someday. I use that line often enough.

I keep thinking of things I want to write about, but then the baby runs out of the room, or the washing machine needs to be emptied, or a mote of dust floats by and catches my . . . where was I?

A long, long time ago (I can still remember how the music used to make me smile) (see what I mean? I just can’t keep my mind on one thing), I wrote something about interchangeable needles, and wondering about people’s opinions of the different sets out there. I’ve had an opportunity to try a few for myself now, and compare them.

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February 2, 2010

A swift is a bird.

So says the good spouse.

I’m almost done with my second Sweet Little Nothing. As in, I have about ten rows left on a sleeve. So naturally, I’ve just finished the second skein. I didn’t feel like using the arm of the couch to hold the next skein while I wound it into a ball, so I looked for instructions for the Tinkertoy Swift and got Thing Two to build it for me.

I’ve never used a swift before. I don’t ever want to not use one again. The only problem I had with it is that I think I was winding the ball a little tighter than I normally do. (Of course, I tend to wind them very loosely, trying to compensate for all the extra-tight balls I wound when I was younger, I think. I’m sure it’s fine.) It took me at most half the time it would have taken to do it without the swift. I was really impressed. I don’t think I’d have wanted to do a larger skein or a heavier yarn, because the swift was looking a little limp towards the end, but for what it was, it was excellent.

I also found instructions for making a more permanent swift, and I know Schoolhouse Press used to sell The Gaffer’s instructions for making an umbrella swift (I keep meaning to see if they still do), and I think I will really have to get the good spouse to make one for me.

I don’t know that I’m interested in getting a ball winder. I kind of like the winding part, and I think I do a good job at it. Besides, I can’t stand it when people talk about their “yummy cakes of yarn.” It makes me think of Milo Minderbinder and his Egyptian cotton.

September 24, 2009

So much time, so little to do!

. . . Strike that. Reverse it. (Thank you, Willy Wonka.)

I have far too many projects on my plate right now. I probably wouldn’t if I wasn’t running into stumbling blocks every other day.

I’ve knitted and felted The Little Coco Bag. I used the KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Pigeon Twist that I already had, instead of doing two colors, and I did 3-stitch I-cord instead of 2-stitch. Everything was going really well until it came time to get the grommets. My mom had some, but the largest she had were 1/4″ (which is what the pattern calls for, but my larger I-cord would have fit too snugly), so I had to go buy some 3/8″ grommets. They had the grommets at JoAnn’s, but not the setting tool. My good spouse was going to try to make one up for me, but before he got a round tuit, we found the setting tool at Michael’s. Of course, I didn’t have enough cash on me for all the other neat stuff I found there, so I wanted to write a check. Unfortunately, I was a bad girl and am driving on a ticket (I should have my license back this week, I think), and Michael’s won’t take a check without a picture ID. So we had to wait another week or so before we could go back (it’s a thirty mile drive, I wasn’t going back until I had more reasons to go than just the grommet tool).

I finally have both the grommets and the grommet tool, all in one place, and I can start working on getting the grommets into the bag. Poking holes into heavy felted fabric is not as easy as it sounds. I couldn’t get my size 13 needles (which is what they say to use in the pattern) through the fabric at all. (I don’t believe they actually used those dpns in the picture on the pattern to make the holes. They’d have punctured their hands. I think they made the holes then put the dpns in because they looked nicer.) I decided to start with smaller needles (10 1/2s), get the holes in there, then stretch them out with the 13s. This worked, but as soon as I took the 13s out, the holes shrank. So I decided to leave them for a day. That seemed to work better. But my troubles weren’t over yet.

When I got home that night, I decided I’d wait until the kids went to bed to set the grommets. In case you’re wondering, this is not a good idea. “Quietly hammering” is an oxymoron. I managed, with the help of my good spouse, to get one in place, but decided not to do any more until another evening, before the kids went to bed.

One thing my good spouse noticed was that there was a 1/4″ snap part in with my grommets. We joked about how they call the grommet parts male and female, so ha-ha, neither of us had to actually finish the thought. This continued to be funny, in my mind at least, until last night, when I finally went to set the last of the grommets.

I was still having trouble getting the grommets into the holes. I could have stretched them out further with 15s, but I didn’t feel like waiting any longer. Then the lightbulb in my brain came on. The size 13 needles are just the right size for the 3/8″ grommets to fit around. I slid a male-part grommet onto a needle, pushed the needle through the hole, and then, with a modicum of effort, pushed the grommet into the hole. It worked perfectly. The perfection continued as I worked my way around, all the way up to the seventh grommet, when I realized that I didn’t still have two male-parts that were just stacked tightly together. I had one, plus the little “baby” snap.

Of course, I don’t have the receipt from JoAnn’s anymore. I’m going to call before going out there (thirty mile drive, remember) and see if they will, without the receipt, take the baby snap part and give me a daddy grommet part, and then they can send the opened package back to Dritz as a faulty set.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this. I’m going to line it with a lighter shade of matching purple fabric that I happily found in my fabric stash (it is just the right amount), and then I’m going to try it out and see if it might actually be The Purse. You know, The Purse for which I have been searching for years. The Purse which will be the perfect size to hold everything I need, plus maybe a paperback book and a few other things I just want to carry.

Hopefully, once I get the correct grommet part (if JoAnn’s can’t do the little exchange I have in mind, I’ll just buy more grommets, seeing as how the package of eight was less than three bucks, anyway), that will be the end of my troubles with this project, and I can move on to solving the problems I’m having with others.

June 24, 2009

Why isn’t everything in the world exactly the way I like it?

Things would be so much easier if it was.

I have several pairs of INOX circular needles. Most of mine are nickel-plated, but I also have a couple plain aluminum, and one . . . nylon? I like them. They are nice needles, especially the nickel-plates. The cables are smooth and flexible, and the joins are pretty smooth, too. The problem I have discovered just lately is that in the larger sizes (I think the problem starts at size 8, for me at least), the points are too blunt. For the most part, this isn’t a problem for me. I’m not a speed knitter, although I’m not pokey, either (ha!). But I tried doing a cable cast-on for the Two Summer Sundress, and it was a bitch-and-a-half to get the yarn pulled through because the tip of the needle is really wide. I thought about switching to my interchangables, but they might have given a different gauge because they’re just aluminum (not that this stops me from using them as the second set of circs if I’m doing something in the round with one set of nickel-plated, I just like to complain and if you haven’t figured this out about me yet, you’ve obviously never encountered me before), and I didn’t want to have to do another gauge swatch. I finally managed it, but the cast-on edge is maybe a little looser than I would have liked.

I really like the way cabled cast-on looks, though.

I don’t have anywhere near a “complete” set of needles (as if there could ever be such a thing), but I’m wondering what sort I should get next time I buy needles. I know I like Addi Turbos, although I seem to have lost the few sets I had of those. I have one set of KnitPicks circs, which I haven’t really used because it turns out I’m knitting kind of loose again, even with wrapping the yarn around my pinky (I’m thinking of doing something like the woman in the remake of The Ladykillers, where she wraps it around each of her fingers, but I don’t know if I’ll like that), and I had to go up three sizes to get the right gauge for that project (and I think I could honestly have gone up another, but maybe some of it’s the yarn and not my knitting). I have one set of bamboo DPNs that I got to make the Shawl from Niflheim (which, Spricey, is still not blocked), and those are really nice to work with. My interchangable set is a Boye Needlemaster. I have several Susan Bates circs, too.

So, if anyone has any favorite needles they’d like to recommend — interchangables, straights, circs, DPNs, those really long ones they stick in their belts in the Shetlands, whatever — feel free to let me know!

February 16, 2009

Needle Nirvana?!?

I almost forgot! I saw in the latest Interweave Knits (I think) that Addi Turbo is making an interchangable set, Addi Turbo Click!!! Have some more exclamation points!!! It’s all Turbos, but the little blurb said they’ll add needle and cable sizes eventually, so maybe they’ll add the Naturas, too! Oooh!!! Oooooh!!!

It sounded, from the blurb, like the connections might be similar to those on Denise needles. It said you don’t need tools to change needles, which is nice. (I have a slight overtightening problem, so a couple of the points on my aluminum interchangables have slightly flanged connecting ends. Not enough to cause a problem while knitting, but I still wince when I think how bad it could have been.) I’ve only ever heard one bad thing about the Denise set. Of course, it’s a bit of a doozy. I’m pretty sure it was Spricey who said she was making something and using her Denise needles, and one of the needles came off in the middle of a row. At least my overtightened screw-on points aren’t likely to come off (until I’ve overtightened them so often that they don’t screw on at all).

But, if Addi does add (heh) the Naturas line to their interchangable set . . . I might have to start saving pennies. A lot of pennies.

February 7, 2009

Tools of the trade

My good spouse is forever making fun of me because of my Quest for the Perfect Purse. I have great difficulty walking through a department store without at least glancing at the purse section. I don’t remember the last time I actually bought a new purse — I’m not that bad — but I like to look, nonetheless.

I don’t seem to have this problem with knitting bags. I think it’s The Yarn Exchange in DeKalb, IL, that uses clear plastic totes, like gift bags, for their shopping bags. They work really nicely as knitting bags, too. If all the yarn for a project fits in them with a little room to spare, why move it to another bag? String Theory Yarn Company in Glen Ellyn, IL, uses heavy kraft paper bags of the same style. Again, they’re perfect.

I also have a Knit Knack Sack that my mom gave me several years ago. That one I do have a few surmountable problems with. I just looked at the website and it sounds like the new design takes care of them. I have a tapestry bag, and it isn’t lined, so my needles go right through it. It came with a splitring and a Knit-Kard explaining Kitchener’s stitch (very helpful thing to have, because I can’t do it from memory). Unfortunately, it’s on the stage right side of the bag (if you wear it on your left hip, the ring is on the right side), so yarn gets caught in it, especially fine yarn. I finally gave in and took the ring off the bag. It’s now on the zipper pull for my interchangable needles.

According to the website, the tapestry bags are now lined, and they use a metal snap hook to hold the Knit-Kard. I can see that still catching the yarn, but I don’t think I’d be as concerned about the yarn breaking because of it. I think a binder ring would be better, though.

I usually wear it as a belt-bag, but it works as a shoulder bag, too, which is nice. It’s a good size for small projects, or small sections of larger projects. I used it when I knit the Shawl from Niflheim, too, so larger projects that can be compacted work for it, too.

If you’re doing a small project, like a pair of socks, there’s plenty of room in the bag for the yarn to move freely, and there’s nothing on the inside to snag it. It really is a nice little bag.

In my Quest for the Perfect Purse, I bought a really big one once. My good spouse said at the time that it was a good one, because it looks like a piece of luggage, and if he had to carry it for me somewhere, it wouldn’t look like he was carrying a purse. It was good when Little Cat Z was really little, because I could toss all sorts of things in there. It’s way too big for me now. But, it has lots of little compartments and pockets, and I think I’m going to convert it into a knitting bag for larger projects. Then, if I decide a need a big purse again, I’ll have an excuse to buy a new one.