How I spent an awkward hour:

I took a knitting class.

It was a crazy thing for me to do, this knitting class. I mean, I've taught a whole bunch, but I've only ever taken one official knitting class! I was really excited. However, my impression of the class was far from favorable when I left the store. First of all, it was uncomfortably cold in the store, even for the other students and the TEACHER, so it wasn't just my hypersensitive self. Second, it felt like the "creative" title given to the class wasn't necessarily true. We talked a little about knitting creatively, but mostly we flipped through books and didn't really experiment with any real knitting. I guess it was the fault of the students as well as of the teacher: you can't just have a class without a real plan...and that's what had happened. So instead of getting a creative brainstorming session, we got an awkward, unplanned, vague hour.

Besides all that, I just didn't feel welcomed. One giant thing links people in a knitting store together: KNITTING! So let's see some enthusiasm here, people. We'll see how it goes on February 9th...we're meeting again...


Since the first pair got eaten by rocks.

My brother is an avid biker-- fanatical biker-- and needed some mittens to wear during the winter biking season. He has giant nylon blizzard-resistant bike mitts, but he wanted something to wear on a daily basis to and from class. Here is the result!

They look ridiculously silly (to me, at least) sitting on the table, but they fulfill their intended purpose and keep bikers'
hands from freezing.

To explain the title...t
he last pair of biking h
alf-gloves got eaten by gravel and rocks after he fell while wearing them. Luckily, the gloves bore the brunt of the damage and his hands survived. Someday I will tell the sad tale of the orphaned, felted mitten!


My reflections on sock knitting. With explanations.

My dedicated reader and dear friend commented that she didn't know what the "magic loop" technique was and asked if I could please write an explanation. Well, obviously, magic loop is the best thing to happen to sock knitting since...well, since forever. My love of magic loop dates back to the first sock I ever knit, so please excuse the long story:

I am always ambitious with knitting, a have-no-fear sort of person, and since I knew I was traveling I wanted to take a project with me that was small. Socks were the popular choice among the patrons of the shop, and as an employee I wanted to really KNOW the construction of a sock so I could help customers with more than technicalities like how to slip a stitch, etc. I just wanted to make my own. What a perfect opportunity!

My first sock was with self-striping yarn, and although I was very capable and having no trouble with the sock itself, the needles were quite obnoxious. The short Brittany needles were bending in my hand and slowing me down, and once I got back from my trip I shoved the nearly-finished first sock in my closet and left it indefinitely. I wasn't enjoying the process and didn't want the sock badly enough to finish. I had turned the heel, and since that was the process I had really wanted to understand, I considered my sock education done enough-- I could help customers knowledgeably.

A year or so later, I unearthed the sock in a fit of frenzied organization. I had read about this "magic loop" technique and seen Bev Galeskas' pamphlet published by FiberTrends. Since I'd already begun the sock in the spirit of education, I decided to finish it on a long circular instead of those bendy double pointed needles. It was great! I went on to fly through the second sock ever since then I've had a pair constantly on my needles. Basically, the magic loop is a technique in which you use a really long circular needle (32" to 40" long) to knit a circular object of much smaller diameter (8" to 10", like a sock). There are lots of online guides outlining the basic techniques of the magic loop (such as this website: http://www.knitting-and.com/wiki/Magic_Loop) but I'd recommend going to your Local Yarn Shop and buying the FiberTrends booklet or asking for help. In the classes I've taught, my experience has been that it's confusing to learn through the first sock, but once you've finished one sock you'll remember the technique for future projects. And you'll love it.


New things are exciting!

I bought a new knitting book! Knit Knit. I don't do this very often but I do THINK about it a lot, so it's significant when I find a book that I need to own. This has all kinds of crazy knitting visionaries profiled inside, I would definitely recommend it for those friends of yours who accuse knitters of being uncool. There are decidedly cool things in this book.

Next: Schaefer Yarns Anne socks!!! This yarn has been stashed for a while, I had used part of the skein to make half-gloves a while back and never got around to using the leftovers. Never to be called wasteful, I am using what I have left to make ankle socks to wear to bed. It's cold in Michigan in January! (I always use the magic loop method for knitting socks, it allows me to go so much faster AND I get to use my beloved Addi Turbos.) I remember being put off by the thin feel of this yarn, but the mohair content allows you to knit it on regular sock needles and it fills out nicely. This might even inspire me to follow with the second sock immediately!


A love/hate relationship. Aren't they all?

A hat! A hat for me! I don't know if this happens to other knitters (I'm sure it does), but I really hate anything I make for myself to wear. There's always something wrong with it, or I didn't really put that much effort into it, something. But I can't stop knitting, and my family gets tired of knitted objects after a while...thus I've been knitting for myself. So this hat is no different...although the overall result is positive, I have a few complaints.

For this hat, I used Louisa Harding's Kimono Angora Pure...it's 100% angora and the colors were fabulous. I was drawn to this instantly because it's such an unusual blue-grey. I didn't originally have a plan for the yarn, so I improvised a hat with a few simple lace panels evenly spaced throughout. For the lace, I just used a staggered yarnover pattern- it doesn't really show up well in the photo, sadly. Because angora is so warm, I knit this hat relatively loosely. I discovered that it was a very good thing that I did, though- this yarn is super fragile and breaks if you even look at it the wrong way. I'm sure my abusive treatment (ex: travel habits with my knitting, getting stuck in zippers, etc...further examples of how I treat knitting for myself vs. for others) didn't help, either, but when I was finished I had to weave in about 6 ends for one skein of yarn. Finishing the top was the trickiest because you can't pull on the yarn at all...so here's to hoping my minimal weaving stays put. I'm counting on the self-felting tendencies of the yarn to help me out here.

Still, I love the hat and wear it all the time. It's a nice change for me to like something I've made...and better yet, to wear it!

Kniterary Club met this morning at Espresso Royale! Caffeine + knitting + good friends = a great Sunday morning. Time to get to work, though: I have some serious work to do playing the oboe so the afternoon will be spent practicing and making reeds. Sigh.

Idle curiousity: is there an Ann Arbor Knitter's Guild? Mental note: look into it and join.


And so it begins.


Tuesday marks the beginning of a new era in Washington, D.C. An era of change, hope, intelligent thought, and progress. For that I am excited, grateful, and optimistic.

In the spirit of new beginnings, I am starting this blog. It's something I've considered a lot over the past year, but hadn't fully committed to...I guess to me, the internet seemed isolating and lonely! Knitting has always felt like a communal effort, a craft that brings people together (even if they're strangers!) to share ideas, insight, and life- in short, the opposite of the knitting experience online. Once I started thinking about it, though, the online knitting community is just an extension of these small knitting groups meeting out there. Sites like Ravelry connect various small groups, facilitate the exchange of ideas, and inspire knitters to take on challenges that they wouldn't have attempted otherwise. So I'm throwing myself out there to see what it's like. I love the individuality that each knitter brings to his or her project, no matter how simple. I love the enthusiasm, the hope and optimism and joy that knitting provides. I am so excited to begin, so join me!

So to connect the two worlds of knitting and politics, I have a creation. It's a double-sided campaign scarf...and if for no other reason I'm glad Barack won so that I can wear it for the next four years. In typical knitter fashion, it wasn't finished until last week! In time for inauguration, but a little late for Election Day wearing. (I'm thinking about it like a prayer shawl sort of thing: the whole time I was knitting it I was thinking "Obama '08! Obama '08!" So whatever that means, I put out some extra cosmic energy that helped make his win possible!)

I wrote out the whole chart, it was more than a little ridiculous. The knitting was SO obnoxious, since it was two-sided you had to read the chart from opposite ends. I'm pretty sure I spent more time ripping than knitting, and only my stubborn fixation with the thing produced a finished object. I knitted with a combination of Plymouth Galway and Cascade 220- both worsted weight, 100% wool yarns with great color ranges. If you want a good example of a double knitting scarf, check out Son of Stitch and Bitch and refer to the Brooklyn Bridge Scarf! (That pattern calls for sport weight, I used worsted and it produced a lovely, gigantic scarf that's perfect when it's -9 degrees outside.)

More posts to come soon, I have a backlog of projects and designs and ideas and madness to share! Please check back, and check my Ravelry page, too: ckeighan. I have a few projects, and like this blog, Ravelry will soon be full of my projects for your viewing enjoyment.