May 27, 2013

In which my needle bin has exploded.

I'm pretty organized.  I like having things neatly arranged.  So how did my "needles and notions" cube end up looking like this?

Yikes.  Those bags and the bin of KnitPicks Palette samples were also in there.

I'm not really sure how this happened.  I think my needle-buying went out of control somewhere along the line, or (more likely) I just started stuffing things into there without really looking, and now its all kinds of chaos.

I've been pondering how to go about needle organization for the DPNs and circulars currently crammed into that cube (my straights live in a vase on top of the cube containment unit).  I considered one of those nifty circular needle hanging holders, but I just know the cats would be messing with that non-stop and chewing on my cables.  I'm considering the binder and zip pencil pouch approach.  Mainly I just want my cords to be less curled up, and for things to be organized.

Even the top is messy!  For the record, it used to look like this.

I have some work to do.

May 22, 2013

Needle Needs

For a long time now, I've wanted to buy an interchangeable needle set.  I'm glad I've waited a bit, though, because it has taken awhile to discover my true needle needs.  When I first started knitting, I really liked wood and bamboo needles because they were "stickier" and I was paranoid about dropping stitches (and had a tendency to do so pretty often).  Nowadays, I'm less paranoid because I can fix dropped stitches easily, and it tends to happen less often.  Plus, I also knit fairly tightly, so now I appreciate slick metal needles to move things along with more ease.

Sounds pretty straight-forward, right?  There are a bunch of metal interchangeable needle sets to choose from, all with different specifications.  Luckily, I have discovered that I have other requirements for my needles, which will help narrow things down:
  1. The needles need to be fairly pointy, but not TOO pointy.
    •  I've been using a Kollage square needle lately, and am finding it TOO pointy.  Addi Lace-type pointy is good.
  2. The cable needs to be slick, flexible, and can't have too much memory.
    • The Kollage needle is nice and flexible, but not slick enough--my stitches get stuck on it during magic loop.  The Addi cable is slick, but no matter how many times I've done the hot-water-pull-straight trick, it always curls back up on itself and drives me insane.   KnitPicks' cable seems to be more in line of what I like.
  3. I would like a variety of sizes (at least down to a size 2 since I use that often, but also up to at least a size 8 or 9).
I've been keeping a spreadsheet of different sets to compare, and so far the top two contenders are the HiyaHiya Sharps, and the ChiaoGoo Twist.

HiyaHiya Sharps
ChiaoGoo Twist

I have pros and con's about each (some sillier than others):

Pros:  Pretty case (it comes in other flavors besides the ones in the pic above); the small set of needles has sizes US 2 through 8; the 4" set can make 16" needles for hats; these get rave reviews all over Ravelry.
Cons: Have to buy each set (small/large) separately [but could be cheaper if I find I really only use the smaller sizes and don't need the larger set]; I have no idea what the cables are like, though reports say its pretty flexible.

Pros: Nice case with lots of accessories; can purchase a complete set, or just the small/large separately; can buy different cables from the other set (nylon) if red cables are too stiff.
Cons: The red cable might be too stiff for magic loop (I have a fixed circular version to try); if I want to make 16" needles, I would need to buy smaller tips and cables separately.

When it comes down to it, cost might be the biggest thing for me.  For a more fair comparison, the small set of the HiyaHiya costs around $80 (US) and the ChiaoGoo $90 (but you get more accessories).  If I wanted to buy smaller tips/cables to do hats, the HiyaHiya cables run about $6.50, and the needle tips are $10.50; the ChiaoGoo cables are $4.50, and the tips range from $8 to $12.

That actually didn't help me at all, because if I do the math (the small set + US9 tips and US10tips + 2 cables) there's only a $2 difference.  I still can't decide. AHHHHHHHHHH!

May 19, 2013

Et fin

Despite fate's numerous attempts to thwart me, I persevered and finished my monster just in time for my friend's baby shower.  I am pleased to report that he was much admired.

This is Baldwin the Bathroom Monster from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger.   I used Knit Picks Stroll in the colorway Cartoons, and a size 2 needle for a sort of "mini" monster--he was about 5 inches tall.  I "embroidered" his face since he was for a baby--that was quite the adventure.  It took me hours to get  his eyes somewhat even, and to get his "teeth" big enough that it didn't look like a weird mustache.  It has been many years since I embroidered anything, but the crookedness adds a sort of charm.

For future monsters, one thing I need to practice is my whip stitch for limb attachment; mine looked messy.  I also tried to use whip stitch to close up his bottom, but it looked TERRIBLE, so I ended up doing an invisible seam. It's not perfect, but its way better than the horrid whip stitch was!* Looking at it now, I don't think I did it quite right--oh well!

At any rate, I have wanted an excuse to knit one of these guys since I first saw the book, and am glad I finally got the chance.  I'm also super excited to have finally finished a knitted toy--something I've wanted to do since I stumbled upon Little Cotton Rabbits blog several years ago.  More of these guys might have to start popping up in the hands of people I know very soon.

*I have now realized I was doing the whip stitch incorrectly, so that was probably part of my problem.  A seamstress I am not.

May 15, 2013

Of Monsters and Babies

It will come as no surprise that in the nearly four months since I last posted, I have hardly knit on anything.  I tend to go through my various creative activities in cycles, which is bad for blogging; some months I'm really into cake decorating or baking, some months into nail polish and makeup, and some months really into knitting.  It didn't help that I wasn't feeling particularly inspired by any of my in-progress projects. 

Then last week, it was like the knitting gods decided I need to get my act together.  I started listening to my backlog of knitting podcasts and immediately wanted to buy all the yarn and needles.  A fellow blogger and friend posted Instagram pictures of her Kool-Aid dyed yarn, and I immediately wanted to run to the grocery store for Kool-Aid, and order bare yarn from KnitPicks.  I had a little over a week until a friend's baby shower, and theorized that I could finish a knitted monster toy in time (because I'm crazy).

I decided to use a yarn I've had in my stash FOREVER, because its bright and kid-colored.  This is KnitPicks Stroll in the colorway Cartoons.

I hate it.  I think it looks happy and bright in its little yarn-cake, but knit up I think it looks like a muddy mess.  My friend Sam insists it will still be cute for a baby boy.

My current plan is to finish the monster (who will hopefully be ugly-cute), but then overdye the rest of the skein into something less barf-worthy.  It will give me a chance to practice (for freebies!) this whole food coloring/Kool Aid dyeing thing, as I have a ton of gel colors from my aforementioned cake/cookie decorating adventures.  I like when my hobbies magically intersect.