Monday, June 23, 2008

Stich on the Pitch: UEFA Euro 2008 and Creative Freedom

For the last two weeks, I have been obsessed with two things: soccer and deliberating if I should give my sweater baby a rest to start on something new.

Stitch on the Pitch
For all you Americans reading this, let me introduce you to two new concepts. First, I think Americans are the only English speakers who refer to a grassy area designated for sports play a 'field'. Here in the UK, sports are played on either a 'ground' or a 'pitch'. These two expressions are part of my newly found and gladly adopted British vocabulary.

Second, there is a somewhat recent phenomenon in the US called 'Stitch n' Pitch' where a group of knitters get together and take their knitting projects to baseball games. I mean, how ingenious is that? What else are you going to do with all that downtime between pitches and innings? Here in this part of the world, baseball is not as prevalent as say, lawn bowling or snooker. So being as clever as I am, I decided to knit while watching sports taking place on a 'pitch'. And this time of year, that is UEFA's European Football (Soccer) Championships.

For the last two and a half weeks, Matthias and I have been watching sometimes up to three hours of soccer a night! And for a while there, I had to put my sweater aside because the pattern was too daunting to follow while watching steamy ripped guys sweat buckets while running up and down a 'pitch' for 90 minutes. No, seriously, it was the sweater that was distracting me and not my lecherous voyeurism.

This is only one part of the sweater break conundrum. You see, I have been working this pattern for over three months now. I frogged (unravelled) the back panel because the sleeves looked crappy and then I frogged the front because, even though the sleeves looked much better than the ones I had originally done for the back panel, it still was not what the pattern had exactly called for. I am a perfectionist. I am frustrated. I am bored. I am obviously distracted by sultry soccer studs and need some instant gratification project like a scarf or something. But, no way José was I going to let myself off the hook and do something different for a while. I keep such a tight leash on myself sometimes! I was going to finish that sweater come hell or high water. But not when the football is on. And, well, I am obsessed as I probably made clear in my last post. I just have to knit. 

I couldn't really start any thing new because I felt guilty and undisciplined. I leaved through websites and my collection books and patterns, but all to no avail. I kept returning to that crusty old thought pattern that said: 'You have to finish what you have started'. I deliberated for nearly two weeks about starting something new.

And, then like a knitting needle falling from the sky, it hit me straight in the eye and I saw. Through all my deliberating, I was actually de-liberating, or taking away, any creative freedom I was giving myself. I was deliberately (god, what a loaded word!) stifling the very thing I am consciously fostering in myself. I was just telling someone from my knitting group the other day that working multiple projects is just like reading several books simultaneously - something I know I am guilty of and I am sure you can relate, too. 

Immediately after being struck by this insight, I actually got around to finishing a project that I had started almost four months ago and required very little other than a wicked mattress stitch: my OM Yoga Mat Bag. Finishing up this little project gave me back that creative freedom I had been depriving myself of through my old rigid thoughts on self-discipline.  

And, as life would have it, I still was not able to find 'the' right pattern, so I decided to design one up myself: The Spumoni Scarf. It will still be a WIP for another little while. I am planning on attaching some wicked fringe and I have a few more soccer games to take in before next weekend. Let's go, Germany!

My advice to you: if you have the inspiration to start something new, just do it. Don't worry about if, when, and how it will get done. Your project will just tell you what to do next and
 when it is ready to be finished. By debating and deliberating over the birth of an idea only wastes the energy you could be spending knitting a Spumoni scarf. Knit well and knit often.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WWKIP Day, Fiber Frustrations and Perpetual Inundation...It Must Be Love

World Wide Knit in Public Day, Manchester
My knit and natter buddy, Kate, organized a KIP for the knitters of greater Manchester last weekend. Everyone was in prime form, the weather was cooperating and we made the world a little more aware that knitting is alive and kicking. Everyone brought some kind of goodie to share. Cake and cookies abounded. We were approached by who we assume to be an LYS owner with a voucher for 10% off our next yarn purchase. New friends were made. I got to know 3 other Yank expats. We dished on our knitting groups, yarn shops and favorite threads. Here are the ladies who stitched:

Fiber Frustrations and Perpetual Inundation
This part of today's post is more along a personal note. Once and a while posts have to be. I have been having these strange feelings over the last 6 months or so. They have been growing steadily and emerging slowly over the last six months. I don't know what is coming over me. It is tormenting. It is titillating. It is absolutely consuming. It is knitting.

I started my first big, intermediate project about two and a half months ago. I have posted about the Cap Sleeved Sweater aka the misshapen Frankenstein sweater. I frogged the back panel after I had knit the front and produced two lovely little sleevelets. It was then I realized that I had misread the pattern and the sleeves came out like everyone's favorite Victorian monster. The third time was the charm and the sleeves came out stunningly and I am confident this time that I interpreted the pattern correctly. But, to my dismay, I didn't quite get the decrease right on the front panel. So, I guess we will be frogging again, this time the top of the front panel. Hopefully my husband is available to roll the wool and there is some schmaltzy documentary on British monarchs on the tube.

 I will not be frogging as much as an entire panel, it really seems like this is the never ending project. I have thought about doing some smaller instant gratification jobs like scarves for girlfriends and sisters-in-law, but I can't bring myself to find a pattern, let alone begin knitting one other than my beloved sweater. 

Working this sweater is a taste of mothering an insolent child. I am so infuriated by it and the whole process of forming it. And at the same time, I house an inexplicable love that conflicts with all the frustrations I experience. Sometimes gladly, sometimes spartanically, I deny myself the joys of other odysseys and adventures, just so I can bring this sweater to full fruition. What is a girl to do? Keep knitting, sister.

The good news is that the universe has brought me an abundance of new ideas, passions and friends, so that I am perpetually inundated my new mags, websites, blogs, and all the fibery, yarny stimuli a girl could ask for. I was luck to find a dress form at a charity shop. It was a steal! It is wonderful, but often accompanied with feelings around lack of time. I have a stack of 6 new magazines I want to devour every inch of. There are six books novels collecting dust on my night stand because I can only read so fast before I fall asleep.  I have a mental queue of projects, yarns and other crafty projects I want to do, but I can't. Not until I finish what I have started.

Above is a peek at the marvelous sweater baby I love to hate upon reaching the end of its adolescence.  I will be back soon with a few more of my web knitting finds. Until then: Knit well. Knit often.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Groovy Knitting Calculators, Froggin' the Frankenstein Sweater

Groovy Knitting Calculators
Is it just me, or are math knitters just absolutely brilliant? I am not at all mathematically inclined (emphasis on not at all). That is why I am so impressed by people who are and moreover, can do cool, useful, practical stuff with their skills. Lucia, the Knitting Fiend, has an amazing collection of knitting calculators for gauge, yarn quantity, shawls, shrugs, socks, and dog sweaters. Click here to check out the Dog-u-lator Sweater Calculator. Here is a peak of Lucia's model, Muchkin, and his bright orange safety sweater:

Just measure you four-legged friend, plug the numbers into Lucia's dog-u-lator and you are minutes away from knitting a custom doggy sweater.

Lucia hasn't updated her knitblog in a while. So, hopefully she is just really busy and has unfortunately for us neglected her blogging. Her recent absence from the knitblogosphere, however, does not detract from the handy utilities available to us on her site. Here's to math knitting! Dead brilliant, Lucia.

Frogging the Frankenstein Sweater
Although generally agreeable and supportive, I never imagined just how enthusiastic my darling husband would be about my wooly passion. I realized this after 1) he drove me  to a neighboring city (I have been a car-less wonder for over ten years) and waited outside while I spent over an hour at a wool distributor's warehouse clearance sale and 2) he sat patiently next to me and wound up wool as I frogged it from my sweater with mutant, Frankenstein sleeves while watching a documentary on Queen Victoria's Men on Channel 4. The man is truly a saint.

I finally finished the front panel of my Cap Sleeved Sweater (see post Mock Rib Stitch, 23 May 2008) and thought, This is how raglan sleeves are supposed to look. In all honesty, this is my first shot at raglan, so I really don't know if they came out right or not. But intuitively, I feel good about these sleeves. The back of the sweater and especially the sleeves were obviously misshapen, but I just pressed on. 

Unfortunately, Twilley's Freedom Spirit does not frog well. It gets super fuzzy and makes it tedious to frog. Three weeks of evening knitting gone. And interestingly enough, the photo in my title header is actually that piece of the sweater that no longer exists in reality...only virtually now.

I hope you enjoy the Dog-u-lator and that you don't have to frog any time soon. Knit well and knit often.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Vintage Knitting Patterns Online

Sunday was one of those days I made it clear to my DH that I intended to spend most of the day on the couch and do nothing else than read, knit and doze; all of which I  did quite successfully. I spent an hour or so looking for a shrug or cardie pattern to compliment something out of my stash. Low and behold, the pattern I found was vintage - thanks to So I decided to be a nice girl and share my findings with you. Today's post features some of the best vintage pattern freebies on the net. has a small collection patterns, mostly women's wear and a pattern for a baby soaker. I have added the Bernat cardigan  (below) and the hooded poncho (above) to my queue. Can't wait to start those two. I wonder if there are any sites that tell you how to achieve such a small waist and super pointy boobs all the models in the 50s and 60s seem to have? Wowie zowie. 

        The Costumer’s Manifesto brings us a few very cool turn of the century patterns (1900-1920). I am especially keen on the Knitted Coat Sweater.

Free Vintage Knitting is brought to us by Purple Kitty Yarns and has 8 categories of vintage patterns including women’s and children’s wear, hats, scarves, gloves, along with holiday and home accessories. I just love this Dutch Tile afghan. Mostly late 60s I’d say. 

Vintage Purls is a site out of NZ and offers up some stellar patterns spanning the 1930s to 1950s. The Sunshine Tube Top and Bolero are fabulously cute and seemingly easily knit.

Vintage Knitting is Rhiannon's blog on exactly what the title alludes to. For all of you wanting some vintage knits inspiration, check it out. Rhiannon hasn't posted for a while, but we want her to do so again. Very soon. The Colombia Diamond Lace sweater that she finished is drop-dead gorgeous. She also has a resource page of other vintage knitting resources.

Vintage Connection has got all of those frilly, lacey little knits from Victorian times. Some of these patterns could totally adaptable and may even inspire a few modern retakes. My fav by far are the knee warmers. I mean, come on, don't your knees get drafty? They would be adorable over tights.

Yarn Lover's Room is a compendium  of ‘antique’ knitting patterns from the 40s to the 60s for women, children, men and lace. I totally dig the super starlet modeling the Ski Sweater in the Round.

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 Do you have any favorite links to vintage patterns? Let me know in the comment sections.  Knit well and knit often.