I've Been Cheating... 06.02.2012

This post has been dusted off and taken straight out of the "According to Matt Archives". I originally posted this content on my old blog "Crochet & Crafts According To Matt". I thought that it was a shame for creativity and inspiration to lay dormant, so I'm recycling the content from my old blog, keeping it available for you all to read, reference and use as you please.

I've been Cheating

Yes, it's true, I'm guilty! I've been cheating a lot recently! But don't worry, the only thing I've been cheating on is: Crochet. I don't know why, but recently I've become very interested in knitting!
Now I have never been a big knitter, I've tried it a couple of times over the last years but never had very good results, uneven stitches, ending up with more stitches after a couple of rows, or big holes in my work. I never got much further than about 10 rows before I would give up.

About two years ago I did a little experiment again. I was walking around the craft store in town, and they were advertising Felting Yarn.
Really thick wool, that was made to be felted! As an example they had these felted house shoes hanging there, and I was sold! I wasn't very keen on the example though, it was shaped like a big fish, and didn't see myself wearing those ;-)

Without hesitating, I bought myself a couple of different colors, and the big double pointed needles that were supposed to be used with this yarn. I knew nothing about knitting in the round or using these DPN's but I was up for the challenge!

The only thing I knew about knitting these socks, was that I needed to make them huge, because the yarn shrinks about 40-50% after washing. I found a super easy pattern on line, with a video tutorial to go with it for a basic sock with a low cuff. The pattern is not at all meant for big sized house shoes, but when using thick yarn and thick needles, it works out perfect! I ended up knitting a plain knitted cuff without any ribbing because all detail was going to be lost in the felting and I liked the idea that the cuff would curl downwards. Knitting on DPN's turned out to be just like knitting with two needles, since you only work with 2 needles at a time! It was easy to work with thick yarn and big needles because I could see very clearly what I was doing.
I wasn't quite sure exactly how big I would have to make them, but I just took a guess and made them really really big.
The exciting thing was washing them! I just put them in the machine with a pair of old jeans (to agitate the yarn) and did a full cycle with just a little bit of fabric softener. And there they were, from a soft knitted sock, to a sturdy and thick shoe! They were a little small, but when wet they can stretch quite a lot! I just forced them on my feet, wore them for a couple of minutes, and took them off to let them dry in that shape. And now they're a perfect fit! And I've made many since! For Matt (who's already on his second pair), and for some of my friends!

After making a couple of these shoes, I gave up on knitting again, and became more and more interested in crochet! I'm still in love with crochet, but like I said before, I've been cheating recently! I don't know why exactly, but I've got the knitting fever at the moment! I've put down all my crochet projects and started a lot of knitting projects! A while ago we posted some pictures of our projects, and there was a little preview of a project I was knitting. Well, I'm very proud to show my finished project: an Entrelac Pillow!
Now I couldn't have made this pillow without the very helpful video tutorials from Stacy at VeryPink.
Her tutorials have basically taught me everything I needed to know about knitting. Her video's are very clear, she explains everything very detailed, and I love how she shows all her techniques individually against a white background and with quite thick needles. A while ago she posted this video tutorial on how to knit entrelac which was something I wanted to try for a long time, but never had the guts to try! I bought some lovely Noro Kureyon yarn, in a colorway I thought would fit great on our sofa, and started my project. I had to adjust the width a little because the tutorial is for a scarf, and it would have been to small, so I just added some stitches.
I think a pattern like this really shows off the Noro yarn, and gets the most out of it. It's already being used every day and looks great together with all our other homemade pillows! It was a little bit challening working the short rows back and forth, picking up stitches and switching the purling and knitting, but I'm very excited with the results! My stitches are not completely even yet, but I'm getting the hang of it!
I sort of expected I would get back to my normal crocheting after this pillow, but I didn't feel satisfied yet. I suddenly had this urge to learn everything there was to learn about knitting. Well, maybe not 'everything' but at least I wanted to get more experienced with it and I was really enjoying it!
I started to experiment with some different patterns, like this cute little ball band dishcloth!

And maybe I could even learn to do some fair isle? I took 'baby' steps, and started with this small hat with a simple motif.

After visiting the fabulous blog by Inga Helene, I wanted to try the pattern that she had used for a potholder/dishcloth. Now mine is not any of those, but just a 'thing' knitted in the round to learn how to work with 2 different colors in the same row! Stranded (fair isle) knitting is really interesting! The only thing that I find hard, is making sure you leave the strands quite loose, because your finished project might have no stretch at all if you keep it too tight.

Now this was something really really scary for me, but I even knitted some gloves! Again, a great tutorial and pattern from Stacy at VeryPink.com.

And I had to have a go at cables! This is again something that I've unraveled already, since I found it way too time consuming, but definitely fun, and beautiful results!

Last week I discovered a great knit designer! His name is Stephen West and at his young age he has already released 3 books! His designs are beautiful and don't look too difficult too make. I also find that all this designs look extremely wearable.
My first project was the Windschief hat, of which I sadly don't have a photograph yet. I finished it in one day, and it was a very fun pattern to work on!
When I saw his pattern for the Loxley hooded scarf, I fell in love with it, and just had to try it right away! We still had some soft dark grey worsted weight Merino yarn at home, and I decided to give the pattern a try. I thought it was going to be quite complicated because it has an integrated icord throughout the whole pattern, and a provisional cast on, and wrap & turns, and ssk's, and knit2togethers and picking up 96 stitches along an icord and, and, and... But you know what? It was so very clear in the pattern! When I had to pick up such a big amount of stitches, I was sure I wouldn't know where to put my needle, and I would for sure not end up with the right amount, because that happened before when I made the houseshoes, or even with the entrelac pillow. But everything works in this pattern!

The hardest part is done now, the hood is finished! The oval shape on the picture is the back of the head.

Now it's just plain knitting for the length of the scarf part, one side at a time. I still have a lot to do, because I want my scarf to be quite long, because these temperatures here in Hamburg are lower than ever!
What I love about this pattern, is how neat the finished product looks, mainly because of the genius icord along the sides, and the design of the back of the hood. And I have to say, i'm so very happy that there's very very little purling involved in this scarf! Garter stitch!
I realize I didn't mention any details about the way I knit. I literally went through all the possible techniques! I started as a 'thrower', which is the English style. You basically take the yarn with your right hand and 'throw' it over the needle, and make your stitch. I didn't really know better but got really frustrated with how slow it went. Especially with ribbing it was a nightmare! I decided to learn continental which felt a lot easier for me, since I crochet so much! You hold the yarn in your left hand and sort of 'hook' the stitches with your right needle.
I also learned the 'Flicking' technique from Stacy at VeryPink.com. I saw her 'flicking' in all her instructional videos and couldn't manage to copy her movement, but after a lot of trial and error, I finally managed to do it! I find my stitches to turn out a little tight with this technique so I'm using a lot of continental at the moment!

I hope I can show you all some more projects soon, but it might take a while since I will be going into the hospital on Wednesday to get both my tonsils removed. I've had a lot of problems with them over the last couple of years, and ever since my last tonsillitis, they still don't feel completely normal, so the doctors told me it would be best to get rid of them. At least I have a good reason to keep knitting when I'm lying in the hospital! I'm already planning on some fair isle mittens with some fabulous Rowan yarn! More to come!

This post was originally posted on 6th February 2012.
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