You yike it? I yike it.

My youngest asks each one of us if we “yike” dinner. We are REQUIRED to answer in the affirmative. Yes, I yike it. We all yike it.

I finally received my invitation from Ravelry.com yesterday. And I really, really yike it. I yike it so much I nearly wept for joy. Ravelry is an online knitting/crocheting community that allows you to do a whole bunch o’ crap with your projects, stash, patterns, etc. I finally inventoried my needles and I’m going to inventory my stash tonight. You can “queue” your next projects (particularly helpful if you, like me, find spectacular free patterns online) and catalog your current and finished projects. As a member, you can also search patterns from other Ravelry members. I found one to put in my queue in the first 30 seconds I was online. Wooohooooo! Other fantastic features:

  • Automatically loads your blog posts via RSS feed.  Awesome.
  • Hosts a wiki for answering your knitting questions. Double Awesome.
  • Gives members opportunities to contribute/sell patterns and yarns. Triple Awesome. Or as I like to say, booyeah.

Because this is a beta site and is operated/managed by a small group of people, you have to sign up and wait to be invited so they can easily manage the numbers. It took me about two weeks to receive my invitation.

I’m sure it says a lot about me that 1. When I saw my invitation in my email inbox, I threw my fist triumphantly in the air and 2. I was super stoked to be creating an inventory of my knitting needles. I’m not really that person, am I? Does it help that the Captain was helping me?

Sigh….I didn’t think so.

-dk

My top 5 knitting essentials. Or, WHAT YOU SHOULD BUY ME IF YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND.

1. Knit Picks needles. All of them.

2. A new knitting bag. Specifically, this one:

I love this bag. I like it in both the rust color and the turquoise. I wouldn’t kick Namaste Needles’ other bags out of bed for eating crackers, either.

3. Needle organization. This is a tough one for me, because I don’t really know what I want. I do like the Namaste Needles organization, but I’m really looking for something that is NOT a bag…I also have to be able to put it away. I like this idea, but it seems like so much work. I don’t want my needles to be jumbly. I would like something with little drawers that pull out and have some sort of organization inside. I don’t schlep 10 pairs of needles with me…usually just one at a time. Someone help me. Please.

4. A knitting/craft room. We have a spare bedroom that is currently full o’ crap from our old spare bedroom. It’s awful. We want to put a bed in there for guests, but right now it is just out of control. It would be fun if it was also a craft room. I would love to “do” the closets to maximize space and storage, but what I really want is a room like this. Can someone just add on to my house for this purpose? Please?

5. Manolo Blahniks. I am positive that my knitting projects would improve dramatically with those Mary Janes. I am sure of it.

-dk

Top 5 knitting essentials for beginners.

1. Needles. Knit, at first, with the cheapest pair you can find. Borrow, look at garage sales, check out Michael’s/Joann’s. Try wood/bamboo, resin or aluminum. See if you like how they feel in your hands, working the yarn. If you’re a tight knitter, like I am, you might have more luck using aluminum. If you knit loosely (the stitches slide easily on the needle) try wood/bamboo. I’ve also heard that some people don’t like the sound that metal needles make when knitting…I personally like the clicking. But whatevs.

Don’t go all crazy buying a complete set. Buy what you need for the project at hand or a single pair of straights to practice with. I think US size 10s are a great beginner size, not too big and not too small.

Once you find your soulmate, buy a SINGLE pair to fit the project at hand. If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to buy everything all at once, setting up a knitting shrine in a large corner of your basement. But just have patience, grasshopper. Have patience. It took me several projects to figure out what I really liked – I bought several pairs of bamboo needles because I thought they looked cool (yes, I’m that girl) but they’re not the best for my style of knitting.

2. Yarn. Start cheap and in worsted weight. Worsted weight is the most common, and is neither too thick nor too thin…so it’s basically your average yarn. I don’t recommend buying the $9 ball of hand-dyed alpaca wool right out of the gate, because you’ll want to practice, “frog it” (unravel your project), and practice some more. Yarn will start to get a little skanky after a few times of this..and you don’t want skanky alpaca. Trust me on this.

3. Reference book or site. I told you that I love my Stitch ‘N Bitch book, but there are several others out there. Check a few out of the library and test them out. I like Stoller because she’s a little sassy, but there are some other great ones out there too that are a little more traditional, or a little MORE sassy:

The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book

Domiknitrix; Whip Your Knitting into Shape

I Taught Myself Knitting – Can you believe they had this on Amazon? Used and new from $1.50!!! I seriously loved this little book.

If books aren’t your bag, try the interwebs. The only problem with the internet is that a book is a tad more portable. Unless you have an iPhone. But then you are probably too cool for me.

I do use the internet to for videos…sometimes the book illustrations just don’t cut it. When I come across some good videos, I’ll link to them here.

4. A bag to hold your project. It’s nice to have something that holds your yarn when you’re on the go. I would start with whatever you have around the house – a small canvas bag or even a repurposed Target sack. I have GINORMOUS purses, so I like to use a little drawstring bag I have and throw it in there…just something to keep it all in one place and protect the yarn from the elements, so to speak. Once you and knitting have exchanged promise rings, start to look for something more fun, if you want. And I DID want, so…

I got this bag as a present for Christmas from my sister. It’s pretty handy, doesn’t look too old lady-ish, and holds all my essentials. I also have the smaller ball bag. On a side note, that’s what my mom used to call us if we were whining too much: ball bags. There’s probably other x-rated things you think of when you say “ball bag”, but try to control the impulse, k? Find something you like and that is portabl, but wait until you’re really bought in to the whole knitting thing.

5. Storage. After you fall in love, you’ll probably start to accumulate a stash and/or more tools. I am currently using a canvas cube in a cabinet, but I don’t like that my needles are thrown in there all jumbly. There are a lot of options for needle storage, but I just haven’t figured out what I want. I would also keep track of what needles you already own on a small index card. That way, when you’re at the yarn store, Michael’s or JoAnn’s, you won’t buy multiple sets of something you already have. It is a pain in the ass to get home and realize you already have #11s and have to return them.

So there it is…your top 5 knitting essentials for beginners. If I have one piece of advice for the newbs, it’s this: don’t decide you have to have any tool, book, storage, etc. until you have a few projects under your belt. I think it takes you a little while to figure out what is going to work best, and you’re not a better knitter with the coolest gadgets. Approach knitting as more “pay as you play.” You’ll end up with the stuff you really like, and your husband/wife/accountant/sugar daddy will appreciate the fact that you’ve been sensible.

-dk

PS – Ordinarily, I’d warn against sensibility, but in this case, I advise it. Use the money you save to buy yourself some kick-ass strappy sandals.

Holy frijoles, these are cute.

I mean, have you seen anything today that is cuter?

Lion washcloths.

After Chuckles, these might have to be my next project.

-dk

Work in progress.

I’ve started on Chuckles the Monkey for my coworker. I’m not going to go with the traditional sock monkey look. Instead, I’m using a chocolate brown and tan – more of a regular monkey kind of look.

I’m using Bernat Cashmere Natural Blends for this guy. I chose it because it is soft and relatively cheap. I know there are people out there that hate on acrylic, but it’s a toy. And even it it wasn’t…I don’t be hatin’ on anything. Or anyone. Knit whatever you want, with whatever you want.

Back to the lecture at hand. The pattern calls for you to use US size 3 needles and sew up a bunch o’ seams, but I am SO over sewing up seams. Instead, I’m using my KnitPicks DPNs. I’ve already told you how much I love these needles.

Each piece is stockinette. Do you know what that means? No purling for me – I’m knitting in the round! Woohoo! I’m about halfway done with the body here.

That is some fine craftsmanship. Nice, even rows. For once. One more gratuitous needle shot:

Hello, sweets. What? What’s that you say? You’d like me to work you over a bit? Knit just a few more rows? Anything for you, darlings…

-dk

Best. Needles. EVAH.

The needles from KnitPicks changed my life. Changed it so that I want to knit all the time, every day. I carry my knitting with me like a little ol’ granny. My knitting has crept into and taken over my regular life now that I use these needles.

I started with a circular, then got this set for my birthday in December. Hello my lovelies:

For some reason, KnitPicks change the carrying case for their interchangeable needles. I like mine better because it looks like a personal organizer. The new one doesn’t look as good to me, but the needles are still worth it.

I also like that you can add pouches…which I need to do desperately to hold my other needles.

I have added several sets of KnitPick’s double pointed needles, too. (on a side note, I desperately need to find an organization system for these bad boys…they are taking over my life).

Let me break it down for you, my friend, why I’m in love with the Knit Picks nickel-plated aluminum needles. It boils down to the fact that I’m a very tight knitter. Therefore:

1. Wood/bamboo needles are too grabby.

2. I wear down the aluminum needles.

3. Don’t even talk to me about plastic. They feel weird in my hands.

The nickel plating is so smooth, and the point is just pointy enough. When I’m doing increases or decreases, I can really dig it in there and make it work. (Not to go all Tim Gunn on you there, but it’s true). I LOVE the interchangeable system, because a girl needs options. Options. Get it? The name of the system??? Wooo…I’m killing over here. I appreciate that I can start a project without having to go purchase yet another set of needles. I also find that I will use the DPNs or stick one of the Options “stoppers” on the circulars and use them instead of my aluminum straights…they don’t offer the needles in straights, and I’m a spoiled princess. So there.

I think their wood interchangeables look pretty cool, too. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

-dk

I know you wanna be like me.

When I’m knitting around other people, they invariably ask one of two things:

1. What are you making?

2. How did you learn to knit?

They also blather on about how amazing I am, how creative, talented, blah blah blah…but I won’t bore you with those details. Instead, I’ll bore you with the details of how I got started in the business.

Knitting for me started about six years ago. When I was pregnant with J, my oldest, I was wandering around Michael’s. It is never good for me to wander around craft stores. I have a tendency to see something amazing and latch on to it, buy every accessory and tool made, work on this new hobby for 2 weeks and then quit. (See: jewelry making, embroidery, cross-stitch, sewing). When I waddled into the knitting aisle, my eyes lit up. But how was I going to learn? People, THIS is how I learned:

I taught myself knitting! WOOT! This book came in a kit – the book, needles, stitch markers, tapestry needle, cable knit needle, needle caps, ruler/measuring tool thingy and counter. For $17. It was mine. I picked up a ball of cheap, yellow acrylic yarn and took it home with me. The book is actually pretty easy to follow, and until I got my Stitch ‘n Bitch book, was still my reference guide.

It’s interesting how I wasn’t put off by the pictures on the front and back covers. In fact, I was really interested in their lives. How did they get here? Where were they now? I imagined they had a 90210 kind of life:

This is Cassandra. She is super stoked about her pink sleeveless sweater. With her shell necklace. Look at her, ready to face the world! Here are Cassie’s friends:

Kelly is wearing the yellow sweater. She’s spunky and mouthy. (She usually gets all the great lines, but not the boys). And here comes Cammie! Cammie is the dumb girl in the group. She’s also the gum chewer. AND she is totally, like, rocking out that pink turtleneck. I don’t know what the actual definition of a shaker sweater is, but I’d venture a guess this is pretty close. I would have been sporting something very similar in 8th grade. (PS – If you are too young to remember the 80s…well, you probably should leave now. I heart the 80s). Cassie, Kelly and Cammie do their best to avoid Cassie’s next door neighbor, Rob:

You crazy girls! Wanna have a kegger? Rob…. stop it! You made Cassie sad:

I would have hated Cassie in jr. high. Look at her hair! IT’S AQUATASTIC! But why so bummed, Cassie? Did your boyfriend Mike give you an STD? Or maybe she’s sad her little sister is wearing such a hideous sweater:

These sweaters are simply craptastic. And all in this little knitting book!

If you want to teach yourself to knit, grab a cheap pair of #10 needles and a cheap ball of yarn. Google “Learn to knit”. There are thousands of sites and videos…I use the hell out of them when I’m trying to figure out a new technique. If you fall in love with knitting, I heart the Stitch ‘N Bitch book. It’s irreverent, fun and really explains things well. The patterns are funky, and there’s a wide variety of things to try. I LOVE the Big Bad Baby Blanket…easy to do but looks complicated.

Or, go to Michael’s. Buy the I TAUGHT MYSELF KNITTING kit. Cassie will thank you.

-dk