Knitting, crafting, cooking, and motherhood… trying to do it all!

Posts tagged ‘crochet’

Taking the “EEK!” Out of Steeking

STEEKING. It means that you will be cutting stitches that you just spent hours (if not days) knitting. Crazy, right? I had never heard of steeking until I started knitting in January. While watching an instructional video on YouTube, it recommended a steeking video. Curious as to what it was, I watched in amazement as a carefully knit sweater was cut straight down the middle. From that point on, I was fascinated by the concept but did not take the opportunity to try it myself until this month.

Why would you cut your knitting? Steeking was developed by knitters of the Shetland archipelago and is particularly associated with Fair Isle knitting. The idea is that you can knit a cardigan sweater with frequent color changes and never have to turn your work to the back where all the colors are being carried. You essentially knit a tube in the round and make cuts for the front of the sweater and/or arm holes. If you use a particularly sticky wool and change colors correctly, you can cut your sweater without any extra reinforcement. If you are using a fiber that has been processed (such as a superwash), you will need to reinforce your stitches with a line of single crochet or with a sewing machine. After the sweater has been cut, the knitter can pick up stitches down the middle to create a button band to finish the garment.

I have read a lot about steeking and have watched several instructional videos. Elizabeth Zimmermann used steeking quite a bit and describes the process throughout her books. Intrigued, I was determined to try it myself. About a month ago, I received a digital download of the Tin Can Knits book Road Trip, which featured a steeked sweater. After knitting their Caribou sweater pattern (as I mentioned in my post about cables), I decided to try their Clayoquot pattern and experience steeking first-hand.

Clayoquot is a lovely sweater, featuring a Fair Isle design that I really love. I had previously purchased some Cascade 220 Superwash in “Ruby” to make a sweater for my two year old son, Jonathan. Since I had just knit the Caribou sweater for him, I decided to knit Clayoquot in the 6-12 mo size for my baby boy, Christian. I looked at all different colors to use for the Fair Isle patterning, perused project pages of other knitters, and finally decided that I didn’t want to knit with multiple colors. I wanted a simple red sweater. Now, I realize that the beauty of their design is in the patterning, but I wanted a versatile sweater that could go with everything. I loved that the pattern included pockets (my first time knitting them) and I would get the chance to try steeking with a sweater I could knit in just a couple days. I also feel that to become adept at stranded knitting, I need to teach myself how to “flick” the yarn with my right hand so I can knit a color in each hand. While it is on my list of things to learn, I’m still trying to improve my speed with Continental knitting.

If you are trying steeking for the first time (and every knitter SHOULD), I highly recommend reading up on it first. The lovely ladies of Tin Can Knits have an excellent blog post which I read repeatedly before making the first cut (and you get to see pics of a super cute baby!).

Here is a brief shot of my steeking experience: 1. Sweater knit in the round with the middle five stitches prepped for steeking. 2. Two lines of single crochets down the front to protect the stitches. 3. Cut down the middle of the stitches. 4. Steeking is complete.

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Add a button band and some buttons and, voila!

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Christian has a sweet little sweater now and it took just a couple of days. I’m glad I started with something so small, but I now have the confidence to steek in the future. It no longer intimidates me and I love that I can knit it all in stockinette with very little purling. And now a few pics of my own cutie in his newest sweater:

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Crocheting with Boys

My oldest son Roman will be 8 in August.  From the time he was three, he has particularly loved drawing, creating, and crafting.  We used to have “Mommy/Roman Work Time” while his brother Adrian was down for a nap.  We would work in my craft room on various projects.  I was typically designing handmade cards for my side business, while he would use paper scraps to design all sorts of creations.  As Adrian got older, he joined in the fun.

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This past year, both boys received a Rainbow Loom for St. Nicholas Day.  The boys have gone wild watching YouTube videos and learning how to make everything from bracelets, to charms, to animals, and even a mini-bag out of the colored bands!  Roman has become particularly adept and has taken to creating his own loom designs. His animal project for school was completed with a diorama featuring Rainbow Loom raccoons.

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When I was pregnant with my third son back in 2012, I started crocheting quite a bit.  I ended up making three baby blankets and a variety of hats, booties, etc. for the new baby.  Roman and Adrian took quite an interest and loved to sit and watch me work.  They asked me to teach them, but I felt they were still a little young.

This past year, I was pregnant with my fourth boy.  In January, I taught myself to knit.  Once again, my older boys took an interest and asked me to teach them to knit.  I laughed, saying that I was just learning myself.  I did tell them, however, that I would teach them to crochet.  With more than 20 years of crocheting experience and having taught a number of people how to crochet, I felt that they were ready.

Traditionally, knit and crochet are thought of as a feminine activity.  There are plenty of men out there who do one or both, but they are in the minority.  I don’t have any daughters and with four kids already, I don’t plan to have one.  Instead, I was blessed with four amazing boys.  If my boys are interested in learning a skill that will improve their fine-motor abilities, then I am not going to hesitate to teach them!  Maybe they will lose interest as they get older, or maybe one of their friends will tell them it’s too “girly,” but I can say for certain that I am not going to be the one to pigeonhole my boys.

About a month and a half ago, I sat down and showed both Roman and Adrian how to make a chain stitch.  Adrian was content with that knowledge and didn’t feel the need to go any farther in his crochet lessons.  Roman, on the other hand, grew bored of the chain stitch very quickly and so we moved on to a granny square.  Having taught other children to crochet, I feel that a basic granny square is the best way to learn.  You do not have to go into individual stitches very often, which can be challenging to a beginner.  The double crochet, while being slightly trickier than a single crochet, is easier to identify among other stitches, even if it’s made tightly.  Most importantly, at the end of a short lesson, you’re left with a lacy square that actually looks like you accomplished something.

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Roman made his first granny square that night.  He didn’t pick up the hook and yarn again until last night, after purchasing some yarn and hooks from a friend’s yard sale.  To my surprise, he didn’t even need a refresher course, he started right up and made a granny square with minimal help.  His squares aren’t perfect, but he is improving his skill with each one.

After I put the two little ones to bed, I found Roman sitting in my bed working.  I sat down next to him and I knit while he crocheted.  We chatted together while we worked, just like old friends.  After a while, he asked, “Can we do this every night?”  I can’t even tell you how happy this made me.  My heart feels incredibly full to have a child that loves working with yarn as much as I do.

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This morning, both boys started crocheting the minute they got up and have worked on it throughout the day.  Adrian is becoming more comfortable holding the hook and yarn and is making a rather long “snake” out of a crochet chain. (It works out quite nicely that he has been obsessed with snakes for the past few months.)

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They may not want to crochet forever, and that’s totally fine with me.  For now, I’m enjoying sharing a skill that is so dear to my heart with two of the boys I love most in this world.

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Crochet the Day Away

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A few weeks ago, I was approached by a local photographer.  She offered an exchange of services.  If I helped her create some newborn baby props (hats, bows, etc.) for her studio, she would offer me a photo credit toward a newborn photo session.  I agreed and took a break from the knitting to crochet some items for her.  One of the pixie hats is knit, along with the strand of the bow.  Two of my sons agreed to “model” the pink pixie hat.  All the rest of the items are crocheted, so I thought I’d share some pictures.   I can’t wait to see them appear on some babies in her studio! These are only a few of the items, so you may see another post in the future!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Getting Started

Who am I?  I am a mother of three boys, expecting my fourth boy in April.  I have a loving, hardworking husband whose job gives me the freedom to work outside the home or stay home and raise my children (both of which I have done).  I have amazing friends who support me in my crazy endeavors and help me as I stumble my way through this path called motherhood.  I am a former classroom teacher, having taught first grade for four years and kindergarten for two.  My class size is now down to my three (almost 4!) boys and I love sharing both crafting and intellectual experiences with all of them.  I am not a patient person, and when I decide I want to do something I have a hard time putting it off… thus, a blog is born.

I have always been a crafter.  I have never considered myself an artist, but I fully qualify as a crafter.  Over the years I have pursued MANY crafting interests, from sewing to card-making to crocheting and more.  I typically become obsessed with one form of media or another (yarn, paper, etc.) and throw myself into it full-force.  I currently have a very small card-making business in which I sell baby and expectant mother greeting cards to a local baby boutique in town.  I do this because it gives me an identity outside of motherhood, because I enjoy creating, and because it’s nice to make a little money to support my crafting habits.

Crocheting has been one of my longest-running craft obsessions.  I learned to crochet when I was 10 years old, so I have been crocheting off and on for more than 20 years.  When I worked at an after-school program, I started a “Crochet Club” and taught children in 1st-6th grade the basics of crocheting.  I have also taught adults how to crochet.  I have made crochet products to sell and I was hired by a friend with her own clothing line to make some basic crocheted hats (of which I made over 100).  In the past year, I have finally gained enough confidence to start creating, writing, and selling my own crochet patterns (although it’s mostly just creating them… the writing and selling are still pretty new to me).

At the end of December, I decided to take my yarn crafting to the next level by learning how to knit.  While I love crocheting, I would occasionally feel somewhat limited in my yarning abilities because I did not know how to knit. For Christmas I was given, by request, some knitting needles and knitting books.  Thus, my New Year’s Resolution was to learn to knit!

While I certainly should blog about my specific knitting experiences, I’m going to breeze over that for today and talk about why I am blogging.  To make a long story short, I learned to knit very quickly.  I started on January 3, approximately six weeks ago.  Since then I have made three different baby hats, two hats for me (although one was crocheted and then felted… a new technique for me), a baby sweater, baby socks, and a sock for me (I still have to finish the pair).  I have also completed two entirely original patterns, including a pair of fingerless mittens and a pair of striped baby socks.  I have practiced the techniques of two-colored knitting, Fair Isle two-stranded knitting, cable knitting, knitting in the round, knitting with double pointed needles, and Magic Loop knitting.  Even though the length of time I have been knitting has been fairly short, I feel safe classifying myself as, at least, an intermediate knitter.

About a week ago, I met Stephanie who is an avid knitter with a blog, a website, and a ravelry.com store.  She has many knit pattern sales and is sponsored by a yarn company to create patterns.  Stephanie has been providing me with TONS of useful information about starting up a business in the yarn world.  While I don’t want to sell my actual products, I am extremely interested in creating and selling patterns.  After everything I’ve learned, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get connected within the yarn community (specifically through ravelry).  Although writing has never been a passion of mine, I decided to pursue this endeavor it is important to create a blog with details about my craft and one day gain some followers.  So here it is.

Here are my goals for having this blog:

1. Start small.  I’m not going to promote my blog or try to attract followers until I have a decent number of posts.

2. Write about crafting and motherhood experiences.  Motherhood is a huge part of my life and will play some role in this blog.  Where my children are and what they are doing will largely determine the projects I am creating (e.g. the large number of newborn boy items I have created in the past month).  While many of these crafts involve knitting or crocheting, some will be crafts with the kids, handmade greeting cards, birthday party ideas, recipes for the family, and more.

3. Become connected on ravelry.com and find a way to incorporate both my blog and my Pinterest boards.

4. Post projects on ravelry, join groups, and learn how to utilize the site to my benefit.

5. Post at least three times a week to this blog, sharing pictures and words to describe my crafting experiences.  (This will obviously be more challenging when the baby comes in April.  If I can stay focused until then, hopefully it won’t be too hard to start it back up.)

6. Continue to grow in my knitting abilities (particularly speed-wise) and try to experience or learn more about becoming a pattern tester and/or tech editor.

I’m sure as I progress, more goals will surface.  At least now I have some written goals and can work to pursue connections in the crafting world by having my own blog.  Thanks for reading!

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My Star Wars family at Halloween: Princess Leia (me, pregnant with baby #4), Yoda (Jonathan, 1 yr), Han Solo (Justin), rebel soldier (Roman, 7 yrs), and R2-D2 (Adrian, 5 yrs).  I made Adrian’s costume, including a crocheted hat and a laundry hamper robot body.