Category Archives: Podcasts

Summer games part two

The big ones are now over.  The summer Olympics, what I had time to watch, were amazing as usual.  Loved the coverage of London and lots of venues outside the city as well.  Swimming, gymnastics, marathon runners, all very inspirational.

Top-down sweater progress

The knitting community at large have been involved in supporting the Olympics by holding what has been called for a number of years, the Ravelympics.  (Ravelry being the online site that knitters and crocheters go to to get pattern inspiration, buy patterns and belong to social groups around different aspects of the craft).  It’s a huge, worldwide group with over 2 million members.  So as the Ravelry “olympic” teams began forming in the late spring, the knitting community was handed quite a stunning slap, I guess you can say, in the form of a cease and desist letter from the US Olympic committee.   We as a knitting community were told that it was trademark infringement to use the name “olympics” and that furthermore we had some nerve equating our knitting team challenges with super athletes (some of the competitions for knitters being things like the Afghan Marathon, Works-in-Progress Wrestling, Sweater Triathlon, Shawl Sailing, etc.).  Ravelry changed the name of the challenge to Ravellenic Games in the end, which didn’t bother me and most adopted without much fuss.  But the letter did not just demand that Ravelry cease and desist from using the term and the Olympic symbols, it went on to make disparaging remarks about how knitting “tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.   In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.” (excerpt from the C&D letter sent by Brett Hirsch, law clerk for the USOC which I read at this Gawker site).  It also spoke about the fact that athletes train all their lives in order to compete in the world arena which is sometimes the pinnacle of their career.  And our knitting while cheering on our athletes is taking away from their accomplishments?  Ok, I guess it will continue to be a head-scratcher for me!

Color Affection shawl progress, with help from Tesser the Chihuahua (which makes my progress look bigger and better than it really is)

Needless to say, the knitting community rose up in anger, to put it mildly, and after flooding the USOC committee’s Facebook page and Twitter connection with comments, they sent an “apology” letter which just made matters worse, as the tone was just as insulting as in the original. There are many links online for a better coverage of the whole thing, but I agree with many who have commented that the committee and its legal representatives should maybe have done a little homework on this deal before writing a letter that inflamed almost 2 million people with pointy sticks who take their knitting very seriously.  And to totally ignore the fact that this self-challenge in the knitting community was meant to support the viewing of as many hours of the games that members could manage (and in the process be subjected to the advertising that goes along with NBC’s coverage).

I never had intended to blog about this whole thing.  Many before me have covered this more eloquently.  I am a committed fiber junkie and love to knit, spin, weave, felt and work with fiber in any form.  Knowing that the summer is chock full of catching up on farm work and housework that I can’t get to during the schoolyear means that I don’t give myself much tv time in the form of sitting and watching during the day, but I really thought that I would be more motivated to get two of my knitting projects finished if I joined in the fun of being on one of the Ravellenic teams (Team Sasquatch as I am an avid fan of many knitting podcasts).  But as the games went on, I found myself almost not wanting to do any knitting and I stopped visiting the team boards on Ravelry altogether.  I think that knitting is still viewed by society in general as being something done primarily by women (which is not true and historically incorrect) and therefore not given much status.  Which gets my old ’60s sensibilities inflamed as I still believe women’s equality has not come as far as I had dreamed of in my teen years.

So I have not succeeded in accomplishing my “olympic” goals, oh, sorry, my “Ravellenic” goals, and probably gotten less done than I would have had I not joined.  The whole thing still leaves me with a litte bit of a bad taste which I am sure I will get over.  But I am not sure that I will ever be moved to participate in the games ever again!  Which annoys me, annoyingly enough.  Oh well, I still intend to finish these two projects before October, when I am sure to want to be wearing them, not just talking about them.  I think my next Netflix movie may just be the ticket  :*)

Gauge swatches R Us

Lucky for me that I spent the time to do them!  Most of the spinners in our spinning group are attempting a knit-along sweater of their choice, and most of them are already into the project.  I dyed the yarn for my cardigan with some variation in color, but I tried to keep it fairly well within the same color ranges.  Over the weekend we had our grandson for Saturday and part of Sunday, so it wasn’t until Sunday night that I got some gauge swatches knit up.

The first swatch I did was a small one.  The gauge is supposed to be 16 stitches to 4″, so I cast on 16 stitches and knit about 4 inches in length.  The pattern calls for number 9 needles, but I am quite a loose knitter so I tried number 7s with Addi Turbo needles instead.  The swatch came out way too big.  So I went to a size 6 needle, but of another brand (ChiaoGoo).

Size 6 swatch #1

That swatch came out 1/2 inch too small, which multiplied over a whole sweater would spell disaster!  So I did another small swatch with size 7 needles and got the perfect swatch!  Exactly 16 stitches for 4″.  Sounded good, looked good, but for the ultimate decision, I decided to do a large swatch.

So with the size 7 needles I did a double sized square, starting with 32 stitches cast on.  During the Super Bowl I knitted away while watching a movie, and when I figured I had enough of a large square, I cast off and washed and blocked my large square.  Hmm.  Not the result I had expected!

Size 7s don't do it :*(

I again had another result.  Not the one I was hoping for!

As long as I was this invested in the project, I thought that I would do another large swatch, but this time with the size 6 ChiaoGoo needles.

Last swatch

Well, after the second swatch was done, I was really in a quandary.  The size 7 large swatch was too big, and the last swatch on size 6s was a teeny-teeny bit under.  So I had the choice:  use the size 7s and knit the sweater one size under my target size, or use the size 6s and do the larger size.  Sigh!  So I used the tried and true method:  waited until our friend Pam came over and showed them to her.  The fabric of both swatches was very nice, and I think we now have agreement, that I will use the size 6 needles.  Who knew that different makes of needles would have such different results!

(And I really have The KnitMore Girls to thank for embarking upon the “large” gauge swatch.  I love their podcast, and they always talk about the importance of doing a large swatch.  I think that I am a convert!)

November already

Another week has come and gone, and we have returned to autumn temperatures again.  It’s been beautiful out!  I wish I could have been out during the day more during the week, but work kept me plenty busy.  This time change has me mourning the end of daylight savings; I much prefer to have more light in the afternoon than I do in the mornings.  I have to do chores quickly in the a.m. no matter what, so I would rather have the time in the p.m.  Ah well, one of my favorite seasons is fading rapidly!

Hat in progress

This is the time of year when things quiet down on the farm.  Once we finish getting the paddock cleaned out and we get the bred ewes home from the field, we can settle in for the quiet time.  I already have a list of knitting, weaving and spinning projects that I want to get into.  Aside from the lace shawl for our neighbor, I have cast on a watch cap for John.  A small project that I can carry with me.  It’s a pattern that had been recommended on one of my favorite podcasts, KnitKnit Cafe.  Taken from a 1940 pattern called Classic World War II Watch Cap, it has been interpreted by Helen Waittes, derived from Beanie No. 212 Bucilla Yarn Booklet, Volume 318, dated 1940.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry and has many options for individualization.  Just knitting it in the original pattern with the 4X2 ribbing to the crown, I am hopeful that this hat will fit my husband better than the last hat that I knit him (this past winter).  So I am using smaller needles with the worsted weight as I am a fairly loose knitter.  And knitting it in the smallest size.  This is a great project for the faculty meetings that I have to attend this week, if I can prevent myself from finishing it before then  :*)

Knitting squarely

6 cm mitred knit squares

I almost always have a knitting project on the needles, and usually two or three simultaneously.  But my current mindset is so on-edge, what with the job situation and money being extremely tight, that I am all over the place with that.  I have a project that is setting my teeth on edge because I can’t get it right (this is the gift for a friend which I handspun and dyed the yarn for) so that is on the sidelines, and I have a bunch of stuff that I want to try (some simple lace knits, like Ishbel or the Multnomah shawlettes), but I have not pulled it together.  Sigh.  It is definitely a sign of the state of my mind that I don’t have something going that I am enjoying and working on.

I will have to do a different blog post on my podcast addiction at some point, but one of the podcasts I have recently found has saved my knitting soul!  I have a list as long as your arm of podcasts to which I subscribe (I listen to them on the way to work and home), but one of the newer podcasts that I am listening to is called iMake.  It’s simply a lovely podcast that comes from a very crafty soul on the isle of Guernsey.  What a lovely show!  Martine covers multiple crafts and she also has a segment on Guernsey each episode, which may be my favorite part of the show :*)  I love to travel and have always wanted to visit the island, so this is second best, I guess.  She speaks beautifully and is very clear, so my aged and faulty ears have no trouble with the listening.  Anyhow, awhile ago she mentioned that she was working on a sock yarn mitred square blanket.  I wasn’t sure how to knit a mitred square, so I went to her blog and looked at her very nice tutorial on the process.  I have a bunch of sock yarns that are just bits and pieces of the ends of the skeins, so when we were sitting at one of our very long vet visits with our old dog Bear, I had the foresight to take along a small bag with #2 needles and some ends of yarn.  I got three of the smaller squares finished while Bear had some tests done.  And I am hooked!

Small squares knit to each other next to a larger one

I am not sure that I want to knit the squares to each other, as I am an old-time quilter and think that I may want to re-arrange the squares so that the mitre stripe goes in different directions, not just in all the same.  Also, I don’t think I did a very good job with the connected small squares, so I have experimented with a larger square.  The smaller (6 cm) squares are 16 stitches to each side, so the cast-on is 32 stitches.  My larger square adds 8 more stitches to each side, and I think that I like that size better.  As you can guess, the larger squares are 10 cm so they are just a nice size, probably easier for me to handle when I connect them.

10 cm square on the needles

This has come at the perfect time.  I can pick up a square and knit one in a very short time and I can carry my small chicken project bag full of a sampling of leftover sock yarns with me at all times.  Knitting is a soothing activity for me, specially if I don’t have to think too hard about it!