Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Ravelversary!

On this day six years ago, I joined Ravelry!  Ravelry is an incredible community of knitters and crocheters from around the globe. These days, when someone asks me to teach them how to knit, I start with the basics, yarn and needle selection, casting on, knit and purl. My next instruction is usually to create a Ravelry account. That's how helpful and essential it is.

Ravelry has grown in spectacular leaps from its inception - when I joined, their server capability was so limited that you had to get on a waiting list to even be allowed to create a user account. I'm not sure how long the site had already existed when I joined, but after at least the last six years, it now boasts:

  • the single most comprehensive pattern index you could hope to find, searchable by dozens of detailed filters 
  • similar indices for yarns, designers, and pattern sources 
  • the ability to host your own PDF patterns for sale and download 
  • an excellent project journaling system designed to track every detail of your works-in-progress and showcase photos of the same 
  • a library tracking system to keep track of the patterns and pattern books you own 
  • same for your needles, hooks, and yarn stash 
  • a vast hive of social groups, each with its own network of message boards 
  • a blog and newsletter 
  • a merch store 

Truly, this site is the online dream-house of every yarn addict I know. If you are new to the craft (or not), and have not yet discovered Ravelry, please let me strongly encourage you to join up. They are now over a million members strong - no more waiting lists!

Also, it has all the letters in my name. So, that ups the awesome. ^_^

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Top-Down Set-In Seamless Sleeves (WHAT?!?!)

Tasha, the stylish genius behind By Gum, By Golly, just may be my new favorite craft blogger. She did not invent this ingenious method for sleeve knitting, but her tutorial is beautifully written and illustrated, and discovering her blog was nothing short of a "Eureka!" moment in the process of designing the Flamingo Cardi.

With all the garter rib pieces finished and seamed together, I found myself faced with large, asymmetrical armholes, and absolutely zero experience shaping set-in sleeves from scratch. Not willing to just wing it on something as structured as a sleeve cap, I googled for days, looking for the right tutorial, the right shaping wizard tool, something designed for knitting, not sewing, although I knew I could manage to convert the basic concepts if really necessary. Nothing I found seemed exactly suitable, especially for the unusually shaped armholes now staring me down.

Somehow, somewhere in there, I stumbled across Tasha's tutorial. And it was like one of those beautiful moments of clarity you read about. The room seemed brighter, music played somewhere.

The basic gist of it is, without stepping on Tasha's toes - because really, you should go to her for this - you pick up stitches around the armhole, and then work short rows centered at the shoulder, increasing one stitch at a time on either side, until you get to a certain marked point near the bottom of your sleeve, and then just start working in the round. It's so simple. And so obvious after the fact, in the "why didn't I think of that, except of course I never would have" kind of way.

It did take a bit of finagling on my part, due to that crazy asymmetry of my sweater design. But I've got one sleeve finished now, and it hangs perfectly. I did the first sleeve entirely on dpns, but I have a few uneven stitches sprinkled through it, probably due to working with a looser gauge that I'm accustomed to. For the second sleeve, I picked up the stitches with dpns but then thought better of it and switched to my circular to shape the cap. I'm ready to work in the round now, and I may have to switch back to dpns soon, since I'll have to start decreasing down the sleeve and my stitches already barely fit on my single size 9 circular. I really should get a second one. Knitting in the round on two circulars is SO much better than dpns.

I also went lace hunting for the trim yesterday morning, and scored the perfect pale pink floral lace. It's a large-patterned lace like on the original sweater, and while it's not a flawless color match for the yarn, it's pretty dang close and I think it's going to look lovely! Better make sure I know where my ballpoint sewing needles are...