Monday, January 23, 2012

Random This & That

Progress Reports:
I'm getting close to the end of the Very Vintage V-Stitch-Ghan.  Maybe a handful more rows until I'm happy with the length, then taking care of tidying up the sides, which are a mess, since I haven't woven in any of the tails.  I plan to crochet over them when I crochet along the selvedge... and then weave the last bits in the opposite direction.  (Maybe... Or possibly just crochet over them and say "good enough".)

I had trouble when I picked up the Strangling Vine Lace Scarf, so I ended up having to frog it. :o(  Then I had an awful time getting it restarted, but I'm finally back about where I was when I stopped, last time.  (Progress?  Yeah, right. (g))

Otherwise... I'm mostly working on a Secret Project gift item, so no details on that one... Just that it's an easy-breezy project that's loads of fun to knit. 

- - - - - - -

What I Found at Wal-Mart:
I know it's not fashionable to shop at Wal-Mart, but whatever.  I do, and I'm not ashamed to say so.  Anyway, on a recent shopping trip, I took a look down the yarn-craft aisle and was surprised to find size 20 crochet thread there.  True, it was only available in white, but I think that's the first time I've seen size 20 thread at Wal-Mart.  I bought a ball to signal my approval. ;o)  Now I need to choose a pattern and give it a try.  So far, I haven't crocheted with anything finer than size 10 thread.

Size 20 Crochet Thread

- - - - - - -

Interchangeable Knitting Needles:
By my standards, sets of interchangeable knitting needles can be a bit pricy.  However, all it took to convince me that it was worth the investment was accidentally buying the wrong size/length of fixed circular needles.  Even buying individual fixed/length needles with 40-50%-off coupons adds up-- especially since you can't always know what size needle you'll need to get gauge.  So I took one of those good coupons and put it toward one of the cheaper sets of interchangeable needles. 

I got the Boye set of needles.  I chose them because it was the most affordable set (if bought locally with the 50%-off coupon)-- and also because in my limited experience, I find metal needles nicer to work with than plastic.  (I haven't tried bamboo, but since I like the slickness of metal needles, I doubt that bamboo's my style.) 

Like most things, you find widely varying opinions of this set, online. There are two most commonly cited negatives of this set:  1) The cables are stiff, and 2) The needles come unscrewed from the cables during knitting.

My responses:

1)  I haven't had a problem with the cables being too stiff, so far, but if I ever do, I plan to soften them by dunking them in hot water and straightening them-- or using one of the other remedies I've read for stiff cables.  Or if I'm really desperate, I've seen an interesting tutorial for making your own cables.

2) The first time I used these needles, I wasn't knitting in the round, and I had no trouble with the needles coming apart.  The first time I did knit in the round was a different story... Sure enough, the needle in my right hand kept unscrewing itself.  I paused my work and scooted the stitches apart enough to use the (kit-included) tightening system (which I hadn't bothered with before).  Since tightening them, I haven't had a bit of trouble (and I've used the needles to complete one project and start another).  So it seems that some of the reviews I read were correct:  If you take the time to (carefully) tighten the connection (as per instructions), you are much less likely to have a problem with the needles coming loose from the cable. 

Here's the case that comes with the needles...

Interchangeable Knitting Needle Kit


...And a rather blurry photo of (most of) the kit's contents:

Interchangeable Knitting Needle Kit


Some of the cables aren't in the photo.  (I took them out the first time I checked out the kit.  I prefer not to have them in the pouch, unless I'm taking the whole kit with me somewhere.)

So far, I'm happy with this purchase.  The needles can be attached to any of the lengths of cable, and cables can be connected to make them longer.  If you want to use them as straight needles, those little red discs can be screwed onto the ends of the cables.  Also, you can purchase extra cable connectors, needles, and cables, separately.  (Or make a bunch of your own with that tutorial I linked above.)  Unless I start doing knitting that requires tiny or gigantic needles (unlikely), I should have everything I need in this kit.

One funny thing:
Where I bought my kit, there were two in stock with two different package designs.  They'd obviously just done a redesign.  Some of the information on one of the packages was a little misleading.  Whoever designed it apparently didn't pay close enough attention to what s/he was doing.  When (very prominently) listing the needle sizes available in the kit, they included two numbers that simply aren't there.  I'm sure this wasn't intentional-- and because the package was clear, you could see for yourself exactly which needles were included in the kit-- but it's still a pretty bad mistake.   For the record, this kit includes the following needle sizes:  2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11, 13, and 15.  It does not include sizes 12 or 14. (Actually, sizes 12 and 14 don't even exist in the US sizing system...)

- - - - - - -

Cable Needles:
I have my eye on a simple knitting project that involves basic cables, so I picked up a small set of cable needles from the craft store.  There were only two sets to choose from, and the other was made up of plastic needles, which is completely unappealing.  This one has three different styles of needles (and at least two sizes).  Maybe they'll help me decide what style of cable needle I prefer.  That is, if I don't find cabling too difficult, period.  Cables seem so mysterious and difficult.  I'll be pretty impressed with myself if I manage to make them.  ;o)

Cable Needles

- - - - - - -

And to finish up the entry...
My mother won a giveaway for a very nice gift certificate for an online shop that sells fabric, yarn, trim, etc.-- and she generously asked my sisters and I to choose something to order along with her!  (Wasn't that sweet?)  Here's what I got:  It's a yard of some adorable lime green retro-style fabric with blue-polka-dotted kitties-- and two skeins of Cascade 220 wool yarn.  The blue skein is #2433 (Pacific Heather), and the one in the back is #8229 (Country Green). 

Fabric & Yarn from Mom


It was lots of fun shopping/choosing.  Next I'll have probably hours of fun thinking about what to make... and then the fun of the actual making.  Thank you again, Mom!