October 16, 2012

Knitting Library Review

Several new knitting books recently moved into the Casa Haifischhappen recently. One by one I will review them here. This is the first one:

The Principles of Knitting. Methods and Techniques of Hand Knitting
Author: June Hemmons Hiatt
2nd edition, February 2012

The Principles of Knitting

When I bought this book, I knew it must be quite a compendium, but little did I know what kind of compendium it would be. It’s the most comprehensive book about knitting techniques I have come across yet. One of my teacher at the Fachhochschule once said said, a handbook about a topic is a book that cannot, by any means, be carried in one hand. And this is absolutely true about this book. On about 700 pages Hiatt gives a thorough overview about and detailed instructions for knitting, planning projects and caring for the knits.

Divided into eight chapters the author covers topics from basic techniques as casting on and off, shaping, stitches and decreases over special fabrics such as double fabric or twining to the importance of gauge, discussion of fibres and how to work on a fabric. The chapter about measurements, gauge and schematics is one of the best I’ve yet come across.

All techniques are thoroughly described in written word and accompanied by concise drawings showing the main steps. So whether you learn better by reading or by looking at pictures, both is equally possible.
I like very much, that not so common techniques like twining or double fabric are described as well as “everyday techniques” as k2tog and ssk.

There are some drawbacks, though.

One thing is the cross-references. I personally like if things are cross-referenced. But Hiatt doesn’t give page numbers. So to find the reference, the reader has to keep his current page, go to the index, find the reference page and go there, to read the correspondent article – which might contain another cross-reference. With the weight of the book, this is quite uncomfortable reading.

The second is that Ms. Hiatt invents her own names for some techniques. Would you know what a Half-Hitch-Cast-On might be? Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’s commonly known as Long-Tail-Cast-On. Yes, knitting is notorious for its inconsequence in naming certain techniques. But some things have names that are commonly used and using a different name for a technique widely known makes it hard to find information when one really needs it.

The Principles of Knitting

Conclusion: This is an excellent reference book I think every knitter should own. The information given is excellently researched and edited. I have personally learned a lot about the Half-Hitch-Cast-On I didn’t know before (e.g. the right and left side of the Long-Tail-Cast-On. I never thought about it), I don’t recommend it for the beginner though, it’s not a book for someone help in learning to knit.

September 03, 2012

Cake recipe

Right now I'm making two beautiful Handsome Winter-Sweaters for my kids in the beautiful Merino Yarn by Pickles.

To knit the sweater, the yarn is held double to create a nice, soft and very warm fabric. When nearly finished with the body for DDs sweater in cocoa brown yarn I found it a bit dull and decided to re-knit it using part of the pink yarn for DSs sweater and make stripes.
Imagin this: Knitting in the round, yarn held double, stripes. Makes four balls of yarn jumping around the sofa and being grabbed at by DS. No fun at all! And then I had a light moment.

I should wind the two balls of one colour in a cake. It would be much easier to handle. Wait. If I wind anyway, how about winding TWO COLOURS into one cake? Wouldn't that be even better? I tried and it's great! I put the light colour as center-pull to the inside and the darker colour to the outside:

Great idea, isn't it? Yes! But it didn't work! Our sofa, though it's a leather sofa, is covered with sheets to protect it from sticky fingers and inquiring tongues. The pink yarn pulling out the bottom center got stuck in the sheets. I could put the cake on the floor that's tiled, but the sticky fingers would be very quick to tangle and felt the yarn there. I need a yarn bowl.
There are plenty of great ideas on Pinterest about what to use as make-shift yarn bowls but I found the variety of plastic containers proposed to lightweight and to small to hold even one ball of yarn. I read about using tea pots and thread the yarn through the muzzle. As my yarn was already attached to the knitting plus I want to be able to take my knitting with me, that was no option.
But I thought about it a bit and went around the house to see what might work. And I got lucky with the old tableware I inherited from my great-grandparents. It came with a huge lidded bowl with an opening for a spoon. Perfect for stew. Perfect for a makeshift yarn bowl.

It's huge, that's true. But it is also heavy so will have a good stand. And it's smooth on the inside and the yarn rolls off easily from outside as well as from the inside.

We don't use this tableweart as it is not dishwasher safe. I was about to donate it. Happy I am that I didn't have the time yet! I really love the design as well so my new yarn bowl makes me really happy!

August 25, 2012

The fourth birthday

The other week we celebrated DDs fourth birthday with a party. Four of her friends were invited and beforehand the question arose – what can we do to entertain them. And what gift can we give them as a take home present?
Zu meiner Blogliste
I have a severe dislike of these standard bags that include too many sweets and stuff that breaks after three uses or just clutters up the kid’s rooms. So I put some thought into the whole affair. On Pinterest I found a picture of older kids painting pictures during a birthday party (yeah, I didn’t pin it and can’t find it anymore!). We liked the basic idea, but pictures? That would mean getting canvas somewhere and probably no room in the kid’s rooms to hang the pics. What to do?

Well, the answer was obvious, kind of. We purchased a number of white basic shirts from H&M and had the kids print and paint these – great fun during the party and a great memory afterwards, a memory the kids actually get to use! I bought long sleeved shirts, so the finished works can be worn during the coming fall and winter!

As I already own a good selection of blueprinting colours, there was very little else to organize: 
  •  Get some throw-away glasses for the colours to put in
  • Organize some smocks for the kids to wear
  • Get out my stamps and the colours
  • Some paint-brushs
The kids were a bit sceptic at first – painting shirts? Hm. How? Why? What? But they paid very good attention and loved the idea quickly.

They started out using the stamps and a stencil. Very quickly they decided to use the brushes and paint freely on their shirts. The next step, to print their hands, was a short one.

All five of them were very into it and loved what we had thought up for them. They painted for about 45 minutes in absolute silence and concentration. For me it was a very new experience. I have taught grown-ups how to blue-print. I have printed with DD alone. But I have never worked with a group of little ones. It was a bit of a frenzy sometimes when all of them needed a new colour AT ONCE or wanted to change their stamps. At around four they don’t always get the “First come, first serve” logic we grown-ups are used to.
The really amazing thing about this project was how the shirts show the character of the kids who made them! I don’t know the kids really well, it’s more like we meet at Kindergarten or on the playground. Only one of them is DDs exceptional friend whom we meet often and whose mother I’m friend with.
See the results for yourselves:

 This is DDs. She’s a bit extrovert and searches for rules to help her cope with life.

The kid that made this shirt is a calm and nice little guy, very guarded but when feeling at home he’s super-charming.

The kid that made this shirt I know as quiet and very orderly.

The one who made this shirt I know least. She was quite reserved and calm while visiting us, but thawed after some time.

The artist who made this shirt is outspoken, extrovert, a leader. And very down-to-earth.

It was a great experience for me. I think the kids liked it, too. And the parents were amazed at what their kids made. I hope to see some or all of the shirts come fall at Kindergarten.

The colours and stamps used were those of Blauweisschen. They are water-based and not toxic. By simply ironing them afterwards they are fused to the fabric and can be washed with standard laundry.