Summer projects

So since the weather is getting nicer, it’s hard to knit scarves and hats. But I am struggling to find warm weather projects to knit. I have some ideas of knitting things for my bike. It sounds odd, but I think it would be nice to have a personalized frame protector. I figure I can knit a rectangle with some buttons on the long side to attached it around the frame. I’ve never knit anything with button holes so this would be a great new skill set to pick up. Who knows maybe this will start a trend in bike accessories.

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Aside form this, I plan on expanding my stitch repertoire and learn some new stitches. It’s about time I learned more than just purl and knitting. To do this, I plan on making a bunch of coasters. Each one in a different stitch.  If all goes well, I’ll make coaster sets for friends as gifts this summer. I’ll also use this as a test to see how fast I can knit – give myself a new challenge.

Speaking of gifts, I just finished this great hat for a friend that asked for one. The pom-pom on top is quite luxurious – it’s rabbit fur.

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So I need some summer projects to work on. I as I mentioned earlier, I want to try crochet, but I feel there is more so much more to I want to learn in knit-wise. I have yet to make mittens, which I feel are a right of passage for knitters. Making winter gear in the summer though doesn’t appeal – the last thing I want to do in 30 degree weather is to work with heavy wool and try on hats. Any ideas for what I should work on?

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Chatting with boys – Stuart

I’m not one to attend stitch and bitches at a shop or coffee shop, I am curious to go one. Maybe one day soon. I like to knit alone, in my shorts on my couch while watching sports. I like the solitude, well almost solitude, my cat like to “help” by chasing my yarn or pawing at my needles. I do want to hear and engage with other guys that knit. I reached out to a few friends and acquaintances and we’re talking about a guys stitch and bitch – I’ll post about it. Until then, I’ve had a few chats with some guys about knitting. Here’s a condensed interview with Stuart

Stuart

Stuart, a good friend of mine, was curious about knitting too. We met up a few months ago and ended up going to a few wool shops, getting needles and then he dove right in. Stuart has a great creative and loose style. He uses way more colourful and thinner wools than I do, which I admire. His first project was a scarf for his mom’s birthday. He’s shared some pics of his work.

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Stuart with his first project

I asked him why he likes to knit, this is what he shared with us:

– I enjoy movement
– I like to create and make things
– it’s easy to be creative
– I enjoy learning
– I feel productive when watching movies or tv shows
– it’s fun to make things for other people
– keeps me entertained and less bored when flying
– in general it’s neat and fun when trading ideas with other people
– I’m pretty good as a beginner and so it’s good for my confidence

 

I love the insight on how knitting builds confidence. There is nothing more rewarding then making something and feeling good about it.

Images on this post have kindly been donated by Stuart with permission to use them.

Mistakes and Mishapes

Failure is the fun of learning, kinda. I’ve made a lot of mistakes while knitting, especially early on. There is a learning curve that has to be mastered to enjoy knitting. Thankfully, the curve is pretty low. It’s taken me a while to get into the groove on my needles, but I’ve learned a lot while working away.

Dropped stitches will happen, its almost a guarantee when starting out. Its frustrating to find them a few rows down but they are fixable. I think that the most important thing that I’ve learned is that pretty much everything is fixable in knitting. That’s really what I’m learning about this craft, once you get the hang of it, you can fix things way easier, but you also make less mistakes. I used to spend hours taking projects apart to fix mistakes that I’ve now learned can be easily fixed with a crochet hook or paperclip if you don’t have one.

One of the drawbacks about being self taught is you miss out on someone showing or teaching you how to fix something. I was amazed when a co-worker showed me how to knit backwards to pick up a dropped stitch. YouTube is great for showing you how to fix a lot of mistakes.

My first finished piece that I made for myself is this great blue scarf. I wanted a long, thin scarf that I can wrap around my neck a few times and not be too bulky. I took my time with it, was extra careful in not making mistakes, ensuring my tension was even… When I finished the project, I noticed one dropped stitch, the only blemish on a pretty perfect scarf. At first I was pissed, like really pissed. But now when I look at it and see it, it’s a reminder that I made this by hand, and there are imperfections with that at times.

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The dropped stitch on my favourite scarf

The biggest mistake I made was while knitting a hat. It was a simple ribbed beanie, and I was a stitch off. The whole pattern was askew, it was kinda cool but I couldn’t continue with it. Starting over, its now a great gift.

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Its hard to see, but the pattern is shifted by one stitch

Tools

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Tools in my knitting aresenal

There’s a lot of info and opinions on the various tools needed to wool. Not even too sure if tools is the right word, but I don’t care. I think of whatever I am using while knitting to be a tool. I’ve amassed a lot stuff in the last year. Some of these purchases are great and weird, some I’m not too sure what to do with yet… Yet being the operative word, I am determined to figure out how to cable stitch soon.  Needles are the obvious must have for knitting, but I’ve found crochet hooks, shears, tape measure, stitch marking things, good cardboard, and some moisturizer are must have so far.

Needles are key! They’re the most important tool in your arsenal. I like the metal ones. I like how they feel in my hands, I like that they are cold. They can be slippery – it’s easy to drop stitches on them. I find they move and work up fast. I like the sound they make when you’re going. Maybe that’s it – the sound of industry that appeals to me.

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My needle set – not the greatest but it works well

I have an interchangeable set of needles I picked up at a big craft store, they were stupid cheap on sale. They’re ok, not the nicest by any means, but they work for now. I like at how versatile the set is, and how it comes in its own case – makes it easy to store and carry. I also have a few sets of fixed metal needles. These are amazing, they were kinda expensive, but worth it. I should pick up another set in a bigger size. I have a few bamboo needles but they don’t feel as nice. They work well enough.

Crochet hooks are invaluable for my knitting. They’re great at fixing mistakes like dropped stitches. I grabbed a bunch a dollar store. In fact, a lot of my non-needle tools are from dollar stores. I’m toying with the idea of starting to crochet, I would love to make an afghan.

Dollar stores, and Dollarama have some pretty handy knitting tools. I found a stitch counter at one, great sets of large sewing needles which are fantastic for finishing projects, handy boxes and storage systems. Stitch markers are good to have. Before I bought some (the hearts and the plastic safety pins) are really important to have. Before I bought them, I MacGivered some paper clips to use as stitch markers. It worked good enough.

When I’m working on a project, I’ll keep it in smaller canvas tote with just a few tools- crochet hook, snips, and a measuring tape. I keep my extra wool also in a larger canvas bag in my closet and my other tools in a pencil case in a drawer.

Resources

Being self taught, I’ve come to rely on some books and YouTube to learn how to knit. In the beginning, it was not pretty, and to a certain extent, it still isn’t, and that the fun part. I like figuring this hobby out and learning as I go.

THE book

IMG_2634So I took advantage of the demise of a large, corporate book chain going under and reaping the rewards of their clearance sale. This book has been very helpful in walking me through the basics, and provides great insight into how to knit. I like that its visual and builds on basics. Thank you Sharon Turner!!

 

YouTube

I subscribe to a few YouTube channels that show you how to knit. What I love about these sites is that it shows you how everyone knits differently. Some are better at others, but overall, I find searching for specific instruction works best – there’s a lot of teachers online. These are my top sites:

Good Knit Kisses 

With YouTube, you need to take it with a grain if salt, usually you have to get over a punny name or worse. But the content is great. Nice pace, good visuals, good instruction and thorough teachings.

New Stitch a Day

This is a great site – hosted by a dude too! I find it a bit advanced, but its great to learn new stitches and projects

This hat video

This video is amazing at learning how to make a hat. This is the basis that all my hats are based on. This video showed me how to decease stitches. Its an odd video – I love the cut to deer in this lady’s yard half way through.

I find talking to people in wool and craft stores to also be great. I’ll have more on shops in later post, but I found that going to a large outfit like Michael’s to be pretty great when you’re starting out – you don’t want to spend a lot on wool for your first project as it will most likely be pulled apart a few times before you get going.

What I’ve found so far

Earlier this month, I celebrated my two-year anniversary or picking up the needles and putting out the butts. Since I’ve started knitted I’ve made and mastered a few things mostly scarves and hats. I’ve been more focused on just picking up the project and working on it than just hammering through it, I did however push myself to knit 6 hats in December…

In two years I’ve come a long way and being self taught I am not too sure if what I’m doing is right or wrong, and I don’t really care. I can see that my work is getting better, nicer, and being built up quicker.  I still only know basic stiches and can’t quite read a pattern – I think I need some help with this – any tips readers?

Maybe it’s me or a guy thing in general, but I like to use thicker wool and larger needles. Usually an 11 or 13 needle and an extra bulky wool are my faves. I do have some less bulky wool that I have some big ideas for, but we’ll get to future projects later, maybe a tie or something nice and small.

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My 11, 13, and 15 needles

Since I’ve started knitting, I’ve been less stressed, I am more relaxed and I have a calmer outlook on things.  There’s a great article in New York times that highlights these benefits

Reading this makes me think why aren’t more people knitting, especially men?  Especially given how many men suffer from heart issues and other issues with stress. The articles touches on what I believe is the crux of why knitting is healthy and that is creating something tangible. I’ve tried to meditate, but my mind is still to restless. Knitting provides me with the same calmness and peace of mind that meditating does, but I have something to show for it.

Hi there!

I started knitting two years ago. I wanted to try something new and actually make things. I also wanted to quit smoking and thought there must be something that can do ALL of this. Turns out knitting was it.

Having a background in film and photography, and full time job in advertising, I wanted to make tangible, personal, objects – things that I can touch and feel and not watch or read. I’ve never knit before. Sure, I was exposed to knitting and crocheting as a child hanging out with my grandmother and great aunts, but I’ve never picked up needles and yarn until two years ago. After a lot of toiling – and I mean some serious starting and stopping I finally FINALLY figured it out – sorta. I can cast on, knit, purl, made some scarves and some hats, do some ribbing but by no means a proper knitter.

I wanted to start this blog as I am curious to know why more men don’t knit. I find it relaxing and rewarding. It’s a great way to get my head out of work and calms me down. I don’t want this to be a pattern filled, DIY blog, but a blog about guys that knit, what they’re making, how they got into it and their views on the hobby.

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