Monday, March 23, 2015

A Brief History of Knitting

I was lucky enough to grow up in such a way that I was surrounded by people of
Estimated to have been made in
300-499 BCE. They don't look
very comfortable, but looks
can be deceiving.
David Jackson
[CC BY-SA 2.0 uk],
via Wikimedia Commons
various cultures. As a result, I've always had an abiding respect and fascination with how things are done around the world. Since teaching myself how to knit and crochet, that interest moved on to international yarn-working techniques.

As a result, I've done a little research, and discovered the oldest knit object found was actually a sock in Egypt, leading some people to believe knitting and crochet originated in that area.

The pieces are incredibly intricate. When I'd first seen some of them, I thought they were actually woven pieces, because the work was so tiny. Instead, someone had created them with a fine needle and fibers.

Some modern day knitters have fallen in love with these ancient techniques, and have tried replicating them. In fact, you can find a surprising number of patterns to make your own medieval stockings. Here's a free one on Ravelry.

It's not hard to see why they've become so fascinating, either. Take a look at this beautiful detail from a tapestry made during that period of time.

by Will Bakker, [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr
It must have taken whoever made that forever to get that fine detailing and color work done. The gauge is tiny, and it had to be hard keeping track of which color goes where.

I've been spoiled by my knitting app and printed out charts. I can't imagine completing a project of that magnitude without the help of those things.

Although the oldest known pieces of knitting date back to the 300s to 500s, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the act of knitting itself is much older. Although it may be labor intensive, it's still less dangerous than hunting.

Like all animals, humans need to stay warm, and since we don't have the benefit of fur, doesn't it make sense that we would have had to found a way to make clothing from plant materials as well as animal?

As relaxing and productive as knitting is, it also has a deep historical significance, as well.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's spring in my office!

This has been one of those weeks where I've either been run off my feet, or in enough pain to stop me from being very productive. As far as the pain goes, that comes from a combination of wearing the wrong shoes on Monday and a migraine on Wednesday, but overall, it hasn't been that bad of a week.

I got some great news and made some decent connections, so that's always good, right?

As for my seedlings, so far 6 out of 10 cupped seedlings are doing brilliantly. My two squash seeds haven't done anything yet, but I'll give them some more time before giving up. Here's what's popped up, so far.

This teeny tiny little thing will one day grow into a butterfly bush. Right now, it still needs to shed the seed shell.

So far, morning glories seem to be the easiest plants to start from seed for me. Every time I tried, they always popped right up. Though, the one in the foreground kind of reminds me of something from an Aliens movie.

One little nasturtium, so far. I don't know if the other one is going to make an appearance, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Next, we have this sweet pea. I can't believe how quickly this thing grew. It was like it was a tiny little sprout one day, and the next it was suddenly well over an inch tall.

I may need to repot this one sometime this week.

And last, but most certainly not least, we have Clive.

Clive the Chive. I'm not sure why Clive strikes me as so much cuter than the rest, but it is quite an adorable little double-spike.

Ah, yes. Growing things are such fun, even if the focus is a bit off, when the pictures get transferred to the computer.

I SHOULD really get out there before the growing season gets into swing, so I can get rid of some of those established weeds.

Key word there would be "should".

We all know how well I conform to that word.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - You're Not Wanted Here, Migraine

Hoo buddy. This spring is gonna be rough. Fighting a weather related migraine today. The changes between warm and cold weather always gets me. That means these are my current beverages of choice:

Tea and water.

I realize coffee's better for migraines, but this one seems to be coming with a large dose of nausea, and coffee tends to make stomach problems worse for me.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Knitting Basics - How To Increase and Decrease

Once you start branching out from knitting scarves or blankets, you will need to learn how to increase or decrease your stitches. These methods are by far the most common I've come across yet.

kfb/pfb - Knit Front to Back/Purl Front to Back
This technique is a little tricky at first, but it will result in a nearly invisible increase of one stitch.

Once you get to the point in your pattern that indicates kfb, knit the next stitch as you usually would, but don't slip the old stitch off the needle just yet. You'll have something that looks like this:

 Next, draw the yarn between the needles, so it hangs down the front.

Now, insert your working needle into the front of the old stitch, as if to purl, and bring your yarn over.

Complete the stitch, and let the old one drop.

You'll be left with a tiny, barely noticeable hole in the fabric, depending on yarn weight and needle size.

Purl front to back is done in the same way, but with the purl stitch instead of knit stitch.

yo - Yarn Over
The next most common method is yo, or yarn over. This is also used to create eyelet button holes and as decoration for certain projects.

To do this, loop your yarn over the working needle.

Then, just knit the next stitch as usual.

You'll be left with a more obvious hole than kfb.

K2tog/p2tog - Knit/Purl Two Together
These are quite possibly the easiest decreasing methods out there. You can easily do it in either knit or purl stitches.

First, slip the next two stitches onto your working needle.

Then, just knit or purl as if you've only slipped one stitch onto the other needle.

Once finished, you'd need to look closely at the fabric in order to see where the decrease was, but you should be able to see a distinct overlap of stitches on the knit side. It's a bit less noticeable on the purl side.

SSK - Slip, Slip Knit
While this stitch might seem a bit redundant at first, it's actually far less obvious than the k2tog stitch for some reason. There are a couple more steps involved, but once you get the hang of it, it's very easy to do.

First, slip the next two stitches onto your working needle, and off the one they were on.

Then, slip the needle you just moved the stitches off into their backs, as if you are going to knit them together.

You do that because you ARE going to knit them together.

Finally, slip the new stitch onto your working needle.

As you can see, it's almost impossible to tell where the decrease happened in the finished project.

Although there are other techniques for increasing and decreasing, these are the ones I come across most often. I also used what seem to be the most common abbreviations, as well.

For more basic knitting lessons, please visit the Knitting Basics Master Page.

Note: It must be the lighting or something, but if my fingertips look a little blue in some of those pictures, I assure you they're not.  I couldn't figure out how to fix all of these images properly. I'm not sick, I swear.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Little sprouts!

Much as I love this change in weather, I'm not so fond of the constant headaches it gives me.

Anyway, this has been another light week, as far as crafting goes. I did start those seeds for Monday's entry, and today, two have started sprouting!

That little one's a sweet pea.

This one's a morning glory. I'm not sure if that's one of the seeds I collected from flowers past, or if it's from the packet.

Now that I look at the picture, I notice a bit of mold growth. On closer examination, one of the other cups has that problem, too.

Maybe I didn't poke enough holes.

We'll have to see how it goes. Maybe this year's growing season will be long enough to start seeds outside if that becomes a problem.

Ah well. Have a great weekend, all!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Signs of Spring

Warm weather has finally befallen us!

Well, I guess this has been a pretty mild winter, but we've been having glorious weather the past couple of days. It may only be March, but I now have spring fever. As a result, I decided to go hunting for signs of spring for Wordless Wednesday.

Some of my bulbs are coming up. Looks like this one got nibbled.
Mint, of course. Might be catnip, since that's always one of the first ones to show up. Didn't bother smelling it.
Hello, baby seedum.
And, of course, kitties begging to be let out.

Alas, no planting can happen yet, and those leaves should stay in place, since we're still getting nightly freezes, plus snow is still a real possibility.

(Also submitted to Oh My Heartsie Girl and Create With Joy.)