Tuesday, 28 February 2012

before you ask me to knit for you...

The usual reaction people have upon finding out that I like to knit is to laugh. At me. Cos let's face it, only nanna's and weird people knit, right? This reaction is closely followed by: 'Oh hey, will you knit me a ..."
Let me break a few things down for you.
I love to knit. It's like a meditation for me. I find it incredibly relaxing and I even get jittery on the days I don't get to knit (classic addiction!) But I'm by no means a fast knitter. I plod along at my own steady pace, which is fine because knitting was never intended to be a speed sport. People sometimes balk when they discover that my socks took a month to knit, or that sweater took 6 weeks. That's not 6 weeks of solid knitting mind you, but still.
Recently a co-worker admired my cropped cardigan saying he would like me to knit one for his sister. How much would I charge? I told him that the cost would depend greatly on choice of materials plus the time it took to knit the garment. He told me casually to let him know if it would be cost effective or if he could buy one cheaper at Target. I immediately told him to go to target. Let me tell you why.
The sweater I was wearing that day used 3 skeins of Pigeonroof Studios Cassiopeia in the colourway 'Juniper'. The yarn cost me $65AUD on sale. I bought 4 beautiful coconut shell buttons which cost a total of $12. Then I took a grand total of 42 days to knit the sweater. Now I didn't knit every day on the sweater so let's assume I knit for 21 days at an hour a day, so the finished product took an estimated 21 hours to knit. Now let's assume I want to be paid a tiny wage of $10 per hour for my time. That takes the finished cost of that sweater to a grand total of: $287AUD. Yep, that's right, math doesn't lie. 
It's a pretty cute cardi though and sure, you could buy one a shitload cheaper in a store, but it would never be quite as awesome or infused with as much love (and sweat and tears) as a hand knit.

Monday, 27 February 2012

adventures in crafting sweet tomato heels, part 1

I'm on a bit of a sock knitting binge at the moment. The thing I love about hand knit socks, aside from feeling ridiculously amazing on your feet, is how quick and portable they are to knit.
I recently purchased my very first skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock. After seeing this project on ravelry I decided I needed to have me some stripey Noro socks too!
I split my skein in half and am knitting from the two separate balls, alternating every 4 rows. Watching the colour change is enormously addictive and I powered my way from toe to heel turn in the first day.
So I went ahead and knit a short row heel. I wanted the aesthetic of a square shaped block of colour at the heel and also the short row heel is extremely fast and simple to knit. Gotta love that! Try on the sock once said heel is done and...what the? It looks like crap, it's waaay too snug and the end of the heel sits so low that I'm hardly going to get the nice little square that I was aiming for.
I figure there are a few factors creating issues here. Firstly: I'm knitting at a larger gauge than usually recommended for socks. Why? Because I'm an idiot. Truthfully, All my smaller needles were in use and after swatching I thought the resulting fabric on 2.75mm wasn't too bad. Stretch that fabric around your foot though and we have another story. So, my heel issues could be the result of too few stitches to begin with.
I start toying with some ideas: mini gusset, work the short rows over more than 50% of the stitches etc. I turn to my fellow ravellers for some advice and of course someone suggests Cat Bordhi's A-MAZ-ZING new 'Sweet Tomato Heel" or STH for the cool kids.
I start looking at some pics of the STH and think 'Perfect!'. It has the exact look I'm going for, It wont interfere with my stripes at all and it's just plain awesome! But none of the patterns have been published individually.
Of course, Cat has kindly provided a video tutorial on exactly how to go about crafting this exquisite heel. So I watch, and I'm sold!
So off I go to fiddle with this innovative idea and see what becomes of Noro Stripe sock number one. Will the heel fit? Will it be perfect aesthetically? Will the gauge drive me up the wall causing me to frog this entire sock and start again? Stay tuned folks.