In Search of Perfection (KnitPro Karbonz Interchangeable Needles)

20140326-IMG_1858 Its already been established that I am the world' pickiest knitter. I am just never satisfied with my knitting needles. having tried a fair few (Addi Clicks, KnitPro Symphonies, Chiaogoo Reds) - there is always something that irritates me - the join, the length, the strength, etc.  The latter needles were aiming to be the best ever  - sharp, smooth joins, nice grip, but I began to realise that I always felt like I was fighting them.  The cable (which  is designed to never kink), combined with the 5" tips, always felt like they were pulling in opposite directions and I had to wrestle them back together. Just so much work, especially when I was using shorter cables or working at a finer gauge.

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It took me awhile to figure out the problem and then a bit longer to decide what to do about it. I really love those Chiaogoo reds, but they so often made me want to impale something - especially when I was knitting the Puerperium, so a quick sale was negotiated with a friend and a replacement was found in the form of KnitPro Karbonz.

These are carbon fibre needles with a steel tip. They have the same basic set up as the Symphonie- size and needle shape are about the same and the cables are very similar - maybe a bit stiffer, but its really hard to tell.  They are truly lovely needles. They seem unsnappable (though, I haven't tried that hard), the joins seem smooth and I was able to magic loop with them - something I simply couldn't have done with the Chiaogoos.  All in, I am just so pleased with them - a real joy to work with, even as my adult-sized superchunky weight cardigan gets heavier.

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The jumper I am working on is Aidez, worked seamlessly.  My pattern notes go into the details of what I have done to make it seamless in the 44" size. Also, every single one of my latest knitting projects is a shade of blue. Obviously, this must be my new favourite colour!

 

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Finding a Rhythm

20140328-IMG_1877 When I first started working with (almost) full-time childcare, I felt a certain sense of obligation to work 9-5, sat at my desk, getting shit done. I felt like it was irresponsible to do anything else because I paid for childcare and  that is what I would have done if I was employed by an employer. Slowly, I realised 2 things a) I don't work in an office with a boss breathing down my neck and b) I am not particularly suited  to that kind of structure. My work and my life call for a more fluid approach to time. Sometimes, through the night work is called for, at others, a day off nursing little sickies is my occupation. Once I realised that it wasn't about the time I worked, but what I got done that was important, a new, more natural rhythm arrived. 20140328-IMG_1889 With 3 small people around, there is no question that things change quickly, but on the whole I follow the same sort of pattern each day. Always having been an early riser, its not uncommon for me to be at my desk from 4 or 5am - it gets earlier as the days get lighter. I spend the few precious hours (if I am lucky) before the kids wake up answering emails and doing any writing I need. From about 7am until Ellis catches the bus at 8:30 - its a mad race of endless rounds of toast, finding socks, wrangling the smallest one into any clothes at all, walking the dog, letting the chickens out and general craziness. Once the house is quiet - either the little ones at nursery or in the care of Dalia, the German student who has been living with us since September, I head over to the studio for a morning of work. This is my most productive time of day and I use it for working on my top priorities - grading patterns, writing blog posts, editing and working on Blogtacular. Our rural internet is on the slow side, but its best in the morning, so I try to keep this for computer time. I work until lunch, when I head back over to the house for a bit to do laundry, eat and take the dog for a walk down the road. 20140328-IMG_1883 I tend to keep the time after lunch for creative work.  Even now, in my deadline free days, I ensure that I always have something to make. At the moment, I have prioritised knitting things from other designer's patterns - both to give myself a much needed rest and to learn from others. Not having made many garments before writing Crochet at Play and then having to design them was a challenge. So far, its been a good learning experience, as well as an eye opening one (if I ever write "Work to correspond to left front, reversing all shaping and placement of pattern stitches" in a pattern, you have permission to kick me). It all has the added bonus of watching some good telly while I am legitimately working. Late afternoons and evenings are for the kids and after the walks and dinner and homework, I tend to edit and upload photos, so they can go into client dropboxes over night. 20140328-IMG_1879 And while this is the rough schedule, I also am trying to be gentle with myself after the stress of the last few months. If words aren't flowing (and there isn't something I HAVE to do that day), I don't push it. I know that things will get done and I will be working over time again soon (with the final manuscript proof for book 2 arriving to coincide with the Easter Holidays and exactly 1 month before Blogtacular, for example).

(photo is of the puerperium cardigan. Made in Bowland Dk in Damselfly by Eden Cottage Yarns.  Photographed on the piece of rotten roof that was leaking water into the kitchen and causing everyone to get a shock when they turned on the light. It is pretty though, hey?)

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Bonus Week: Lifelines

Lifelines are a really useful thing to know about as your knitting gets more and more adventurous. Joanne takes us through the whys a wherefores today. What is a lifeline?

A lifeline is a line of yarn or thread that you place into your knitting to enable you to have a safe place to come back to if/when it all goes wrong.

Lifelines are particularly useful for cables, lace and any stitch patterns where the stitches are increased, decreased, slipped or rearranged as these are very hard to rip back accurately.

How do I insert a lifeline?

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2014-01-27 10.28.47

When you are at the end of a row and you are certain it is correct, take a piece of smooth yarn thinner than the working yarn, several inches longer than the row and in a contrasting colour.

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2014-01-27 10.29.29

Thread it on to a darning needle and run it one or two stitches at a time under the knitting needle.

inserting lifeline
inserting lifeline

 Continue along the row. Be careful not to split the working yarn. If you are using stitch markers then make sure you go around them NOT through them.

lifeline in place
lifeline in place

Once you have worked through all stitches remove the darning needle and leave the thread in place.

knitting past lifeline
knitting past lifeline

Work the row as normal being careful not to catch the lifeline in your stitch.

worked past lifeline
worked past lifeline

How do I use the lifeline? If you make a mistake you can use the lifeline by removing the needles from the work, gently pull the yarn so it begins to unravel, rewinding the ball as you go, when you get to the row where the lifeline is pull gently and slowly and replace the stitches onto the needle as they are unravelled being careful not to twist them. 

How often should I insert a lifeline?

How upset would you be to have to rip back to the last lifeline you inserted/the start? If you think it would make you:

  1. very cross,
  2. cry a lot, or
  3. curse in front of the children

it is time to insert a lifeline!

Happy Knitting!

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