Blue and Yellow Bag using large needles

Blue and yellow bag

Here is the bag I was experimenting with in the previous post with the giant straight knitting needles. It was knitted in circular with 2 pairs of 80cm circular knitting needles in 15mm. Knitted this bag did not take long at all and can be completed over a single weekend.

The lining of the bag is not difficult to install if you have very basic sewing skills. The lining was installed with Bridgette Lee from the Quilts and Friends, just so that I learnt the right of doing this.

I also found a folder with a zip from Daiso that will fit giant circular knitting needles. More about that in the next time!

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Giant knitting needles

Giant knitting needles

Here’s a pair of really really big straight knitting needles I bought a few years ago in England. And yes that’s me posing on my balcony. These look so fun! They are 75cm long and have a diameter of 2.5cm. Totally impractical! I only use these for display purposes. They now sit on top of my cabinet. They just too big to fit into a bag and carry around to knit. I tend to knit on the go rather than knit at home while watching tv.

It is probably easier to get a pair of circular knitting needles to do the job. They are foldable and will fit nicely into a bag. These are the new version of Addi Premium Circular knitting needles 100cm and 15mm from Addi Premium with the nice flexible gold cord. These are the new versions of the needles. Shameless eBay plug here.

Addi Premium Knitting Needles

Giant Addi Premium Knitting Needles 100cm 15mm

I made a bag in circular knitting with 2 pairs of knitting Addi Premium Knitting Needles in size 15mm and 80cm length. I found this yarn many years ago at a sale and thought it would be fun to make a seamless bag with it. It turned out quite nice. I am going to sew the lining and the handle for this next month. Its quite funny that the 2 knitting needles for this project are more expensive than the yarn!

I originally tried to knit it with a single pair of 100cm hollow plastic knitting needles in 15mm, but they not only didn’t fit, the cord dislodged from the knitting needle tip. So I threw the plastic needle away and used these Addi Premium circular knitting needles in size 15mm and 80cm length with the original thicker clear cord. The Addi premium ones hollow brass tips (with nickel coating), feel feel well made and are very durable compared to the plastic ones. They were comfortable to knit with, though a little heavier than the plastic ones. Overall the experience was great using these needles.

Now to think up more projects for these giant knitting needles. Because the needles are so large and the yarn is so thick, projects knit quickly. The result is also very interesting.

The Bag

The bag knitted with giant needles

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New year resolutions for 2014

We’re now approaching valentine’s day and I am still going on about new year resolutions! Do you make new year resolutions? I make list of things that I want to do. I try to keep it simple and only include things that are achievable. I plan for the year in October rather than in January. This means that I can check how I am going in January and another time at Chinese Lunar New Year. Which is a great way to keep on track in case you fall off the wagon.

The plan since October 2014:
- complete blue furry cardigan
- complete cream shrug
- spin some brown yarn
- design one bag
- start navy blue cardigan

Have I made any progress?

Blue cardigan
I am still working on the blue furry cardigan. The main part of the cardigan is completed, need to sew up and knit the collar, buttonhole band and button band. Gosh this cardigan is taking a very long time its been in the works for over 2 years, during which time I was busy knitting gifts for friends.

Cream Shrug
This is close to being completed. I have a few more inches to go and have to do the border. This the easy pattern that I have in a little bag which I carry around with and knit on the go.

Brown yarn
I am half way through completing this.

I haven’t even started on the other 2 projects! I will not be very upset if I do not complete these projects, it is my a hobby and I knit when I feel like it. I find I do not enjoy knitting if I push myself to complete items. So I try to make sure that this list is somewhat achievable.

What projects are you doing this year and how far have you progressed?

Happy Lunar New Year!

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Straight knitting needles

This has to be the most iconic of all the knitting needle types, which most people associate with knitting. You know the two long needles usually in very boring beigy grey, in the hands of a slightly older lady sitting on a comfy looking armchair by the fire who is knitting a scarf. That is the most stereoptypical image that I find is associated with knitting. This image really scares me because I do not ever want to be remembered this way!

Back to knitting needles, I have a number of straight knitting needles from when I first started knitting. Generally this is the knitting needle of choice for beginners. There is less confusion as to which side is which is great for beginners. Most people eventually graduate to circular knitting needles or interchangeable knitting needles. These days I use my straight knitting needles to check tension and make small samples. They are not as portable because they can be quite long and stick out of your bag, and really do get in the way of knitting in public places like on the train. To me this is important because I tend to knit on the go.

Straight knitting needles generally come in 3 length 35, 30cm and 25cm.

Generally the longest length at 35cm are the most versatile, these are used for knitting bigger items like sweater, as well as smaller items like scarves. They are however rather long, and you will need a larger knitting bag, and need more space to knit so that you do not not inadvertantly poke someone. I know I have in the past. Not so convenient to knit with on the go. You do find some longer ones at 40cm but these are not so common.

The 30cm ones are marginally better as they are not as long. Unless you are making large item, this size might be a little more convenient.

The short ones at 25cm are quite portable, but they are only good for small projects like scarfs and clothes for kids.

Straight knitting needles were the only option for a long time when I first started knitting. These days there are other exciting options in knitting needles like circular knitting needles and interchangeable kits that are far more portable and convenient. However they are great for beginners. I would get the longer 35cm knitting needles as you can do everything with them except projects that require circular knitting. They are good for both small and big projects, this way you only need one pair in each size instead of having one long and one short pair of the same size.

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I lost my knitting project!

Its finally happened. After all this time, I lost a small knitting bag with my current project. Oh dear! I wondered if this day would ever come. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

I only lost 2 balls of yarn and 1 pair of knitting needles. I am making a small blue cardigan and the piece that got lost was the right front. I completed all the other pieces which are sitting safely at home. Fortunately I have extra balls of yarn for this project and will be able to complete it. I usually buy 1 or extra balls for a project in case things get lost or just in case I substitute yarn and there is insufficient.

Have you lost a project and how do you feel?

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Green & Cream Vest

Cream & Green Vest

Completed in 2 months! I am so relieved its done. Now I can give it to a friend after I have washed it. For more on why you might want to wash your projects before you wear them or give them away, please see our post on this.

The pattern is from Knitsimple spring/summer 2006, pattern 19 shown on page 50. I have a collection of knitting magazines and patterns collected over the years. This one just happens to look small enough for the amount of yarn I had and so we made it.

This project required about 280g of yarn, I made the second size with 3.75mm and 4.50mm knitting needles for the respective small and big needles. Its quite a small project because there just wasn’t a lot of yarn. It was either make a scarf or a very small vest. I decided that a small vest would be more useful than a scarf. You can buy a scarf anywhere, but a handknitted vest is far harder to come by.

This project with stripes is not a difficult project if you have have experience. I made it without the stripes with a striated yarn in green and cream and it turned out rather neat. There are some major issues with this pattern. Do they even check their patterns before they are printed? For experienced knitters, it is not a big deal. I have enough experience to extrapolate and deal with any anomalies in the pattern. It is not surprising that beginners have problems with their projects. How are we going to encourage people to pick up their knitting needles and knit things when patterns are not well written? Especially since this magazine is called Knitsimple which is probably targeting beginners who have less experience.

The major problem with this pattern is that it completely left out any instructions the right front of the vest. It should at least give rudimentary instructions for knitting the right front to the beginning of the armhole, shape the armhole same as the back and more importantly how to decrease for the V neckline so that the right side matches the left side – ie the decrease stitch is a mirror images on both sides of the neckline.

Also, I do not understand why the buttonhole band and button band is done in 2 separate pieces – which means you have to join it right in the middle of the back of the neck. Wouldn’t it just be simpler to just make the entire thing in one go with the 60mm circular knitting needle that they required for the project?

I think the vest turned out well. It looks a little big on me compared to what it looks like on the model. I am sure it will sit well on my friend as she is a lot taller than me.

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Messiest before dawn

One messy green and ceam vest

This is a multi coloured green vest for another friend. This year I have been busy knitting things for my friends. So far I have made 2 items this year. I completed a pair of pink/green toeless socks and am now finishing this green and cream vest. I’ll post another picture soon when this green vest is complete and discuss patterns and such.

I am done with the bulk of the knitting, its just the armholes, buttonhole and button border to be done. Gosh it is such a mess! There is yarn sticking out everywhere. This is also the part that most people find the most not fun to do – sewing it up. This part really makes the project look very professional. Even if the stitches are even and the separate pieces are beautifully, but the finishing and sewing up are not done well, the whole piece will look amateurish.

Here are some tips on finishing and sewing up.

Do this before you sew up the pieces for better results. Its basically ironing the pieces the pieces so that they are the right shaping ready for sewing up. It makes a big difference.

Pick up and knit
There is a difference between “pick up” and “pick up and knit”. Make sure you know the difference!

From experience, “pick up” or “pick up and knit” 2 stitches and skipping one gives the best result.

Loose ends
Do not sew in the loose ends until you have completed finished the project completely. I know it looks totally untidy and messy, but avoid doing this until the project is complete. Because it makes it very very difficult to unpick in case you have made a mistake – yes it can happen.

Do the buttons last
It is very tempting to buy the buttons first, but I would recommend buying this item after you have finished the project. This way you can find the perfect button, see what it looks like against the project and select buttons that actually work with the button hold that you have.

Nothing is more irritating that finding out that your buttons do not fit the buttonhole!

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To wash or not to wash

Do you wash your newly knitted item before you wear them?

I know I do! I hand wash my knitted items immediately after I complete them before I store them. This way they are ready to wear. But the real reason is hygiene, as many little accidents can happen that will soil your new project. The most common being spilt food and drink, dropping project or yarn on the floor. You know, the harder you try to keep your project clean while you are working on it, the worse it gets. Life happens. Instead of being completely obsessive and compulsive about it, I figured washing the garment after it is completed will fix all issues to do hygiene and general grubbiness.

It would never occur to me that this would be something I would ever think about until I knitted a gift for a friend and debated whether to wash the socks I had knitted for her before I gave them to her. You see, my friend believes that when you buy or receive something brand new, you must wear it before you wash it. You see, washing it would render it not new anymore. Consequently you will be doomed to an eternity of not having any new clothes to wear.

Well this depends on how you define “new”. It would follow that she defines new clothes as new if they have not been washed. So it would be true according to her philosophy that if you wash your clothes before you wear them, they are no longer new. This means you would wearing new clothes because they have have washed. I can live with that. Hygiene and logic outweighs any superstition and folk beliefs for me. Most clothing and department stores would agree with my friend – unwashed = new, because you cannot return clothes that have been washed. Luckily for me, I define new clothes as clothes that I have not worn before even if they have been washed. Ultimately I decided to wash the item before I gave it to her and just not say anything about it.

This dilemma piqued my curiosity I researched this topic of washing clothes which lead to some interesting conclusions. Here are some reasons why you should wash new hand knitted garments and clothes before you wear them.

Food and drink
During the knitting process my projects sometimes go through some serious roughing up before they are complete and sometimes get a little soiled. For example, I knitted a yellow top in silk during a concert at Fort Canning Park (in Singapore) while enjoying a picnic. Needless to say I spilt some tea on it as I was not careful. This stain remained on the top until it was washed upon completion. With some Vanish (stain remover) the stain was banished from the top.

Maybe not such a good idea to knit and eat at the same time!

Project and yarn drop on the floor
I have dropped my project and yarn on the floor many times, even if I am careful. You can always leave the yarn in the bag or buy a small bag to house the yarn while it is being knitted, but I find that I like to unwind the yarn from the ball while I am knitting, so there is a good chance that it will drop onto the floor. You never know how clean the floor is, especially in a public place where people wear shoes and tread on all sorts of things.

Sweaty palms and other body fluids
Fortunately I do not have sweaty hands. However some people do. There is no way to avoid sweat transfer to your project unless you are wearing gloves. This is encroaching on OCD! Knitters may also unconsciously touch their hair, faces or noses (yes and other places!) before they knit or during knitting. Sounds terribly gross, but I am sure it happens.

Not washing hands
Even in this day and age with soap available free at almost all bathrooms and public toilets, 1 in 3 people do not use soap when washing their hands and 1 in 10 do not wash their hands at all after using the toilet. Eww! Also it seems that you need to wash your hands for like 15 seconds with soap and there was another article that showed that most people do not wash their hands correctly even if they use soap.

How many people do you know who wash their hands before they knit? I know I do not. But I have met someone who washed their hands before knitting because they had sweaty palms and she was knitting a cream coloured project. She unpicked a section and reworked section was slightly darker than the other parts. But this was fixed after she washed the project upon completion.

Some people who knit are smokers and some people are sensitive to the smell of cigarettes. The smoke can be absorbed into the fibres of the project either from the smoke or hands of the knitter. Washing gets rid of this.

Trying on garment
You do not know how many people have tried on the item even if it was knitted specifically for you. I do try on the completed garment for size before I send it to the wash. Its just to make sure that it fits perfectly and does not need to be reworked.

You also do not know how many people touch the project before it gets to you. Some people cannot just see with their eyes, but must feel it with their hands too. Oh dear, I know I am one of them.

Chemicals from the yarn
Many chemicals are used in the manufacture of yarn. From dyes, to other chemcials like formaldehyde. I do not think that yarn is washed after it is dyed or treated. These are mostly to be present even after they are packed and ready for sale. These chemicals will probably not make you completely sick unless you are very sensitive to the the chemicalks used. It would still be a good idea to have less not naturally chemicals in direct contact wth your skin. Apparently this kind of

Yarn storage
Yarn once manufactured it is packed into distributor packs – 10 balls in each bag. They are stored in a warehouse somewhere before they are sold to the retailer. Before they get to you, it is likely that they would have been stored in more than one warehouse. You never know exactly who or what touches or visits the yarn in the various warehouses you buy before you get them!

Secret benefit of washing completed projects
This little secret is something that I have noticed and used to my advantage. Washing knitted items seems to magically even out stitches. That’s right! It works for all types of knitted projects. So if you are new to knitting and the stitches appear to be slightly uneven, washing it will improve it. It works better on wool and acrylic fibres. For stiffer fibers with less give like silk, cotton and bamboo, the effect isn’t as significant, I think its still worth the effort to wash them before you use them or give them away.

It is probably unlikely that you will get a fungal or bacterial infection from not washing new clothes or completed knitting projects, unless your immune system is compromised. What is more significant are the chemicals that are used in the manufacturing and treatment of yarn and fabrics. These can irritate sensitive skin and cause other problems. More so in children. So its a good idea to wash all new clothes including the hand knitted ones.

Some articles I read for this blog
People don’t wash their hands right –
Why you should wash your clothes before wearing them –
How many hands handle a shirt before it goes in the bag
Should You Wash New Clothes? – They Could Be Laced with Formaldehyde –

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3) Plastic knitting needles

A selection of plastic knitting needles. White - plastic with metal core, green - plastic, beige & yellow - hollow knitting needles.

How many plastic knitting needles do you own and really like to use? I believe I have just two pairs, a 12mm and 15mm. Personally it is not may favourite type of knitting needle, except for the hollow plastic ones because they are very light, smooth enough and are very inexpensive.

Generally speaking, plastic knitting needles knit are smooth enough that you can knit relatively fast with them. They knit faster than bamboo knitting needles, but slower than metal ones. Smoothness and to some extent how light the needles are determine how fast they knit. So if you’re looking to knit quickly you wouldbe looking for a smooth and light needle – which would be hollow metal knitting needle rather than plastic ones. Plastic ones will not knit as quickly, but are inexpensive and good value.

Plastic knitting needles seem to come in 3 types
- solid plastic knitting needles
- plastic with metal core knitting needles
- hollow plastic knitting needles

Solid plastic knitting needles
These can come in a variety of colours which makes it very easy to identify pairs. They are light and usually quite inexpensive. They are usually smooth enough to knit relatively quickly.

The thing that makes these needles not such a good buy is that tips do become blunt, and there is nothing you can do about it. With bamboo knitting needles you can use a nail file to improve the tip, but not with plastic needles.

I also find that the tip is too short on these for my liking. I would like a slightly longer more convex tip. Fortunately they are not concave, just a conical shape.

They also warp slightly when you leave projects on them for a few weeks. This does not not really affect the efficacy of the needles, just that they are slightly bent out of shape.

One thing that plagues plastic knitting needles that is annoying is that they are not stiff in the smaller sizes below 4mm – they tend to bend as you knit. I personally prefer stiffer needles. The larger needles in size 4mm and above appear to be firm enough.

Some plastic knitting needles (like the green on in the above picture) do not age well, especially in hot sunny climates. They tend to yellow rather ungracefully. Bamboo needles also deepen with age, but they still look acceptable in deeper warmer more yellowy colour, but the plastic ones just look tired!

Plastic knitting needles with metal core
These are slightly heavier than both the hollow plastic knitting. With the metal rod in the centre of the knitting needle, these needles are firmer and are far more pleasant to knit with in the smaller sizes than the plain plastic ones. They don’t tend to warp as much as well which is good. However they also age rather badly too.

For the price you pay for these, you can get some really basic solid aluminium knitting needles that are smoother (so that you can knit faster) and have less issues. Bottom line these are just not good value for money.

Hollow plastic knitting needles
These come in a bright array of colours which is specific to size. There seems to be a different combo of colours for the tips and the main body of the needle. Like all plastic knitting needles, these are smooth enough to knit comfortably and are lighter than the other types of plastic knitting needles. These are the lightest knitting needles ever, making them fantastic in really large sizes like 12, 15, 20 & 25mm because they are comfortable to knit with without being heavy.

The only thing that detracts from these needles is the shape of the tip – it is somewhat concave, a more convex shape with a pointier tip would be ideal – like the Addi Premium Lace Knitting Needles.

These are really very inexpensive. I got mine at Daiso for S$2.00. These make a good inexpensive second set of knitting needles, for experimenting and trying new patterns. If you are shopping for these, make sure to get them in the circular style of about 80 or 100cm. These are far more versatile than the shorter ones and straight kntting needles. More about this in the next blog as we will be writing about different styles of needles.

Generally plastic knitting needles are inexpensive. However, in the long run, it would be far better to go with the more expensive smoother needles. I consider these an investment because I like them far more and tend to reach for these. Besides which you will be holding these in your hands for many hours knitting a project, you want to use a tool that is fast, smooth and light, with a great tip. I would avoid plastic knitting needles, except for the hollow plastic ones in the very big sizes only, ie 12, 15 20 & 25mm in 80-100 circular needles, unless you’re on a shoestring budget then the smaller hollow plastic knitting needles would make sense.

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Frixion pen by Pilot

I was introduced to Frxion by a friend who really likes stationery some time ago. I have about 3 different versions of this pen. And yes they are really good for knitting!

Frixion is a line of erasable ink pens by Pilot. It comes with hard plastic eraser, that uses friction to erase the ink. The best part is it comes a multitude of colours and styles. I personally like the ones in interesting colours like orange, pink, purple and green. I just wish they would also stock the refills for these interesting colours, refills tend to be red, black and blue – the usual colours. There are various permutations to the line up, fine line, rollerball and even felt tip. The pen also comes in different styles, with a cap, multipen and retractable.

The ink erases clean most of the time. When it doesn’t, I find that a normal pencil eraser works quite well to remove marks that were left behind.

I find these pens great for marking rows on knitting patterns. This works great for crochet patterns with symbols too! The bright colours show up better than pencil and the ink erases cleanly when I make a mistake and have to redo. It also works great for calculations and notes in general because you can make corrections as you engineer a project.

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