Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bear and Deerhoof

Here's a little guy that I made a while ago from a pattern I found on knitty. I used Patons wool in color "Dark Natural Mix." This was my first attempt at anything like a stuffed animal. I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out, with the possible exception of his arms. The way that I attached them, they seem to stick out and a little up. I suppose I could always remove them and reattach, but that seems a little barbaric to rip him apart! And as he's not a gift and will just be hanging around the house, they'll probably stay as they are. But I'll know better next time, should I choose to make another such creature. Something else I didn't do was give him a face. He was certainly meant to get one in the beginning, but now the longer that he's been without one, the less it seems like he needs one. There's something very stoic about his lack of expression. With him, it's all in the body posture!

LISTENING TO: DEERHOOF - "The Runners Four." I got this from my friend Gary a while ago and have to say it's pretty great. This is one of those discs that I can put on when Mark is around and just watch his jaw drop! The thing that usually makes him do that is the singing, which in this case is due to the little-girl-like voice of the Japanese lead singer. He can't believe I listen to stuff like this, but to me, it's cute and the music is fun and quirky. Always good in my book!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Change is a good thing.

So after only one week of the old template, I decided I needed a change. I like this green one much better. Hope you do too!

On the knitting front, I'm working on finishing up a snake for my co-worker's grandson. It's a quick and easy little project and something I know he'll love which is always nice.

Work was very frustrating today and I'm feeling like a bit of a cranky-pants. To cheer myself up I bought the first season DVD of Dr Katz: Professional Therapist on the way home. That should make me feel better...laughter is the best medicine, right?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The infamous "What is it?"

Here are two pics of the sweater sampler I made from "The Sweater Workshop" by Jacqueline Fee. The one on the left is the '"front" and the one of the right is the "back" although I doubt that designation is really all that important.

The sampler was done on circular needles and was my first attempt at using them. Though I had knitted "in the round" when doing socks, those were done on DPNs. The sampler takes you through all kinds of techniques, some of which I'm not sure I'll ever use. But having tried them I'll at least be familiar with how they would look in a finished piece.

Today I worked a bit more on the "bear skin rug" and I'm about halfway though the "body." I thought that making it would be a bit boring (82 stitches, all garter stitch for a finished piece that measures about 5' by 3') but it's actually been pretty fun. Since there is so little attention needed, I find that I can throw in a DVD and work away. Lately I've been doing that with Season 2 of The Kids In The Hall, a very funny show indeed.

LISTENING TO: BETH SORRENTINO - "Nine Songs, One Story" A nice return from the former SUDDENLY, TAMMY! singer. This is only available online at iTunes, at least for the time being. I understand that she's also working on getting S,T!'s long-lost third album "Comet" released. From what I've heard of it, we can only hope she succeeds!

The Sweater Workshop

A while ago I borrowed "The Sweater Workshop" by Jacqueline Fee from the library. It's a great book, very witty and well written, that teaches you how to make seamless sweaters, in the round, from the bottom up. In order to teach you all the steps and techniques that go into creating a sweater, Ms. Fee takes you step by step through making a sweater sampler. Ruth-Anne and I both made one of the samplers on our occassional knitting nights (I'll post a picture of the finished sampler tomorrow. A funny looking thing, it is!). By successfully completing the sampler I feel like I could tackle a sweater with confidence, which for a relative novice is a pretty cool thing! So I think that the sweater I make will be made in this the round, rather than seamed. My biggest decision to make at this point is what yarn to use - color, fiber content, etc...

LISTENING TO: LETTERS TO CLEO - "Go!" It's a shame that these guys (and gal) broke up, but at least Kay Hanley's carrying on solo.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Let's go back in time...

Here I'll show you a couple of the things that I've already completed. The first thing that I made, aside from some practice 'squares' was a pair of socks. Now everyone told me how I should probably try a scarf as my first real project. Looking back on it I can see what they meant. However I was full of enthusiasm and I just plain wanted to try them!

So I got Betsy Lee McCarthy's "Knit Socks!" book from the local library. She goes on the assumtion that you know the basic knit and purl stitches and shows you how to proceed from there. I chose the Starter Stockinette sock and off I went.

Whenever I told anyone that I was going to try making socks, they all had the same thing to say..."turning the heel is so hard." If you are under that impression and want to try making socks, get the above mentioned book. She does an excellent job of explaining it step by step and before you know it you'll have turned your first heel. After all the apprehension and doubt about even being able to do it, when I began to see the heel form, it was like a religious experience with the angelic choir singing in my ears!

So here is a shot of those first pair of socks, with one of them still on the needles.

I enjoyed making that pair so much, which were a present, that I decided to make a pair for myself. Since the first pair went off without a hitch I decided to try something a little spicier. Using the same book I chose the Best Foot Forward pattern. This sock features a Cable Twist Rib Pattern stitch. It's a 7 stitch repeat that is easy enough to do and just involved enough to keep things interesting. The finished sock features alternating vertical rows of K1, P2, a 2 stitch twist, P2. Below is a shot of them. They were made with Wool-Ease which is a wool/acrylic blend. Though this is a machine washable yarn the sharpness of the stitches, and therefore the ribbing/twist pattern, has dulled a bit over time.

I also did end up making some scarves as Christmas presents for our friends Diane and Julie. One was a simple ribbing pattern (I think it was K4 P4, but don't quote me on that.) and the other was a pattern for a Worm Scarf (that I made into more of a snake) from Kris Percival's "Knitting Pretty." The scarves were a big hit which was a very nice feeling for a beginner!

LISTENING TO: LOVE IS ALL - "9 Times That Same Song." A great album that is reminicent of Bow Wow Wow with a little Bjork thrown in.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Beginning

Hello all and welcome to my first blog. I named this blog 'alterknit universe' for two reasons. I hope to share my knitting with you and at the same time show my support for all the other male knitters out there. Secondly, being a huge alternative music fan, I'll also be throwing out some names of artists that I think are worth a listen. If you take me up on checking any of them out, let me know what you think!

My name is Ken and I'm a male knitter living with my partner Ron in Maine. I started knitting last September when Ruth-Anne, a co-worker and friend of mine, brought in a mitten she was working on. She showed me how she was knitting it in the round on four needles and I was pretty fascinated. Though I had toyed with the idea of learning to knit before, I never had the nerve to actually try it. But with some moral support from Ruth-Anne and a 'teach yourself to knit' book and I was on my way.

Though I did receive help and encouragement from co-workers (who have all been very supportive, by the way!), I basically hunkered down with my book and taught myself. I've been having a lot of fun and so far have managed two pairs of socks, two scarves, a hat, and one glove...yes just one but hey, I've got all summer to finish the other one!

My current project is the 'faux bear skin' rug that was featured in Knit1 magazine. There's some weird irony that I wanted to knit this since I'm both vegetarian and anti-hunting. I think it's more about the challenge of tackling such a large project than the end product. I'm not even sure what I'll do with it when it's done! You can see the pattern and a pic of it here. Though I'm pretty sure the beefcake doesn't come with the rug, I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

The pic I've posted shows what I have done so far, the tail and the rear of the body. The legs will be added on later at the corners. It's knitting up quicker than I thought, but I guess that makes sense since it's done on size 15 needles with four strands held together! I'll keep you posted on the progress as I keep at it.