Dollar Store Knitting and Crochet, part 2

First, let me say a few words that aren’t about the title of this post: Yesterday was Christmas and, as I posted yesterday, it was a day for me to enjoy some peace and quiet. I had got quite tired of the sleeve on my cardigan so I did what needed to be done: I brandished the Opal self-striping sock yarn and casted on a new sock. I definitely got hooked. I was so busy saying, “Oooo! Ooooo! What’s the next color? When’s it coming?” that I knit the entire cuff and the leg yesterday.

Photo Dec 25, 11 54 49 PM

These socks will be for me when I finish them. Don’t you just love all those colors and gradients together? This knitting was good motivation for me. Today, I got that sleeve done. Now I just need to knit the next one and knit the button band and the collar and then maybe I can block and wear this thing.

OK, enough of the Christmas socks. Let’s talk about the matter at hand: dollar store knitting and crochet.

In part 1 of this series I discussed crocheting an afghan from recycled acrylic yarn I purchased at the Chinese bazaar (the equivalent to an American dollar store here in Spain). Did you know that the dollar store doesn’t only stock acrylic? You have to catch them at the right time, but sometimes you can find real wool at the dollar store. I remember finding, actually, Lion Brand wool at a Dollar Tree shop once in New Hampshire. I would recommend going to the cheap stores frequently just to see what crafting supplies they have. On the rare occasion they actually have wool or wool blends it sells off pretty fast.

Here in Spain I’ve discovered a retail chain that actually stocks wool every winter. It’s a Danish company called Tiger. Their line of sock yarn is 75% wool and 25% polyamide. Last week I went into the store to buy a couple of skeins at 2 euros each (in winter they’re 2 euros, at the end of winter the price drops to 1 euro each). Thinking about how cool it would be for my blog, I snapped a couple of pictures when I was in the store:

tiger1tiger2
Now, not all of the yarn in the display contains wool. The skeins at the top are 100% acrylic. But, the variegated yarn with pink and black is in fact wool content yarn for knitting socks. This store even has bamboo 2.5 mm DPNs. I knit up a pair of socks with this yarn so I can show you the results, too:

sock2

I’ve knit quite a few socks with this yarn so I can safely say that all of the variegated yarns follow the same “speckled” color pattern. I’ve worn them and can attest to the yarn’s good, sturdy quality. Also, rarely do knots occur in the skeins.

My point? Cheap knitting isn’t necessarily limiting yourself to acrylic. You can find some good quality yarns in unexpected places. All you have to do is keep your eyes and mind open.

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It’s December 25!

To everyone who celebrates Christmas: Merry Christmas! My partner and I don’t really celebrate Christmas, but it is a wonderful day for us to binge watch Netflix, eat yummy things, and not have to think about work.

Last night I was working on my blue cabled sweater. To be more precise, I was SLOGGING on the first sleeve. This morning, I decided to give myself the gift of starting a pair of socks with some self-striping yarn. I keep a few skeins of this stuff in my stash just in case I get the sleeve knitting blahs. I was even thoughtful enough to photograph the skein:

opal skein

As you can see, it’s got yellow, green, purple, and blue in different shades. I’ve already got the ribbing on the cuff done.

And so that’s how I’ll be spending Christmas day. How about you?

I don’t have enough hats!

Just about everything I ordered has now arrived! I’m just missing one skein of Cascade 220 Solids in the Burnt Orange color way. Here’s what I bought and what I plan to do with it:

I ordered some Paton’s Wool DK in black and red because I’m going to make some hats with it:

Photo Dec 16, 3 24 36 PM

Also, I bought some Katia City yarn for the same purpose: hats. Some of this Katia yarn is for the distant future when I feel like knitting an easy self-striping hat:

Photo Dec 05, 9 49 15 PM

By the way, as soon as I got this yarn last week I made myself a striped slouchy hat right away:

Photo Dec 07, 1 09 50 PM

There is no pattern for this hat. I actually made one last Christmas as a gift and have thought about making one for myself because, well, it’s just super awesome. The rest of the Katia is stashed for now.

I guess I’m on a hat theme because I bought two skeins of DMC Tamara for making another hat. This time, though, following a pattern, which is “Ribbed Beanie” by Woolly Wormhead. Here’s the yarn:

Photo Dec 16, 3 25 56 PM

To those of you unaware: DMC is making lots more wool yarns now. At least in Europe and the UK, they’re not just for cotton crochet and embroidery thread anymore.

I bought two hanks of Cascade 220 because I just wanted to see the colors (you can’t buy Cascade in my area, I had to order it). Only one skein has arrived, which is in the Goldenrod color way:

Photo Dec 16, 3 25 19 PM

I originally planned to make a hat with the orange and yellow colors together, but then again I might just make two Skelters (also by Woolly Wormhead) and then use the leftovers for a color work beanie-style hat.

I mentioned in a previous post that I bought some Spanish merino yarn but I didn’t photograph it. I got it three weeks ago, so I think it counts in my round of supply shopping:

Photo Dec 16, 3 30 29 PM

Don’t worry, the hank on top is just fine. I unleashed it so you could see the different colors. I bought this yarn from tejoloquehilo.es. My plan is to make the Unisex Zip sweater found in Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. This pattern is only available in the digital edition of the book, by the way. I’m hoping this yarn will work well for the sweater. We shall see!

I bought a complete set of DPN’s from http://www.tiradelovillo.com, my favorite Spanish online shop. They’re KnitPro Symfonies and I’m very happy with them. They go with my Symfonie interchangeables quite nicely. 🙂

Photo Dec 16, 3 28 40 PM

Finally, I bought a skein of Regia sock yarn because I have some colorful scraps that will combine with it to make a pair of socks or some sort of accessory.

Photo Dec 16, 3 26 17 PM

That’s it. I think I’ve got enough stuff to keep me busy knitting all winter long. Well, we can hope. Let’s see if my orange hank of Cascade 220 can hurry up and get here.

Knitting stuff I ordered trickles in

As I mentioned in my previous post, I went on a shopping spree on the wonderful WWW and in the city of Valladolid. Some of the things I bought on the internet are backordered. Some things are arriving by mail now, though.

Trivia about the British Royal Mail: it only works Monday to Friday. No Saturdays means slower than even Spanish mail. Who knew?

Anyway, one thing I’m wicked excited about and actually got here in a timely fashion is happily clicking between my happy knitter hands: circular sock needles! I found out about their existence in a sock book I read a couple of years ago and here in Spain I’ve spent wasted my time at local yarn stores asking about 9″ circulars.

Wasted my time? Why, yes, that’s what I said. You see, here in Valladolid most of the LYS industry is based on beginner knitting. I mean, really, I should have learned my lesson in a shorter period of time. You can’t even really buy double-pointed needles in most shops that specialize in knitting around here. Things are the way they are in the local knitting market because: A) Most stores don’t specialize in knitting only, but rather sell fabric, yarn, and bobbles; B) Most stores want people to take classes because that’s where the money is: you can sell a knitting (or crochet, or sewing, or whatever) class and the student/customer pays a fee for the class and buys the necessary supplies at the shop.

So, looking for “advanced” knitting supplies? Looking for new-fangled knitting things? Looking for old-fangled knitting things? Don’t come to Valladolid. Hit the online shops. The best knitting shop in Valladolid, as a matter of fact, is online only. That’s tiradelovillo.com. No, this store does not pay me for advertising. Things are as they are here in Valladolid. It’s really comparable to how the world works: few forward-thinking people willing to try new things, lots of people fighting to keep the status quo.

Anyway, back to those magical circulars. I’ve been knitting a lot with them. I bought this particular brand of my tiny circs:

Photo Dec 13, 12 34 12 PM

I was so excited about trying them out that I casted on a sock last Thursday, the very same day I got them in the mail, and finished the sock on Sunday. That’s right! I knit a sock in four days on US 1 needles. Here’s the work when it was in progress:

Photo Dec 13, 1 11 43 PM

Aren’t those mini circulars just cute? Also, this was the second sock of a pair that I planned to knit for part of my partner’s Christmas gift. So, the socks are done! I don’t even get “second sock syndrome” when I knit one half of a pair on DPNs and another on 9″ circs.

As soon as I finished that sock I casted on another one:

Photo Dec 14, 4 21 20 PM

So, let’s see… what do you want to know about knitting with 9″ circular needles? You could take some individuals’ reactions to them at my knitting club (I sent them a Whatsapp about them when they arrived in the mail). One person said they had bought some a few years ago, tried them, couldn’t knit with them because there wasn’t enough needle to hold on to, and gave them away. Another person said something similar, that they were too uncomfortable to knit with. So, every response to my Whatsapp (only two, though) was negative as far as personal experience with them is concerned.

My experience with them is the total opposite. I LOVE THEM. I’m having absolutely no difficulty whatsoever with them. It’s really amazing to knit socks on circular needles as if I was knitting something much larger on circulars, like a hat or a sweater. I don’t have anything against DPNs, but they are a bit fiddly. The 9″ circulars are just more efficient on time. The only time you need to switch to DPNs is to finish knitting the toe (or to start knitting the toe if you knit toe-up). Well, unless you can use the magic loop method or the two circulars method of knitting socks. It’s likely that if you know how to do the former two methods you won’t need the 9″ circulars. I have never been interested in those ways of knitting in the round so, the little circs are just right for me.

I would add that knitting with 9″ circular needles successfully isn’t about hand size. I’m a guy with some big hands and unusually long fingers. My hands don’t cramp up and I have no issues with the shorter needles. My guess is that this way of knitting is right for you depending on how you hold your yarn. I can knit both “continental” and “English” ways and my preferred way of knitting is the “continental” one, so I hold my yarn in my left hand and I’m right-handed. I control my yarn tension with my index and middle fingers when I knit “continental” style. I’m guessing that if you hold the yarn in your right hand and knit with the “English” style it all depends on how you hold your yarn and control its tension, too. I tried the “English” style and it was too uncomfortable for me, but that’s the method that I don’t like using for anything. This year I’ve knitted 0 projects with the English method. I’ve even stopped using it for color work. So, don’t take this paragraph too seriously.

My conclusion? Don’t listen to anything other knitters say about absolutely anything. If you want to try something out, go for it. Your experience is unique and might be different from everyone else’s. Mine certainly has been with the 9″ circulars. Now, I’ll knit more socks in a shorter period of time and my DPNs won’t fall into the sofa.

I’m being a bit naughty for the holidays

Recently, I’ve just been buying all the yarn and knitting supplies. I’m waiting for the last of my stuff to arrive by post and then I’m going to do what used to be against my nature: photograph it all, talk about all the things I bought, and basically behave like an elated conspicuous consumer sucked into the capitalist vortex.

Why not? I’m really excited about the stuff I’ve bought, I’ve had fun the past couple of weeks looking at different web sites, visiting some physical shops, and planning my knitting for the next few months. I don’t think I’ve ever been this inspired to knit.

Speaking of which, I’ve been knitting a lot. This was a four-day weekend for me so I’ve made tons of progress on my cabled cardigan. I’m already a quarter of the way down the first sleeve. That’s right, down. Those of you who are kind enough to remember will know that this is a flat raglan sweater, with all that business about shaping the armholes for the back, left front, and right front. Well, for the body I think that’s just fine, but there is absolutely no need to knit the sleeves flat for this cardigan. AT ALL. Planning ahead, I actually knitted all the body pieces with chain selvedge edges. Today, I sewed the shoulders together, and then I just picked up around the armhole to knit my first sleeve in the round. I’ve made some shaping modifications to this sweater as well. When I’m finished I’ll of course add them to my notes on my Ravelry project page. I must say, though, that I’ve tried the sweater on with the partially knitted sleeve and it works great. Of course, I knew it would work out great. That’s because I know that there is absolutely no need whatsoever to knit sleeves flat when it comes to raglan sweaters.

My other mods? The button band and collar as indicated in the pattern are not, in my opinion, the proper way to do things. My added selvedge edges, of course, play into this mod. I’ll be sure to talk more about that on my Ravelry project page when I’m done, of course.

Speaking of modding patterns, there are those patterns that absolutely require alterations and others that don’t. This particular one screams “mod me, pleeeeeeease!” Typically, the free patterns that big yarn companies publish scream this at us. And, guess what? This is one of those. For the life of me I do not understand why anyone would think it necessary to, for example, cast on stitches to just put them on a holder to knit later and then sew the separated band to the main fabric. It’s just…

Expect some conspicuous consumption from me soon! I’m getting ready for it. I don’t think I’ve been this excited for shopping in a long time. Shopping for arts and craft supplies, though, is quite different from shopping for bobbles. It’s part of the creative process. Creation requires materials. Materials inspire creation. I guess it’s consumption to feel good about since it’s inspirational. It could be a new fall favorite. Yarn and knitting supply shopping while welcoming the crisp fall weather.