Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Some ideas just make you say "WOW"

Sometimes you come across something something which opens your knitting mind in directions never considered before. I have been accumulating these WOW's for some time, and want to share them with you:

Many, perhaps most knitters already know about Ravelry, the knitting community website. Yet, if conversations with random knitters in airports and waiting rooms are any indication, Ravelry remains unknown to a surprising number. So, if you don't yet know, Ravelry is a black hole into which you will fall with your knitting, never to emerge. Need 3 ways to bind off at 3 AM? A new way of keeping track of your stash and needles? Are you seeking just more ball of a discontinued yarn? Ravelry is all that, and more. The brainstorm of Jessica Forbes and Casey Forbes who administer and run the site with grace and humor, Ravelry is a game-changer: what has up to now been essentially lone pursuit is now a social one and knitting information previously restricted by area, custom or expertise is now in the public domain, archived and searchable by all. Sign up HERE. PS:  As Angie points out in the comments, Ravelry is a site for crocheters, too. (Not to mention that spinners seem to have gotten in on the act when no one was looking!)

Use every inch of that
expensive, fancy yarn sock
Ravelry is great because of the neat people you "meet" and the great tips they post. Here is an example of a really splendid tip from an expert knitter on Ravelry, who goes by the Raverly-name of "Potteryfreak." Potteryfreak (real name Cheri) posted as follows:

You could do something wonderfully cool to make sure you get the maximum bang for your [expensive sock yarn] buck, if you are making a plain sock: Start with a ribbed cuff in contrasting yarn. Switch to your main yarn and knit one long sock-leg tube until you run out of yarn, then end it with a second cuff out of your contrasting yarn. Measure it and insert two lifelines a row or two apart at the center of your tube. Snip one stitch and unravel the row so that now you will have two equal-length tubes of sock. With your contrasting yarn, make your toes down from the live stitches on your lifelines and your afterthought heels in the appropriate spot.

Cheri was careful to note that the idea was not original with her, and that she wished she could remember where she'd read it so as to give credit where is is due. A great tip nonetheless, and thanks Cheri, for permission to re-print your post. (PS: Cheri has an online shop here.)

"Cable reassignment surgery"
The problem: the Boye interchangeable needles have many excellent qualities, but flexible cables are not among them. The solution: as a result of a brainstorm, Fleegle got her old Boye needlemaster tips drilled out by a gunsmith to accept the far more flexible Knitpicks cables. Fleegle is a brilliant genius. Read more about it HERE.

Addendum, November 24, 2010:  Here is another "wow" way to make cables for a Boye interchangeable needle set.  This new method is ALL do-it-yourself!!

Home made yarn swifts
Two low-cost home-made yarn swifts that will have you slapping your head--wonderful Rube Goldberg devices of the first order. Webecca is a brilliant genius. Click HERE and HERE.

Three charting sites
Shut down your spreadsheet, put down your graph paper, retire your pencil. Instead, check out these three free charting sites
1. Chart-a-rama: Into the "form" box, you type a pattern written in standard knitting shorthand, formatted according to some easy-to-understand rules. Click "make the chart," and Chart-a-rama will automatically generate a perfectly-formatted knitting chart. This would be very handy if you prefer to work from charts, but only have a older-type knitting pattern written out in knitting shorthand instructions.
2. Knitting Chart maker by Jacquie: If you prefer to type in your chart symbols directly, this site has loads of symbols and is easy-to-use.
3. Microrevolt's Knitpro application makes a color chart directly from an image. Want to knit your dog's face onto the back of a sweater? Knit a message on your socks? Knit giant flowers onto your afghan? This app will create the chart for you, and it's pre-set at the correct knitting ratio of stitches to rows.

Needle gauge
I use a micrometer to size needles. It is accurate but delicate, so it never leaves the house. My needle gauges are allowed out of the house, but are flimsy and are now bent and banged up from their adventures. To the rescue came Agres, another Ravelry member, who noted in a post that "drill gauges are cheap and tough." A trip to a local hardware store confirmed that: for a few bucks, I landed a sturdy metal drill gauge with the sizes actually engraved into the metal, so they'll never rub off. With a conversion chart, or two my drill gauge sizes all. Perfect for road trips.

Surprisingly stretchy bind off
Last, but not least, here is a link to a new sort of  bind off--Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off. The raves are flying for this one! Try it yourself and see what you think.

Thanks to all these great knitters who've illuminated the community of knitters with their generous sharing of time, talent and ideas.