Friday, June 20, 2014

Hiya Hiya Knitting My First Cardigan

Hiya Hiya Circular Needles Size 9
Knitting has been one of those craft skills that I never mastered when I was younger. My sisters all learned to knit when they were in primary school, and they pretty much kept the skill through adulthood. They tried to teach me in my teens, and then I tried to learn again in my twenties when I was bedridden and pregnant with my first child. No success.

Then about six years ago, I took a new temporary job assignment where I was responsible for territories in East Asia, and the long flights sparked my interest in knitting again. Was it out of necessity? Or was it my mental state in need of the repetitious and even calming effects that knitting has on the knitter? Probably both at the time.
Close-up of the tip

Unlike sewing, where my creative juices can overflow into design and construction. Knitting is for me a new refuge. Any kind of refuge.

This month, the process of knitting climbed a new high when I ventured into the "tools" territory. For the past few years, I have been using Clover bamboo needles for all my projects. They are easy to find at my local big box store. I do think it's strange however that when I have visited local yarn stores, no one ever asked me if I needed needles, or even offered to teach me about my options. Maybe it's just a fluke. I swear, it's never happened.

Then I stumble across some reviews on Amazon, purely by accident for me, but probably on purpose by Amazon, because they are so good at linking me with things that I don't need, or didn't know I needed, and something sparked my attention: Hiya Hiya needles. Okay...maybe these are nothing new to the advanced and even average knitter. But for the knitting challenged and clueless, it was a bucket of cold water in the face. I ordered a set of basic number nine circulars to finish my Craftsy class, and what should happen?

I began to knit twice as fast, that's what. Really?

Yup...and all this time, I thought Clover made the only needles I need because they were bamboo, and environmental, and I could take them on the airplane without fear of confiscation.

These Hiya Hiya needles are like "stealth" tools. They are made of steel, light, sharp, and if I could use the word precise here...okay, I'm going to...and they are precise. Seriously, precision is really more in the person holding the needles, but I swear, it's almost like these little metal sticks have some engine attached to it. But these needles also help me with unstitching my constant mistakes with ease. My miscounting, my forward tbl, instead of the back. I actually knitted the whole back panel in some weird backwards purl stitch and didn't even know it until I started on the second panel and saw there was a difference.  That is how pathetic of a knitter I am.

Now that I'm almost done with my sweater...which has been sitting in my "to-do" box since last October 2013, I can honestly say, in my most sincere Oscar award voice, "I would not have been able to have accomplished this without the help of my Hiya Hiya needles. I owe it all to them, and I am truly grateful." [loud applause here]

So without further ado...I just got in the mail yesterday, the rest of my Hiya Hiya interchangeable needles and gear from the lovely folks in Washington called Paradise Fibers. I bought from them, not because they are cheaper (Hiya Hiya needles and gear don't get discounted...even on Amazon), but because when I called them on a Saturday afternoon, some live person picked up the phone, and took the time to answer all my novice (stupid) questions, and he (Nathan) even looked at the live merchandise to make sure he answered my questions correctly. Now that's worth a purchase don't ya think? I think so...because fumbling knitting dummies like me can be a pain in the butt.

Look Ma...more knitting gadgets!

I bought the large interchangeable needles, and the accessories set, which came with all these other knitting accessories that I didn't know I needed in order to knit a proper anything. They also came with really luxurious carrying bags. I feel so grown up.

The interchangeable set was $79.99, and the tools bags was $39.99. Not cheap, but not unreasonable either.
I feel like this is the beginning of my "new" knitting life with these little babies. I don't know if I can take them on the airplane though. Hiya Hiya also makes needles in bamboo. I should try theirs and see how they compare to Clover.  BTW, I stopped using the Clover circulars recently because I didn't like how the yarn kept getting caught between the plastic wire and the needles. But I don't have this problem with Hiya Hiya, they are smooth, and the plastic wire is much more pliable, unlike the stiffness in the Clover circulars. Also, there really wasn't a huge price difference either between the deciding on the switch was brainless.

Here is where I am so far with my project...I know it doesn't look like much. I haven't steamed the pieces flat yet. Up until now, most of my sewing projects have been rectangular, except for the socks, and the hats I've knitted in the round. My most advance attempt was a cable stitched beanie wool hat, which turned out surprisingly really well.

I might want to mention here, in case someone out there on the internet might be looking for a review of this class on Craftsy, that it's overall a really good class, and the instructor Amy does a good job slowing down the process for me. knew this was coming...there were lots of little errors on the knitting instructions that don't come through in the class. The class is about technique, but it doesn't go over line-by-line knitting. If it did, Craftsy would have caught all the mistakes. I am knitting the button up 3/4 sleeve cardigan, and there were enough mistakes like miscounts in the instructions to throw a simpleton knitter like me off kilter. I literally stopped knitting until I got a response from the instructor about updating the errors. There were actually fixes to the pattern written in the response sections of the class because the poor instructor couldn't get Craftsy to load the corrections on the PDF class materials. Really? Well, maybe now that Eunny Jang is working for Craftsy...(yes, she left Interweave, can you believe it?)...these kinds of things won't be happening anymore in the knitting division.

I have lots of imperfections in my cardigan, but I'm just at this point where I want to get it done. It's like a practice sewn muslin, except it took me months to complete. I can't even give this sweater away, because I think some of the errors are glaring at me. Do your mistakes talk back or make faces at you? Mine do. I may or may not post my finished project depending upon how mean it is to me.

My hope is to eventually knit mediocre.  (No this is not aiming my standards low.)  I don't have high aspirations to design, but certainly I could eventually knit with more than one color. (I'm starting with achievable goals here.) I don't think I've ever really seen a properly knitted, handmade sweater before until a couple of months ago while perusing through the racks of my local Goodwill Store.  Yes, I like shopping at Goodwill and finding things I can recycle. My latest visit, I scored a $5 wool sweater that fit me perfect, and was also meticulously hand knitted. I now have something to use as my gauge (pun intended).

Everything about this sweater screams, "I've been knitting so long, I could do this with my eyes closed." Take a look at what I mean!

Then look at these buttons, they are actually handmade buttons to match the sweater...


Look inside the sweater...I didn't know you should hand stitch grosgrain ribbon to stabilize the button holes...but it makes sense. I do it in fabric sewing for Pete's sake.

Lastly, how about those seems...I have yet to stitch my sweater together, but I want it to look as good as it was knitted as a single whole piece of perfection.

I hope whoever made this knows that I'm appreciating the hell out of it, and giving it another life, and using it to inspire me to become the next stealth knitter.

          Happy Knitting!