To Swift or Not to Swift?

I had made a yarn purchase at a local yarn store, and the sales lady had told me that I really need to invest in a yarn swift and ball winder.  She demonstrated for me on a hank of yarn I bought from her, and I thought “cool, but pffft, I don’t need that.”  I don’t often buy hanks of yarn, and even if I did, I can find some other way to wind it.

Well, I gave in to the temptation and bought a pretty cheap ball winder from Knit Picks (www.knitpicks.com).  The reason I chose this ball winder is because it’s the cheapest I could find out there, and it’s hand held, so I don’t need to look for a place to clamp it.

I still could not, however, bring myself to purchase a swift.

Well, this past weekend, I decided to wind up a couple of hanks of yarn I had bought to make the dragon hat.  I thought, OK, if I’m really careful, I should be able to use the ball winder and wind up the yarn without getting it all tangled up.

It was a HUGE disaster!  It got sooooo tangled up, that I spent the entire rest of the day and a bit of the next morning untangling it.  My husband said, “give it up, just throw it away.”  I replied, “no way!”

I ended up having to cut the yarn in a couple of places.  Also, I discovered that without the application of appropriate pressure, the ball winder cannot produce a lovely center-pull cake.  Instead, it produces an ugly blob of yarn that tangles up as soon as you pull on it.  Sigh….back to untangling.

So, my first hank ended in 3 little balls of yarn, instead of 1 beautiful center-pull cake.

My second hank of yarn, I was more careful – I wound the hank around my two knees and sat on the floor with my knees up as I unwound it.  This worked better, but it was back-breaking and still could not produce a center-pull cake.  That one ended up as one big ball of yarn.

So, here’s my take-away from this experience:

Yarn Swift?  Yes!!!

Better Ball Winder? Yes!!!

Better go visit Amazon right now…..

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Update 1/28/2014; I purchased a yarn swift from Amazon.  I got one of those Amish table top ones, just because the umbrella style one looks complicated 🙂  I also purchased a new ball winder from WEBS…it’s the Royal one.  Hopefully these will work out better.  I can’t wait to try it….maybe this weekend.

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Update 2/3/2014; So, I tried out my Royal ball winder this weekend.  I clamped it to my kitchen counter, because….believe it or not, I do not have any other place to clamp it!  Then I used it to wind up a ball of acrylic yarn I had lying around, just to try it out.  I didn’t use the swift, since I wasn’t winding from a hank.  The result was beautiful!  I’m so happy.  I was finally able to make one of those nice little center-pull cakes.  I am going to wind up all my yarn, just because I’m having so much fun with it!

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Update 7/9/2014; By the way, I LOVE the swift I bought.  The one I bought is the Stanwood Needlecraft Table top Amish Style Swift.  It’s pretty easy to set up and use, and it works well!

Dragon Hat

Hat #7 is a knitted beanie with a dragon pattern in it.  Only my second attempt ever at color stranding….(gulp).  So far, I’ve done 2 rows of the dragon patten, and I’m a little worried that my contrast yarn isn’t “contrasty” enough.  Oh well….we’ll see how it turns out, I guess.

Unfortunately, I can’t share the pattern because it’s a paid pattern, but if interested, here’s the Ravelry pattern page:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dragon-hat-2

And I’m going to have to get myself one of those “head model” thingies because I am tired of taking pictures of myself to model the hats….I hate taking my own picture!

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Update 1/23/2014; So far so good.  The dragon pattern is not as hard as I thought it would be.  As long as I focus, and go slowly, it’s fine.  I was working on the hat last night while watching “World War Z”.  Hmmmm, maybe not such a good idea…..

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Update 1/27/2014; Finished last night!  The hat came out kind of puffy in spots – probably due to wrapping my floats too tightly, although I’m not sure exactly.  And I was right about the contrast yarn – it didn’t contrast enough so the dragon pattern doesn’t stand out as much as I wanted it to.  Overall, though I’m happy with the project.  I need to keep practicing my stranded color work!  Pictures coming soon….

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Update 1/28/2014; Pictures are here!  I somehow got my gorgeous husband to model the hat for me….I wish he would smile though:

dragon-hat_2

dragon-hat_2

Here’s a close-up of the hat.  You can see what I mean about the contrast yarn not contrasting enough:

dragon-hat_1

dragon-hat_1

And here’s one of DD wearing the hat (with her own little girly flair):

dragon-hat_3

dragon-hat_3

 

Crochet Lattice Hat

For my 6th hat, I decided on yet another crochet pattern, mainly because I have some wool yarn in a pretty green, and I really want to try crocheting something with wool.  I typically crochet with acrylic (don’t know why – it just works out that way), but I really wanted to try it with a nice wool yarn.  So far, I’m loving it!

The pattern is also a bit more challenging than other crochet projects I’ve done in the past because it involves “front post double crochet” stitches, which I have done before, but not too much.  It’s a nice change from the standard “sc”, “dc”, and “hdc” stitches.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes!  Oh, here’s the link to the free pattern:

http://www.rheatheylia.com/index.php?page=patterns&id=3

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Update 1/17/2014; Finished!  I LOVED working on this hat.  I had some issues with the pattern because some things weren’t clear to me.  Like on my first LTC row, I didn’t know which fpdc to grab, and so I was just always grabbing the NEXT one, which caused me to have 1/2 the number of stitches I was supposed to end up with.  That’s mainly due to my inexperience with the LTC stitch, I think.

Then after I figured that out, I had a hiccup on Row 22 where it says:

*fpdc down into last LTC, bpdc, fpdc, bpdc* repeat from * to * around (36 fpdc, 36 bpdc)

I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to fpdc and bpdc only into the 18 LTC’s that I had, and end up with 72 stitches.  So, I thought I was supposed to fpdc, bpdc, fpdc, bpdc into EACH LTC stitch.  I tried that and it didn’t look right at all.

Finally, I figured that I was supposed to fpdc into the first LTC, then the next 3 stitches, bpdc, fpdc, and bpdc, are into the DC stitches.  Ahhh, k got it.  Again – probably due to my lack of experience.

But I love the result – it’s a very interesting looking hat, and I had so much fun making it.

lattice-hat_2

lattice-hat_2

lattice-hat_1

 

Another Crocheted Hat

Hat #5: “Megan Wants You” hat. Wow, this has got to be a record for me – I started and finished it in one day!  It looks like such a cute pattern, but somehow, mine isn’t so cute.  I think I should not have used the Caron yarn, which is just too soft and smushy for this pattern.  I guess the sizing is OK – although I expected it to be bigger because I used an “H” hook, and stitched really loosely.  I guess this one will go to the baby recipient 🙂

megan-wants-you_1

megan-wants-you_1

Here’s the link to the free pattern:

http://vallieskids.blogspot.com/2009/06/meagan-wants-you.html

Knitted Rib-a-Roni Hat

For my 4th hat, I decided I need to do a boy hat.  So I went for a simple knitted beanie with “man colors.”

I’ve had some problems starting it up….not sure why.  In the beginning, when I joined the round, I kept losing a stitch.  I casted on 97, then slipped the first stitch, knitted one stitch, and passed the slipped stitch over, in order to attempt a jogless join.  Then I would start knitting, and lo and behold – I’m one stitch short (I should have 96?).

This kept happening over and over, an so finally, I just did a m1 to get that extra stitch back.  I still don’t know what I did wrong.

After I got past that hurdle, my stitches got twisted somewhere along the way, and my rows are bit uneven.  I think I can fix it with some finagling when finishing the hat, so I’m not going to worry about it.  Onward!

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Update 1/13/2014; I finished it this weekend!  Here’s the pic:

rib-a-roni_2

rib-a-roni_2

rib-a-roni_1

Oh, and here’s the pattern, if interested:

K_RibaroniV2

Crochet Nubby Brim Hat

My 3rd hat for 2014, was called “Nubby Brim Hat”, and is a cloche-style hat made with bulky yarn:

I have officially dubbed it “The Pink Behemoth.”

It looks soooo giant, but yet, when I put it on my head, it doesn’t seem that huge.  Maybe it’s because of the super bulky yarn.  This was a SUPER fast project, but I’m not entirely happy with it.  The super bulky yarn makes it so heavy, and I’m not so crazy about the color.  And why is it sooo pointy at the top?  It looks like a cross between an ice cream cone and a Dr. Seuss Hat!  I dare say…it might be a candidate for my ugliest FO ever  😦

Chalk it up to more stitching experience, and never come away with nothing.  That being said, my lessons learned on this one:

Lesson #1: “Super Bulky” and “Bulky” are not “almost the same.”

The pattern actually called for bulky yarn, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to use up some super bulky stuff I had in my stash for a long while.  Since I was still using the recommended hook size, I thought my stitches would be tighter, but would be OK.  *Ahem….not so much.  I did skip 2 or 3 repeats on the body of the hat and 2 repeats on the brim of the hat but to me, it still seems gigantic.

Lesson #2: I don’t think I like bulky/super bulky yarn.

From now on, I think I’ll try to avoid projects involving these two weights of yarn.  It’s just uncomfortable on my hands, and I just don’t enjoy working with these types of yarns.

Lesson #3: I don’t really care for this pattern.

Although it was super easy (maybe it wasn’t and I did something wrong?) and fast, I don’t think I’ll make this again.

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Update 1/13/2014; Pics of my Pink Behemoth:

nubby-brim-hat_1

nubby-brim-hat_1

nubby-brim-hat_2

 

Knitted Slouch Hat

2014 Hat #2 is a knitted slouch hat using a free pattern from Sweet Georgia Yarns:

K_SGY_Ballard_Slouch

I think the yarn I used was not quite a good fit for this pattern, but, aside from a few hiccups with my interpretation of the pattern, I loved this!  It’s a good, simple pattern with a pretty lace stitch.  Unfortunately, I forgot to use the smaller-sized needles for the ribbing, so the hat fits kind of loosely.

ballard-slouch-hat_1

ballard-slouch-hat_1

But all-in-all, I’m happy with it.