Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Fair Knitter

When I first started knitting, I knew nothing! I still feel like I don't know as much as I should about the subject but I try to learn as much as I can because I so enjoy everything about it. I started by taking a beginning class one Saturday and just ran from there. I have been known to listen to podcasts (audio and video) about knitting. I read a couple blogs about knitting. I have a few really good books and several favorite patterns (and hope to get more). I have a favorite shop that I like to go to where the people there are wonderful, friendly and encouraging. I have even thought about writing my own knitting blog but I would rather spend my time knitting than writing about it.

As soon as I could follow a pattern, I was knitting for everyone else and their new babies. I didn't care. I just love the process of taking a ball of string, and some sticks moving them back and forth, and magically ending up with s pair of socks, a hat, a sweater or whatever. I also love the look on the faces of others when you tell them they need to hand wash their knew item because it was hand knitted. The usual response is, "YOU did this?"

About a year ago, I wanted something for myself. I had seen some knitted lace in the yarn shops and thought it was WAY beyond anything I could do. But I went ahead and purchased some lace weight alpaca and a pattern to go with it. I read the pattern a couple times. I would take the soft yarn out of it's drawer and feel it's softness. But I was still too afraid to start.

The day I finally started was a new day for me! I waited for it to get to difficult but it didn't. (It is just not something you can do while carrying on a conversation or watching a movie you have never seen before). I finished one part and set it aside to tackle a few other projects and kind of forgot about it for a while.

A couple of months ago I picked it back up and was determined to finish. I wanted to wear it. Not to any place in particular but I just wanted to have that one thing that I had knitted for myself that was not a pair of socks. Then I got the idea to enter it into the fair. That gave me a deadline of when I needed to finish. I didn't have to rush. I had plenty of time. I was pretty happy with how it looked. Little did I know that I would soon fall in love with knitting lace.

When you first start it doesn't really look like anything. Even when you finish it is not that impressive. The magic happens when you "block" your knitting. You fill up a sink, tub, or in my case, a large Tupperware bowl, with water and a small amount of a detergent made for fine fibers. You soak your knitted item for at least 30 minutes or up to a couple hours. This relaxes the fibers so you can stretch them within an inch of their little lives. Then you take up every bit of horizontal space in your kitchen that is usually set aside for eating and lay out your damp item. I happen to have lace blocking wires and blocking mats. Those get threaded through the edges of the wet lace one row at a time. It takes FOREVER! Then you stretch it into the shape desired and, using a million pins, hope it stays in that shape until it is dry. This project took only a couple hours to dry. When I knitted Jim a pair of felted slippers it took a couple of days for them to dry! (One of the reasons I have fallen in love with lace knitting.) Then, when it has fully dried, you un-pin and take out the wires and... Abracadabra... it has turned into something you never imagined could be so lovely!!!

There are some pictures somewhere of the blocking process. I just couldn't find them. But here are some pictures of the finished product:

I couldn't find anywhere in my house that looked good so I went outside to take this picture.

The next two are close ups of the lace detail

Last Saturday was the day that items needed to be turned into the fair. The judging was on Monday and Tuesday. I anxiously woke up this morning and, after knitting a few rows on my next bit of lace, got ready to head down to the fair grounds. It opened at noon so I bribed the boys with lunch if they came with me. It took a minute for me to find my entries. There were so many wonderfully hand crafted items. I had fun browsing. Then we saw it...

The stocking I knitted for myself. I am in the process of knitting one for each of us. The same pattern but with different colors. Everyone got to choose their own colors. Mine is pink in honor of my sister, Lisa. I guess that worked because it won first place in the "Christmas" category. (Sorry about the bad quality of the pictures. I used my phone and was a bit shaky from excitement)

Then after a few minutes we found the lace shawl. It also had a blue ribbon! It won first place in the "Clothing/Accessories" category!

I only wish Jim had been there. He is so patient with me and my addiction. But he is off enjoying his (Fly fishing trip pictures to come soon). I guess I will have to set aside a few thing each year and take them down to the fair. I think I am brave enough now to enter the Utah State Fair next month.

Each first prize wins $25, which more than pays for the materials I used to make these items (another reason I have fallen in love with lace knitting. You can use one $12 hank of yarn and knit a whole project!). I can pick up my prize money on Monday. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to use my winnings to purchase more yarn... :)


MKG said...

Wow, Aimee! These are wonderful!!! Congratulations on TWO blue ribbons!!! Are you going to enter them in the State Fair as well? You should!!!

John Festin said...

NICE JOB Aim! You should enter them into the State Fair...You should start taking orders for Christmas Stockings...I'd buy new ones for my family!

Debbie said...

That is so impressive! I especially love the shawl. The lace is so beautiful! You deserve the blue ribbons.

Kelly said...

Aimee! I am so excite for you! I loved reading this post and the suspense was killing me, as I was hoping that I would eventually get to see pictures of your handiwork. I am totally impressed! I would say the same thing, "YOU did this?" Not many Americans can knit, so you should be proud. I love both the Lisa stocking (how sweet that you named it after her) and the lovely lace sweater. Gorgeous!

Franklin Times said...

Look at you go! I am so impressed. Nice work!!

Clammy said...

Congrats!! They are beautiful!!!!
You are amazing. I once tried to knit a simple hat, but got frustrated and never finished it. You motivate me to try that little hat again.

Awesome job!