Friday, June 29, 2012

Challenges all 'round

Venturing slightly beyond one's comfort zone is something that I always encourage, if one is to learn and improve one's sewing skills. 

Taking a leaf out of that particular notebook, I figured it was high time that this little newbie-knitter ventured beyond the basics.  'Tis time to push boundaries and move forward into The Land of Fancypants Knitting. I'm starting small and pretty basic. Never having done anything lacy before, I'm taking small steps with these socks (sorry - awful and unintentional pun).    I even experimented with a new cast-on method... and ...ahem....knit the toe three times before I got it right 
Then I was stumped.  The instructions just said to "use the chart" to knit the lace pattern.  Ummmm... with no instructions anywhere in the book to tell me HOW to read the chart. 

Google to the rescue!  I found my way to this tutorial on Wendy D Johnson's blog. Strange, that in a book that covers all manner of other sock-knitting basics, and being one that depends largely on chart-based instructions, that there was not a paragraph to explain the chart.  And yet, that's all it really took on a blog post.  Go figure.  (Otherwise, it's a lovely book).

Equipped with newfound chart-reading know-how, I ventured on and knit 3 rows of the lace pattern.... before I noticed a dropped stitch in the first row and had to rip it all out. 
Challenge accepted.... and tonight's the night.  A hot date with the needles (and quite possibly Season 4 of The Tudors).   Look out Land of Fancypants Knitting, here I come.
If you fancy stepping outside your sewing comfort-zone, I have may just have the challenge for you

The new shopping bag pattern is currently being tested by four fairly confident sewing gals.  I'd also like to test it on some less-confident sewing gals (or blokes?).   If you're fairly new to sewing but a bit adventurous, this might be one of those Great Leap Forward challenges. 
 The testers have to fit the following criterior:
  • You need to be able to accept a 4MB file and print out the pattern and instructions.
  • You don't need lots of experience, but you need to be willing to try putting in a zip around a curved, stiff bag base.  No taking on the project and then woosing out!
  • You need to be able to make this project and get feedback to me by no later than Monday 9th July 2012.  Please don't agree to do it and then not get back to me.
  • You need to have access to Fast2Fuse or Peltex 72 (double-sided fusible, cardboard-like stiff interfacing) and paper-backed fusible web (Vliesofix, Applifix, Heat&Bond etc).  If you're local, you can pick it up from me, otherwise, you'll need to source this.
  • You need to be able to give detailed feedback to help clarify the instructions (as well as pointing out typos and formatting inconsistencies).
If you think you fit the above criterior and want to give it a whirl, send me an email or leave a comment here.  (Remember that unless you're signed in with a Google profile with an email address attached to it, I won't be able to contact you through the comment box.)
Life is full of challenges, non?  And what doesn't kill us makes us better knitters and stitchers.


Gillian R said...

I'm too ace to put my hand up for this. x

RaspberrySunshine said...

I'd love to test out your pattern :) I have access to all of the above and would love the challenge!

Cindy in Florida

KarenEm said...

Hi Nicki

the bag pattern looks great, I've got all the bits & pieces in my stash and would love to have a go at it


Annie said...

Good on you Nic for trying something a bit harder. I did that last year with my crotchet and made some lovely shawls. I'm going to try some more again this year. It's a great boost when it actually works. You think, hey, perhaps I AM smart afterall!!

A Peppermint Penguin said...

mmm, orange.

get you fanthy pants.

odd that the book didn't include a chart key, most patterns usually do! after the socks you will either want more lace or more socks. possibly both.

take a look at saroyan for a scarfy thing with a chart.

Patricia B said...

I would love to be a pattern tester for you. I have found myself in a bit of a funk sewing for a long stretch of time. Your wonderful pattern might be just the nudge I need to return to my sewing studio. How about an international pattern tester..Take a chance on Walpole, Maine USA...

You can find me through email me at:

Hope to hear from you!!!! Make it a great day!!!!

Jessica said...

Just sent you an email about pattern testing, would love to help out if you still need testers.

nicole said...

hey nikki! i'd love to help you out if you still need a pattern tester :D
i've got a few bags similar to this and i LOVE them, would love to make my own!
best of luck with your wooly adventures :D

Sara Klavan said...

I would love to try. I would need to check my local store for the peltex. I need to make a point of using more reusable bags, maybe if I made it myself I would use them more often. I love the challenge of a new project. I just made noodle heads wide open pouch, this would be a great follow up.
Saraklavan at yahoo dot com

Tas said...

Oooh-er! Socks. You will be a knitting snob soon and wont talk to us non-sock makers ;)

bec said...

I'm glad you put that link in to You Tube- I may have just found my new show! I'm reading the Phillipa Gregory novels at the moment, and am fascinated with it all! Expect the king is a bit more gorgeous than is described in the books haha. I'll def be downloading them!
The knitting is awesome, I'll never venture into that world I think, too hard basket! But I really should never say never!

Kelley said...

I sent you an email also, but I would love to test this!

Katy Cameron said...

Phew, so glad you went with socks, fancy pants would be soooooo itchy... ;o)

rainjerette said...

I would like to give it a try. I haven't sewn in a while, and am trying to get back to it. I will have to check and see if my local store carries the peltex. Thanks for the offer!

meli B said...

I haven't knitted much in the last 30 years but I was really good at it once upon a time. I just started following a pattern for a lacy cardigan. It has been undone so many times and has so many dropped stitches in it. I thought it would be like riding a bike and that I would be able to hop on where I left off. Reading the pattern codes and trying to understand the instructions was a huge challenge. I'm getting there and feeling very good about myself. Good on you for persisting. I too went too the internet for help.

SEW RED HOT said...

I'd love to give it a go, have a spotlight up the road for everything I need and school holidays coming up so lots of free time !! Guarantee to meet your criteria

SEW RED HOT said...

ps. !

Kirsten said...

I would like to have a go- I'm a just-past-beginner sewer and can get hold of all the stuff you mentioned I'd need. Plus, I'd love to have a chance to improve my skills!

خياطة وتفصيل said...

thank you so much ;)

Lynne said...

I have the book and, given that I tutor knitting workshops, I have never noticed the lack of chart reading instructions. But, then again, I write my own class notes. I am currently knitting the Ribbed Lace socks from that book but am knitting them cuff down As that is my preferred method and, in this case, the lace works in both directions.

Hoe yor sock knitting and your pattern testers go well.

Miss Emmy Dickins said...

I would love to test your pattern. I also teach college English, so would be happy to proof, comment for you!

Miss Emmy Dickins said...

BTW, I look nothing like that photo, and am actually female. Long story!