Frequently Asked Questions

Updated 7/7/2010

Basics

What is the story behind the name "Grumperina"?
Where does Home Depot fit into the picture?
Where are you from?
What do you do for a living, and how does it carry over to knitting?
How can I contact you?

Knitting History

How did you learn to knit?
Have you taught others to knit?

Knitting Facts

When and where do you knit?
How many hours per day do you knit?
Are you a process knitter or a product knitter?
How many projects/WIPs do you knit at a time?
What knitted object do you wear the most?
How many socks have you knit for your grandma?

Knitting Preferences

Why knitting?How about some favorites? Favorite yarns, projects, books, techniques, etc.?
How do you chose which books (yarns, tools, etc.) to review on this blog?
Is there anything you don't like to knit or a technique you avoid?
Is there any technique you look forward to exploring?
What is your favorite cast-on/bind-off?
Do you prefer to knit in the round or flat?
What would you bring if you were stuck on a desert island?
What are your thoughts on stashing?
What are your thoughts on swatching?
How do you make your knitted goods look their best? What is the secret to beautiful finishing?
Do you have any knitting quirks?

Basics

What is the story behind the name "Grumperina"?

"Grumperina" is a combination of grumpy and -ina, a common suffix which is appended to create a feminine noun. I came up with this nickname for myself at the inception of this blog, because I'm often afflicted with a case of the grumps :). And even though I'm not always grumpy, the nickname stuck! I've always liked the ring of it, so I continue to use it.

Where does Home Depot fit into the picture?

Home Depot is one of my most favorite stores of all time. I love working with my hands, whether it's knitting, assembling furniture, polishing a niddy-noddy, or making a jewelry display. Home Depot has everything I need to keep my hands busy.

Where are you from?

I was born in (the Russian-speaking part of) Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and moved to the United States with my family when I was 11 years old.

What do you do for a living, and how does it carry over to knitting?

I'm a scientist, and if there's one thing that carries over from science into knitting it's that taking a step back and starting over is part of life ;).

How can I contact you?

You can e-mail me at grumperina@gmail.com, or find me on Ravelry as grumperina.

Knitting History

How did you learn to knit?

By accident! I intended to learn crochet ;). You can read about my adventures in learning to knit here and here. My first source of knitting instruction was Pam Allen's Knitting For Dummies. Yes, I learned from a book!

Have you taught others to knit?

Yes, I have! It's a very rewarding experience, and one from which I never shy away. I volunteer to teach anyone who shows an interest in knitting :).

Knitting Facts

When and where do you knit?

Most of the time I knit on my couch while watching movies or television. If I'm in the car and I'm not driving, I will knit there, too. Travel knitting makes long flights and airport waiting areas bearable. If I'm using public transportation at off-hours, I'll knit on the train or bus. Unfortunately, my commute to work is during rush hour, and my train route is very popular/crowded, so knitting is not an option. Since becoming a knitter I've definitely developed restless hand syndrome - I get antsy if I'm sitting still without anything for my hands to do :).

How many hours per day do you knit?

I estimate that I craft about 15 hours every week, an hour or 1.5 hours on weekdays, and more on the weekends. But not all those hours are devoted to knitting: if I have pants to hem, a pattern to format, a stack of new knitting books and magazines to browse, a blog post to write, or an FAQ to compile, those activities cut into my actual knitting time :).

Are you a process knitter or a product knitter?

I'm definitely a process knitter. I know this is the case because I can count on two hands the number of items I've knit which actually still reside in my house. Most things I knit for the sake of knitting, then give away.

How many projects/WIPs do you knit at a time?

This is a tricky question to answer. If I were to round up all my WIPs, I bet the number would be close to 10. But I actively work on probably only 2 or 3 of them at a time. It doesn't mean that the other 7 or 8 are hopeless - I've certainly picked up languishing WIPs after years of neglect in the past. In fact, I think I know whether a project will become an FO or hit the Frog Pond (regardless of how long it takes to reach either destination) shortly after casting on each one! So I don't feel bad about WIPs which have been sitting around for months or years.

What knitted object do you wear the most?

In general, my knitted scarves get the most use. Which ones did I wear the most this season? Interestingly, one was crocheted, and the other wasn't even knitted by me :). But my husband putters around the house in the socks I knit for him all winter long :).

How many socks have you knit for your grandma?

As of today (7/7/2010) I have knit 20 pairs of socks for my grandma. The ones I see her wearing most often are these simple stockinette ones!

Knitting Preferences

Why knitting?

First, I think I'm generally drawn to working with my hands and crafting (see Where does Home Depot fit into the picture?). I love to make things... to methodically envision how something would be made, and then make it. And I also love to tweak, align, and arrange until the thing (whatever it is) serves its purpose better.

On top of that, I can list a few tangible reasons why knitting works better for me than other crafts:

  • Knitting doesn't require a lot of set-up or equipment.
  • It's easy to pause (for a minute or indefinitely) and resume.
  • Even a tiny bit of knitting - a minute, a few stitches - is progress, and gets you closer to finishing.
  • You can undo and try again in almost all instances.
  • There is an infinite number of variations, and you don't ever have to make the same thing twice.
  • There's a wide variety of things you can make, from wire votive holders to intricate lace shawls.
  • Knitting is also a lot of "bang for your buck": you can buy 500 yards of the most luxurious, hand-painted merino blend yarn for $50, and it will keep you occupied for weeks! That's the cost of one dinner out!

The intangible reasons are just that: intangible. I love to knit! It feels great! It's so pretty! I love doing it, and writing about it, and reading about it, and doing it alone, and doing it with other people, and and and...

How about some favorites? Favorite yarns, projects, books, techniques, etc.?

Conveniently, I made a list of favorites on my fifth knitaversary ;).

How do you chose which books (yarns, tools, etc.) to review on this blog?

It is a challenge for me to find the time to blog (a welcome challenge, I should add, because I enjoy it very much), let alone scan in pattern pictures and write summaries. For that reason, I only review those books which I genuinely believe are awesome. And if they are awesome, then I want to have my own copy, and find the money to buy one. As a general rule, I do not accept freebie copies of books from publishers or authors, it's simply not necessary.

Is there anything you don't like to knit or a technique you avoid?

I could think of only two things. The first is felting. My felting experience is admittedly limited, probably because I've only had coin-operated washing machines at my disposal so far. But I just don't see the great appeal. The second is frogging or tinking patterns with twisted stitches or cables. I can honestly say that I hate doing that with the fiery passion of a thousand suns because all the stitches have been transposed and it's tricky to get them back on the needles in the right order!

Is there any technique you look forward to exploring?

I think the beauty of knitting is that it offers us countless permutations of knits and purls. Every project brings with it something new, even if it looks familiar on the surface. One thing I haven't tried yet is steeking, but if the opportunity presents itself, I'll be happy to give it a go. But considering I don't knit sweaters, and in particular I don't knit colorwork sweaters out of sticky wool, I'm not sure whether steeking and I will ever cross paths.

What is your favorite cast-on/bind-off?

The one best suited to the project ;). Honestly, I don't give this much thought. The long-tail cast-on and the basic knit bind-off are my defaults, but if they don't work for a particular project, I use others. Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook has an encyclopedic listing of all the options.

Do you prefer to knit in the round or flat?

Each has its purpose - I wouldn't typically knit a hat flat, or a scarf in the round, for instance. But for sweaters, I definitely prefer knitting flat. For one, it is easier to handle and transport a smaller piece of knitting. It's easier and quicker to block, too. In fact, knitting in pieces allows me to complete a sleeve, block it, confirm that it didn't grow to monstrous proportions, then confidently proceed to knitting the other pieces. Lastly, if I realize I forgot a waist decrease on a sweater 3" down from my current knitting spot, it's much less painful to frog a cardigan front than a front plus a back plus another front.

Read a bit more on this topic here, where I discuss blocking and how it relates to seaming.

What would you bring if you were stuck on a desert island?

I would bring a copy of Victorian Lace Today, skeins and skeins of Hand Maiden Sea Silk, and INOX Express knitting needles in sizes US 3 through US 7. My hands would be occupied for days and days...

What are your thoughts on stashing?

Though my own stash isn't huge, I'm pro stashing! I stash for any and every reason - because the yarn is pretty, because I intend to use it for something, because I visited a nice yarn shop and felt compelled to buy something. Since I don't knit sweaters, I rarely buy more than a few skeins of something, but I think if I had more space and more money, I'd have a bigger stash :).

What are your thoughts on swatching?

Uhm, very relaxed. I mostly knit things where gauge isn't terribly important (lace and lately, baby items), or socks, where the number of stitches at cast-on will clue me in whether the yarn I'm using will work or if the pattern needs to be adjusted. If I need a number for these basic knits, I will often cast on something like 20 stitches, knit 10 rows, measure, immediately undo the swatch, and get going on the real knitting ;). For sweaters or other garments meant to fit actual adults, I do dutifully swatch.

How do you make your knitted goods look their best? What is the secret to beautiful finishing?

I think there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, don't compromise. If you know your 100-stitch button band is flaring a little bit, and will look better if you only pick up 95 stitches, do it. Even if it means taking off all the buttons, fishing out the ends, reknitting, sewing the buttons back on, etc. Second, be purposeful in your finishing: think about the way the knitting will be used, and choose technique accordingly. For example, if you're weaving in a yarn end into ribbing, don't go across the ribs, go vertically along the ribbing instead. Why? The whole idea of ribbing is to maintain flexibility width-wise, and weaving in the end across ribbing directly tampers with that!

Do you have any knitting quirks?

When I knit, I like the ball of yarn to be to my left. I do a lot of tugging and nudging if it's on my right! Perhaps this is because I hold the yarn in my left hand when I knit (commonly called Continental style).