Saturday, May 19, 2012

More on Addi Lace Clicks- Long tips & Life Line Feature!

So by now you've probably figured out that I am partial to interchangeable knitting needles. If you are wondering if interchangeable knitting needles are right for you, hop your pretty little heiny over here to read my post about How to Buy Interchangeable Knitting Needles.

One popular brand of knitting needles is Addi by Skacel. Back in November 2010, Skacel released their long-awaited Lace Interchangeable Knitting Needle set. What made it a "lace" set? The point of the needle was long and supah-sharp, perfect for grabbing teeny tiny stitches and flipping them through the acrobatics of lace knitting. I happened to be at Stitches East for a few pathetic hours the week they were released in the US ... so I snagged me a set. My online knitting cronies clambered for the scoop on the Lace Tip set so, for Jillian, I wrote this Addi Lace Click Review.

So it's been a year and a half now and I have a few updates.

On the original Lace Tip Set...
These needles are one of the few sets of interchangeables that allow for small circumference knitting. If you've ever used small circumference fixed circular needles, you know that the needles themselves have to be shorter to be able to get that small circumference. Addis Lace set comes with cables that when combined with their tips, will make both 16" and 20" needles. Addis was apparently trying to hit this niche market of small circ knitters at the same time as satisfying the lace tip lovers.  Oooooooookay.

For those who love small circ needles, this set rocks. Unfortunately, I've met a number of people who complain of hand pain due to the shorter size. Despite this, I still reached for my Lace Set often. The sweater that was going on forever? Holy smokes, it flew on those needles. But they hurt. They hurt enough that I would often have to put down a project in frustration.

The other complaint I had was the join. It catches, man. Not a smooth join at all and with the wrong yarns, my knitting continually got hung up. So why the heck was I still reaching for them? Ultra sharp tips, and a surface that I just grooved on. I actually increased in speed with these needles ... and for a slow knitter, that's a very cool thing. 

When Addi came out with their recent Long Lace Tip Set, I realized, Hm. This could make me very very happy. The original Lace Tip set sold quickly on eBay and Momma ordered herself the new long needles.

And so, on the Long Lace Tip Set...
Oh mama. The needles fit perfectly in my hands. My hand pain disappeared with the first use, completely shocking me. I was thrilled to be able to finish projects faster because I could KNIT MORE! Woot! I was slightly saddened that they weren't able to improve their join but in order to make the locking mechanism work, I think the current join is as good as it is going to get for the foreseeable future. So I found a situation in which this join completely pissed me off: real lace.

You'd think that a set with Lace Tips would find away to fix that join, but in actual practice, lace weight yarn simply can't skim over it. At all. I picked up a hibernating work in progress (see my Lime Rickey Summer Shawl project page over here) using Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino-Tussah Silk lace weight. This is an amazingly well plied yarn, soft but not draggy or splitty, on size 4 needles. In this old picture you can actually see that it's on a set of fixed Addi lace circs.

So the grand irritation of the Addi Lace tips - original or long - is that in my opinion they are completely useless with lace weight yarns. I'm sure that other people might not have this problem. I've only been knitting a few years and am definitely not as accomplished or coordinated as many of my friends so please take my opinion with a grain of salt. I will keep this set and use it very frequently, but not with laceweight. 

The other fun feature of the new Long Lace Tip set is the Life Line feature. Never heard of a life line in knitting? Especially common in lace knitting, inserting a life line (a horizontal thread run throw an entire row of active stitches) lets you quickly rip back to a particular place in your knitting as opposed to tinking back stitch by stitch. Addi made a clever addition to the cables in the Long Lace Tip set by adding a teeny longitudinal slice to knitting cables. The idea is that you feed your life line material into that slit and simply knit as usual, with the life line being laid as you go. I've been told that waste lace weight yarn, embroidery floss and crochet thread are good choices for life line materials. I went for waxed mint dental floss, borrowed from my mom's medicine cabinet. Not the best choice, but hey, it'll do in a pinch. And my shawl is minty fresh.

This is a close up of the cable so you can see what the hoo-hah I'm talking about. It actually holds the life line material really well but threading it, well that is another matter. If you are going to use this feature, I reeeeeally recommend using one of these... 

This picture is from How to Use a Needle Threader on and if you've never used one I highly suggest you go over there and have an "Aha!" moment. I don't need them often, but needle threaders are fantastic tools for those really splitty threads that make the little vein in your temple throb.

Feeding dental floss through that little slit in the cable while trying to carefully pinch the cable in a way to keep the slit open. 

So here is the dental floss life line in progress. You can see how the floss just feeds along with the stitches. I can honestly say that laying the life line itself was completely effortless. 

The dental floss was not the best choice in life line material however...

See that snarl? That took me a half hour to tease out because if I pulled to hard, the thin plastic floss just stretched... and would snap. There was much cursing. Sigh.

Feeling very proud of myself, I decided to nail down a few more rows and take a lovely picture to share with y'all. And then I stumble upon a design flaw in this method of laying a life line...

See that hair elastic I used as a stitch marker? It's now knit INTO the life line and I had to cut it off to continue to knit. In general, this is a non-issue for me as I always use locking stitch markers. Yes, after years of knitting I still repeatedly knit my markers into my work. This would probably happen less if I would refrain from knitting while A) over-tired, B) drinking wine, C) reading on my Nook at the same time, D) more than one of the above or E) all of the above. But what fun would that be.

Anywho, if you are someone who uses fancy gorgeous not-locking stitch markers, this is something you need to know about before hand. 

So basically, yes, I love these needles. While I *need* lifelines (cognitive/memory issues wreak havoc with complicated knitting ... as does wine ... and reading...) I'm too lazy to use them. I will definitely use this feature on these needles in the future to save my sanity. I can absolutely say without a doubt that I will never knit another laceweight project on them, but I can see myself knitting a row onto these needles just to lay the life line and then knit them back onto my preferred lace weight needles. 

I do love them, I'm happy I bought them and really enjoy knitting with them despite the cons. As I've mentioned in other articles, every interchangeable set has it's pros and cons. How much they please or bother you is completely personal and tough to predict. I'm very lucky to have an online yarn craft group to go to about things like this. I love you people <3

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ego and the Art of ...

I've spent  a great deal of my life with a "Hey, look at me!" drive somehow lodged in my brain. For the life of me, I can't figure out where it came from - my parents gave me plenty of support, praise and attention but I still always craved being different, elite ... noticed.

In early life through college I tried to find satisfaction in this through many paths - ballroom dancing, judo, acting, yoga, basketball, choosing a unique major ... singing. Some people on driven paths just have fun with their art. Others challenge themselves with personal goals or strive to make a career using their craft . Some lonely few are just trying to fill that young need to stand out, be praised.

Look how _______  I am!

Some people know I get injured easily in yoga because I have poor proprioception , meaning my brain doesn't interpret signs from my connective tissue and muscles well. You know that feeling that says "WHOOOOOOAA baby, slow down"?People with poor proprioception don't hear that voice soon enough ... if they hear it at all. Well, I have a dirty secret: the other reason I got hurt frequently in the first decade or so of my practice. Most of my practice. Almost all of my practice.


"I've been practicing for years, I can do the advanced variation. I don't need no stinkin block. Can the teacher see me?"


It can be nauseating to face such a shallow, vulnerable, reaching part of oneself and think, "Why can I not let this go?" When I closed my business and stepped away from the babywearing community, I lost more than I outwardly expressed. Yes, it was income, it was a business I loved and enjoyed, it was my tribe ... but it was also Ego. I was a known name in the babywearing community (for better or for worse) and I felt like I went from being Someone to being invisible.

Recently after two years of web-based home yoga practice through YogaGlo ("Who needs a level one class? This level three can't be too ... ow!) I began an amazing Gentle Yoga class at our local YMCA. The teacher's wry sense of humor and deliberate positioning of her mat (putting the students' backs to the mirror) began to quicken that slow-to-develop part of me. Rather than striving to be the best, to get attention, I was led inward. Apparently the path to letting go of the Ego was to let go of letting go?

The relaxation (not to mention lack of injury) engendered by this absence of internal conflict translated to my muscles as well as to my heart and mind. I began reaching with joy and contentment in my poses, relishing the release as opposed to straining for some unreasonable goal.

Ironically, the day after I realized this shift, my teacher drew the classes attention to the form of my pose with a lovely compliment. I thought about it on the way home, concerned at how my Ego would handle this ... in the past this would have spiked my excitement, distracting me from the class and prompting me to focus on the outward instead of the inward. She brought it up again at the next class - this time her flattery giving me warm fuzzies and slight embarrassment instead of my usual giddiness.

I pondered.

A wise Guru in the tradition of Aghor Yoga, Baba Harihar Ramji of Sonoma Ashram, spoke to me once in darshan. A personal interaction with a Guru, darshan can be anything from a time to speak in private to a blessing to a hug to a simple touch . He reminded me of the importance of detaching oneself from things that draw upon our energy. Detach our energy from the situation, step back and decide how, if at all, to better contribute our energy to the situation. In satsang (a lesson or teaching time, generally in a group), Babaji extended this metaphor to thoughts intruding on our yoga practice. Detach your energy from the thought, acknowledge the thought and allow it to flow by, no longer held by our attention to it.

I realized I had done the same thing with Ego. Encouraged by the manner and teachings of my instructor, I naturally detached myself from my Ego. I stopped trying to force it into submission; I stopped feeding it with striving for more praise. I just stepped back. I slid so easily, effortlessly into this state of mind that when complimented I stayed detached ... watching my ego cherish the compliment but not giving it any energy ... and then moving on.

It has been years from since my day with Babaji and I'm quite certain my yoga teacher never put "change Melissa's existence" into her daily plan. Yet here it is, a shift that has led to my increased relaxation and enjoyment of my yoga practice. How else will this small drop ripple my pond?

**I am in no way connected or receive reimbursement/product/kickbacks/magic powers from any of the companies mentioned here. All products or services mentioned were purchased by me.**