Monday, January 26, 2015

Keep them warm!

Felted mittens for my husband. These babies were also in the UFO basket for about a year. See a theme here?
I think my husband is starting to get the picture that if I start something for him, he can wait at least a year for it to be finished. Oops... (The need to finish these may have had something to do with the need to free up the long 3 mm circular needle... more about that later.)

The yarns are random left overs. The greens are fingering weight yarns left over from sweater projects, and the gray is some mystery yarn from my mom. I held the green at the tip double to get a similar gauge as the gray. I felted these with a couple of rounds in the washer and dryer, plus a little bit of hand felting for the top portion to get it down to the right size. All three yarns were rather unprocessed and felted wonderfully to a soft and super warm fabric with a little fuzz.

Yarn: fingering and DK left overs (the dark green was Geilsk Tynd Uld; the lighter one is similar but a different brand)
Needle: 3 mm

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vitamin D-2

Some extra vitamin D is surely needed here in the depths of winter! I really loved my first Vitamin D sweater so I decided to make another one in a different color. That was about two years ago... I lost steam a couple of times, and recently this sweater has been just laying around, waiting for the ends to be woven in and to get a good blocking. Somehow I finally got the urge to finish this sweater that had languished in the UFO basket for so long.

 The reason for the contrast color is that I was going to run out of yarn and was not going to be able to find the same dye lot anymore (another reason to get stalled on the progress). I thought that a clearly different color would look better than just a slightly different one.


The poor sweater has been in UFO state so long that I've lost the ball bands and can't remember what the yarn was. Some fingering weight alpaca that only comes in natural colors... Needle size? perhaps 3.5 mm. Or 3.25 mm.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sun dress

Pattern: modified from Clara.
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Solid, 1 skein
Needles: 2.75 mm Addi Circular
Size: 12 mo

This was one of the cutes baby dresses I'd seen on Ravelry so when I needed a quick on-the-go project, this one jumped to the top of the queue. I only had one skein of sock yarn to make this dress so I had to make some modifications to make sure the yarn was enough. I started the hem with 11 repeats of the leaf pattern (instead of 12) and decreased a few stitches along the way, ending up with the equivalent of 10 repeats at the top before the seed stitch band.

I had read other peoples' concerns about getting the dress over a child's head, so I started the opening earlier, a couple of rows into the leaf pattern at the top. I found the cutest little yellow flower buttons, too!

I crocheted around the button bands and made two vertical button holes by crochet. They seemed to hold the opening closed more firmly than two simple loops.
I also modified the sleeve openings and switched to twisted rib. I used short rows and didn't add any ribbing on the under-side to avoid bulkiness.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Birthday knitting

Last weekend my mother reminded me that my niece is turning one year old next month. This resulted in frantic searching of a suitable birthday pattern. I made her a sweater for Christmas, and for an April birthday, more woolly clothing didn't seem like the most practical thing. But no worries--as soon as I laid my eyes on the Jam Made granny kitty, I knew I had to make it! Jen's versions were so delightfully colorful! I wanted to make mine a little smaller, though, so I rummaged my stash for fingering/light sport weight yarns.

The center square is called October Love, made of left over sock yarns. The back side is a simplified version of the same without the 7th row that creates a raised edge on the previous row (the blue row on the front). The grey yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine.

When I was little one of my favorite toys was a kangaroo made by my aunt. In my romantic and perhaps unrealistic dreams I am hoping that Granny kitty can become one of those favorite toys for my niece. The one that she can't leave home without.

As I was making this, my son already announced that he wanted one, too. Because crochet is much slower than knitting (at least for me), and requires more looking at the project when working on it (i.e., I can't really read or watch TV while crocheting), I am going to modify the pattern for the next one. My plan is to crochet the center square, then pick up stitches and knit the rest. I'm thinking about lightly  felting the kitty, but I need to test the compatibility of crochet and knitting because they shrink at different rates. I'm thinking garter stitch would probably work best for this.

The big slipper project is also progressing, although it got put on hold for making the first Granny kitty. Two pairs of slippers--the two biggest sizes I had to make--already got finished. Both are made from Cascade yarns Eco Wool. The snake-like pattern is embroidered on top before felting.

In other knitting news, my 9-year-old son decided two days ago tat he wanted to learn how to knit. I showed him a basic knit stitch and he worked a few rows with much frustration. The next morning when I got up he'd already been up for an hour. I asked what he was doing, and he showed me his knitting. He told me he'd gone on Youtube to learn how to cast on and started a new project, then worked on it with no help, all by himself. He had pulled some yarn from my project basket, but I didn't mind, I was just giddy about him wanting to figure it out by himself!

Yesterday he already started a hat, which he worked on for two rows and then set aside, then later started a scarf, and today he wants to go to the yarn store to pick out yarn for a project. Again, I don't mind, I know what startitis is like, and I'm going to embrace his enthusiasm for knitting as long as it lasts (which might not be very long.) Off to the yarn store!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Unofficial Olympic knittinc

I haven't joined any of the actual knitting Olympics but I'm both watching the Olympics and knitting, so these are my very own knitting Olympics. Unofficially.

The idea for this blanket came from the Hue Shift Afghan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence. However, I wanted my own color combination and choice of yarn so I passed up on the Knit Picks kits. Because I wanted my blanket to be 100 % wool and not outrageously expensive, and I had particular colors in mind, my yarn choice became Cascade 220 Sport. The blanket has 10 colors (see the solid color blocks on the diagonal), and I only had to substitute one color from another brand of yarn to get the colors I wanted.

 I tried to organize the colors so that I would have an even progression of hue and contrast, going from darker and more muted to the lighter and brighter colors. The yellow and green in the center are contrast colors to the rest, and hopefully will pop nicely when it's all put together.
I have two of the 5x5 quarters almost done and two to go. Knitting this blanket never gets boring, and I love seeing how the different colors interact as they come together.

I am still mulling over what the border should be but I have a ways to go before I need to decide. I might just go with a charcoal grey garter stitch border to keep it simple.
I also started a big slipper project with Cascade Eco+. The whole family needs slippers as our floors are quite cold and the Minnesota winter has treated  us to plenty of wintry weather. First one started, lots more go to!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The few weeks leading up to Christmas can be a very hectic and sometimes stressful time for us grownups (at least those of us who fuss about gifts, cooking, decorating the house, etc., all at once, while still trying to run our normal lives on the side). But for kids, this time is part of the magic, full of anticipation, expectations, wishes and whispers.

Advent calendars of course make the wait a little easier with a little surprise every day and a way to see how many more days until The Big Day. With my kids I have tried many kinds of advent calendars--picture, chocolate, lego... but my favorite ones since my own childhood are the ones that mom or dad (or an elf?) can hide a little surprise in. When I was a kid, we had a fabric one that had 24 little pockets and us kids took turns to check what was in the pocket every morning. So I wanted to make something similar, but maybe something that would include knitting. Enter 24 little socks:

Each one is a little different, but they are all knitted using a very generic sock pattern. Depending on the yarn, I started with 28 or 32 stitches. Most yarns were about worsted weight. Fingering weight yarns I doubled to get to a similar weight. I used up a bunch of stash, which was great, and was able to make 1-2 socks per night (yes, I was playing catch-up with December). One sock took about 1 hour or so, i.e., one TV show's worth. Each morning there would be a small ornament or a wrapped chocolate in one of the socks and the kids got to take turns finding it.

Once all that hectic preparation was done, the wait climaxed in the tranquility of Christmas day:

Hope it was a good one for you and your kin! In anticipation of the next one, happy New Year to all!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Back... maybe?

Have you noticed how many of the knit bloggers of the years past have either quit blogging or have converted their blogs into somewhat professional/semi-professional websites? For many, blogging was a way to catalog their work, maybe show it off to some friends, family, or virtual knitting friends, and keep track of yarn and other details of their projects, etc. Since the emergence of Ravelry (which, by the way, is the most awesomest tool for doing all of that and more), the need for blogging seemed to go away. Why take the time to double up by updating Ravelry and your blog, when it's easier and more conveniently done all in one place--Ravelry.

But one aspect of blogging still remains and cannot be easily replaced by the awesomeness of Ravelry--sharing the story of your craft. Sharing more than just the pictures and the technical details. Yes, you can type notes into Ravelry, but following a person and how a project lives on Ravelry is different (I would say more difficult) from following a blog. For me, Ravelry is a tool (an awesome one at that, as you might have guessed), but I miss blogging. I miss getting the story out there, and the dialogue with the followers and the random passers-by.

Also, now that life has more or less settled down and I feel like I might actually have the time to write something, I want to try to get back into blogging. No promises, but I'll give it a shot. (As a side note, I would love to switch blogging platforms to get rid of buggy Blogger, but that feels like starting over and a lot of work.)

This is a sweater sleeve for Mr. D. More details to follow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tutorial, provisional cast on without scrap yarn

I'm a big fan of the provisional cast on. It works perfectly, if you need to attach the cast-on edge to anything in the rest of your knitting, such as a picot edge, and it is essential in the tubular cast on. But what I don't like is working with scrap yarn in the cast on, and especially pulling it out from the provisional afterwards. (I may or may not have a pair of socks with a picot edge, where one of the socks still after years of wearing has the scrap yarn in it -it's on the inside and not visible...)

I have worked out a way to eliminate the scrap yarn, using the cable of a circular needle. I was using my method in another Tychus hat (free pattern in a 2005 Knitty by Brooke Higgins), and thought I'd do a little tutorial on the cast on. I know some people don't mind sewing pieces together, and good for them, but I'm not one of those people, and if I can do it with a 3-needle bind off or some other method, I will. But to do that, I need a provisional cast on. On the other hand, using the scrap yarn method and having to remove it is at least as much of a pain as sewing the cast-on and bind-off edges together so that you lose the benefit of the 3-needle bind off.

First you need a circular needle with a sufficiently long and pliable cord. Make a slip knot and slide it on one of the needles. Hold the needles so that they point in the same direction, and pull the lower needle (the needle with no yarn) out so that you are holding the cord.

Holding needle as you would when you knit (I'm using my left hand to hold it only because my right hand is holding the camera) alternate wrapping the yarn over the needle (just like a regular yarn over) on top/in front of the cord and under/behind the cord. Do as many yarn overs as you need stitches for your project. Never mind the wraps on the cord -you will worry about those much later.

Now you will turn your work, leave the bottom stitches (the "hibernating stitches") hanging out on the cord, and knit your project as usual with the stitches that are on the needle (the "working stitches"). Here's what my Tychus looked like after a couple of hours. I started from the green side, and finished on the red side (the yarn is Lion Brand "Amazing" in color Mauna Loa). See the loop of cord between my working stitches and the hibernating stitches?

After you're all done, use a 3-needle bind off from the wrong/under side (or knit the stitches together, depending on what you're doing).

Here's what it looks like on the right side. I drew an arrow where the seam is, otherwise you can't even tell (except maybe from the color change from red to green).

Now finish it off with a pom-pom and twist cords, and voila! I also crocheted around the ear flaps to even out the edges.

This method also works in the round in things like socks or bottom-up hats and sweaters, but can be a little tricky, and will be easier (possible?) to do, if you use a second circular to hold the hibernating stitches.

My modifications on the Tycus: I knit 5 sections instead of 6, and in the bottom of two of them I increased 3+3+2+1+1 stitches for the ear flap and then decreased the same symmetrically. The width of the ear flap is the same as one section, and the front is two sections and the back is one. And then I of course added the pom-pom and the cords. I cast on 40 stitches and the shortest short row was 24 stitches. In the ear flaps the middle rows end up being 34 stitches.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

he'll want some jam to go with it...

And if you give a girl a hat, she'll (naturally) want some mittens to go with it! There may be no end to the demand of knitted girly items now, but I'm not complaining. Knitting for girls is so much fun! The endless possibilities of colors and designs... bring it on!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Twin Peaks

Long time, no see, eh? I promise I haven't quit, I've just been busy! Here's a pictorial presentation of knitter in law school:

"Oh, but wait!" you're thinking. "That's lace yarn... there's no way she was reading two books, studying her notes and writing an outline while working on a lace project!" And you'd be right. This picture may give you a false impression of what's doable... but it's not completely staged! I was using the lace project to calm my mind and cool my brain, while taking a break from reading. Knitting and reading is just fine, but lace and reading don't go so well together. Mostly my knitting has been simple things like socks, and such. I also started Mara, which is perfect for reading with all that garter stitch.

Fortunately, part of the fun of law school is a looong Christmas break. Like, really long! I don't remember the last time I had 4 (yes, four) weeks off! I've been relaxing and recharging and doing all kids of things that I haven't had time to do during the fall. (Although looking at the condition of the apartment, you'd think I've been too busy to even pick up dirty clothes off the floor... oops.) I don't want to abandon the blog, and I'll try to post here, when I get pictures taken of knitterly things that I've completed since the finals were over. And maybe even before finals were over.

The latest project was the Twin Peaks:

Hats for a friend's twin girls (age 9), head circumference about 50 cm. I used left over yarns from my stash, and made up the designs on the fly.

The red/gold hat is made of Tahki Donegal Tweed and Malabrigo Silky Merino. There is a two-inch lining on the inside of the Malabrigo to prevent itching and to keep the ears warm.

The purple hat is Malabrigo Merino Worsted, one of my all time favorite yarns. In this one the picot edge is about an inch and a half tall, also to keep the ears warm and toasty. The embroidery and tassle are Louet Riverstone.