Sunday, February 18, 2018

Alaska Hat

Hi kids! First, thank you for your lovely notes on my last post. My CT scan came back normal, so the doctor is thinking I have a viral ear infection. I haven't had any more dizziness, but have an occasional bit of...that feeling you get when you stand up too fast. It's worse when I turn my head too quickly, so I'm watching that, but for the most part I'm definitely feeling much better. Not quite my usual self, but getting there.

Second--look at these beautiful pink roses I received for Valentine's Day. The light was coming in at just the right angle, so a picture was necessary.


Third, I made another hat. I'm getting a kick out of knitting colorwork hats as they're quick and satisfying, and justifies my purchase of an interchangeable 16-inch circular needle set. This pattern is called 'Alaska' and is available on Ravelry. I used the exact same yarns as called for in the pattern so as to get the northern lights effect, but this simple pattern would look great in a combination as simple as white and gray.


I made marks all over the chart so I would know where I trapped the floats so I coud trap them somewhere else on the row above (if you trap them in the same spot all the time, they show through the work). Some of these sections had looooooong floats that I didn't love, but I took my time, worked consistently, and everything came out fine.


I even like the way the inside looks. I've been doing research on color dominance when doing colorwork. According to some, there should be no dominant color as that indicates bad tension. This makes absolute sense to me and is what I'm aiming for. However, there are more on the other side of this particular coin that say your background color should carry on the top and your dominant color should be on the bottom (the 'dominant' color being the one you want to stand out the most). The dominance part comes in with how the strand lays on the back of the work, and how it is pulled naturally by the stitches, and so on. I wanted my trees to be dominant, so I sub-consciously decided to NOT make them so (would you expect anything else?). Either way I look at it, though, I really like this hat (and truthfully I don't think I can tell if one color is more dominant than the other unless I knit another one up the other way and compare them side by side).

I finished off with a tidy little pom-pom and promptly wore it out. It's a toasty thing, and fits without squeezing my brains out (but also stays put). 

All this stranded knitting to build my confidence for an Icelandic sweater. I've made good progress on the sweater, but have yet to hit the colored section. With the way our weather has been I won't be needing it this winter so it doesn't really matter how long it takes me, anyway.

OK, tea and the Olympics are calling my name. Later, kids!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mock Rib Watch Cap (and a Ginormous Pom Pom)

Hello. How goeth it with thee? I'm sitting very still right now, as I had a severe case of vertigo yesterday (I've never had that before, and it is one of the scariest things I've ever experienced), and I'm a little nervous to drive so I called off from work today (which I absolutely hate to do). The doctor did his little tests and ordered me a scan as he couldn't tell what the issue is, and I can't have it soon enough, let me tell you. I will be overjoyed if I never ever feel that way again. I'm just glad it didn't happen during my date on Friday, or at the bookstore on Saturday, or heaven forbid while I was driving.

Anyway, a few weeks ago when I made this cowl, I was going to take a crack at a very matching hat. But I was also very eager to make a simple hat with the multi-colored yarn to see how the stripes worked up. Simple won out, so here's the hat:


It's hard to tell in the photo but the colors soften towards the peak, almost as though they come from two different balls of yarn. The pattern is the Mock Rib Watch cap by Tanis Gray (it's free on Ravelry). I did an extra half inch of the rib for some reason I don't remember right now, but I like it. I've made this cap before in a different yarn and it's still one of my favorites.


I even love how this yarn looks on the inside. I saw a tip somewhere on attaching pom poms so they can be removed. You feed the ends through a button with big holes and tie a really secure bow. Then just untie it if you want to wash the hat.

Speaking of pom poms, at Christmas time I bought some pom pom makers. I think I perfected my technique (because you know, it's probably a high demand sort of thing), and the key is to not wind up too much so there's room for everything to squeeeeeeeeze together when you tie it off. I made the biggest size for this one--it might have been overkill.


This is a really nice-fitting hat. I didn't do a gauge swatch or anything, just went for it, and it fits just how I like.


I won't tell you how many photos I took before I was able to deem one "somewhat acceptable." It looks like it's a snug fit, but it's not. It's fitted, but it is not squeezing the life out of my head. It's been warm and rainy here, so if winter could remember it's supposed to be here so I could go ahead and wear this I sure would appreciate it.

OK, I am going to go attempt to make some tea without falling over. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Tesserino Cowl

We have had some wicked frigid weather here this winter. No snow, though. I love snow. I want it to snow. But there is nothing like sitting all cozy with some yarn in your lap and something sprouting from the ends of your needles or hook when it's cold outside. Throw in a big mug of tea and some Netflix and I'll hibernate. Well, I would hibernate if I didn't have to go to work.

But anyway, when I went to Vermont a few months ago we got a nice little swag bag of yarn goodies at the retreat. I had some Plymouth Yarns Galway, and some of their Gina. I decided to use these to make the Tesserino Cowl. This is a free pattern offered by Louet. All you have to do is sign up for the newsletter (which you can always unsubscribe from), and they'll email you the pattern. Here's the link.

Anyway, the colorwork technique used is mosaic knitting. It's a slip-stitch technique, so you're only knitting with one color per row. Slipped stitches create the pattern. There are some floats to manage here and there in the pattern, but nothing long or difficult to control.

So here's my finished cowl:


I used the recommended needles, but this did come out a little bit tight in the stitching and smaller than I thought it would. Now that I understand how this technique works I understand why (the slipped stitches pull the fabric a little bit, making it tighter). If I made this again I would needle-up, that's for sure (or figure out how to elongate my stitches without pulling them too much). But it's a pretty fun knit, and pretty cool to see the design emerge. There are books of mosaic knitting designs, so if you'd like to do colorwork but are nervous about color-changes and floats this might be a nice starting point.


In this next photo you can see the slipped stitches--they're twice the height of the 'normal' stitches next to them.


And here is the back of the work, which is kind of fun to look at, too.


This cowl was supposed to finish a bit higher (I did five repeats instead of eight) because I thought the full size might be too stifling. I do like the thinner size, but I wish I had done a thicker black garter stitch border, as I don't know if what I did is enough to keep it from curling (it's been wet blocked, and is OK so far). We shall see. Here it is on:


I wanted it long enough to double-wrap, but it's not (and looking at pattern photos it's not supposed to be). However, it's an easy ten-stitch (if I'm remembering right) repeat, so that'd be an easy adjustment. Knitting it in thinner yarn as a borderless tube that you kitchener together into an infinity scarf would be fun, too.

This was a fun knit, I love the way the stitch looks, and it's an easy technique for a nice impact. Colorwork of various forms is my 2018 knitting objective (oh, if only I could write my work goals with the ease I write my craft goals) so I'll share my adventures as I take them.

Now, I must trot to bed. I was up a bit late last night. Not sure if any of you paid attention, but our Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, and I was a bit wired last night. Toodles!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lots of Love: Knitted Heart Pattern

Hello! A few people asked for a pattern to knit a small heart. I had to find some time to get my act together, but I've got it ready for you now. And with time to spare before Valentine's Day! Woot!


This pattern assumes that you already know how to knit and purl. I'm not going to teach you how to use double-pointeds, increase/decrease, or do kitchener (grafting) stitch. BUT I am going to link you to videos that will have you doing it in no time. I find that videos are great for learning new techniques, and rather than reinvent the wheel I'll just connect you to a wheel-maker.

For this you will need yarn, a little bit of stuffing, and a set of five dpns smaller than your yarn gauge calls for. I've used dk weight on size 2.5 (sock) needles for my hearts. A row counter or paper/pen would be handy to tick off some rows. You'll also need a single locking stitch marker or a safety pin or a scrap of yarn to help mark the beginning of the round). And a yarn needle to weave in the ends.


Here are the abbreviations and links for terms you'll see in the pattern:

CO - cast on (I used a long tail cast-on)
STS - stitches
DPN - double-pointed needle
K - knit
P - purl
KFB - knit into the front and back of each stitch
RLI - right leaning increase
LLI - left leaning increase
SSK - slip slip knit
K2tog - knit two together
SSP - slip slip purl
P2tog - purl two together (same as K2tog but you're purling)

OK, ready? I'll walk you through it, and then write out the full pattern at the end so the steps are all in one place.

CO four stitches on one needle.
1 - KFB into each stitch (for a total of eight stitches).


Divide stitches evenly onto four dpns (2 stitches each). This starts off a tad frustrating due to the scant number of stitches, but after we increase a few rows it gets MUCH easier.

2 - Join into a round (making sure your stitches aren't twisted), and knit all stitches. Why not join right away? Because it irritated the bejesus out of me, and this method still leaves you without a gap where we joined.

That's my working yarn on the right. The tail is kind of tucked down between the two needles.

OK, here comes the pattern for making the 'v' (bottom) part of the heart. It's too small to add a stitch marker yet, so make sure you pay careful attention to what you're doing for a few more rounds.

3 - (K1, RLI, K2, LLI, K1) twice (12 sts)
4 - Knit all sts
5 - (K1, RLI, K4, LLI, K1) twice (16 sts) (you should be able clip a stitch marker onto the stitches at the beginning of the round now)
6 - Knit all sts
7 - (K1, RLI, K6, LLI, K1) twice (20 sts)
8 - Knit all sts
9 - (K1, RLI, K8, LLI, K1) twice (24 sts)
10 - Knit all sts

Continue increasing as above (on every other round) until there are 48 sts total (12 on each needle).

Knit 5 rounds evenly. You can see how it's getting that adorable little heart shape:


We're going to shape the top now, but we're going to do each side separately. Arrange your work as below (your working yarn should be towards the right), and take note of how I've numbered the needles.


We're going to work on needles 1 and 4 only right now. Ignore 2 and 3. They'll be fine for now (but arrange them so the stitches aren't dangerously close to the tips).

1 - Needle 1 only: K1, SSK, K6, K2tog, K1 (10 sts will be left on needle 1)
2 - Turn the work, purl back across needle 1. Don't turn the work here.
3 - Needle 4 only: P1, SSP, P6, P2tog, P1 (10 sts will be left on needle 4)

Now we're back to working across both needles.

4 - (K1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1) twice (8 sts on each needle)
5 - Purl across all stitches
6 - (K1, SSK, K2, K2tog, K1) twice (6 sts on each needle)


Cut the yarn leaving about a 12-inch tail. Kitchener stitch this section closed. Don't do anything with the tail yet. Also--don't worry about that little nubby bump you might have.


Now we're going to do the exact same thing on needles 2 and 3.

Attach yarn between needles 2 and 3.

1 - Needle 3 only: K1, SSK, K6, K2tog, K1 (10 sts will be left on needle 1)
2 - Turn the work, purl back across needle 3. Don't turn the work here.
3 - Needle 2 only: P1, SSP, P6, P2tog, P1 (10 sts will be left on needle 2)
Now we're back to working across both needles.

4 - (K1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1) twice (8 sts on each needle)
5 - Purl across all stitches
6 - (K1, SSK, K2, K2tog, K1) twice (6 sts on each needle)

Cut yarn, and kitchener stitch closed.

Add your stuffing until it's how you want it.


Thread your needle with a tail, and feed it back under the stitches at the top, pulling it snug. The little nub will disappear to the inside and the top will round out a bit.

 

Now use the tail to sew that side of the heart top shut. Repeat on the other side.


To finish off, I tied those two tails together, fed them through the heart stuffing and out the other side, cutting the rest of the yarn off. This hides the tail inside and saves you from weaving it in. This will be fine as this isn't exactly a high-stress item where the ends need to be super secure. I just fed the other two ends in the same way, snugging them up a little first.

My sewing isn't super neat but I needed to hurry so I didn't pay careful attention. However, if you do it comes out neat and tidy.

And there you have it. For the simplified pattern, see below.

❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

CO four stitches on one needle.
1 - KFB into each stitch (8 sts)
Divide stitches evenly onto four dpns (2 stitches each)
2 - Join into a round (making sure your stitches aren't twisted), and knit all stitches
3 - (K1, RLI, K2, LLI, K1) twice (12 sts)
4 - Knit all sts
5 - (K1, RLI, K4, LLI, K1) twice (16 sts) (you should be able clip a stitch marker onto the stitches at the beginning of the round now)
6 - Knit all sts
7 - (K1, RLI, K6, LLI, K1) twice (20 sts)
8 - Knit all sts
9 - (K1, RLI, K8, LLI, K1) twice (24 sts)
10 - Knit all sts
Continue increasing as above (on every other round) until there are 48 sts total (12 on each needle).
Knit 5 rounds evenly.

Shape one side of heart top:

We're going to work on needles 1 and 4 only right now. Ignore 2 and 3. They'll be fine for now (but arrange them so the stitches aren't dangerously close to the tips).

1 - Needle 1 only: K1, SSK, K6, K2tog, K1 (10 sts will be left on needle 1)
2 - Turn the work, purl back across needle 1. Don't turn the work here.
3 - Needle 4 only: P1, SSP, P6, P2tog, P1 (10 sts will be left on needle 4)

Now we're back to working across both needles.

4 - (K1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1) twice (8 sts on each needle)
5 - Purl across all stitches
6 - (K1, SSK, K2, K2tog, K1) twice (6 sts on each needle)

Now we're going to do the exact same thing on needles 2 and 3.

Attach yarn between needles 2 and 3.

1 - Needle 3 only: K1, SSK, K6, K2tog, K1 (10 sts will be left on needle 1)
2 - Turn the work, purl back across needle 3. Don't turn the work here.
3 - Needle 2 only: P1, SSP, P6, P2tog, P1 (10 sts will be left on needle 2)
Now we're back to working across both needles.

4 - (K1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1) twice (8 sts on each needle)
5 - Purl across all stitches
6 - (K1, SSK, K2, K2tog, K1) twice (6 sts on each needle)

Cut yarn, and kitchener stitch closed.

Add your stuffing until it's how you want it.

Thread your needle with a tail, and feed it back under the stitches at the top, pulling it snug.

Now use the tail to sew that side of the heart top shut. Repeat on the other side.

To finish off, I tied those two tails together, fed them through the heart stuffing and out the other side, cutting the rest of the yarn off. This hides the tail inside and saves you from weaving it in. This will be fine as this isn't exactly a high-stress item where the ends need to be super secure. I just fed the other two ends in the same way, snugging them up a little first.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Top to Tote

Back before Christmas, a colleague asked me to turn a shirt into a bag of whatever sort I could manage. She doesn't wear the shirt anymore but loves the print and wanted to make it usable. I originally thought it was a blouse, and was trying to think how I was going to do this without it looking like...well, a blouse. It wasn't a blouse, though, it was a fairly plain, not overly stretchy, knit shirt.


The shirt itself was an extra small petite. That is not a lot of fabric, but I cut oh so carefully to get as much usable fabric as I could. I used ShapeFlex 101 interfacing to stabilize the fabric for a small tote. I had just the right amount of ivory muslin, and a roll of black strapping whose purchase eludes me, in my stash. I love using things I have on hand.

From the body of the shirt, I was able to make an insanely easy tote. And from the upper sleeves I was able to make a front zip pouch.


The knit was actually thick for a knit fabric, so with the interfacing added these pieces turned out to be nice and sturdy, yet soft. It makes me regret a blouse I got rid of a few years ago because it didn't fit (buxom girl problems--I either play peek-a-boo with a certain area, or I look pregnant in others). The fabric was so darling it would have made a cute frame purse. Oh, well. Sometimes inspiration comes to us too late.


Both of these pieces took me maybe two hours total. Very easy, very satisfying sewing for a Saturday afternoon. I haven't really been feeling like sewing lately (I'm sure you've noticed), but I'm hoping this gives me a little motivation to get started again (as I do have ideas rolling around in my noggin).

If you'd like to make your tote or zip pouch, you can find the instructions for both by clicking on the 'Tutorials' tab and scrolling down.

Happy stitching!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Purply-urply Snowflake Hat

With two solid weeks behind us, I don't want to be one of those people still saying 'Happy new year!' so I'm just going to say 'Hey! I hope the new year has been good to you thus far!' Some weather, huh? We had a deep freeze that lasted from Christmas through to last week, a few days of spring temps, and now we're back to freezing. Thank goodness for hand-knit socks.

When I went on that knitting retreat in Vermont, one of our instructors was Lars Rains, Mr. Modern Lopi. His class was on how to make a perfectly fitting, bottom-up yoked sweater (think of the iconic Icelandic lopapeysa). My knitting goal this year is to hone my get some color work skills. I did not want to plunge right in with a sweater, but Lars designed a kit for his class attendees that looked like a great first try. I have been looking at it every day, forcing myself to finish all the other things before I even touched it. And now my first project of 2018 is off the needles.


I checked online for a few videos on carrying strands properly and getting good tension, and then I cast on. The yarn provided was Rowan Felted Tweed (a wool, alpaca, and viscose blend). It was soft and fluffy, and a lot of fun to knit with. It's not even close to the strongest yarn as it's very easy to break by hand, but for a hat it's light and warm, and I love the softly muddled stitches..


I did the snowflake portion twice--the first time I goofed on the count and had a bunch of amorphous blobs. So I frogged back to the purple stripe and did it again. This worked well as by that point my tension was feeling good and looking better, and I remembered that I had learned to count in kindergarten so the charted portion came out just right.


My floats seem nice and even, and there was still good stretch to that portion of the hat. I was reading an Elizabeth Zimmermann book where she discussed floats, and she said (as others have) that it's better to leave them a little longer than you think, and if you're using wool (in her opinion why wouldn't you?) those fibers are going to start sticking to each other pretty quickly and the floats will lock themselves in place. This yarn is quite 'sticky,' so they'll be staying put.


I had a lazy pajama weekend for the majority of it, so I wasn't going to model the hat for you (you're welcome), but it looks just like the pattern picture.


The only thing I did different was use a larger needle size. The ribbing was to be a US 3, and the rest of the hat a US 5. I used a US 4 and 6 (I couldn't find my US 3 needles); I'm thinking the recommended needles would have been just right as this hat is slightly loose. I personally think it's fine as I don't like snug hats, but I don't really wear hats so I gave this to sister Alicia. It stays put nicely and doesn't feel like it's squeezing your brains out, so it's probably okay.

I'm quite happy with this as a first try. A few more successful pieces and I might be ready to cast on that sweater.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Pink (and Gold) Things

Hi people! As of this moment, as of right now, I do not have a single work-in-progress. I have supplies, and ideas, and if we have a huge blizzard that shuts down the city for a month and I can't get to work for weeks 😉 I will not be bored a lick. I have finished the things. So now you get to see them.

First up is a baby blanket. I started this at the beginning of July when I had a few long-distance car rides to get through (as a passenger, of course). It's knit just like a grandmother's dishcloth, but every eighth row you purl, and get a little bit of texture.


This yarn was originally for a shawl, then I tried to make it be a sweater. Then I decided on a baby blanket. I simply used half the yarn, then decreased. I have a teeny bit left over, just enough for some pretty pink roses or something.


The yarn is Scheepjes Stone Washed in Rose Quartz. It's an 80/20 cotton and acrylic blend, which seems perfect for a soft blanket. Except I neglected to check the care instructions. It's machine washable, but you're not supposed to tumble dry it. It's a lay-flat. Not the most convenient thing for a blankie, so I'm wondering if anyone has put this yarn in the dryer and what befell it. Otherwise, it's a perfect little blanket, finishing at about one yard square.


Next. I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with the Little Box of Crochet. I had ordered a few in the spring, but never made the projects as they didn't really appeal to me, so I cancelled the subscription. I still followed the account on Instagram, though, so when they post a box that looks particularly enticing I grab one (and then cancel again--I'm sure they love me).


This one was for a couple of Christmas baubles. I made one--


--and thought "I do not love this and I don't want to carry on." I'm not the best crocheter of things that aren't flat, so I frustrate easily (especially when I don't think the pattern is particularly clear or well-written). So I went for the star ornament that also came in the little pattern booklet.


This was OK, except the edges wanted to curl like a bad perm. I did an extra round of gold to try and get it to flatten, but that didn't help. So I ran a length of thin floral wire through the back of the stitches to help its posture a bit and it worked just fine. I'm glad I didn't make a half dozen out of the gate, because I don't think my fingers could have handled any more wire.

So now what? I had these cute little bits of yarn left, and was done with the pattern booklet. So I knitted some little hearts.


I ditched the pattern I had found as I kept thinking "WHYYYYY would anyone do it this way?"  So I told myself "Bee, you are not dumb, and you're a decent knitter. Figure out a better way." So I did. The pink has some slight wobbles due to figuring out what I wanted, but the peach was better, and then even better with the gold. Since Valentine's Day is in about six weeks, let me know if you'd like a tutorial (warning: there are DPNs, and a bit of kitchener stitch, but the rest is basically knits and purls).


I then had some bits of yarn left over that weren't enough for much more. Every year, my grandma insists on sending us each a bit of money for Christmas (no matter how much we protest). So I've used mine in recent years to buy a little crafty thing--one year I bought a flower loom, last year I bought a potholder loom. This year, I used coupons and bought all the sizes of pom-pom makers that Clover offers (except the gigantic one for which I cannot foresee a use). So I tested them out on these.


Seeing as this yarn is actually a mercerized cotton, it took some coaxing to get them to fluff a bit, but they'll be cute for package ties or adorning a gifted bottle of spirits or something like that. I want to try out different fibers to see which gives the best appearance (and since pom-poms are as cute and enduring as polka dots, I don't see at all how one can ever have too many).


So that's not a bad little bit of Christmas-movie-watching crafts and finishes. Plus I've now got a cute little heart pattern out of it. And hearts are one of my favorite motifs, and I love pink and red, and blah blah blah you know where I'm going with this.

I'm happy to have finished all of my projects, as well as all the little tasks I set for myself at the beginning of my Christmas break from work. I love getting things done. Does anyone else feel some kind of emotional release upon doing so?

Anywhodle, we've got just a little bit of time left in this old year, so I'm going to go decide which project will be the first of the new year.

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