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Monthly Archive for: ‘December, 2011’

FO Friday: Smittens

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A quick little FO today: ornaments gifted to my mom for her tree!

Smittens

Pattern: Smitten (a Holiday Garland) (Rav link)

Yarn: Leftover Malabrigo Worsted from the Give ‘Em the Slip Set, leftover Malabrigo Rios from SoCal, and I think the gray is leftover Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted from something lost in the mists of time.

Notes: This pattern is really easy and fun! The worst part of it was knitting worsted yarn with size #3 US needles, but even that wasn’t too bad. I sewed the loop wrongly on the first one (it’s supposed to be on one side only, not across the whole mitt), but I liked the way it looked so I did them all like that.

Now I’m wondering if I could use the same pattern for baby mittens, hmm…

Christmas Was Awesome

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Hope everyone out there in blogland had a great Christmas!

I know I did. I made a Knit Picks wishlist for the first time this year, and boy did my family come through!

Knitterly gifts

The yarn is the KP Wool of the Andes sampler in bright colors (I can’t wait to start in on colorwork hats and mittens, yay!). The needles are Harmony DPNs, which I’ve wanted for a while. Unfortunately, I got two sets of size #9 needles, but I already called Knit Picks and packaged up the duplicates to exchange for another size.

Then there are two stitch dictionaries–I keep checking these two books out from the library and am thrilled to have copies of my very own! My MIL also got me the adorable sweater keyring.

And last but not least, this amazing Namaste case for essential accessories:

Namaste case

Inside of Namaste case

The inside of the case. The divider is magnetic!

I also got one other yarny gift… but I went back and forth on whether to post it here. I decided to do it, but be forewarned:

THE PICTURES BELOW MAY CAUSE DISTRESS TO PEOPLE WHO LIKE YARN.

You sure you want to see this?

Really sure?

Okay… but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This is what I saw when I looked in the gift bag she handed me (with no warning, I might add):

Yarny mess

And when I dumped it out:

More yarny mess

I think I may have hyperventilated a little bit (and not in the good way). Most of that yarn is CUT, people. Not to mention tangled beyond hope of sorting out. Someone took a bunch of yarn–mostly acrylic, but some wool–wound it into dozens of hanks, and then CUT THE STRANDS. Seriously, WTF?

SIL told me she found the bag at a yard sale for $1.00 and had to get it for me. I tried to be appreciative, but I was kind of terrified.

Any suggestions on what to do with this mess?

FO Friday: Husband’s Sweater!

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Almost four months ago, I offered to make my husband a custom sweater. Last week, I finally finished it!

Model pose–isn't he handsome?

The sweater was, quite honestly, a giant pain in the behind. But it fits perfectly and looks great on him (if I do say so myself, heh). And most of the pain was my own fault. I showed him a bunch of sweater pictures and told him he could pick whatever features he wanted.

Instead of a stockinette raglan (as I’m told most men tend to want), he picked out an Elizabeth Zimmerman saddle-shouldered, seamless hybrid pullover with folded (sewn) hems, a henley neck opening, a hood, and a fairly complex cable detail on the edge of the hood.

Oy. I had never done saddle sleeves before, but I had a copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Without Tears and figured it couldn’t be too hard. I worked up a sketch and set to work.

Look how excited he was!

My original sketch, for posterity.

The turned hems went okay, but then I tried it on him and it was huge, even though I had swatched carefully and done all the math. Okay. I ripped it out and cast on 20 fewer stitches. This time I got about eight inches done before I tried it on him again. Still too big. After a good moan, I ripped it back to the beginning again and cast on 15 fewer stitches.

I slogged my way through the seemingly-endless stockinette of the body and sleeves. Then I got to the yoke.

Cue the ominous music.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the decrease section to look like the sweaters I saw on Ravelry or the picture in Knitting Without Tears. I spent hours gnashing my teeth and swearing as I ripped the top part out again and again. It was to the point where my husband started apologizing for requesting the sweater and asking me if I wanted to chuck the whole thing.

This only made me attack the sweater with renewed determination. I was not going to let it beat me. Finally, after hours of searching forums on Ravelry, I found one (1) post that explained the problem. I’m documenting it here, in the hopes that it will help some other poor soul, currently roaming the internet and cursing Elizabeth Zimmermann’s pithy directions.

The pictures I had been trying to copy, the ones I saw everywhere on Ravelry and blogs, were not, in fact, of the seamless hybrid. They are almost all pictures of a variation on the seamless hybrid, called the seamless hybrid with shirt yoke. The kicker? Hardly any of these pictures mention that they’re of the variation. Even on Ravelry, where there’s a separate listing for the shirt yoke variation, most of the (several hundred) finished sweaters are categorized incorrectly as the plain vanilla seamless hybrid.

Here are pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about:

The seamless hybrid : note the vertical lines at the back

seamless hybrid with shirt yoke (shamelessly stolen from Brooklyn Tweed): note that the line is horizontal

Once I figured out what the sweater was supposed to look like, and with hubby’s blessing to do the vertical lines instead of horizontal, I managed to finish the yoke and chug through the hood. Then it was just a matter of grafting the underarms, blocking, and it was finished!

Hubby loves his sweater and is vastly appreciative of all the hard work that went into it. He’s worn it three or four times already and proudly told everyone he saw that his wife made it and it’s the best sweater he’s ever had.

Yes, he is a keeper.

The specs:

Pattern: My own, with (somewhat sketchy at times) help from Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Yarn: Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool. This was the only yarn I had in the stash in enough quantity. It worked out okay, although it’s a little scratchier than I normally like. But I washed the sweater in some cheap hair conditioner and it softened up nicely.

 Notes: Gah. So happy this is done.

New Pattern: Europos Scarf!

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Europos scarf

My new pattern is the Europos Scarf, inspired by Barbara Walker’s interpretation of the famous “knitting” fragment discovered in the Indus River Valley around 250 A.D. The fragment was dated back thousands of years and was long thought to be the earliest example of knit fabric, but they later proved the technique used was actually nalbinding, not knitting at all.

There’s a fascinating Knitty article by Julie Theaker here that mentions the Dura-Europos fragment. Check it out if you’re interested!

Now that the history lesson’s out of the way, I can talk about the scarf, heh.  The sample was really, really fun to knit–one of those designs where everything works the first time and the finished product actually looks better than what you saw in your head! The motif from Barbara Walker #2 included edge stitches to keep the piece rectangular, but I decided I liked the undulating shape without the edges (plus, it makes the scarf super-quick to knit, since you narrow down to only a few stitches between each “leaf”).

Europos scarf detail

I should get bonus points for using "undulating" correctly.

I also changed the decreases, since the one BW specified looked sort of odd to me. I decided to go with a purl lifted increase (PLI) after swatching: new to me, but easy to work once you get the hang of it and looks pretty in the pattern! The scarf’s reversible, too–not exactly the same on both sides, but pretty either way.

Reverse side?

This is apparently the only picture I took of the back. Sigh. You might have to take my word for it.

I used some pretty Rowan Cashsoft DK to knit the sample. My sister-in-law brought all the way from England for me as a birthday present last summer!

The scarf is perfect for warmer climes: a nice pop of color against a black coat, but not too warm or stifling. I think I’ll wear it a lot this winter!

The pattern for this scarf  is available to purchase for $4.00 here.

FO Friday: Go ninja, go ninja, go!

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I don’t have any new FOs this week (I did finish a large sweater–but it’s still blocking!), so I thought I’d talk about one I finished last month.

Michelangelo

I made this little Michelangelo for my brother’s birthday. Believe me, it was a wrench to give it away….

Mikey back

Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the little nunchaku the husband made. They were ADORABLE. We stuck them in Mikey’s belt.

The specs:

Pattern: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Ravelry link).

Yarn: Vanna’s Choice in Chocolate, Mustard, and Olive (I know, I know… but it was cheap and available in the right colors); Ella Rae Extrafine Heathers in color 17.

Needles: US #6

Notes: The pattern linked above was perfect except for an odd tiny shell. I used a shell from one of the many generic turtle patterns around, and I think it turned out much better. I also added armbands.

I feel about this like I always do about toys or stuffies of any kind: I HATED making it, but I LOVE the finished product. I find toys ridiculously fiddly–all that tiny knitting, followed by trying to align everything properly, sew limbs in place without making it look like crap, and then somehow managing to stuff it evenly.

Maybe that’s why I tend to give them away. I don’t need a reminder of all that effort, heh.

Mikey side

Stockings In Situ

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Kinnearing at Disneyland

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Disneyland at night

The castle at night

I went to Disneyland yesterday, which was awesome. All the holiday lights were on and the Haunted Mansion was all Nightmare-Before-Christmas’ed up. It was actually cold at night (about 55F–it’s cold for here, okay?), which meant all the woolies were out in force! I saw unbelievable amounts of sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, mittens, and even ponchos and a few knit dresses.

After a few hours, I realized this was a superb opportunity to practice my Kinnearing (see the Yarn Harlot’s absolutely brilliant post on the subject here if you’re not familiar with the term). Basically, I spent a few hours taking secret phone pictures of people wearing neat knitted things without them knowing about it.

I’m really not very good at it. Most of my pics were blurry:

Or missed the knitwear almost entirely:

But I managed to get a few fairly good ones.

They had some awesome stuff for sale at Disneyland, too:

That’s a garter-stitch Steamboat Willie!

All in all, it was a great day, despite the weird looks from my husband and the others in our party (I did explain, including defining Kinnearing to them, but they didn’t seem to quite get it anyway). And I have lots of new design ideas floating around in my head!

FO Friday: A boatload of Christmas Stockings

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Never let it be said that I don’t jump into things with both feet. For my first Finished Object Friday, I present not one, not two, but ten knitted stockings!

Stockings

Bottom half of cat included for scale

Now, before you get too impressed, I’ve been working on them since February. I promised my mother-in-law I’d knit everyone in the family a stocking with their name on it after seeing the pitiful state of their stocking collection over Christmas 2010. I don’t want to disparage another knitter… but let’s just say the lady who made several of them in the early ’80s (out of eye-searing green and red acrylic) should probably have kept her colorwork floats loose enough to actually be able to get things in and out of the stockings. I’m just saying.

So at the beginning of this year, I ordered a bunch of heavy-worsted weight yarn, settled on a pattern, sketched out the colors and design, and went to work.

Stocking yarn

Three of the many skeins I used

The first two went quickly. I actually thought they were pretty fun at that point. But as I kept going (interspersing them with other projects so I didn’t go insane), I started to get more and more sick of the pattern, the yarn, the need to pay attention to the colorwork, weaving in dozens of ends at the end of each one… I definitely had to grit my teeth and just power through the last few.

I am so beyond delighted to have these done.

After hearing me moan about having trouble blocking them all to the same size, my darling husband got some heavy wire from the hardware store and made me a blocking form!

Blocking form

Yes, he is a keeper.

The before and after pics show why this was desperately needed:

Unblocked stocking

Right off the needles

After blocking

After blocking on the awesomesauce form

Here are the specs:

Pattern: loosely based on Ysolda Teague’s Last Minute Stockings (Ravelry link), with lots and lots of mods

Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool and Eco+ for the red, green, and white. The different contrasting color for each family varied. Full details available on my Rav project entry here.

Needles: Size 9 (these were even a little big for this yarn; it’s supposed to be chunky, but I don’t believe that for a minute).

Notes: I actually would much rather have followed the pattern to the letter (so cute and rustic!), but I was attempting to at least kinda-sorta approximate the wretched ’80s stockings, so I had to follow specific guidelines. I did the names stranded rather than duplicate stitch… the floats are slightly visible through the fabric at the back, but it isn’t bad.

I did learn a new technique, the figure 8 cast-on. Even after 10 times, I still think it’s awesome.

All the stockings

My mom saw a few of these last time she came out to visit and gave me the big puppy-dog eyes… but I told her she’ll have to wait a year. At least. And when I knit them for her family, I get to pick the patterns.

New free pattern: Gifty Hat and Cowl

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To celebrate getting my website/blog up and running, I’m releasing my first ever free patterns! This set is knit in chunky yarn on big needles in a simple two-row pattern. It goes really quickly. Perfect if you’re a procrastinator (like me) or scrambling for a handknit gift a few days before a Christmas party (like I was).

Gifty Hat and Cowl set

SIZES: Hat: will stretch to fit heads from 18 to 26 inches [46 to 66 cm]; Cowl: 48 inches [122 cm] long, 4.5 inches [11.5 cm] wide (unstretched)

YARN: sample was knit in Ella Rae Classic Chunky Superwash (100% superwash wool; 121 yds/111 m per 100g skein); color 13. The hat took every last bit of 1 skein and the cowl took 2 skeins with about 20g left over. Just about any chunky or bulky weight yarn would be appropriate for this pattern.

NEEDLES: Hat:US #10.5 [6.5 mm] circular needle, 16 or 20 inches long & set of US #10.5 [6.5 mm] double-pointed needles (or preferred needles for working top of hat in the round). Cowl: US #10.5 [6.5 mm] straight or circular needles, any length.

NOTIONS: Stitch marker, yarn needle.

GAUGE: 14 sts/22 rows = 4 inches/10 cm in stockinette stitch; 20 sts/22 rows = 4 inches/10 cm in  unstretched Lined Rib pattern.

Abbreviations used in this pattern:
k: knit
p: purl
st(s): stitch(es)
RS: right side
WS: wrong side
p2tog: purl two together

HAT:

Using US #10.5 [6.5 mm] circular needle, cast on 66 sts.

Join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. Place a marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

Begin Lined Rib pattern:

Round 1: *k3, p3; repeat from * to end of round.
Round 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of round.
Repeat these two rounds for Lined Rib.

 Work in Lined Rib until hat measures 7 inches [18 cm] (for close-fitting hat) OR 9 inches [23 cm] (for bigger, more slouchy hat) from cast-on edge.

Begin decreases after you’ve just worked Round 2 of the Lined Rib pattern. Switch to double-pointed needles when there aren’t enough sts to fit around the circular needle.

Decrease Round 1: *k3, p1, p2tog; repeat from * to end of round—55 sts.
Decrease Round 2: *k1, p1, k1, p2tog; repeat from * to end of round—44 sts.
Decrease Round 3: *k2, p2tog; repeat from * to end of  round—33 sts.
Decrease Round 4: *k1, p2tog; repeat from * to end of round—22 sts.
Decrease Round 5: *p2tog; repeat from * to end of round—11 sts.
Decrease Round 6: *p2tog; repeat from * to last st, p1—6 sts.

Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread tail on a yarn needle and draw through live sts on needles. Pull tight to close hole.

Weave in ends and block hat if desired.

Slouchy Gifty hat

Hat shown with slouchy fit

COWL/INFINITY SCARF:

Using US #10.5 [6.5 mm] straight or circular needles, cast on 24 sts.

Do not join. Working back and forth in rows, begin Lined Rib pattern:

Row 1 (RS): *k3, p3; repeat from * to end of row.
Row 2 (WS): *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row.
Repeat these two rows for Lined Rib.

Work in Lined Rib until piece measures 48 inches [122 cm] from cast-on edge.

Bind off all sts loosely in pattern.

Using mattress stitch, sew the short ends of the cowl together to form a loop. Weave in ends and block cowl if desired.

Gifty Cowl

Worn as an infinity scarf

Hope you enjoy!

First post!

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One of the best things about finally getting a website together is having a good excuse to start a blog! I’m excited to post about my upcoming designs, as well as a host of other things I’ve had simmering for a while.

To kick things off, I’ll be posting two free patterns tomorrow: a chunky-knit hat and cowl/infinity scarf set. Stay tuned!

Here’s a peek at the set:

Gifty Hat and Cowl