Knitting

The Giving Tree

From one of my other blogs. Some of these hats have shown up on this site before! Sorry the caption for the giving tree isn’t under the picture. I don’t know why. The theme for my other blog has its quirks and I suspect this is another of them.

My World With Words

I’ve found a way to keep the Christmas spirit all year around — even though the best evidence of that comes in December.

As many of you know, I’m an avid knitter. So avid, in fact, it caused tendonitis a year ago. I’ve been knitting since I was 19, and there are countless pieces out there I’ve created. Some I’ve even designed myself.

Giving Tree sm The Giving Tree

Over the years I’ve used this gift  (and I truly consider knitting to be a gift) from time to time to make items for charitable giving. My current endeavor is hats for those who come to my church’s food bank. Every year we have the Giving Tree, and people hang cold weather items such as hats, scarves, mittens on it during December.

Those items are available for a group of people in need, some homeless, some struggling to keep a roof over their heads…

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Knitting

Gloves with Golden Ruffle

The last time I made a pair of gloves I swore would be the last time I made a pair of gloves. Working those fingers is just too exacting, and how many pairs of gloves would I ever need?

I changed my mind when a friend gave me the wonderful gift of her vintage Vicuña coat. It’s bracelet length, perfect for showing off these ruffled gloves.

The pattern is #27 from Vogue Kniting, Winter 2011-12 (so glad I hang on to those back issues of VK!) and is cleverly called “Gloves.” The simplicity of the name belies their fancy nature. The pattern calls for a much longer ruffle — about twice as long — with a looped, crocheted bind-off. Now that’s fancy.

I knit the body from Blue Sky sport weight, 100 percent baby alpaca — a fitting match for a vicuña coat. The yarn for the ruffle is the fantastic Silk Cloud by Shibui Knits. That is the most gorgeous lace mohair I have ever seen. It puts the rest to shame, and the cost reflects it.

Because I made a smaller ruffle, I didn’t need as much of the Silk Cloud as the pattern calls for (it actually calls for Douceur et Soie, another wonderful yarn). One 330-yard skein was plenty, although I would have been short if I’d gone with the original ruffle.

brown gloves
I much prefer the shorter ruffle.

I used three skeins — almost all of it — of the Blue Sky. After I finished the first glove, I weighed the yarn I had left, and it was 25 grams. Exactly half of the second skein. So instead of playing yarn chicken, I bought another skein, which I can’t return because I had them wind it. Looks like I’ll be buying even more and making a hat or a scarf.

The fingers on this glove aren’t too difficult, because you’re not knitting a stitch pattern. Still, it can be tricky picking up and casting on those stitches for each finger. If you haven’t done it before, I’d suggest practicing with a shetland yarn or something as stable. The alpaca slides like butter, generally a good thing but a bit of a challenge when knitting gloves.

I wear my other pairs of knitted gloves all the time in winter. Of course the last few winters have been so mild (global warming?) that the number of months that constitute “all the time” is shorter.

Looking forward to the first time I can wear these — and my wonderful vicuña coat!

Knitting

Top Hat & Tails

In case you’re wondering how to make the top hat (the full picture is below), this isn’t exactly a pattern, but a guide…

I used half of a toilet paper roll as an insert. To figure out how big to make it, I measured the diameter of the roll, knit a swatch with my chosen yarn and used that to calculate how big of a tube to make. (For example, with diameter of 5″, at 6 stitches to an inch I would have cast on 30 st.)

I knit in the round for about 1 ½”, then decreased three stitches each round until I had 6 stitches left on the needle. I cut the yarn and pulled it through the six remaining stitches. This was the trickiest part, and getting it just right so it lies flat may take some experimentation.

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See how the brim turns up on a “real” top hat?

Then I knit a 5 st band in seed st until, with slight stretching, I could place it around the bottom of the hat. I slip stitched that on. To complete the top hat look, I pulled up the edge of the rim on each side and “pinned” it to the side, so the brim curled up.

I then crocheted four chain st ties and attached them to the sides of the hat so they’ll go around the ears. You can see I made mine a little too long. Use your best judgment.

The bow tie I didn’t make, but I do know Asia, Jake the Cat’s mama, put the bow tie she has on a flea collar.

I know these aren’t great directions, and for the record, my patterns are much better written! But if you want to make a top hat for your cat and have enough experience to decipher what I’ve written, you should end up with the cutest little accessories for your beloved feline.

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Is this not crazy cute???

 

Knitting

Giving in to Cute — Crazy Cute

This was a simple project…with adorable results.

My World With Words

Aw, da kittums.

Not long ago I re-blogged a post about a book with knitting and crochet patterns for cats, Cats in Hats. I bemoaned the idea of dressing one’s cat up in costumes of any sort, but was wise enough to leave the door open for the possibility I might give in to those really cute hats.

Wise, because, predictably I’ve bonded with a co-worker, Asia, over our love of cats. So much so that when I found out her kitty Jake will wear bow ties, I told her about Cats in Hats, knowing full well I was about to knit a hat for a cat. Not because she would ask me to do so, but because I couldn’t resist crazy cute.

And if I wasn’t hooked by the idea of her big orange cat wearing a knit hat, this dinosaur cap completely did me in.

IS THIS…

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Knitting

Grey Shawl for Mom

Finally finished this grey shawl for my mom — took me a little longer since knitting is more difficult for me these days.  It also had one very tedious stretch in the pattern, but the finished result is very pretty, suitable for the purpose for which I intended it — my mom’s comfort.

The pattern is from Interweave Knits Fall 2016, the Edmonia Shawl by Anne Hanson. It’s meant to be assymetrical, and she did a nice job of balancing the unbalanced. The original pattern called for a nubbier yarn in a lighter weight, which would create a very different look, but the pattern is suitable for various types of yarns, and I think worked well with the Plymouth DK Merino Superwash.

(If you read my blog at all, you’ll notice I’ve used that yarn with a couple of other recent projects. It’s very easy to knit with, machine washable and comfortable.)

Grey Shawl for Mom without Walter KittyThe pattern is easy, although I found it easy to make mistakes with the second half, where the lace pattern is “yo, ssk” all the way across. Frankly, ripping it out seemed like a great way to create more problems, so I did the best I could to corrrect the mistakes and went forward.

I ended up with more stitches than I was supposed to have, so in the final section I k2tog at even points along the way to correct that error. It worked well enough. This is a shawl that will be used to wrap in at home, so the mistakes were acceptable.

That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years with knitting. You have to assess how much the mistakes are going to bother you. I had one cable-knit sweater in which I miscounted the rows, but the thought of ripping it out was overwhelming to me. I left it, and today I can’t figure out which cable has the error,

Other times I figure the mistake is going to drive me crazy, so I do rip out as much as I need to and re-knit the affected portion. I’ve never regretted doing that.

Anyway, this is a pretty shawl with lots of possibilities, depending on your choice of yarn.

Grey Shawl
While in progress — Walter loves this shawl.

 

Knitting

Pink Lace Collar

Quick and satisfying project — an accessory I didn’t yet have, but think I can make good use of in the coming months!

The pattern for this lace collar is from the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting. There are six collars to choose from, and each one is just as pretty as this.

It knit up quickly, but I will caution anyone making the same pattern to measure first so you know how long to make your collar. Everyone is different and what fit the swan necks of the models may not fit you.

I used Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK in Shell Pink, and it took less than a whole skein — I would estimate 70-80 yards. Once I got going, it knit up very quickly — all in one evening. The lace pattern is easy to follow and the pattern was well written.

Pink Collar 2I tried this collar with several sweaters and blouses, as well as the t-shirt I’m wearing here. It looked great with all of them! The only odd thing is the collar is not exactly symmetrical. Almost, but not quite. It’s not immediately noticeable, but might bother some of the more compulsive of us.

I used a button instead of the ribbon the pattern called for, and had to make a button hole at the end of the piece. To do so, I bound off to the last four stitches, knit those stitches, turned, knit one, bound off two, knit one. Turn, knit one, cast on two stitches, knit one. Knit the next row, turn, and bind off.

I think there are probably some really pretty buttons out there that would make a great accent for this piece, and I’m going to keep my eyes open for one. A white porcelain button with some flowers painted on it, maybe? Or a pewter button of some sort.

Overall, this was a quick, fun project, one I would recommend to others.

Pink Collar

Knitting

Pink Mock Tee

If you want to sell me a sweater (or a sweater pattern), it’s best if it’s a turtleneck or mock tee. This pattern is from the Spring/Summer 1996 issue of Vogue Knitting, and its basic styling has timeless appeal for me.

Pink Mock TIt is a little short, and that’s after I lengthened it an inch and a half more than the pattern called for.  Pants ride a little lower these days, and this sweater is now just the right length.

I used four skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Provincial Rose (that’s the other trick to selling me a sweater — make it pink, rose, red or black). That’s a 80 cotton/20 merino wool combination, which makes it perfect for a transition sweater (if this coming winter is anything like last winter, however, I’ll be wearing it well into February).

I do fully expect the sweater to stretch out with wear. That’s okay with me, and I know this yarn will shrink back to shape after washing. It doesn’t claim to be washable, but I’ve made plenty of sweaters and slippers with it and it’s never failed to come through the wash just fine.

Disclaimer here: While that’s been my experience, I can’t promise yours will be the same, so wash with caution.

Pink Mock TeeIt was knit on size 6 (4mm) needles, with size 4 (3.5mm) used for the ribbing and the neck. I particularly like the ribbing on this sweater; it’s narrow and stylish. The sleeves also appeal to me. They’re somewhere between a standard short sleeve and a 3/4 length, and again, stylish.

This is a basic pattern, with some nice shaping in the body and a simple neckline. It’s easy to knit and looks great in a multitude of yarns. The original pattern was knit in stripes, which would make knitting it more interesting, but as you can see, I stayed with a solid color.

Knitting

Pink Poof Dress for Barbie

Barbie needed a new outfit — and I needed a sense of accomplishment, so I set out to make this dress for her this evening.

Barbie Pink Poof DressIt was easy enough to make, and I’ll probably (maybe) make a pattern for it soon, but in the meantime, here are the basics:

The pleats are made by alternating panels of stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch, which I decrease by one stitch on either side of each panel at regular intervals.

The bodice is cut straight across, and the sleeves are attached to the sides of the bodice, with the seam completed to the end from the bodice. If I do make a pattern out of this, I probably will place the sleeves further in, toward the middle of the bodice.

I made this from my stash, and it took less than 50 yards of yarn. I knit it straight across, with a seam in the back and a snap (or two) to hold it together (I’ve discovered there’s no need for a lot of snaps — the little ones playing with the dolls don’t care, and it takes a lot of time to sew them on, not to mention snapping and unsnapping them as you dress the doll.)

Even if I never do make a pattern, and frankly, I don’t sell that many, so it’s a lot of effort for minimal return, it’s nice to have these Barbie clothes lying around. The last time I gave some away, it was to a little girl whose family lived in an abandoned storefront. The child was going through counseling for sexual abuse, and had nothing to call her own but a few dolls her mom bought at Goodwill. She was thrilled with the new clothes.

If you think you have nothing, there’s always someone worse off.

Knitting

Heritage, Tradition, and a Little Scandal

Knitting has been an economic resource for numerous nations or regions over the centuries in one way or the other. The British Isles, northern European and eastern European countries all have their distinct and beautiful styles that tell a story as well as provide a living for many people.

So when I set out to research knitting traditions in Poland, I was saddened to learn there isn’t anything of note. Like so much of my ancestral country’s heritage, knitting was part of a day-to-day struggle to survive. The yarns were coarse and would rub the skin raw as the women would make the sweaters (and later rip them out to make something else).

Even today, with budgets tight, there’s apparently a prevailing attitude of practicality: why knit a sweater when you can buy one for so much less? While Poland does have numerous wonderful craft traditions, somehow knitting never became one, despite a wealth of such in the nations surrounding them.

Koniakow LaceThere is Koniaków lace, however. It’s small crocheted pieces that are later crocheted together to make say, a tablecloth. Much of this is heirloom quality material, purchased by European royalty yet, and in years past provided a living income for its makers.

Not so much today, however. So it’s taken some ingenuity to keep traditions alive.

In recent years some enterprising Polish youth have scandalized society by using these designs for lingerie.

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Photo courtesy of Koniaków Lingerie, Poland

Actually, I don’t know that it’s Polish youth who’ve done this. It could be some bored and broke old ladies. The collection of lingerie includes items such as this tank top and panties.

So yes, saddened to learn there isn’t much, if any, of a knitting tradition in Poland. Yet heartened to discover the Poles will persevere to keep their craft traditions alive…well, okay, they found a great way to make a lot of money.