Knitting

Red and Grey Vest

Well, I finally finished it! Here it is — the vest I’ve been promising my mom for several years now.

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The pattern I started with, from Vogue Knitting Fall 2011.

Truth to tell, this isn’t the original design. That was from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2011, and required some yarn I wasn’t able to find. I not only couldn’t find the original recommended yarn, I couldn’t find a substitute at the appropriate gauge. So I pulled out the calculator and measuring tape, and re-wrote that pattern to fit the new yarn.

I also had to adjust the size, since my mom didn’t want the sweater to be as big around as the finished size for the original pattern. Plus, she wanted it longer, with some adjustments to the sleeves. So I factored all of that in, and carefully wrote out each and every change.

Then I started knitting. Talk about tedious. The back was 24″ wide and 27″ long, and except for the two inches of ribbing at the bottom, entirely stockinette stitch. When I got to the front, I couldn’t stand the boredom any longer, and got started on the inserts before I finished the “boring” part. I realized that was also the best way to make sure the two pieces would fit together.

The inserts were two pieces of Shaker-style ribbing that would create a diamond shape set in the upper half of the front, with a buttonband down the middle. That’s where the math failed me. I could not get the pieces to knit up to the right size and shape, and eventually lost all motivation to keep trying.

So I told my mom, sorry, it’s not going to be that sweater you first wanted. Just isn’t going to happen. She was disappointed, but accepted it.

red-and-grey-vest
The finished result.

Instead I found a houndstooth check pattern and knit up the two pieces you see in the finished sweater. They had to be knit up separately from the bottom half since the stranded knitting made for a much tighter gauge, but fortunately the required size and the check pattern I found meshed together perfectly.

I used Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, a superwash wool that I think will wear well and be very comfortable for my mom. The last sweater I made for her wasn’t a superwash, and even though I warned her not to throw it in the dryer, she did — and it came out felted and considerably smaller.

The buttons came from Needlework Unlimited in Minneapolis. My friend Karen owns that store, and it’s one of the few yarn stores I know of that carries a decent selection of buttons. I’m told they’re a big investment for stores and don’t sell very quickly, so it’s just not possible for everyone to stock buttons.

In the middle of my work on this vest, I found a yarn store in Rochester, Minn. that carries the original recommended yarn for that pattern from Vogue Knitting. Someday, maybe I’ll actually make it. In the meantime, I think this will look really cute on my mom and will serve her well!

Knitting

Crafting a Legacy

While my thumb is healing, I can only dream about knitting…and reflect a little. Here’s a post from one of my other blogs about the extent of my creative endeavors….

My World With Words

In my home, as well as my mom’s, there is evidence of my handiwork everywhere — evidence of me. It is my legacy, I suppose, along with other things I’ll let my family and friends determine on my behalf. But I love to create, and those I love are the recipients of my creative efforts, generally, I hope, because they want to be.

grey-white-nordic-hat One of my young friends just moved from Arkansas to Wisconsin, and she has this cap to keep her warm!

Long ago I learned only to give to those whom I know, or have reason to believe, will appreciate the gift. Over the years I’ve received many gracious notes, letters, text messages and phone calls saying, “thank you!” The most memorable, I suppose, was the hug from a co-worker when I made him a mohawk cap (it was knitted, then felted, and when he wore it, it…

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Knitting

These Chickens Don’t Lay Eggs

Look for “chickens” in a pattern search on Ravelry and you’ll find more than 300 patterns each for knitters and crocheters, but none is as charming as “Esther, Ernie and Enid.” Their added value is just how easy they are to make.

chickensWhile there’s one size only for the yarn given in the pattern, simply by changing the gauge of the yarn and/or the needle size you can make them bigger or smaller. The biggest here is about 6″ tall, the smaller one, a little over 4″. I used a sport weight cotton for the smaller and Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece for the larger.

The beauty is they take less than 100 yards of yarn each, not including the accents, which can be made with scrap yarn of any type. In fact, you could really have some fun by using novelty yarn there.

The legs and the crown are a simple chain stitch, and the eyes and circles on the body are embroidered on. Just think how cute a little bow tie would be! You could garter stitch or seed stitch a small rectangle, wrap some yarn tight around the center and sew it on. Easy!

My little chickens perch on top of the microwave in my kitchen, and they add a lot of character to that small space. They sit flat because, while they’re mostly stuffed with regular poly fill, the bottom is rice.

They don’t lay eggs, but that’s okay, what would I do with all those eggs anyway?

Knitting

Green Lace Scarf

Another project for my local yarn store, and this one is quite feminine, very pretty. I can see it being used with something a little dressier or, if you prefer,  a fairly casual outfit. As an accent piece, it would be perfect with either.

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The pattern is “Brickless” by Strickmich! and is available on Ravelry.com. While it was intended for a heavy worsted weight yarn, I made it here in a fingering weight, “Stunning Singles” by Apothefaery Fabrications. It’s a 70% merino wool/30% silk blend. There’s no color name listed on the label, although the number “33” is hand-written in very small print on one side, so I’m assuming that’s the color number. It’s handpainted, so there’s no dye lot, and I’m not sure if they repeat colors.

I used most of the 438 yards of one skein of this yarn, and I’d say it’s just about the right length to wrap around stylishly.

This was a fairly easy pattern to follow. Half of it, if not a little more, is either garter stitch or a 1 x 1 rib. The rest is the most basic of lace patterns, just yarn over, knit two together. You’re increasing one stitch on every row, then binding off half of what you’ve increased at the end of each section.

green-lace-scarf

Gauge is hardly important. Like many shawls or scarves of this type of design, you can stop when it gets to the right size for you. The key would be getting enough yarn to finish the project. With the yarn the pattern calls for (as I mentioned before, a heavy worsted weight), you’ll need 580 yards, but I believe it finishes up to be a shawl and not a scarf as I have here.

Embroidery

Hummingbirds in the Kitchen

I am not an expert at embroidery, in fact, I’m every bit the novice. I see some of the other posts in this category, and I’m in awe. However, I’m still pleased with the work I do, and I enjoy having these pieces in my home.

This post is to show you that you don’t have to be an expert to show off your work.

hummingbird-towels

I made these kitchen towels for my mom, who loves hummingbirds. I looked up pictures of the real thing and admittedly took some liberties with the coloring, but no two birds are alike, right?

As with my other embroidery work, I used some iron-on designs. A word of “warning” (actually, it’s just the opposite): the package tells you that on most fabrics, the designs won’t wash out. I’ve found on 100% cotton it always washes out. I make no guarantees for your projects. I’m simply sharing my experience.

I’m learning something new with every project. This is one of my favorites.

Embroidery

Pretty Pansy Pillowcases

I’ve taken a break from knitting while my thumb heals –apparently the way I held my knitting needles caused tendonitis — and I’ve been doing a little more embroidery. As I promised myself, a pair of pillowcases was next.

I found an iron-on pattern with pansies, one of my favorite flowers. To pick out the right colors I researched the real thing, and found colors I was able to mimic in my embroidery. The purple on the left-most flower isn’t quite as dark as the real thing, but I couldn’t find any thread that deep of purple.

I used mostly a chain stitch and satin stitch. I haven’t embroidered in a long time, so the second pillowcase was a definite improvement over the first, although I was happy with the results on both pieces.

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The second pillowcase.

Growing up we always had pansies in the yard. They are such a cheerful flower to me, colorful and bright, as well as plentiful. On top of all of that, they have staying power.

One thing I regret about this project was I didn’t use pillowcases with a higher thread count. These are only 300 count, pretty lightweight, and I think in the future I’ll look for pillowcases with at least a 600 count. With all the time that goes into this work, quality products are key.

Of course these will be primarily decorative, so there won’t be a lot of wear on them. Hopefully they last a good long time.

For however long they hold up, they’ll make me smile.

Knitting

Bandana Cowl

Another sample for the yarn store, and this one’s a winner — the Bandana Cowl. It calls for a bulky weight yarn, but for this project I used two strands of worsted weight yarn held together. The look, along with the colors, are fitting for the bandana style.

bandana-cowl-3I used Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool, which has worked well for me with other projects, in the colors “Red” and “Beaches,” the latter being a bit more taupy than sand-colored, as the name would imply. One skein of each was more than enough, in fact, it likely would come close to being enough for two cowls.

The gauge is 4 stitches and 6 rows to an inch, a somewhat standard bulky weight gauge, and, as I mentioned, easy to achieve with two strands of a worsted weight yarn.

The pattern is from Purl Soho and is available as a free download on Ravelry. I can’t provide the link for the download here since it isn’t my pattern, but you can find the link to the Ravelry page for the Bandana Cowl  here. It’s well-written and easy to follow. The “pointed” section is made with short rows, and the rest is worked in the round with some simple decreases.

bandana-cowl-2It’s a quick and easy pattern with satisfying results. The yarn you choose is going to determine the look more than the pattern since it’s such a simple style, but the shaping adds a special touch, suitably named after bandanas.

One thing to make note of: this is worn close to the face, great for cold weather, but beware of anything scratchy. Everyone has a different tolerance level for the various wools available, so if you’re making it as a gift, I’d suggest erring on the side of super comfy.

The project worked so well and I’m looking for gift ideas for Christmas, so I knit up another cowl today (it took most of the afternoon and evening) using Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted and Noro Kureyon. It knit up a little tighter than the first cowl (I used the same size needles), but the gauge is the same. It’s just a bit stiffer, but still attractive and probably warmer. I’m a little concerned it may be scratchy, but when I tried it on that didn’t seem to be a problem.

 

 

Knitting

Cool & Comfy Cowl

I love this cowl! I’ve never had one before, and it remains to be seen whether or not it’s as effective against the cold as a regular scarf. But it’s pretty, and that’s worth a lot.

I made it out of Rowan Wool Cotton, which unfortunately has been discontinued (or so I’ve been told). It knit up at slightly less than the desired gauge, but when I blocked it, it stretched out properly.

The pattern is from the Fall 2016 issue of Vogue Knitting, and is called “Fair Isle Cowl.” It lends itself well to many color options, as well as many yarn options in a DK weight. For that matter, I imagine you could knit it in a worsted weight as well, if you knit it a little tighter. That might actually be warmer in the colder climates.

Or if you wanted to try a bulky weight yarn, knit a gauge sample and adjust the number of pattern repeats accordingly. With the DK weight there are 6 repeats. I’m sure you could easily go down to 5 with a different stitch gauge. You may not want to do a second round of the center of the chart with a bulky weight yarn (the green and yellow part of my cowl) as that might be too long.

I was almost finished when I realized this could easily be misconstrued as team colors (with a little pop of pink added) for the Green Bay Packers, arch rivals of my Minnesota Vikings. Don’t be fooled. I remain loyal to my team.

Anyway, I see gift possibilities with this cowl!

 

Embroidery

Kitty Kitsch

kitty-kitschWell, I guess this blog doesn’t only have to be about knitting (although I likely won’t veer from that too often). After all, I take on other creative endeavors, as evidenced here by these admittedly kitschy kitty kitchen towels. I love them. The looks on their little faces, the smock dresses and bloomers, the nostalgic feel of embroidered towels.

I purchased the “blank” towels (you can’t see it here, but they have the traditional blue stripes on the other side) and the iron-on designs at Joann Fabrics. I imagine other craft stores, such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, might have these or similar designs. There is a plethora of artwork available with a wide variety of subjects, from flowers to wine bottles to roosters and of course, kitties.

The instructions also suggest using fabric paints to complete the design as an alternative to the stitching. I prefer the embroidery, and depending on your skill level you could use more complex stitches than the simple outline and chain stitches I primarily used. But as you can see, it doesn’t take anything really fancy to bring out the charm.

Now, according to the directions, the days of the week should have been worked in black thread, but I liked idea of “red-letter days.” So the lettering is in red.

The real question becomes, do I actually use them in my kitchen? Right now they are almost purely decorative. I have other towels I use for the “dirty” work. Every once in a while I find I’ve accidentally dried my hands with one of the kitty clothes. Gasp! But they’ve stayed clean.

Next embroidery project? Some pillowcases, I think. I embroidered a set years that have long since fallen apart, but they were special. It’s time for a new pair.

Knitting

Warning: Limited Warranty

I likely won’t be posting anything about any newly completed projects for awhile, and here’s why! Who would have thought!!!! Life is full of surprises.

My World With Words

Today I discovered the injury to my thumb that has been plaguing me for the last several weeks is likely due to decades of avid knitting. I saw a physical therapist, and with the help  of some special tools, she was able feel an unusual number of bumps in the muscle that goes from my thumb to my wrist. These bumps are typically due to tiny tears in the muscle that heal over and form scar tissue. Over time, it can cause tendonitis.

Throughout your lifetime you’re warned to eat right, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid stress. Of course you may or may not pay attention to this advice, and as you age, you could find yourself paying the price of a lifetime of bad habits. That’s expected.

girl-knitting-smBut nobody told me to moderate my knitting lest my thumb pay the price. Nobody.

There’s a limited warranty on our…

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