Knitting

A Word from Walter

20150821_203241_burst08I just got in trouble for messing with my mom’s very expensive yarn. She told me to sit in a corner and think about what I’ve done.

Actually I didn’t really get in trouble. She just looked really sad and told me she’d saved for a long time to buy that yarn and now she didn’t know if she had enough to make what she wanted to make.

I sat in her lap for a while and she told me it was okay because she knew I was a cat, but asked how I found that yarn. She thought she’d hidden it from me really well. I don’t think I’ll tell her because my deviousness might make her mad, but she should know it smelled like catnip.

Fortunately I’m really snuggly so I get away with a lot.


Yarn

Image Credit: Cat and Yarn drawing © Kamaga — Fotolia
Knitting

Easy Knit Hat for Charitable Giving

My latest design — a modification of an earlier pattern for children, now sized for adults and teens.

Orange HatThis is a super-simple,quick-to-knit pattern I designed specifically for charitable giving. My church has a “giving tree” each year at Christmas, and items donated there are distributed to those who visit the food bank. Over the year, I try to knit up several hats for this project, and they go quickly.

This one is so bright and fun, I expect it will be popular. The yarn I used was Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, and while I prefer to use machine washable yarns for charitable giving, this one distinctly is not superwash. However, adults are less likely to need to wash their hats, so I decided to take a chance.

Besides, the yarn was given to me by a relative who has given up knitting and was clearing out her stash. This seemed like a good use for it.

I added a pompom by creating my own pompom maker. I learned something in the process — don’t add the different colors in layers, or you’ll end up with stripes, like I did. I liked the look well enough to keep it, but it’s not a traditional multi-color pompom.

Making a pompom is easy, although I need to learn a better way to attach it. This one doesn’t feel very secure.

You can download the pattern here or find it on Ravelry as “Millie’s Kids’ Cap for Adults.”

Knitting

Pink Basketweave Sweater

A new top for spring! And the way it’s been warming up lately, just in time. Sigh. I don’t really feel I got full use out of my winter wardrobe this year. It took so long for any cold weather to arrive, and it’s been so warm so often.

Pink Cable Sweater 2But I digress. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012, pattern #28, “Cap Sleeve Top.” It was designed by Wenlan Chia for Twinkle Knits, those big chunky yarns that were popular a few years ago — and have since been discontinued. Oh well. I had a stash of Rowan Wool Cotton yarn (also discontinued) and I put it to work, using two strands to get the desired gauge.

Actually, the Twinkle yarn the pattern calls for also used two strands held together. I didn’t know that Twinkle had ever made a DK weight yarn, but that’s useless trivia now.

Anyway, I used size 11 needles for the body of the sweater, just as the pattern suggested. The ribbing required size 8 needles, but I used 9s for the bottom band. I did use 8s for all the rest of the ribbing, including the bands that were knit separately and attached.

Attaching those bands was a tiny bit tricky, You’re knitting two separate pieces together, and it’s easy to miss — and drop — stitches.

I’ve done this basketweave stitch before, and while I like the look, knitting it is a tiny bit tedious. You’re using that cable needle A LOT. The chunky yarn compensated for that, however, and it’s only in the front, so overall, this sweater knit up very quickly.

Even though I had the same yardage and weight as the suggested yarn, I was concerned it wasn’t going to be enough (as I said before, this was stash yarn that’s been discontinued, so I couldn’t get any more), so I knit the sweater two inches shorter than the pattern length. As it turns out, I was really close on the yarn, so that was a wise decision, but I think I would have liked the extra length.

Pink Cable SweaterI expect this to be a great transition weather sweater, one I could even wear as a vest over a blouse (I have one that would be just right, I think), but it will be far too heavy for our very hot summers.

I was surprisingly happy with the neckline. That’s such a tricky part of knitting, knowing whether or not the neckline will work for you.

Overall, this project was a success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting

Lovely Grey Shawl

Just finished this shawl, and I’m looking for a place to wear it. (Of course the weather has just gotten very warm here in my area, but I trust it will cool off again before spring truly arrives.) Great design, one that looks more complicated than it was to make.

Grey Lace Shawl

The pattern is from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2016, pattern #4 “Faux Cable Shawl.” I’m not sure I’d really call it a “faux cable,” more of a “medallion lace,” but no matter, the result of this lace pattern is desirable. As you might guess, you knit the same pattern repeat for the bulk of the piece. It’s a twelve-row pattern, one that increases by 12 stitches with each repeat. It knit up very quickly and was a pleasure to work on. I seemed to get through each pattern repeat so quickly, despite the increases!

I used five skeins of DK Merino Superwash by Plymouth in Light Gray (love the simple way they name their yarns!), which knit up to gauge with a size seven needle. The pattern called for a 48″ circular needle, and while I eventually outgrew my 24″, the 40″ I ended up with wasn’t necessary to comfortably accommodate all the stitches. I believe a 32″ would have been fine, and maybe a little easier to work with. But, to each his own.

The yarn I used isn’t as dressy as the yarn used in the pattern, but it knit up beautifully. I’m very pleased with my choice.

I wet-blocked the shawl, and initially it stretched out several inches wider than the finished size listed in the pattern. However, as it dried, due to the nature of the lace pattern, it regained some of the “bubbly” texture it had as I was knitting it, which pulled it back to the listed size.

The picot edge didn’t come out quite like the picture in the magazine, however, it did pull those points out and give it the intended swoopy-edge (you can’t really see that in the above picture, but the final result had the swoops).

I was going to put this on my sofa and use it as a convenient decorative piece I could wrap myself up in on cold evenings, but once I took a good look at the throw currently serving that purpose, I changed my mind. My cats somehow think knit pieces on the back of the sofa are akin to scratching posts, and that poor throw is so pilled from being clawed. I don’t want that to happen to this shawl!

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.

vkf11_topper-06_medium2
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…

View original post 446 more words

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.

green-lace-scarf-2\

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.

pillowcases2
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.