Category Archives: knitting

Packing Procrastination Project practically phinished

Okay, it has been an embarrassing long time since I last blogged, but I’ve got a good reason…I’ve been knitting.  😛

Seriously, I have been doing other things, but knitting is a very nice diversion with all the chaos.  I’ve been finishing up projects that had been in the “weave in ends and block” pile and chose a project that I figured would carry me through to Iowa.  As Scott predicted, once I start something I can’t put it down, so today I finished it.  To be fair, I have done a lot of packing too, but there is only so much you can do in a day before you want to run away screaming.  We are getting closer, which is good, because our shipping container arrives tomorrow and gets picked up next Saturday.  At that point all the stuff has to be on its way.

The project I have been working on is the Central Park Hoodie using Cascade 220 Heathers in a color I believe is called Shire.  I love it and I plan to live in it this fall.  I still have to find buttons, but I plan to buy them on line when I get to Ames.

We close on our house on September 15th, we’ll unload the container and then Scott will return to NJ for a while to finish up his work at Rutgers before coming back.  I hope to get us settled and get some routines established before he starts work.  Just for kicks, here is a picture my Dad took of us in front of our new house on our second walk through.

It’s getting exciting now, though the packing is very tedious.  Now that the knitting is done, I have no choice but to finish the work to get us out of here.  Probably a good thing.

The next post will be coming to you from Iowa.  Crazy to think about.  Ciao.

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Gifts and a Tip

I think I may be raising the bar pretty high for myself, but with the time I’ve had this year I’ve made a lot of gifts. The move will probably change things, but I’ve really enjoyed it, so maybe not.

For Father’s Day, I made small things that I mostly started after our return from SF.

My Mom’s Dad got Danny the Daffodil who was waiting for a home, and my Dad’s Dad got a coaster that I double knit and felted with the 89th Infantry Division “rolling W” symbol as the design, but I forgot to take a picture.

For my Dad, I crocheted this silly little turtle using a pattern from Roman Sock. He turned out pretty well. I used Lily Chin “Chelsea” yarn and my only mods were to add an extra row of 5 stitches before decreasing for the top of the mouth. I also crocheted the pink mouth parts and sewed them in. The instructions for the underside were a bit vague, so I crocheted my “circle” with increases of 5 stitches to match the shell symmetry. His underside is a bit more rounded as a consequence. I stuffed him a lot so that the wires in the body wouldn’t be felt.

Turtle turtle mouth

For Scott’s Grandpa, I made another lamb. I had made a lamb in a sweater just like the first one for his Grandma for Mother’s day, so I knit the reverse from fuzzymitten‘s pattern for Father’s Day. This one I put in overalls knit from some unknown yarn I got at Stitches east in a market class.

Farmer Lamb

A note about eyes

I thought I’d share how I put eyes on my various creations. It is a technique that I learned from Debbie Kesling’s book How to Make Enchanting Miniature Teddy Bears back when that was my hobby of choice.

If you are using beads, the eyes are added after the head is stuffed and attached to the body. I usually use at least 4 strands of thread to secure the eye. I run the thread from the back of the head at the base of the neck on the opposite side up through the position I want the eye, thread the bead and go back to where I started (with some fabric between the ends). I then tie a single knot at the back of the head, thread the other eye, and then pull tightly on the threads to make the eye set deeply and double knot the threads to secure the eye. After knotting a couple more times, I thread the ends back through the head and trim off. Here is a graphic that tries to show this process.

You can do something similar with safety eyes if the post has a hole in it. I partially stuff the head, thread the post with the ends of the thread coming out near the neck opening, stuff the head, sew it onto the body, then pull and knot those threads. It can be a little tricky, but usually helps with facial expressions.

Update

Wow, I’ve been a delinquent blogger. Let’s see if I can do a quick recap…

1. Maryland Sheep and Wool

We saw Sheep, ate lamb, bought wool, went to the Ravelry party. It was enough to satisfy even the biggest fiber fanatic. I can’t speak for my companions ( Scott, his brother and sister-in-law), but I thought it was great! Here’s a picture tour. Scott took most of the photos with his phone. Click to see the big picture. 🙂

More photos on Flickr if you’re interested.

2. My Birthday

Scott got me a Bond Ultimate Knitting Machine, so I spent some time working with that and managed to make this tank top to match the shrug I made from Twisted Stitchers Swap yarn. The pattern is Berroco’s Sharon tank top with Quatrefoil Eyelet at the bottom to match the shrug, and single crocheted edging and straps.

3. Trip to San Francisco

Scott and I flew out to the San Francisco Bay Area for my high school friend Neha’s wedding. While we were there, I got to see my NASA cohorts in Mountain View, visit with folks from Scott’s research group at Berkeley, visit Stash in Berkeley and spend a day in Japantown with Scott, in addition to the 3 wedding events.

The wedding parties started with a Toast and Roast party on Thursday night, where Neha and Samir’s friends and siblings shared embarrassing stories about them. It was a fun night and a good place to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in years. On Friday night, they had the Mehndi party where they had 2 artists applying henna to guests’ hands. After applying the paste of henna, lime juice and oil, the artist sprinkled glitter on the paste. After it had dried, a mixture of lemon and sugar water was applied to “set” the dye. After 3-4 hours it was safe to scrape it off and apply oil. I only had the quince lotion the hotel provided, so I used that. It seemed to do the trick.

The wedding itself was a beautiful and elaborate event with the groom riding up on a horse, a ceremony outside looking out to the vineyard, and a wonderful reception with bride and groom’s first dance and even a slide show of them as kids and with friends. Here are a few pictures, more can be found here.

I managed to finish knitting, on the airplane, the shoulderette I had started the previous Saturday to wear at the wedding. It worked perfectly, since the weather was a little chilly when the sun went behind the building.

I changed the lace pattern to “Vine Lace” from the Barbara Walker Treasury. The yarn is Knit Picks Shine Sport, a cotton/ Modal blend. I had a lot of shedding from the yarn, which is my one complaint.

And finally…

4. Scott has an offer on the way from ISU!!!!

Scott got word that they intend to offer him a position in the Materials Science and Engineering program at ISU. We had to choose a start date before the offer would be sent, so he will be starting some time in November. So far that is the only detail we know, the rest will be in the offer.

Since he got the news, I’ve been struggling to remain focused on tasks at hand, like cleaning or updating the blog. I have spent too much time looking at houses on the web and reading about Ames. I think I’ve looked at everything I can find at least once, but it doesn’t stop me from looking again at my favorite houses.

Scott thinks it is interesting that we arrived at ISU in the fall of 1993 after the last major flood of the area, and now much of Iowa is flooded just as bad or worse, right before our return to Ames. Lets hope that means the state is done with floods for at least another 15 years. We’ve got family in eastern Iowa surrounded by floodwaters. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

It is very strange to think that Scott will be a professor in the department where we got our undergraduate degrees. He will be on a first name basis with all the people I only know as Dr. So-and-so. Weird.

So I guess that’s the abbreviated version of the news, I hope to not get so far behind next time. I’m currently working on the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits with Kaalund Yarns’ Classic Two in Silky Oak that I got at Stash in Berkeley.

Clutter reduction is also an activity high on my list of things to do, but daunting enough that it has barely started. Gotta make sure there is room in the moving truck for all the yarn. 🙂

It’s all about the warm fuzzies…

The fiber arts are by nature solitary activities. Only one person can hold the needles/hook/roving at a time. Even if each person knit an arm of a sweater, it is unlikely that they would be the same in gauge, etc. That being said, one of the things that drew me in and continues to amaze and inspire me is the fiber arts community.

I got started on crochet when my friend Suruchi came over to my apartment around 2000 and showed me the basics. After showing me, she found an e-bay seller that had a bunch of random crochet hooks for cheap and got them for me. We made hats and scarfs for a while, then I put it down. Work, etc. were more pressing and at the time my main hobby was making miniature bears. These are just a few examples.

Santa Bear Travis' dog Gardner bear

I did pick up the crochet hooks and yarn a few times to make a couple afghans for myself and Scott and a couple of scarves for christmas, but I also tried my hand at watercolor and took a stained glass class with Scott. In 2004 and 2005, we spent many hours working on glass projects, since northern California has perfect weather for outdoor glass work.

It wasn’t until we moved from CA to Texas and I wasn’t working, that I really started to get into crochet. It was too hot to do stained glass for very long outside ( and the mess is too much for an indoor project) and I spent a lot of time on the internet. By then finding patterns on the internet was easy, deciding what to make was the hard part. Since I had so much time that summer and fall, I started making afghans. I had gotten a book from Scott’s Grandma and tried a couple patterns from there. I made 4 afghans that fall, and though the warm fuzzies I got from giving my handmade gifts were fantastic, I was pretty exhausted with the big projects.

Lion brand afghan B & W afghan

My family obviously knew I was hooked (pun intended) and my brother and girlfriend got me a Crochet Pattern-a-day calendar for Christmas. In there was a ThreadTeds pattern for a bear. This brought me right back to making bears.

razbeary gold bear

At the same time, I found Flickr and started posting and browsing pictures. Through Flickr and blogs I learned about amigurumi and was particularly inspired by Elizabeth Doherty’s work. I started reading crochet blogs a lot, and finally started my own infrequently updated blog. I was happy with crochet and didn’t see the point in knitting, in fact some of the ladies at NASA tried to teach me to knit in 2003 for a co-worker’s baby, and I refused to learn. I crocheted a teddy bear instead. 🙂

In the fall of 2006, a confluence of events caused me to take a new look at knitting. I looked for a couple of books online and settled on the Stitch ‘n Bitch Handbook and Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Those two books got me into knitting. When I got Knitting Rules, I had never heard of the Yarn Harlot! I found her blog, read her book and never looked back.

After several years on my own, I had finally tapped into this huge community of witty, talented, inspiring people willing to share their experiences and funny stories. It was still a community tied together by links and web rings. There was no good way to find all those little blogs or people’s patterns unless someone had linked to them. Through that network, I found out about Ravelry. On July 3, two months after moving to New Jersey, I got my invitation to this amazing web community.

Using this awesome resource, I have found patterns I never knew existed, learned from others about yarn substitution and found a reason to blog more often. It is the warm fuzzy feeling I get when someone leaves a comment or “favorites” my project or pattern that inspires me to do more.

Being able to see that 42 people have “favorited” my Claude Pattern and that 18 people have it in their queue is such a great feeling. To think that my little warm fuzzy could generate so many warm fuzzies for me, is just amazing.

Speaking of warm fuzzies, I guess I should show you my most recent project.

Little Lamb Little Lamb

This little lamb is a pattern by Barbara Prime at Fuzzymitten.com. The pattern is very well written and makes me rethink my previously held belief that crochet was the only way to make toys. It seems that if you know how to use knit stitches for shaping well enough, you can make very elegant patterns. I’m not at that level, but using someone else’s pattern was great fun. You do have to worry a little bit more about stuffing knit toys, since they tend to stretch a lot more than their crochet siblings.

The yarn for this project is Lion Brand Fisherman’s wool in Natural and Nature’s Brown. The sweater comes from the Natural Fisherman’s wool I dyed with Kool-Aid. I made the top down raglan cardigan for him on size US6 needles without a pattern. Garter stitch neck, button bands, bottom and cuffs, made it pretty simple to make. I used yo button holes so that the cardigan really can come off.

His eyes are hematite beads.

I’m so pleased with how he turned out, that I decided to keep him, rather than send him off as a gift. I have almost finished knitting a second lamb who will take the journey instead. 🙂 This time I kept track of how long it took to make and after adding it all up, it took 5 hours to knit and assemble the lamb without accessories.

People are always asking how long it takes me to make something, so I have decided to start keeping better track of time. Obviously I don’t knit things because it is cost effective, but it is interesting to track.

I also made myself a summer hat. After looking around and not finding a pattern for a cotton cloche, I decided to make my own. I haven’t really settled on the hat band yet, so this one is not attached.

hat front

The hat is crocheted with two strands of King Tut Cotton I got from our Twisted Stitcher’s Yarn swap . I used a size I hook with the yarn doubled so that it has more structural integrity.

I have written the pattern in spreadsheet form here if anyone is interested.

The band is knit using the pattern for this lace headband, but I would definitely add a garter stitch edge if I made it again. It just curls too much, even after blocking. The flower is the Spring Daisy on this page.

The brim increases start just behind the ears and go out just beyond the edge of my glasses. I like the style of cloche hats and look forward to wearing it this summer. It is also easily stuffed in a bag, which is another requirement when I look for hats.

Catch up post: featuring FOs and dying

At the end of March, there were a couple more birthdays, and here is what I sent.

For my Dad, there was another Claude the Cactus.  This one was made with Lion Brand Jiffy in Avocado and  Fun Fur.  The fun fur I used on the first  Claude was probably 5 years old, and it seems that the product has changed somewhat.  The new Fun Fur seems to be a single thread sticking out, where as the old stuff had 2 or three threads twisted together.  This means that the new stuff is much finer and higher density, which hides the green.  To counteract this, I gave Claude II a haircut.  I trimmed ~1/4 to 3/8″ of fur off all over his body to make sure the green could be seen, and I trimmed even more around the eyes.

I also found some novelty yarn at AC Moore that worked perfectly for gravel and freestyled a pot for him out of some TLC acrylic, as well.  I put a little bit of stuffing between gravel and pot bottom, but not much.

Dad's Cactus

For my Grandpa Z, I knit a teddy bear from the Prima website.  I used Lion Brand Fisherman’s wool for the body and some green mystery yarn I got at my Market class at Stitches East in Baltimore last October for the sweater.  The only modification I made was to lengthen the legs.  Where the pattern says to knit 9 rows of reverse stockinette, I knit 13.  I used a 30 mm doll joint to connect the head to the body so that it would turn, and I string jointed the arms and legs with yarn.  Eyes are onyx beads and nose is embroidery thread.  I dreaded sewing the pieces together by hand enough that I stitched the head and body pieces together on the sewing machine.  In retrospect, back stitching with yarn isn’t so bad, and I could have done the whole thing without too much trouble.

Grandpa's Teddy Bear

More recently, I tried dying yarn with Kool-Aid.  I had about 67 yards of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Natural from a project I can’t blog about until June, and I decided to experiment with dying.  I read a little about dying with Kool-Aid, and when I went to the laundromat, I stopped into the grocery store nearby to buy some Kool-Aid to play with.  The flavors were limited, so I got Tropical Punch, Cherry and Grape.  I wrapped the yarn around the dining table and chairs to make a really long loop.  I then soaked the yarn for a while in a bath of woolwash and water for about 15 minutes.

I set up my 3 plastic tubs with 2 packets of kool-aid each and distributed the skein between the three.  After  4  two minute heat cycles in the microwave (with ~ 10 to 15 minute breaks between) all the color was absorbed and it looked like this:

( clockwise from left: grape, cherry, tropical punch)

Kool Aid dying, after the color is sucked up

I then let it cool, hung the skein on the curtain rod to dry, and then wrapped it into a skein around my swift.

Kool-Aid Dyed yarn

Still not sure what I will do with the yarn, but it was a fun experiment.

Last Thursday, I went to our Twisted Stitcher’s Meetup  where we had our quarterly yarn swap.  I didn’t take very much in, but I did bring a bunch home.  One was this intriguing DK weight yarn of unknown composition that belonged to someone’s mother.  I had no good way of knowing how much was there, so I decided I would knit a shrug.  I swatched some fancier lace patterns, but they got lost in the coloring of the yarn, so I ended up choosing a simple eyelet pattern from the Barbara Walker Treasury, book 1.  It is Quatrefoil Eyelet (pg 171) and I used the Lace Rib (pg 48) pattern for the edging.  I used standard raglan shaping  ( knit in front and back on either side of stitch marker on every knit row).

I haven’t blocked it yet, but I’m afraid it is going to grow.  I probably should have separated the sleeves earlier, but it looks okay right now.  I will post new pictures after I block it, but I couldn’t help wearing it today.  It was 67 and beautiful outside, so Scott took these pictures.

Swap Yarn Shrug

Swap Shrug, Back

Without posting about the project I’ve been working on as a gift for a friend, I think this about catches up my fiber endeavors.

Purse Pictures

Just got the pictures from my parents of the purse I sent for Mom’s birthday.

Knit beaded purse

Knit, beaded purse detail

Purse is from a Swallow Hill Creations kit called Lissa that I purchased at Stitches East.

I used 000 circular needles from Hiya Hiya with Perle cotton size 8 and seed beads. The large bead is hematite that I purchased separately to hold down the point that was one of the flap options but not pictured on the kit. I used half of the beads given, but I don’t think I will be using the extras to make a second purse.

Happy Birthday!

Whew, another frenzied gift making time nearly wrapped up. I’ve been out of touch but definitely busy making gifts for a string of birthdays at the end of February and beginning of March.

Today is my brother Brian’s birthday and he got his gift on Friday.

Bender Bending Rodriguez

It was Bender Bending Rodriguez crocheted from the pattern here. He’s in worsted weight yarn, so he is roughly 22″ tall, rather than the 13″ that the pattern author got in DK weight. Big enough he can hold his own beer. 🙂 I sewed a small round “pillow” out of scrap fabric that i filled with poly pellets for his bottom. I’ve had trouble in the past with the pellets falling out of the crochet holes, so I figured this was the safest approach. There are no poly pellets in his feet or hands.

I’ve also fallen head over heels for Shrinky Dinks (plastic that shrinks to 1/3 of it’s original size with 9 times the thickness) and made this card with a magnet on front by tracing a screenshot from Futurama onto a sheet of Ruff n Ready Shrinky Dink that I purchased at Michaels.  I played with pre-printed Shrinky Dinks as a kid, but only recently sought them out for general crafting.

Shrinky Dink card/magnet

For my Mom’s birthday on February 27th, I knit a small purse from a kit (called Lissa) I purchased at Stitches in Baltimore from Swallow Hill Creations. Stringing the beads and knitting on 000 needles probably make this a one of a kind project. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the purse and the card, so hopefully I can update you with a picture from my folks.

For Scott’s Grandma’s birthday on the 24th, I made a little melon ball kitty from mercerized fingering wt. cotton from this pattern, and free-styled a cupcake container. I also made a Shrinky Dink card.

Littlest kitty Shrinky Dink birthday card

The first birthday was my Aunt Carolyn’s on the 21st. and she got a melon ball kitty named Whimsy in his cupcake house. This was based on the idea that everyone needs a little whimsy on their birthday. He has a Shrinky Dink name tag.

Whimsy and his cupcake house

I’m also working on a sweater for Scott out of Cascade 220. I’m hoping to get it done before it is too warm for wool, but since I’m working without a pattern, it could be a trick.

At the prospect of winding all the yarn I would need for his sweater, I decided to invest in a yarn swift and ball winder. In addition to being fun, it has already saved tons of time that I would have spent winding balls by hand. As you can see it doesn’t clamp on every table, but I managed to find a place to use it. 🙂

Swift and Winder

I haven’t been very good at writing a narrative and I do hope to improve, but in the mean time, I do have lots of pictures. 😛

I have not forgotten the improved knitting bag sewing instructions, but the day I was working on that, I was called by a recruiter for an interview and things have been crazy ever since. I hope to have some time in the upcoming week to get that finished and posted.