Tag Archives: knitting

Stunning!

Well, there I was going about my business on the computer, taking a break from knitting by checking e-mail, browsing Ravelry, and making a wish list of seeds at the Seed Savers Exchange, when I decided to check in on my blog stats.  It is always fun to see the 50-80 hits a day and know that people are using my patterns and checking in.

Much to my surprise, the blog stats that wordpress provides said that I had over 600 hits to my webpage, specifically the Mock Cable Neckwarmer pattern.  And it keeps climbing!  My blog has over 1000 hits today and I have no idea why.  It seems that a lot of the viewers are being referred by an e-mail, but I have no idea who sent it or what it said.  My curiosity is killing me and I’d love to thank the person for the referral.  If any one of those viewers would like to leave a comment to let me know what is going on, I would greatly appreciate it.  It could be a good last minute holiday gift pattern, so I’m assuming that was the reference.

I have been knitting continuously the past few days, even though I told myself I wouldn’t make so many gifts this year.  The biggest project has been finishing a sweater for Scott that I started over a year ago without a pattern and only a vague notion of what the final product would look like.  I knit a 3x 2 rib in the round up to the armholes, but it took 3 tries(including one with a partial sleeve that had to be ripped out) before I got it right.  Ever since I got two books: Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton and Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti in December of 2007, I have been planning this sweater.  Maggie Righetti is a big fan of circular needles and even outlines a method of using short rows to create the sleeve cap for set in sleeves.  I used this method and the sleeve cap math from Deborah Newton to finally get the sleeves right.

I worked a couple of full days on it last week and as soon as I cast off the collar, he wanted to wear it.  I took it back to weave in the ends and haven’t touched it since.  I hope to block it and he would like the sleeves to be a little longer (so I will probably pick up stitches and add the same ribbing I used on the collar) but I have no idea when.  I also hope to get a picture with him in it but I was planning to block it first.  🙂  The 5 inches of snow and high temperatures of 8 degrees F make his first and only wool sweater very attractive.  He has worn it to work every day this week.

When I get photos I will add the other knitterly details.  Now I must get back to weaving in ends, blocking and felting gifts that will be revealed after the recipient knows about them.

Happy Holidays, and good luck with your last minute preparations.

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Where has the time gone?

I suppose now that we have lived in Iowa for 2 months, it is time to update my blog. Although it is impossible to list all that we have done, here are my highlights.

When we got to Iowa, we had a couple of days before we closed on the house and were fortunate to stay at my aunt and uncle’s house in West Des Moines (~35 miles from Ames). They are both ISU alum and big Cyclone fans. They actually went to the Iowa vs. Iowa State Game in Iowa City that weekend. All the potential for a good football season got me excited about ISU, and I knit a scarf while I was sitting around and Scott was on campus working.

Now you see it...

Now you see it...

...and now you dont.

...and now you don't

It is an illusion knit scarf using the basic instructions found at Wikihow and the ISU Chart (pdf download) I created. I also added 3 stitches on each side that I knit in garter and slipped the first stitch in each row. After I did the letters once, I switched to wide stripes ( 4 chart rows wide) that can only be seen at the sharp angle. The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted from the Rose Tree Fiber Shop in Ames. One skein of each color made a scarf 8.5″ side by 61″ long without blocking. The garter stitch edging seems to curl under, so if I made it again I would probably omit that and just knit the chart as written, slipping the first stitch of each row. That would make it 7.5″ wide and quite a bit longer.

I also finished sewing the buttons on my Central Park Hoodie and have been wearing it continually this fall.

Since then, I’ve knit Christmas stockings from the Cascade pattern that reads like a “choose your own adventure”. They are knit in Cascade 220 Heathers of Shire and Cranberry and Cascade 220 Natural.

I’ve knit and felted a St. Vincent Cloche, also out of Cascade 220.

This was taken today at the beginning of our first sticking snow storm.

This was taken today at the beginning of our first sticking snow storm after I walked back from the knitting and crochet group meeting at the Library.

I finished my first pair of socks from the pattern Charade out of Red Heart’s Heart & Sole in Tequila Sunrise. I had some trouble with the fit of the pattern and ended up decreasing an extra 4 stitches on each side of the gussett to get it to fit my foot better. Next time I will probably pick a pattern that lists a gauge so I know if I’m in the ball park. My gauge was ~ 5 st/inch.

I just sewed the buttons on my February Lady Sweater, which is one of those viral knits on Ravelry that ~3000 people have made. This is out of 5 balls of Cascade 220 Heathers in Cranberry. It was a pretty simple knit and the lace stitch got a little tedious. It required just enough concentration to make it hard to multi task, but not enough to be interesting by itself. I did have to rip back every now and then when I let my mind wander. I’m still going to look for buttons, these were just what I had in the house this morning.

I have a couple Christmas projects in the works, but only those specifically requested. If any of my family have something in mind they would really like me to knit them, they should let me know now… otherwise the will be getting purchased gifts this year. 🙂

In addition to knitting, I’ve obviously been unpacking. We don’t have good pictures of the house yet, but I did get a picture of my craft room in the basement. The biggest drawback is how cold it is down there, but at least I have my stuff organized and it has gotten me excited about finishing UFOs (unfinished objects) and thinking about how to use all the scrap yarn I have left from other projects. Fun!

)

To be fair, the top and bottom shelves are not craft things, just extra blankets, etc that are being stored. In other words, I still have room to expand. 🙂

We are currently living only in the downstairs of the house while the upstairs gets some work done. My parents came in early October while Scott was still in NJ to help me rip carpet out of the back bedroom upstairs. We are now stripping paint from the baseboards, and when that is finished we will sand them and see where we are. They may be white again or we may try to stain them. Then on to the next room, hall and bathroom. Once our work is done we will have someone in to redo the wood floors. It will probably be a year before we are in the bedroom upstairs, but we will certainly have learned a lot. 🙂

We’ve done more, but that’s enough for one post. I will try to post more often after the holidays.

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.

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. 🙂

A little update…

I don’t have much to show this time, since I’ve been busy making Mother’s day Gifts, but I did manage to make a replacement case for my knitting notions.  The one I purchased as a set from Clover when I first started knitting was looking pretty ragged and allowing things to fall out.

I’d been wanting to try sewing with vinyl for a while, and when I saw a remnant at Walmart for 85 cents, I decided to try.  Working with vinyl is a little tricky, since you can’t pin it and it tends to stick to your sewing machine.  But with one rework to use wider bias tape on the sides of the bag, it worked out pretty well.  The zipper is the most expensive part.  🙂

notions case

In other news, we are headed down to Baltimore to see Scott’s brother and sister-in-law and go the the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  It looks like a big event with 250 vendors and lots of sheep competitions.  It should be a lot of fun, even if it rains.  They even have a “Sheep to Shawl” contest that starts with shearing and ends up with a complete knit shawl.  I don’t know how long that takes, but they start Sunday morning, so it can’t be more than 1 day.   I think it would be a rather exhausting day, to say the least.

I’ll do my best to take pictures and post an update when we get back.

One last thing:

I got a comment from Vanessa on my Cotton Crochet Cloche pattern about adjusting the size for her daughter.  Since I was editing the pattern anyway, I’ve gone ahead and posted a 14″ head version and an 18″ head version for infant and child. They are tabs on the same spreadsheet.  Just look for the links in the upper left hand corner of the page.

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.