October 30, 2010

I'll let you know when it happens. Really. I promise.

I think the title says it all on THAT topic.

So I've been nesting again. Or maybe I've just been bored. Amounts to the same thing these days, now that I'm on maternity leave. As I suspected, I'm only doing moderately well with the whole waiting thing. I've been driving Schondy crazy. He's bearing it well, but I know the waiting is rough on him too.

To pass the time, I've gotten all crafty again. It was inevitable, I suppose. Among knitters, the lore goes that the baby won't be born until the last knitted thing for them is finished. If that's the case, well, I know why this baby is taking its time - I keep picking up new projects. Some of them are knitted, some aren't, but I thought that would a good way to show you what I've been up to recently (aside from serving the baby every kind of eviction notice I can come up with).

Since my last crafty post, I've completed a number of interesting things. I won't bore you with all of them, but here's the highlights:

Percival Long Dog was pretty entertaining to work on and I'm pleased with the result, though if I had it to do over again, I'd probably use smaller needles so the stuffing wouldn't show quite as much. You can't tell from the pictures (Thanks, Schondy!), but the weave is a little more open than I'd generally prefer. Oh, well. The baby probably won't notice.

Because you can never have too many long dogs in the house

He might be French, but who can say for sure?

This isn't necessarily for the baby - it's for me, really - but it's cute and I'm sure that if it lasts until the baby is old enough to care, he/she will like it, too. Since I lost all that weight, I've had a devil of a time keeping my feet warm in bed, so I decided to go the old school route and get a hot water bottle. Now that I'm pregnant, that hasn't been so much an issue, but the heat has done wonders for the various other aches and pains I've been battling. This also makes a killer iPad cover, but I'm not so sure I'm going to go out in public with it like that.

Looks deceptively like a cuddly toy...

...a sloshy, heated cuddly toy, to be exact.

There have actually been a couple of these that I've done. From the Mason-Dixon Knitting book, a great book for functional, hard-wearing patterns, came the Baby Bib O' Love. It has the best quote on the pattern, "...Make a bunch of 'em. Babies are a mess!" So I've obliged. This is actually the third one I've done (I gave one of them away) and it's been great to have something that I can crank through so quickly that's actually useful.

The colors are actually kind of chocolatey, not as dark/black as they look in the picture.

I do have a couple knitting projects on the needles right now, but they're things that take a bit longer. I mentioned before that we spent some time at the Art & Wine Festival in town a few weeks ago and, of course, we found all kinds of cute things that we really liked, but were either too expensive or just not... right. So when I needed some more "instant" gratification than my knitting projects were providing, I decided to recreate a few of those items. One of those things was a tie-dyed onesie that Schondy really liked, but that they didn't have in a small enough size. I did a little research and found out how to do that particular dye pattern and here's the result. They're not fancy, but I think they're pretty good for a first try. Don't think I've tie-dyed anything since 4-H camp a million years ago and I made a huge mess in the process, but I sure had fun. Highly recommend it if you're looking for something crafty to do.

The blue was a little wussy, but the black and red turned out great!

Also at the Art & Wine Festival was this seller with the most adorable baby blankets I'd ever seen. Each one used a couple contrasting fabrics on the front and back and then had animals appliqued on both sides - usually a turtle on the front and a hippo on the back or something like that. But the one I fell in love with was just simple birds on a checkered background with another bird on the back. Unfortunately, she was a little more proud of her work than I was willing to pay ($$$!), so I passed, though I came really, really, really close to caving. So a couple days ago, I made my own version. Love the way it came out, though there are definitely things I'll do differently when/if I attempt this again.

You can't see it very well, but the birds are all sitting on a wire...

The one on the back is, of course, the one that turned out the best.

And finally, the pictures you really came here to see, me, at ever increasing size, including today's shot, where I'm officially 40+ weeks. Forgive the funny expression on my face - I'd just woken up from a nap.




July 18, 2010

Okay, so maybe I'm nesting.

Things have been busy around here lately. Not in the "we have a thousand things to do" way, but in the "I just completed my fifty-bajillionth little project" way. I suppose that's the very definition of nesting, I just have to confess that I never really thought it would happen to me, and I certainly never though it would take this particular form... not that I'm complaining.

So I've been a veritable fount of handmade things the last few weeks, resulting in some (possibly) surprising... ahem... supplies for the baby and for its parents. First, we went to the Maker Faire, which always does amazing things for my crafty mojo. It's always a little bit playing with fire to go to the Maker Faire because it always makes me want to quit my job and just go... make things. And this year was no exception, really.

There was a booth there (I think it's there every year) with walls and walls of patches with all kinds of pirate-y sayings and silly little things. And every year, Schondy and I poke at them and have a grand time laughing at them. So it was inevitable that eventually we'd actually buy something:

Because really, What Would Cthulhu Do?

The bag on the left is Schondy's sometimes-camera bag, the one on the right is my backpack. And the patch that's not attached to anything will adorn a bag or other item belonging to our offspring. Because we can pretty much guarantee that this kid is going to be special.

So after we found all these great patches, I was inspired to give patch-making a go myself. I'd seen a great tutorial on patches over at my FAVORITE machine embroidery website, Urban Threads and figured I could use that to guide me. I tried out their tutorial first, mostly because the sample project featured an amazing design that I definitely could get behind:

Yarrrrn. That is all.

And it was so much fun and so easy, that my creative juices just exploded all over the house and everything/one in it, resulting in a few more goofy little things. If they make no sense, it's because you don't know the story. Ask me about it some other time when I'm not staring at a 20-page blog entry already. Anyway, all of these are my own personal custom creations and I'm pretty pleased with almost all of them. If you can't figure out which one is totally messed up, I'm not going to tell you which one it is. :)

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a picture of an emu?

Craft felt is my new favorite thing ever.

As long as I was doing embroidery anyway, I'd had my eye on this adorable little mousy ever since it was posted over at Urban Threads (did I mention I love them?), and I'd grabbed a pile of plain onesies to customize, so this is what happened:

Note the gender-neutral green. Still cute, even though it's not pink like it's supposed to be, huh?

THEN I was talking to Sapphire about... I dunno... probably babies, shockingly enough... and she mentioned that a lot of her cloth baby wipes were just plain rectangles of flannel with the edges serged and that it probably wouldn't be hard to make some. So I hied myself off to JoAnn, figuring they'd have some pre-cut fat quarters of flannel that I could turn into cheap and cute reusable baby wipes. And I was right. 2 hours later, behold the monster stack of baby wipes for the low, low price of $0.18 per wipe:

I know they're pink. I'm a girl, even if the baby isn't.

I complained a bit about the pink wipes, but if I'm being honest, I used them up because of all the fabric I got, that was the stuff I liked the least. I did them first, so if I messed it up, I wouldn't care. But they turned out fine, so now I have pink and brown baby wipes. Whatever works, I guess.

A while back, I decided I wanted to use glass baby bottles because of all the recent news and whatnot about the frightening contents and effects of plastic baby bottles. Mostly, bottle manufacturers have certified that the bottles are safe and they've removed the scary chemicals, but I kind of feel like you can't be too safe, and I'm okay with paying a dollar more for glass bottles. But I'm also a klutz with tile and hardwood floors, so I'm using up some of my sock yarn to knit baby bottle cozies! I improvised the pattern and haven't decided if I'm sold on that particular style of tie around the top, but this was my first try and I figure I should probably crank out at least one or two more. So I have a chance to make it better:

Ugliest. Yarn. Ever. But the cozy is kind of cute.

I cranked through a quick gift for a swap buddy on Ravelry and it's so cute that I think I might need to make another one and I swear if I didn't know, I'd think it was an heirloom from 3 generations back (really proud of this one) - but that could just be the style. It's pretty old-fashioned, but I do think there are some things that just don't go out of style. I'll be shipping this off to Canada next week along with some California-made caramels for my mommy-to-be swap buddy:

Mmmm. Organic Cotton is so pretty.

And finally (we're getting to the pictures of me in just a second - I promise), I made the baby a blanket. Grandmama said that the baby must have a white baby blanket, and I was more than happy to oblige, turning out my "Ode to Short Rows" over the course of a little more than a month. I cast on the first day we went to the Maker Faire and finished it July 3. I'm so pleased with it. It did turn out quite a bit bigger than I expected, but I figure that's better than having something too small to do anything with. I don't think the picture does it justice, if I do say so myself:

Short rows for days! And days!

Most importantly, I worked all the last few weeks on making a baby. So here's the pictures you REALLY wanted to see:




March 12, 2010


Well, internet, it's been a while. But you see, the Peanut Gallery has a project under way - a pièce de résistance, if you will - that will definitely be worth a little silence on the blog front. I can't talk about it more, but will post some pictures of my work-in-progress when they're ready.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a little something I whipped up while taking a class at Stitches West. The class was Bohus Stickning, taught by Susanna Hansson, where we made wristlets in that style.

I can't say I knew anything about the style or about the movement or anything before the class, and I definitely found all that interesting. I can't say I found the style to be any more visually stunning or spectacular than a lot of other styles of knitting, though I know there were people in the class who would disagree with me on that vehemently. I took the class because I thought it might be fun to learn a different style than what I typically gravitate towards, and in that I was greatly pleased with the class. I can't say I'm any more enamored with it now than I was before, but the results certainly were pretty and I was very proud of my own effort.

I got off to a very slow start, so in the first 3 hours, I only finished the first little bit of the cuff, but I found that once I got started on the color work, it went very smoothly. I've never done stranded work like this before and I found that I actually didn't mind working 3 different colors at once. The yarn is pretty "grabby" because of the angora, but so long as I was paying attention it wasn't a big deal.

At the end of class, everyone brought up their projects for a group shot, so we could see them all together. It was amazing to see the differences in gauge and size and to see that, despite my very slow start, I ended up being one of the farthest along in the entire class (hooray!!). Mine at the top of the picture, just to the right of the middle.

I've since finished the entire first cuff and my plan is to finish a second one and then attach them to a pair of white wool mittens. I can't say I'll have much use for such a fancy pair of mittens and I'll probably be afraid to wear them, but it's going to be awfully nice to work on and finish something so pretty.

And also, hi!

January 19, 2010

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXVII: Deliah loves her Daddy Beer Gloves

Date Begun: 01/21/2009
Date Completed: 02/12/2008
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Wheat
Needles: 1. US4 DPN (metal)
2. US6 DPN (metal)
Source: Beer Gloves from Son of Stitch 'n Bitch
The Story:
Ok, so waaaaaaaay back a long time ago, I posted this entry about some gloves I made, originally for Schondy that turned out much too small for his hands. Those were beautiful and wonderful and I gave them to a friend who has tiny hands and she LOVED them.

So now, a zillion years after that, and a zillion-1 years since I rectified the situation, I'm finally posting the second pair of gloves I made using the "Deliah" yarn that Schondy picked out. I modified the pattern a little to make the fingers extra long so they would at least cover the first knuckle of each hand. The pattern was really interesting and includes a "nubbly" patch in the palm of the hand to aid in gripping things while remaining gloved.

So almost two years after I finished them, I'm finally sharing. Sorry about that.

October 4, 2009

Cute Overload!

First of all, I'd like to apologize for the blurry images. 5-year-old Point-and-Shoot camera + wiggly baby = blurry pictures. She was just so happy and it was kind of dark in the room. Oops.

ANYway. So a few months ago, Sapphire and Xippi had a baby. She is now 4 months old and just beginning to figure out a number of very important things: what hands are for, how to blow bubbles and that squealing and/or babbling will garner much attention. On Friday, we all went out to dinner together and then Sapphire, Xippi and Little One came back to the house, where we sat around chatting and introducing Little One to menagerie that owns me and Schondy (Miles, Deliah and Lulu).

When that got boring (for the animals, not us. I mean, who gets bored of babies squealing at cats?), I went and found my most recent finished knitting project - a WWII Watch Cap - and plopped it on Little One's head. She didn't really care, but we all thought it was quite possibly the cutest thing we'd ever seen, so pictures ensued. I didn't want to keep flashing in her face, so I turned off the flash, but there clearly just wasn't enough light to make the camera happy.

But I promised my mother I'd get some pictures posted, so here they are. :-)

April 13, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXVI: Baby Surprise Jacket #2

Date Begun: 01/07/2008
Date Completed: 01/18/2008
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby in Yellow and White
Needles: US7 DPN (metal)
Source: Baby Surprise Jacket from The Knitting Workshop
The Story:
Well, there's not really a whole heck of a lot to talk about here, since most of this has already been discussed here. Here's the second of this year's never-ending string of baby jackets.

This was made for one of the twin girls born to a friend from work. Since I'd already done one of these, this was quite a bit easier than the first. But as I keep telling Schondy, I'm constantly amazed when it actually works out right. :-)

So, um, yeah. Baby Jacket #2 in Yellow and White with little baby chick buttons.


April 1, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXV: A Hat Fit for Me

Date Begun: 12/31/2008
Date Completed: 01/02/2009
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool in Winter White
Needles: US7 DPN (metal)
Source: A Hat Fit for a Boyfriend from Stephanie Knits
The Story:
This hat was the second try to keep my ears warm while walking the dog. As I posted before, attempt #1 failed miserably, mostly because I have a small head and that pattern was not designed for people with small heads. I could probably adjust the gauge and try again on that one, but who has the patience for doing the same pattern over and over? (Hint: Not Me.)

The top of this one was really intriguing and I wanted to know how it was done, so this was to become my dog-walking hat. This seemed like a reasonably simple task, and the top of the hat was actually much simpler than it appeared (hooray for simple things that look complicated!). Turns out it's a good thing I was working on this over the holiday break because I ended up needing the extra time to undo and redo the top for a grand total of three, yes, THREE completions of this hat. Why would a person do that, you ask?

Well, turns out that this particular pattern was designed to cover only the tops of the wearer's ears. I know it says that quite plainly in the pattern, but I wasn't really prepared for just how little of my ears were covered. And since the whole point of this exercise was to keep my ears warm, well, that meant I needed to modify the hat to fit my needs.

So the first try gave me a hat that was 5.5". WAAAAAAY too short.

Try number two gave me a hat that was 6". Ears partially covered, but only if I don't move my head... ever.

Try number three was the charm - 7".

The really obnoxious part of all this undoing and redoing was that this hat was knit from the bottom to the top, meaning that I did all the easy bits - the part closest to my face first. So when I say I had to keep trying, what that means is that I did the top of the hat 3 times. I am now excruciatingly aware of exactly how the top of that hat went together. And while it was a relatively simple thing to do, I don't really relish the idea of repeating that little exercise any time soon. So if you want a hat like this one, I'm happy to do it, but please tell me ahead of time just how much of your ears you want covered. :-)

March 22, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXIV: Rosy the Elefante

Date Begun: 12/27/2008
Date Completed: 12/30/2008
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Grey Heather and Autumn Red
Needles: US6 DPN (metal)
Source: Elefante by Susan B. Anderson
The Story:
This was a new experience for me. I've never made a knitted toy before. But when I saw the pattern in my random wanderings through the InterWebs, I immediately fell in love. As I was looking at the hundreds of other Elefantes, though, I realized that I liked the one made by the pattern originator better than any of the ones made by anyone else. This led me to think that maybe I should try to exaggerate the things I loved about the original and eliminate the things I didn't. So, I made several modifications to the pattern.

Like a lot of other people, I wasn't too sure about putting poly-pellets in a child's toy, so I made up little muslin bags to hold the pellets within the toy. That seemed to help, but made the whole thing look a little "over-stuffed". I decided it didn't really matter because the recipient wouldn't know the difference and it made my Elefante look more "cartoony".

I looked at some of the other examples floating around out there and decided I would prefer to make the trunk/head transition a bit more hard (less sloping), so I basically used the instructions from the body on the head (post-trunk). I like the way it came out. That was one of the things I H-A-T-E-D about most of the others I'd seen - that the trunk looked like a direct extension of the head, rather than mimicking the relationship between the body and feet. (I know it sounds pretentious. But that's how I felt about it.)

At the time I was making this, I had not yet learned ANYTHING about crochet. I could manage a single-crochet edge on something simple, but that was it (not to give the impression that I'm all little-miss-crochet now, but I can at least stumble through a granny square with minimal cursing). So the ears presented something of a quandary. I tried first to use quesselchen's elephant ear/batwing pattern, but when I finished the first one, I hated it - not due to any problem with her pattern, I just don't think my yarn behaved the same way hers did. So I ripped it out. And wrote my own. They're floppy and big use some short-row shaping to make them have some "body". I think they're great - not as small as what the original pattern called for, but also not too big.

So here's the pattern for the ears I made (in case anyone's interested).

Rosy's ears:


  1. CO10
  2. Kfb twice, K6, Kfb twice
  3. P all stitches
  4. Kfb twice, K10, Kfb twice
  5. P all stitches
  6. Begin short rows to shape inner curve (note that I did not use wrapped stitches in these rows):
  7. K15, turn work
  8. P12, turn work
  9. K10, turn work
  10. P8, turn work
  11. K6, turn work
  12. P4, turn work
  13. K to end of row
  14. P all stitches End short rows, continue as normal
  15. K all stitches
  16. P all stitches
  17. K all stitches
  18. P all stitches
  19. Kfb twice, K16
  20. P all stitches
  21. Kfb twice, K18
  22. P all stitches
  23. K18, k2tog twice
  24. P all stitches
  25. K16, k2tog twice
  26. P all stitches
  27. K all stitches
  28. BO 6 stitches, P12
  29. K all stitches
  30. BO 6, P6
  31. K all stitches
  32. BO6 and cut yarn


Left is exactly the same until row 18, when you mirror the whole thing:
  1. K16, Kfb twice
  2. P all stitches
  3. K18, Kfb twice
  4. P all stitches
  5. K2tog twice, K18
  6. P all stitches
  7. K2tog twice, K16
  8. P all stitches
  9. K all stitches
  10. P all stitches
  11. BO 6 stitches, K12
  12. P all stitches
  13. BO 6, K6
  14. BO6 and cut yarn
I then did a single crochet all the way around the edge in red to give them a bit more stability and sewed them to the sides of the head with a bit of a curve to make them move in interesting ways.

March 15, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXIII: Baby Surprise Jacket #1

Date Begun: 12/24/2008
Date Completed: 12/27/2008
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby in White
Needles: US7 DPN (metal)
Source: Baby Surprise Jacket from The Knitting Workshop
The Story:
As I mentioned in a previous entry, there are patterns in the knitting world that are famous for a variety of reasons. And just like any other hobby, there are legends of knitting whose work is revered and who are credited (rightly or wrongly) with establishing the hobby in its modern form. In knitting, one of those people is Elizabeth Zimmermann, and her work is famous. Really. Not every knitter gets a page on Wikipedia, I can assure you of that.

"EZ" has one pattern that is arguably her most famous and is something that virtually every knitter bumps into at some point in her (or his) knitting career. That pattern is the "Garter Stitch Surprise Baby Jacket". Why "surprise" you ask? Well, it's actually pretty easy to tell why. The first three pictures on the right are what the jacket looks like immediately after it's bound off and pulled from the needles. More specifically, the second and third are what happens when it's just dropped on the table. Looks like a jacket, right? Ha!

But magically, by just folding in a couple places, you get that first image - taken before I actually sewed any seams - where the only sewing required is along the top edges of the arms. That's it! Really! And as most knitters will swear, the finishing at the end of the knitting (sewing everything in place and tacking all the ends down) is the worst part. So any pattern with that little sewing for something so cute and complicated-looking is immediately destined to become an immediate smash-hit.

So why did I knit this particular little marvel of knitterly engineering? Well, there's something of a baby boom going on in my world these days (Not me! just everyone I know!) and this jacket is the first of many I'll be completing over the next few months. This one was knit for a coworker whose wife just delivered twin girls last week. I just hope this jacket (and its sister) are put to good use.

I threw in a picture of the two jackets all packaged up and tagged with my personal logo (yes, I am that vain... er... proud of my work) as I presented them to the expectant father, who assured me his wife loved them. I'll be posting a separate entry for the second jacket, and alllllll the others that I'm seeing in my future. My hope was to make one for each of the babies due to all my friends, but fate conspired against me and the number of babies far outstripped my limited free time. So I've scaled back the number and (sadly) had to pick some people to receive non-handmade gifts, but I still plan to make at least 5 more of these before the dust settles.

All hail Elizabeth Zimmermann!!

February 18, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXII: A Guy's Wool Hat

Date Begun: 12/15/2008
Date Completed: 12/19/2008
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Grey Heather
Needles: US6 Circular (metal)
US6 DPN (metal)
Source: New York Hat & Scarf from I Live On a Farm
The Story:
Well, this one started out as something for me. And ended up being definitely not for me. Lulu gets a walk every evening. It's usually a good solid 2 miles and ever since roughly October, that walk has been C-O-L-D. For the most part, I've been fine just wrapping up in my big coat and wearing some gloves, but I realized at some point that my hair just wasn't keeping my ears warm enough and that I didn't actually own any sort of warm head covering thing. Thus began my quest for the perfect dog walking hat. This was the first attempt.

You'll notice from the dates that this one went very, very fast and happened right before Christmas. I cast on a couple days before we left on our Christmas cruise and bound off as our plane touched down in Texas. And the very first time I tried on my shiny new wool hat, it swallowed my poor little head whole. <sadness> Turns out my sister and I have the same problem - tiny noggins. Also turns out our brother was the proud recipient of all the noggin-ness in the family. So I presented him with his very own shiny new wool hat. I liked it a lot - very warm and super stretchy - but it just wasn't the right size for me.

And then we all went home before I was able to get any pictures of him modeling his hat and had to call him up for some photos. So the pictures on this one came from my brother, who is also a very talented photographer.

February 3, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XXI: "Old Navy" Scarves 1-4

Date Begun: 1: 11/27/2008
2: 12/05/2008
3: 12/12/2008
4: 12/14/2008
Date Completed: 1: 12/03/2008
2: 12/11/2008
3: 12/13/2008
4: 12/14/2008
Yarn: 1: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Black
2: Caron Simply Soft Quick in Autumn Red
3: Lion Brand Homespun in Cotton Candy and Hepplewhite
4: Lion Brand Homespun in Country
Needles: US13 Circular (metal)
Source: My own pattern inspired by a scarf I found at Old Navy and improvised
The Story:
Okay, so I have about a bazillion pictures for this one because there are (as you might have noticed) actually 4 scarves here. I decided it was a good idea to just go ahead and post them all together because they're utterly identical to each other. So the story is that I was shopping at Old Navy back in November and they had these scarves that I absolutely fell in love with. I tried and tried to find a picture of them, but basically, they were really chunky, done in a 1x1 rib and they had these great pompoms on the ends. Super simple.

Anyway, I've developed this really bad habit of seeing knit things in the store and not buying them, even if I absolutely fall in love, because I know I can make something virtually identical for a quarter the price. So I wandered back through there a couple more times and made notes on how the scarf was made, took note of what it was made from and generally scoped it out. I even counted the stitches to make sure I got the width right. It was a very strange thing to be doing, but it's not like Old Navy cares if I go making a few scarves that just happen to look like theirs, which happen to look... well, pretty generic, actually. BUT MINE ARE MADE WITH LOVE! So there.

ANYwho. I realized I needed gifts for a number of people on my list at Christmas and thought these scarves would be the absolutely perfect thing - especially since these people all live in snowy climates and/or do snowy things (think: snowboarding). So I commenced to making. And the first one was for the girlfriend of my brother-in-law in northeastern Ohio, where it gets C-O-L-D, kids. It was in black wool for super-duper warmth and was really dense and chunky and Lulu loved it. Or maybe she just loved that we were lavishing attention on her to take the pictures. Either way, she was pleased as punch to be involved in the photo session.

The second was for a close friend and co-worker who always has the cutest accessories and dresses like a million bucks, but I really wanted to make something for her that was personal and cute, but not something she'd feel guilty about not using if she hated it. So I picked a color I liked and ended up with this red. This one, I almost couldn't part with. In fact, I did actually wear it for an evening just to make sure it worked okay. :-) I thought it looked really cool when it was all rolled up, and Deliah thought it looked like a giant snail, but we never could get any good shots of her checking it out. The nice thing about this one is that it's completely machine-washable and pretty much indestructible. The yarn was a new one for me, but one I think I'll go back to. Super inexpensive, but really, really soft.

The last two were made pretty much on a whim, like, 3 days before we left on our Christmas vacation with the family. I realized I had never knit anything for either of the kids (my nephew and niece) and this was a situation that much be rectified immediately. So immediately before leaving on our trip, I cranked out two more of these things - one with pompoms and one without - and threw them in the suitcase. I threw them in there so fast, I forgot to get pictures of them before we left and then our cruise to Mexico didn't exactly afford any photo ops with cold weather clothing, so my sister was nice enough to grab a couple shots of the kids wearing their scarves so I could document that they really happened.

So anyway, I now know how to make faux Old Navy scarves (1x1 rib until you get tired, knitting every edge stitch to keep it from curling, throw on a couple pompoms and walk away), and I think I can make them for less than $8 a pop. If you're interested, I think I can even do it in less than 2 days. Any takers?

January 29, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XX: Pleated Tea Cozy #1

Date Begun: 08/14/2008
Date Completed: 08/29/2008
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Autumn Red and Lemonade
Needles: US7 DPN (metal)
US8 DPN (metal)
Source: Grannie's Traditional Tea Cozy from teabythesea
The Story:
Believe it or not, there are knitted things for which their patterns are famous. Some of the tiny details vary, but the idea is the same. In this case, the pattern is known as a pleated tea cozy and no one's quite sure when or where it originated, but the consensus is that it's at least 50 years old (probably much more). Most of the folks on Ravelry who have made one did so because they remember the one their mother/grandmother had and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don't remember anyone ever having one of these - probably because there's not much call for hot tea in the South.
So why did I make a vintage tea cozy if not for nostalgic reasons? Honestly, it was because I couldn't figure out how it worked by looking at pictures and I needed to make one to see how it was done. I had run across a picture of one... somewhere... and thought it was fascinating. So I made one.
In retrospect, perhaps red and yellow were not the best choices for colors, given that we have a lavender tea pot and a green tea pot, but I honestly wasn't really planning on keeping it. Since this was my first try, it has some issues and I think I could do a better job if I tried again. So if anyone's interested in a tea cozy, I'd be happy to take another stab at it.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, it really does keep your tea hotter for longer. Because of the way it's knit, it has lots and lots of air pockets trapped between multiple layers of yarn. The design works better for English tea pots (the spout is usually lower) than for Japanese tea pots, but now that I know what I'm doing, I bet I could modify it a bit to fit a Japanese tea pot better.

January 16, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XIX: Hope's Fingerless Gloves

Date Begun: 07/27/2008
Date Completed: 08/02/2008
Yarn: Moda Dea Cartwheel in Bronzeberry
Needles: US8 DPN (metal)
Source: My own pattern - Hope's Fingerless Gloves
The Story:
Hey, Imler? You were totally right - as Schondy told you in the comments, there is, in fact, exactly the community you thought there must be. And I'm a card-carrying member. :-)

Turns out I'm not as odd as you might think for this knitting thing. Turns out there are thousands (potentially millions) of us in the world - normal, young, happy people who use knitting as a way to unwind, relax and make something useful in the process. And there is an online community for us, too. It's called Ravelry and it's probably the website I visit most often. The best part about Ravelry (and I HIGHLY recommend that if you're a knitter or a crocheter, you should join Ravelry) is that you can search for patterns, for yarn or for projects using a particular combination of yarn and needles on a particular pattern. It means you're not just guessing what might happen if you knit a sweater out of dog hair. There's probably someone else who's already tried it and can tell you what might happen. I spend stupid amounts of time at this website.

Within Ravelry, there are hundreds of different sub-groups of people. You're welcome to join any group that strikes your fancy, so if you're interested in chatting with people about dachshunds or chocolate or the phases of the moon or you're really crazy about knitting cabled things or... well, just about anything, there's probably a group out there. One of my favorite groups that I'm a member of (I've joined 35 of them) is the Caffeine Addicts. This particular group has a "swap" every few months, where everyone gets the name and home address of one other member and then we send little packages of goodies to each other. It's cheesy, I know, but it's a great way to get new and interesting coffee, yarn and knitting toys that you never thought of before.

ANYwho. A few months ago, one of these "Yarn and Coffee Swaps" happened and the instructions were to send along some coffee or tea (on account of tea having caffeine, too) from an interesting source, some stitch markers and a handmade item of some sort. It's common, when doing a swap, to "stalk" your partner to figure out some personal things about them in addition to whatever standard questions are asked in the questionnaire (name, address, what is your favorite color, what kind of coffee do you like). My partner had a dog, lived in a part of the country where it gets cold and seemed to be my age or younger. So I made up this pattern based on some previous projects I'd done (notably the fingerless gloves I originally made for Schondy) and used the cabling skills I got from another project that I'm working on.

And this is the result. I love, love, love the yarn, but have been completely unable to find it since I got the two skeins for this project (though I haven't given up hope just yet - eBay to the rescue). It comes in beautiful colors and it was absolutely perfect for what I was going for. If making them again, I might omit the portion of the cable that goes across the palm. I wrote up the directions partly for me, but partly for the girl who received the gift. She asked me to write up the pattern because other people saw the ones I made and asked for some of their own. So as soon as I have the pattern in a form that's readable by people other than me, I plan to post it here.

You can also see the stitch markers I made to include in the gift. She said she really liked ocean/earth colors and that was my interpretation of what she might like.

Update March 3, 2009: I posted my pattern to Ravelry and people liked it! Hooray for me!

January 14, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XVIII: Bamboo Baby Hat

Date Begun: 06/13/08
Date Completed: 06/14/2008
Yarn: Bernat Bamboo Natural Blends in Linen and Corn
Needles: US6 Circular (metal)
Source: Elf Hats - Tea Cozy Crown from Charmed Knits
The Story:
Honestly, not much of a story here. There are mucho babies coming. This hat was cute. I wanted something really quick and really soft. Thus, baby hat. Yes, it's really made out of 100% bamboo. It's really, really soft and I plan to make more of them.

I wish there was more to say, here, because, well, it's a blog and blogs are so you can say stuff. But there it is. Bamboo baby hat.

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XVII: My So-called Ribbon Scarf

Date Begun: 05/02/08
Date Completed: 06/08/2008
Yarn: Tess' Designer Yarns Microfiber Ribbon in Blue
Needles: US6 Circular (metal)
Source: My So-Called Scarf from Imagiknit
The Story:
Let me start by saying that I H-A-T-E these pictures. They don't show the scarf off very well and I look terrible. I really need to take new pictures, but... I suppose I'm lazy. Anyway. This was one of those projects that I felt like I had to do not because I wanted to, but because I needed to use this yarn that was so expensive and pretty, but basically unusable for any kind of "reasonable" project.

I bought the yarn at Stitches a couple years ago kind of on a whim. It was very, very pretty and so very soft to touch. I absolutely fell in love with it and bought two skeins, thinking I'd figure out some amazing thing to make with it. Cut to a year later, when I still hadn't figured it out. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that this stuff is CRAZY slippery. Yes, it's really soft, but when you pick it up, it just slides through your fingers. And I knit on metal needles almost exclusively, so I knew this was going to be a very long adventure in hand cramps as I tried to keep the yarn on the needles.

Faced with this gorgeous, expensive, slippery yarn and no idea what to make, I hit the internet, hoping for inspiration, and found the "My So-Called Scarf". It looked like it would be good for showing off the color and drape of the yarn without being overly complicated or fiddly for this stuff that was going to be hard to work with no matter what. And I'm reasonably pleased with the result. The scarf has a tendency to sag under its own weight and I'm sure that with extended wear, it will eventually start to fray at the ends, but it's really soft and has a great feel. Sadly, it only used half the yarn, so I have another whole skein that needs to be worked.

Anyone else have any great ideas for what to do with it? I'm tapped...

January 13, 2009

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XVI: Baby Blanket 1

Okay, a quick note. I've been sitting on the posts for my knitting projects for a very long time now. It's not that I haven't been knitting - I have. But a large percentage of my projects have been gifts for the various women in my life who are expecting babies. But I have to tell you - the backlog has gotten a little out of hand. I counted it up and realized I had something like 13 projects that had not been posted and my list is just getting longer.

So in the interest of preserving my sanity, I'm going to just post everything. If you are currently pregnant and you see a baby gift posted here, it might be for you. It might not (at last count there were something like 10 of you and while I love you all, I simply don't have enough time or hands to make one of everything for every baby). If you see something listed that you like that I don't end up giving to you, please, by all means, let me know! I'll make you one! Happy to do so! The ones listed here are already spoken for, but I'm forever looking for willing recipients of my projects and I love knowing what people would like ahead of time, before I spent the days/weeks/months to make something.

So without further ado, let the flood begin! I hope to post ~1 of these a day for the next couple weeks. We'll see how far I get.

Date Begun: 10/14/2007
Date Completed: 02/04/2008
Yarn: Lion Brand Pound of Love in White
Needles: US10 Circular (metal)
Source: My own pattern - The Baby Shimizu Blanket
The Story:
This is a blanket I designed kind of organically. I started out thinking I wanted something with an interesting border and then kind of a personalized something-or-other in the middle. I liked the idea of a basketweave, so I just kind of cast on with that much of a plan and went plowing along for as long as it made sense. I wish I could say I had some sort of larger plan in mind, but I really didn't.

I put the center thing in as a basketweave block with a border around it, and decided it needed a nice border around the whole blanket to even it out. When it was all finished, it had a couple problems that I was trying to deal with - namely, the edges curled due to the stockinette stitch and the basketweave is beautiful from the front and U-G-L-Y from the back. So I decided to line the whole thing with some very soft baby flannel. I was also thinking the flannel would help make it a bit warmer since the yarn is acrylic and that isn't exactly known for its warmth. Given that the babies that are coming are all being born to mothers who are a little older (NOT old, just not 19, either), I was looking to make the whole thing a bit more sophisticated and thought a green backing would elevate it a little.

So before i attached the back to the knitted top, I used my handy-dandy embroidery machine to tag it with my personal knitting logo, done in some nursery-friendly colors. Adding the backing certainly flattened out the edges a little, but the more important function of covering the back of the basketweave was definitely a good move. Then I went over the whole thing, tie-quilting it with white yarn. You can't really see it well in the pictures, but it's a great detail that I think is absolutely adorable.

The good news is that this one was very quick and the final product encompasses everything I think a baby blanket should be - warm, cute, machine-washable and definitely made with a lot of love. :-)

Update March 3, 2009: I posted my pattern to Ravelry and people liked it! Hooray for me!

May 22, 2008

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XV: Blockbuster Afghan

Date Begun: 10/21/2007
Date Completed: 01/17/2008
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Honey, Mustard, Olive and Brick
Needles: US9 Circular (metal)
Source: Lion Brand Yarn, Blockbuster Afghan
The Story:
I decided last fall that I really wanted to hand-make some of my Christmas gifts for people. Trouble was that I didn't decide this until fall. I had every intention of giving this afghan to a family member for Christmas, but you'll notice from the Date Completed that I didn't exactly make it. Oops.

So, plan B. I finished it as soon as I could and have protected it very carefully for the next gift-giving opportunity. Some of that explains the extremely long time between when I finished this and when I actually posted this entry - I didn't want to ruin the surprise for the recipient.

This was my first afghan, and I started it mostly to see if I could do it. Clearly I could, and it took a lot longer than I expected, but otherwise I really enjoyed the experience. It was a really simple one - garter stitch only, but it REALLY taught me how to pick up stitches and how to deal with lots and lots and lots of rows. I'd love to do another afghan, and I'm seriously considering doing this same pattern again for myself.

The yarn I used was nothing exotic. It's acrylic, which means it's machine washable and dryable. I strongly believe that when I give a knitted item, I should be giving a gift instead of a project, so I always try to find materials that are low maintenance. And I have to say that this particular yarn is really nice for an acrylic. It knit up nice and thick and soft.

So I convinced my photographer to do a little photo session and the babies had to get in on the action (they think that if there are pictures being taken, there should be critters in those pictures). Lulu tried to start wrestling with Deliah, which worried me a bit, but otherwise, they were well-behaved and happy to pose.

One of the reasons I was so excited to get an embroidery machine for Christmas was because I really wanted to start tagging the hand-knitted things I was making with some sort of indicator that it was mine. I love doing logo design and there's a natural intersection between my love of computers and my love of knitting/sewing/crafty things AND my logo designs. That intersection is, of course, hand-made, custom designed tags for all my crafty endeavors. So I, of course, had to take pictures of that.

Finally, after far, far too long of sitting on this project and not telling anyone about it because of the gifty nature of it, I got word yesterday that the afghan had been received by its new owner, who is tickled pink to have it. I'm so glad it was liked - I certainly was a little sad to part with it. I've also included some of the pictures I took as I was packing it up and getting it ready to go because I just thought my afghan and the ribbon and the tag looked so pretty. The colors in the last 3 images aren't as correct as in the first bunch, mostly because I was taking the pictures with the little camera and probably didn't have enough light. It's not really orange - the pictures just came out that way.

I will be making at least one more of these someday.

May 4, 2008

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XIV: Embossed Leaves Socks

Date Begun: 03/17/2008
Date Completed: 04/30/2008
Yarn: SWTC TOFUtsies in 730 Pink & White
Needles: US3 DPN (metal)
Source: Embossed Leaves from Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave
The Story:
I'm so proud of this one. This is the first pair of socks I've made in a while and only the second pair ever.

Normally, I do a lot of knitting with big, bulky yarns (or at least worsted weight), and needles of at least size 8. Anything smaller than that, and I feel like I'm working with straight pins and sewing thread. So this was a very, very different experience - working with fingering/super-fine yarn and teeeeeensy needles. When I first started on them, I felt like I was going to break the yarn and stab myself with the needles. But happily, neither of those things happened. I made it all the way through the socks without hurting myself or destroying my (unbelievably expensive, but also really nice to work with) yarn.

I have to admit that making these socks has caused something of an addiction with me - I think socks may be my new favorite thing to make. Bad news is that sock yarn kind of.... doesn't come cheap. I've searched high and low and everywhere I can think - online and off and it looks like the cheapest sock yarn around still comes out to something around $8.00 a skein. Those are some expensive socks. It can be argued, though, that at least I'm getting a project out of it in addition to a nice gift for myself or someone else.

Anyway. Back to the socks.

So these were also an experiment in making lace AND using a chart instead of instructions - both things I haven't really done. And I have to say that it went pretty well. The socks fit (as you can see) and they look way more complicated than they really were. Once I figured out the pattern, I realized I could make it through an entire pattern repeat in about an hour. The first sock took me some time, mostly because I got almost all the way to the end of the foot before I realized I'd pooched it. I had to frog (rip out my knitting) all the way back to the heel. <Sigh>

Even though it looks like it took me a month and half to knit these, it actually didn't take that long because I did have to rip a bunch out and stat again. Plus there was the fact that work has been CRAZY with a capital... everything... so my only time to work on them was during the wait before diet class and on the weekends. Since I spent a large number of the weeks of diet class working on these, they're convinced that I'm the slowest knitter ever.

But now that they're done, I have a new problem to ponder. They're so pretty that I need to find special shoes just to show them off. They don't seem like tennis shoe socks or sandal socks or loafer socks or... well, socks requiring shoes at all. So I'm not entirely sure how to show them off. I don't want them to get damaged, so that means I can't really wear them with any shoe that might rub. Maybe I'll sleep in them, like Mom suggests. At least that way, I know they'll get used without getting damaged.

Maybe if you're lucky, I'll use my next skein of sock yarn for you. :-)

March 27, 2008

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XIII: Ruffled Wrap

Date Begun: 02/09/08
Date Completed: 03/12/08
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Grey Heather
Needles: US8 Circular (metal)
Source: Lion Brand Yarn, Seed Stitch Ruffled Wrap
The Story:
It's kind of rare that I actually make something for myself. Most of the things I knit are done as gifts for other people or as time-fillers while I'm waiting on something. This project was something I'd seen on the Lion Brand Yarn website and thought it looked really pretty and warm. I didn't know exactly what it was going to look like because I couldn't find anything ANYwhere that showed me the back of it. So I went into it a little blind, but I knew I liked the look of the front bit enough to give it a go.

So after 8 balls of yarn and a broken knitting needle wire from the weight, it ended up waaaaaay longer than I expected it to be, but it appeals to my taste for the dramatic. As you can see from the bottom two pictures, when I'm wearing it, it hangs below my knees and when I'm sitting down, it almost hits the floor. I made sure my photographer got a good shot of the entire shape so that when other people are considering this pattern, they'll know what they're going to get.

My newest cube is really cold, so even though it's nice and warm outside, I've needed something to keep my arms warm while I'm at my desk. I decided to take my wrap to work and I've gotten a lot of compliments from my coworkers.

I usually use a circular knitting needle for most things, and I got a modular system ages ago, with plastic "wires" that screw into metal needle tips. It's great because I have pretty much every size needles I could ever want. Well. The ruffle ended up at about 1000 stitches around, so the weight and the sheer number of them ended up breaking the wire I was using, as well as bending others when I replaced the broken one. I'm going to have to see if I can dig up some way to get a new wire.

SO. This yarn was the same stuff I used to make the Fingerless Gloves and I think I like it better for this kind of an application. It does have a small amount of wool in it, so that means I end up swallowing a fair amount of fibers over the course of a project, but that's okay because the result is so warm. It leaves a very small amount of fuzz on the clothes I wear under it, too, which I find a little annoying. But did I mention it's warm?

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XII: Cotton Dishcloths

Date Begun:
(L to R)
1: 02/06/08
2: 01/13/08
3: 01/12/08
4: 03/01/08

Date Completed:
(L to R)
1: 02/09/08
2: 01/14/08
3: 01/13/08
4: 03/17/08
(L to R)
Lily Sugar'n Cream Ombres & Prints
1: Sun-Kissed
2: Citrus Fruits
3: Sun-Kissed
4: Key Lime Pie
Needles: US7 Circular (metal)
(L to R)
Kitchen Bright Dishcloths
1: Slanted Squares
2: Bee Stitch
2: Trinity Stitch
4: Climbing Lattice
The Story:
In the course of teaching some other folks to knit, I was looking for some easy, quick projects to give them that AREN'T SCARVES. Funny thing - knitters by and large get extremely sick of scarves after the first 3-4 they do. I know that's certainly happened to me. Unless someone requests a scarf specifically, I have no intentions of ever making one again. But not everyone is immediately ready to jump into sweaters and afghans. So dishcloths are nice because they're kind of like mini-scarves.

But the other funny thing about teaching people to knit is that the best way to know the problems is to do the pattern personally. So I now have four hand-knit dishcloths that I will probably never use. But that's okay because they make excellent small projects to take along when I travel or on the train to San Francisco. They're simple enough that once I understand the pattern, I can pretty much turn my brain off so the knitting is mindless therapy. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with them. They're pretty enough that I've thought about framing them and hanging them on the wall in my sewing room, but I know they'd also be great as little housewarming gifts or something.

There are 12 patterns in the book. I've only done 4 of the patterns, but I fully expect to do more later when I need something quick between larger projects. The first two (2 and 3 listed) I did because my knitting "students" chose those as the ones they wanted to try. The third one I did because it looked interesting. The last one was chosen by Schondy because he liked the way it looked.

I was going to write out a little explanation about each one of these, but I realized there's not much more I can say. :-)

December 29, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XI: Doggie Hoodie

Date Begun: 11/17/2007
Date Completed: 11/18/2007
Yarn: Moda Dea Tweedle Dee in Surf & Turf
Needles: US11 Circular (metal)
Source: Hoodie Sweater from Stylish Knits for Dogs
The Story:
Go ahead. Get it out of your system. Laugh at me endlessly for knitting sweaters for my dog. I'll wait....
You done?
Now. This sweater for Lulu was knitted because she's a very small dog - 15 lbs. - and she gets C-O-L-D!! (You would, too, if you only weighed 15 lbs. and ran around naked all the time) So I've made a couple of sweaters for her, including this one. I got a little tired of everyone saying how she looked "ready for the holidays" in her other sweater, and I wanted something that might keep her a little warmer as the other sweater is made from an acrylic yarn (not known for their warmth). So this one has a bit of wool thrown in and the style of the sweater is such that it'll keep her tummy as warm as her back.

The trick with dachshunds is that they're just not shaped like "normal" dogs. Assuming you've avoided creating a Spherical Dachshund they will have tiny little waists with enormous, barrel chests. Most dog sweaters are designed for dogs that are basically the same diameter from stem to stern with very little space between their front legs. This.... is not so helpful to me.

So I've been on the lookout for patterns that I could easily modify to fit my little dachshund - thus the "holiday" sweater. This pattern, though, for the hoodie, was not so easily modified. It was just too cute for me to pass up, though. The pattern calls for the chest piece to be knitted in a rough triangle, with the base of the triangle around the dog's waist and the top point at the dog's neck.

So I pretty much flipped the triangle over. :-) Base at neck, point at waist. And that worked really, really well. Of course, that meant that the neck line, instead of being this little-bitty hole around which the collar/hood would lie flat, became an enormous (and really funny-looking) gap that I had to cinch up around the front. Thank goodness there was supposed to be a hood. In the first few rows of the hood, I decreased a total of... something like 18 stitches, which means that it looks almost like I meant it to be like that. And it fits her nicely.

Best of all, it's something that Schondy isn't completely embarrassed for her to wear as they're waiting outside the coffee shop for me. He actually picked that sweater out from several.
Oh, now, wait. Don't you laugh at him. He only picked because he knew it was going to happen with or without him.
Fine. But when your dog starts shivering and giving you those sad eyes, we'll see who you call.

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter X: Knitted Police Tape

Date Begun: 11/20/2007
Date Completed: 12/02/2007
Yarn: Red Heart Sport in Yellow and Black
Needles: US9 DPN (bamboo)
Source: Knitted police tape from robotclothes
The Story:
Okay, if you know me, you know I tend to gravitate towards funny, quirky things. I've never been known for coloring inside the lines, so much. So when I saw this pattern for a police tape scarf, I thought it was awesome. Just knew I'd be working on it at some point. Little did I realize that it would become a project sooner, rather than later.

So, back in the beginning of November, I started getting serious about taking care of my Christmas shopping/knitting/etc. and realized that this would be absolutely perfect for my brother-in-law. And it met with extremely enthusiastic support from Schondy, who (for better or worse) gets final veto on all presents destined for his brother. Given that we were going home for Thanksgiving, I knew I was going to need something small to work on (i.e. NOT an afghan) and I've been itching to try knitting something that's more than one color and isn't just simple stripes.

Basically, what I'm saying is that it fit the bill in a lot of ways. I wasn't so thrilled about the idea of another scarf, but if that's what needed to be done, I wasn't going to turn my nose up at it.

ANYwho. From the start and end dates, you can tell that this was a quick knit and it turned out really nice, I thought. Lulu and Miles approved, too. If I ever do another one of these, there are a few things I'll change - like knitting it on the round instead of flat - and I'll probably choose a different yarn, mostly because this one turned out to be a bit thinner than what I ultimately wanted.

But I do think that since this represented a lot of "first"s for me, the result was great. And best of all, it was made it there in time for Christmas and was well-received. Yay me!

November 10, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter IX: Earflap Hat

Date Begun: 10/13/2007
Date Completed: 10/14/2007
Yarn: Patons Rumor in Fern Heather and Hawthorn Heather
Needles: US10 Circular (metal)
Source: Knitted toque with earflaps from Canadian Living
The Story:
I really enjoy knitting, regardless of the project, but I do like it when my projects are actually things that people want. So I asked Schondy if there was something he wanted, and I think we just happened to be watching one of my favorite shows, Survivorman!! It was the episode where Les is in the Canadian Arctic, and he had on this great intarsia hat with earflaps. And Schondy said he liked it. I was floored. A project like that could be loads of fun, but I never would have thought he was one for a tuque.

So off I went to find a suitable pattern. I was really hoping for something kind of manly (good luck with that!), and I actually wanted to try my hand at some color work beyond just stripes. I've done enough at this point that I really want to get into more interesting patterns. Alas, I couldn't meet both criteria AND be sure it was something he'd like. But then I found this thing with a teeeeeeeeeensy picture. There were NO pictures of this one any larger than half a postage stamp anywhere that I could find. So I went into this a little blind.

The really nice thing was that it literally took me 1 day to knit the thing - start to finish - but I have to say it's a bit more "crude" than what I really wanted. It's perfect for the hubby - has earflaps, is manly, has green in it - but if I were to make something for myself, I'd steer clear of this one and go for something with a bit more detail. The most interesting thing about this hat is that it's the first time I've ever crocheted anything that wasn't a test scrap (the green border around the edge is crochet) and I have to say I'm pretty proud of how it came out.

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter VIII: Formerly-Red-Scarf-Project Scarf

Date Begun: 08/15/2007
Date Completed: 10/01/2007
Yarn: Red Heart TLC Essentials in Autumn and Claret
Needles: US10 Circular (metal)
Source: My own design
The Story:
The Multi yarn was something I would never buy, but Schondy picked it up and said he liked the way it looked (he's colorblind, so I humor him). My Knitting Group was doing scarves for the Red Scarf Project and I decided to use up the Multi on that, but then realized I wasn't going to have quite enough finish. Enter the Claret yarn. By the end of it, I was extremely bored with the whole thing and desperate for it to end so I could move on to other things.

I call it the "Formerly-Red Scarf Project" because I completely missed the deadline for turning it in and by the time I'd finished it, it had kind of grown on me, to the point that I held on to it. Right now it belongs to the hubby, but it could be that I hijack it periodically.

A quick note about the photography: As you've probably noticed, the photos of my knitting have steadily improved in quality over the last several months, and it is entirely due to the growing photography skills of Schondy.

In these photos are two of my newest non-knitting creations - the decoupage heads. There are a total of 4 of these and I hope to post so pictures of the whole set at some point. You can see a better shot of the Yellow Head in the entry for the other knitted item shown in this entry: The Earflap Hat.

November 4, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter VII: Razor's Edge

Date Begun: 12/2006
Date Completed: 07/25/2007
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky in Onyx
Needles: US17 Circular (plastic) and US15 Circular (aluminum)
Source: Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, "Razor's Edge"
The Story:
I've always had something of a soft spot for all clothing flowy and dramatic. Could have something to do with my undying conviction that I was born in the wrong century or it could just be that sometimes it's nice to hide behind voluminous layers of fabric. Either way, when I saw this lovely poncho, I knew I had to have it, and the girl in the book certainly looked like she was thrilled to bits with it. :-)

This project had many, many "Firsts" for me, which was exciting, but also frustrating. I've done hats, scarves, socks and dog sweaters before, each of which took me a grand total of maybe 15-20 hours to knit (with the possible exception of the socks, which took a little longer because I'd never done anything that complicated before). This was the first thing larger than a scarf I'd ever knitted. And because I liked the way it looked so much, I declared I was going to get the exact yarn recommended. This was also the first time I'd ever worked with anything that wasn't acrylic, rayon or polyester. Say what you will about synthetic yarns, but they wash and wear like a dream and won't break the bank. But this gem is made of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, which is positively gorgeous, but it's 85% wool (and sheds like a dog in summer. I've had my lifetime intake of wool at this point) and it's not what you'd call cheap.

Anyway, the pattern was postively rife with errors, and that made it a little frustrating to work on. I hightly recommend that if you try this pattern, print out a copy of the errata and keep it close at hand, though I found even the errata to have some errors. It could be my completely-self-taught knitting self that just read the directions differently, but I found the lace pattern particularly hard to sort out. Once I tried it out about a thousand times, it finally clicked and I was able to plow on through. I've seen a lot of other knitters in various blogs who slammed the Razor's Edge for being badly designed, for not having much personality, and for various other reasons, but I found quite the opposite. I'm inclined to believe it had a lot to do with the yarn I used, but now that it's done, it has a lot of "body" and personality and I'm really proud of it.

October 16, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter VI: Copper Penny Scarf

Date Begun: 01/01/2007
Date Completed: 09/15/2007
Yarn: Lion Brand Incredible in Copper Penny
Needles: US8 Circular (metal)
Source: Yo! Drop It! from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
The Story:
Okay, so first of all, I would just like to say that it didn't actually take me that long to knit this. It actually took me 2-3 weeks... spread out over the course of almost 9 months. I originally knit this as a kind of lazy woman's Clapotis with the intentional ladders, so you had the openness in some of the stitches going sideways. I really, really liked it, but because of the slippery-ness of this ribbon yarn, my ladders all closed up the first time I tried to wear it. So I frogged it. Sadness.

But then I remembered a pattern I'd seen for a scarf in the Stitch 'n Bitch Nation book that combined dropped stitches with regular knit rows and knew that I could get a very similar effect to my original one, without the fragility of the original.

Unfortunately, this meant that I lost interest in knitting this particular scarf for months. I'd already knit it once and I wasn't terribly interested in doing so again. But then, the knitting bug bit HARD and I told myself that I couldn't move on to more exciting projects until I finished all my pending things.

It will be a long, long time before I feel the need to go back to using this particular kind of yarn again, but the result is pretty and colorful and fall-like, all of which make me happy.

September 23, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter V: Fingerless Gloves

Date Begun: 08/01/2007
Date Completed: 09/09/2007
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease in Wheat
Needles: US3 DPNs (4 per glove)
Source: Interweave Knits, Nicholas's Fingerless Gloves
The Story:
This project started, believe it or not, when I was planning to knit a pair of socks for Schondy. I knew I didn't really have any good yarn for that, so I headed to the store to get some. Schondy, being a good sport 99% of the time, went along with me to the yarn store.

I don't remember what I was looking at, but Schondy pointed out this stuff, which is made of 86% acrylic, 10% wool and 4% rayon. Translation: nice and warm like wool, but it's completely machine washable and dryable. He made some comment about the fact that if I was going to make something for him, this would be a great yarn because it looks like Deliah has already been all over it, so no one will notice if it ends up covered in fur. We both laughed at that, and then I bought the yarn, thinking it would make great socks. And that was pretty much the end of that, because when faced with the actual task of socks, I kind of panicked and decided I wanted to use something cheap and ugly so I wouldn't care if they turned out horribly, and this yarn went back into storage, where it sat for the next 9 months or so.

Cut to: July of this year, after Schondy decided to take up photography, and one of the many times I was poking through online pattern sites, looking for inspiration. I ran across this glove pattern and HAD TO HAVE IT. It was a free pattern, which always makes me happy. But more importantly, I knew immediately it would look gorgeous in that yarn I'd bought a year ago. And best of all, fingerless gloves are the perfect thing for a photographer when the weather gets cold. They will keep his hands warm without preventing him from taking pictures. The cable was actually a very simple S1 K2tog, PSSO, done over and over and over again. It looks really complicated, but it's super easy to do. The hardest part was remembering where I was in the overall pattern.

(In the second picture on the right, I had stuck the needles into the skein just to hold them there for a minute, and we decided they looked like cows, complete with paperclip ear tags. We've called those gloves "cows" ever since.)

So when I finished them, Schondy tried them on (YES, I had him try them other times before they were done), and they were too small. Sadness. But I have a friend at work who said she must have a pair just like them and she has tiny hands, so..... well, let's just say they've gone into the closet where I keep the Christmas and birthday presents. And I will be starting another (slightly larger, man-sized) pair of these gloves soon.

September 17, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter IV: Dog Coat

Date Begun: 06/19/07
Date Completed: 07/01/07
Yarn: TLC Amore in Garnet, Lion Brand Homespun in White
Needles: US8 Circular (metal)
Source: Puppy Knits, Foliage Striped Dog Jacket
The Story:
So before you judge me for dressing up my dog, let me explain. Lulu is a wee dog. And wee dogs have trouble in cold weather, especially when they have short fur. This was extremely evident to us last winter when she was a baby and we were trying to housebreak her when it was below freezing outside. Literally, she would not go out without her coat. She would just stand there in the grass, shivering. It broke my heart.

That was when we bought her a coat that didn't fit her well, mostly because she was sooooo tiny, and also, a wiener dog, and not shaped like most of the dogs out there. It was too long, but it had to be that long to match the deepness of her chest, and that meant it was too big around the neck, so she kept stepping through the collar, and so I pretty much safety-pinned it to her and just prayed none of the pins would pop open. I felt really bad about it - bad enough that I swore to her that I'd find her a better coat before next winter or I'd make one.

So earlier this summer, a friend loaned me a book she had bought with dog coat patterns for knitting, and I found this pattern. I really liked the way it didn't assume she had long legs that needed to be kept warm (she doesn't), and it didn't assume that her body length was "proportional" (whatever that means) to her leg length (it isn't)... because I could knit it as long as I wanted. :-) So I did.

It took me a grand total of about 10 hours to knit the whole thing, accomplished over the course of a plane trip home and it fits her just fine. I did have a bit of trouble with the end of it curling up, so I'll have to do something about that. I also wasn't terribly interested in having a stripy dog, so I eliminated the stripes in favor of a deep red. The yarn was cheeeeeeap (and acrylic, so it's completely washable), but that was okay, because it means I don't really mind if she finds a mud puddle while we're out walking.

I wasn't trying to make a holiday outfit for her, but it appears that's what I ended up with. I've bought another dog coat book with patterns I like so I can make a non-holiday coat for her as well. She loves to wear clothes, and she leaves them alone completely, so long as they don't have tags she can pull on. I think it's mostly because every time we took her outside when she was so tiny, we put her coat on her and she got used to it then. She just likes to chew on the tags.

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter III: Judy's Scarf

Date Begun: 11/15/2006
Date Completed: 11/30/2006
Yarn: Jo-Ann Sensations Angel Hair in Blue
Needles: US15 (plastic)
Source: Scarves: A Knitter's Dozen, Color Shift
The Story:
This was the first of two scarves I made, though sadly, neither of them was for me. This is the softest yarn EVER and it's fairly inexpensive, which makes me extremely happy. I swear - working with this stuff was like having another pet in the house and I was positively distraught to have to give it away. But I gave it to my mother in law and I hope she loves it as much as I did.

Of course, I did what any self-respecting yarn harlot would do, and bought more of the yarn to make one for myself. But then... well, then I used the yarn I'd bought for myself for my sister. And once again, it was like having another pet in the house. I almost bought more (again) to make yet another scarf, this time for REAL, for me, but then I got distracted by some other project and felt bad about buying more yarn for another scarf that I really didn't need. So no scarf for me. But I do have a small amount of this yarn left that I occasionally look at longingly.

Enough about the yarn. The pattern is so stupidly simple. This was an amazingly quick stitch that really ended up teaching me a lot about how knitting works. I've taught it to others as a way to make a very quick scarf that looks like it took months to make. I will point out that the stitch as quoted in the book is totally WRONG and so a lot of my stopping and starting at the beginning was due to the typos, but once I figured that out, this became one of my new favorite stitches.

September 8, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter II: First Socks

Date Begun: 12/29/2006
Date Completed: 01/15/2007
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun in Black and White
Needles: US3 DPNs
Source: Knit Socks!, Starter Stockinette
The Story:
The story, here, is pretty simple. Basically, I got tired of scarves and wanted to branch out a bit. So I decided to make some socks. I'd gotten a really nice book of easy sock patterns from The Neighbors and really wanted to use it. I had this yarn laying around from when I first started on this crazy knitting endeavor ages ago, and thought it would make some nice, warm socks that would be completely machine washable. And this is the result.

So really, the only comment I have other than Yay! Socks! is to NEVER, EVER, EVER try to turn a bulky weight sock into a worsted weight by sheer force of will. The yarn will win. I promise you it will. I had hand cramps for weeks after these puppies were done. They were knit on a couple sets of US3 DPNs and those suckers just weren't made for a yarn this bulky. Trust me.

However, I DID learn something positive, which has come in handy again just recently. It's known as "Single Sock Syndrome" and it's what happens when most people knit socks or gloves or anything that comes in a pair. Basically, when knitting a pair of socks, the usual method is to knit one of them all the way to completion and then do the second one. Single Sock Syndrome generally occurs at the completion of the first sock, when you realize you're going to have to start all the way from the beginning and do all that over again. Extreme boredom/fatigue/lack of motivation sets in, resulting in lots of single socks without matches.

I'm familiar with how I work and knew that I would be a prime candidate for the dreaded SSS, and had read something (I don't know who to credit with this gem) that said to avoid getting stuck, don't work all the way through the first one without stopping. Do a little bit of the first one, like the cuff, and then do the same amount on the second one. Then go back to the first and do the heel. Then do the second heel. Then half of the foot on the first.... and so on.

The result is that when you finish the first one, you think, "Oh! I just have a little more to do on the second one before I'm completely done!", avoiding SSS altogether. Works like a charm, lemme tell you. This does mean that you have to have two sets of DPNs in all sizes, but I consider that a small cost when compared with how happy I am when I actually finish a project.

And in case you're wondering, the sock-modeling foot in the very top image belongs to none other than the Hubby, himself, and when it gets cold around here, he loves to put these on over his normal socks to keep his toes toasty. The in-progress shot was modeled by my foot because it's a little smaller than his and could fit inside the DPN triangle when his couldn't.

August 26, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter I: Cameo's Janis Joplin Scarf

Date Begun: 01/17/2006
Date Completed: 01/27/2006
Yarn: Lion Brand Fun Fur in Lime, Bernat Boa in Mocking Bird
Needles: US15 (plastic)
Source: None. Made this one up. :-)
The Story:
Ok, so before you judge my taste and find it severely lacking, let me explain. A friend of mine showed up at work with a scarf done in a similar style - one color in the middle and a border around it. And this was back when I had just resumed my knitting, so I wanted to see if I could do something similar. I honestly can't remember if I really thought this color combination was going to be pretty or if I knew from the beginning that it would be.... well... eye-popping. Anyway, it turned out to be a bit brighter than I expected. One might even call it "garish". But questions of taste aside, I was pretty proud of the work on this one.

At some point in the process, I decided this was a perfect gift for a good friend who is always larger than life and twice as much fun. I know her birthday is in April, so I'm not 100% sure if I waited until her birthday to give it to her, or if I gave it to her right away. Either way, she loved it (or was too nice to tell me it was horrifying) and told me she'd dubbed it the "Janis Joplin Scarf", which is a better name than anything I came up with.

It's solid stockinette stitch all the way - anything more complicated would have been hidden by all the fuzz and fur, anyway. Aaaaand... well, there's not much more to say, except that it was unbelievably soft and felt like a stuffed toy. I kind of thought about making one for myself in colors a bit less blinding. Still might... someday.

August 20, 2007

The Knitwit Papers, Preface: Scarves

A couple weeks ago, I realized I needed to start documenting my knitting. I've been kicking around the idea for ages, but never really did anything about it. You know how it is - life happens and then it keeps happening until you just have to excuse yourself for a few minutes and take care of things. Anyway, I realized I needed to document my knitting because, well, it's become a big part of my life, taking hours and hours of my time and way more of my money than I care to think about. :-) But mainly, I needed to do this because I get a lot of compliments on my work (awww, shucks) and I can't ever remember what yarns I used, what needles I used, or how long these things took to make.

So I started thinking about how to document this. First, I thought maybe I should get a journal and write things down. After all, I do keep at least one yarn label from every project, so I always know what colors, etc. I used, and that would be best kept in some sort of physical scrapbook or journal. And then I realized that was hardly a workable plan, since I'm terrible about keeping track of journals, let alone writing in them. Then I thought about how I have this blogging thing set up so I can support multiple blogs - maybe one for knitting and one for everything else. But the chances of me actually maintaining two blogs are slim.

And then I realized I already had the perfect place to document my knitting. I have an attentive audience (yay!) and this audience is exactly the people I want to see what I've been working on. There's also the added bonus that I can provide to other knitters the exact thing I've needed so many times as I develop my skills - an honest review of the patterns and yarns I use. I tend to use less expensive materials and I'm almost entirely self-taught, which is not true of the vast majority of knitting bloggers out there. They generally prefer exotic, expensive yarns that I also like, but generally can't justify the cost of.

So I present to you my newest time waster - The Knitwit Papers. I'll be putting up a bunch of these in the next few days (I hope) to cover all the projects I've long since completed, and I hope to file a new installment of The Knitwit Papers with each new project I finish. Let me know what you think - this has been in the works for well over a week and I'm interested in your reaction. Oh! And also - I'm trying something new with the pictures, so if you click on them, they'll show you a bigger version. Click on the picture again to make it go away.

Date Begun: Various
Date Completed: Various
Yarn: (L to R) Scarf 1: Lion Brand Lion Suede in Sage
Scarf 2: Lion Brand Homespun in Delft and White
Scarf 3: Moda Dea Curious in Ivory
Scarf 4: Lion Brand Homespun in Olive and White
Needles: Scarf 1: US8 Circular (metal)
Scarf 2: US10 Circular (metal)
Scarf 3: US15 (plastic)
Scarf 4: US10 Circular (metal)
Source: Scarf 1: My own design
Scarf 2: Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, Wavy Gravy
Scarf 3: Scarves: A Knitter's Dozen, Doin' The Twist
Scarf 4: Scarves: A Knitter's Dozen, Sliding Garter
The Story:
I'm not sure exactly when the knitting bug struck, but it started with a series of scarves. There were others that I don't have pictures of, and some that I've chosen to highlight separately, but this is a pretty good representation of what happened when this all began. So, a really quick rundown of the scarves here:

Scarf 1: I think this is the last knit of the scarves shown. It's actually the second I did in this same style, which is just a simple seed stitch done with an awesome suede yarn. I made one of these with really long fringe for a friend at work last Christmas and Schondy decided he liked it so much he wanted one just like it (without the fringe, of course). This was the scarf that forced me to learn Continental-style knitting as it would have otherwise taken me a hundred years to do this English-style. The result is very soft.

Scarf 2: Of all the scarves I've knit, this is probably my favorite for the way it looks, but my least favorite for the way it wears. I made this a couple years ago, I think, when I was just rediscovering knitting. It was just a simple garter stitch with an excellent introduction to increasing and decreasing (for obvious reasons), and I was so pleased with the way it came out. Unfortunately, it's a bit too bulky since I used two strands of yarn (one white, one blue) held together and it just sits a little too stiffly around the neck. The fringe is a combination of all kinds of things - yarn, ribbon, strings of fake pearls - and that's one of my other favorite things about this one. If I had it to do over again, I would have used either only one of the yarns or larger needles to make it less dense, and I would probably make it a bit longer.

Scarf 3: So if the previous scarf was too short, this is where all that extra length went. This one kind of got away from me because I had two balls of yarn and I wanted to use them both completely up. You can't tell it in the pictures because I looped the extra around the pergola, but trust me - this is the longest scarf ever. I have to loop it around my neck about 4 times just to keep it off the ground. This one was done on big fat needles with a drop stitch, which made it even more loopy, and it's the coolest thing to play with ever. By pulling on the sides, you can stretch it out to probably 2 feet wide. The yarn is what makes it look like it's coming apart - Schondy says it looks like we let Deliah shred it - but it's actually quite sturdy and I wear it often.

Scarf 4: The sliding garter was an experiment. There was a very interesting pattern in the book and it took me about a hundred readings of the pattern to finally understand what it was telling me, but once I understood, I realized this would be a great guy's scarf. That was when I decided Schondy needed a scarf, and since his favorite color was green, well, this is the result. The method for this one was fascinating, using two strands of yarn, but only one of them at a time, so you basically only turn your knitting once every two rows. It's just a simple garter, but up close, it looks very unusual and it's hard to tell why. :-)
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