Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday WIPs: Little Owls

I made some little owls. If the yarn holds out, there will be a matching hat. I'd like to give them yellow eyes, but I'm not sure if I've got any yellow floating around.

I like this yarn. It's smooth, and has some heft, but is not overly warm. I think about knitting a blanket of small squares in all the colors it comes in. But I have too many other projects like that underway to start another one.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Desperandum Ursi

A couple of times now I have created 3D knitted objects based on a picture. It's a fun exercise for me -  no pattern provided, nor do I create one. I just think about the shape I want to achieve, and dive in.

I made an "anxiety demon" at Christmas time that proved extraordinarily hard to photograph, since it was unrelievedly black, and complicated. Since it was important to the thing's personality that its mouth open and close, I inserted a binder clip, well-wrapped in yarn, into the head as I stuffed it. Worked pretty well.

Now I've just finished a "despair bear" as a gift for a fan of that comic. I had a pretty good picture to work from, although constantly looking at it eventually creeped me out.

My first issue was matching the incredibly dark purple, a shade which is to purple what navy blue is to blue. Knit Picks Brava Worsted in Eggplant was the answer. I used stash acrylic worsted in Snow for the white areas, which were done in duplicate stitch except for the snout.

The second issue I could foresee was that, the head, being out of proportion to the body, was going to make it difficult for the thing to stand. I made the base of the feet flat and added a chenille stick armature before stuffing to help with that. I did not look ahead to realize that the ears were going to need help to stand up, and had to add chenille sticks after the fact, which was fiddly.

And finally, the thing has glow in the dark eyes. So does mine, thanks to an old glow-in-the-dark super-ball and a sharp knife. I sewed on dark purple buttons, then glued the hemispheres to the buttons. I had to work some interior shaping with tied yarn to keep them back far enough in its head.

I was not averse to borrowing known shapes as I went along. I used this for the head shaping, and this for the snout.

I hear the recipient was pleased, and put the scary eyes to good use. Well done, sir, well done.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday WIPs: Languishing Lace

I knew I had a lace project around somewhere, and by midsummer I was ready for some light and airy fabric creation. I was able to put my hand right on this project, and a quick check on Ravelry revealed the pattern name. Astonishingly, I had put it down at the end of a pattern repeat row, and it took me less than five minutes to confirm where I was in the pattern and continue on.

The surprise was the pattern start date in Ravelry. I started this lace in August of 2015, and put it down when I received my cancer diagnosis.

My scars have healed, my hair has grown back, I went back to work for a year before retiring on schedule, but somehow picking up this lace again feels like yet another step in getting back to normal.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Pssst - Pass It On!

I had to visit a place in the next town today, and during the drive, I thought about the Sad Thing there. Years ago, a talented person made a beautiful and useful object, and gave it to them. For whatever reason - I know little of the inner workings of this place - they have been unable to put it to use. I’ve offered to buy it, and been told they cannot sell it because it was donated to them. So the object has spent years literally hidden in the corner of a back room.

Although I make beautiful objects in a completely different craft, and of completely different materials, I think about this sad outcome a lot. The solution, of course, is not to stop making beautiful things, or to stop giving them away, or to stop accepting hand-crafted gifts.

The solution is to stop believing that a gift cannot be passed on. I can see that, ethically, an employee could not take it home for personal use. But couldn’t they auction it off to raise money for their organization, or for charity?

In the same way, if someone gives you hand knits, and they don’t fit or suit or are outgrown, pass them on! If the donor wonders why they never see the object, explain the problem and the joy you got from your solution. “Oh, the color kept reminding me of Aunt Maude and made me anxious, so I gifted it to her daughter, who loves the memories!” “Oh, tencel makes me sneeze, so I gave it to my son's teacher, who was overwhelmed - she’s never owned anything hand knit before!” “Oh, I’ve put on a few pounds and it was getting tight, and the next thing I knew Darling Daughter was wearing it all over campus!” “I’ve been downsizing, and not having anyone to pass it on to, I donated it to Goodwill. Don’t you love imagining someone finding that gem and feeling like they won a treasure hunt?”

The two parts are important. Explain the problem. Be upfront about what was wrong. Few people know of my aversion to alpaca, since it’s not a common one, and if I don’t mention it, I have no one but myself to blame when gifts of alpaca show up. And the joy in the outcome is important; most knitters are just glad someone is enjoying their efforts, that they’re not languishing in a drawer somewhere.

A gift means ownership has passed to you. The giver no longer controls what happens to the object, and most reasonable people understand that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday WIPs - Bubbly Water Socks

I've started my next pair of socks. Much as I love my two go-to sock patterns, I was in the mood for something different for this yarn. I'm enjoying being back on dpns, and enjoying this simple but elegant pattern:

I got quite a bit of it done in waiting rooms yesterday. I would ask what people who don't knit DO in waiting rooms, but I am observant, and I can tell you that if they have no one to talk to, they play on their phones.

Last night at my knitting group, my friend showed me the latest innovation in sock needles - a set of three double-pointed needles with a short flex of cable in the middle, so that you knit around the corners of your socks-on-2-needles with the 3rd needle. Not sure how I feel about that.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Recycled Cotton

I have finished a baby blanket, and I am pleased with it. Since it is made of re-knit yarn, it will look even better after a good soak, snap, and lay-flat-to-dry.

Yarn: Brunswick Rio (discontinued), a worsted weight cotton/acrylic, the same as the infant sweater, but this photo is much closer to the actual color

Needles: US 8 (5 mm)

Pattern: Plymouth Yarn's Seed Blocks Baby Blanket

Mods: I did the Chinese Waitress Cast-On, the matching bind off, and slipped the first stitch of every row, which gave it a neat chain-stitch border.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bereft Bear

Since my current project is a gift, I can't talk about it here, however unlikely it may be that the recipient would ever stumble across my blog. Instead, I give you this poor bear.

According to Ravelry, I finished him last November. And while it's certainly true that I finished the knitting at that point, the poor thing has been hanging out on the shelf beside me for eight(!) months, just waiting for me to finish sewing on his ears and to give him a face. Well.

There you go, little guy. Feel better?

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver Solids in Aran Fleck
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm)
Pattern: Free Teddy Bear pattern, apparently not on Ravelry, although this is the third bear I've made from it. I never seem to have any trouble finding homes for them.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Air-conditioned Socks

I've finished off the last of the wonderful Yankee Breeze merino/cotton in Cantaloupe, and I would be sad, except that I bought a skein of Lagoon to comfort me. I love the stretchy lace pattern, but I do wonder what it would look like if you tanned while wearing them - from falling asleep in the hammock, perhaps?

Yarn: Yankee Dyer Yarns Yankee Breeze in Cantaloupe and Lagoon, purchased at MS&W in 2017 and 2018

Needles: two 2.25mm circs, teaching myself a new trick, even though I still prefer dpns

Pattern: Battement de Kirshawi's Pretty Socks (in French) - I use Adobe Acrobat and add the translations in notes to myself. Google translate does not speak Knitting, but I do, so I usually manage to figure out what's going on.

Mods: I did not double-wrap the heel turns

Picture includes the de rigueur hexipuff for my Beekeeper's Quilt collection. I maybe have enough for a baby blanket, but I'm holding out for at least a lapghan.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Finished, but...

Okay, finally done with this fiddly little baby cardigan. There's a matching blanket - same yarn, different pattern - that will be finished eventually. The trouble is, who would put a baby in a heavily patterned, worsted weight, cotton sweater? A poor little guy who can't even roll over when the cables start digging into his back?

Kitchener stitching the back neck seam was fiddly, and took four tries, but the sheep were very supportive.

The color is proving difficult to photograph, even in natural light. It is salmon pink, and the orange buttons were almost-not-quite close enough to grate, so I went with dark brown.

Yarn: Brunswick Rio (discontinued), a 50/50 cotton acrylic worsted, in what I feel sure is Coral even though the label said Light Aqua
Pattern:  Britta Stolfus Rueschhoff's Trellis
Mods: None. Lots of people reversed the cables to make them symmetrical on either side, but I appreciated the way the big cables went one way and the smaller cables the other. I also didn't attempt to mess with the shawl collar, although I would never button the top button.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday WIPs: Trellis

This tiny thing has given me no end of trouble. The pattern and the yarn and I cannot agree on sizing or gauge. Since I'm not making it with any specific baby in mind, that shouldn't matter, right? Nevertheless, I cast it on multiple times before I was satisfied that I knew what would result (and that I hadn't miscounted my stitches).

Also, the assumption on the designer's part that Kitchener stitch results in an invisible seam in a heavily patterned design is... suspect. The shoulders aren't too bad. I'm worried about the back of the neck - the collar is knit in two pieces and joined there with Kitchener stitch.

At least it was the easiest setting in of sleeves I've ever attempted, once I stopped trying to apply all the helpful tricks I've been taught. It was a pretty much one-to-one match of stitches.

There were lots of mods on Ravelry, none of which I used. I'm interested in seeing how the pattern turns out as written.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Second (pair of) socks

I made another pair of worsted weight wool socks, this time for Rod's emergency winter kit. I used leftover Paton's Wool from making felted clogs and mittens. Same pattern as before, but this time I had to alternate colors, which made for some odd heels..

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

She likes it!

It’s a little big, which is just right, since she’ll start wearing it next fall as the weather cools off.

And apparently I’m not the only one who thought the colors were scrumptious!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Button Day

Not that anybody’s been nagging me to post this project, ever since I finished it (I’m looking your way, Kansas). Except, I didn’t really finish it until today, because it needed buttons. Today was Button Day. I have sewed buttons on four projects, and now I’m setting in sleeves. I know, right? Get all the sewing done at once, that’s my motto.

Yarn: Hayfield Baby Blossom DK
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm), US 6 (4.0 mm)
Pattern: Hayfield #4844, Dungarees & Pinafore
Mods: Stockinette rolls, so I picked out the cast-on edge and knit down for a picot-edged hem instead, which flares out a little, but I've been informed is charming. Yeah, I MEANT to do that.
And a shout out to the Yarn Barn of Kansas (still looking at you!) for carrying the yarn, pattern, and store sample that enabled all that.

The Orange Creamsicle Pinny happened when I discovered that Hayfield had picked up the banner of self-striping baby yarn, dropped by Bernat some time ago. I made a baby sweater from the Bernat yarn years ago, which I recently found in a bag, completely finished, except for - assembling? No... Buttons? Nope... All it needed was tucking in the ends. That’s not even sewing.

Yarn: Bernat Baby Jacquards Florals (discontinued)
Needles,  Pattern:  lost in the mists of time
Mods: I cut the yarn short and started the next stripe in the sleeves to match the stripe width of the body. Lots of ends to deal with!

I also sewed buttons on these two "finished" projects:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Can’t. Stop. Crocheting.

It’d perfectly reasonable to use up the scrap yarn before moving on to the waiting knitting projects, right?

Even if I don’t actually need any coasters. Right?

But then there’s this. Which is actually a terrific shade of red that is defying the ability of the camera to capture. And which will, probably, lie flat when it’s finished. But.

It’s a doily. A doily! What am I thinking???

Monday, June 11, 2018

Flower Cardigan

I don't always crochet, but when I do...

...I am generally pleased with the results.

Pattern: Vendula Maderska's Flower Cardigan

Yarn: Schachenmayr Catania Solids in Orchidee, Cyclam, Orange, Violett, Apple Green, Pfau and
Patons Grace in Ginger (to replace the Catania Birke, which is discontinued)

Hook: a very strange hook labeled 3.00-3.25 mm - doesn't it know which it is?

Mods:  The pattern called for red for the front edging; upon advice I used colors already in the stripes. I made up my own flowers, and made Willow Sway's Bird Applique. I kept running out of light pink, and wound up making the pink sleeve long enough by adding a dark pink stripe.

I hope the little one likes it. Her mom is pleased, which is what counts at this point.

I've just remembered that one of the first things I crocheted was the direct opposite of this, a baby dress with a plain crocheted skirt and a shell patterned top. It buttoned at the shoulder, and I'll bet it's in this house somewhere. I made it from leftover crochet cotton that my grandmother had used to make placemats, and I've got one of them around somewhere, too.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday WIPs: The Price of Colorful

I’ve been working on a really colorful project. This is just a sneak preview.

But there’s a price to pay - so many ends to finish off!

Stay tuned for the finished object on Monday! All it needs are buttons...

Monday, June 4, 2018

Emergency K(n)its

Ah, summer. The woolens get washed and stored, the cottons come out.* Among other things, I went through our winter emergency kits. Not the bag of flares and such that lives in the car year-round, but the one that gets tucked in over the winter months, in case of stranding.

I turned everything out and made some substitutions (more wool, less acrylic), keeping in mind that the contents of the bag are soon forgotten about and with luck never worn, so this is not the place for a knit item one is actually fond of.

I realized that the kit contained no socks. It seemed as though an extra pair of wool socks might come in really handy, particularly if one's feet got wet. I looked around and had nothing I wasn't fond of. So I dug some worsted weight wool out of the stash and made a pair of socks. I had scraps of green, so I threw them into the mix, which turned out fortunate as I needed the last bit of green to finish the second sock's bind off.

Pattern: my standard sock, with numbers adjusted for worsted weight
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) dpns
Yarn: 2 skeins of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chestnut
Mods: I worked a thermal pattern over the instep and leg - knit rows alternating with k1/p1 ribbing rows

*We are going to ignore the fact that it was so chilly this morning that I put on wool low-cut socks.

Monday, May 21, 2018

I got nothin'

The only thing growing around here is my rose, which has just produced its first bud of the season.

My magical rosebush, which has survived years of being run over with the lawn mower by children more anxious to get the job done than to look where they were going. My "Double Delight" changes color after it blooms - as the petals soak up the sunlight, they turn from white to dark pink. It is also one of the most fragrant of the hybrid tea roses. So far this year's bud is just that, a bud. But in past years it has given me -

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I volunteered to make a colorful crocheted coat for a little friend of mine. Because the bright colors were a significant part of its charm, I chose to buy the exact yarn - Schachenmayr Catania - that the pattern called for. First obstacle: one of the colors, the light green, is not in production any more! Fortunately, Patons Grace turned out to be the same weight - despite what their respective labels say - and had a great match on the missing color. Although I remain mystified on why light green is considered "Ginger."

According to the pattern, the yoke is the most difficult part, lining up the increases. I just kept double-checking my numbers and plowed through it. And this evening I have finished the first shell row, which magically creates the armholes!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Correctly Askew

Finished my Skew Socks, and I love them! What fun to do something totally outside the box. This was my first time knitting socks on two circulars. I will always prefer my dpns, but there was just no other way to do this pattern. It was fun to make a pattern in exactly the sock and colorway the pattern example was made in. And I bought the yarn at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival nine years ago!

Pattern: Lana Holden's Skew
Yarn: Claudia Handpainted Yarns Fingering, color Oops!
Needles: US 0 (2.00mm) and US 1 (2.25mm)
Mods: Used the Double-Chain Bind-Off

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Blog break

People! All the people! So great to see everyone, but I have forgotten how to talk to more than one person at a time!

Blog posts will resume in mid-May, when things are quiet again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday WIPs

I recently turned up a sweater I had knit for myself but never worn, because it didn't fit. I vaguely remember knowing it didn't fit, but finishing it anyway. Not that I had sewn in the ends. But it was otherwise complete. So I turned it back into balls of yarn, measured the result, and embarked on a pleasant baby blanket - and a later baby sweater - in nice worsted weight cotton. I've got another worsted weight cotton baby sweater nearly complete. I don't know what it is about small fry and heavy cotton. Maybe I think bearing up under it will make them stronger. Anyway.

The first pattern I tried for this yarn, Beth Michon's Knot Stitch Baby Blanket was nice looking, and I had the yardage. But halfway through the first row of knot stitches ("Purl the next 3 stitches together, do not drop them from the needle. Knit the same 3 stitches together, then purl the same 3 stitches together. Drop the stitches from the left needle."), I knew I didn't have it in me to wrestle heavy cotton into knots for even one row.

I am much happier with this, Plymouth Yarn's Seed Blocks Baby Blanket. It will look nicer when it's been washed and blocked, of course. The color is more coral, less fire engine.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Origami moment???

I have been happily knitting along on my Skew socks. The toe is weird as all get out, but I can see how it's supposed to fit a foot, and then continue its diagonal growth.

Then the gusset increases started, and I began to take things on faith, following the instructions step by step and trusting that a heel was going to result.

My faith faltered a bit when I got to the instruction labeled "origami moment." My socks do not usually involve origami.

And yet, here we are!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cat Toy

Over lunch today I took a scrap of leftover yarn and made a toy for a cat friend of mine.

Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun, Pueblo colorway
Needles: US 8 (5mm) dpns - the pattern can be done flat, but I detest sewing seams in Homespun
Pattern: Alexis Hamann-Nazaroff's Simple Ball
Mods: I did not have quite enough yarn for the pattern as written, so I stopped at 28 sts, knit 4 rows,  started the decreases, and had exactly enough. I left both ends out to add to the fun of chasing and catching the ball.