Saturday, November 29, 2008

Slippers Make My Feet Happy

So the other day I was in Red Purl snooping around for some yarn when I noticed a basket on the floor with some small hanks of chunky rough-spun wool in green, orange, and brown. And believe it or not, the colours together were very appealing. Then I noticed it was spun by a local woman I have met through Ravelry and who in fact was right there in the shop teaching a class to half a dozen women. I loved it.

So I fingered the wool desirously, and even perhaps covetously, thinking of what I could do with it. I wasn't sure, but I thought three skeins would be just about right. I went ahead and bought the three skeins with a nod to Kallie who spun it. She didn't ask me then, since she was in the middle of a class, but she wanted to know what I was going to make with it. (Wouldn't you want to know what your wool became?) Of course, I didn't have an answer then, but I did within a couple days: slippers!

So here is the pattern for some very easy slippers. I was taught this basic pattern in sewing (& etc) class in grade school and it is the "go-to" slipper pattern in my family. These instructions are appropriate for bulky or chunky yarns.

Yarn: bulky wool or your favourite material. I bought 3 skeins of about 40 grams each and got into the third, but not by much.

Needle Size: 6.5 mm / US 10.5

Stitches used (abbreviations): knit (K), purl (P), knit two stitches together as one (K2tog)

Instructions:
Cast on 24 stitches [I used the knit cast-on, but any method would be acceptable in this case]

Knit 26 rows [or as many rows as you need to go about half the length of your foot]

Start ribbing with next row as follows:
K2, *P1, K1, repeat from * across row
Next row: *P1, K1, repeat from * to last two stitches, P2
Repeat these 2 rows 7 times (16 rows total ribbing) [or as many rows as you need to get to about an inch before the end of your toes]

Next row: K2, K2tog, *P1, K1, K2tog, repeat from * across row (18 sts)
Next row: *P2, K1, repeat from * across row
Next row: *K2tog, K1, repeat from * across row (12 sts)
Next row: Purl
Next row: K2tog across row (6 sts)
(Do not cast off)

Break end of yarn, leaving a 12-14" tail. Weave end through last 6 stitches and draw tight. Then use the end to sew sides together. Sew only along the ribbing.

Fold the slipper in half lengthwise and sew the cast-on edge to itself. This will form the heel. Work in any other ends.

And voila! Slippers!
Other notes on the pattern: you will notice that if you seam along the ribbing by taking up each selvage stitch into the seam, the ribbing pattern will be uninterrupted by the seam. Another way to tackle this is to switch to double pointed needles (or your favourite circular needle technique) and start knitting in the round when the ribbing starts. In that case you would eliminate the first and last stitch of each row and adjust the decrease rows accordingly.

Also, I slip the first stitch on each row. I find this makes a neater edge, especially if you consistently slip it as if you're doing the stocking stitch. (In garter stitch this means you either need to always slip the first stitch knitwise and purl the last stitch OR slip the first stitch purlwise and knit the last stitch. Phew--is that confusing yet?! It's always easier to do than describe!) Slipping the stitch also makes finding that selvage stitch for seaming easier too. And I'm all for anything making seaming easier: not my favourite thing to do.

Also, you can imagine how easily this pattern could be adapted for your favourite lighter weight yarn. I wouldn't go much lighter than worsted weight though. For most of those yarns you'd want to cast on 30 stitches and go as many rows as you need to reach the distance specified in the internal pattern notes.

I hope your feet are happy in their own slippers right now. If not, try out this pattern and it won't be long until they are!
-christina

PS Make sure to leave a comment if you've tried it out: let me know how it goes!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's on my Needles

Like a good girl, I spent some time getting things organized the other night so I again have a few projects to take with me to knit at lunch breaks, meetings, and waiting for tellers at the bank drive throughs.

First, my travelling slippers. I finished the sole and top of one slipper and sewed the parts together just to make sure my alterations worked before I committed all the work of the second slipper. I then I weighed the assembled slipper and the left over yarn just to make sure I had enough yarn to do the second one. I do! (yeah!)
I still have to knit around the top of the slipper, but I'll wait until the second one is done to again make sure I have enough wool. If not, I'll do that in another colour. (This was the last skein of this colour at the LYS.)

Next is the Hat Fit for a Boyfriend that I am actually making for my BIL (hoping he isn't reading this of course!). I made it out of dreamy Malabrigo (worsted weight). I'll try not to wax on for hours but the stuff really is dreamy; soft; squishy (in a good way); warm; lovely...well you get the idea. It is 100% wool, but those of you who think wool is "itchy" have no idea. It is gorgeous to the touch.
The pattern is also simple and genius. Although this pic does not show it off, the decreases are done in the best possible way. Each column of knitting drops out in orderly fashion, exactly when it is supposed to. If you follow the link to the pattern, you'll see what I mean [third pic].

I did not calculate how much yarn I need correctly and bought two skeins when I only need one (less than one) to complete the hat--even in the longer length. So even though you see a picture of a completed hat, I DO have this on my needles because my hubby wants one now too. And I am only too happy to have an excuse to work with this wool some more. It just glides over the fingers so silkily...oh oh...here I go again...

And yes again: because the next project is something for me in the dreamy Malabrigo. I found a good shade of red (which does not photography true) for a scarf to perk up my utterly boring new dark grey winter coat.
The pattern is another brilliant piece of work. It is knit from the bottom up on both sides (in two pieces) and then joined at the back center with a seam. I will use the Kitchener Stitch so that it will in effect be seamless; you will only be able to notice where the pattern "flips." (Now I'm really setting the bar for myself, aren't I?!)

I'm planning to make the scarf shorter than the pattern calls for and am just going to make is as long as one skein will get me. I got a little carried away with the first half and knit it past half way through the ball. (Again, I just weighed the two parts to decide whether I was past half.) So I started the second half with the other end of the ball and I'll see how far I get. Worst case, I undo some part of the first half OR my two halves are not quite the same length. (I'm mean, really, it's not only worn at the back of my neck, it'll probably be under my coat!)

All for now,
christina

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quilting Continues

So I went to the second club meeting last Saturday for my Hawaiian Star quilt. I did a little "cram" preparation the night before and got the central compass star sections done. Here they are laid out in position:
I'm not convinced by the black and may change it to one of the greens. But I'll wait til I have more sections done so I can see them together. Perhaps by then I won't even care!...It was fun to see how far the others in the club had gotten. There are 7 in the class (4 doing the Hawaiian Star and 3 doing the same designer's Dragon Star), and progress varied from only bought the fabric and hadn't even started cutting all the way to the one woman who had finished her quilt top!! Yeah, she got some grief about that! It was a lovely version of the Dragon Star in fabrics she (not the designer) chose. But the rest of us will keep plugging on. The club meets over 7 months so why would you want to get it down in the first month? No fun, if you ask me.

The teacher demonstrated the technique for the Lone Star sections and the Circling Geese. I'll get to those at some point but I wanted to get to the border units because it's so much of the quilt. There are 16 sections which need to be done and they're all pretty big. I was pleased to get two units done in one evening:
When I get the border pieces done, I feel like the rest of it will just be fun (more colour changes, smaller pieces, just more interesting).

In the larger picture, the previously completed Corner Spike units fit into the border units like so:

It's fun to see it coming together, and a little surprising just how big it is. As I recall, the pattern says it finishes 85" square which doesn't seem overly big, but I can't lay it out on our spare double bed.

Alright, all for now; I've got to get the fire started for a little heat here and then to start quilting again...
-christina

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Photography Show

Our church has a rotating art show in our gathering space and this fall, the director decided to put out an open invitation to church members. It was a lot of fun to gather pictures to submit and then to see the photos from all the other members. Not only do you get to learn who are the amateur photographers in the church, but you also get to learn some of where they've been and what they've seen.

I submitted a wopping seven pictures which was a bit much, but I had them ready and this being the first show like this, I didn't know if we would fill the space. But we sure did!

The first two were taken while putting up the trusses for my husband's shop. The first here was taken the night we put up the 43rd and  last truss. It is lit by our yard light which has a very odd green cast to it:
This second one was taken while were putting them up. I have always been fascinated by the symmetry of trusses.

Kitchener Stitch
was a close up of grafting a scarf I made for the Special Olympics Project. I love the contrast of the metal needle with the wooden needle and all the fuzzy yarn. I printed this one up as an 11x14 and it really popped.

Bee on Sunflower
was taken one year when my sunflowers really went gang busters. They were at least 8 feet tall, but this one was short enough to let me get a nice close up.

East of Calvin Center
was taken along a road I travel often. I think I might get a series of "ditch landscapes" going sometime. This would be the first. It was taken in the spring but the colours look so cold and barren it's hard to believe.

First Frost
was taken last fall. I was out hanging laundry and looked around to see all the leaves in the grass just outlined in frost. I ran and got my camera after the clothes were up and caught a few images. I hadn't cleaned up my flowers yet so I also managed to get this Petunnia Margarita:
(This is the one that won the blue ribbon at the county fair--woo hoo!)

Everything I know about photography I've learned from my husband who was a newspaper photographer back in the day. My basic rules are 1. take a lot, keep only a few and 2. 90% of a successful picture is just being there. I.e. have your camera with you all the time if you want the opportunity to take good pictures. I use a Nikon Coolpix which is at least 5-6 years old, so certainly nothing fancy.

I just picked up the pictures today to take home and will be happy to be able to hang them up again in the space that I live.

-christina

Friday, November 7, 2008

Persistence Counts

Subtitle: adventures in fabric shopping

One of the fabrics I used for my Hawaiian Star quilt had light and dark strips in the color and I wanted to use just the dark part of the fabric. So instead of 1 yard called for by the pattern, I bought 1.5. I debated about buying 2, but went with 1.5 instead. And you know what's coming...I cut out the pieces and needed just one more bit of fabric to cut out the last piece!

Well, that's alright...I'll just go to the LQS where I bought it and get the 1/2 yard I should have bought in the first place. Only, when I get there, the lady can't find it and says they must be out. She does go as far as looking on their computer, but confirms that they are sold out and not ordering any more. That figures...so I thank her for her help and go back to work to look for it online.

For whatever perverse reason, I decide to look at the website of the LQS where I just was. They have it listed and the minimum purchase is just 1/2 yard. I decide to order it just so that they can look for it and really know whether they have it or their website inventory is wrong. But I can't quite make myself pay for shipping--I work just around the corner from the LQS. So I call the store, get a different employee and explain the situation. With the item number from the website, the new employee finds the fabric in about 2 minutes and says, Yes, they have 12 yards of it, how much do I want? Well, that's a different story.
I'm able to run back to the store (like I said, I work real close) and get the fabric. The first woman who helped is the one who runs my purchase through the till. She apologizes profusely and has plenty of excuses of why she couldn't find it. I assure her it's fine, but she really is full of excuses. But then she asks for my discount card and whispers, I'll give you an extra stamp for your time... ::grin:: I'll take it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Caps for a Cure October

I haven't been in the Caps for a Cure group very long, but I outdid myself this month: two kids hats and three adult hats.

The kids hats were described under my favourite kids hat.

For the adult hat, I did two similar versions of Catherine Lindsay's Durango:

It was a fun crochet project (I don't say that very often), I learned a bit about following patterns in crochet, and I learned a new crochet stitch. I got the buttons from my stash of old buttons I've carried with me forever.

And the last one I did was the Amanda by Gina House. I actually suggested this one to the group and then didn't make it til the very end of the month! The yarn I chose unfortunately did not show off the very nice lace pattern, but the hat turned out nice anyway.
I made a few modifications including starting the decreases in the second lace panel because the hat was getting too long. And then I finished the decreases in garter instead of stocking.

I got all the hats sent off yesterday (Nov 6), so just a touch late but still in time that they should arrive by the deadline of the 15th.

Spurred on by that success, I've already started one for the Nov/Dec cycle and it is going very fast. Having an evening seminar this week that I could knit through certainly helped. The Foliage by Emilee Mooney from knitty.com had caught my eye in the past, and I'm so happy I have the excuse to make it. (Because there are only so many hats I need, but Caps for a Cure can use as many as I can make!)

Next up I need to catch up on some quilting for my class a week from this Saturday (I only have 5 of the "corner spike" units done) and knit some gifts up.

Keep your needles clacking,
christina

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