Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This is the first year I managed to hang the star I knit in 2009 above the tree.
It's a fun way to do it, and a lot better than just sitting it in the top of the tree as I've done the last few years.

A very merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From Head to Toe

Ok, I know I've been showing a lot of hats and cowls lately, so I thought I'd change it up and show you these socks that were supposed to be for Troy:
As you may recall, I started them last March when we went to Alberta to celebrate our 12.5th anniversary. (Seriously, that's a thing if you're Dutch.) I worked on them very much during the trip and little bit after the trip, but didn't finish the first sock until mid-August.

I had Troy try them on along the way and had him try on the finished sock as well. They were "snug" but I carried on with the second sock. By mid-August, having completed the one sock, I was determined to have the pair done by September 9th, the date of our actual anniversary. I made it: 8 pm, September 9th they were done.

Troy obligingly tried them on that evening and although we could get them on his feet (yes, "we" since I actually had to help!), it really was no longer realistic to say they "fit." It was very disappointing.

I chucked the socks to the side as I thought about ways I could fix them. The length of the foot was ok. The calf width was ok. It was mostly the heel and the part around the ankle. Could I cut a row out right above the heel and re-knit it? Should I just take out the lower part of the leg and somehow graft the wider part onto the foot again? These and other ideas swirled around in my head for a while until I came up with the easiest way to fix it--I would wear these socks (they somehow magically fit me perfectly) and knit a new pair for Troy. Sorry about the wait, honey.

So that is what I am doing.

It took me a while to take pictures (socks in timeout do not get their picture taken) so that is why I am sharing these so long after they were finished.
I made up the pattern (hmm...maybe the first problem?). Toe up, the sock has a basic 2x2 rib on top of the foot and all around the leg, a simple and basic gusset, and a flap heel.

To make sure the leg fit, I added increases on either side of the center six stitches, incorporating the new stitches into the rib pattern:
They're very warm, and I have to say I like wearing them! I did a lot of worrying about whether the socks would stay up while making them and took the trouble to knit in elastic band with the top ribbing. It seems to work pretty well. It's not like the socks never slip down, but they stay up pretty well.
Project Stats
: 9 Mar '13
Finished: 9 Sep '13
Pattern: my own
Materials: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (1292 Brown), 1-1/3 skeins ($21)

And Troy's socks? Well...I started a pair with this Mini Mochi I purchased last December.

I've made one pair of socks out of this yarn and, although I don't think it's the most durable, they are by far the comfiest socks I have. The yarn is soft and fuzzy in all the right ways.

I actually started the socks in early November because I needed a project I could take to the Notre Dame game.
By the time I pulled it out again to take to the live taping we went to of the radio show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, it had occurred to me that it was coming out a little large for me and would work for Troy.
(It wasn't the best pattern for knitting
in the near dark, but I made do.)
A week later, the sock was traveling with me when I went on a day trip to Chicago with some family.
A lot of knitting got done on the train rides.

All this is to say that this sock is having an exciting time of it. I have the first one done up to the final ribbing and have the second one done to the gusset. (It's with me in Missouri right now so still traveling!) I seemed to have made enough notes to make the second one match the first. (Always a plus.)

Yes, Troy has tried them on and we agree that they fit. I hope this time we are right...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

MORE Hats and Cowls?!!

Yes, indeed! It is the time (and weather) for hats and cowls, isn't it? This time it's a gift for my mother-in-law. I'm not good about giving gifts every year (and I certainly don't always make them), but considering we were driving out to visit I wanted to have something.

I happened to have just purchased some recycled yarn from another unraveler, including some worsted weight cashmere. I thought a bulky cowl might be just the thing and the yarn was really lovely. (So lovely in fact, that a little girl who saw me knitting couldn't stop petting it and saying "nice...soft." I apologized to her parents for introducing her to cashmere so early. Well, it was more like one of those "sorry-not-sorry" apologies...)

Anyway, I found an interesting yet simple pattern I thought would be just the thing. You knit a rectangle in garter stitch and then do one small seam (about 4.5") along part of one long side to part of the other long side:
 Looks a little odd like this, but if you turn it inside out and fold down the top you get this:
Ok, still not quite cowl-looking. But how about this:
Now we're talking, right?

Oh, and that picture gives away a peek of the second part,
the matching hat--a cute little thing I whipped up while Troy did a bit of the driving yesterday.
I knit it flat and seamed it when it was done. A bit of garter (about 4.25") and then decreases (8 per row, every other row) and boom, a hat.

The cashmere is fluffy and warm and cushy. That hat is not very tight, which I like. The cowl can be worn in a surprising number of ways considering how simple it is. Here let me show you with a ridiculous lot of pictures:

First, with the seam in front and the points lying more in the front than back:

Second, with the seam on top of the shoulder and the points lying to the side:

Third, with the points dead center. This would be great for filling in that gap at the top of your coat's buttons or zipper:

Fourth (finally), with the seam at the back and the points lying more on the shoulders:

I briefly thought about crocheting a decorative edging around the outside or perhaps doing a knitted picot edge, but I talked myself out of it. KISS [Keep It Simple, Sweetie]. But, of course, you could easily add it to one that you made. Or maybe I'll do it on the next one should I make one to keep. I think I need another snug cowl that will fit under my jacket. (Um, yes, I used the word need.)

Project Stats - Cowl
: 18 Dec '13
Finished: 21 Dec '13
Pattern: Miss Sadie's Scarflette by Sara Kay
Materials: 90 g of worsted cashmere, held double.

Project Stats - Hat
: 21 Dec '13
Finished: 22 Dec '13
Pattern: My own (see below)
Materials: 74 g of worsted cashmere, held double.

Pattern - Miss Peggy's Hat
I used bulky weight cashmere and size 7mm needles.
Cast on 72 sts. (I use the cable cast on.)
Knit in garter stitch for 4.25 - 4.5"
Purl next row.
(Knit 7, K2tog) across row
Repeat last two rows, decreasing the number of stitches knit by one each time (I.e. Knit 7 becomes Knit 6, then Knit 5, etc) until there are 16 sts. You should have just finished a knit row.
Purl 2 together across row.
Cut yarn leaving about 10", enough to pull through the stitches and sew the seam.
Work in ends.
Wear and enjoy the toastiness.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who Wants Another New Hat?

Ha...that would be me too (two).

So I dyed some yarn, and I was dying to use it. I looked around for a pattern and found this Ziggy Cowl:
I thought it would be perfect for the two colours I had (lots of contrast) and made for a bulky yarn.

Although speaking of bulky, look at the difference between the original yarn and the dyed stuff:
Can you see how much thinner the purple is? It's lost all of its loft. I'm just guessing here but I think it's from letting it boil the first time I dyed it. It felted together a little bit too. Once it was knit up, I couldn't tell much difference. (I know there is, but it's pretty subtle.)

The cowl is a straightforward piece of work. It's knit "in the flat" and Kitchenered together at the end to make a tube. Since I can't resist a Kitchener picture, here it is:
No matter how many times I do it, still. like. magic.

The only change I made to the pattern was to add the purple border to each side. I didn't like the zig zags going right to the edge; it didn't seemed finished. Plus it meant the two yarns carried up the side edge, but with the borders, they're hidden on the wrong side. A little "knitter's choice" I made there.

While making the cowl, I really thought that it needed a matching hat. I thought about it while knitting the cowl and decided to make it the same way. I cast on only 29 stitches and put the border on one edge only. When the rectangle was long enough to reach around my head, I Kitchenered it together.
Ok, I added a little shaping by doing short rows in the wider stripes. This makes them wider on the bottom half and brings the hat in a little bit on the top.

Then I took the yarn end and pulled it through the stitches all around the top edge.
Pull tight and secure the end, and you have a hat shape.
See? Here it is:
And the set:
The cowl is...rather large.
Most of the time you can't see the zig zag pattern very well, but sometimes it falls just right:
Despite being made from bulky wool, both the cowl and hat are light and not too dense since they were knit on larger needles. I don't think I have much to wear them with (the cowl won't fit under my high-necked coat, for instance) but usually outfits present themselves in good time.

Super fast projects; lots of fun!

Project Stats
Cowl Started
: 12 Dec '13 / Finished: 13 Dec '13
Hat Started: 13 Dec '13 / Finished: 15 Dec '13
Pattern: Ziggy Cowl by Leah Coccari-Swift. Adapted for a hat by me.
Materials: Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande. Cowl: 105 g purple and 58 g white; Hat: 51 g purple and 31 g white.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Who Wants a New Hat?

I do! I do! And fortunately I can do something about that.

I have been itching to use some wool that I picked up second-hand at the Red Purl "Green Sale" earlier this year. I got eight 1-ounce balls of what I think of as an old fashioned wool. It's rough, sturdy, and none too soft. But sure to hold up. The colour is a beautiful royal purple--dark but bright at the same time. (All pictures here only approximate it as I find purple is almost impossible to capture.) The colour has an old-fashioned look as it's completely uniform and even a little flat. A far cry from the "one of a kind" indy dyeing that's so popular now. But I like the colour enough to overlook a little "flatness."

I decided it would be good for a hat. I looked around for a pattern and found this large oversized hat with "dwindling" cables. It starts with a band knit in a twisted rib and then the main part of the hat is knit from there.
 Here it is blocking over a plate (held up by a cup):
You can see the band around the bottom. I think my hat may be even larger than the pattern called for as the pattern showed it lying flat and there's no way my band would do that. Look how far down it is hanging!

But that is exactly what I wanted.

Straight off the blocking and encouraged to stand up, the hat looks like something Guinan would wear:
Good for a laugh, but not an option.

Perhaps the page boy?
Not too bad, but probably not.

The side beret?
Also not bad, but what I really like is wearing it pulled back:
It nicely shows off the cable pattern from the back:
I'm not sure if it was a fitting issue or just a design choice, but the band wasn't knit as a plain rectangle. Both ends were angled, and then they were overlapped when you sewed them together. It gives a nice detail to the band that you can feature in the front:
or hide in the back if you don't like it.

I'm really enjoying wearing this hat. It's comfortable and warm (and looks good, I think).

Although I thought it was perfect at first, the band turns out to be a touch big. It's prone to slide down my forehead which is a little annoying. (It's a good thing I wear glasses to hold it up!) But it's not so loose that it doesn't work, and I'd rather this than having it too tight and binding my head.

I have enough yarn I am hoping to make a pair of matching mittens. (This doesn't bode well for my [well-worn] red coat...not exactly a good match.)

Project Stats
: 25 Nov '13
Finished: 8 Dec '13
Pattern: Nine Dwindling Cables by Yarn Owl
Materials: American Thread Company Dawn Sock & Sweater Yarn, held doubled (6455 purple), 3.5 skeins (~$1.50)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Re-Dyeing: Two Fixes

Determined not to let my less than ideal dyeing results sit around for a long time waiting to be rescued, I set about re-dyeing them about as soon as I could.

I don't think I showed a picture of the purple after the first dip. Here are the three skeins:
 They're a little uneven and as this closeup reveals, the blue showed through a lot.
Besides being uneven, I think there just wasn't enough dye to "cover" all the yarn. A quick trip to the local grocery store on "Black Friday" restocked my KoolAid supplies, and I dyed the skeins again.

I undid all the ties on all the skeins and re-tied them in different places and much looser. Then soaked all five skeins in the same pot while preparing two dye pots. This time I heated the water and then poured in the Koolaid mix. (Three packs of Black Cherry for the red and nine packs of Grape for the purple.)

I then added the yarn to the pot. I didn't want to pour the dye over the yarn and have it stick more in some spots than others. I also kept the temperature low before I added the yarn and heated everything together. It seemed work.

When I hung the skeins, they were a true mess since I couldn't tie them tightly and stirred a little more aggressively this time to make sure the dye got everywhere. See the one on the left:
What is the cure, you ask? You get to hold the skein by one end and whip it around and twack it against the side of the tub. It was very therapeutic. Not that I really needed it in the middle of a four-day weekend. But it was fun anyway. Two or three times (changing where you hold it) and it is smooth and well-behaved. (See example on right above.)

I was relieved to see no more blue spots in my red yarn, and when it was dry, I twisted it up all pretty like:
I can't promise that picture shows the exact red colour, but it's much nicer than the blue. Now I'm debating what to make from it. I think something for around my neck. Loose and flimsy delicate or thick and chunky? I'm not sure. I'll have to explore what I can do with this yardage.

And the purple? It is much, much better:
No more blue showing through and a deep even colour. I have one skein of white in the same yarn and am looking forward to pairing the two colours in some unknown future project. Maybe a really big, chunky cowl because this stuff is bulky yarn.

One story...two happy endings! :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jeweled Cowl

You've been warned.

Remember the beading tutorial I did a few weeks ago?
I have finished the project I was working on at the time. All laid out for blocking:
Being a gift, I didn't write much about the scarf, but it was a pleasure to make. I repeated the yarn combination that I used for a scarf for my mother last year. (You can see it in this post, although it looks like I never did a final post on it.) The green is a soft merino and the blue/green is a sock yarn (merino and nylon). The green really helps soften the other yarn and I love the colour combination. I alternated the colours on every row.

It came out really long.
Probably too long to wear as one loop.

This is a triple loop:
A nice jumbled mess around your neck.

Here's a long/short double wrap:
Nicely shows off the lace and bead work section, if you have time to arrange your scarf just so.

Too cold to have your head uncovered? No problem; try a loose double wrap:
Or a double wrap around your neck:
And I realized after it was wrapped, the most likely way the recipient will wear it is to put it around the back of her neck, pull the two ends to the front and put one folded edge through the loop of the other end. No muss; no fuss.

Project Stats
: 13 Oct '13
Finished: 3 Nov '13
Pattern: Jeweled Cowl by Sachiko Uemura
Materials: Pagewood Farm Denali Hand Dyed Sock Yarn (Sante Fe) (62 grams) and madelinetosh tosh merino light (Jade) (40 grams)

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...