Sunday, December 27, 2009

How the french bread cut my finger..

...and other food-related knitting.

It was just one of those unexpected things. I was so hungry by the time I got home with my lunch and the golden-crusted baguette that I didn't take the time to cut off a proper piece. As I rudely ripped into the loaf, leaving a jagged edge, I felt a quick jab at my left index finger. I figured it was my imagination and thought how funny it would be to fashion a knife out of bread then crumble the evidence (too many forensic cop shows).

Later on, as I sat knitting my Super Cupcake cowl, I noticed that the yarn kept catching on my finger. Upon closer inspection, I saw what looked like a splinter and a little dot of blood. It wasn't my imagination. The french bread actually had cut my finger and left a little bit of itself behind as evidence! Laugh if you must, but it took a week for that sucker to properly heal.

Despite the aforementioned grievous bodily harm and a continuously cantankerous shoulder, I managed to finish both the cowl and the slouchy hat, making this pair the second of my Chicago winter warrior gear.

ChicKnits Super Cupcake hat and cowlYarn: Lorna's Laces - (2) 225 yd. / 114g skeins in the Vera colorway
Needles: 16" circular sizes 7 and 8US / 4.5 and 5.0 mm; size 8 dpns to finish
Stitch: Shaker rib

If you're new to Shaker rib (or any of the other brioche-like stitches), it takes some getting used to the whole "knit one below (k1b)" business. It may be counter-intuitive but go ahead and drop that stitch. It'll work out in the end. Promise. The only tricky part you might encounter (or at least I did) comes when you stop paying attention and purl the k1b and knit the purl. Hopefully you find your mistake before you've finished the round. If not, my advice is to frog back to the purl row.

My only other admonition? If you knit loosely as I am doing at present, take the time to check your gauge. Seriously. You see how my cowl looks a bit, um, large? That's because it is. It turned out to be wider than the pattern's 26" circumference and hence not quite as face-hugging as I would have liked. The fault lies not in the pattern, but in myself.

I did a whole lot better on the hat. I tightened up my knitting and plowed through to the finish on that swell chapeau within five days, which is fast for me these days. Love, love, love everything about this hat. It has just the right amount of insouciant slouch. I think it looks adorable and will definitely be baking up more of these in the future.

Now, back to the baby dress.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things That Make Me Feel Good

Shiny silver buttons

New coat. New buttons.
This cute cadet-style coat from Old Navy came with dull brass buttons that did nothing for it. See for yourself. I consulted a friend and M&J Trimming (love them!) to find the perfect antique silver flower buttons. Color me happy because these little things turn the coat from blah to beautiful.

Expressing myself with color

Drip Painting Detail
And oh, what color! As mentioned previously, I'm taking an abstract art class with the goal of finding parts of myself I thought had left the building. The most recent assignment was to use the drip and splatter techniques of Jackson Pollock. The rest was up to us; how we used color, movement and layering to create with purpose. I know it's not to everyone's taste but I rather like it.

Finishing another hand knit

Vogue Knitting Seed Stitch Cowl

Pattern: Seed Stitch Cowl from VK Holiday 2009
Yarn: 75 yards of marigold dyed alpaca; 2 skeins of vintage Malabrigo; color unknown
Needles: Size 11US / 8 mm

The main difference between mine and the eye-popping green one in the magazine was the weight of the yarn. I doubled worsted weight to approximate the chunky yarn called for in the pattern. This resulted in a smaller cowl which I actually like better. It fits inside my coat and it's equally useful as a layering piece over a sweater.

I also added the pale marigold alpaca as a carry yarn at the start and finish of the piece. If I hadn't been so lazy, I'd have set up the tripod so you could see how perfectly this goes with the Leaf Beret. This is the second item I've finished in the space of a little over three weeks and, at the the risk of being immodest, I'm pretty proud of myself. To go from nothing to something and enjoying the trip? Happy-making!

Friends like you

Thanks for reminding me that words such as those some anonymous person used were just that: words and nothing more. Thanks for reminding me that I have people in my life who will tell me to move on, let go and forget the small stuff and small minds. Reminding me to remember who I am and am not.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

What Kind of Boob Am I?

Mustard Leaf BeretI'm the kind of boob who forgets to tell you that I finished the Leaf Beret over a week ago. It is lovely, wearable and an easy knit - especially for those like me re-entering the crafty atmosphere.

Pattern: Melissa LaBarre's Leaf Beret
Yarn: One skein Louet Gems sportweight in Mustard colorway; 100 grams and 225 yards.
Modifications: None. The pattern is very clear, as written. Even the chart-averse will have no problem understanding the leaf motif.

It wasn't my beloved marigold alpaca, but I did try to hold true to the pale color of the original yarn. I did end up using the alpaca as part of a cowl that can easily be paired with the beret. It's in the seed stitch collar stage and should be ready by week's end.

I am also the kind of boob who cares way too much about what some anonymous person had to say recently in a new comment to an old post from 2005:
"JC has left a new comment on your post "Ciao 2005, Bon Giorno 2006!":

how about sticking to one language, you pretentious boob, preferably the native lanugage (sic) of the readersip (sic) you hope not to put off..."
Dictionary.com says:
pre⋅ten⋅tious –adjective
1. full of pretense or pretension.
2. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.
3. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

Karen's got the hookup
Studying the brain of the boob
Please don't confuse knowledge of more than one language as pretentiousness. This is simply a result of my environment and upbringing. I may be many things but feelings of self-importance are not part of my make-up. On the contrary, I'd rather ham it up and use self-directed humor to divert attention away from the "real me." I will retreat to a corner before making an ostentatious show.

Like many people, I can be complex, intense, perceptive, impulsive and worried over the smallest things (like why I've lost a few readers or how to stop the cat from chewing my patterns). That may make me both perspicacious and paradoxical but never, ever a pretentious boob.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

FO: Make Room For Baby

KT baby blanketIt took me months to complete and I had to battle back against the boredom slog through every stitch in the middle, but I am pretty pleased with how things turned out.

All the mother-to-be asked for was a kelly green hat. I thought to myself, "A hat's not nearly enough," and that's how a quick little knit morphed into a 28" x 34" blanket.

I was a little overwhelmed as I tried to narrow down my blanket options with Ravely's pattern search: must be knit using chunky yarn and freely available. One pattern really stood out for its flexibility and adaptive nature: Thrifty Knitter's Hooded Baby Blanket.

KT baby blanket detailI decided that 400+ people couldn't be wrong. You should see the variations in the Ravelry project listing! One that really caught my eye substituted a 4 x 1 flat ribbing instead of an endless sea of stockinette.

The other thing I really liked was the use of seed stitch for each color change stripe, much like the pattern used in the Dream in Color Tulip Sweater. This lends a subtle, elegant texture element to what could be an otherwise bland swath of knitted fabric.

KT baby hatKT baby bibDespite all the time and effort put into the blanket, I still thought something was lacking. I almost always make a hat and this time was no different - except for the fact that I actually followed a pattern for construction. Yep. Jennifer Braico's Fixation Newborn Hat (Ravelry). Substitute leftover Berroco Comfort Chunky for Cascade Fixation and we have a striped hat with an inch of 4-stitch I-cord on top.

Determined not to make socks this time, I listened to the handful of voices who, in the past, have urged me to take the path of least resistance when it comes to easy-peasy baby gifts: the bib. I have finally seen the light! The bib is your friend - especially if you crochet - because you can knock one of these out in under two hours. Seriously.

The Coats and Clark pattern is called the So-Simple Baby Bib which requires size 3 crochet thread. So not the equivalent of chunky yarn, which is why I reworked gauge to create a bib roughly the same size as the one in the original pattern. If I hadn't, I might have cooked up something suitable for a sloppy adult (like me) who's always wearing tiny bits of food on their shirt. If you're interested in the details for the pattern modifications, just email or PM me.

With the help of needles, hooks and patterns, I turned 7 skeins of chunky yarn into something the mom says she'd be proud to put on her baby. Funny how it took four months to make someones day. I'd do it again, too.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

So, What's New?

Blue Garter KerchiefFO: Blue Garter Kerchief

My handspun sock yarn version of Laura Chau's kerchief turned out even better than I expected. Since I knit in the slow lane, it took an entire week for me to finish and pin to the blocking board (thank Jeebus for blocking wires!).

Recall that I used two 200 yard skeins of Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop yarn (held double) to create a kerchief that ended up measuring 40"x 28" x28".

My version includes "k2tog, YO" pairs on every 7th wrong side ridge row. By adding an additional yarn over to either side of the last 7 ridge rows, I was able to create elongated ends suitable for draping or tying. Blocking really opened up the yarn overs, both within the fabric and along the edges.

Add Laura's Kerchief to your Ravelry queue.

Easy Glamour NeckwarmerEasy Glamour Neckwarmer pattern

Just as the seasons are changing, what do I come out with finally? An actual pattern for the neckwarmer portion of the Easy Glamour duo that debuted in February '08.

The Easy Glamour Crochet Neck Warmer (PDF) is crocheted lengthwise using a variant of a shell or fan stitch. While you'll need a couple of buttons to fasten the neckwarmer, you do not need to make buttonholes, thanks to the open chain stitch.

By the way, the pattern includes "how to" stitch information and a construction schematic to assist in finishing your creation. Once the piece is complete, you simply sew those buttons on the left side and there you have it: Easy Glamour in less than two days.

Want to add Easy Glamour to your Ravelry queue? Clique ici.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

FO: Simply 17

When I was in my early teens, my friends and I would go downtown to the movies. Any remaining money we had would be pooled to buy munchies and drinks at the corner snack shop. I always remembered this place because it was a remnant of a bygone era, with its huge neon sign above the door in cotton candy colors, surrounded by blinking marquee lights proclaiming "17."

Today's project put me in the mind of that place because it was also made possible by leftovers. Say hello to "Simply 17," a striped garter stitch scarf:

FO: Simply 17 modeled by Rocky T. Cat
"Am I a super-model yet?" - Rocky*

Details

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky (approx. 1/2 skein) in South Shore (MC) and Lilac (CC)
Needles: (2) 9 US / 5,5 mm bamboo dpns

1. Using MC, cast on 17 stitches
2. Knit MC back to RS edge
3. Pick up CC and knit up and back, creating one ridge
4. Repeat 2 and 3 until piece measures 36" / 92 cm, ending with CC row at RS edge.
5. Pick up MC and continue for another 14" / 36 cm. Bind off and weave in ends.

You'll end up with a petite scarf that is two-thirds subtle stripe and one-third softly variegated (or solid, depending on the yarn you choose).

FO: Simply 17 garter stitch scarf
By the way, Rocky's first turn on the granite catwalk lasted an entire 3 seconds. Harrumph! No cat pants for you!

FO: Simply 17 no longer modeled by Rocky T. Cat
"Whaddya mean I won't get paid in tuna???" - Rocky


*Thanks to Monica for the suggestion that Rocky needed a scarf and to domesticat's crew for showing him how it's done.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogging? No. Busy? Yes!

I may have had a major case of timorous writers block, but I certainly did not get bottled up on the crafting front. Hats, neckwarmers, a scarf - even a New Year's trip to Toronto - they all kept me busy. There are a couple of other items in the works but this will do for now.

ThorpeThorpe by Kirsten Kapur

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in South Shore and Lilac (trim)

Once you get past the clumsiness of the 4 stitch cast on, the pattern really flies off your needles.

Instead of braiding the ties, I went with I-cord and mini poms to finish. There's a matching striped garter stitch scarf in progress.



Leftovers Hat and CowlLeftovers Hat by Karen Boykin (Ravelry link)

Yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in Natural and Malabrigo Chunky is Dusty Rose

Why “Leftovers”? Because this hat was created from the yarn that remained after I knit the November baby jumper and socks.

This hat is paired with the Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta in the same colors.



Anne in BSA PoppyAnne by MK Carroll

Scarf is crocheted in Blue Sky Alpaca's yummy cotton in the Poppy color.

Admittedly, I simplified the pattern a bit by repeating rows 2-3 instead of proceeding to row 4. Get the pattern. You’ll see.



Columbia BeretColumbia Beret by Sarah Pope

I made a few small modifications to this well-written pattern. Since I used a slightly heavier weight yarn and size 9 (5.5mm) needle, I cast on 72 instead of 84 stitches. I also did 7 increase rows instead of 8 and grafted the remaining 12 stitches at the top.

I opted against the large bow in the pattern in favor of a small crochet chain twist bow. I also used purple ribbon to decorate the garter stitch brim.

Almost Ruffled by Laura ChauJust Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau

My friend Lisa Mendez gave this beautiful fade-dye turquoise to grey yarn. I've been waiting for the right project for at least 2 years when along came Ruffles.

Although you'll be working 3600 stitches by the time you finish, you'll be so pleased with the result, you won't care. Mostly.


KB at Lettuce KnitSpeaking of Laura Chau, I actually met her during the Boxing Day sale at Toronto's Lettuce Knit. Only problem is that I didn't realize the person ringing up my two skeins of Fleece Artist was, in actuality Ms. Chau. I even had her call a taxi for us. It was not until we drove off that my friend bellamoden told me what was what.

Yikes! did I feel like a goof. I thought about calling to apologize - not for being mean or anything because I was not. Just like, "Hey, I love your patterns. Sorry I didn't recognize you."

Hmm. Thank Jeebus for second thoughts. Pathetic fangirl decided it was best to leave well enough alone.

Now, for this feline interlude.
"For me, every day is boxing day!" - Rocky

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FO: Baby Girl Gear

FO: Jumper w/ matching socks
Details
Patterns: Baby Jumper (off-site) and Toes-ty (off-site) baby socks
Yarn: Malabrigo chunky, 1.5 skeins in dusty pink; Lorna's Laces bulky, .25 skein in natural.
Needles: Size 9 US dpns and 20" circular
Mods: The jumper pattern called for much bulkier yarn and size 17 US needles. I cast on the number of stitches for size 3 to make up for the change in gauge. I also repeated the 3-row garter pattern at the top of the skirt decreases. Lastly, I secured two perfectly matched buttons to the straps.

No major story here. The baby jumper knit up in a matter of 2 or 3 days, as did the little socks. Except, well, I did make three of them.

You see, my gauge was way off on attempt number one because I used size 10.5 US needles and the sock ended up 25% bigger than it ought. It has taken on a second life as a catnip toy, hence the 3 days: make one, oops; rest a day, then make two.

In truth, these items were finished and delivered nearly one week ago. I've been slow to the blog because of hurried attempts to make a hat from the leftovers, which were plentiful. Although I finished the hat (much to the chagrin of my right arm and left wrist), I ended up pulling out the neat grafting and frogging the top off. I simply couldn't reconcile myself to the shape. It put me in the mind of a tea cozy. The problem? I did not decrease soon enough. Once my limbs recover, the fix will be in. Again. Believe it or not, I started my decreases too soon the first time around. Sheesh!

Happy Tuesday, friends.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cotton is for...

...every item I've made since this summer apparently. Not complaining about the outcomes. I mean, the Moderne in Mission Falls 1824 cotton will always be close to my heart. I enjoyed how, what was to be a hooded baby blanket, turned into an impromptu traveling cap and neck warmer for a good friend. In fact, this most recent entry picks up where the erstwhile hooded blanket fell off - right down to the colors I'd already picked out.

I used the Mason-Dixon Knitting kimono pattern (pg. 23) as inspiration for this sweater, primarily with regard to shape and one-piece construction. Understand that I crochet with much less direction in mind than I have when I knit. What may have started as a crochet translation of this cute little knit with the crossover fronts and a side tie became a boyish pullover with a slit front. The only thing remaining vaguely the same? The number of cast on stitches and the shape and relative length of the sleeves.

FO: Cole's crochet sweater
There's a viking helmet hat to match but I gave that to the boy's parents as my sort of promissory note to deliver on the rest of the ensemble. At just a little over 1 month old, this outfit is definitely one he'll have to grow into.

Aspen yarn with 5 small grey and black glass buttonsMy turn? You betcha! I've been working on some sketches for a neck warmer that would be the perfect fate for 3 skeins of steel grey Aspen, the bulky wool / alpaca blend from Classic Elite Yarns. I've got 150 yards in total which should be plenty to knit something warm and attractive. Plus, I can finally press these grey and black glass buttons from Moving Mud into service. These came home with me more than two years ago. They make a nice feminine counterpoint to the bulkiness of the yarn.

In case you're wondering, even with all these Mission Falls projects, I've only begun to make a dent in my 1824 Cotton collection. The seller was going out of business and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Right now though, it's time for the warm and cozy yarns.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

FO: Dynamic Duo!

La Cabeza Grande on FlickrThis twosome may not have a fancy car or a call signal to light the night sky, but this cap and scarflet do have the power to chase away the chill during the coming autumn nights.

Made from 5 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 cotton, the double-crochet cap and scarflet combo hit the right notes when it comes to softness and comfort next to the skin - all without over-heating the wearer.

First came the scarflet. This was originally intended as a hooded baby blanket (login required) for a newborn until I started fooling around at row 12. I couldn't help but notice its scarf-like appearance. I decided that the baby would get something else and that this would be the perfect gift for a friend leaving town this weekend.

FO: Crochet Cap and Scarflet
The matching cap with its little visor stays truer to its original intent. My only real changes involve stitch and color substitution that mimic the pattern of the small scarf.

How to:
Following the baby blanket instructions, chain 108 stitches. I did 16 rows of the 3-stitch pattern, alternating 5 colors in a 5 row pattern. Bind off, place one end over the other and tack on two buttons at opposite sides of one "flap" to secure the scarflet (see below). Instead of separate button loops, I used the existing chain stitches as a fastener.
FO: Crochet Cap and Scarflet
I'm contemplating whether or not I'll still make the hooded baby blanket. I've got oodles of yarn left, so one is likely to see any manner of things fly off the hooks or needles for the little ones in this complex.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

FO: Sticking To My Guns

Several weeks ago, I made myself a promise. Yes, I've made lots of them but this one I actually kept. I decreed that there would be no new projects until I finished this shawl. Only then might I even consider other suitors. Now that the hooks are put away and the steam iron's cool, I'd like to present my version of Eva's Shawl:

FO: Crochet Lace Shoulder Shawl

FO: Crochet Lace Shoulder Shawl
Back view, eyelet rows

Crochet lace shawlDetails and Modifications
450 yards bellamoden laceweight kid silk
450 yards malabrigo laceweight merino
Size H(5.0mm) and K(6.5mm) crochet hooks

I must've really had my stupid hat on the day I started this shawl. Aside from mentally making all the treble crochets (TC) into double crochets (DC), I had a devil of a time with the fact that 'Ch Sp incr' was not an instruction to chain 1, then work 2 DC into the same stitch. The designer meant something altogether different. Stupid hats are invisible, by the way.

I was into the eyelet row by the time I decided there was no way for me to fudge it any longer. Version one had to go and, as you know, ripping back fuzzy yarn has its downside.

Enter Take Two and my "aha!" moment. Once I paid closer attention to the pictures (thank the deities for those) and re-read the pattern from the beginning, a reasonable facsimile of Eva's Shawl started to take shape. Once you're beyond the foundation rows, just think "double crochet two rows, eyelet one row."

The only real addition I made was to the two-row border, which is essentially alternating chain stitch openwork. My third row adds a feminine frill of double crochet scallops. If you like the look, add the following instruction to the border:

Row 3: (optional) Ch 4, work 4 DC into next 'Ch Space' to end of row, finishing with a Ch 4; DC into turning Ch from previous row.

Enjoy your weekend. Chase butterflies like these two.

Was That A Butterfly?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FO: Natalia's Moderne Baby Blanket

How right you are! Ripping is much better than the substandard item gifting. Despite the brief setback, I actually finished my crochet version of Mason-Dixon Knitting's Moderne Baby Blanket a few days ago. I've been busy (which I'll explain momentarily) so no blogging. First, the blanket.

The Layout
Moderne Baby Blanket - the plan

The Results

FO: Moderne Baby Blanket

Materials
11 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in 6 different colors (Chicory, Lintel, Grape, Phlox, Chili, Peony)
US size I (5.5 mm) crochet hook.
Finished dimensions are 38" x 28"

Pattern modifications
You probably know that the Mason-Dixon log cabin blanket patterns are written for knitting. No beef against the knit version of Moderne since I made one before. But now, time was of the essence. Besides, it seems that crochet and this 1824 cotton were made for each other, as evidenced by the way I was able to smoothly use the hook to grab and manipulate the yarn with ease.

The other thing going for me was my absolute willingness to be kinda loose with the math and let the blanket take shape, with the entire thing based on the outcome of the foundation block. The first block in the original knit pattern is essentially a 36-stitch block.

When substituting “single crochet” for “garter stitch,” remember that the single crochet is taller than garter stitch. That's why I did the foundation block as 28 rows instead of 36. The size of the remaining color blocks is determined relative to the foundation block size. Use the Mason-Dixon pattern as a guideline for when to turn the piece or pick up new sections until you are comfortable with your color plan progression. I did a two-color single crochet border in chicory and lintel.

Other stuff...
I finally started the Rehabilitation Institute Chronic Pain Management program. Yes, it kicked my butt for the rest of the day and I was none too willing to go back for more activity today. I did it though. I'm told several forms of exercise are required daily.

I suppose that, between the army of therapists and doctors, the chances for improvement in my physical condition are significant. There'd better be or there will be hell to pay!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

FO: Boteh Scarf

FO: Boteh Scarf
Pattern: Boteh Scarf by Kathy Merrick from Interweave Crochet, Spring 2007
Yarn: 2+ skeins of allhemp6LUX, color: alioli
Hook: 4.5mm (G)
Modifications: 11 triangles instead of 16 called for in pattern yielded a 68" scarf, unblocked.

This is my first foray into working with hemp and it won't be the last. As mentioned, I did not block the scarf because it seems to have maintained its rounded, organic shape. I'm told by those who know such things that the fiber will soften with washing. It's already kind of soft - at least as far as hemp goes. According to the yarn store owner, that softness and subtle sheen is why it is considered "luxury" hemp. Someone on Ravelry likened it to buying jeans that are already broken in.

In other news...
I'm toying with using one of these two patterns for the birthday yarn: Eva's Shawl or Crocus Bud Shawl. Yes, I'm still in the crochet mood.

I just found out that I've been approved for one of the intensive pain management therapy programs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I'm hoping this will ease the pain enough for me to knit once again.

Oh, and one more thing. My cousin Simone will be going to the Olympics in Beijing as part of the USA women's basketball team. Pretty cool, eh?

Rocky-In-A-Box!
A box of cat. Formerly, a box of cat food.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Pop Goes The Shoulder

It's a disconcerting sound and feeling, that "Oh, crap!" popping twinge of something anatomically out of place. When you're this|close to finishing another little doodad, you just suck it up and deal with the consequences later. I might have been pushing a bit too hard but I think this headband was worth it.

FO: Beaded Headband
Specs:
10 grams each of light blue (2137) and navy blue (2625) Cascade Fixation
Approximately 50 clear size 3/0 seed beads
Size 5 US circular needle

Recipe:
Cast on an odd number of stitches, based on the size of your head and the amount of negative ease you desire. At 22 inches, my noggin's a bit bigger than average. My aim was for the headband to stay on (but not cut off my circulation), so I hit on 95 stitches as my magic number. Your mileage may vary.

I joined the stitches and knit the first row. Next came 7 rows in seed stitch, all in color A. Switch to color B, knit 3 rows, adding the beads in the second row. Yes, I used the crochet method to place the beads.

Switching back to color A, knit two rows. Reattach color B and use both colors, create a mock rib in a "knit 1, purl 1" pattern for 5 rows. Lastly, using color B, repeat 7 row seed stitch and bind off in pattern. You'll end up with a headband that's roughly 2.5 inches wide.

There are many variations possible such as number of colors, bead placement, border pattern, etc. Put your own mark on it. I'd be interested to know what you come up with if you don't mind sharing. Whether you have short hair or long, this is a perfect little accessory to keep you looking sporty chic and pulled together throughout the coming summer months.

I checked my stash of Cascade Fixation left over from a previous knit-along. This won't be the last of the instant gratification headbands. I just need to either learn how to involve my left hand more by knitting in the Continental style or hold the yarn and needles less tightly.

By the way, Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate, be their children scaly, furry, feathered or smooth.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Something Is Afoot

Hail, hallelujah and a chorus of angels! I have finally finished something after a what? Three, four month drought? It's a good thing you don't stop by here for the finished items as a good friend recently said because you'd be darn thirsty.

In any event, I thought I'd start small and achievable as I mentioned in late April. Here we have my version of the purl bee's Pom Pom Peds; not on my feet because a) the skin on my legs looks weird and b) the cats take crap pictures due to the opposable thumbs issue. Leggy Creations sock blocker model shot:

Pom-pom Peds - tennis socks
Sportweight Louet Gems in grape and willow; 2/3 skein each.
No mods and super easy, these peds required almost no commitment to complete. I asked my mother if she wanted a pair but she declined, instead requesting leg warmers. Perhaps these feet could use some peds?

On Little Cat Feet - cropped
Meanwhile, I've got another stash-busting idea I need to try out. If it works out, I'll most definitely share it here.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Loops Over Loops

At its most basic, that's all knitting really is, isn't it? Loops over loops. Only when we apply these under-over-through actions to the loops in a consistent, uniform way do we begin to see the loops build upon one another into a cohesive fabric.

This is something that has fascinated me of late. Just how differently designing for knitting varies from creating patterns for sewing which you then apply to fabric. Of course, there are similarities of terminology, measurement and fit. But with knitting, you are simultaneously creating the fabric and the garment with all the requisite constraints of sizing and fit. Pretty freaking cool if you ask me. All from something as simple as loops over loops.

Velvet Grapes Hat & Scarf
What To Do?
I delayed posting the finished Foliage hat in Malabrigo's Velvet Grapes worsted because I just couldn't decide on what to do with the 1.5 skeins of yarn I had left. The hat is a quick knit, even for me, taking only 4 days from start to finish. I hesitated on making a scarf since the temps are starting to hint at Spring in the Midwest. But I'm like, "Heck. It's wool. I'll need a scarf at some point."

After the flipping through Ravelry, a couple of books and a giant box of patterns, I dipped into the Knitty archive once again and cast on for Argosy. It sort of looks like entrelac or modular knitting but it's really just loops over loops, turned counter-clockwise 45 degrees. No diamonds. No leaves. Just a little ol' patterned stockinette and garter that fascinates my visual mind.

"No Knitting For You!"
If it's not one thing, it's another. There will be a slight break in the fiber action, so please forgive me. For reasons of either medication or stress, my hands have broken out in a kind of rash. The topical treatment consists of cortisone cream and cotton gloves and avoiding wool and doing the dishes until the symptoms subside. The only part I like is not doing the dishes. Here's wishing you a relaxing weekend!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

I Knit Not. For Now.

But I do crochet. Yes, a hook and Michelle's handspun merino come to the rescue when grumpy shoulder goes into the time-out corner.

FO: Crochet handspun beret
A few details
120 yards of bulky handspun merino in the color, "Hush"
Size L crochet hook
Nothing but a crochet stitch bible and a general idea for a beret (read: no pattern)

I used a knotless method (also known as "Magic Adjustable Ring") to create a foundation chain circle that could be easily tightened with a tug. Result? No hole in the top of the hat! I didn't invent it but I so wish that I'd known about it sooner. It makes all other methods for crocheting a circular object without a hole look positively arcane.

The pattern I chose is based on the Iris stitch, one of the "Fans and Shells" from The Crochet Stitch Bible, except I substituted half-double crochet for double crochet. Again, I winged it when it came to increasing the circle, keeping it as close to the shell pattern as possible. I kept this up until the top was about 10" in diameter, then I decreased to a point and continued straight in single crochet for about 2".

Oops, this is not an exclusively crochet project. I forgot about the part where I pick up the stitches along the bottom edge and do a k1, p1 ribbing for a few rows. Size 10.5 (US) double points to the rescue. A couple of buttons from the collection to finish her off and that's it! Looks like Rocky approves.

FO: Crochet handspun beret avec chat
Let's see if I can finish off at least one more item before hurtling headlong into my Dream In Color KAL selection.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

FO: Easy Glamour

Those of you who maintain a blog can hopefully relate to the real or imagined pressure to "feed the monster." I am absolutely in awe of those craft bloggers who have something to say - and seemingly a new project to show - nearly every day. How do they do it? Makes me feel as though I'm somehow inadequate. Eh, well. Perhaps, these be my issues alone.

As I was going to say, in an effort to keep you visiting my outpost, I figured I needed a hat, stat! Something quick, beautiful and useful. That's why I turned to my size K crochet hook and some chunky stash yarn to produce this lovely, glamorous duo.

FO: Crochet Hat and Neckwarmer

Details
2.5 skeins Malabrigo chunky (104 yards) in the color Water Green
Size K (10.5 / 6.50 mm) crochet hook

The hat pattern is based on my own recipe for top-down crochet hats. One day, I may write it down. It's just something I've been using ever since I figured out how to crochet when I was still in the single digits. Next, I tacked on a vertical shell-like stitch called Twig from The Crochet Stitch Bible, page 81.

FO: Crochet Hat and Neckwarmer
The scarflet or neckwarmer is straight Twig for 17 or so inches, then I do a kind of short-row to extend the right side a bit. Sew on a couple of appropriately-sized buttons on the left side and there you have it: Easy Glamour in less than two days.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

FO: Let's Make A Deal!

FO: ZigZag Scarf - frontI was determined not to do it. After all, it's something that I'd avoided for at least 3 or 4 years but this time was different. This time, the cold winds got the best of my usually overly-warm radiant heating system. This time, I found myself wearing three layers and two pairs of socks to bed.

Friends, it was time to turn on the heat! I also found myself longing to start a new pair of socks. The only way I would concede defeat to the weather and my "new sock" desires? I had to finish at least one WIP.

I chose the ZigZag Scarf from "Knitting New Scarves".


zigzag scarf finished Details
ZigZag pattern, page 122
2 skeins Cascade 128
Size 10.5 US needles
Finished dimensions 6" x 58"

The most complicated thing about this scarf was the intarsia, or color-block knitting. As you know, with any multi-skein technique, there is a tendency for yarn and knitting to get tangled around one another - even if you carefully twist one yarn under and over the other as you carry it along. As the scarf got longer, I threw it over my left shoulder to keep it out of the way. I also tried to remember to turn my work only one of two ways as I worked right and wrong side rows. Not perfect, but it really did help minimize the twist-up.

Will I knit this pattern again? Oh, it's quite likely I will. Part of the fun of this is picking interesting color pairs and watching them intertwine with one another.

I said something about a sock, didn't I. I'm calling it Chewy Monkey. Relax. It's the "everybody's-done-at-least-one" Monkey, knitting up quite beautifully in Chewy Spaghetti sock yarn. Yum!

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Getting My Tweed On!

A new year and new yarn to play with, so what do I do? Knock out my version of the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat Pattern (PDF) in less than 2 days. Even with chunky yarn and big needles, that still amuses me.

FO: Chunky Tweed Hat
Details
1 skein Cascade 128 Chunky Tweed
Size 13 US dpns
2 vintage Bakelite buttons, courtesy of Vintage Necessities

Once I completed the pattern as written, I picked up 56 stitches around the bottom of the hat. Next, I used the cable cast on method to add 8 stitches to create a tab extension for the buttons. I knit this add-on flat instead of circular so that I'd end up with an easy 5 row garter band.
FO: Chunky Tweed Hat
What's a hat without a scarf, I ask you? Just a lonely little soldier. Enter Lynne Barr's "Knitting New Scarves" and the ZigZag scarf pattern (page 122). I'm only 3 repeats into it, but it is very easy and serves as a wonderful introduction to intarsia.

ZigZag Scarf
What an intriguing collection of scarves that ventures far beyond the basic elongated rectangle. I strongly suggest this book be added to your knit reading list.

So many other temptations in store. What should I tackle next? Blue Sky Alpaca's Suri Merino fingerless mitts or a felted Malabrigo handbag? Oh, yeah. There are a few new designs brewing as well. My crystal ball says '08 will be a busy, busy year!

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

FO: A Matched Set

What started as a simple desire to provide a little warmth and softness for a neighbor who'd been ill for quite some time blossomed into a pair of somewhat stripey mittens with a matching hat to boot.

FO: Gloria's Mittens
I hadn't seen Gloria for a couple of months. I'd heard she was getting treated for some sort of cancer but that's all I knew. What a great surprise to see her in early December! She was out walking around the neighborhood - a bit paler and thinner, but out and about nonetheless. I noticed she was wearing mittens and decided at that point to make her another pair.

We chatted for a bit about what she'd been going through for the past few months, when she revealed that the treatment made her hair fall out. "It's just hair," she said. "It'll grow back." In the meantime, I wanted to make something soft and warm for her head too.

FO: Gloria's Hat FO: Gloria's Hat - band detail
Details
Both hat and gloves were made from Jaeger Chamonix, a lovely discontinued cabled yarn made with wool and angora. I have a couple of colors in stash that I was saving for something special at some unspecified future date. No time like now, eh? The accent yarn you might recognize as the leftovers from Jack's hoodie: Fearless Fibers wool and mohair blend.

I originally intended to do a hemmed picot edge but I like the casual air of the rolled brim and grosgrain ribbon through eyelet instead. The variegated band above the eyelet is a simple pattern of stockinette, then 3 rows of knit and purl stitches. The crown decrease features the same simple knit, purl texture.

FO: Gloria's Hat - top detail
The somewhat stripey mittens were based on Ann Budd's "The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns." Nothing fancy. Just a little mix of 1-2-3 rows of striping after the ribbing at the wrist, then reverse the yarns after knitting the palm. Finish the top with every other row decrease until 8 stitches remain. Draw yarn through and anchor, then you've got a finished mitten.

Epilogue
I actually finished and delivered the mittens on Christmas Day. Gloria expressed gratitude and surprise that I even had the strength to go shopping for the mittens. Imagine her face when I revealed that I'd knit them. She was so shocked that she had no time to think when I asked if she'd like a matching hat. What could she say but, "Yeah, sure!"

Three days later, hat was born. It also became the last finished object for 2007. Boy, I can't wait to see what fabulousness 2008 has in store. It could get juicy!

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