Monday, April 21, 2008

Random Acts of Knitting

When I was young and before I was a knitter, my mother would pick up needles everytime she heard someone was expecting a baby. There were cardigans and blankets and hats and booties. She knit for the hairdresser's daughter (whom she had never met) and neighbours and vague acquaintances. It was what you do to welcome every new baby to the world. So I became one of these knitters. I presented baby knitwear to everyone I knew who was expecting. Even if I did not know them enough to be invited to a shower. This seemed as natural as breathing to me. But I often got an unexpected response. Tears or speachlessness. I guess it is not as common as it was in Mom's days (maybe it wasn't that common even then?). The recipients were in awe that I would spend so much time making something soft and wooly for their unborn child. Little do the Muggles (non-knitters) know that baby things are ten times faster than knitting for adults, and can be created from leftover stash. Baby is warm AND I put that last ball of cashmerino to amazingly good use. My last gift was a baby blanket for Lori, and she had a lovely reaction, almost tears and joy that this was the first (probably only) knitted gift, and she loved it. She has since had her baby, Chloe, and brought her at 12 days old to visit me at work. What a delight for me. Ah, random acts of knitting. We should all commit more of this.
Not to be confused with the "drive-by knitting". This is when a bad situation screams to be corrected with wool: as in: your friend gets a fabulous new golf baf in black and brilliant yellow - BUT her head covers are the boring black manufactured Ping covers. To rectify this glaring faux pas, I found yellow eyelash and made a set of Wood Hoods, and secretly replaced the Pings with the new covers. I was long gone by the time she arrived at the club and found them, but my fingerprints were all over the wool, so she knew who to blame (and thank!).

I'm not admitting anything, but if anyone found some soggy Ping headcovers, washed up on the beach in Port Dalhousie, I hope they are not reading this.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Summary

Lots of golf the last few days and I have had little energy to knit, but I will summarize the crafty part of the weekend... I was inspired to make a wood and twine necklace, for the coming summer tank tops and sundresses. It was made by stringing beads and macrame knots (yes I am a child of the 70's, when macrame was BIG in belts and necklaces and I even recall a macrame handbag... I was so cool). I finished the wide cable edging for the Vogue jacket, but haven't buttoned it yet... and I started a sweater with the Silk, from Ram Wools. Only about 4 inches done so far, so no photos yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Puppy Puppets (aka: Finger Puppies!)

Here is the newest finger puppet from my Children's Hospital Poppets line. These are really easy and use scraps of worsted weight yarns and sock yarn for the embroidered details. Knit on 4mm needles (US 6), use light brown for body and dark brown for ears, and cream colour for muzzle. I used blue sock yarn for eyes and black sock yarn for nose and mouth line.
Cast on 10 in body colour... Knit 4 rows (garter stitch: Knit every row). Stocking Stitch next 8 rows (Knit right side, Purl wrong side). Last row: K2together-repeat across row. Cut 8 inch tail and gather these last 5 sts together. WAIT to sew up until all embroidery is done.

Muzzle: with cream colour, Cast on 3. Knit row one, purl row two, knit row 3. Break yarn with 8 inch tail and gather last 3 sts together. Use the tail to sew around the muzzle in position in the middle of face (see photo). Ears: With dark brown, cast on 3. Garter stitch for 6 rows, then Knit 3 together. Knit one stitch on next row. Increase 2 sts (3 total) and garter stitch 6 more rows for other ear. Knit 3 together and break yarn leaving 6 inch tail. pass tail through last st to secure. Using this tail, thread it on a large darning needle, and feed it through the top of head BETWEEN stitches (see photos). Pull firmly until one ear has passed through both sides of the head and only the single stitch center is left inside the dog. (see photo). Using eye colour, make french knot eyes above the muzzle. Using the black, place 2 horizonal lines for nose, and one vertical line from nose to bottom of muzzle, pulling slightly to separate muzzle into 2 halves (see photo). Securely fasten the ends of the embroidery on the inside of the dog. Now you can stitch up the back opening, and sew in all the ends of yarns.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yarn In the Mail :)

I ordered in some lovely new SILK. It is a house yarn from Ram Wools, called Tweed Seta and is 100% silk. The ball band says 50gm is 93m, but the web site states 153m, and I think that is more accurate. I will find out as I knit how far it goes. Here is a photo of the bag of yummy silkiness, and a quick swatch with stocking stitch and seed stitch. (Just playing around to see how it feels and knits and drapes) I did it on 4 mm needles, as the 5mm suggested looked too large for this yarn.

So some may wonder what the first step to designing a new sweater may be. The swatch gives me the idea of how the yarn will feel. Will it be stiff (hold a tailored structure or cable well) or soft and drapey (better for slouchy sweatshirt style designs). This one seems more the latter... so I start with that idea, then sketch the pattern, then choose the fit (snug, loose, baggy). This one will be a loose fit, and using the gauge, and the measurements (here's where the mathematician in me shows up) calculate the number of stitches to make the measurements happen. Then I cast on and work it up, checking as I go, and sometimes changing my mind on the details. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The finish line is in sight!

This has been the most labour intensive cardigan ever attempted by yours truly. I have really pushed it the last few days and if it were not for the cold, damp weekend (thus limited golf) I would not even be at this point. I have finished the pieces and have sewn them together and am now working the extra cable edging that is knitted separately and sewn on last. Meanwhile the sweater is damp and set on the drying screen, waiting for the last edge. I tried it on and it looks like a great fit, always a moment of nervous anticipation, even though the swatch was done and the measurements seem right....still there have been some near (and not so near ) misses on fits in the past, and you just hate to call the last 3 weeks a waste of time! But no, it fits and I will post a photo of the end result ON ME in a day or two, when the cable edge is attached. Notice the collar is not nearly as wide as the photo, but I checked the pattern many times and I swear they are missing a regular increase after the initial increases in the collar section. I would have reworked it with my own increases to look more like the photo in the magazine, but I kind of like the shawl collar as much or more than the cape collar, so I think I will keep it so.

I am enjoying the Masters on HD-TV and can't wait for my golf course to get that green and lush, and the weather to warm up enough for shorts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Best Sock Pattern EVER!

Or... at least, my favourite sock pattern :)

This is the pattern I use for almost all of my socks. It is easy to follow, and fits snuggly and doesn't droop at all. The only time I don't use it is self patterning yarns, those should be all stocking stitch to show the pattern that happens. You could still use all the numbers below, but stocking stitch instead of the K3, P1 ribbing.
Yarn: Most classic "sock" yarns (fine yarn designed to knit on 2.5mm needles)Needles: Double point 2.5mm needles, set of 4 - I like Bamboo ones, as the yarn is less likely to slip off.

Cast on 60 stitches and join in the round. Knit for 1.5 inches in K2, P2 ribbing. Change to K3, P1 ribbing, and continue to work in the round until total length is about 7 inches.
Heel: Put half the stitches (30 ) on one needle by knitting next 15 sts, and transfer previous 15 onto the front of this needle. Rearrange the other 30 sts onto two needles with 15 each. These 2 needles will be ignored for a while.
Working on the 30 st needles, Purl (wrong side) across. Right side: [Slip one, K 1] repeat across row. Work these two rows until repeated 15 times. (the heel should be almost square and be about 2.5 inches).
With right side facing you will now do the magic that is a heel turn! K17, K2tog, K1, turn to wrong side facing. Slip one, P5, P2tog, P1, turn. Slip one, Knit to the stitch before the gap (the space between the slipped stitch and the old heel stitches). Knit 2 tog (thus closing the gap and picking up the last slipped stitch and the next old heel stitch), K1, turn. Slip one, Purl to st before gap and P2tog over gap, P1, turn. Repeat these two rows, until all the old heel stitches are involved and worked.
Right side again: Knit across heel, pick up 15 sts up the side of the heel (put these on needle 1).
Work next 30 sts on needle 2, AND work them in the K3, P1 ribbing, as they are already still looking at you. Pick up 15 sts on the other side of the heel and knit half of the bottom of the heel sts. (needle 3). Check and make Needle 1 and Needle 3 have the same number of sts on each, adjust if needed.
Round ONE: Knit down Needle 1 to 3 sts before end, K2tog, K1, Needle 2: work in K3, P1 pattern as established, Needle 3: K1, K2tog, knit to end of needle. Round TWO: Knit needle 1, Pattern needle 2, Knit needle 3. Repeat these two rounds, until back to 60 sts (15, 30, 15). Then continue in stocking stitch for the under foot and ribbing stitch for the top of foot, until about 6 inches from the picked up stitches of the heel (or until sock is about 1.5 inches short of your foot length). Toe: round 1: Needle 1: Knit to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1. Needle 2 K1, K2tog, K across to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1. Needle 3: K1, K2tog, K across to end. Round 2, Knit all sts without decrease. Continue to knit these 2 rounds until 16 sts are left. Graft two rows of eight sts.
Do it all again for sock two. This photo is the almost finished socks for Fiona, made with the yarn she dyed at our Sock Dying Party. I thought it may be a bit much for Fiona to knit as a first sock attempt, what with the small needles and her inexperience with double point needles, so I offered to whip these up. I will help her up with the Chunky Sock pattern for her first sock project.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beading and Netting

I found some really cool beads at Walmart. (sometimes they can surprise me!). Just look at the funky shape, kind of like teeth carved out of pearly gray and black stones. I made a necklace by spacing the teeth between 2 irregular black beads. I made the matching bracelet with elastic thread, and using the few teeth that had 2 sets of holes drilled, top and bottom, and separating by a metalic copper bead from my bead stash. Exciting stuff for $8.

The Mesh Cap sweater has also been completed, and of course it has been modified due to a lack of sufficient yarn, so I left it with just a one inch ribbing edge to the neck, and now I can wear it as a scoop neck or pull it a bit off the shoulder for a more intriquing look... Wearing the new necklace and bracelet in this photo. And LOOK, all the snow is gone outside!! Our golf course opens next week!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


16 balls of Elann Esprit: $35
Bamboo Cable needle: $5
Mastering a Vogue Knitting
"Experienced" pattern: Priceless!

The Cape Collar Jacket is well underway, and the complicated shaping of the left front done. I have the right front and second sleeve to complete, and I feel the momentum increasing. I love that final sprint to the finish line, very little can draw me away from the project at this point, especially when I love the look of the design and the details of the stitches. This one is from Vogue Knitting Winter 2007/08, Number 16.
The yarn is a lovely cotton with elastic stretch, and this gives the cables stability and unlike a lot of cottons, won't stretch with its own weight or with washing. Unfortunately, Elann seems to have disco'd the yarn.
I got my new Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2008 issue, and am completely captivated by 29, the Lace and Cable Top.
I like the side to side construction on the top half, with the pick-up-and-knit-down bottom half. Seems very clever. This one WILL be in my coming attractions.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Jitterbug Scarf

I found an irresistable skein of Colinette Jitterbug. It is Colinette's new sock yarn, with all the colour magnificence of other Colinette yarns. Yet, I was reluctant to tuck such brilliance under my jeans and in my shoes.... so I designed an easy almost triangle mini scarf that shows off the yarn and colours in plain sight! One skein is all you need. The scarf is knit on 4.0 mm needles, with a simple rib pattern: Row 1: K4, [YO, K2tog, K4] repeat across. Row 2: Purl across. Row 3: K4,[K2tog, YO, K4] across. Row 4: Purl across. *YO = yarn over the needle, thus adding a stitch (and a lacey one at that). K2tog = Knit the next two stitches together, thus decreasing a stitch (usually to compensate for a YO added stitch).

If anyone has difficulty with the instructions here (newer to knitting lace or shaping) PLEASE email me, and I will return a more detailed pattern instruction... several have asked for more explanation.  Forgive me, I always assume you guys can easily see the imagined pictures in my mind!!  duh!

Cast on 34 and start pattern to establish. Maintaining an edge of 2 stocking stitches at each end, Increase one stitch EACH side of the right side, INSIDE the edge stitches... Do this by adding one Yarn-Over after the first edge (2knits) without a corresponding knit-two-together. Do the same Yarn-Over before the last 2 edge stitches. This makes a nice tidy edge to the scarf. Between these edge stitches, continue in the 4 by 2 rib pattern, absorbing the extra yarn over increases as the scarf gets wider. Keep adding the increase YO on each right side, inside the edge sts throughout the project. When the yarn is almost gone, bind off the last row. Dampen and block, and then wear as you would like!
This pattern can be used for any fingering weight yarn, and you could also keep going with more yarn and create a large triangle shawl. Just switch to large circular needles to accomodate the many, many, many more stitches!