Sunday, June 27, 2010

Very Lacy Scarf (WIP)

Over one year later, and I'm finally making some progress. The pattern repeat is very easy, but knitting with lace weight yarn takes more focus than other weights (a stitch can fall off the needles so easily!) But finally, FINALLY I am done with the first skein.

440 yards of wool, and almost 41 inches of scarf.

I LOVE this scarf. Knitting with lace weight yarn isn't fast, but the product feels so amazing. Doubled over it fits around my neck. I don't think I'll use the entire second skein, so I'm >50% of the way there! Maybe I'll actually get to wear it this winter....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stocking Star Charts

Here is yet another component for the Christmas stockings I've been designing. The more "traditional" star was modified from the star in Annemor #10, in the bo0k SELBUVOTTER: Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea.

Star 1 (used in stocking): 27 sts high x 35 sts wide

Star 2: 29 sts high x 35 sts wide

The "Star" in the center is inspired by hemoglobin. Shown here as I used it in the stocking. 29 sts high, 35 sts wide.

This pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be re-published in any other way without the permission of the author. © 2010 ChemKnits

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Knit-A-Thon 2010 Update

5 months to go, and I've got 19 squares. There still isn't information for the 2010 knit-a-thon (currently is still 2009 info), but even if it doesn't happen I will have a blanket that I can donate somewhere.

My mom came to visit, and brought a lot of yarn that I had in my old stash at home. I should have enough to at LEAST finish the first blanket of my goal.

Happy Knitting! (And thanks, Mom!)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Entrelac Wristers

This is my first attempt at the entrelac technique. I selected this pattern because there are only 12 squares per wrister, and if I needed to frog the project and start over, I wouldn't waste too much time.

The pattern is from Norwegian Handknits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum by Sue Flanders and Janie Kosel. I used size 5 double pointed needles.

My Colors:
  • A -White (Border Color)
  • B - blue/gray heather (Border color)
  • C - Pink (One set of square)
  • D - Dark Gray (Two sets of squares)
Entrelac is much more straight forward than I had realized! This project went very quickly, I'm sorry that I have waited this long to try it.

With only 12 Entrelac squares total (in one wrister), this was a great project for someone who had never tried this technique before.

It is pretty funny to be working on arm warmers when it's in the middle of the summer... but that's the life of a knitter sometimes!

I wish that the increases in the chevron edge used M1 (Kfb or similar) instead of YO's. This would have eliminated the holes in the project.

Knitting backwards makes entrelac knitting less tedious (you are not having to turn and purl for each square). Check out the video I created "How to Knit Backwards" for help with this technique.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MORE Pet Pattern Book Reviews

I've got two more pet related knitting books to share with you. (I didn't realize how many I had requested from the Library. Inter-library loaning ROCKS.) Enjoy!

Doggy Knits: Over 20 Coat Designs for Handsome Hounds And Perfect Pooches by Anna Tillman

First off, I want the buttons on the cover photo. Sometimes the details just really make the project. I have reviewed one of Tillman's books in the past,Knitted Socks, and had found the book absolutely delightful and the patterns incredibly creative and inspired. I was very excited to look at another one of her books.

The "how to knit" instructions are towards the end of the book, including a helpful "how to read from a chart" page. There are 7 sizes that you can use for dog coats, ranging from 16 inch - 28 inch chest. I am not sure what kinds of breeds that this would fit, but I have a feeling I won't be making one of these coats for a Newfie! There is also an interesting comment... you should not leave your dog wearing the coat unsupervised. You would not want the dog to start eating it (for the safety of the dog, not for your hard work!)

Before I start talking about the patterns, I want to applaud Tillmann for her innovative shape use and the variety that she gives in the patterns. The 20 coats are not simply variations on one another. The way they are finished makes them look classy and expensive. If I had a dog of my own, I would buy this book. Since there are 20 coats in this book, I'm not going to list them, since you know you're getting 20 coats. I will therefore give descriptions of my favorites.

My Favorite Patterns:
  • Frogged and Formal - This cape reminds me of royalty. Do you know someone who treats their dog like a princess? Elevate that dog to a queen. Burgundy cape with gold trim... now you just need a crown!
  • Button-up sweater (cover) - This sweater has a turtleneck, and buttons that go down one side to fasten it. It is ribbed, and looks simple to craft. Tillman's eye for detail (the buttons) elevate this pattern to a superb status.
  • Raingear for Rover - This coat has buckles to fasten it. This would make a great idea for a pup that still has some room to grow as the fit can be adjusted. The model is a larger dog (maybe a lab?). This cotton coat has a large pointed collar. There are belt holes for the belt going around the middle to hold the coat on. (Haven't I already said how these details are fabulous?)
  • Stripy Coat and Legwarmers - The fair isle coat is beautiful, but the leg warmers made me giggle.
  • Herringbone Bones - The herringbone bone pattern is only near the tail. If you can find tiny bone buttons to close the front as is shown in the photo that would make it all the more fun. This is funkier, but still has an elegance.
  • Paws for thought - a simple silhouette, but with a paw print design to work in.
  • Mesh Coat - It looks beautiful on a black dog. I cannot see this providing any warmth, but if you like to dress up your pet it would not over-heat your pooch in warmer weather.
  • Pucker Up - The design looks incredibly complex, there are stripes running vertical and horizontal up the coat. However, the author states "it's actually a very easy slip-stitch pattern" This is yet another design that will make people impressed with your skill. I love it!
I am not disappointed reading this book. In fact, this is my favorite dog knitting book that I've found yet!

Vogue Knitting on the Go! Knits for Pets edited by Trisha Malcolm.

So I am now a proud subscriber to Vogue Knitting, and I love the patterns for humans. What do they have in store for us in this pet book?

The intro briefly introduces different colorwork and blocking techniques. There are good illustration for different embroidery stitches that will be in the patterns.

The Patterns:
  • Dog Toys (1) : Felted Dog Toy (hot dog that I at first thought was a striped bone)
  • Cat Toys (4): Cat Collar (fluffy), Felted Catnip toys (fish shaped), Cat Toy (looks like a ball of yarn with a loop at the end for you to have control), Felted Mice
  • Dog Clothes (9): 2-toned dog sweater (hound's tooth), Fair Isle Sweater, Dog sweater (with long arms in the front), Striped Dog Poncho, Icelandic Sweater (cover),Dog Booties (they look almost like clogs), Tartan Cape, Horseshoe Cable, Dog coat (embroidered flower on the back)
  • Sleeping Places (2): Cat Mat (with fish bone design in the center), Fair Isle Dog Bed
  • Misc (3): Dog bag (Caption: Kate spayed. haha. Meant to carry your dog in), Pet Pillows (decorated with a large dog/cat face), Dog first aid kit
  • Human Items (2): Dog Hat (a child's hat with floppy ears), Kid's dog purse (shaped like a Scottish Terrier)
I would re-title this book, Knits for the Pet Lover. 5 of the 20 items are intended more for human, rather than pet use. There is a lot of variety in the items, but I feel that it is too much. There is a child's hat, a first aid kit, a kid's purse AND then the expected pet toys, beds and clothes. I was not overly impressed by any of the items. There is some beautiful work in this book, but I think that since I didn't know what to expect on the next page, I wasn't appreciating each pattern for itself. I felt almost as though some of the items were filler... Read the Tillman book instead!

(Random Comment: I haven't exactly come across many books for cat owners, but I also haven't really looked. In the books that are for generic "Pets" usually the cat items are little catnip toys or beds. I wouldn't fancy trying to put a coat on a cat, myself!)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dyeing for Hedgehogs

I've only ever knit one thing with eyelash yarn in my life (see my gosling). The pattern was actually from the same author! I found the perfect heathered brown that will work for the body of my hedgehog... but I do not have a color that is quite appropriate for the face.

I have black for eyes, and I'm have some wool of the andes purple that could work for the snout, although I decided to try to make a rosy pink myself. What I needed the most was to find a brown that matches the fuzzy yarn that I found in a bin without a label.

I used 1T vinegar per 2 cups of water on the stovetop. I brought it to a light boil, and then added the dye.

Color #1: 1 mL concentrated Brown solution (Wilton's paste dissolved in water), and 0.5 mL of concentrated black solution (using Wilton's paste solution). Add the wool, and simmer until most of the color has been absorbed to the fiber.

Color#2: Same water as previous (very little color remaining), 1mL of each Black and Brown solution. I added the wool, and allowed it to simmer until the color became a deeper brown than the previous. The remaining dyebath had evidence of black dye.

Color #3: Same water that was left over from #2, plus 3 drops of red food coloring. I allowed the wool to simmer in the dyebath until it turned a deep rose color. (All color was not removed from the water, but I did not want the pink to become redder or brighter. I wanted a muted color.)

Wet these look like they'd go with the eyelash yarn that I selected for this project.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pet Patterns Book Reviews

In my quest for patterns meant for large dogs, I borrowed some pet books from the library to see what I could find.

PuppyKnits: 12 QuickKnit Fashions for Your Best Friend by Jil Eaton

I cannot imagine knitting a sweater for a puppy when the puppy will grow into a 120 lb dog... but rather than just for puppies these are meant for small dogs. Of course, the author is the owner of a 106 lb Great Dane mix (cute dog!) I think her intro comment "easy to knit but with delightful details" fits the patterns exactly.

There are good instructions for checking your gauge and how to measure your dog, since we all know that different breeds come in many shapes and sizes!

The Patterns (given with the breed they were made to fit)
  • Sweaters: Cabled Delight (Yorkshire Terrier), Popcorn Pupp (Bichon Frise), Jester (cover pattern, Long-haired miniature Dachshund), Fringe Benefits (Jack Russell Terrier), Soutache (Maltese), Ruffles Galore (Pomeranian), Button Up! (Toy Poodle), Puppy Profile (Jack Russel Terrier), Pom Pom (Miniture Short-haired Dachshund), Boss Tweed (Chihuahua)
  • Other: Puppy Fez (Pug), Collar Cuff (Pug)
The Puppy Fez could be adapted for a larger dog, not that an excitable dog would keep it on his/her head! The Popcorn Pupp sweater has a little hoodie on it, which is adorable even if it wouldn't fit over the dog's head. The one I'd love to mkae is Jester, made for a dachshund. Have you ever seen The Ugly Dachshund? I seem to recall a scene with yarn and the mischievous dachshunds who get the Dane in trouble... but I digress. The Collar Cuff would attract attention, but it looks very uncomfortable to wear. I am also a fan of the Fringe Benefits sweater, I think it is dashing.

I wouldn't buy this book for the learn to knit section, there are books that are better teaching tools. Some of these patterns are super darling, and it would make a good present for any dog lover/knitter. The patterns in this book are primarily sweaters, and as you can see by the breeds of the models, the patterns are all designed for small dogs. Unfortunately each pattern is only given for 1 size.

Knits for Dogs & Cats by Tina Barrett

I was intreagued to see how patterns for dogs and cats would be in one book. Many people I know like one or the other, but there are plenty of people out there who have both. This book has two main sections of knitting projects "Knitwear for Dogs" and "Accessories for All." I did have difficulty imagining trying to fit a sweater onto a cat...

The Patterns for Dogs
  • Sweaters (17)
The Patterns for All (Cats I suppose)
  • Dogs - Fur Bone, Shoe Chew, Bandanas, Doggie Bag, Cable Twist Scarf, Blanket* (Could work for both)
  • Cats - Princess Pussycat Throne, Kitten Mitten (Lots of toys attached to the fingers for you to dangle in front of you cat), Fish Cushion
There is a great doggie sizing chart, so that you can make something for a "Large" dog (being a Greyhound type size, a length of 23 inches). I do appreciate the author considering that there are such a range of doggie sizes out there!

This book has pictures of the projects, but all of the animals are shown as cartoons. For every single sweater, there is a cartoon dog in some crazy pose wearing it. I prefer to see real animal models, because then you get a sense of how the garments really work and fit. Would you show a human sweater without someone wearing it? I don't think so! With so many pictures, you get a sense of what the garmet should look like, but how do you know about how it would fit? What sections you may need to modify? For this reason, this is my least favorite of the three books I am reviewing in this post.

Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them: 30 Great-Looking Designs for Man & His Best Friend by Annie Modesitt and Drew Emborsky

When I saw the title of this book, I thought the concept was great. You frequently think of women dressing to match their dogs, but I find is way more dashing to make matching pup and dad outfits!

The Pattern Pairs:
  • Men's Raglan Mock Soy Silk Turtleneck & Doggie's Soy Silk Sweater
  • Variegated Yoke Pullover & Variegated Dog Kercheif
  • Easy Toe-Up Socks & Superwash Mutt-Lukes
  • Men's Knit Zip Front Pullover (no matching pup item)
  • Shades of Gray Sweater & Boy Toy (person shaped dog toy)
  • Garter Ridge Stripe Pullover (no matching pup item)
  • Pet Box Sofa (no matching human item)
  • Three-Color Handpaint Anorak & Three-Color Doggie Anorak
  • Plaid Zip Front Jacket & Striped Treat Bag
  • Cotton Cabled Pullover with Color & Fido Muscle Shirt
  • Faupi Lopi Cardigan & Mitered Dog Blanket
  • Fair Isle Hat & Doggie Fair Isle Sweater
  • Diagonal Colorblock Pullover & Doggie Saddlebags & Double-Knit Hemp Leash
  • Garter Rib Scarf and Hat & Dog Garter Rib Jacket
  • Double Roll-Neck Simple Sweater & Double Roll-Neck Doggie Jacket
  • Gray Cabled Vest & Gray Cabled Dog Vest
  • Man's Dreadlock Hat & Rasta Dog Jacket (cover items)
  • Fluffy Handpain Dog Bed (no human item in the pair)

I am happy that not all of the dog items are sweaters. The shapes of the sweaters have a lot of variation, so this is not just the same pattern done with different embellishments. It is a book that could provide the perfect gift ideas for almost anyone.

This is also a Men's knitting book. It is nice to see a non-general Men's knitting book. I encourage all men to learn how to knit. (I'll give lessons.... achem pals!) This book also has some great tips for working from charts, and even a cheap chart holder that you can make yourself! There are size charts for men and dogs, with dog sizes ranging from XXS to XXXL (Great Danes! But not for dogs who have more girth, unfortunately for the Newfie lovers out there.) I can see myself coming back to this book someday for inspiration, especially once I have a pup of my own!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Search for Pet Patterns... Calling all Big Dogs!

This is a first for me, combining some book reviews with a pattern search! In Fall 2009, I became an "Aunt" to a Newfie that my friends adopted. I found this a great excuse to make things for a dog (and later fight to get Pita to wear them!) The problem... there are very few patterns for large dogs out there, and Pita will become >100 lbs. In fact, I have not been able to find them yet! I continuously find patterns for smaller dogs.

Some patterns that came up in my search (even though they're not for large dogs):
  • Custom Dog Sweater - With discussion on how to make a sweater to fit your favorite animal. This is the best option for large-dog clothing that I've found.
  • Norwegian Dog Sweater - Beautiful two color pattern. The model is a smaller dog
  • Christmas Jumper - A little ribbed hoodie for your poochie!
  • Garter Stitch Shelter Blanket - Dogs need love too (and cats).
  • Duck squeak toy - This is so cute. I would be nervous about the dog tearing it apart, but then again, it wouldn't be too different from other stuffed toys.
I altered my search to find specifically knits for Newfoundlands... I need BIG dogs. Not even sweaters, but knit-able Halloween costumes or something would be fun.

At first I came up with mitts (that happen to be darling... but they're for humans, not dogs dog.) I found a newfie (and other breeds) charts for sale, but that is not helping my search for free patterns.

The other item that comes up in these searches are services to spin your pet hair into yarn. At first I was thinking that this is very strange, but how is it different to take dog or cat hair when we use sheep and rabbits all of the time?

So my search did not turn up anything like I had hoped. Please contact me if you know of any free knitting patterns for large dogs!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Guitar Playing Dinosaurs Knitting Charts!

Starting in the Fall of 2009, I began thinking about creating custom Christmas Stockings for Keith and myself. I asked Keith if he could have anything he wanted on a stocking, what would that be. His response was dinosaurs playing guitars. I present to you, the charts that I created of dinosaurs playing guitars.

I cannot take all of the credit for these charts. They are based on the artwork of Frank Wu "Dinosaurs Playing Guitar".

Dino with Hat - 38x26

Dino without hat: 35x29

Chart that was used in the stocking: 47x70

This pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be
re-published in any other way without the permission of the author. © 2010 ChemKnits

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fuzzy Gift Bag

This is the "soft drawstring pouch" from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Haverson. (See the cover of the book.) I have a large quantity of Lion Brand Romance in Lavender and Cherry Blossom, and I wanted to see if this fuzzy yarn would work for a series of gift bags.

The bag was knit from the top down using size 6 round needles. I selected the smallest bag size (90 st cast on), but I knew my gauge would be way off. I figured that since I was making reusable wrapping paper, the size wasn't too important.

The final bag is 7 inches wide, and 7 inches long (after the eyelet round, there are 3 inches above the eyelets). I thought it was really smart to use a 3 needle bind-off for the bottom seam. This gave a very clean closure.

I was not looking forward to making a long I-cord with this really fuzzy yarn. I decided to take a step back to my childhood and make a braided tie for this bag. I used 6 strands of the Romance yarn in the braid.

Overall, I'm very happy with the way this pattern came out. It was not quite as fast to knit as I would have liked, but was a simple project that could be done in a car ride or during a movie with low lights.

The bag with a braided drawstring.

The top of the bag is wider than the bottom, giving it a nice poof when closed. The right side (left) and wrong side (right) of the bag are shown.

This is the perfect size to wrap up a gift ball of yarn!