Monday, August 30, 2010

Beyond Knits

Every once in a while I choose books for knitting examination that branch away from standard knitting techniques. Today I'm reviewing a books on color theory, knitting with beads and fiber felting. Two of these books I want to add to my permanent collection.

ColorSense: Creative Color Combinations for Crafters by Susan Levin

So this is not a book just for knitters, but it is important to think of color combinations and how they work. This is something that I have trouble with.

This book is a FANTASTIC reference. It not only discusses color theory, but gives pages and pages of examples. There are monochromatic, two color, three color, complementing color, contrasting anything you can imagine. Flipping through the pages looking at the color examples gives me so much inspiration. It is inspiring me to dye yarn, to knit colorways...

To show how extensive this resource is, in the section Monochromatic Combinations there are two pages of red, two pages of red/orange, two pages or orange, etc.

The book contains a color wheel so you can examine the color theory yourself. There are also color squares that you can pop out of the book to move swatches of different shades around to find a combination that you like.

I want this book to become a permanent part of my collection. Too bad it belongs to the Cambridge Public Library....

Knit One, Bead Too: Essential Techniques for Knitting with Beads by Judith Durant

What a fantastic reference for making beaded knitting projects. I tried to figure it out on my own when I designed a beaded Christmas ornament, but it did not come out as elegant as I would have liked. This spiral bound book (for easy hands-free reading) is such a great reference that I put it on my wish list. I want to own this book. This is by far my favorite Durant book.

Durant explains different kinds of beads and the yarns you can use with them. There are examples of the different ways to incorporate beads into the knitting for comparison so you understand the difference. The book is separated into seven chapters: Tools and Techniques, Bead Knitting, Beaded Knitting, Slipstitch Bead Knitting, Cary-Along Bead Knitting, Hook Bead Knitting, and Putting it all together. Chapters 2-6 begin with techniques and then show patterns that use the technique.
The Patterns:
  • For Home: Carpet Coasters, Grape and Berries Pillow
  • Bags: Turquoise Mixed Bag, Golden Purse, Mermaid Shoulder Bag, Sampler Beaded Bag (using all of the techniques in the book)
  • Accessories: Colorful Diamond Gloves, Iridescent Beaded Scarf, Magic Mohair Beret, Beady Tam, Wedding Stole
  • Clothing: Crystal Cardigan, Beady-Eyed Cable Socks, Beads-Go-Sporty Pullover, Drop-Bead Evening Shell, Zulu Inspired Vest
The beading in the patterns ranges from complete (you almost cannot see any knitting) to very subtle (you need to be under a light to see them). The types of patterns are varied, which gives wonderful examples of how beading can enhance knitting. The patterns are beautiful, but the real value of this book is in the beaded knitting instructions. As a reference book, it belongs on every knitter's shelf.

Felt Style: 35 Fashionable Accessories To Create and Wear by Chrissie Day

I love making felted projects, even if sometimes I end up shrinking something a wee bit too much. I have a book of felted patterns in my library that I bought for a particular pattern, but was disseminated with those remaining. I'm hoping to like this one.

There is an extensive Techniques section, all of which are listed in the table of Contents. The instructions for different felting techniques are FANTASTIC with illuminating photographs.
  • Bags - 8
  • Jewelry - 5
  • Scarves - 5
  • Accessories - 5 (Muff, Pumps, Belt, and another Bag)
  • Hats (7)
This is not just a knitting book, this is a true felting book. Some of the patterns are felted-knitted fabrics. Others explore felting with fibers directly. When the patterns involve no knitting, there are brilliant step by step photos of the process so you can see how things should appear at each step. You also learn how to felt fibers onto fabric... something that I'd never imagined until this book.

I'm not really impressed by felting onto fabric. There is one bag that is cute, but a lot of the projects come out looking very crafty-homemade. I like my projects to look hand knit (vs machine), but I also like them to have a sophistication. The most impressive thing about this book is how techniques are illustrated. There are some cute patterns, but many are not to my taste or my technique. The patterns that are most impressive are the ones that are felted from fiber. This is not a craft that I'm interested in learning at the moment. (The next thing that I'm going to learn is crochet!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It is never too early to think about Christmas

If you have kids, it could be fun to knit them a toys for the holidays. However, adults enjoy knit toys too! I love knitting toys... well and hats and mittens (OK, so there is very little I don't like to knit, but I do really like to knit toys!)

Here are the latest toy knitting books that I've found in my local library. Enjoy!

A Collection of Characters (Leisure Arts #4519) by Chris De Longpre

When I looked at the title of this booklet, I was excited to see these 4 knit toys with matching blankets. It is a cute idea to give a child a toy and blankie that are meant to go together.

The toys all have a common silhouette, gourd shaped body with long dangly limbs. The animals that you can knit are a Pig, Duck, Dog and Mouse. The cutest blanket/animal combo is the mouse and a holey swiss cheese looking blanket.

This is a no muss no fuss book. There are brief general instructions, but the book pretty much contains the patterns and nothing else. I would have loved to hear the author explain how the blankets were inspired by the animals (with the exception of color choices, those are clear!) I love hearing the commentary of authors in addition to their patterns.

I've had good luck with Leisure Arts booklets. Although they would be pricy (for the small number of patterns), if you can find it at the local library then you'd be in luck! The animals are sweet, not the most realistic looking that I've found, but would make for a nice cuddly pal.

Toys to Knit: Dozens of Patterns for Heirloom Dolls, Animals, Doll Clothes, and Accessories by Tracy Chapman

This book contains four main sections of patterns: Dolls, Clothes, Animals, and Nursery toys and accessories. There is really only one basic doll pattern, although it is easy to see (as the author recommends) how to adapt this to make different characters. The outfits you can make range from sailor, simple skirts and sweaters, ballerinas and fairies. Frequently with knitted toys, I don't worry too much about gauge, but here it would be important since you want your pieces to fit. At the very least you should be consistent!

Animals (Now animals tend to be my favorite, so I'm going to list the patterns., My favorites are the Monkey, Teddy Bear, and Elephant. )
  • Monkey (Charming with a heart-shaped face)
  • Fish (there are over 2 dozen pieces to knit separately. Unfortunately there is not a great image to direct you to attach the scales to the body after they're all created, but the final product is darling, nevertheless.)
  • Bumble Bee
  • Teddy Bear (so sweet, there is also a pattern for a sweater)
  • Rabbit
  • Penguin (the beak/head makes me think more of a tucan, I have seen better patterns online)
  • Kangaroo with baby roo
  • Elephant (knit in a dark tweed yarn, the texture gives this guy life. This is one of my favorites)
  • Mouse
  • Snake
  • Starfish
Finally, Nursery toys and accessories. I have included some of these in the animals section above, since they fit in that category. The nursery ball is cute, but I believe I would have trouble getting the six panels to become spherical. Nursery Blocks (there is a photo of a little boy squishing these over his ears which makes me want to make them!).

When creating the amazon link, I noticed that the book had low marks due to the high number of mistakes in the patterns. So I suppose it would be prudent to check for errata before you start working on these patterns, not just when you get stuck. I did like many of these patterns quite a bit. I feel hesitant based on the reports of errors, so I would precede with caution.

The Knitted Odd-bod Bunch: 35 Unique and Quirky Knitted Creatures by Donna Wilson

What a FUN book. These patterns take the rules of proportoin and dimension in creatures and completely re-invents them. You will find creatures with two heads and four legs, elongated heads or bodies and more. Some of these toys have a clear inspiration on existing fauna, whereas others were clearly born in the imagination of Donna Wilson.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fair isle detail on the Owl. I think that the shape and color is brilliant, and cannot wait to make this creature. The Raccoon-Fox makes me giggle with delight.

As I've been working on designing my own patterns, I have been playing with ways to create different three dimensional shapes. Looking at this book is delightful as a source of inspiration. I flip through and new shapes and ideas pop into my head (and then into my sketchbook!)

There is a cartoonish nature to these cartoons, you feel as though a TV series should start based on these creatures. The description of the creatures (how some are progeny of others, and how one may have locked another in a cupboard...) as delightful as the patterns. I am so happy right now after reading this book! I highly recommend that you pick up a copy and read it yourself.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Search for Hot Water Bottle Cozies

Inspired by my sick day search, I started a search for free hot water bottle cover patterns. There is really only so much I can say in each of the descriptions, but I'll give it my best shot.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Solstice Bird

On Ravelry, I came across this super cute Solstice Bird pattern by Uma Joy. I purchased some Navy WoTA Bulky yarn from Knitpicks and used size 10 needles to knit up the hexagons.

Looking at pictures of the other projects on Ravelry, a number of the birds come out shorter and longer than the one in the pattern. I think this could be attributed to overfelting. To keep some of the garter stitch in the bird, I choose to hand felt these swatches. (If I were to machine felt them I would loose all stitch definition).

This was the fastest hand felting I've ever experienced in my life. I don't know if it is because the pieces are so small, or that the WoTA Bulky yarn is just that happy to felt (maybe the twist is looser). Whatever the reason, it was fast. I blocked the pieces to have a hexagonal-like shape, making sure they were taller than long so my birds would (hopefully) have some height.

It took less than 15 minutes to knit up the bird body, making it longer to felt than to knit! It's about 4.5" square when first knit. ~4"after felting. I did not let them shrink much.

Pre- (right) and post-felting (left)

I don't know how to needle felt so I just embroidered on the wings. I did not love my attempt at the beautiful wings created by Uma Joy, so I opted to do a three-loop wing on the rest of my birds.

Cutting these pieces, they are less felted than I had originally thought. I constructed two birds of this "less felted" mode. I decided it would have been prudent to felt the other birds more. I dont' want them falling apart! If I give you one of my birds, please use it for decoration only!

Cut hexagon (right) and the cut edge (left). The birds have not fallen apart, but I did pull out a couple of loose stitches.

Another great thing about working in pairs is that if you mess up cutting one, you can cut another to size to give you tall and short rather than trimming down.

Big birds and little birds!

I love my little flock! This was a fun fast project. It would be easy to create many of these in a single day, if you're willing to stitch them together when they're still wet from felting!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rejected Stocking Motifs

I've been working on designing Christmas stockings. I had many ideas, but I did not have space to incorporate all of them into the two stockings. These charts are the motifs that I liked, but didn't end up using. Enjoy!

(Yes, this is a benzene star...)

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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Search for Wedding Garter Knitting Patterns

I'm getting married next summer, and I really want to incorporate something that I've made into the day. Boston summers are very warm, so I doubt I'll need a wrap or a shawl. I decided that a handmade garter would be a great keepsake for the day. It also will be more comfortable since I will have control over the materials and the fit.

In this search, I'm including the types of materials needed for each to help myself keep track of what else is required. (Some of the patterns call for elastic, others just ribbon etc.)

Free Garter Knitting Patterns
  • Knitted Lace Wedding Garter: (Cotton Thread size 40, 1/4 inch wide blue ribbon, single fold bias tape, 3/8 inch wide elastic) Simple, elegant, knit as a strip and then connected together to form the loop.
  • Knitting Wedding Garter: (3/8 inch wide satin ribbon) Knit with a ribbon in garter stitch. (NOTE, you are knitting with ribbon here, not thread)
  • Ruffled Wedding Garter: (Free Ravelry download) Secured with ribbon or yarn tie, no elastic.
  • Skinny Lace Wedding Garter: (Free Ravelry download)
  • Wedding Garter: Knit in the round, there is a bit of a ruffle at the bottom. Held up with a thin ribbon tie.
  • Eloping: Shown in a color, very lacy with two ribbon ties holding it up.
  • Courtney's bit of blue: (1/8 inch elastic, 1/8 inch ribbon) Elastic and ribbon at the top, lacy ruffle at the bottom.
  • Lace Edging:This could be made into garters by threading ribbon and elastic through the YO's.
  • Elegant wedding accessories: Free Ravelry Download. Ribbon and elastic hold it up. This one is less lacy than some of the other options.
  • Ehow: How to Knit a Wedding Garter: l There's no picture here, but the instructions seem relatively easy to follow. I'm guessing it isn't gathered at all because it has you making the lace for 3/4 of the bride's thigh.
This search wasn't that easy, since "garter" is a standard knitting term, and doesn't just describe the item. Please let me know if you know any other wedding garter patterns. Happy Knitting!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Simple Seed Stitch Border Coaster Pattern

So I was working on a sampler of coasters to decide what would work best in my house. When making coasters, I started making up some things up instead of just following other patterns. This coaster is very simple to knit, and I figured that I might as well share the pattern with y'all.

  • Size 6 knitting needles
  • gauge: 6 sts/inch, 15 rows/2 inches over stockinette
  • yarn needle to weave in loose ends
  • worsted weight wool (1 50 g ball can make multiple coasters)
  • Finished Size: 3.75 stitches Square
The Pattern
  • Cast on 23 sts
  • Work 4 rows in seed stitch: K1, *P1, K1* repeat from * across
  • RS Row: K1, P1, K1, P1, K15, P1, K1, P1, K1
  • WS Row: K1, P1, K1, P17, K1, P1, K1
  • Repeat the RS and WS rows until you have completed a total of 26 rows completed
  • Work 3 rows in seed stitch: K1, *P1, K1* repeat from * across
  • Bind off, keeping with seed stitch pattern (K1, *P1, K1* repeat from * across)
  • Weave in loose ends
  • Block if the coaster is curling.

The coaster may curl up, but it was able to lay flat without blocking. Blocking eliminated the curling completely.


Abbreviations Used in this pattern:

K - knit
P - purl
WS - wrong side
RS - right side

This knit coaster pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. You are not distribute or reprint this pattern without the permission of ChemKnits. © 2010 ChemKnits

Coaster Comparison

Which kind would Keith like the best? I decided to knit up a bunch, and then ask him, since it is his home, too. And in the meantime, before I finish up the rest, we have some more coasters. (Keith had really nice obsidian ones, but we have managed to break a number of them since we moved in. Warning, if you drop obsidian it breaks!)

All of the coasters below were knit with Coal Wool of the Andes yarn. One ball was more than sufficient to complete all of the below coasters.

It's so mod coster

Mod coaster before (left) and after (right) closing up the center hole.

The link will take you to an archived web page as the original is no longer available. The coaster is cute... it's just not quite what I was hoping for. The color choice of black was probably a mistake, as the interesting stitches are not very visible. I decided to lightly felt the coaster to make it sturdier.

I think that I would enjoy this more with variegated yarn of a smaller weight. I knit this project on size 7 needles. Before felting the coaster was 4.5 inches from tip to the middle of the opposite side. After felting the coaster measured 4 inches from tip to middle, and looks more like a star than a hexagon.

Mod coaster post-felting

The Teeny Weeny Garter Stitch Coaster

Finishing up the teeny weeny garter stitch coaster. After the 17 repeats were complete (left) closing the circle (middle) and reducing the center hole (right).

This was much more of a pleasure to knit. I used size 6 needles, so the gauge tighter, and I had no desire to felt the project. The shape is very floral, and it looks almost like the crochet items that my great-grandmother made. It was much easier to repeat 6 rows 16 times than 17 (?) rows 5 times as in the mod coaster. It was significantly easier to keep track of where I was in the pattern.

It would be really fun in cotton or bamboo as it was originally designed in. It may be too feminine for Keith, though. This coaster has a 4 inch diameter.

Modified color blocks baby blanket

Pre- and post blocking

You will need to create a free lion brand account to see the baby blanket pattern. I used the same diagonal type pattern with fewer stitches (see below) to create this square.
  • CO 5 sts
  • knit
  • K2, YO, k2 end (repeat this row until there are 23 sts on the needle)
  • K2 YO K2tog K2tog K til end.
  • when 5 sts remain, bind off.
Size before blocking - ~3 inches square. I think I should have extended the middle a bit more to make the coaster larger.

Plain Square with Seed Stitch Boarder

Before (left) and after(right) blocking.

I figured that Keith would like a simple coaster best, but I didn't find a pattern for one I liked. This coaster is so simple that I didn't really need to provide a pattern, but I decided to share the written instructions to inspire my fellow knitters out there.

This coaster is plain, but functional. Minimal blocking is required (since I designed it that way!) Finished Size: 3.75 inches square.


So which coaster will Keith choose??

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sick Day Pattern Search

I wrote this post a couple of months ago when I was in the middle of a long cold.

I'm home sick with a cold. I'm stuffy, uncomfortable and sick of watching daytime television. I'm feeling weak, so I'm not up for any strenuous knitting. I got to thinking... are there any fun sick day knitting patterns out there? When I was a kid, my mom had a stash of treats for when I had to stay home sick, a box of tissues with cartoons on it, a new book, something to keep me occupied instead of complaining. Let's see what I find!

  • Cozy Doctor Mask - This wouldn't work to keep something sterile, but could make a good Halloween costume for someone.
  • Virus Creativus - This is a dishrag that has a purled virus in the center. Instructions are written out, not charted.
  • Knit Bacteria - Hopefully none of these are in my system! I may have to knit some up because they're cute. As long as they stay on my shelf I'd be happy.
  • Nose Warmer - This is like a mask... for your nose! I would want to make it out of something machine washable...
  • Face Punch Relaxation Mask - Filled with flax seed so it could be warmed up in the microwave, this cute cabled bag could ease my headache just about now!

I could search for hot water bottle cozies, but I know that these are more common, so I'll leave that for another search. I didn't find too much, but I was able to distract myself on the internet for a while. Catch you later!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Search for Felted Brimmed Hats

So I made a Felted Brim Hat 2 winters ago, but I made it a little too long so the fit is not great. This was my first experience with a felted hat, and I was winging it since felting amounts vary with different kinds of yarn. I think that I would also like one with a more exaggerated brim. Why do I want a felted hat? They're SO warm, and living in Boston that is quite important, especially when you use public transportation to commute to work.

The free patterns below are for Woman's hats. I did not include child sizeds felted brimmed hats in this search.
  • Crystal Palace Yarns Iceland + Splash Felted Cloche Hat - I have used this pattern in the past. Without any gauge information, I really had to guess if I was doing things correctly. Maybe the Splash novelty yarn helps keep it from becoming too tight in the felting, I'm not sure. Certainly it is a cute hat, I am just looking to try a different pattern.
  • Crystal Palace Yarns Iceland +Fizz Stardust Felted Cloche Hat - Wider than the previous hat, althought the overall sihulette is similar. The novelty yarn is added in stripes.
  • Crystal Palace Yarns Musique + Squiggle Felted Hat with Brim - Large floppy brim. reminiscent of a gardening hat.
  • Crystal Palace Yarns Iceland + Squiggle Felted Hat with Brim - The novelty yarn is here attached at the brim, making it more exaggerated. It is hard to get a firm sense of the shape because the yarn is so bulky.
  • Flowers on a Grave - Simple silhouette (i.e. a non exaggerated brim), shown with a felted flower.
  • Felted Cloche - Simple, subtle silhouette, slight rolled brim from being knit in stockinette.
  • Foxy Felted Cloche - "A felted version of the classic flapper-style hat" Looks great embellished with a ribbon and bow
  • Felted Hat - Can make a large, rolled brim. There are pictures that show you how you can manipulate the brim in subtle ways as the hat dries.
  • St. Vincent Cloche - There is a slit in the brim which adds to the retro appeal. Simple silhouette, shown with a contrast color at the brim.
  • Top Down Felted Cloche - A great way to know if you can make the brim larger... start at the top and see how much yarn you have left!
  • Stirling Cloche - (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!) Beautiful. In the hundreds of projects you can find on Ravelry, I really love this in a heathered yarn in addition to the loopy mohair that was used in the design.
  • Vintage Girl Cloche - A seed stitch brim. (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!) More tight fitting than some of the others (but this depends on the degree of felting).
  • Cloche a la mode - As shown brim is a nice size, hat is shorter than some others (not in a bad way. I keep an eye on this because the hat that I made for myself came
  • La Cloche Sans Peur - The brim is asymmetric, so it is larger in the front than in the back. This allows you to roll up the front if you choose. (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!)
  • Felted Hat in "Eskimo" - This hat has a more exaggerated brim. It looks very classy. It is one of my favorites thus far.
  • The Kim Cloche - There is a knit textured band before the brim, super cute! (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!)
  • Debs Derby - It's fun to see how different felted projects come out when knit by different people. On Ravelry, some people fold the brim up, some have it tiny, where others have it as a wide unrolled version that happens to be my personal preference. I keep feeling amazed by how the same felted pattern can come out in so many different ways.
  • Lierihattu - It's a cute hat... but the pattern has not been translated to English! Whoops!
  • Felted Fabulous Hat - This looks like a bowler hat. The hat portion is a little boxier, and the brim comes out nice and flat (perpendicular like). (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!)
  • Drops Hat - Simple silhouette with a small brim.
  • Free Felted Hat Pattern - Shown with embilishemnts that Robin Hood would love! It is all in the finishing folks. (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!)
  • Clair de Lune - Asymmetric brim, can be styled in a number of ways. I personally like it with the shorter edge folded up, and longer edge unfolded. The picture on the pattern itself reminds me a bit of a pirate... just something about how the brim is styled. (Available for free Ravelry download, but first you need to make a free account!)
  • Isabelle - Floppy brim with felted flower embellishment.
  • Felted Eyelash Hat - Novelty Eyelash yarn is done on the crown, but not the brim. Brim is folded in the back in the photo, not the front.
  • Brown Sheep Co Felted Hat - Simple with relatively small brim.
  • Red Hat Lady Felted Pillbox Hat - Almost no brim, but you could sculpt a tiny one is as you're in the final shaping process.