Friday, January 28, 2011

Simple Knits for Sophisticated Living

Simple Knits for Sophisticated Living: Quick-Knit Projects from Beautiful, Chunky Yarns by Barbara Albright

I really like the organization of this book. The six chapters separate the categories of their patterns very nicely:
  • Cozy, Comfy Home (pillows etc) - 7
  • Kitchen Knitting (cozies, table runners, place mats, pot holders) - 4
  • Holding it together (purses, backpacks, etc) - 7
  • Knits for kids (sweater, hat, throw, toys) - 5
  • Simple Wearables, Sophisticated Threads (scarf, sweater, vest, slippers, shawl) - 5
  • Under Cover (blankets) - 5
The "how to" instructions are very straight forwards, with clear images to help teach the technique. (If someone is going to bother to give instructions, then they HAVE to show some kind of picture.)

Albright includes some really interesting details in her patterns. I really like the beaded, knit napkin ring. Some of the embellishing buttons really make the patterns look extraordinary. There are some items that are quite unique, I have never seen a pattern for a hanger cover before. Of course, as an avid toy knitter, I ADORE the knitted mice, who look like they could have been needle felted. I like the idea of a picnic blanket with a checkerboard in the middle, and handmade checkers, but I don't think that the concept is new.

Overall, the book is well laid out, and has really nice images. None of the patterns tempt me enough to want to make them, but flipping through this book has giving me inspiration for some other patterns. Therefore, I consider this library trip a success.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Sample of Intarsia Knitting (Video)

Intarsia is a form of colorwork knitting where you are only holding one strand (a single color) of yarn at a time. I created this video for my sister-in-law-to-be to help her out with a knitting project. Some notes on the video quality: At one point my knitting goes above the camera, but I promise that I come back into frame! The video is a little blurrier than I would like, but I wanted to finish it fast so I could send aid across the Atlantic.

Video: A Sample of Intarsia Knitting

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Felt by Hand with a Bucket (Video)

Well I did it! I finally made some oven mitts and held off on felting them until I could make a video! I hope that you enjoy this tutorial on how to felt by hand with a bucket.

I have also put an extended version of the video on youtube. It is almost three times as long, and contains extra footage of me felting the oven mitts and a lot more talking by me! I doubt anyone would want to see the extended version, but someone may be interested to see a some more images of intermediately felted items.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More Oven Mitts

I love this oven mitt pattern. I'm also using some of the yarn that I hand dyed for the Housewarming Oven Mitts. When using up my stash of Knitpicks Wool of the Andes yarn, I don't have enough yarn to make a mitt in a single color, so I tried to make some interesting striping patterns to decrease my stash.

To calculate with the pattern this time, I made some notes on the rows between each step:
  • Increases for the thumb begin at row 32.
  • The thumb is tied off after row 51 (during the knitting of row 52)
  • Decreases for the top start after row 72.
  • There are 93 rounds total to this pattern. (After row 91, 12 sts remain).
These steps should help me plan out striping patterns in the future, and help me with placements should I start to try some intarsia.

The rainbow of remnants used for these mitts.

The rainbow shown in the previous photo was used for the mitt on the left. The mitt on the right had a much more random striping pattern. I cannot wait to see how they'll felt!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Holiday Sweaters - Part 1

Berroco has had three seasons of minutia sweater patterns, and these are some of the first they designed (from 2007 I believe). This winter, I knit a bunch of tiny sweater ornaments, and I decided to split it up into multiple posts so you could appreciate how fun each mini sweater is!

I used size 1 (2.5 mm) knitting needles and KnitPicks Palette Yarn that I hand dyed (with the exception of the black).

The first sweater I made was pattern #7. The colorwork in this sweater was a lot of fun. I used some of the yarn from one of my first time dyeing with 100% wool. You knit up one side of the body and then back down the other.

The Complete Body of #7

The directions involve knitting everything flat, and then there is a lot of seaming. I chose to knit the arms in the round, since there was nothing in the pattern that required it be knit flat. This saved me from seaming on the itsy bitsy arms.

After you connect the arms to the body (left), you pick up stitches around the neck and make the neckband (right).

The second sweater I knit was pattern #6. I used a brown that I created while dyeing for my knit hedgehog. This sweater was knit as one complete piece (except for the turtleneck) and then seamed up the sizes and underarms.

When I was adding stitches to make the arms, I cast on the additional stitches at the end of the row so then I could turn and work the stitches on the next row. This meant that there was no need to disconnect the yarn or have large floats to begin the arms.

The cable runs up one side of the sweater, and down the other side. You can pick which way you like the best!

I am knitting these sweaters on smaller needles and with thinner yarn than directed, so when directions state to knit for ## inches, I have to adapt it so it will look proportional. The cable pattern was worked 2 times, and the stitches for the arms were added after row 4 and row 5 in the third repeat. The neck shaping started just before row 6 on the fourth cable repeat. On the back side of the sweater, the arms were bound off during row 5 and during row 6. After the fourth cable round was completed, I bound off on the wrong side of the fabric.

This turtleneck was knit in seed stitch, and then folded over. I would wear this sweater if it were my size!

I love making projects that involve working with hand dyed yarn, you should check out this new article that I wrote! I hope that you enjoyed my first installment of itsy bitsy holiday sweaters. Someday I'll have to get back to making the full thing!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Make a Long Tail Cast On (Video)

The long tail cast-on method was the first that I learned when I was 10. It is still my go-to cast on method.

Video: How to Make a Long Tail Cast On - From slip knot to the end of the cast on stitches.

The Key Points:
  1. Start with a slip knot on your needle, making sure that you have a long piece of yarn (the "long tail") on one side. Pull it tight, but not too tight that it would slide around on the needle.
  2. Let the two pieces of yarn from the knot hang down. Pinch your left hand thumb and pointer finger, and go between the two strands. Open your fingers, and wrap the last three fingers around the yarn to hold it in place.
  3. With your needle, you are going to go under strand 1, over strand 2 (see yellow arrows), and then pull strand 2 back under strand 1 (see pink arrows). (To say this a different way; the stitch on your needle comes from strand 2. When you make the stitch, you are pulling strand 2 through the loop on your thumb, under strand 1)

  4. Repeat until you have the desired number of stitches on the needle.

TIP: If your cast on stitches are too tight, use a larger needle to cast on, and then transfer to the needle you're going to use for the knitting. Alternatively, use 2 knitting needles when you cast on, and then remove one before knitting.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Search for Knitted Ties

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about knitted ties. J. Crew has had some for sale in the past few years (around $50!) If I were to ever want to give Keith a knit tie (IF), it would be cheaper to make one myself. Since I was curious about what free patterns are available, I initiated this search.

I am limiting my search to classic looking neckties, not anything that can be tied around the neck.

The Patterns:
  • Knit Necktie - Seed stitch, skinny with a blunt end, "Easy" difficulty. (Note: you must register for a free Lion Brand account to view this pattern)
  • Striped Necktie - Knit in the round with self-striping yarn. The shape is of a skinny tie with blunt ends. (Note: you must register for a free Lion Brand account to view this pattern)
  • Traveling Rib Tie - Ribbed. Classic Shape.
  • Angelus Knit Tie - This is double layered, but is not knit in the round. It is folded in a similar way you would see with a traditional tie. There is nice texture on this garment. Bias pearled stripes.
  • A Silk Tie - Very classic tie shape with bias stripes.
  • Knit Bow Tie - Just as it sounds!
  • Men's Bias Knit Tie - very classic shape, diagonal stripes.
  • Dad's Knit Tie - Straight, skinny.
  • Bowtie Tie - This is not a bow tie. This is a tie that has a bow tie design on it. Classic shape. The first I've found with a color design other than stripes.
  • Wool Bam Boo Striped Tie - stockinette with stripes. A pointed end (which looks like it was folded and sewn? I didn't open the pattern PDF to check). Skinny with a pointed end.
  • Prep School - The small size fits a child. Knit with sock yarn. Classic shape.
  • Tweedy Tie - Moss stitch, classic shape, point.
  • His or Her Silk Necktie - Skinny, blunt ends.
  • The Easiest Bow Tie Ever - Caroline would like this one a lot, as it is modeled on a baby!
  • Unisex Skinny Tie - Multiple stitches cast on, knit width-wise.
  • Chamber Tie - A cable down the center.
  • Man's Tie in Party Ribbon - Garter stitch, pointed end.
  • Hermione's Tie - Knit in Griffindor colors, cute eyelets in the center.
  • Hogwarts House Tie - V-Shaped stripe, can be done in any of the house colors.
  • Baby Necktie - So this is more for a young child than an infant, but it is a cute mini-tie that you can tie in the back with a strap. Add a paperclip to make it "clip on"
  • Retro Knit and Striped Tie - This one has a loop on the back so the back of the tie stays in place. Striped and Skinny.
  • 1914 Gentleman's Knitted Tie - Spotted, classic shape from a vintage pattern.
  • Cotton Tie - You need to scroll all the way to the right to see the pattern for this classic shaped tie.
  • Gentleman's Knit Tie - Classic shaped. (The designer's first published pattern!)
  • Knitted Necktie - Classic shape and even worn to a prom! (see photo)
  • Houndstooth Check Tie - Hurray! A Pattern! Houndstooth pattern. (Note: you must register for a free Lion Brand account to view this pattern)

Patterns available for free on Ravelry (create a free account, every knitter should use that website!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adorn Your Hands in 28 Innovative Ways

Knitting New Mittens and Gloves: Warm and Adorn Your Hands in 28 Innovative Ways by Robin Melanson

If you follow my blog, you should know that I love mittens. Some people make socks, I like mittens. And oven mitts for that matter. I like the feel of fibers when I'm knitting, and I like to keep 'em in my hands.

I was therefore super excited when I came across this book.

The Patterns:
  • Fingerless Mitts (13) - Accomplice, Alternating Current*, Box Pleats, Driver (looks like driving gloves to me!), Evening Light, Filigree, Glaistig, Houndstoothe Miscellany, Negative Space, Rusalka, Standard Deviation, Strata*, Tapisserie
  • Gloves (6) - Blackthorn, Burunnhilde (Long, with traveling twisted stitch), Golden Bracelets, Poppy (Ruffles at the cuff), Strata* (Layered gloves and mitts), Welig (cabled)
  • Mittens (11) - Aethelwyne (has an elvish, pointy shape), Alesund (Norwegian style), Alternating Current* (change the cuffs like bracelets with the buttons), Ceangaltas (interesting knotwork around the wrist), Chevalier, Gothic, Gretel, Jack-in-the-Box (GLITTENS!), Plush, Sheltie (double layer), Snug
Mmmmm delicious. I am not itching to start making any of these because I still am addicted to making colorwork mittens and gloves. I love seeing so many different styles of mittens and gloves all in one book! I will be back to this one, I can promise you that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bunch of Grapes

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Here's another bag from the elegant edibles collection (the bunch of grapes pattern). I used size 10.5 double pointed needles and the yarns provided in the kit (2 balls of amethyst heather, less than 1 ball each of jalapeno and avocado). I actually already had some amethyst heather WOTA in my stash (left over from the "Long Live the Queen" mohawk hat).

I went through a LOT more yarn that I had expected... I needed to remove one repeat of rows 1-8 to complete the bag without having to buy more yarn. The kit should have provided 3 balls of amethyst heather. It is strange that there is so much extra of other colors, but not this one. If I had not had some amethyst heather in my stash, I would not have been able to finish the project!

The yarn that remained after knitting the bag (left) and after sewing up the holes in the bag (right).

There are a lot of bobbles in this bag. Rather than turning the bag for each bobble, I decided to knit backwards, eliminating any need to turn the work!

So knitting this project with size 10.5 needles... the "bobbles" are ending up pretty flat. The stitches pull such that there is nothing that bobbles them. I therefore decided to sew up the holes before I felted the bag. (I was afraid that if I did not sew up these holes the bag would loose all of the grape texture.)

Right: The holes between each bobble. Left: same picture, but showing how I was sewing up the holes. I would stitch the top of the hole to the bottom, leaving the sides alone so they could "bubble" out.

Towards the bottom of the bag, I have started sewing up the holes. The holes towards the right of the picture are currently unaltered.

When I sewed up the holes a bit I reduced the length by 6 inches, and the bobbles are now more pronounced.

The bag before the holes were sewed up.

The bag after I sewed the holes up.

I had a slight problem with knitting the lid. You picked up 5 stitches so it would be attached to the bag. I would have preferred to knit the lid, and then sew it to the bag after the fact. I felt like I was stretching out the bag, as it kept getting twisted around the junction. The instructions have the leafy bits on the cap of the grapes be knit in garter stitch, but I did stockinette since that's the way the rest of the the bag is.

The finished lid

The bag didn't shrink that much during the felting. But thankfully it did keep it's shape! There are a few small holes left in the bag, but most of it closed on its own. This was the easiest hand felting I've ever done. I put the bag in a mopping bucket with hot water and a little dish soap. I then stirred the bucket with a wooden spoon, changing the water twice. I didn't want to use my hands to rub the fibers like I would do on an oven mitt because I was afraid to loose the definition of the grapes.



The cap of the bag is smaller than the body, so I cinched the top of the bag a bit so the cap fits better. I also still need to purchase snaps for the bag. I decided to sew the cap on so it would be connected to the bag by more than 5 stitches. This way I won't need more than one snap to keep it closed.

One more funny note about this project. I misread round 8 from the way my directions are printed... but that ended up being the correct way! what I had printed said to K3 at the end, which would end that row early. I did the K9. That is a good whoops, since I was over 2/3 done with the bag when I found the errata.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A search for Valentines Day Knitting Patterns

Is there a better way to say, "I love you" than with a homemade gift? Why not knit your love a valentine this year? I came across the following patterns in my quest for Valentine's Day knitting patterns. This list does not contain every pattern I could possibly find, but I tried to provide you with some variety for inspiration.
  • Knitting Pattern Central has a directory just for hearts
  • Valentine wand - A cute little stuffed wand makes a great gift for a child.
  • heart on top, looks like a knit striped candy cane on bottom.
  • Heartfelt - Simple stuffed heart shape. Lightly stuffed. Really cute!
  • Heart Lace bookmark - Three lacy hearts are shown on a bookmark. This would be great as an insert into a homemade Valentine's Day card. You could incorporate this into the card itself for some beautiful stationary! (OOO, or starch spray it, and then use it as a stencil to spraypaint cards)
  • Besotted Scarf - Send your XOXO with cables on this scarf!
  • Valentine Heart ring - How sweet is this? You can show someone you love them by placing this little reminder on their hand.
  • Be My Dishcloth - A fantastic charted heart. I would love to see this in contrasting colors.
  • Christine's Valentine Bag - a simple little heart shaped bag
  • Be sweet valentine pillow - a pillow with be sweet written across the front. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to access this free knitting pattern.
  • Valentine mug cozy - with this coffee cozy, you can keep their coffee warm, and with a heart they'll remember that you love them!
  • Valentine Hat - lace hearts all around this hat
  • Heart - Literally give someone your heart!
  • Little stuffed hearts - I love the one with the closed eyes
  • Love rocks - A necklace of knit hearts
  • Chinese character for love - You will need to create a free Ravelry account to access this free knitting pattern.
  • Love chart - the chart for a dishcloth that reads Love amore love
  • Love silhouette chart - the moment just before the kiss
Hopefully these patterns that I have found have inspired you to create something for those you love for Valentine's Day.

Check out my article on Squidoo for more hand knit Valentine ideas.