Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hitchhiker Scarf

If you search for scarf knitting patterns on Ravelry, you will find that the Hitchhiker Scarf by Martina Behm is one of the most popular ones. This is a simple garter stitch scarf, but some interesting edging (that is really easy to memorize) makes it an asymmetric triangle with a scalloped edge. This is great for adding a special piece to a fall of spring outfit.

This is the first time that I knit with KnitPicks Stroll (Tonal) and I was very happy with the wool/nylon blend. The color nevermore tonal (discontinued) has jewel tones of teal, blue, purple and pink in addition to black, making it a perfect colorway for me. The garter stitch nature of Hitchhiker makes it perfect for showcasing variegated yarns, so I was excited to see how the colors did or didn't pool.

I started with 105 g in my ball of yarn. (Finally! Too much yardage rather than not enough! I may have enough for a hexipuff after all.) Normally when I use my ballwinder, I still pull the yarn from the outside of the ball. This time, I decided to take advantage of the fact that I've made a center pull ball. The plus is that the yarn didn't bounce around constantly, and it didn't get too floppy when I neared the end. I may need to do this more often!

After 36 points, I had 12 g of fiber left. I will do one more point (weigh again) and then do the last point as written. 37 points, 8 g left. I decided to end with 38 points. I was knitting with size 4 knitting needles because I liked the density of the fabric. When I cast off, I had 3 g of wool left (consuming 102 g). This pattern is great because I could have easily stopped with 37 points total if I started with a bit less yarn. (And yes, I did have enough yarn for a hexipuff!)

This is my first Hitchhiker, but I already have plans to make more! Since this scarf counts as a shawlette, this project was able to count as one of my 12 in 2012 shawls.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Knitting Machine

That's right, ChemKnits Readers. I purchased a knitting machine. And not just any knitting machine, but a cheap one. These plastic crank instruments have very poor reviews on websites, and since I am a hand knitter, what possessed me to select the NKOK Singer Knitting Machine
(which currently has 2 stars)?

I have been experimenting with different methods to dye skeins of yarn asymmetrically, and I knew that one method is to use sock blanks. But what do you do when you don't want to use fingering weight yarn, or you want to dye for a project that isn't socks? With this machine I can crank out blanks in whatever yarn I want, and since I plan to unravel it eventually it doesn't matter if there are some dropped stitches.

Cranking out tubes of stockinette takes a little getting used to. I will make some videos with the machine at some point to demonstrate the nuances, but for now I can say that it is useful to have a crochet hook handy if you care about the evenness of stitches. After a little practice with the tension, you can easily create even stockinette (see above right.) I was easily able to wind up 100g of worsted weight and fingering weight wool in an afternoon. (At some point in the future I will actually time myself.)

If you just start cranking, you'll produce yarn with live stitches at the end. A tip that I read somewhere is to feed the yarn through every other hook before you start, and this will prevent unraveling. When you work gets long enough, the twisting can take a tole on the fabric so you may need to block your project at the end.

I wish the knitting machine had more than 20 sts around so I could produce wider blanks... but I am not willing to invest in a more expensive machine just for some dyeing experiments. Stay tuned for when I start dyeing my blanks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Test Knit - London Skyline Cowl

I was so excited when I got the opportunity to test knit the London Skyline Cowl Knitting Pattern. I selected Berroco Peruvia in the color Oat and used size 7 knitting needles.

The yardage on the initial pattern was a whole skein of yarn, so I wasn't sure how much was required. I only had one ball of Peruvia in my stash, but I thought the cowl would be so lovely in that color that I didn't want to try a different yarn.

This yarn was not great for a cable cast on because it splits so easily, but I still wanted to make the cowl with this yarn. (I also wanted to follow the instructions for the test knit exactly.) It was so much fun watching the buildings pop out of the fabric. It was 100% worth having to buy more yarn to complete the project (I used 129 g = 1.29 skeins = 225 yards of yarn for this project.)

It was such a pleasure to work with this designer. Not only were the pattern instructions very clear, but she listened to the comments I gave and even incorporated some of my suggestions in to the pattern!

This is a project that absolutely requires blocking. I didn't pin it out, just wet blocked it gently to make the fabric hold its shape better.

I had fun in this photoshoot with Keith. I think the cowl looks amazing on him!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Search for Monkey Knitting Patterns for Babies

I know that there are going to be many monkey themed knitting patterns (and no, I'm not just looking for sock monkey knitting patterns. If fact, since I already have articles on both sock monkey knitting and crochet patterns, I will focus on non-sock monkies.) I wanted to narrow the search further and focus on monkey knitting patterns for baby items.

I have always loved giving monkey toys to puppies, and I know I will feel the same way about babies. (I'm not calling puppies and babies the same, I just love Monkeys!) One of my good friends has a Monkey themed room for their baby due in September. I already made a darling little treat for them (which I'll share sometime in August.)

Not all of these patterns are free, but these are the best of the monkey themed knits for babies that I have been able to find. All prices are applicable as of July 2012.

Free Patterns
  • Imp Bib - I love this monkey bib. The pattern is both charted and written out, and there is even dishcloth pattern with the same design. I have already made this item!
  • A Dish Monkey - Why not make a dishcloth to use a burp cloth or a washcloth for the bath? Available for free download.
  • Monkey Earflap Hat - This darling little hat has a monkey face appliqued to the front of it, complete with smile and ears. Designed to fit 3-9 months. Available for free download.
  • Baby Monkey Hat - This is made to fit a really young baby (0-3 months), has a rolled brim and stick out ears. If you make the base hat larger, you could easily make this to fit a larger child. Available for free download.
  • Mini Motif Baby Mittens - In addition to a darling monkey, there are robots, butterflies, penguins and more animals. Available for free download.
  • Toddler Monkey Hat - A darling earflap hat with a protruding nose and ears. You will need to create a free account to view this free knitting pattern.

Patterns for Purchase - Normally I stick with free knitting patterns in these searches, but sometimes there are patterns that are so amazing that cost money that I have to share them.
  • Woobie Monkey - A cute stuffed monkey head on the middle of a blanket. This is one of a series of patterns, and I want to make the whole collection! $5.50
  • Sleeping Monkey Blanket - A colorwork blanket with two different patterns on either side. Stunning! $6.00
  • Sock Monkey Lovie Blanket - A circular blanket with a stuffed sock monkey head in the center. $4.99
  • Monkey Hat and Diaper Cover Set - These are so darling, they are perfect for a newborn photoshoot. This is also a perfect opportunity to break out that fun fur yarn and put a little tail on the diaper cover. $4.25 for both patterns.
  • Monkey Pullover - A crewneck pullover with a colorwork monkey on the front, with sizes to fit 6 months-4yrs - $6.00
  • Baby's Sock Monkey Sweater - with sizes to fit 3 months-18 months. $5.99
  • Sock Monkey Baby Booties - A sock monkey face with button eyes is on top of the foot. ~$4.17
  • Critter Kids Monkey Newborn - 15lbs - This is a one piece newborn monkey suite. Do you want to knit your baby's first Halloween costume? $5.00
  • Baby Monkey Boots - This is another great opportunity for fun fur yarn when you make these stuffed little monkey booties. $3.95

I hope that you enjoyed my favorite monkey knits for babies! What is your favorite animal to knit for babies?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Fed a Giraffe!

Guess what? I fed a giraffe! Well not recently, but over a year ago at my Bachelorette Party, one of my bridesmaids arranged for us to feed some Giraffes at the zoo (thank you, Laura!) I was super excited to go to the zoo, but unfortunately my excitement could not be matched by another bridesmaid, Caroline. (My father-in-law loves to see me experience new things because of how excited I get... well he should meet Caroline, too.) For weeks (months?) Caroline would say, Guess what I did? I fed a giraffe!

This giraffe bib consumed 42 g of Bernat CottonTots (color Sunshine) knit on Size 5 knitting needles. I knit the short row version of the pattern with icord ties.

After row 9 I added two full K1, P1 rows. (so Row 10 becomes Row 12, and the first stitch is knit rather than slipped.) I used row 12 from the other beginning, not the short row version. (row 10 in short row section didn't seem to line up with where I was starting on the row.) I really wish row 12 were just included in the chart, but it wasn't such a big deal to count the stitches. To see the chart you need to go to the PDF.

The bib required minimal blocking, like its monkey cousin. The unblocked bib is shown below:

Caroline, how can I do any giraffe project without thinking of you? I miss you!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Knitted Wild Animals

I have seen many toy knitting books, but I have not flipped through Knitted Wild Animals: 15 Adorable, Easy-to-Knit Toys by Sarah Keen before.

I love creating knit toys. As I write this review I thought it had been a while since I had made a knit toy but then I remembered my LadyBug Amigurumi and the Zombie Sheep test knit I completed (that is a whole other story.) In any event, I love knit toys!

The Table of Contents of this book is a lot of fun. You see huge full page photos of each animal right from the start. My favorites inlcude Giraffe, Tiger, Hippo and (of course) Penguin. The teeth on the crocodile are awesomely embroidered (something that even I could replicate.)

The pictures are large and very clear. You see each toy from multiple angles so you really get a great sense of what you are trying to knit. Around the pattern, there are "Did you know?" facts about the animal. This is an incredible book and is 100% going on my wish list. (hint hint)

In the back of the book there are basic knitting instructions, and telling you the difference between stockinette and garter fabrics. This is a good reference for someone who needs a reminder, but is not a great "learn how to knit for the first time" section. I still think that this book could be good for an adventerous beginner who is wanting to try new techniques.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Search For Minecraft Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Designing knitting patterns for Minecraft fans is a knitter's dream because the pixelated game is easy to convert to stitches. I created a number of Minecraft themed knitting charts that are hosted over on Knitting Project of the Day, and I was curious about what other Minecraft themed knitting patterns I could find.

Minecraft Charts

Minecraft Knitting Patterns
  • Minecraft Hat - A beanie with "Minecraft" written across the brim. Add some of the above charts to the design and you'd have a winner for any Minecraft fan. Instructions are both charted and written out.
  • Minecraft Socks - Designed with a texture to represent the squares in the game. You may need to create a free account to download this pattern.
  • Minecraft Dirt Cloth Washcloth - A cute checkered pattern, brown variegated on the bottom with a green top is a cute representation of Minecraft dirt. You may need to create a free account to download this pattern.
  • Minecraft Creeper (2) Washcloth - According to the designer this is more the size of a large coaster and the next pattern is more of a washcloth size. You may need to create a free account to download this pattern.
  • Minecraft Creeper (3) Washcloth - You may need to create a free account to download this pattern.

Minecraft Crochet Patterns

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My first sweater

When I was at my parents' house over Thanksgiving, I went though my boxes until I found the first sweater I ever knit. I made this cardigan my senior year in high school, with help from my adviser, Laurie. Laurie got me back into knitting, and helped me have the confidence I have today. She took me to the yarn store to select the fiber, and even knit one of these sweaters along side me!

I have no idea what the yarn is, but it is a little shiny and there is definitely some elastic in it (which is why I can still get it on.) I remember my first attempt at blocking, but this sweater did not hold shape well. This is the reason why I ended up not leaving the buttons on it, the edges curled and if I tried to close it it looked awful. I believe I knit this on size 13 or 15 knitting needles.

The sweater no longer fits me as I would like (styles, and my weight, have changed in the last 10 years!) But I will hang onto this for my potential future daughter.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Monkey Bib

Part of my 2012 resolution was to decrease my yarn stash. I have a ton of baby cotton in my knitting cupboard, so I decided I should start knitting some baby items to hold in reserve for when all my newly married friends start having babaies! I chose the imp bib as my first bib knitting project because I love to give monkey toys to my puppy.

My ball of Bernat CottonTots (color Sunshine) had 107 g to start. I love it when there is too much yarn in a ball, so often I find them short a couple of grams! The project required a total of 41 g.

I love how it tells you how many stitches are remaining before each turn. This makes it SO much easier to keep track of what you are doing. I had just about finished the short row bottom when I realized that I wanted the fabric of the bib to be tighter. My gauge was fine for almost any garment, but I wanted the bib to be able to protect whatever baby wears it from messes! I therefore started over on size 5 (from size 6) knitting needles.

The short row bottom on size 6 needles.

I knit the short row version of the pattern with icord ties. I followed the chart because written instructions from this kind of pattern give me a headache. When the pattern says to bind off 11 stitches (for the neck), you actually need to bind off 12 to get 13 sts remaining on each side.

This moneky didn't require a lot of blocking. I still wet blocked (without pins) to help it flatten out. The below picture is of the bib before I blocked it:

How cute is this bib? I see more bibs in my knitting future.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spinning Silk Hankies

I was so excited when my Hanks in the Hood silk hankies arrived that I opened the package immediately and started drafting. I was a little afraid of the process, but the fiber was surprisingly easy to draft and spin, and I started creating my thinnest yarn yet!

Each hankie has dozens of layers. I was keeping track of how many I had used and then I realized that it was pointless since there are so many. Plus, a few times I know that I accidently used more than one hankie at a time, so that messed up my count, too.

The pink, blue and green spun together beautifully. I love the jewel tones! I know I've already said that the silk was easy to spin, but I need to mention this again. Silk fibers are so long that the strands don't come apart very easily, making it easy to focus on spinning the drop spindle.

I wrapped my silk yarn around my 2ft tuperware contaer, I had 222 wraps = 444 feet = 148 yards. Horray! The silk bled a bit when I wet it (GENTLY) to set the twist, but as you can see I was still able to keep a lot of color.

Up until this point, I have been using a 2 ft Tupperware container to wrap my spinning because I did not own a niddy noddy (I now have one that I made myself, but that is the content for a different post!) These 2 ft skeins are too small for my yarn swift, but I really should have tried to use that first. I created a tangle in my silk that I was completely unable to fix, so I lost some yardage.

What should I make out of this handspun silk? I am waiting for my WPI (wraps per inch) tool to arrive in the mail so I can determine what weight the yarn actually is, but it appears to be somewhere between lace and fingering weight. I know I want to make some kind of shawl, but I will need to mix this with some other yarn to get enough yardage.