Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pinwheel Flower

Another project in my crochet embellishments series!  The Pinwheel Flower makes me think of a tropical flower.  It would be fun to make with an orange center and pink radiating out.  (Although this would ultimately be difficult due to how it is constructed.)    

This little crochet embellishment will have me doing two new crochet techniques, double triple crochet and  reverse sc.  Let's see if I can figure it out!  Thankfully the pattern has a good photo tutorial so I should know how things are supposed to look at each step.  I'm keeping my copy of Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet handy so I can know how to do these stitches. I know I am using 100% acrylic yarn.  Red Heart Super Saver is my best guistimate.  I used a size D crochet hook with this worsted weight yarn.

For reverse SC, I looked at the following video (but then tried to do just the front loop rather than the whole stitch.   This was especially complicated for me to not just do SC like my work was turned, and took some practice.  I still find the stitch pretty awkward, and want to make sure to finish this tonight so that I don't forget how to do it by morning.  (Once again, I am thankful for the photo tutorial with the pattern itself.)  

The first time I didn't go through the back loop correctly for my first row 3.  I ripped out the spoke and did it again.  (but didn't take a picture)

I'm really happy that I made  this pinwheel out of acrylic.  I think it gives it some really good structure that a fiber with more drape wouldn't.  In the end I used 7 g (13 yards) of yarn. 

This pinwheel is so cute!  At some point I may make another newborn headband to put this pinwheel onto.  But who knows!  This would also look really sweet on a little headband for a baby.  I love it so much that I may incorporate it into a hat for myself!  I have a feeling I won't regret having some of these embellishments in my stash.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spinning The Cat's Pyjamas

 I am so excited to start spinning my Into the Whirled club fiber!  I am going to start in order, even though I had received both January's and February's packages when I was ready to start.  January's fiber is called "The Cat's Pyjamas" and is 50% Merino, 25% Bamboo and 25% silk.  The fiber is a mix of a greyish purple and teal blue, a great mix of vibrancy and neutral.  I think these are very "Rebecca" colors and am really excited to start spinning. 


116 g to start.  There, I weighed the yarn BEFORE starting to spin.  This means that I should be able to create a 2 ply yarn since I did the planning in advance.  Since the fiber wasn't braided, I had to weigh it in the bag (but I zeroed out the scale first.) 

I divided the fiber into two ~58 g batches.   I didn't worry too much about where I divided the fiber.  I am not aiming for any particular color repeat.  My spinning isn't yet even enough that I could control the ways the colors come out in the end.  All I know is that I want to spin this yarn on the thinner side than I have for my last few projects.    

I'm spinning with the wheel going clockwise.  I will ply counterclockwise.  That is my plan.  Let's see if I can stick to it. 

Oh my goodness!  This is spinning like a DREAM.  It is so easy to draft and it is so nice and thin.  Wow I'm feeling more relaxed by the second and I'm probably 2 yards in.. tops! 

I think that the silk and bamboo make this sticky so it is really easy to attach new fibers to the wheel.  Oh man, I LOVE THIS BLEND, have I said that yet?  

  After one section, I must have gone a bit too thin because the yarn kept breaking and I couldn't keep it going.  A little more twist, a little more fiber.  This is my mantra. 

Half way there! 
Half way through I needed to tighten the screws on my wheel.  It seemed to be shaking a bit, but thankfully things tightened right up.  Surprisingly, I had kept the hex key in with my knitting supplies.  I'm not sure how thing loosened, but it seems a lot more stable now.

I have no idea if I'm keeping the same WPI for the second half, but if I'm consistent with each then the yarn should still be fairly balanced.  I LOVE how this is turning out, and I cannot wait to ply it.  

WPI Second Half - 31 wpi
WPI First Half -  27 wpi

Looks like I'm close to lace weight singles!!!   I'm sure that on average they are pretty similar.  I'm excited to see how the plying turns out.  

It is so fun to take pictures of my spinning progress.  I know that I should edit them down, but I can't help sharing them all.  

So despite evenly dividing the fiber, I had a quite uneven yardage on the two strands.  The first half of spinning split a few times, but this is around where I was having some trouble with my spinning.  I spit felted the yarn back together and continued on my plying way.    I guess the difference in WPI carried through. The first half was thicker, so it makes sense there is less yardage.  For the remainder, I will wind it into a center pull ball to make it 2 ply without waste.  

Cake of remaining wool = 20 g.  What?!?   Wow I must have been  WAY more efficient or way thinner with one half of the spinning.  (I think it is the second half.)  What a HUGE difference that is! 

Uneven spindles aside, the plying is going really well.  I keep checking the fiber to make sure that it is as soft and supple as it was when I was creating the singles, and it is a dream.  What will I make with it?  

big skein 17 wpi.  210 wraps * 4 ft/wrap = 840 ft = 280 yards.  97 g. 
little skein 14-17 wpi, depending on where measured..  50 wraps * 4 ft/wrap = 200 ft = 66 yards. 

The twist was set with warm water on the niddy noddy. 

  • Fiber arrived 1/22/14
  • Spinning started 2/25/14
  • First half completed 24 hours later on 2/26/14 
  • Resumed spinning 3/11/14 
  • Second half completed 3/13/14 
  • plying started 3/13/14
  • plying complete 3/15/14

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Flower Headband

I am having so much fun creating little crochet motifs.  It is really helping me hone in my crochet skills.   I was excited when I came across the patterns for the Gathered Chains Newborn Headband with Crocheted Flower (By the way, can I say how much I love the new "+ incorporates" field on Ravelry?  This way you can credit other patterns that you combine.  I love it!)

As much as I wanted to start with the flower, I decided to start off with the headband.  This way I can make sure that the button that I have in my stash ( a small 7/16 button from a hotel sewing kit) will work.  If it doesn't, then I'll need to run to the hobby shop tomorrow.  I am unsure of the exact yarn that I used, but I know it is 100% acrylic.  I am going to assume it is red heart super saver solids.   I used a size H crochet hook as directed in the pattern.

My foundation chain (is that what it is called?) measures 14".  I'd say that I'm on target!  It is closer to 13" once I have completed the headband foundation.  I think that I would add 8 more ch stitches the next time I make this, then I can also sew the button on further from the edge.  It will stretch to 15".  I doubt I'll be able to fit it onto 15 week old Lucky... 

I don't think my button will fit through the sc stitches, so I added a ch 3, slip stitch to the end of the headband.   The headband weighs 4 g on its own.

I continued the flower also using hte size H crochet hook.  I used blue for the front flower and purple for the back flower.  The Ch6 mentioned in the modification works perfectly over my button... but doesn't stay.  I gathered it a bit tighter closed so it would fit better.   

The flower part 1 (blue) weighs 2 g.  On the purple petals round 4, I turned the work first so the RS would be facing the same way as the first level.  I ended after round 4.  The whole flower weighs 5 g. 


 I finished this project past Lucky's bedtime, so I had to wait till morning to try to see if it would fit his 15 week old head. I think it will be a tight fit.  I'm so tempted to make a second one so I can see what this adorable headband would look like on a baby.  Thankfully, the headband just barely fit on my little boy.  He doesn't mind modeling the headbands.  

It doesn't quite fit on 15 week old Lucky, but boy is it cute! 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Video of Completed Knit Projects from Hand Dyed Yarns

You, my faithful readers and viewers mean a lot to me.  I try to take every request and question to heart.  You inspire me to create tutorials and designs.  Sometimes it takes me a while to get to a project, but I keep a list of design and video requests in my design notebook.  When I have time (which is less frequent now that Lucky is here), I pick something that I can finish.

Back in January I had a proud moment.  Someone asked me to make a video showing items that I've knit with my hand dyed yarns and I completed that video the SAME DAY I read the comment.  This was quite an accomplishment, and you can thank 3 month old Lucky for being accommodating to me editing on my laptop while he grinned at me from his bouncy seat.

So please, keep the requests coming. Thank you for all of your inspiration.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Free Skull Knitting Pattern Search

Halloween is a long way away, but there is always a reason to add some fun skulls to your knitting.  Below you fill find some of my favorite free skull knitting patterns.  Enjoy! 

Free Skull Decoration Knitting Patterns
A knit skull toy
Jack Skellington
A knit skeleton toy You must create a free account to view this pattern
Skully Dishcloth
2D knit skull (single color)
Knit Skull and Crossbones Dishcloth
single color skull and crossbones dishcloth
Halloween Skull Dishcloth
This skull pattern is created through eyelets in the pattern.
Skully Dishcloth
2 color skull and crossbones
POISON! Coffee Cozy
skull and crossbones coffee cozy
Hoochie Cozies
Skull and crossbone bottle cozy
Pretty Punk Blanket by
Some of the panels in this sampler afghan have skulls on them.
Skull and crossbones tea cozy
Skull Tea Cosy Knitting Pattern
Makes the teapot look like a skull

Free Skull Hat Knitting Patterns Now these patterns happen to also be (mostly) skull caps, but each of these hats is either a large skull like costume, or has numerous skull knitting charts around the brim.
Skull flap hat
Skulls and X's dance around the brim of this earflap hat.
Jackyll & Hide
This hat has two forms: 1) you can roll the brim down over your face (making a face mask and revealing a skull like mask) or 2) a simple, white large brimmed hat. AMAZING!
Round Dance
There are full skeletons dancing around the brim of this hat.
Skull Cable Hat
This hat has the skull constructed out of cables so the hat can be made in a single color. You will need to create a free account to view this free pattern
Skull Caps
These knit skull caps look like giant skulls (or the top half of a skull) perched over your head.
Skull & Clown hat (Klovens dødninghode)
The written pattern is in Norwegian, but there is a chart that anyone should be able to follow.
Bosch's Skull
This hat has skulls allover the entire hat, not just around the crown.
Bead My Skull Cap
A single skull is created out of beads on the front of this hat.
Angel Skull Hat Knitting Pattern
This skull has wings
Grim Reaper Hat Knitting Pattern
Child and adult sizes are provided. There is a large skull taking up one entire face of the hat.
Pirate Bootie
"Instructions given for intarsia/fair isle or for adding the skulls via duplicate stitch." - Designer Patricia Lillie. The pattern has multiple skulls around the brim.
Awesome Zombie Hat
The pattern has multiple skulls (or I suppose Zombie heads) around the brim.
Dead Heart
The hat features skulls and hearts around the entire hat.
Skull Beanie
Large skulls go around the brim
Skull Cap Knitting Pattern
Tiny skulls go around the brim

Free Skull Apparel Knitting Patterns Scarves, Gloves, etc Any item with skulls can be easily adapted for Halloween (or for a pirate party!)
Las Calacas Danzantes Socks
Designed for Dia de los Muertos
Jack Sparrow's Favorite Socks
These pirate socks have skulls and crossbones on them
A doubleknit scarf with skulls running up the length
This felted skull scarf has two skull shaped designs (both in color and shape) at the ends
Totenkopf (Skull) Illusion Knitting Pattern
Fun illusion scarf
Zombies Need Not Apply
His and Her skull Fair Isle pulse warmers.
Snowball's Chance in Hell
Armwarmers with a pattern that morphs from a snowflake to a skull.
La Calaverita Chart
three skull knitting charts
Skull Stockings
The skull pattern is developed by knit lace stitches. AMAZING!
Skull Scarf
Many little skulls are knit into each end of the scarf.
Skully Socks
Skulls dancing around the leg portion of these knit socks.
Skully Fingerless Mitts - Knit
One small skull on the back of each hand
Skull-Face Mosaic
A very classy skull based scarf.

Free Skull Knitting Patterns - Miscellaneous Accessories
Pirate Queen Booty Bag
A double knit felted bag
Pirate Dice Bag
I'm not really sure what a dice bag is for... but this one has a skull and crossbones on it.
La Calaverita: Rune, Charm, Tarot or Gift Bag
"You can use this bag for Tarot cards, Runes, Charms, Herbs or Gifts and they only take a couple of hours to make."
Skull & Clown bag -Klovenens dødningehode bag
Written pattern only in Norwegian, but there is a chart.
Skull and Crossbones Wrist Warmer
These would also make great beer cozies

This pattern search was previously published on Sqiudoo. However, since they decided to punish articles with high link density, specifically mentioning knitted patterns*, I have decided to move some of my pattern searches here to ChemKnits.  The research gone into producing these lists and comments are100% my own as I was the original author of the Squidoo lens skull-knitting-patterns under the username chemknitsblog

*"We understand that years ago there was value is creating a lens with a lot of links to a particular topic like knitted owl patterns or places to buy Ford Mustang parts or Disney coloring pages.However our new standards state that you need to use links in moderation." - Squidoo HQ

Saturday, May 10, 2014

FAILED - Fighting Star

When I saw the Sliding Star pattern by Frankie Brown I knew that it was awesome.  Going into this project, I knew the outcome would be awesome... but at what cost?  This is a project that will have dozens of loose ends and small pieces to sew together.  It had been in my queue for over a year before I finally cast on.  I finally whipped out my Size 0 (2 mm) knitting needles and some hand dyed bare palette yarn.

I chose 6 colors of my hand dyed yarn for this project.  SOme of these are remnanys from other projects and others were used in my Dyeing Tutorials.  I selected blue, light green, deep green, brown, red and orange.  If I run out of any of these colors, I am prepared to use two of them in the 6th two piece point and then select a seventh for a whole piece.

So why did this project fail?  Why did I not even take any in progress photos for you?  It took me FOREVER (something like 40 rows) to do one half of one piece of the star.  This was going to be a lot of effort for a novelty gift - I would be better off making an origami star for the same level of excitement that this would have brought.  I hate to say it, but I cast on, and failed to complete this project.  I don't have any intention of returning to it either.  Too bad, it would have been awesome!  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Luxury Yarn Sampler

I love trying out new yarns, but there are so many popular (and expensive) brands that I have never been able to feel in person at my local yarn store.  Why would I spend $40+ for one ball of yarn when I never had a chance to feel it?  Well Keith found me this amazing Luxury Fiber Sampler for Jimmy Beans Wool and it gives me a few yards of a bunch of top yarn lines so I can test them all out. 

I was especially excited to see the sample of Zealana Air - a yarn that is part Australian Possum!  (40% Cashmere, 40% Possum, 20% Silk)  I lived in Australia for 5 months when I was in college and these were a plentiful as squirrels are in New England.  I held one once and they are super soft, so I knew that a yarn made out of their fiber would feel really nice.  The yarn has a good feel to it, but isn't the softest or shiniest of the bunch.  I do know that I would be happy to make a cowl or shawl out of it! 

The labels were wound into the center of the balls, so there was so fun guesswork trying to figure out which was which.  Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico was another standout to me.  It was so soft and had excellent drape.  My fingers went straight for it as I was searching through the yarns and then I was excited by the shimmer with the twist of silver in it. 

Yarns included in this sampler: Artyarns Rhapsody Glitter, Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk and Metalico, The Fibre Company Road to China Light, Jade Sapphire Cashmere Silk 4ply, Lotus Mimi, Madelinetosh Pashmina, Manos del Uruguay Fino, Reywa Embrace, Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour, TSC Artyarns Tranquility Glitter, Zealana Air, and Rowan Creative Linen for the Garland Strand to string your 12 stars together.
So much soft yumminess in one package. I considered reviewing each individual yarn, but ultimately decided that saying, OO THIS IS SOFT a dozen times wasn't really going to be that useful. 

What am I going to make out of my luxury yarns?  Well the kit does come with instructions for a Christmas Garland.  What would you make with these bits of yarn? 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Unwinding my Bulky Dip-Dyed Knit Blank

I have already posted about my Dyeing Pre-Knit Blanks for Long Gradients of Color video, but there is still more that happened with this project... I had to unwind the blank!  

I learned while unraveling this blank that the reason why I struggled so much with the rainbow yarn is that I started from the wrong end.  Areas where I had dropped stitches on the machine and essentially had to K3below to fix the dropped stitch became tangles I could not fix when unwinding form the cast on end.  What a difference unwinding from the bind off edge makes! How did I discover this error?  I ran into the same issue this time!  When I ran into my first snag I thought it would be worth trying to start at the other end.  I took everything off of the niddy noddy (only a few yards) and started from the other end and POOF, no issues.  Lesson Learned.

When I was almost done winding the yarn, I suddenly let out a huge EEEK!  I must not have secured the pipes of the niddy noddy well (see how to make your own niddy noddy out of pvc pipe) and POOF suddenly I had this mess.  Thankfully this is bulky weight yarn and so it wasn't a lot of effort to rewind the yarn, but I was worried about getting a horrific tangle.  Phew! 

I probably should have wound this gradient yarn directly into a center pull ball.   Now I will have to have this crimped yarn on the swift and then wind it again.  Oh well, it is always fun to see yarn on a skein. 

Want to create your own long gradients of color?  Check out how to dye a pre-knit blank in the tutorial below.