Thursday, October 31, 2013

Welcome Baby Lucky!

I am pleased and honored to introduce you to the newest member of the ChemKnits family, Baby "Lucky"!

Lucky in his hand dyed, hand spun and hand knit baby pod.  

For the first time ever, I am going to give you a sneak peek of a ChemKnits design, Lucky's Christmas Stocking.  (The free pattern will be available here at ChemKnits in the next week.)

There will be many posts in the next few months of items that I made for Lucky but lack photos.  This is because the items, and posts, were completed before he was born.  But don't worry, there will be other photos coming!  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tiger Woobie

This year has certainly been the year of babies.  As I prepared to welcome my own baby into the world, there were multiple other important babies that needed special projects of their very own.  I selected the Woobie Kitty pattern for some family/friends.  It is a great gender neutral project for people who don't have a strong color preference.

I was given the entire Woobie Patterns Collection - Series 1 as a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) gift for being an expectant mother.  I have earmarked other woobies for certain parents when the time comes.  I cannot wait to create them all!

My harmony options needle set doesn't get small enough for this project.  Thankfully I needed to hit the $50 free shipping mark and SunStruck needles were on sale.  I loved the opportunity to add a size 3 - 32" fixed circular set to my collection!  I knit this woobie on size 3 (3.25 mm) knitting needles and KnitPicks Shine Sport yarn in White (57 g, 126 yards) and Clementine (119 g, 262 yards).  

I decided to try this picot edging without doing a provincial cast on.  Provincial castons and I have not gotten along very well, and I know that I could pick up the long tail CO stitches where directed.   I ended up with not such a long tail, but it should work out.

Not quite the long tail!
The day I started this project, I really needed to be working on my fish project, but I knew that this would be an easier one to bring with me to crochet club.  Why do I always start these projects the morning of?  

Notes from Construction
  • Clementine Ball 1 finished in the middle of row 16.    
  • Picking up stitches from the cast on edge to close the picot edge worked beautifully (see above pictures.)  
  • After the 7th white stripe, I noted something off with my stitch counts.  In between markers, I counted 49, 48, 47, 48 sts.  Now I clearly messed up with replacing the markers after the picot round, and I'm not going to rip back to fix that.  However, I am a bit confused about the numbers.  I would have expected the division to be odd rather than even.  I am going to continue to the decreases as written until I have an average of 36 stitches in between each marker.  (And then add the second decrease.)  I'm willing to fudge things a bit until I get to the kitty center.  
  • Clementine ball 2 finished in the middle of Orange stripe 9 (decrease round - not counting edging as a stripe.)  
  • Before white stripe 10 decrease we have 39, 38, 37, 38 sts.  
  • Before orange stripe 10 decrease we have 37, 36, 35, 36 sts (144 sts total).    Continue the cdd as written so there are 35, 34, 33, 34 sts.  136 sts where it should be 140 at this point.  We somehow have 4 too few stitches, which is a secondary issue to the miss-aligned stitches.  
  • Next decrease round (CC): K15, CDD, PM, K15, CDD, K14, K2tog, PM, K15, CDD, K15, PM, K15, CDD, K14, K2tog, PM, K15, CDD (with the first stitch of the previous round.)   There now should be 124 sts and evenly spread between the original markers (31 sts - alternating 15 or 16 sts between the 8 markers.)  Please note that the new decreases in the rounds are NOT perfectly centered in accordance with the original instructions. The way for them to be centered would be to have even # of sts in each round.  I then continued instructions as written.  
  • I reached 28 sts at the end of the 14th white stripe.  I switched to MC to knit around before the "next rnd" decreases
  • After the stitches were cris crossed to secure the center - I made sure to keep the yarn tails behind the first stitch to mark the beginning of the round.
  • White ball 1 completed in head round 8.  
  • None of the other projects on Ravelry show the back of the head, so here is a quick little view.
  • The ear pieces took very little time to knit.
  • I used scraps of palette in black and hand-dyed green for the embroidery.  I was worried that these would be easily pulled out by a little toddler fingers, so I secured them with a bit of non-toxic glue.  

I am so happy with the way this little woobie came out!  Now I just need to cast on the woobie for my own child.  What animal do you think I'm going to create?  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Magic Crochet Rings

I am a novice crocheter.  One of the first amazing techniques I learned was the magic circle/magic ring technique.  This was the first crochet technique that I was able to teach to other people.

Imagine my excitement at crochet club when people asked if anyone knew how to do a magic ring.  After teaching it to more experienced crocheters, I knew that I wanted to demonstrate it on a video.  Unfortunately my crochet terminology is not yet up to par, but hopefully you can understand this simple technique for starting off crochet circles in the two videos below.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Finish Your Knitting with a Sturdy Bindoff

A lot of the crescent shawls I've knit require a really sturdy bindoff edge so you can block it out completely without losing the curved shape of the entire shawl.  I created the following video to help with this technique:

Finish Your Knitting with a Sturdy Bindoff - the P2tog Bindoff Method

What if you are making a top down shawl?  Then you would want a stretchy bindoff!  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Knits for My Baby - A Summary

My baby is due any day now (or may have already been born!)  Here is a photo summary of the items I have knit for our little Chirphead.

Projects completed by July 12, 2013.  

Projects completed by September 25, 2013.  Note that stocking initials are hidden to preserve name surprise!
The last item I made for my baby, completed October 2.  

Knit and Crochet items for my son

The details of many of these items have not yet been posted, but they are scheduled to come out in the next few months.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More Baby Owl Amigurumi

This is the baby month!  Whether or not my little one has arrived in the world yet, I thought it would be fun to share another baby themed project... Baby Owl Amigurumi!

I am much more confident starting the project this time.  At this point I had completed over a dozen crochet amigurumi projects.  Wahoo!

I love my first crochet amigurumi so much that I had to create some more!  Once again, I used a size F crochet hook and remnants of Wool of the Andes for these little ornaments.  (Colors: Dove Heather, Mink Heather and Bittersweet Heather.)  Each owl used about 6 g (12-13 yards) of yarn.

This time, when fastening off I did one slip stitch to finish off round 12.  This is my only "modification"!

These are so addictive that they are hard to stop making!  I had planned on making only 3, and well, you can see what happened.

Last time I had some trouble with getting the felt for the eyes to glue down properly.  It took me a couple of times to get it to feel secure.  This time, I used pins to keep the eye felt down while the glue was drying.  It is a little creepy looking, but hopefully this will work better!  The pins created some holes, but it was easy enough to fix by agitating the fabric with the end of a dpn.

Many holes
Holes gone!

What a fun and sweet little project.  I now have 7 little owlettes.  How many would you end up creating?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shalom Sweater

I have always wanted to knit a sweater that I could wear while pregnant.  I have been in love with the Shalom Cardigan for a long time (see the sidepage of the blog to download the free pattern, in addition there are some helpful tips 1 and tips 3).  Now, I wasn't expecting that I would be my most pregnant over the summer... but this can't be helped.  I will have SOMETHING that I knit for myself that I can wear during and after pregnancy.  (Even if I only wear it for photos while pregnant.)  I didn't start knitting until I was 7 months pregnant.

I also only have 5 balls of yarn, 550 yards of Full Circle Bulky Passion to start out with.  What was I thinking?  I'm not making the S/M size, but a custom large size.  I did find someone on Ravelry who had more yarn of the same dyelot.  (Since of course Full Circle was a Special Reserve KnitPicks yarn and the color is no longer available!)   I do have options if I run out of yarn, but I want to get as far as I can with the yarn that I have.  

I purchased the yarn and a darling alpaca button long before I was pregnant, but saved them to be part of a project to work on while I was waiting for the baby to arrive.  

Gauge Swatch 1 - Size 1.5 (6.5 mm) knitting needles.  9 rows/2", 13 sts/4" UNBLOCKED.  This is really great, because if I need the sweater to be bigger I have a bit of blockability.  Otherwise I can lightly block to just finish it off.

Notes from Construction
  • I plan to follow Moxymomma's modifications for sizing (size 38), not for the modified stitch pattern or 3 buttonholes.   I'm a little concerned that she used 650 yards of yarn when I only have 550... but I am using a slightly larger needle size and a different type of yarn.  
  •  Started with 77 stitches cast on (10 more sts than the original pattern)  
  • Only one button hole at row 6.  
  • Row 8 - Increase Round 1, 123 Sts at the end.   I followed the pattern until there were 9 sts left, there were 119 sts.  (M1, K1, M1, K2, M1, K1, M1) k5.  This gave me 123 sts.  
  • Row 20 - Increase Round 2, 151 sts.  I followed the pattern until there were 16 sts left,  (M1, K6, M1, K5, M1) K5.   Then I had 152 sts... and I would need an even # for the twisted rib.  I therefore decreased one stitch randomly in the middle of row 21.  
  • Ball 1 (100 g) completed at the end of row 26.  I used a felted join to connect the first and second balls of yarn.  The felted joins (shown below in the stockinette portion) are really hard to see and it saved me so much time from weaving in loose ends at the end of the project.
  • Row 32 - Increase Round 3, 193 sts at the end.   Moxymomma's mods had 195 sts at the end of this round.  I'm not concerned about hitting this number as long as it is an odd number.  K5, m1, K5, M1, (K3, M1, K4, M1) across until last 12 sts.  K2, M1, K3, M1, K2, M1, K5.  
  • Ball 2 (103 g) competed at the VERY beginning of row 45.  
  • Row 45 - k31, BO 37, k57, BO 37, k31  (119 sts)
  • Row 46 - K5, P 26, CO 10, P 57, CO 10, P26, K5 (139 sts)
  • At 7 months pregnant, I don't have much of a waist anymore, nor do I know exactly where this will be in my post pregnancy body.  I therefore decided to eliminate the waist shaping since if placed wrong it could look strange in a loose garment.  Therefore, my plan is to knit until I have the length I want.  
  • Ball 3 (101 g) completed about half way through row 68.  The stockinette portion from the armhole measures 4/4.25" long through row 67.  
  • Ball 4 (98 g) completed over half way through row 92.  This means ~24 rows were completed with ball 4.  I should have enough yarn to finish the cardigan as written!  The stockinette portion from the armhole measures just over 9.5" through row 91.
    A great thing about this pattern is that since it is top down and a cardigan, I can try it on as I go! This will help a LOT when it comes to the length.
  • 52 g remain after row 103.  There are 12 rows left.  By my calculations, I consume ~4 g/round, which should give just enough to finish the pattern as written.   My fingers are crossed a bit, but I'm feeling pretty confident.  
  • Row 105 - measures ~12.75" below the armhole.  I think that finishing the pattern as written will be a perfect length from trying it on.  I'm getting excited!  
  • Pattern completed on row 115 as written with 1 g of yarn remaining.  
  • Finishing was easy, two ends to weave in and one of them I used to secure my little alpaca button to the collar.    

Why are all the sweaters I make for myself purple?  Seriously, this is sweater #3 and I'm still knitting purple!  In my defense, the color looked like a more vibrant purple on my computer screen, so i thought it was going to be different than the eggplant sweater I made a year or so ago.    

I cannot believe that I have just under 2 yards of fiber remaining.  I find this totally incredible!  I could have reduced the length a few rows and still have been happy, but I am so ecstatic to not have tons of leftover yarn!

The sweater looks and fits really nicely without blocking, but I want to lightly block it so it has a more finished appearance.  The garter stitch hemline flips out a bit because of the stockinette right above it, and I think that just being wet and then drying flat will fix this.  I soaked the sweater in cool water for 30 min before patting it dry with a towel and then laying it flat to dry.  I wanted to be REALLY careful when doing this because the sweater does NOT need to be stretched out at all.  Just refined a bit.

There is a lot of room in the back of the sweater.  Waist shaping could have been nice, but I know that it is sticking out a bit more in the back because it cannot hang flat over the front of my belly.  The sweater could have been a tad bit smaller in the width to fit (I tried to block gently to not increase the size), but it is super cozy and I love it!  

35 weeks pregnant!

I know that this cardigan will get worn a lot after the baby comes, but now as the weather cooled off in the end of September I really appreciated having something warm that looked great to wear.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dyeing Dry Yarn with Tulip Tie Dye Kit Dyes

The instructions that came with the Tulip Tie Dye Kit indicated that you can dye either a wet or dry project.  I wanted to see what would happen if I applied the tulip dye to dry yarn.  Watch and find out!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pumpkin Head for Chirphead

I have knit so many pumpkins over the years that it is no suprise that I needed to create a little pumpkin hat for Chirphead.  (Shouldn't our baby boy be a member of Keith's pumpkin possee?)  The Punkin Head knitting pattern was so adorable and I loved that the brim can be rolled up.  This will make it much more likely the hat can fit for Chirphead's first Halloween!  

I already had some orange yarn (KnitPicks Wool of the Andes - 25 g) but I'm not sure if it would be enough for the hat.  I decided to start the project early to knit as much as possible before placing my order.  Thankfully I ended up with enough yarn.  

See how little yarn I had left over?
Notes from Construction
  • Cast on 60 sts
  • I knit 5" before starting the decreases, 31 rounds total.
  • 2.5" icord before starting the leaf.  

In the end, this little baby hat was knit on size 6 knitting needles with Wool of the Andes in Orange (25 g, 55 yards) and Jalapeno (4 g, 9 yards).  The leaf is "Just a Leaf" - a free pattern downloaded via ravelry and linked to in the Punkin Head pattern.  

I love this little hat so much.  Now I just need to wait for my little Chirphead to join us so he can wear it!  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Invincibility Star

As I continue creating some Mario themed crochet amigurumi, I decided that I needed to craft an invincibility star.  In all of the crochet amigurumi I've done up to this point, with little exception, almost everything has been done exclusively in the round. I have very little experience with flat crochet (see Octopus legs and bear scarf.)   

I crocheted this star on a size D (3.25 mm) hook with a remnant yellow Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn.  The pattern calls for size F, but I was a little concerned about running out of yarn.  The smaller hook should help me preserve some yardage, plus it will still be super cute! 

- Used the magic ring to start
- I didn't join at the end of each round, I crochted the star as a spiral.   (Except for the end of round 5 - I did do a Sl st to end the round.)  

I'm nervous about the SC around the whole edge of the side because I'm not sure what the counts are supposed to be.  I even forgot and cut the yarn at the end of the 5th point.  Maybe 6-7 sc on a side?  I eventually stopped counting and just did what felt natural.  Wow does the simple SC border add a level of refinement to this star!  Just look at the difference.  

I stitched the stars together starting at the top point and then working towards the bottom.  I whip stitched through half of the crochet chain around the edge to make it a little thicker.  

I am so proud of these first real attempts of flat back and forth crochet!  I am now less afraid to tackle other types of projects.  What should I try next?