Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Stash of Vogue Knitting Stitchionaries

Thanks to the package I purchased at Vogue Knitting Live for classes in 2014, I had a $200 gift certificate to spend at  This allowed me to add some books to my dream library!  I picked out four Vogue Knitting Stitchionaries that I thought would be the most useful to my design process:

When I opened up Volume Two: Cables immediately my jaw dropped.  I had opened on page 16 and saw the cable "op art" and immediately fell in love.  My mind started whirling about what I could incorporate this stitch pattern into, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The introduction ("how to use this book") highlighted the worsted weight yarn and needle size used in all of the swatches.  This is NOT a learn how to cable book, but a stitchionary showing many different cable swatches with both written instructions and charts.  The swatches are divided into five sections: Easy, Diamonds & Pretzles, Braids, All Over and combinations.  The easy section contains some simple cables, but many of them are more visually complex (although still simply constructed) than those found in my stitch of a day calendar.   All told there are over 200 different stitch motifs!

I wish I had something like this back before I designed my 14 cable hat!  Maybe it is time for a reprise...

I am very much a novice crocheter.  I am starting to feel more confident about different stitch patterns but I don't know the names of any basic shapes.  I selected Volume Four: Crochet to expose myself to motifs beyond using one stitch type at a time.  The book is divided into six sections: basics, geometrics, color, lace, edgings, and embellishments/unusual.

All motifs are charted in addition to having written instructions.  I am a huge fan of charts when it comes to knit cables but I haven't had to deal with crochet charts yet.  Since these go in multiple directions, rather than being in a grid like with knitting, I know that it will take some getting used to.  Seeing these charts right next to the finished motif really helps me visualize the construction.

The color section is really inspiring to me.  I haven't played around with color in my crochet very much yet, but this book is like a window into a world of possibility.  To my surprise, in the embellishments/unusual section there were even some samples of Tunisian crochet!  I have a crochet work that would work for this crochet/knitting hybrid so this is something that I cannot wait to explore more.

I LOVE knitting lace.  I want to learn more and more about how lace is constructed so I can design my own elegant patterns.  Volume Five: Lace Knitting is a prefect way to compare swatches to charts so I can start to understand the placement of increases and decreases to create my own motifs.  The book contains seven sections with more than 150 patterns: easy/mesh, edgings, chevrons, allover, panels, combos, and motifs.

The first section "easy/mesh" is a little disappointing.  I'm sure it will come in useful someday since there are so many variations of mesh in here, but they aren't exactly what I was hoping to find when I opened up this book.  The edgings section is fine, but since I already have 4 other edging knitting books in my collection I'm hoping for something more.  In chevrons a lot of the patterns look similar, but I am starting to appreciate the subtle differences in the fabric that lead to similar overall shapes.

In the "allover" section we're finally seeing the charts and combinations I was hoping to see.  I am seeing how lines curve based on where the yarn overs are placed.  This is the place where I can study as I start to design my own lace patterns.  These designs are more classic and meant to be repeated many times through a design.  Not quite the modern lace I'm hoping to create but certainly useful.

I held my breath when I saw the picture on the first page of "panels".  These lace socks are darling, so darling that I wished there were some patterns in the book.  (Trefoil #135 is the stitch pattern that caught my eye.  It is actually much simpler to knit that I would have expected.)

There isn't really any modern lace in this book, but I didn't expect their to be.  I see many shapes that are simple, and I hope that I can draw from these smaller motifs to expand them to create the modern lace shawlettes I crave to draw.


The last stitchionary I picked out was Volume Six: Edgings.  Why another book on edgings? Well the edging book interested me more than Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl or The Vogue Knitting Stitchionary™ Volume Three: Color Knitting. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE textured patterns and color knitting, but I find many of these motifs online. I had a large gift certificate and I thought that the volumes of Cables, Crochet, lace and Edgings would best fill my collection. Hopefully these will provide me with a lot of design inspiration over the years.

This book has 7 sections: ribs, texture, cables, lace, color, unusual and crochet.  I'm not sure that there is a ton different from my other edging books, but this is still going to be a useful resource when I'm looking for something perfect to finish (or start) a project.

I'm thrilled with my new collection.  I cannot wait to use these to help me as I'm planning out new designs!   What are your favorite stitch dictionaries in your library?  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chevron Halloween Table Runner with Pockets

I'm flying through the 1, 2, 3 Sew projects!  The third project is the "Set the Table Runner."  In keeping with my Halloween decor theme, I am going to sew this pocketed table runner out of some awesome Halloween chevron fabric.

The pattern wants you to cut a piece of fabric 16" x 56" wide, but I knew that this chevron fabric was only 44" wide before washing (and I've prewashed the fabric.)  I'm not expecting this runner to go over the edge of my table but rather to sit nicely on top and bring some color to a family meal (or Halloween Birthday Party.)

Thankfully with a pattern this bold lining up the fabric to cut is going to be much easier.  Or so I thought.  The chevron is not printed 100% on with the fabric, so I'm going to have to make a decision.  Cut with the pattern or with the squared edges.  I chose to cut with the pattern.  I squared off at the tip of an orange chevron and measured 16" down to the inside tips of a black chevron.

It looks like only one of the edges is actually off squared, but things look even when I fold the fabric in half.  After squaring off the crooked edge the piece of fabric measures approximately 44" x 16"

I'm feeling a little ambitious, but I am NOT going to cut the fabric for the pockets until I've hemmed the main piece of fabric.  I want to try to line up the pattern and to do this I need to know approximately where I want the pockets to go in the first place.  I just have to hem (1/4" then 5/8") and then create mitered corners just like in the previous project.

I'm really happy with how the pattern looks after I've pressed it.  It looks even and centered and hopefully I can do the pockets justice by matching them to the pattern.

The mitered corners went pretty smoothly this time.  I found that starting with the needle down lets me align the crease right by the needle without starting the stitches too far back from the edge.  I also realized that marking this crease with my air soluble pen makes it easier to see and that I'm happier with the corner that I get.

The fabric is pretty thin.  This isn't an ideal table runner for anything other than once a year or so... which makes the Halloween theme spot on.  I suppose if I wanted something like this for heavier use then I should use a heavier weight fabric or back this somehow to make it thicker.  But I LOVED this pattern when I saw it so I will make it work!

I'm so glad I have a whole yard of fabric.  There is plenty of space to match up the pockets.  There are some decisions that I have to make.  It won't be too hard to line up the pattern in the vertical direction, but I have to decide where I want the pockets to be placed so I can try to line up the pockets in the horizontal direction.  This takes a little bit of planning, but I think that I'll be able to get pretty close.

The entire hemmed base is 40" long.  Each pocket will be just shy of 14" wide, let's say 13".  The width not covered by pockets is 14".  I should aim to have the pockets 4.5" from each edge and then have 5" between them on the runner.  I used frog tape to mark the approximate location of the pockets as I know they will shift a bit depending on how well I cut the fabric.  The pocket areas are market by the space inside each piece of tape.

Now it is time to cut.  Oh boy.  The pattern will help me a bit here to line things up.  I made a mistake when cutting the first pocket and clipped half an inch off of one corner.  I think that missing corner makes it possible to see the pocket fabric laid out across the the runner.  Match #1 is done!

Match #2 was a little easier, but I think I shifted the pocket over a bit too much.  In the end I know that I'm going to have to make a decision about lining up the pattern versus the pocket placement...  I think I'll pick pattern matching!  I could adjust with how I make my seams on the pockets, but Id rather focus on trying to sew straight.

Before folding under the raw edge, I checked how the pockets aligned on the runner.  Not too bad.  They aren't even, but they are really close and can match up with the fabric. Because of the cutting error there is about a half inch difference in the pocket width, something I'm not going to worry about at all.  I wish that I could get the pockets closer to the edge of the runner, but they are almost evenly spaced.

After pressing the pockets, I pinned the pockets to the runner on all 4 sides.  You almost can't see them at all!

To stitch 1/8 around the edge I am using stitch #2 on my machine, which is the standard straight stitch but moved the needle over to the left edge of the foot.  I will then try to keep the edge of the pocket in the center of the foot as I'm sewing.  I took out pins as I went so I wouldn't have to bump over them.  In my first attempt I started drifting over a bit in a very obvious way.  I ripped out the seam and started over.

The half way point of one pocket was 6 3/8" and the other was 6.5"  That is pretty close!  Wahoo!  I used frog tape to mark where I wanted to sew and pinned on either side of the tape.

Sewing along frog tape was so easy!  I think these might be my straightest lines yet.  Now I just have to press my table runner and take some pictures... on the floor.  My dining room table is currently covered by my sewing machine and other paraphernalia.  (I need to go to Ikea to pick up a sewing table!)

I would have shared a picture of the runner with the pockets empty, but you can barely see the pockets in any of the photos since I did such an amazing job matching up the pattern.  You can almost make out the pockets in the above picture based on where the silverware stems disappear.

Isn't she pretty?  This table runner is going to make a statement at Lucky's 2nd birthday party!

Project started 9.14.2015

Friday, January 22, 2016

Rainbow Chevron Baby Hat

When I purchased 6 rainbow colors for Boogaloo's Rainbow Unicorn Woobie, I knew that I wanted to make something fantastic with the leftover yarn.  Why not make a little matching rainbow beanie?  My free chevron baby hat kitting pattern is a great alternative to simple stripes and will look adorable as a rainbow.

I used shine sport in Serrano (red - 2 g, 4 yards), Clementine (orange - 4 g, 9 yards), Dandelion (Yellow - 5 g, 11 yards), Macaw (green - 5 g, 11 yards), French Blue (blue - 5 g, 11 yards), and Iris (purple - 6 g, 13 yards) and size 3 (3.25 mm) knitting needles.  (All weights are rounded to the nearest gram and yard).

Like the unicorn woobie, I'm going to start with purple and work my way up to red.  Depending on my striping calculations, I could even start with white.  The pattern hat has 20 stripes, with 40 rounds (the bind off might have an extra round or so, but that is negligible for our calculations.)  I could have two stripes of 6 rows and four rounds of 7 rows with six colors.  Alternatively, I could do 4 rounds white followed by 4 rounds each of PBGYOR that would be 28 rounds.  The last bit could then be white.  Decisions, decisions...

Enough musing.  Here is my plan.  The CO was not considered part of the stripes, just as the last round of decreases wasn't either.  I'm going to do 6 rounds of purple (not including CO), 7 each of Blue, Green, Yellow and Orange and then finish up with Red.

The crown decreases start after stripe 15 in the pattern, or 30 rows.  This means the decreases will start in the middle of the orange round.  At the end of the yellow stripe 27 rows will have been knit.

The orange is the only color I'm worried about running out of.  The first purple stripe used 6.1 g and I have 5.4 g of orange.  The second stripe (blue) used 5 g exactly, so I do have some hope.  Hopefully these decreases will conserve me some yarn or else I'll have to cut out a stripe there.  Cross your fingers!

Before the crown decreases start

Yay!  We made it through the orange stripe with 1.3 g to spare!!  

After the orange stripe has been completed - 7 rows!

Before bedtime I wove in the loose ends and then took a peak at the rainbow chevron knit hat.   When, oh when, will I start weaving in these ends as I work on the project instead of waiting for the end?  

Before blocking

I wet blocked the hat by soaking it for 20 min in cool water and then laid it flat on a blocking mat.  No pinning was required, I just positioned it into the shape I wanted.

When the hat finished blocking, I had to try it on my favorite newborn model, Dede (Lucky's toy dog.)  

If the hat is too long for your baby, you can flip up the edge and it still looks really cute!  

In a matter of weeks I'll meet my newest baby boy and will get to see him snuggle with his Unicorn Woobie and matching hat in person!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Paper Plate Masks

Since Lucky was born, ChemKnits has evolved to include more than knitting, crochet, spinning and dyeing type projects.  I am doing so many other types of crafts as I plan out cute photoshoots or parties for my children.  At almost two, Lucky is finally able to start participating in some crafts.  I know that over the years to come his involvement will only increase, so I'll have to start planning these activities and letting go of some control to allow him to actively, and creatively, assist me.

We asked guests to come in costume to Lucky's 2nd Halloween Birthday Party, but I'm sure that some people may not have gotten the memo.  I thought it would be fun to have some paper plate masks around so others could participate in the costume atmosphere with minimal expense in acquiring additional costumes.  In this post I will share a bunch of different paper plate masks that both Lucky, and I, created.  Enjoy!

Materials used in most projects - There is some variation with the embellishments but the following items are super helpful for you to create a number of paper plate masks.

  • Paper plates 
  • scissors to cut the plates into shape
  • Wood Craft Sticks (Jumbo Size, 6 x 3/4) to create hand held masks or Beading cord elastic to create wearable masks (not shown here since I didn't have any on hand.)  
  • Construction paper in multiple colors
  • Clothespins (to hold gluing parts together until they dry)

Lamb and Lion Mask Tutorial -
Materials needed: paper plate, scissors, cotton balls, construction paper, yarn, craft glue, wooden craft sticks

Before Lucky's nap, I glued some craft sticks onto the back of the paper plates (so the right side curved up).
I also cut and glued the ears onto the masks myself.  I wanted all of these parts to dry so I could give Lucky a chance to get creative adding cotton balls or yarn pieces to the masks.  I cut multiple 2" piece of yarn in brown, orange and yellow (left over from Lucky's and Indy's Lion costumes).  Now I just need Lucky to wake up to help me get crafting!

23 months old may still be a little young for gluing projects.  I ended up doing about 90% of the lamb myself.  Lucky didn't really realize what he was supposed to do, and kept trying to put the cotton balls back in the container.  The lamb was so heavy that I glued a second paper plate to the back to help keep it from collapsing under the weight of the cotton balls.

Lucky got a lot more into creating the lion.  I started sprinkling yarn over the plate and he quickly joined in.  He helped sprinkle the yarn around on the glue and was very sad to stop once all of the cut pieces were on the plate.  After it had dried surprisingly most of the yarn stayed on!  It was not securely attached, however, so I added some more glue on top and tried to secure things a bit more.

Are the masks how I would have done them if I were working on them by myself?  No.  But I am quite proud of the fact that I relinquished some creative control to let Lucky "help" make these.  I cannot wait until he is ready to be a more active participant in our crafts.  

It took a bit of effort to convince Lucky that he should play with the masks with the fun side OUT so other people could see them.  

Unfortunately he still likes to pull things off of the dry plates, but we had a blast playing with the masks.

Flower Mask Tutorial (My creation)
Materials needed: paper plate, scissors, 2 pieces of construction paper (shown in purple and pink), wooden craft stick or elastic cord depending on how you want to put the mask on.

After making a few other paper plate masks I started to get some ideas for masks of my own... including a cute little flower.  I cut the center out of the paper plate and glued the craft stick to the back of the plate such that the Right side would curve up.  I folded one piece of pink and one piece of purple construction paper in half lengthwise and cut a number of long skinny petals.

I glued the pink petals on first and then overlapped them with the purple petals.

To have a toddler assist with this mask, I might recommend doing petals in one color (using two sheets of construction paper), or even a bunch of colors.

I had hoped to follow a second Lion Mask Tutorial (with Construction Paper), but never got around to it.  Maybe next year!  We haven't tried gluing together for a few months so I'm ready to give it another try as Lucky has been doing many glue projects in preschool.