Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swallowtail Shawl - Lace is Addictive!

Yes, I'm definitely all about knitting lately. And while I'm also working on hats, mittens, warm scarves and potentially useful items I love knitting lace and seeing the beautiful patterns created. I think lace looks much more intimidating and complicated than it is. If you told me at the beginning of the year that I'd be making this, I never would have believed you. Once you get the hang of some tricky bits (reading lace charts, general triangle shawl construction) it's really just the same knit and purl stitches. But that doesn't mean I'm not excessively proud!!
Raveled here.

The pattern is the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn C. Clark and is a free pattern. The yarn is a sock weight that I bought on Etsy. I was instantly mesmerized by the colors in it - definitely overall green but with some blue and dark gold in the mix also.

This was my first beaded lace project too. I used size 6 beads an the crochet hook method to get them on the yarn. Beading definitely slowed me down, but I am really pleased with how they look in the end.
Getting the beads to show up in photos is tricky!

This is definitely the kind of project that blocking wires were meant for! I got a nice straight top edge and my points are all even too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Koigu knitting - Woodland Scarf

This is the third scarf I've knit with Koigu yarn and it won't be my last! This time I'm using their KPM yarn which is the mostly-solid version of their sock-weight yarn. It has just enough variation in it to not be a solid.

I had the pattern in mind first and went to yarn shop looking for something that would work well with it. I didn't want it to be too busy or else it would distract from the lace pattern but a completely even solid wasn't want I wanted either. This Koigu was a perfect balance. Plus I loved the rusty color and knew I enjoyed knitting with the yarn.

The pattern is called Woodland Shawl, though I knit the scarf-width version. This was my first time doing a lace pattern that is patterned on both sides. Meaning there weren't those simple "purl each second row" instructions. The wrong side follows the lace pattern too. For the first repeat I thought it all seemed a bit too complicated but then I got to see how interesting the back was turning out. After a few repeats I had the whole thing memorized and could easily put it down and then later pick it up and jump right in. By the end it was truly enjoyable and it's a pattern I could see myself making again, definitely.

These early pictures show the stitch pattern really nicely, even though these were unblocked. Now I'm interested in finding more of these patterned on both sides designs! They are worth the extra work I think.

Raveled here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Prep

Our Tree! I love all our colorful ornaments and Ben and Nate enjoy redecorating the bottom 3 feet every day. :)

I was such a busy littler crafter last year. I made 20 gifts for the infants and toddlers we know. These were not quick simple gifts either. Seven of those gifts were hat, mitten and scarf sets. The scarves had hand-stitched animal faces. Three of those gifts were baby clutch balls that used 36 different fabric prints. Two of those gifts were stuffed dinosaurs with spikes all down the spine. Those spikes took forever to turn right side out!

I also made 11 more soft ornaments for our tree including these from the Spool birdie pattern:

And this year? Well I'm burnt out. Plus I'm hooked on knitting which is much slower than sewing. I'm working on knitted hats for the boys, but really that's all. Maybe next year I'll have a big push to do a handmade item for everyone, or maybe not. It got to be a lot of pressure -- making one item for one person made me feel obligated to make something for many others. For now, I need to stick with projects that are fun.

Here is the single solitary holiday decoration I made this year, but I think it's adorable!

I had made a bunting for my 3-year-old's birthday but didn't even consider making them for holidays until my secret swap parter made a cute Halloween one for me! For the holiday version I just pulled out my favorite prints and started cutting. Just sew the triangles right sides together, turn and press, then sew store-bought double-fold bias trim around it. So easy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Knitting Catch-Up

Despite the last two posts about sewing projects, I really have been doing much more knitting lately. I'm definitely hooked!
Just in time for the real cold weather to begin, I finished (mostly, kinda) my winter set. I finished the hat long ago but I had bought two more hanks of the Sheep Shop Sheep 1 yarn to make a scarf and mittens to match.

For a scarf I decided to go with a neckwarmer. First, I found a great pattern by the owner of Loop, my favorite local yarn store. It the Herringbone neckwarmer and it's a free pattern. Second, a neckwarmer is a heck of a lot faster to make than a scarf! I think mine is about 26" long while a scarf would be at least 48". The pattern is just 2 lines, but looks amazingly confusing in print. Actually trying it with your needles and yarn works much better and in the end it was a really fun and fat project! I love how thick and squishy the finished fabric is.
Raveled here

And then there are the mittens. My first mittens.
As happy as I am with the neckwarmer, I'm the opposite with these mittens. They do not fit in several ways -- too loose in the palm, thumb starts too late, too short at the fingers, too frumpy and bumpy and lumpy! And to top it all off, my mainly pink and brown yarn got a big pool of GREEN near the top of one of the mitts. I didn't even notice it as I was knitting, I think I was just relieved to be almost done.
I definitely learned quite a bit about what NOT to do, and I plan to frog (knitter-speak for unravel) and redo it in another pattern. So no I'm not posting too many close ups of these!

A few quick works in progress:

I fell head over heels for this adorable cabled hat pattern on KnitPicks.com called the Master Charles. Of course I went out and bought some lovely Malabrigo yarn to make one for each of my boys!

And I always have some sort of lace on the needles as well. This is the Swallowtail Shawl in a stunning yarn I bought from an indie dyer on Etsy. This one will even have some beads, a first for me.