Friday, January 29, 2010

NaKniMitMo 2010

You know all about NaKniMitMo right? ;)
I discovered through following the very-talented SpillyJane knits blog that January is national knit mittens month. It's a month long knit-a-long with prizes, chatter, inspiration and support over on the Ravelry and Flikr groups.

My first attempt at mittens was a mess and has since been ripped out. I started them again and ran out of steam after the first cuff. Something just wasn't clicking with that yarn and pattern.

So I thought I was just going to skip the mitten-knitting but my darn burgundy Malabrigo yarn was taunting me. I bought it intending to make a hat/scarf/mitten set. The hat and scarf are finished and getting lots of wear. They wanted mittens!! So I gave in and set off looking for a pattern. For me this is a week-long debate, minimum.

I ended up sticking with my new cabling skills and chose the (free!) Chevalier Mitten pattern. I did a few modifications so check on my project page on Ravelry for those. It ended up being a great pattern for me. Lots of cabling to keep you busy and moving along, a simple knit palm to give you a break, an easy way to alter the length and a great fit. I love how the cabling really snugs around my wrist perfectly.

I am a mitten failure no more! :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Not-so-Secret Swap

Back in the fall I participated in a DIY Fairy swap with a group of great ladies from The setup is quite simple. Everyone posts basic info about what fabrics/colors/patterns you like or dislike, what your kids like and then everyone gets matched up. You only need to make one item but I knew from previous rounds that everyone goes well above and beyond. Check out all the goodies my Fairy made for us!
I'm sure my giftee knew that I was her Fairy, I was not very sneaky and didn't know how to keep Paypal from printing my name in the return address on the shipping label. :) So I feel safe in sharing these projects here that I'm not ruining any secret.

Part of the fun of the Fairy swap was all the sleuthing to make the gifts really personalized. My giftee was a mama with a little girl and boy. I found that the mama had just gotten a tattoo and posted a picture of her arm. I thought the design was really neat so I took the picture, traced it, cleaned it up, played with the colors and made an image I used to print out a notecard set. I'd never done anything like this and I was really happy how they came out.

I made a fabric case to hold the cards and envelopes, of course in a great butterfly print. The closure was an elastic hair band and a fabric covered button. Love those.

For her daughter I saw that the little girl had requested a Darth Vader/Princess theme birthday party. Yes. Really. Coolest theme ever! Of course I had to do something with this. So I came up with a reversible bag. It's basically an Amy Butler Swing Bag made child-sized.

For her son I was just working with a description that he liked just about everything. So I decided a little stuffie toy would be great. I must have been looking at this little evil cupcake monster stuffie I have when I dreamed this up. I know I was thinking of a silly spider toy I made that had these great boots on each leg so that took care of the feet. But for hands? I know I didn't want actual hands for a cupcake but what to do? Then it hit me -- oven mitts! Naturally, a tiny chef hat would be necessary as well.

I love the tiny details

I had so much fun coming up with ideas for this, I hope another round starts soon!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I'm loving knitting with Malabrigo Merino Worsted! It's so soft. I love the subtle changes in the mostly-solids (though the wild colors are fun too!) I also appreciate the nice sized 210-yard hanks and the price isn't bad at all.
I chose the Burgundy colorway to make a nice hat/scarf/mitten set. I have the hat and scarf and maybe when I can decide on a mitten pattern I'll get to work on that too.

For the scarf I did something a bit different - a lace triangle. The pattern is called 198 yds. of Heaven but I actually used even less - a measly 147 yards (a guess, based on weight). It's certainly not a shawl, but I was only meaning to make a scarf to wrap around my neck. After blocking it measured 31" wide. Small but perfectly useful and it feels so nice to wear next my skin.

Raveled here. The pattern is free and suitable for a beginner (charted or written out) but it's only on Ravelry.

The hat was a more challenging pattern. It's the Laurel from the Made in Brooklyn pattern booklet. It's meant to be a tam but um, I don't think I could pull that look off. I just wanted a regular beanie-type hat but I really liked the cabled and bobbled pattern. I ended up modifying it a bit - I did 5 repeats instead of 6 (to reduce the width) and removed 4 rows and redid the ending (to reduce the height). My previous attempts to tinker with a pattern were NOT promising but this one came out great! The pattern had 4 different cables, bobbles, a very very busy chart and tons of errata. Do not attempt this without checking those!
Raveled here

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Swatch and Frog, Swatch and Frog

I have two skeins of a highly variegated yarn that I'm determined to knit up. But I'm having the hardest time finding a pattern that works with it. Really, I've knit it in six different patterns now and I'm just crossing my fingers that this time it will work. Or I might get a foot into the scarf and decide to frog it yet again. (Frogging is what knitters call ripping out the stitches. Fortunately the yarn is 100% reusable in most cases).

The yarn is Koigu KPPPM. In two skeins there are 350 yards, enough for a long skinny scarf but pretty scant for a triangle shawl. So I'm limiting myself to patterns I can do as a scarf.

I first tried the Woodland Shawl pattern. I thought the yarn was too busy and went with a semi-solid instead (my Rust Woodland which worked wonderfully).

Next up I tried the super popular pattern Clapotis. I got a ways in and confirmed that I really dislike the look of those dropped stitches. The columns of yarn lines just look... unfinished to me.

No picture for this one, but I started and stopped a Lacy Baktus scarf. A narrow triangle, mostly garter stitch worked side to side. The garter stitch made the color variations look even more frenzied and a bit sloppy. Not the one.

Then I started doing little swatches. I tried out a stitch pattern I truly enjoyed knitting, the herringbone in my Herringbone Neck Warmer. Actually, I thought this looked great but the fabric is dense and it wouldn't be a drapey scarf. I needed to go back to a lace pattern.

So I tried my faithful backup - Feather & Fan. Amazingly, this did nothing for the pattern OR the yarn.

Really this was getting ridiculous. I thought of another stitch I enjoyed - the budding lace section of my Swallowtail Shawl. A bit tricky since the pattern is written as a triangle not a rectangle, but with a bit of math I worked out how I could do it. My swatch was sort of promising...

And here it is 37-stitches wide. The rust will be taken out so I can knit on the edging of the Swallowtail pattern. If it works out I think it will be so interesting, if not, frog frog frog.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I wasn't a complete grinch - Noro stripe scarf & hat

I've kept my knitting pretty selfish to start but I did squeeze in two little projects to give to my husband for Christmas. It was fun watching him open them up and ask, "When did you make these?" Luckily he pays no attention to what I knit at all. I don't think I ever worked on either one with him in the room, but there were several times where I quickly-but-not-too-quickly put it down and picked up another project when he appeared.

The scarf is the popular Noro Striped Scarf written up by Brooklyn Tweed. It calls for 4 skeins of Noro Silk Garden, but since I had 2 skeins and wasn't too pleased with it, I used a solid maroon (Knit Picks Gloss HW) that I had in my stash for the alternating stripes. Noro drives me nuts. The 2 skeins I had had 4 joins with drastic color jumps. I ended up splitting them all up and reordering them into an order that made sense to me. One section wasn't even from the right colorway! Really. As beautiful and mesmerizing as I find the color changes, I'll never buy any Noro yarn again.

The pattern is very simple, just a 1x1 rib. The great thing about it is that it ends up looking just like stockinette, but double-thick and the same on both sides. Perfect for scarf. The downside is that it's incredibly boring to knit! Definitely have something else interesting to jump to when you just can't take it anymore!

And one last pic of me modeling it. I think I took this the night I finished it. Raveled here

The hat is another popular (and free!) Brooklyn Tweed project called Turn a Square. Raveled here

The way the decreases work creates a square pattern on the top of the hat in the stripes.

Pretty basic design but I did want to mention the jogless stripe. When you're working in the round and creating stripes you really need to do something to avoid those jumps called jogs that occur when you get to the end of the round and are switching colors. You don't want to actually see where that end of round is in the finished product. So there are various techniques to deal with it. There is one method written up with the Turn a Square pattern but it made NO sense to me because the result looked even worse than if I had done nothing. So I turned to the TechKnitting blog for help and she didn't let me down. Love that site!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year! A quick review of 2009

Wow I've been a busy bee this past year. I started off the year with so many plans for sewing clothes, for me and the kids. January was all about aprons and I made 4 of them. The spring was filled with a ton of simple shorts, skirts, and iron-transfer T-shirts for our Disney trip and for gifts. I made many skirts, a blouse, a button down shirt for my son and then my garment sewing took a poor turn and I got very discouraged by the challenge of actually making things fit. The summer included some quilting projects, table runners and then my interest in knitting really picked up and took over. In the fall I finished a few quilts but the year ended with all knits.

And here it is in picture form!