Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wonderful or Whack-a-doodle (or Wonderfully Whack-a-doodle)?

So here's my latest knitting project and attempt at using up some of my leftover yarn:  The Cadeau Cowl by Wei S. Leong (free pattern).  I've called it a cowl, but I'm not really sure what it is.  A ruff?  Small capelet, maybe?  Whatever it is, I'm not sure it's really me.

Honestly, I think it's a beautiful pattern.  The way the cables intertwine is really interesting and makes this item very unique.  I could see possibly wearing this cowl/capelet over a strapless dress for a special occasion if you were uncomfortable showing so much skin or wanted to keep your shoulders warm.  With the right outfit, I think it could look really sweet.

But for me - I'm not sure.  One, I made the larger size and I think it may be too big for my shoulders.  And two, this color, though pretty, might be a little too bright for me and this item.  Maybe if I knit it again in a neutral, like a gray color?  Then maybe it wouldn't look so out of place?  Still not sure.

I'll think about it over the Christmas holidays.  Wishing you a exciting holiday, too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Update on "Knit the Bridge"

These are the types of stories that make me proud to be a knitter :)

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that creative and cat-loving knitter Marty Ressler has taken some of the leftover knitted panels from the Knit the Bridge project and crafted them into pet beds for cats at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.


What a great idea!  I love projects that reuse and recycle materials and this is one of the best ideas I've heard.  As amazing and breathtaking as the Knit the Bridge was, this reuse of the yarn and panels is a beautiful end to an inspiring story! 

In this season of giving, hopefully this story will inspire all of us to think creatively and find ways to help out in our communities!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Knitted Christmas Ornaments

Last night was our knitting group's second annual ornament exchange.  The rules of our exchange are that each person must craft an ornament.  The decoration does not need to be knitted, but it does have to be handmade.  Last year, I tried my hand at needle felting and made this little reindeer

I didn't really have any ideas for this year until I saw a little stuffed sheep pattern in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Noro Knitting Magazine.  Once I saw this pattern, I knew that I could turn it into my ornament :)

I made two sheep, one for the ornament exchange and one for me :)  In the process, I made a number of modifications to this pattern:

1.  The smallest needles I have are #4's, so that's what I had to work with.  I found that using my #4's with sock yarn created a knitted material that was too loose and showed the fiber fill through the loose weave.  So instead, I used some stash Caron Simply Soft for the body of my sheep (natural for the white one and sticks and stones for the brownish one) and my #4's.

2.  For the belly, the head, and the legs I used some leftover sock yarn.  This yarn isn't very pretty, but added some fun, funky color to my sheep.  I followed the directions as written for the belly, then switched to the Caron Simply Soft for the body.

3.  I was afraid that the sheep was going to be too boxy, so after the last cluster round of the body repeats, I did a decrease row - I did a k2tog every 7th st (knitting the 7th and 8th sts together).  This decreased 8 sts from the body.  This gave me 2 less sts for the head (which I think actually looks better).

4.  I graphed the back together with the sts I had, then switched back to my sock yarn for the head.  I followed the directions for the head, but changed the ears.  Instead of knitting separate ears, I made a set of three looped sts on each side of the head, echoing the cluster stitch in the body.  I like how these purple "ears" look.

5.  Lastly, I couldn't seem to pick up sts on the belly with my larger needles to start the legs.  So instead, I cast on 6 sts and knit my i-cord legs separately.  I left about an 8 inch tail when I cast on and made each leg (i-cord) about an 1 1/2 inches long, then I bound off.  I cut my yarn leaving about a 30 inch tail.  I used a tapestry needle and the 8 inch cast on tail to stitch the legs to the body.  Then I used the 30 inch tail at the end of the legs to wrap around each one.

6.  I didn't bother with the face details because they would have gotten lost in my striped sock yarn head.  Instead, I added a little yarn detail and bell around the neck :)

The overall size is a little larger than the pattern, about 5 1/2" in length, but I think they're pretty cute!  And in exchange, I got this beautiful embroidered snowflake ornament by expert knitter AND quilter Dagmar.

I love it!  I'm thrilled to have a sample of her handiwork!!  All and all, we had a great time (again) with our ornament exchange :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

New FREE Knitting Pattern: Sweet Cables Baby Blanket

As part of my "recession knitting" plan to use up some of my stash yarn, I've posted a new free knitting pattern:  Sweet Cables Baby Blanket.

This blanket or afghan knits up quickly using bulky or chunky yarn.  The pattern features alternating cables with a little bit of lace - perfect for keeping that little one warm and cozy :)

This pattern is available on my Hubpage.  The directions include two separate cable charts, one for each cable.  These charts are included with the directions, but I've also posted the charts here, laid out on one page.

You should be able to click on this chart, save it, then re-size it for printing.  Let me know if you have any problems :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Recession Knitting: Update 2

I have been holding true to my commitment to knit down some of my stash.

My latest project is another pair of my Textured Fingerless Mitts (free pattern on my Hubpage).  I loved the first pair I made (from some gorgeous hand dyed merino from Ewe and Me Yarns on, but I gave them away.  I didn't have enough of that yarn to make another pair, so I used some Araucania kettle dyed wool leftover from some projects I made for my hubby. 

I'm happy with the results.  These mitts were also knit as part of a Big Bang Theory knit-a-long, so I wanted to show them off with my BBT bobble head set.  Yes, I know, these dolls don't really look like the characters.  Penny is particularly just a generic blonde.  But I have kept them mint in box :)


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Knitting Ideas

Yes, it's that time of year again, when most knitters turn their attention (and their needles) to holiday gifts.  And what makes holiday knitting much more fun?  FREE knitting patterns!

DROPS, those wonderful suppliers of so many free patterns, have pulled together their best holiday projects in their Christmas Workshop 2013.  This (free) pattern collection is just jam packed with great ideas for knitted and crocheted gifts.  I love all the sock and mitt patterns!

And if your looking for more free knitting patterns, check out my Hubpages (apologies for the shameless plug).  I've recently added some fun craft projects for the holiday season!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Big Bang, Anyone?

After finishing my Summer Sweater KAL, I didn't really want to sign up for another one right now.  I had some other projects in mind, I wanted to take a bit of a break, etc...BUT then some other Summer Sweater KAL members suggested a Big Bang Theory knit-a-long, and I couldn't resist :)

I'm not really knitting anything Big Bang-inspired for this KAL, I'm still working on some of my "recession knitting" projects.  But the KAL also includes Big Bang Theory trivia, and as a dedicated fan of the show, I am enjoying participating in these fun (and surprisingly difficult) questions.

If I were going to make something BBT-inspired (and if I knew how to crochet) I would TOTALLY make these dolls designed by Allison Hoffman.  They are completely AWESOME!!!  They look so much like the characters from the show.  It's amazing!  I have a set of manufactured bobble heads of the cast that my husband gave me, and these handmade dolls look way more like the actual cast than my bobble heads.  They are so cool! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My First Knitting Project - "Put A Bird On It"

Update:  12/28/2013

Hi all - I've moved this post to my other blog.  Look for it and other knitting articles and free patterns on my Hubpages!!  Thanks!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Textured Mitts Featured on CraftGawker!

Just in time for the cold weather, my textured mitts have been featured on CraftGawker!  CraftGawker is a cool site that features an ever-updating gallery of creative handmade craft items and tutorials.  I'm thrilled to have my mitts included!

And another thing to be excited about - I'm headed to SAFF this weekend!  I'm going with some friends from my knitting group.  It's supposed to be pretty cold, so I'm definitely wearing these mitts :)  Now I need to find the right outfit to go with them...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Recession Knitting: Update 1

So I finished my first proposed "recession knitting" project:  the Theresa Shawl from the Fall 2013 Knitscene.  I LOVE IT!!

At about the halfway point on this shawl, I realized I was not going to have enough of my green variegated bamboo dk to finish this shawl (sad face).  So I added in some leftover Malabrigo Arroyo in a blue denim color and alternated every two rows between the different colorways.  I really like how the blue stands out against the green yarn.  I couldn't be happier with how this shawl worked out.  It's a really beautiful pattern and a very clever design.

Having said that, I did make some modifications.  I started out following the pattern as written, just letting the variegation in the green bamboo dk make the chevron pattern.  But the leaf pattern was kind of getting lost in the changing colors and the yarn was curling under at the edges.  I didn't think a good blocking was really going to help with the curling in this bamboo.  So I tore out all my knitting and started again just using a 5 stitch garter border on all the edges (including top and bottom).  It's not as elegant as the leaf edge in the pattern, but it solved my problem.  If I were to do it again, I'd taper the edge at the start and end, beginning with only 2 sts on the border and increase to 5 to give it a sleeker look.

I really like how this variegated bamboo looks.  I think I found the perfect pattern (minus a few hiccups) for this yarn!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recession Knitting

There's comes a time in every knitter's life when you've collected enough leftover skeins of yarn from previous projects to knit a completely new item, or many new items.  I have now reached this point.  So, for the next few months, I am going to focus on some knitting projects just using my leftover yarn.

I know I've said this before, but I am committed to saving some money and not buying any more yarn until I've made a serious dent in my collection of leftovers.

First up, this bamboo dk I bought a few years ago at Stitches South.  I've used this yarn for other projects, then frogged them, then repeat.  It's pretty beat up and I'm not really sure how much of it I have left.  But I'm using it to knit the Theresa Shawl from from the Fall 2013 issue of Knitscene.  Actually, I'm almost done with this shawl, and I love it!

Then there's this assortment of worsted weight merino from various projects.  I have enough yarn between the three colors to make a vest.  I plan to knit a short-sleeved striped sweater with a lace circular yoke.  This is a pattern I'm kind of pulling together from a couple of different sources and I'll be knitting this as part of a Big Bang Theory knit-a-long.  What fun! :)

I have some blue variegated wool leftover from making a hat, scarf, and mitts set for my husband.  I'll be using this to make a set of my textured fingerless mitts.  I gave away the other pair I made and want to make another sample.

Then there's this soft gray merino and decorative ladder yarn  - I have a new pattern in mind for these that I hope to have ready to share in a few weeks!

There are some other bits and bobs that I hope to put to use too - but I haven't laid out a plan for them.  Do you try to use up your leftover yarn?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Knitting's Golden Age Documentary

This is a fascinating documentary about the history of knitting and knitted fashion in Britain.  This video, shown by the BBC, is about an hour long.

I particularly like the section about Prince Edward making a fashion statement with his fair isle sweater :)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long Round Up

I finished my sweater for Shannon's Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long a few weeks ago. 
The KAL was a lot of fun and definitely motivated me to finish this sweater before the start of Fall.

Now Shannon has posted photos of all the participants' finished sweater on her blog luvinthemommyhood.  Check out the finished projects here !!  So many great sweaters!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Free Knitting Pattern: Changing Leaves Cowl or Scarf

I love the cooler temperatures of Fall.  And cooler temps brings more knitting!!!  To celebrate, I've just posted my latest free knitting pattern:  The Changing Leaves Cowl or Scarf.  This pattern features colorful leaves places around your neck.  It's a great way to show off your favorite variegated yarns and use up some leftover stash :)

The pattern can be found on my Hubpages, but to make it easier to print out the charts, I've posted them below as a one page jpeg.  Hopefully, you can click on this jpeg, resize it, and print it on a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.  Let me know if this doesn't work :)

I hope you enjoy my latest pattern! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Latest FREE Knitting Pattern: Simply Special Washcloth

Here is my latest free pattern:  the Simply Special Washcloth!  I wanted to make some washcloths for our guest bath that had a simple design but a special touch to them.  So, I created an interesting but easy knit-purl diamond design that's simple but has a pretty look and a nice texture to it.  Then I finished it off with an i-cord border (which is actually knit as you work through the pattern).  I'm really happy with how they came out!

You can find more of my free knitting patterns, knitting articles, and craft ideas on my Hubpages site!

Friday, September 6, 2013

What's in Your (Knitting) Bag?

Shannon at luvinthemommyhood suggested that everyone in our KAL post a photo of what was in their knitting bag, so here it is!

Nothing really exciting.  Just the usual tools and supplies.  I always have this stuff nearby if I'm knitting at home, but I don't carry all of it when I'm traveling.  And my most important tool - easily my chapstick :)  Love it!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long: The Barney Effect

My Peterborough cardigan for the luvinthemommyhood Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long is complete!!  I worked overtime during the Labor Day weekend to get it seamed and finished :)

 I'm really happy with the final result of all the modifications I did to the pattern.  There's only two things I might change if I were to do it again:

1.  The finished sweater is a bit big in the hip area.  I lost some weight this spring, but used my old measurements when selecting the size of this sweater.  I still think it fits fine.  Right now I can cross the front pieces and wear it belted.  In the winter, I will be able to layer heavier items under it (and I will probably have gained some weight back by then).

2.  The sleeves are still a bit long.  I made them a 1/2 inch shorter than the pattern called for, but I think I could have taken off a full inch.  But, again, this leaves some room for layering.

I'm a bit surprised at how much I love this sweater.  Yes, Norah Gaughan's pattern is beautiful (they always are), but I was a bit worried about the color.  A few years ago I went into a local yarn store to buy yarn for my first sweater.  I wanted to make it in purple, but the store owner warned me against it.  She said, "Purple can go really Barney on you, really quick" in reference to the big purple dinosaur character.  Ever since then, I've shied away from knitting a full sweater in purple, thinking the garment and color might overpower me.

But in reality, I think the color can be easily managed and balanced.  I think I can wear this sweater with many things and a lot of other colors (maybe avoiding wearing head to toe purple).  I think it's a beautiful sweater design in a great color that I will wear a lot during the cooler months.  I'm happy :)

I've really enjoyed doing this knit-a-long.  It has been wonderful to meet and chat with the other knitters doing this KAL.  I've learned a lot and I am constantly amazed and inspired by their knitting projects :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Photographing Your Knits

As part of her Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long, Shannon at luvinthemommyhood has been featuring a number of really interesting guest posts on a variety of knitting topics.  One of my favorite posts was about photographing your knitwear by Michelle at My So-Called Handmade Life.  

Taking good photographs of my knitting is something I struggle with.  Most of my photos usually look boring and stiff.  I never seem to capture the feel and atmosphere that I'm looking for. 

So after reading Michelle's post, I found the perfect opportunity to put her advice to use.  It had been raining most of the day, but around dinnertime the sun came out.  Our neighbors have recently moved and so hubby and I had complete privacy in our backyard to play around without an audience.  We went to work and captured some great images (I think).

watching the hummingbirds fly by

Here's what I learned:

1.  Our work backyard fence makes an interesting backdrop for these photos.  I like the textural element it adds to these pics.

2.  My most recent haircut is distinctly lopsided.

3.  My husband is a great photographer, but not a great fashion stylist.  I need to train him to tell me when my bra strap is showing and when to suck in my gut.

We'll keep working on the photos, but I think there is great potential in our backyard to take some interesting shots.  BTW - this shawl is my latest free pattern:  The Crossroads Textured Shawl.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long, Update 3

Yea!  Hurrah!  I'm almost done with the two fronts of my Peterborough!! (Celebration ensues).

But, of course, with progress comes more modifications.  As I was knitting the first front piece, I realized the original pattern called for another rib band across the waist in the front.  I had not read through the entire pattern before starting (again) and did not realize this was part of the design (I partial blame the photo with the pattern that hides the ribbing with a belt - but then again, I should have checked what I was getting into before starting).

I didn't really like the ribbing in the front and hadn't planned on it.  However, if I omitted it, I would have to do more decreases on the front pieces than I had done on my back.  Luckily, I realized I could work in the additional decreases that I needed along the Stst edge by the cabled collar.  This actually solved two problems - I could add in the additional decreases and still match my back piece AND I could create a slight v-neck on the collar that would pull this itchy wool yarn a little bit away from my neck. 

I ended up doing 5 decreases at the lace edge.  I'm hoping with a good blocking, they will be unnoticeable in my stitches.

Next up - the sleeves.  There's nothing really interesting to say about sleeves.  I'm planning to knit them in the round, instead of flat, by casting on only 60 sts.  Hopefully, I will have them both done by September 1!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yarn Bombing the 'Burgh

photo by Annette Sandberg

I'm decidedly NOT a fan of yarn bombing.  This latest craze of covering anything and everything with knitwear just seems like a waste of good yarn to me.  Sorry.

However, I am very impressed with the Knit the Bridge project in Pittsburgh.  A local community group got permission from the city to cover one of the city's (many) bridges in knitted panels.  The finished result is really amazing.  Check out all the photos here

I lived in Pittsburgh for 9 years and loved it.  And this project reminds me of what I loved so much about the city.  There is a real sense of community among the people there, especially artists.  There's always something fun, exciting, and creative going on.  I miss it!

Congrats to the artists and community members involved in this project on a beautiful and successful yarn bombing.  You've made a convert out of me!! :)

And on the subject of knitting - I've recently added a new article on my Hubpages:  The Best FREE Websites for Knitters & Crocheters.  Check it out :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long, Update 2

This post could be subtitled "Ah, Bugger!!!"

Well, I've finished the back section of my Peterborough for the Summer Sweater KAL.  While working on the back of my sweater, I was granted the opportunity to re-familiarize myself with one of the most important tenets of knitting:  ALWAYS READ THROUGH THE PATTERN BEFORE BEGINNING!!!

Alas, I had not.  I thought I could cast on for a larger size in the hips and just do more decreases to make the chest and shoulders a smaller size.  But I didn't realize (and didn't read) was that for the back rib band, the pattern calls for more increases as you start the band, and then decrease stitches as you finish the band.  This screwed up all my math and calculations.  And I had already knitted half of the back of my sweater :(

I was able to remedy this by doing *no* increases before starting to knit the back band, and doing more decreases as I was finishing the band.  And the math worked out. Yea!!

So, I'm moving on to the front sections of my cardigan, along with the lace and cable collar.  As with all things, this collar is proving more difficult than expected.  But more on that in my next post.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out my latest free knitting pattern - the Crossroads Textured Shawl.  This is my first shawl pattern and I'm pretty pleased with it :)

Til next time...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New FREE Knitting Pattern: Crossroads Textured Shawl

As promised, here is my latest free knitting pattern:  the Crossroads Textured Shawl.  I really love how this came together.  I intentionally designed a shawl that was simple enough to wear with just a top and jeans, yet can be dressed up to wear to a special occasion or a more dressy outfit.

It might be difficult to see in these small photos, but this
 shawl features a striped design (though it can be knit in a solid color) and a beautiful textured edging. (The shawl pin I made myself.  More info and a link to the tutorial can be found here.)

I hope you like this shawl pattern!  Now back to knitting my sweater for my KAL  :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long

I've joined my first knit-a-long, sponsored by Shannon from luvinthemommyhood.  A knit-a-long (or KAL) for those who are unfamiliar, is when a group of people get together to knit the same item (or type of item) at the same time.  This is an online knit-a-long through Shannon's website and Ravelry, and (obviously) a sweater knit-a-long.

This KAL came along at just the right time for me.  I was planning to start my next sweater project anyway :)  I had bought a bag of Ella Rae Classic Wool in purple at SAFF.  I bought this yarn for another project, but have gone back and forth with it and finally decided to knit a cardigan.

I finally settled on Peterborough by Norah Gaughan (from her Berroco Vol. 8 booklet).  This cardigan might just be perfect for me.  I love the cabled collar with just a little bit of lace detail.  I think it will be very wearable with a lot of different outfits.

I'm going to try to keep my modifications to a minimum:

1.  I'm shortening the overall length from 28" to 25".

2.  Because of this, I'm raising the back ribbing belt to 11" from the bottom cast on edge.  I want it to sit at my natural waist.  

3.  I'm also casting on for a bigger size in the hips, then doing more decreases to make the chest and shoulders smaller.

I'm going to post regular updates on my progress here as part of the KAL.  Wish me luck :)

Oh, and I'll be posting a new knitting pattern for my first shawl in the next few days.  Be sure to stop by and see!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Knitting Pattern: This Way Up! Chevron Cowl

Here is my latest FREE knitting pattern - This Way Up! Chevron Cowl.  
This pattern is a quick and easy peasy knit, and perfect for a great gift and/or using up some of your stash yarn.  The pattern consists of only two rows and you can make the color chevron blocks as wide or as narrow as you want, or just knit until you run out of yarn :)  I've made mine long enough to double around my neck and hang a bit, but you can change the length to suit your style.

The pattern is available on my Hubpage, along with my other knitting patterns and articles, and other craft tutorials.  I hope you enjoy this pattern!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A New Obsession: Shawl Pins

I recently finished knitting my first shawl - the beautiful Luster Shawl by Amélie Bernier (which I love, love, love).  I have, however, found that it is almost impossible to wear a shawl without some type of clasp to hold it together and in place.  So I started looking online at various styles of shawl pins, and realized I already had the necessary materials and could make a few shawl pins on my own.

Above are the fruits of my creative labors :)

The top pin is a geometric wire and bead design that anyone can make with some simple supplies
(a bead and some wire) and a pair of needle nose pliers.

The middle pin is a beautiful  beaded stick pin that can also be worn as a hair ornament.  This stick pin is made with a polymer clay stick and a bead, then decorated with acrylic paint and some copper wire detail.


The last is a polymer clay pin and stick, kind of a traditional design in a bright color combination.

All of these pins are easy to make with some creativity and some time.  The tutorials for all these pins are on my Hubpage, or you can follow the links below:

Wire and Bead Shawl Pin
Beaded Shawl Stick Pin or Hair Ornament
Pretty Polymer Clay Shawl Pin and Stick

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Free Knitting Pattern: Color Field Baby Blanket

As promised, here is my latest free knitting pattern:  the Color Field Baby Blanket.  Baby blankets are always a great handmade gift for new parents.  A blanket is very useful, and a baby doesn't grow out of it as soon as clothes or other gifts.
 I designed this pattern to be fun and colorful, and adaptable to match any personal taste or nursery decor.  For my blanket, I used the detail color of my first block as the background color of the next block, and transitioned through 6 colors that way to make my design.  However, this blanket could also be knit in just two colors (it would be beautiful using a variegated or striping yarn as the background and a solid color as the detail throughout; or - do the reverse.  Use one solid color as the background, and a variegated or striping yarn as the detail!)
I love how this blanket came out.  I hope you like it too :)  You can find my other free knitting patterns and articles on Hubpages