Monday, February 28, 2011

Rush Order

Last week I got a call from my uncle telling me that his wife was turning 40 on Friday.  He was planning to celebrate this by throwing her a surprise party on Sunday.  I wasn't sure if we'd be able to make it, but as it turns out, J had some plans for Sunday to see some friends, and we'd be in the area anyway so it worked out really well.

I'm really glad we have the time this weekend to visit and be a part of the party.  We don't get to see her very often.  A lot of the time she's is working when the family gets together, so it's neat this can happen especially for her.

Having made the decision on Thursday night that we'd be able to attend, I set to work whipping up a quick birthday gift.  S is definitely a knit-worthy relative.  She's really laid-back and fun to be around and a hand knit seemed to be just what was in order.  And since I wasn't sure what everyone was doing as far as gifts or cards, I felt something small, but fun would be perfect.

I first considered fingerless mitts.  I love them so much and it seemed like something she might wear, but in the end I wasn't completely sure.  I wasn't up for making mittens or gloves.  A scarf or shawlette would be pretty, but I wouldn't have the time.  So I settled on a hat.

I went to my trusty favorites on Ravelry and started working my way through all the pages of hats I've faved over the last year and a half.  There were a lot.  I settled on Knotted Cap.  I wanted a hat that was more than just stockinette stitch - I wanted it to have some visual interest to it.  Cables seemed like a better option than ribbing.  But I also didn't want cables that were so complicated I would never get the hat done in time.
This is the first time I've knit this particular cable pattern.  If you were to knit this hat and not block it, the cables against the purl stitches almost act as huge ribs.  How cool is that?  I blocked this hat though.  I wasn't happy with how the purl stitches were puckering in funny places and didn't lay nicely.   Blocking solved that problem, although the hat is a bit loose now.  Perfect for spring, I guess!  This is knit in Knit Picks Andean Silk in Sangria. It's very soft and creates a lovely sheen or shimmer when in the light.

The top/crown of the hat is really neat.  It wasn't until it was finished and adorning the head of Manny (the mannequin) that I noticed the image I saw in the decreases.  You may have to squint a little to see what I'm talking about, but the combination of the decreasing and the pattern of the end of the cables creates something similar to a heart.  So to me it looks like there are 6 hearts all pointed in at the top of the hat.  Kind of like a secret message! :)

I was surprised that there were only a few projects of this hat on Raverly.  Perhaps 8 (9 now, with mine) total?  I think more people should knit this.  It's quick and it looks more difficult than it actually is.  I love that.  I knit this in 2 days, although I worked on it until very late on the second night and worked at it constantly for those couple days.  But hats in general tend to be fast.

I hope she gets a lot of use out of this hat!
(She loved her hat!  By accident, her hat was shrunk in the wash and she was looking for something to replace it - she thought this was perfect!  And, it was even in a color she loves!! :) I love it when things work out like that.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Doggy Delights

How many of you out there in Bloggerland are pet lovers like me?

I love animals, which would come as no surprise to my family.  I have forever been in love with horses...but I don't have much by the way of horse-knitting to do (because 1) I don't own a horse and 2) I'm not really sure what's out to knit for  

I've never minded cats.  My dad had them as I was growing up, the biggest problem for me is my allergies. We've had a few cats in our house over time, but at the moment, we have none. I did find that over time I seemed to build an immunity to whatever it is about cats that triggers allergies.  I still didn't let them near my face, but with frequent brushing and bi-monthly baths we all got along great. :) 

I really enjoy dogs.  They're much easier to own than a horse, you know.  We have 2 dogs.  Eve (Evie), my chocolate, 5-year-old Imperial Shih Tzu, and Jax, our black, 1 1/2-year-old black lab mix (we're not sure what the "mix" part is).  Jax is a doofus but we love him anyway. 

Evie is my baby girl.  She was my Christmas present (from myself and from my mom) the year after J & I got married.  She was so teeny tiny!!  It's amazing how much she has calmed down in that short time.  

Anyway - Evie gets groomed every month.  In the summer & fall I keep her trimmed short (a puppy cut) because it's so warm, and also because I'm not very good at keeping her brushed with long hair.  But in the winter, I choose to keep her hair a little longer for a little extra warmth.  Evie's never gotten too big.  On a good day she weighs in at 8 pounds, but usually she sits at 7 1/2.  

The recent warm weather must have really gone to my head, though, in convincing myself it was so close to spring because I told Mom to get Evie her usual "puppy cut."  She looks so good after a sort-of mangy few months with long hair.  I love her cut short!  BUT....the warm weather didn't really stick around and Evie's lost that extra layer of warmth.   So it's decided.  I must knit her a sweater. (I know some of you are groaning out there, but believe me - she truly benefits from such things!)  All her commercial sweaters have been chewed to bits by the lovable, yet sometimes mischievous Jax. :) 

Stay tuned for what's new in Doggy Wear. :) 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Favorites 2/25: Just Call Me a Knerdy Knitter!

Maybe you won't all count the following Friday Favorites as nerdy, but they fall under that definition for me.  While lying in bed last night trying to decide what today's Favorites would be about, I kept coming back to a few patterns that I just think are fun.  I know I have many more than these in my favorites that are a bit on the "geeky" side of things, but I have too many favorites to go through them all. :)

Photo by Carissa Browning
I'm a lover of Star Wars.  I grew up watching them with my family, and continued watching them on my own and with my husband.  J loves Star Wars, too (on a larger scale than me), so it's a shared interest.  And anyone who's seen the movie, how can you not love R2D2 and C-3PO?  There are a lot of really cute projects for this pattern, especially those for little babies! :)  Several people leave off the "3-D" portion of the hat, perhaps for practicality.

Photo by Nori
I saw this pattern this morning.  All I could think of was how much J & X would love to have one of these, swinging them around the house and dueling one another.  Then I thought of how much X would like to use it to hit things with.  With that in mind, I won't be knitting this any time soon, but it's still fun to see a knitted Lightsaber! :)

Photo by AbbyEBee
Have any of you seen How to Train Your Dragon?  I love it.  It's a fun movie and it captures one of my favorite mythical creatures, dragons.  Add a dragon to the story (whether the dragon be good or bad), and you've piqued my interest.  I think of this as a "knerdy knit" because when I think dragons, I think World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, and sci-fi fantasy books.  Plus, I really love the Toothless character in the movie.

Photo by Amber Allison
This is a pattern I saw awhile back and immediately knew it would be perfect for my husband.  He loves Legos, and has passed on that interest to X.  What's better than a doll-size Lego man?  I really LOVE that his head, torso and legs come apart.  This WILL be a pattern I knit.  Perhaps this summer when things have slowed down a bit.  I just can't get over how creative this pattern designer was. I've heard that the pattern isn't easy, and the designer warns that it's not a beginner's project.  So for me, I think...awesome!  A challenge that has really cool results! :) Now...if only she had a pattern for hair...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pattern: Big Ribs

I'm sure a lot of you have seen it already, but I wrote up the pattern for J's winter gloves and added it to Ravelry as a free pattern! :)

I'm pretty jazzed about having a second pattern on Raverly.  This time I loaded the pattern as a .pdf file (as opposed to the Uptown Babe, which until now, has only been offered on my blog) so Ravelers can download it/save it to their library straight from the source.  I am calling it Big Ribs.

I know I love being able to do that with free patterns, so why not share the love?

I took notes the entire way because I figured I'd write up the pattern, but I debated for awhile whether or not to offer it for free.  It took a lot of trial and error to get these where I wanted them.  Overall, I feel that the pattern is relatively simple.  I utilize so many of the free patterns myself, I figured one more couldn't hurt.

I'm excited by the number of people who have already faved & queued the pattern. :)  I guess that means people like it, right?! :)

Remember This?

Several months ago the "Teddy Bear Picnic" swap came to a conclusion.  What a fun-packed swap that was.  My lovely swap partner, Raili, sent me some awesome stuff, including the yarn & notions for Finger Foods.

It took me a while to get everything done, but here it is!

I started with the pears, yellow first.  I love pears, so sweet and grainy.  X loves them too.  Knit with Cascade Fixation, the finger puppets have a little squish and spring to them.  I'd tell you the colorways, but they're all just numbers.  :)

I always think I knit the green pear next, but I actually knit the apple second.  I was surprised by the difference in size between the pear and apple.  Not a huge deal, I think it just ended up rounder than I expected.  It also took longer because -as mentioned- it's more round. :)  Go figure.
I had trouble stuffing the apple to my liking.  It always seemed too lumpy for an apple.  It could be the perfectionist in me that wanted a perfectly round apple.  Eventually I just had to let it go and be happy with how the apple turned out.  Overall, I think it looks great (and I love the brown for the "puppet" portion - it's like the core of an apple!).

Third to be completed was the green pear.  The second pearr was finished much quicker than the first - I already knew where the pattern was going and didn't have to refer back to the book quite so often.  I really love the green.  And if I were to do these toys again, I think I'd use a semi-solid to get a little variation in color.

The grapes came last - really.  If you've been reading the blog you know they were only recently given priority on my list of WIPs.  The knitting felt a little tedious at times.  You have to knit 10 large grapes, and then 6 small ones.  Not to mention the vine & stem.  And sewing them all together.  I'm not a fan of weaving in ends or sewing together pieces, but I stick through it because I know the finished result will be so worth it.
But this bunch of grapes is my favorite of the entire bunch.  All the fruits are lovely, but there's something about the details of this knit that speak to me.  Yes, I got tired of the grapes.  And yes, I'd make them again. :)

I must mention that I added an additional 2 large grapes and 4 small grapes to fill in the holes that were left after I had attached the required 16 grapes.  I wanted them to appear full & plump.  Overall, I had 22 grapes.

Now I just need a banana and an orange and I'd be happy!

So, thank you, Raili!  These little toys will see a lot of action.  Not only does X enjoy putting them on his fingers and running around, but so do Mommy & Daddy! :)  Isn't it funny how knit toys draw such a large audience?  I find that adults enjoy the toys just as much as the kids do!:)
And when the weather gets a little nicer (Spring is right around the corner, you know), I promise I'll take pictures of little Teddy having his picnic! :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heads Up, 7-Up

Did any of you play that game in elementary school?  When kids brought treats to celebrate their birthday, we also got to play a game at the end of the school day.  This one was a favorite game for most kids.  Only second to Hangman or Bingo.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you all a heads up.  I'll be gone for work and for a test in the next few days. So tomorrow there will be no Friday Favorites and Wednesday there will be no WIP Wednesday.  I probably won't have a chance to post in-between those times either.

With that being said, I hope you all have a terrific weekend!  It's almost the end of February, which means it's almost March (and my birthday, and my mom's birthday, and X's birthday, and my grandpa's birthday - busy month, you know), which means it's almost spring!!! :)

Yes, I jump the gun on spring.  Why not?  I'm always so anxious for this time of year to arrive.  The sun starts shining, the snow starts melting and the birds start singing.  I hate the muddy water and the mess, but I love the feeling of rejuvenation that spring brings! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday 2/16

I'm slowly making progress on my WIP list.  In fact, this week I've actually moved on to a "new" WIP.

Mom's Brea Bag is coming together nicely.  After a little discussion (and remeasuring) Mom got the lining into the bag on Saturday.

All that's left now is to get the shoulder strap finished.  Mom and I picked out a cable pattern from Super Stitches Knitting.  The cable is called "OXO" but I like to think of it as the "Hugs & Kisses" cable.  This strap will be lined on the bottom with the same fabric as the lining.  This will keep the strap from being too stretchy and distorting the cables.

I've officially moved 2 projects off the needles to the FO pile since last week - both A's Morgan and J's gloves.  So my new WIP is to finish up Finger Foods by Susan B. Anderson.

I got the yarn for these finger puppets during the Teddy Bear Picnic Swap.  Raili included everything I needed to complete all these delicious looking fruits.  I finished the green and yellow pears, as well as the apple, several months ago.  The project then got put aside for Christmas knitting.  I'm currently working on the bunch of grapes. 
There are 10 large and 6 small grapes, plus the "stem" and vine. The stem is complete, as well as 8 large grapes.  I think this will be my favorite of the bunch! :) 
It's so refreshing to share something new with you! :) 

What's on your needles this week?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Christmas Knitting: J's Gloves

My original plan for Christmas was to knit a new hat for J and surprise him with it.  Then he asked me for a new hat before I could do that.  And he asked for a pair of long-cuffed gloves.  The hat is finished and has been for awhile.

Originally, J & I had talked about gloves that had a diamond-like cable running along the arm & back of the hand, ribbing around the remainder of the cuff and something like moss stitch on the palms & fingers.  Needless to say, this didn't happen.  I still plan to create some like this, but thought that if I tried to make these in time for J to wear them this winter, I'd have to simplify.  So instead, J's Gloves have long cuffs (which reach his elbows), done in 2x2 ribbing that steadily decreases to the wrist, switching to stockinette stitch for the hands and fingers.  Simple says it best. 
These are really big on me and I'm glad that I had J's hands nearby to get the length of the fingers right. 

I'll probably write this up and offer it as a free pattern on Raverly in a little while.  Initially I was going to use a pattern on Ravelry, but I couldn't find one like what J wanted.  And by the time I had decided to simplify the pattern, I figured I may as well keep going on my own instead of searching for a men's pattern.  I'm not really impressed by too many of the men's glove patterns they have available.  None of them were quite right for J, or they were too "frilly." 
The final pattern when complete will be moderately different than this pair.  I've changed the cast-on number to get symmetry, which has changed my decreases somewhat.  The thumb gusset also needs to be a little different.  

Looks like I've finished these just in time as we've got about a month left of winter.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Christmas Knitting: A's Morgan

Ahh yes...I am back with Christmas knitting (on Valentine's Day no less).  Like you haven't been hearing about it for 2-3 months already. :)  Last week I finished A's Morgan.  I worked on this straight up until the Christmas holidays.  Actually, very late (or very early depending on how you look at it) the night before Christmas Eve I was knitting this.  I was making good progress, but after being so tired and not having my wits about me, I didn't think it was smart to try and complete the finishing details.
I knit this hat with Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in Blueberry Mix.  The yarn is a DK weight and is so wonderfully soft.  I really liked this yarn, but in the end, probably wouldn't choose it again for this pattern because I'd like to see more stability/structure in this hat.
I'm trying to remember what the yardage may have been on this hat but I honestly can't remember.  I want to say I used less than one skein.  In fact, I'm almost positive that I did.  I can't remember.

Anyway - the details of this hat.  It wasn't mindless knitting.  I watched television while knitting this, but had to pay more attention to the rows and the counting than any show I was watching at the time.  The designer does have a tutorial (link on left-hand side of blog) on her website that explains her method of increasing and decreasing, but I didn't find it until after I had finished the counting.
While knitting, this hat didn't feel like it had rhyme or reason for why you were directed to knit this way or that.  Don't let that fool you.  The designer had her head on straight and this is a great example of trusting the person who wrote the pattern.  After the knitting was finished, I could see each element of the hat when I went back to look at the pattern.

The pattern has you knit a pocket for the brim/bill.  You insert your choice of stabilizer into the pocket and close it up.  I then tacked down the top of the hat to the brim as opposed to the suggested snap because I didn't think A would wear it unsnapped.  I used an old, unused baseball cap and cut the plastic brim out, cutting it down to size as necessary.  This part had me the most confused and gave me the most trouble.  My stabilizer is considerably smaller than the template given, but I had to modify it to fit into the pocket.  The problem isn't readily visible and I can't remember what went wrong there.
I got X to pose in the hat the night it was finished blocking by bribing him with a tootsie roll.  He wasn't very happy with me that night, but since then he asks to wear it all the time.  His uncle may have a hard time taking his hat home with him! :)