Thursday, November 8, 2012

Click for Babies

This post is going to be short and sweet as I don't have a lot of time to write at the moment.  For any of you who watch Katie (jetgirl1313) from Knittin' On the Fly, you know that she collects hats for the charity, Click for Babies.  The idea is to knit purple hats and donate them so they can be distributed in hospitals for all the new babies that arrive.  The charity and hats are meant to bring awareness to The Period of Purple Crying.  Essentially this all relates to infant crying and the risks Shaken Baby Syndrome.   Babies born in the month of November each receive a purple hat.  Click for Babies is specific to certain states, but I know that when my daughter was born in November, in Iowa (even though we aren't a Click for Babies state), she received a purple crocheted hat, along with a bunch of information about the Period of Purple Crying.

So Katie hosted Click for Babies and received an amazing number of hats that she donated in Maine.  Last year I didn't get the chance to knit a hat, but this year, I did!

I used the Otis Baby Hat pattern, which has 3 cables evenly distributed around the hat, which come together at the top in a really neat way.  The hats had to be at least 50% purple, which wasn't a problem for me since I had a couple different options to choose from.  I'd won a giveaway awhile back and received some Universal Yarn Bella DK in a light lavender purple, so that's what I used.  The hat turned out very soft and sweet.
I booked it to the post office (I finished the hat just days before the deadline) and rushed it out to Maine, along with some sheepy stitch markers for the giveaway Katie was hosting in conjunction with the charity drive.
I'd really like to knit this hat again as the cables really add some visual interest.  I'm really impressed with the way the cables were brought together at the top without interrupting the pattern.  Very slick.

Okay - time to fly!  Lots to do today!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rhinbeck Cloth

I mentioned in the last post that I'd write more about my Rhinebeck trip another time.  Honestly, I don't know if I can really recap it all and do it justice.  There was a lot, and at the same time, not much at all.  It was a lot of sitting around, talking, enjoying the company of like-minded individuals.  We ate and knit and talked and ate and knit and talked some more.  Most everyone bought some yarn on Saturday. We swapped mittens on Friday evening.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it all.

I also have to say how neat it was to be in the same place with so many knitters, knitting at the same time.  I've never been in the presence of that many knitters all at one time (or ever really).  And that was even more true on Saturday at the Sheep and Wool Festival.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Something that was part of our trip included a bag of goodies, which we referred to as our swag bags.  I'm not really going to go into all that unless someone asks about it.  There was a lot of really neat stuff and people were so generous with their time and talents.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post.  I had some ideas about what I wanted to include as my contribution to the swag bag.  One of the items I added was a dishcloth/washcloth pattern.

I designed and knit a washcloth specific to this event (the Itty Bitty meetup, not the Sheep & Wool Festival).   It reads "Itty Bitty Rhinebeck 2012" and has hearts and stars/snowflakes in the corners.
Originally I was going to knit a dishcloth for everyone, but after a little closer examination, I realized that if I had done that 1) I'd be broke because I'd be spending all my money on cotton yarn and 2) I'd be bald by the time I reached Rhinebeck from all the hair-pulling knitting dishcloth after dishcloth.

I make the pattern seem terrible, but what I really mean is that it's a little tedious to knit the same thing over and over and over again.  (A hearty applause to all of you that did have more patience than I!)

So instead I made the pattern pretty and printed out a copy for everyone to enjoy.  The pattern is free on Raverly and knits up rather quickly.  Anyone with a Ravelry account has access to the pattern and can choose to knit the cloth, although I don't think it will hold much meaning for those who aren't part of our Itty Bitty group or who didn't attend the meetup.

I knit my sample in Knit Picks Dishie in the Begonia colorway.  I think I used about half the skein, but honestly I didn't weigh the cloth or the skein when I was finished.  (I should maybe go back and do that...)  It's a large cloth, easily the size of a commercial dishcloth.  It had to be in order to fit "Rhinebeck" all on one line.  If any of you are like my mom and I, this is the size of dishcloth you really like, not those other tiny ones (while the tiny ones are fun to knit and have neat designs, they just are so little!!).
I really think the wording came out nicely (I wasn't so sure about how well you'd be able to read it, sometimes paper to practice doesn't translate well...).  Dishcloths with designs can be so difficult to photograph and truly capture what the picture is.  I find the best way is to attack it from an angle, minus the flash.  Any shadowing I've gotten this way makes it easier to distinguish the pattern.  I also try to take pictures outside in indirect sunlight whenever possible.  :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Little Quiet

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted.  That seems to be a theme - when I finally think I'm catching up, something else catches me by surprise.

So for those of you who are kind enough to keep stopping by to see what is new, I appreciate it!  I would say I promise to be better, but I think we're past that point now, don't you?  I just promise to post as often as possible and I'll try to be better. :)

So what's next to share with you?  Since my last post, a lot has happened.  I've knit a bit, I've traveled a bit, and I've celebrated Lovebug's first birthday.  All these things keep me going, busy and happy.  Shall we get in to the knitting?

In October Mr. Man and I took a wonderful trip out to New York to meet and spend time with some of my friends from Ravelry.  With 21 knitters, 2 husbands and a daughter, we had a blast!  (More on that trip another time...)  Part of our meet-up included a Mitt Swap.  Everyone made a pair of gloves/mittens/mitts to swap.  We wrapped them up all pretty-like and placed them in a pile.  Then, using the same idea as a White Elephant Christmas, we each picked a pair of mitts.  Some people did some trading and re-picking, and in the end, I believe everyone was very happy with what they went home with.

Here are the mitts I completed.  I opted for fingerless mitts (big surprise, right?).  The pattern is October Leaves Fingerless Mitts by Abbie Tilden.

The really neat thing about this mitts isn't visible right away.  There's a simple cable that runs up each side of the mitt (which I did without a cable needle, love this method) and on the inside of the mitt, when it hits the thumb gusset, turns in to a very pretty lacey leaf pattern.  The cables and lace are simple but stunning.

If I remember correctly, I didn't make any modifications to the pattern because they were for the swap.  If I were to knit them again for myself, I'd add 2-3 stitches on the thumb as I have big thumbs and large palms.  When I knit mitts, I end up feeling as though the thumbs are always too tight and constrict my thumbs a bit too much.
I used Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Kenai, which is the same yarn I used for the Be.Leaf shawl.  It's very soft and pleasant after blocking, although a bit splitty when knitting with it.

I really enjoyed these mitts and I'm glad that Denise loves them as much as I enjoyed knitting them!  Hopefully they'll keep her toasty warm! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ivy, the Christmas Hooligan

Last week I told you about the Single Ornament Swap on the Itty Bitty forums.  While what I shared wasn't a fail, it certainly did not conform to my standards for the swap.

So I chose a different pattern.  Still a toy pattern, perhaps a little larger than the usual Christmas ornaments, but perfect for what I was looking for.

I chose to knit Ivy, the Christmas Hooligan.  Now, Ivy is not an only child.  She actually has a sister, Holly, and a brother, Steve.  They're mischievous monsters according to Rebecca (Rebecca Danger, that is...more about her in a minute.).  I've been wanting to knit one of these happy hooligans for quite some time and this gave me the perfect excuse.
I chose Ivy because I liked her hat.  Between the hat and the scarf, I didn't feel the need to add a mouth.  I intentionally didn't make a mouth because I felt that it gave her an air of secrecy and magic.  With her hat pulled low and her scarf slung high, she's looking out for dear Old Santa Clause - she doesn't want to get caught being naughty! :)

Ivy was a treat to knit.  She is small and straight-forward.  I had her knit up in no time (which was good because it was getting down to the wire - I had already attempted one ornament, picking another took me awhile!).  She's knit with Cascade Fixation in green and red.  Fixation is a combination of 98% cotton and 2% other.  I believe the "other" is an elastic of some kind.  The yarn has a bit of sproing to it.  It's not my favorite to knit with because of it.  The strand is a bit too coiled for my taste.  But, for toys, I really appreciate the density of the fabric.  When knit on small needles, it pulls in nicely, leaving no chance for holes.
This was my first time trying "safety eyes."  I've seen them used before in toys but never purchased any myself.  I've always just embroidered the eyes.  But I felt the need to stay true to the pattern this time.  I found these in a JoAnn's in the doll section.  I'm sure Hobby Lobby or Michaels sells them as well.  I've also heard mention of purchasing them on Etsy or look them up on Amazon - the internet can be a wonderful resource for these types of things.  I know that at one time Rebecca Danger had them in her store, I'm not sure if she still does.  They're a useful notion, although I can see times where I wouldn't want to use them.  Using safety eyes requires placing the eyes before you're finished creating your toy.  Because you need to push the backing onto the eye, behind/inside the knitted fabric, this cannot be done once the toy is sewn up.  Personally, I like to see the toy finished and faceless before I decide on a personality for him or her.  And if I have to place the eyes ahead of time, if I mess up on placing arms or legs, my poor toy may be a little cockeyed.  But it's always good to add a new tool to your belt, so I tried them and will use them in the future, just not exclusively. (I think Ivy looks pretty smashing with her little belly-button and little black eyes.)

And finally, I just have to mention how much I love Danger Craft patterns.  Rebecca puts out such beautiful patterns and all her monsters have such unique personalities.  I've favorited nearly all her patterns and even purchased her book - the Big Book of Knitted Monsters,  and yet this was my first pattern to knit.  She's got a wide range of toys - animals and dinosaurs, monsters and friends - they're all so cute!  She has a new book, Knit a Monster Nursery that I really would like to own.  Her patterns are quite popular.  After knitting Ivy, I'm sure to knit more.

And once I got Ivy outside and strung from the tree, I realized how perfect she would be on a Christmas tree.  She looked quite at home in my backyard, although perhaps a little lonely without her friends.  Inside, where it's cozy and warm is certainly the best place for her to be!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tiny Snowy Owl

On the Itty Bitty forums, a new swap idea has taken hold.  The group is growing, faster than I can keep up with.  I'm trying to remember the new members but I have so little time on Ravelry any more to peruse the forums, I'm having trouble with that.  A lot of people are coming out of the woodwork because of this new swap trend.

The big swaps that Mel organizes each month are awesome.  People put a lot of thought and care into their swap package and really try to personalize it to the person who is receiving.  But for some, especially newer members of the group, these swaps are a bit intimidating (they are a very friendly, welcoming place, but I can see their point of view).

One member of the group has taken it upon herself to organize mini-swaps.  These are called the "Single Ornament Swaps."  The idea is that you get your partner's name (it's kept a secret), and you're allowed to create one ornament for your partner and ship it off to him or her.  You're allowed some leniency if you choose to add an additional small item, but it's not supposed to be a really big package.  It's meant for the swaps to be approachable, especially to those who are new or don't have the time or money to dedicate to the larger swaps.

That's where this knit came about.  I was trying to find a pattern that I could knit as an ornament.  At the time, I wasn't feeling any of the holiday ornaments that were on Ravelry.  There are some great patterns but you know when you get in that mood or funk that unless it's exactly what you're looking for, you really just can't knit something else?

Enter the Big Snowy Owl.  This is a free pattern from The Purl Bee.  The original patterns calls for bulky weight yarn and is intended to be something like a pillow-sized owl.  I've loved the owl on their site for a long, long time and thought it would be perfect as an ornament.  And I was especially drawn to the colors they chose for their owl.  I looked through other project pages and nothing called to me quite like the soft gray owl with giant blue eyes.  :)
I searched my stash (no need to buy new when it takes so little yarn!) and came up with sport weight yarn in the appropriate colors.  Knit on US 2s, I had hoped this would be a sweet little owl that would hang happily on a tree.  Well...the thought was good, but my execution was a little off.

My version is much smaller than the original.  This sweet fowl is about as tall as my hand is long, and perfect for little hands.  But, in my opinion, much too large for a tree.  So we kept him at home, Lovebug is quite attached. (I think it's the eyes...)  I am in love with how he turned out, just bummed he wasn't small enough.  I am planning to attempt this again, but with either fingering or lace weight yarn. And tinier needles.  Eventually I'll get it right.

So what else is good about this pattern might you ask?  It's incredibly fast.  Even if you knit the larger size, you're using bulky yarn and big needles.  This was two days tops and only because I had to tend to the kids. :)  The stitch pattern adds visual interest, but plain stockinette would be just as cute.  If you made the larger version you'd need a lot of fiberfill.  Even this little guy took a lot because I wanted him to be firm - too squishy and he wouldn't hold up to being played with or squooshed.

There are actually three patterns in this series.  A pig, a bunny and this owl.  I want to knit all 3.  I'd like to knit them in bulky weight, but I may just see what's in my stash and find the appropriate needles.  I think that Lovebug and Squishy need the full set. :)

As an aside, the eyes are crochet.  It's very simple crochet, but I know a lot of knitters are intimidated by the crochet hook.  So if you like the pattern but don't want the crocheted eyes, you should be able to find a pattern that tells you how to knit circles.  Honestly, it's the eyes that really make this pattern.  (The beak construction is pretty neat too.)

This is an idea I encourage all knitters to explore.  Is there a toy pattern you really like but it's too big or too small?  Consider adjusting your yarn and needle sizes accordingly and you have a whole new outlook on a project.  I'd really like to try this idea on some of Susan Anderson's patterns - specifically the Giraffe.  I'd love to make it in lace weight and see what size he comes out.  I may even have something perfect in my stash....

Friday, September 14, 2012


One of the goals I set myself awhile back was to learn how to do colorwork knitting.  I’ve dabbled in a few projects including the Plaid Hatter and the Mini Motif Baby Mittens.  These both seemed small and really just a drop in the bucket compared to what’s out there for colorwork. 

I challenged myself for Ravellenics to complete a pair of colorwork mitts.  I scoured the patterns, trying to find a pattern that both appealed to my sense of style, and something I thought was attainable.  I eventually ruled out mittens as I really wanted a pair of fingerless mitts.  It was down to the Transition Gloves and the Endpaper Mitts. 

The Endpaper Mitts won out because there were no really long floats, which tend to be harder to do well.  A successful long repeat cannot be too tight or too loose, it must be just right (or fairly close at least).  If you’re too loose, the fabric won’t be right and the stitches will be sloppy.  If the floats are too tight, your motif won’t show up and your knitting will pucker in bad ways.  So, as much as I liked the Transition Gloves, I figured they were best saved for another time. 

I’ve admired this pattern for a long time.  There are endless color combinations to make the pattern really pop.  Or can be subtle and use colors that are very similar to one another.  You could make 10 pairs of these and they’d all have a different appeal. 

I chose a dark turquoise (Midnight Heather) and a deep fuchsia (Fuchsia) in Knit Picks Palette, knit on US 0/2.0mm and US 3/3.25mm needles.  Knit Picks Palette has a nice selection of colors which can be used for colorwork projects, but I don’t find the yarn as next-to-skin-soft as I do some of their other fingering weight yarn.  I chose Knit Picks because it’s less expensive and I’m usually pretty happy with their yarn lines.  For my hands, it’s not bad and the density of the fabric will keep my hands warm.  I probably wouldn’t use this yarn for a cowl or scarf, though.
I would call this knit a success.  I was able to practice short floats, practice reading colorwork charts, and watch the magic that happens when you properly soak and block your knits.  My floats were pretty decent, nothing too tight or really loose, but they were a little puckered when the knitting was finished.  After a good blocking, that all went away and I have a nice, smooth pattern that emerged. 
Now, I don’t know if I can explain the next part right…the two colors I chose seem to have the same “value” when looking at them.  Although one is more pink/bright and one is blue-green/dark, at first glance, it’s not easy to see the pattern.  But once your eyes adjust, you easily see the diamond pattern and that’s when I truly marvel at colorwork.  I’m very happy with these mitts. 

(And in case you wondered, these are for me, all me!  But now I have the confidence to make colorwork items for others!) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lost Banner Hat

Continuing on with my Ravellenics projects, today I'm sharing the Lost Banner Hat.  This is a Susan B. Anderson pattern and qualified for our team prize drawing during the Ravellenics.

Susan knit this hat for herself from her own gradient handspun (a Loop batt maybe?) and eventually included a picture wearing said hat in her blog banner.  Her daughter wore it to school one day and it was lost, hence the name.  This was a pattern Susan never intended to publish, but instead something she whipped up for fun.  She had an overwhelming response to the hat, finally relented and released the pattern.  I'm glad she did because I really enjoyed the knit!

With a long, ribbed brim, this hat is really cute because you can flip all that ribbing up over the stockinette portion.  I knit this with my own handdyed, worsted yarn in Snowcone and Lollipop Guild. I then mailed it to Carol to be donated with the other charity items collected.  It should make for a fun kid's hat with all the bright, vibrant colors.  I'd really like to knit another hat for myself out of some gradient yarn.

I put the hat on Lovebug and tried to snap a few shots, but she would have none of it.  (She's very anti "things-on-my-head" right now.)  Squishy modeled it for me briefly, but he too wouldn't leave it on his head.  He is still very attached to his green apple hat from Debby (knittinggrandma) that we received in a swap a while ago and doesn't think he needs another at the moment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ravellenics 2012

I suppose it's about time I launched into the Ravellenics knitting that happened this summer.  Ravellenics (previously known as Ravelympics) coincides with the Olympics, so every two years knitters and crocheters and fiber artists gather their fiber and tools and get to work.  There are events and badges, goals and accomplishments, and it is really neat to see what we as a community can do in a short amount of time.

I participated in a few events which included the Frogging Trampoline and the Hand-Dyed High Dive. I also entered items into the charity knitting event, one skein wonders, the mitten event and the hat event.  That sounds like a lot, but it's not really.

For the frogging event (Frogging Trampoline), the requirements were that the item to be frogged (unraveled) must be at least 25% complete, and that you take a before and after shot.  I frogged two items.

First up, the Bathrobe.  I've talked about this knit a lot but never really got anywhere with it.  It'd been languishing on the needles, untouched, for too long.  Every time I went back to the pattern I spent half the time trying to figure out where I left off, and then getting frustrated because the pattern instructions were unclear to me.  Aside from that, the Bathrobe was meant to be for Squishy, who is now closer to 4 than 3 years old and the pattern size I was knitting was 24 months.  Too small!! And too big at the moment for Lovebug.
(I apologize for the quality of some of these photos.  
They were taken on my phone in bad lighting!)
The second item I frogged was Evie's Sweater.  I almost had her sweater reknit after frogging it once already, but I just couldn't come to terms with the density of the fabric.  I was trying to use yarn that was too heavy, even going up a couple needle sizes the sweater was thick and hard to maneuver.  It never would have been comfortable for her to wear.  I really want to knit her this pattern because it would cover the majority of her body and neck and give her tiny body warmth in the winter.  Perhaps I can get myself in gear and get this knit for the coming winter...with the proper yarn!
I also competed in the Hand Dyed High Dive.  This was for yarn and/or fiber that was dyed during the Ravellenics.  I dyed two skeins of fingering weight wool.  One for a prize drawing for Team Itty Bitty Knitters and one as a yarn swap with a friend.

I also knit 2 items, a pair of color work fingerless mitts and a hat during that time, but I'll save those for another day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sorta Scrappy Socks

Do you remember the socks I knit for Sis?  My first pair of adult socks.  After they were done, I quickly cast on a pair for myself using the same pattern from Susan B. Anderson, How I Make My Socks.  They were meant to be for the Scrappy Socks KAL but I didn't finish in time.  The KAL, however, was my driving force.

Mary Rose (smozerose on Ravelry) can truly be credited for the inspiration behind these socks.  They began as an idea I blatantly copied from her.  She posted photos of a sock she'd knit using scraps, but instead of a random selection of colors, she outline each scrappy section with a consistent light, dark, light pattern.  See the sock on the left?  That's what I'm talking about.  I fell in love with that sock.  And then launched my own plans.

My socks are knit with Tanis Fiber Arts, the leftovers from my Whippoorwill shawl.  The colors are Tidal, Peacock, Deep Sea and Midnight.  Of course, I'm not very good at random, spontaneous selection (and I don't have a lot of yarn scraps) and so my socks had to have some rhyme or reason to them.  I decided on a striping sequence and got to work. (Hence, Sorta Scrappy Socks.)

I did run out of the darkest color, Midnight.  I love that color.  It's dark, but so rich - there are slight variations in the color that make for beautiful knit items.  I love TFA yarn - I wish I could afford to use it all the time!  Once I ran out, I switched to using Deep Sea to outline the stripes.  Most people won't notice the difference in the socks.  Probably knitters, or those who see a lot of my feet.  That's not a large number of people... :)  And if knitters notice, they'll understand!

This is my one and only pair of handknit socks.  It's not really been sock weather as it's been so warm and dry here.  I live in sandals all summer long and have the tan lines to prove it!  But at night, when it gets chilly or the AC has been running, this is the perfect pair of socks to slip on my feet.

They are warm and cozy, soft and squishy.  The colors are soothing to your eyes.  Nothing else in my drawer compares to these.  And perhaps that's all in my mind because I made them myself.
It doesn't really matter the reason, what matters is that I love them and they make me happy, and that's really what knitting is about for me.  If I can't enjoy it, then why do it?

Of course, now my knitting queue has at least doubled because I've added so many sock patterns!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cabled Strap Covers

With about 6 WIPs this month, and 7 FOs I haven't yet shared with you, it's easy to see that I've been knitting.  Am I committed?...Just a titch, but never fear...sometimes that's when my best work appears! :) (It's mostly all self-imposed anyway.)

My WIPs includ 3 shawls, 1 cowl, a hat and 1 pair of mitts.  Also on that list are a few swap items.  My knitting itinerary through October is chok full. :)

Today I'm sharing something that was quick and gratifying and just what I needed at the time.

I knit Lovebug a set of Cabled Strap Covers, by Melissa Schaschwary, for her carseat.  The poor dear had red marks from her straps all the time.  She's already constantly miserable in her seat and I though this would grant her a bit more comfort.

The patterns calls for bulky weight, which I don't really keep much of in the stash.  So instead I doubled up on Caron Simply Soft Brites in the Watermelon colorway.  Knit on US 10.5/6.5mm needles, these took just a matter of hours.

The cables are sweet and are surprisingly crisp in this hot pink yarn.  Don't stare for too long, you may burn your eyes!  My camera had a really hard time capturing this color.

The pattern uses bobbles and buttonholes to attach the covers to the straps but I've found this ineffective.  There is a certain amount of wiggling and fussing we go through before Little Miss is secured.  And it's inevitable that each time she's strapped in, I'm reattaching the covers.  This gets old, fast. So I will be searching for some larger, flat buttons that can withstand the push and pull and friction the straps get, while still laying flat against Lovebug's shoulders.

This problem isn't really surprising and I almost didn't knit the bobbles, thinking I"d just have to replace them later.  Save yourself some time if you plan on making'll want the buttons!  (or snaps or velcro, or whatever!)  Aside from that, the pattern was wonderfully written.  Clear and concise, and a really smart solution to a problem that obviously is not unique to our household.
I've even been scheming on how I could make other covers with different patterns.  I just need to get out my stitch dictionaries and do a little math. :)