Thursday, July 19, 2012

WIP Wednesday (sorta): 7/19/12

I know it's not Wednesday, but it’s been awhile since I’ve just shown you what I’m currently working on.  So here we go!

Evie’s Sweater – are you tired of hearing about this one?  Because I am.  Every time I think I get moving on it, something else catches my eye and I’m bored with it.  I really like the look, I think it’d be great on Evie for the winter, but I’m just not feelin’ it.  So…I’ve decided to frog it.  (And after starting it twice!)   I think it’s got something to do with the yarn and the pattern.  I’m using a heavier yarn than called for, and although I tried going up a needle size, I’m just not happy with what I’m seeing.  I’m sure I can find a better project for the yarn and I know I’ve got better yarn for this project.   This will be done during the Ravellenic Games for the Frogging event.  I’d like to match a yarn to the pattern as well and start over, we’ll see how far I get with that.  I want it to be green – green is Evie’s color. 
Ruche Beret – This is a pattern from my favorite designer, Susan B. Anderson. It’s published in the book, Weekend Hats.  I cast this on while I should have been doing other knitting but was instead procrastinating.  I’ve had the yarn for awhile now (I got it during the A is for Apples swap), and I’ve had the yarn caked for quite some time – waiting for the right pattern. 
My problem and delay in knitting with it is the quantity and composition of the yarn.  This is 170 yards of 100% alpaca.  It’s soooo soft and squishy and beautiful (it’s actually teal, by the way – not dark blue).  I only have one skein, which isn’t enough for any Alana Dakos beret pattern (I don’t think, anyway), and because it’s 100% alpaca, there will be a halo with the finished object.  I don’t mind a halo, but it also means that stitch definition can get a little lost. 

I also have really sensitive skin, especially around my neck and face.  I easily break out in a rash, and I can get hot really quickly.  So this meant the yarn could not be around my neck.  When Susan’s pattern was released, this was the first yarn that popped into my head.  Now, her pattern calls for DK weight and I’m using Sport, but I’m hoping it all works out alright.

I am having a hard time knitting on this right now, though, because we’ve had nearly 100 degree heat for the last couple weeks, in addition to the high humidity…I don’t want to knit with anything too fuzzy.  When I’m sticky, knitting with alpaca isn’t on the top of my to-do list.

Westknits Mystery KAL 2012 - I debated joining in, but this is good travel knitting.  We've only received clue 1 so far, and I've completed 14 repeats.  I'd share a picture, but I don't know who's reading the blog and I don't want to throw any spoilers out there.  If you want to see a picture of my progress, check out the pictures on my project page.  It's reminiscent of a couple other patterns Mr. West has out there.  I'm enjoying it because the repeats are quick and easily memorized.  There are some gorgeous projects going on!!
Finally, Sharktooth.  This is a Stephen West pattern, and it was part of a pattern/yarn club.  I had to wait for the pattern to be released before I could dive in, which was probably good anyway because I had a lot I wanted to complete when I first found this. I’m using Dream In Color Everlast in Jeans.  You can see the variation in the yarn.  Not something I normally gravitate towards, but it seems to work in this pattern.  In fact, I went in search of a yarn that wasn’t just semi-solid so I could replicate what Mr. West did.   There are three fan-like sections to this shawl.  I’m about half-way through the second fan.  I’m making the smaller size because I only have 1 skein of  yarn, but it should make for a nice scarf/shawlette.  I've pretty much got the pattern's all just a matter of proper placement of increases and YOs (yarnovers).

What's in your project bag at the moment?  Anything you shouldn't have cast on, but you just couldn't resist?  Is summer time heavier or lighter on the knitting for you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


At the end of July, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games will commence.   Ravelers all over the world mark the occasion by participating in fiber-related events on Ravelry.   A long while back I blogged about this vest I made for Squishy (HERE and HERE and HERE).  I am, again, choosing to participate in what is now called the Ravellenic Games.

I don’t know how much time I’ll actually have to committing to projects, but I feel like it’d be good to try and accomplish something.  Overall, knitters and crocheters are encouraged to work on things that challenge them in some way.  Perhaps by tidying up that large WIPs (Works In Progress) pile, or to knit something new and different, try a new technique…it can really be anything you want.  You aren’t allowed to cast on (or touch a WIP once games are announced) until Opening Ceremonies.  You must finish your project by Closing Ceremonies (sorta).  A badge is awarded to those who finish and so on and so forth.

There’s really more to it than that, but it involves more explanation that I really have the brain power to write down at the moment. 

Last time, I was a new knitter.  I challenged myself to finishing a baby vest in that two-week time period and I almost didn’t make it.   This year, my challenge to myself is to knit something stranded, fingerless mitts of some kind, actually.  I’ve not done much colorwork other than stripes because it’s intimidating and I always worry that my floats will be horrible (I’ll explain in a minute).  So what a great challenge to knit myself something stranded and get over that fear?

When knitting with two or more colors of yarn in the same row/round, you are carrying yarn across the back of your work.  The unused yarn creates a “float.”  Look at the “wrong side” of a sweater you own that has several colors.  It should look something like this:
(photo by
Those lengths of yarn are the floats.  And if they’re too tight, your work puckers.  If they’re too loose, you can see through the knitted fabric.  There’s a learning curve to doing this successfully and getting a nicely finished object.

I didn’t want to dive into a pair of mitts that might take me a bit of work, only to have it come out looking bad.  So I chose to “practice.” 

Enter Mini Motif Baby Mittens, stage left. 
These are a small project that could easily have been frogged and restarted if they weren’t turning out right.  Can you see the picture here?  They are penguins.  :)

These are for Lovebug this coming winter.  Little thumbless mitts to warm her hands.  Great practice for floats and twisting my yarn to prevent wee fingers from getting snagged.  They’re not perfect, but I feel better having knit these instead of jumping right in to my mitts. 

A little bit of soak, then blocking and these really shaped up nicely.
The yarn was Country in Black and some of my own hand-dyed yarn in the color I call Snowcone.

And hopefully, with a bit more practice, I can figure out a more even tension when working on stranded projects, for an even better result.  It's one of those things that just takes practice.  There's a learning curve and if you dont' just keep trying, you'll never get there!

So bring on the Ravellenic Games! :) 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sheldon, aka "Tommy"

Recently, while I was knitting a toy, Squishy asked me if I was knitting the toy for him.  I had to tell him, no, not for him, but for someone else (this was during the hippo/hedgehog swap).  He was bummed.  So I asked if he wanted me to knit him a toy, to which he promptly answered YES! 

When asked what he wanted knit, he said he wanted a turtle.  I said OK and it was left at that – he ran off to play.  I looked on Ravelry at all the turtle patterns out there.  So many cute ones, how would I choose?   In the end, I marked those that I would want to knit and showed Squishy the choices.  He picked out Sheldon.

This is a pretty popular pattern on Rav.  Sheldon has a removable shell, which is awesome.  This also means that it wasn’t long before Sheldon got more “outfits.”  But that’s another story for another time.  I only knit the shell that came with the original pattern.

You all who have been around for the majority of my knitting know that I rarely stick to recommended, or even the norm when it comes to color choices.  It’s no secret that I favor blues and teals and such.  So I wanted to do something a little different, with some contrasting, but complimentary colors.  Squishy would have none of it.  When I asked him if it was okay to use this or that color, he would say, “No, green, Mommy.”  I guess he knows what he wants and he wasn’t going to settle.  (I’ve come to decide that green is his favorite color at the moment…)

Allllllright…I guess I can knit a normal, green turtle.  (And I’ll admit it wasn’t that bad…lol)

This little guy came out pretty cute.  While I was knitting, I kept thinking I wasn’t doing it right because it felt like the pieces weren’t shaped right, but all worked out in the end. 
This was knit from Tahki Cotton Classic Light in Moss Green and Bright Green.  I would have preferred wool, but I didn’t have the right colors and I’m really trying not to buy any additional yarn.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Tahki yarns, but I believe that wool, or a blend would have looked better.  To me (and this is just my unprofessional opinion), it seems that wool would “bloom” or something to fill in empty space, while the cotton didn’t – I didn’t block this at all, but the cotton just seemed to stay where I put it… 

The removable shell is extremely cute and I love the ability to add additional outfits later on, but the shell was a little fiddly.  I don’t mind fiddly.  If I did, I wouldn’t knit toys.  But I found myself only knitting a portion of the shell pieces and putting it back down again because I just didn’t want to knit it. 

I also think my i-cord edging on the shell was too tight, but that’s not really a big deal.

My one suggestion would be – be sure not to stuff the shell too tight.  If stuffed too tightly, the shell doesn’t seem to sit right on the turtle body.  It gets a bit poofy.  The body is difficult at first to get in and out of the shell, but I think that might loosen up a bit over time.  My little man doesn’t really want him out of his shell anyway…

If Squishy asks for extra outfits in the future, I’d be happy to knit them, with my new understanding of how the pattern works. 

And if anyone asks, his name is “Tommy.”  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"How I Make My Socks"

Those of you who read Susan Anderson’s blog know how popular she is.  She writes about something and everyone wants to know pattern and purchase information.  (Or at least that’s how I see it.)  Did you know she won the 2012 Reader’s Choice Award on  She knocked her competition out of the park!

What does that have to do with socks you ask?  Susan had written some blog posts about the socks she was working on.  She showed us an array of colorful, beautiful socks, some completed pairs, but also many single pairs that she wanted to finish.  She had a huge response to all her socks (as well she should), included the question of “what pattern did you use?” 

Those knitters who would consider themselves “sock knitters” have a go-to vanilla sock pattern.  It’s just a plain sock pattern that they use every time when they want something simple and good for on the go.  This would be the type of pattern a knitter would use to really showcase a self-striping yarn. 

So Susan responded with a post entitled “How I Make My Socks.”  She wrote up her vanilla sock pattern for everyone to use.  While it’s not an official pattern, it works for me, and I trust her judgment as her patterns are always so well-written and I knew that if I stumbled, she’d be glad to lend me support. 

I’ve admired different sock patterns for awhile, but never took the plunge because they sort of scared me.  All those heel constructions and wrap and turns I heard people talking about just seemed complicated.  I felt the discussion was always over my head.  So while I only just recently completed my first pair of socks, I’ve been wanting to try for some time.

Meet my sister’s socks.  They’re fun and colorful and the yarn, now that it’s knit and finished, seems to call her name more than mine.  The yarn: Lorna’s Laces Solemate, River.  A lovely background of light blue, with spirals of darker blues and purples and sort of a lavender/gray.  I debated for a long while over the best yarn to use for her.  I wanted to try this yarn for myself, but it just seemed to fit her. 

Did I mention these were part of her birthday present?  I know most people probably wouldn’t think socks are a very big deal.   You can buy a pair of fun socks at Target for much cheaper than you can a skein of sock yarn.  But what’s the fun in that?  And since Sis is knitter-worthy, I figured it was worth the time and effort to knit them. 

(She also got an iPod from us, and to be honest, I think she was surprised and thankful for the socks, but more excited about the iPod.  If I were her, I probably would be too. I don’t mind.)

So what do I think of sock knitting?  You use tiny needles. On lightweight yarn.  You would think they would take forever, but they don’t.  They fit several requirements I like in my knitting.  Portable? Check.  Quick? Check.  Simple?  So far.  There are more complicated patterns but I’m not ready for that yet.   Pretty?  Definitely.  I’m already knitting a second pair – which I’ll tell you about another time. 

Have you ever tried something that intimidated you and found out it really wasn’t so bad?  How do you feel about knitted socks?  If you don’t knit socks, what do you do with all your sock yarn??

Monday, July 2, 2012

Yarn Sock

This will be a fairly quick one today, folks.

Have you ever started working with a ball of yarn that’s so nicely wound up and pretty?  And before you know it, that wound yarn starts looking like yarn barf? 

I don’t know why it happens to me so often.  Perhaps it’s because of the way I stuff my project bags into other bags, throw them around in the car, or leave them sitting out on the couch for the dogs, kids and other people to accidentally (or maybe not) sit on them.  Whatever the cause, by the time my project is finished, I’m ready to rewind my yarn so that I feel a little bit less out of control (hubby would call this my controlling side…lol).

I have been watching Knittin’ On the Fly with Katie (jetgirl1313) for a while now.  One podcast awhile back she mentioned she was knitting a yarn sock.  (That’s not really what she called it, but that’s what I’m calling it.)    She had been gifted something called a “yarn bra?” And then found some patterns on Ravelry that were similar.  I decided to try them out.

So with my Cascade Fixation, a blend of cotton and elastic (interesting, no?) in a very bright red, I cast on for my very own sock.  You can find the pattern by Jennifer Sugarman HERE.  I thought perhaps the elastic in this yarn would make a nice fit for this type of project.

Here’s my completed project.  I’m not sure how well it works yet as I’ve only just started using it.  I tested it out over a larger center-pull ball of yarn (it will only work with center-pull balls of yarn…) and it seemed a little small, so if I were to knit one again, I might be inclined to make it just a tad taller – I think that would solve that issue nicely. 

I’ll keep you informed of what I think, but I’m thinking this will be a nice solution to my problem! :)