Thursday, 26 February 2009

An Apple a Day...

... keeps the doctor away.
I’ve been knitting random project recently – like this apple! I started it last night and I finished sewing it together this morning. It didn’t take long, and the results are really cute. Next time, (and there probably will be a next time, but maybe it will be an orange or pear or some other fruit) I’d do a different pattern for the leaf. I didn’t like the leaf pattern that was given. It was a little jagged the way it knit up for me. I might try doing increases on the center rather than the outside to reduce that. And maybe stockinette rather than garter. We’ll see. But overall, a very cute few hour project.

Still, you may be asking: “Why the apple?” Because.

Because I’m avoiding big projects. Because I already had the yarn for this one. Just… because.

See, I’m going to go to the market at Stitches West in Santa Clara this weekend! (I’m really excited about it!) If you remember I went last year and was sooo overwhelmed that I didn’t buy anything! Nothing. The only thing I took away was a headache. Well, that is not going to happen this year. I’m planning on buying lots of yarn! I have a few big projects I want to do, and I know I will be able to find some great yarn there! So I can’t start anything new until I have said yarn.

I also really want to use up the yarn I already have in my stash. The half skeins of this and that I have left over from other projects are scattered everywhere in my room just dying to be made into something. This pattern was perfect for that. I still have lots of the red, but the green and brown came from such small amounts that it was a perfect use for them! I think even after I start some of the bigger projects I have in my queue, I really need to make an effort this year to be smart with yarn purchases and only buy what I’m going to use, but also use up what I already have. Hopefully I can come up with/find some other cute projects to do just that.

Friday, 20 February 2009


Huzzah! Huzzah! I'm done. Two other projects complete! One crochet and the other knit. Huzzah.

Can you guess what it is? Not such a hard thing to guess, all things considering. Yup. Another requested Harry Potter scarf. But this time it's a Hufflepuff. Obviously. & this one is going to the fiance of the owner of that Gryffindor scarf. Hopefully he'll like it!

And hopefully he has a small head... Um. I've never met him, so I don't really know. Cause if his head isn't small I'm not sure whether or not the hat will fit him.

With the Gryffindor scarf I ran out of yarn and so I made it short, so I was paranoid with this one and bought a good amount of yarn. Too much yarn. I had a lot left over! I thought for a while about making myself a yellow and black version of the scarf (because supposedly I'm a Hufflepuff too), but in the end decided to make the toque. He gets his scarf last, so maybe he deserves a little something extra, right?
After some Ravelry searching I came up with two things I wanted to use. I really liked the pattern for the ribbed hat, but at the same time the badger motif would help to identify it as what it was. I also thought that with the thin yarn the hat wouldn't be too warm sooo.... why not mesh the two? Hence the idea for the reversible hat was born!

It knit up just like a long tube:
(This picture is the closest to the real colour of the yarn)

After some smart planning, I realized that the badger (pattern stolen from a sock design) would have to be knit upside down so that when he appeared right side up on the hat. And once the badger was done (I really need to work on my fair isle technique...) I started with the "Chocolate's gone Straight to those Ribs" pattern for the hat. That part was easy enough. The pattern is simple, well written and very understandable.
But here was my modification to make the double hat:
When the number of rows of ribbed hat matched the badger side, I picked up the stitches from the cast on row one at a time and knit it into the working row. It took a while, but to be honest I was surprised how well that turned out! I thought that something would go wrong there for sure! But I counted out ten stitches around the cast on row and placed markers so that I made sure to pick up the right number of stitches in the right intervals, and voila! It worked!
Then I decreased, and it was done!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Right on Red

It's been about three weeks, so here is the next installment of my Kirigamis! (Thanks again J!) this time, they are the Red - probably in honour of Valentines day. Of the three weeks worth, this is my favourite one:
There are a bunch that I don't love in this bunch, but it was still hard to pick a favourite. There are three or four  that I really like, but in the end this one won. I like it because there is just so much going on and it makes a nice patter. 
I also really like the one that sort of reminds me of the Bird's Nest. You know, that building from the Beijing Olympics. The concentric circles one with the fold backs is pretty cool too. 
All done with just a little easy folding and cutting! 
You'll see those in the slideshow:

See if you can see the one that was meant for Valentine's day. Hint: it sort of has stylized hearts.)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

A new hat

I have a confession to make. ... I lost the toque I was given for Christmas. I know! I'm a horrible person. But I lost it because I was wearing it so much. I wore it to the soccer tournament I played in last weekend, and somehow it just didn't make it home with me. Some lucky kid probably found it and now has the coolest hat in the world. 
Luckily, I just finished knitting up this one.

I really like it. It's nice and snug (without being too tight). It took me a while to get going on it, but once I did it was pretty quickly completed.
I did find doing the YO p2tog combination slightly awkward because I was knitting so tightly, but I do like the effect of the three holes in the purling section. I've been wondering whether it would be possible to knit this hat inside out since I think that k2tog YO would be easier. I've never done cables on purl rows, which I'm guessing you'd have to do for it to be reversed but I don't see why that would be any different than done on knit rows. Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe I'll try and see. 

The only thing I would change about this hat would be that I'd add another, maybe 4 rows before I started to decrease.
 It's a little short and doesn't cover my ears completely and I like a hat to cover my ears. Then again, with the amount of yarn I had leftover, four more rows wouldn't have been possible. What you see in the picture was all that was left! It was as close to a perfect use of a skien as you can get. And really, this was leftover yarn from my Bella Mittens, so it was doubly perfect because in a way it was using up scrap yarn. 

(Oh. And I'm going to look online to see if I can find a replacement for the half pipe hat I lost.) 

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

New Skills

You might be surprised, but I think the best thing about youtube (at least for me) is how many new knitting skills I've learned that might never have figured out otherwise. Forget funny videos. Knitting is what I use it for the most!

For example, this is my Hermione Hat that I started working on while my completed February Lady sweater was being blocked (more on that devastation in a future post). The pattern calls for Alternate Cable Cast on.
Hunh? I thought.
Well, not really. From the name I knew what they were after (a cast on that gave you a knit/purl in appearance from the very edge), but the technique for that cast on I did not know. I've only ever used the most basic of cast on techniques - the one my mom taught me when I was just a littl' girl. It works fine for everything I've had to do, but in certain cases I understand why you'd want to use something different.
That's where youtube comes in. Oh those kind folks who've posted informative knitting clips have been more helpful than they probably ever imagined! I've always been one to learn by watching, and somehow the pictures and descriptions in books were never quite enough.

Thus far I'm liking the hat. And doubly exciting is that it's using yarn left over from my Bella Mittens. That's nice.
Unfortunately, I'm only going to be able to go so far until I have to buy more needles to finish it. I know. More needles? You'd really think that by now I'd have all the needles I'd ever need, but nope. I'm working with size 5 cirucular, so once the pattern starts decreasing I'll have to use DPN which I do not have.

When bad things happen to good knitting

I finished my February Lady sweater!

On January 30th. Just in time to wear my sweater in February. And I was so excited. Until I tried it on. And it looks horrible. To be more accurate, it looks horrible on me.

I still love the pattern. It’s well written - easy to understand and follow. It’s nice that it is so flexible that it should be able to fit anyone by doing a few more rows here, or a few less repeats of the gull lace pattern there. And as I mentioned before, it was a very quick knit. This sweater took me less time (three weeks) than the Twisted Tree (five weeks) which was half the size. Best of all about this pattern? There is no sewing. I’m horrible at stitching pieces together. I really like patterns that have as little sewing as possible.
So, all in all, I’d rate the pattern 5/5 and would recommend it to anyone who likes the design.

So after that glowing review, how did I go wrong? Blocking… Blocking, blocking, blocking.
I’ve only blocked twice before. You don’t really need to do it for mittens, hats, scarves, afghans, etc, although you can. It’s never been necessary before, so I didn’t do it. I blocked two of the sweaters that I made, with okay results. As in, I didn’t really notice a difference. For this sweater I tried to block it to make the body slightly longer and to open up the YO holes, but I made a horrible mistake while doing it. I was so worried about making the sweater longer that I didn’t think about the fact that I was pulling the sweater wider.
So when I tried the sweater on after I blocked it, it just hung there looking way too big and totally wrong. The chest was too loose and the sleeves too long.
On the bright side, the body length was just right.
Okay - that’s not much of a condolence. But at least it’s something.

So, after trying to figure out on my own what to do (and coming up with nothing), I turned to an expert: my bestest friend’s mom. (Trust me. She’s an expert.) After a 30 minute call where we discussed the pattern, my mistakes and the yarn, I was given a plan for how to fix it and I think it’s working.
Starting with the back, and very carefully pining it to the right width dimensions (while keeping the length I like) I’m steaming/ironing the sweater. I have a towel between the iron and the sweater. The steaming is a very slow process, but I think that it has shrunk the pattern. Once done, I was told to let it sit for a whole 24 hours pinned to exactly the dimensions I want. After the back, I’m doing each side with another 24 hour wait. (At least, this is what I understood from the instructions I was given.)
To me, the novice blocker, this seems just a little bit like inverse blocking. Instead of stretching it to the right dimensions and pinning it, I’m pinning it to the right dimensions and using heat to shrink it back down.
But hopefully it will work. I’ll let you know.