Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ravelympics 0-( No medal for me

This is the WIP I decided to wrangle for my event in the Ravelympics. It is now about 14 inches (35 cm) long, but I failed to medal because I set it aside to do 3 ad hoc projects. This knitting has been interrupted to bring you the felted teddy bear in that I posted 2 times ago and now two hats. The brown one is for Bev's 50 hats project. It's actually using the yarn from earlier incarnations of this scarf. The purple hat has a recipient, but he or she must remain secret.

Brown Hat details:
Pattern: Claudia Hat by M.J. Kim
Yarn: Main yarn is Alpaca Silk by Blue Sky (50/50); held with 2 strands of lace weight alpaca.
Gauge: a bit tight, should have been 5.5--It's a trifle small for me, but it will fit somebody important.
Needles: 2.75?
Remarks: The cable pattern was hard, but I did manage it. I took it on mostly for the cable experience. To be sure, I know how to make cables, but I've never done so many, so close together, that crossed different ways. I don't recommend it at this gauge with triple stranding. The ribs show so well because the knit stitches are twisted on every row with a background of reverse stockinette. The color in the sink picture is fairly accurate. This is a very soft, but sturdy hat. The only modifications I made were on the crown shaping where I went to decreasing every other row sooner than the pattern called for and cinched the top at 12 stitches instead of 6. I made these changes because some of the pictures on Ravelry looked pointy to me.

Purple Hat details:
Pattern: Top Down Bonnet with (out) Anime Character by Adrian Bizilia from Hello Yarn
Yarn: KnitPicks Elegance (or maybe Ambrosia)
Gauge: I don't know, maybe 6 spi, maybe 5.5
Needle: U.S. 4, I-cord on US 2
Remarks: There are over 400 of these in the Ravelry projects gallery. The pattern appealed to me because it covers the whole head and has ties. I am an admirer of what I think of as little Swedish caps, made out of sewn fabric usually. I did find a couple nice patterns for something more like that, but I thought they swooped down too far on the forehead. I didn't want to take a chance that the mother would think that looked goofy.
This pattern is very, very simple. I barely needed to refer to it once I understood the construction. The modifications I did are pictured. Instead of a garter stitch border all the way around, I only did that on the front. I put in a ribbing in the back because many of the ones pictured on Ravelry fit loosely in the back. I copied this idea from another Raveler. From the same Raveler, I got the idea to use the picot bind off on the front. Incidentally, the pattern runs small. I made the child size to get a 1 year size. I admit that I didn't worry about gauge, though.
The yarn is soft and should be very warm for it's weight. Just plain adorable. I've already started another one, this time in sock yarn.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

And your little bear, t o o o o o o o o !

I made this to go with my cousin's baby's sweater set. I knit for 2 evenings, then felted. Pretty quick for me. It turned out pretty well I think despite my usual sort of trials and tribulations. It was a small hit at the party, anyway.


I was worried I had made too thin a fabric. But I reasoned that the looser the knit, the better it felts. Well, "reasoned" isn't exactly the word. "Hoped," is the better word for what I call my thought process there. I even duplicate stitched and otherwise added more yarn to areas that I didn't want pull in too much, like the nose.


Oh, oh! The polyfill is both coming out and getting felted into the fabric, not allowing it to close. Furthermore, it's expanded and the arms and legs are turning into clubs and the head isn't shrinking as much as the body. I made it large to start with as I wanted it to look like a baby, but this is ridiculous. I think it's because I stuffed it harder in order to keep the nose sticking out.

Time for drastic action: You may want to stop reading if you don't want to know where teddy bears come from.

Modesty forbids me from showing you even more. It looks like it would unravel here but it didn't because it actually was felted together with the polyfill. The loose yarn you see is actually an end that I had left on the inside. And here's some advice for you: Do what you can to avoid hauling out wet poly from inside a wet bear. I debated about whether to sew up the back. In the end (in the end, ha ha) I left it open. I was unable to unstuff the arms because they were stuffed and sewn on separately.
So I threw it back in the wash with the deep navy thriftstore sweater (in the before pics) that I was also felting and the several of my clothes that I thought could take being vigorously agitated though X cycles in hot water, namely, some of my white things--or should I say some of my blueish things? Are you impressed with my common sense? Moving right along . . .
Here is young Mr. Bear upon removal the next morning from the dryer: Apparently somebody played Gotchyer Nose with him during the night and made off with said nose. Doesn't look very promising does it? And that's his ARM, he's not happy to see us! You people. Despite misgivings about being able to embroider an acceptable bear face, especially in deference to the concept of matching eyes, it turned out ok.

Felted Bear
Pattern: Now there's an idear.
Yarn: Vintage Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted from Elizabeth (thank you, young lady), light heathery gray, most of one skein.
Needles: 6mm/US 10.
Scarf: random Opal stash yarn
He can't quite sit up by himself because of the gigantic big head and the gigantic big arms.
Such a face! Do you see how his eyes almost match? Pretty good.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baby Set Finito

Yarn: Socks that Rock medium weight in the color, Downpour; about 1.75 skeins--I don't know what happened with the color in the photo. There is no greenish cast to this yarn. Sorry about that. The color is correct in the pictures from 2 posts back.

Size: I was shooting for 6 months to 1 year. Most people think it looks big. The baby is due in October and I figure he will be big. His dad is well over 6 feet tall and strong like ox.

Needles: 2.75 mm/US 2, combination of circular and dpns

Sweater Pattern: Combination of Joelle Hoverson's Placket Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts and Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system. I used the measurements and the decreases for the raglan from Hoverson. I was proud of how I managed the placket. I picked up 5 stitches from between the 6 stitches at the edge and held them to the back. I knitted a couple rows in stockinette for a smooth placket bottom before I switched to garter. The waist band rib is a 2x2 garter rib (row 1:k2,p2; row 2; knit). The sleeve cuffs are 2x2 simple ribbing and I extended this toward the elbow by adding more and more plain rows between ribbing rows. I added a couple of long short rows in the upper back a la EZ.

Hat Pattern: Jewel by Sock Pixie. Thanks to S. Pixie's excellent instructions, I actually managed to count the decreases correctly without stitch markers. I used 11 little mitered squares. Again, I probably made the hat too big. What can I say? I'm surprised there aren't more of these in the Ravelry gallery. This hat has a beautiful shape though I had trouble laying it out for the photo. The mitered squares will flatter many types of yarn. I'd make one for myself if I wore hats that squish a person's hair. The pattern is such that even though it is written at 7 stitches per inch, I think it would work with any yarn up to worsted so long as you knit the strip of mitered squares until you reach the desired head circumference, pick up the stitches in a multiple of 10 and make a reasonable guess as to the length to knit before beginning the crown shaping. Kudos to Sock Pixie on this elegant design. It is elegant in both the scientific and artistic senses.

Sock Pattern: None. Worked toe-up on 32 stitches. Short row heels from memory. I'm getting better at short row heels. Seiding should be proud. She helped me learn. Of course it's easier on 16 stitches than on 30 or 36.


All in all this has been a great knit. I am glad I finished the sweater 3 times because I can be satisfied with the end result knowing that I've explored my limitations and the characteristics of the yarn and pattern. Tomorrow is the shower. I'll go to my lbs (local bookstore) and pick up a sweet little storybook of some kind to throw in the box and I'm good to go! I hope there will be good food at the shower. No matter what, I expect cake, but if the mom to be's mother is involved, I am looking forward to a Polish food extravaganza.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tutorial Fail

I was going to make a little tutorial for you here. A simple one, just for the entertainment value and to practice in case I ever want to tackle technique. The most difficult thing for me in knitting is the counting. I speak true, friends. I've tried a number of things including hash marks, safety pins, stitch markers, those little barrel row counters, etc. I have a row counter bracelet on order from Etsy even as we speak (write, type, read, peruse, or as my grandpa would say, squawk). I don't think I'm alone because over the years I've seen a number of posters ask for tips on keeping track of stitch patterns and/or rows.

I was inspired by a friend's long ago suggestion on how to keep track of ingredients in cooking. Put a spoon on the counter for every cup of flour to be added. Then remove a spoon every time you add a cup. Frankly, I thought this was ridiculous, though it works for her. Even so, I've never forgotten it and have been trying to improve on it mentally, in the same way that I work mental arithmetic while driving (myself crazy).

I am aware that this candy idea isn't original to me, but I was enjoying myself so much I thought you might like to see the pictures.

Candy Counting Technique (For the Kountry folc: Kandy Kounting Tekhnikue)
to count Rows and 2 different Stitch Alterations that don't occur every row such as increases, decreases, or stitch patterns ON TWO objects being knitted to be identical, such as sleeves or socks.
What you need: Some candy that comes in many small pieces, like Skittles, M & M's or chocolate covered strawberries (small being relative). I had a jackpot find when my pharmacy moved. Retro candy. Snaps. Anybody remember Snaps? They came in a red box. They are black licorice with the texture of shoe leather coated with some sort of hard pastel sugar that resembles housepaint. Now they come in a bag, but you have to be careful. Because of that, sometimes they are fresh and not tough enough. I like them to have slightly less chewiness than beef jerky. You also need a flat, relatively clean surface.
1. Place a candy on the step, table, chair arm or other convenient, cat/child/other scavenger free surface every time you complete a row. If you have an alteration on that row such as a new stitch pattern, a decrease, or an increase, place a candy above the first piece. In the photo you can see I've completed one row which in my case had a k2, p2 pattern, then 2 plain rows.

In the next picture I've completed another plain row.

2. When you have a row with a second type of stitch alteration, add a candy below the piece for that row when the row is complete. In my case, the row in question is an increase row. My picture shows five rows completed. The first row and the fifth row had stitch alterations. Now I need to remember that a candy above my line of candies means that I did a k2, p2 and that a candy below the line means I increased.
I could keep knitting on this sleeve, but I want to get both done at close to the same time. (This is a lie of omission. While it is true that I want to finish both sleeves more or less at once, the real reason it's time to switch to the other sleeve is that I want to eat the candy. It's bad form to drool on your gift knitting. Calling Mr. Pavlov!)
3. Now for the good part! Pick up your second sleeve and begin knitting by reading your line of candy from left to right, in just the order you built it (not backwards as was my first inclination). The superimposed pink piece over the first candy is telling me that the first row of sock 2 must be worked as k2, p2. Once you've finished that row, eat the candy! Not all of it! Just the candy for the first row. Geez. What do you need maybe? A tutorial?

So why is this a Fail Tutorial? This is a Fail Tutorial (not to be confused with a faille tutorial, which would be about sewing with fancy fabric) because the day after shooting, a cap came off one of my teeth while I was eating some nice pineapple upside-down cake. I have to attribute the Dentistry Fail to the Snaps.