Saturday, January 29, 2011

I posted! And I kitchenered!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

We'll need to take a minute to let you and Knitting@Lunch and any other loyal readers recover from the shock of it all. Here's a picture of some yarn while you catch your breath.......

I have been enjoying reading your posts tho. You make such beautiful sweaters, and I'm always impressed with how many you actually finish. And the Heilo mittens look great - altho that post gave me a scare. When I read about the proposed changing the name of the blog, I thought you might be going to drop the Pickin' since I post so rarely! Whew!

Anyway, I would surely not object to "Pickin' and Throwin' and Rippin'" after my struggles with my February Lady cardigan. However, once I got past that evil instruction to - well, let's just post it here.

Eyelet increases (RS): k7 (10, 8, 8, 8, 10, 14), pm. Work 41 (38, 47, 41, 41, 38, 39) YOs spaced

evenly among the 197 (207, 219, 239, 267, 291, 311) center stitches, pm, k7 (10, 8, 8, 8, 10, 14).

[252 (265, 282, 296, 324, 349, 378) total stitches] (Some knitters have made the pattern less

swingy by decreasing the number of increases here. Others have left the increases off the

sleeve stitches, to make narrower sleeves. Knit it to fit you! See “notes on sizing” below.)

Seriously? That one - I think on the 4th or 5th try I figured it out, and it had to do with adding some 'fake increases' so that it worked out. (None of those numbers divide evenly into each other!) But that was a long time ago, and I've been plugging away on the lace body, and it turns out that eventually you get near the end. Who knew? Another couple of lace repeats and 2" of garter border and I'll be ready to move on to the sleeves.

My goal for this year is to make 12 projects out of stash yarn for me! Mostly socks/sock yarn, but there are a few other projects as well. The picture at the top of this post was the pairing of yarn and patterns, which I finally got around to this weekend. I had been collecting the patterns and choosing the yarns from my Ravelry, but it remained to do the actual packaging. Now I'm all set - there are actually 18-20 projects in the basket. Later this week I can randomly pull out one for February!

For January, I had decided to work on a UFO, since it was getting later in the month. Last week I worked on the second sock of the Norwegian Rose pair that I worked on last summer. Remember the 1st sock was displayed at Stitches, in the Knitting Today booth?

I had most of the foot of the other sock done, and I'll finish turning the heel yet this evening, so it should be done soon. However, last night it occurred to me (!) that it wasn't going to make it by the end of January, so I grabbed a chunky stash yarn and made a quick hat for myself. I've had the yarn for a while, and a hat is what I intended and needed, so that was a win!

Well, that's a good update from here - oh wait! I mentioned that I Kitchenered, didn't I?? (I believe that my long-standing aversion to Kitchener grafting is well documented over the life of the blog.) Knitting Today got a shipment of these really cool keychains that document the anatomy of a sock, and brief instructions for grafting the toe. (I know that it isn't complicated, but I always manage to get confused part way through.) It was cute and colorful and I'm a real sucker for such things, so I picked one up for my notions bag.

Last Thursday, Sweater Night was cancelled and so a few of us met at Starbucks. (Much less driving in the snow!) As I got out of the car, I realized that I had left my knitting on my desk, and so I had nothing to do. Nancy generously offered to let me graft together a fingerless mitt that she had. I was bored enough that I agreed (I did barter for a double-chocolate frapa-thingy) and I got out my little keychain. It was very useful! It was so brief that I was able to keep track of where I was, and we were both pleased with the result. In fact, Nancy borrowed it to graft the second mitt and reported that it worked really well for her as well. So, those of you who are intimidated by Kitchener - get yourself to the Knitting Today store or website and get one of the magic "Grafting Lucky Charms!

Whew. Anyway, we both have a goal for 2011 knitting!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Valentine Craft - woven felt hearts

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

This is not an original idea, though I don't recall ever running across it actually in print, so I thought I'd share this fun craft with you.

These are little heart pockets made out of felt:
The tops open up and can hold a treat inside!

They may be made any size. The pattern piece I use is four inches wide and six inches tall. The key is to start with a square (I started with a four inch square), and add a half circle to one side of it. Then draw two lines evenly spaced which are the length of one side of the square (as shown in the photo):
This pattern piece is placed on the fold of a piece of felt. I use two pieces of different colored felt. (I get the pre-cut felt which is 9x12 inches; I am able to make two hearts with these two pieces of felt.)

Cut around the pattern piece and also cut along the lines. For a heart having larger woven squares, cut on only the two lines; for a heart having smaller woven squares, bisect each of the "legs" with an additional cut. Here is what the felt pieces look like after cutting them out and opening up the fold; these pieces will make a green and gold heart having the smaller woven squares:
Weaving the first row can be tricky, until you "see" how things are supposed to be working. It's difficult to explain with words, though hopefully you will be able to figure it out from the pictures. For big woven squares:
For little woven squares:
First row completed:
Moving on to the second row:
...and the third row:
Heart with big woven squares with weaving completed:
Weaving in the final (sixth) row of the heart with small woven squares:
A look at the inside after weaving is complete:
Add a little hanger (I just took a piece of long/narrow rectangular felt and used a hot glue gun to attach it to the top of the heart, one end on each side so that it still opens up to be able to hold a little treat inside):
Of course, you may not fancy a green and gold heart (not a Packers fan?), so enjoy creating your own color combinations!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Things are looking up

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

It is very cold here right now, and we've got plenty of snow, which I suppose is normal for winter in Wisconsin, and though I'm not sick of it *yet,* check back in about a month and I'll be singing a different tune... Wonderful to have nice wool sweaters and socks to wear...especially while cross country skiing, or simply wearing inside our 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit house.

Heilo mittens are looking much better after ripping them out and re-starting with smaller needles:
The only problem is that if I place the end of the cuff (which is at the beginning of the increases which occur at both sides of the thumb) at the base of my hand as in the photo, the thumb opening is going to be in the wrong spot. Referring to the photo, I am supposed to knit the 11 thumb stitches onto waste yarn on the very next row, then place those stitches back on the left needle and continue knitting around in pattern for the rest of the mitten. After that, the waste yarn is picked out and those stitches are used to make the thumb... Notice how the thumb opening will not be in the right location for my anatomy...

HOWEVER, after a few e-mails with blog buddy BaxterKnits (Cindy), I think I'm going to take her advice and knit four rows for every increase instead of the three indicated in the chart. This means that I'll have to revise the chart a little bit, but the thumb location on the mitten will much more closely approximate the actual location of my thumb. So, I rip again, but just nine or ten rows this time...

So, do you think that it is time to change the name of our blog to "Pickin' and Throwin' and Rippin'?"

My NEW GOAL for 2011 is going to be to knit something according to the pattern, without alteration, and without having to rip it out. This might mean that I'll have to make a simple dishrag...

In other news, I don't think I'm going to run out of yarn on my Twist cardigan! I have the second sleeve halfway done, and plenty 0'yarn left... Goal to finish that one this week, before I start my final clinical in another week and have much less time for blogging...

Stay warm! Also, Go Packers! (Can you *believe* the Packers??!!!)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Friday, January 14, 2011

The year of ripping...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Here is the current state of my Twist sweater:
The hood is done, and I've actually sewn in the first sleeve, instead of saving all of the finishing until the end... I still must knit the second sleeve and the front button/buttonhole bands. I'm concerned about running out of yarn, so there is a chance I'll have to harvest extra yarn needed for the sleeve or front bands from the hood...
This would be fine, as the pattern has an alternate collar version which doesn't require nearly as much yarn. However, let me just say that I am *tired* of this sweater. I had to take out large chunks of the first sleeve on multiple occasions for various dumb mistakes I made, and though I am thrilled that the "third time is the charm" on knitting the entire body of the sweater over again, and the Cascade 220 yarn has been quite durable, I'd like to *conclude* my little experiment about how many times a yarn may be ripped and re-knit without losing it's loveliness...

I also cast on for a pair of "Heilo Mittens," thinking that it would be nice to start a fresh new project which was straight-forward and had not been ripped at all. Here is the cuff so far -- love the braid and also the color pattern:
Ahem. My gauge is way off, and these are going to be way too big, so I have to rip back and start again with smaller needles... AAUGH! The pattern for these may be found in Veronik Avery's book "Knitting 24x7."

I haven't spent *all* of my time knitting stuff and then ripping it out... I've been able to get some things done around the house which I've been putting off for literally years. I *finally* put up my youngest son's baby pictures on the wall, so now he is included in the family "gallery" in our upstairs hallway. I've had the frame for years, but never took the time to put it all together... I also cleaned out my work/sewing/craft/knitting room -- still some work to be done there, but it is so much more functional than it was. Look -- labels on my yarn stash bins!
These two shelves contain the bulk of my yarn stash. At my current rate of ripping as I go, I've got plenty of yarn to keep me busy for a long time!

In other news, after I met my goal of 150 workouts for 2010 on December 17th, I totally fell off of the exercise and eating right wagon, so my big project for next week is to re-group and literally get my butt in gear. It is my last week off before I start my final clinical, so time to really get more disciplined again...

Have a great weekend! Will you be watching the Packer game tomorrow night? If you *aren't* a Packer fan, it is a great time to go grocery shopping, because I guarantee you that the stores will be almost empty starting at about 7:00pm... I'll probably shop early in the day, however, and knit while the game is on in the evening... SuperBowl Fever!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gift card holder / pouch

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,
I gave my nieces and nephew gift cards for Christmas, but I wanted to spice them up just a little bit, so I decided to make little pouches as "wrapping" and included some lip balm in each one, too:
To make these, I first used a word processor program to print out really big letters onto a piece of paper:
I then cut out a piece of "Wonder Under" which was slightly larger than my letters. (Note that "Wonder Under" is a material which may be ironed onto most fabrics to make the fabric fusible, and may be purchased at any fabric store.) I traced the letters onto the paper side of the Wonder Under *backwards*. It was helpful to place the paper and Wonder Under on a window for tracing:
Once the tracing was all done...
...I ironed the Wonder Under onto the *back* of the fabric:
I recommend holding the iron for no more than three seconds in each position while ironing the Wonder Under to the fabric; otherwise, it can be difficult to remove the paper backing later on... Cut out the letters; see how they are not backwards any more:
Remove the paper backing from the letters. If you find it difficult to get the paper to start to come off of the fabric, try stretching the fabric a little bit on the diagonal which will tear the paper and make it easier to grab. Then, iron each letter to a piece of 6"x12" bag fabric (I used denim), placing the top of the letter 1.25" from one of the 6" sides of the bag fabric. Stitch around the letter using a satin stitch (zig zag having a 0.5mm stitch length):
...and up close:
Next, install the zipper. I usually have "Make-A-Zipper" on hand, which is a roll of zipper tape having plenty of zipper "pulls" on it; I just cut the zipper to the right size, which in this case would be about 7". However, a 7" purchased zipper will work, or really any length zipper which might have been recycled from some old clothing...just as long as it won't harm your sewing machine to stitch through the zipper and you can cut off the extra length after it is sewn into the bag. Nylon zippers work great for this:
Stitch one long side of the zipper tape to one 6" end of the bag fabric with right sides together. Then, stitch the other long side of the zipper tape to the other 6" end of the bag fabric right sides together. You will now have a little tube.
Open the zipper about halfway. It is really important to do this, because otherwise you will not be able to turn your bag right side out! With right sides together, and with zipper positioned near the top of the bag, stitch along each side of the bag. (See photo above - zipper is positioned properly, and so just stitch along each side.) Then, to give the bag a little bit of depth, pull out each lower corner and stitch across forming a triangle as shown in this photo:
Here is the finished product, wrong side out.
Turn it right side out, poking corners out. Iron seams and corners as needed, add a piece of ribbon to the zipper pull...and that's it!
My nieces and nephews were finding all sorts of things to put in the bags for safe keeping, ranging from Legos to barrettes... :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Mittens for me :-)

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

One of my friends / classmates gave me a pair of mittens, which she made!

I really love them, and I couldn't believe that she took the time to make me such a nice gift!
She purchased some sweaters at the Good Will store, cut them up using a pattern she found online, and sewed them together. They are even fleece lined and really, really warm!

The three pattern pieces needed for these are similar to the ones linked to on this website, which also contains a nice tutorial. Also, here... And, just feast your eyes on these finished mittens! ADORABLE and WARM! It's a lot faster than knitting a pair of mittens from scratch... I am thinking I know people who might need these as Christmas gifts next year...

That's it for now. Soon to come is a tutorial on how to make a monogramed gift card holder/pouch which my nieces and nephew really enjoyed receiving this past Christmas...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Things that make you go AAUGH !

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

Sometimes a picture alone tells the whole story:

Single digit temperatures here, making it a perfect day for knitting in front of the Green Bay Packer game :-)

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)