Tweaks & Alterations

First Attempt at Felting!

I made a gray felted cap—check it out!

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I’ve been putting off the final seaming on my latest knitting project (The Huntress Cowl worn by Katniss in the second Hunger Games movie), so instead I’m going to share my first ever felted item with you. Doing so requires me to reveal the kind of project I never thought I would share on this blog: a bad finished object. That’s right—I’m going to show you a total flop, and how I turned it into a perfect fit.

Confessions of a Loose Knitter

Way back in the summer of 2009, while I was on a research trip in Southern California, I pulled out a ball of gray yarn, size 9 needles, and knit up  Couvercle, a brimmed hat from the summer 2008 issue of Knitty. It turned out way too big:

Photo 290

It stretched out even further after these photos were taken. Some of my errors were those many novice knitters might make—for example, I used a heavy worsted weight wool yarn instead of a bulky cotton yarn like the pattern called for, because I was away from home and wanted to use the yarn I’d brought. Rookie mistake. But even if I’d used the appropriate weight and fiber of yarn, my hat would have still turned out too big —because, as I have since learned, I Am A Loose Knitter.

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While I hear a lot more about people who are Tight Knitters, I know there are some of us out there who knit loosely. I was a Loose Knitter for quite some time before I figured out that I needed to make some significant adjustments to get the right fit on things. The easiest solutions for me are to go down a needle size or two (or three), always do a gauge swatch, and pick the smaller of two options when I’m in between sizes.These aren’t failsafes of course—I can’t tell you how many gauge swatches I’ve done that seemed like they fit the pattern specs, only to knit the thing and find it stretching out quite a bit over time. But at least I have learned!

The thing is, I still have some finished objects from the early Loose Knitting days. like this Couvercle hat. And since I hated to see it go to waste, I decided it was the perfect chance to try out felting.

The Felting Process

Technically, since that hat was already knitted, the technique I used here is called “fulling.” There are lots of tutorials out there on this process, but the ones I used for reference here are this one from Knitty and this one from Luscious Gracious Studios. I decided to do the washing machine method as opposed to the hand felting process, which worked well because it took quite a while. As per the instructions, I used the hottest water and the lowest water level setting, an old pair of jeans, and a small amount of liquid soap (Method brand in my case). I put the hat in a pillow case and safety pinned it shut to keep the extra fibers from escaping and clogging the washer (fold the top over at least twice before you do this!). And then I put on a timer and checked the hat every 5 minutes until it was how I wanted it, resetting the washer to the beginning of the cycle as needed it to keep it from going through the spin cycle. Here’s what it looked like at each stage:

2013-11-03 14.56.35 After 10 min.

I forgot to take a photo at the first check (5 minutes) but believe me, the hat was even bigger than you see here. This can be disconcerting  when you’re trying to shrink something, but rest assured that in the beginning of the process, it is normal!

2013-11-03 15.08.22After 15 min.

So the hat was still huge at this point, but the spaces between the stitches were getting smaller. A good sign. Also, I should mention that at every check in I pulled any errant bits of wool out of the washer—just be careful as the water is quite hot.

2013-11-03 15.17.56After 20 min.

The hat was getting noticeable smaller and thicker at this point, and it was also trying really hard to escape its pillowcase. I was also worried it would felt to itself and not leave an opening for my head, as I’ve heard can occasionally happen. So at this point I pinned the top center of the hat to the inside of the pillowcase. It worked! Though it did have an unintended consequence, as you shall see.

2013-11-03 15.28.39After 25 min.

Still shrinking very slowly here, where I got a nice shot of the brim. If I had it to do over again, I would have added some more length to the brim because I really like that feature of the hat and it shrunk too.

2013-11-03 15.37.05After 30 min.

Finally getting close! By this point the hat was thick and fuzzy, it just needed to be a little bit smaller. I let it go through the last  five minutes, then allowed the washer to go through the rinse cycle and a little bit of the spin cycle before I pulled it out.

2013-11-03 16.00.38 After 40 min.

Here was the end result! The thickness and the size were now exactly what I wanted. I had a little bit of trouble removing the safety pin however, as the hat had begun to felt around it! That’s why, in the first photo of this post, you can see a little nubbin at the top—that’s where I finally pulled out the safety pin.

To make sure that the hat retained its proper hat shape, I put it over a bowl to roughly mimic my head shape and let it dry that way. I didn’t time the drying process but it was definitely dry in 48 hours.

The Finished Cap

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This hat is actually closer to the intended size of the pattern than my loosely knit one. Since it is a little bit smaller and doesn’t have the stretch of knitting, I usually use a bobby pin or two to keep it in place.

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I count this project as a successful retooling of an unsuccessful knit, as I only wore the original hat out once in 4 years, but I’ve already worn this felted version several times.

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I had to do this project at a friend’s house, since the washing machines in my complex are expensive and do not have the best settings for getting hot water and low water levels. I will definitely be doing this again though— I already have another felting project in mind. I’m excited to potentially reclaim more of the stretched out finished objects of my earlier Loose Knitting days.

Holiday Knits & Crafts, Quick Knits & Crafts

Quick Winter Knits, Round Two (Valentine’s Day edition)

I’ve been wanting to do a follow up to my 2012 on quick winter knits and my 2013 procrastiknits post for a while now, and here it is! Between getting a cold last week and the 2014 Winter Olympics starting this week(ish), I’ve had a lot of time to whip up some projects. I think any of these would make great Ravellenic Games knits. (As a side note, if you have  qualms about anything having to do with the Sochi Olympics, check out what Leethal is doing on her knitting blog. Pretty genius move.)

One of these projects really is Valentine’s Day themed, but I’m going to say that there’s something for everyone to love here, including a few things for those who don’t care for the holiday whatsoever. So without further ado, here are my finished objects: a racerback tank, neck collar, ear warmer, cowl and chapstick holder. All are free patterns available on ravelry!

Pink Free Fall Tank Top

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This Valentine’s Day, some good friends are throwing a dance party, and they encouraged us to dress for the occasion. Unfortunately, I don’t own any truly pink clothing. But instead of turing to the obvious solution (thrift stores, borrow something), I was like, “I bet I can knit something pink!” So that’s what I did.

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This is my version of Annina Päivärinta’s Free Fall Tank. The amazing thing about this tank pattern is that it only take one skein! This is thanks to the drop stitch in the pattern, which I’d never tried before but loved.

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This photos is probably the closest to the true color of this tank. To get this color, I held together one strand of sport weight red wool I recycled from a thrifted sweater with two strands of a hot pink, lace weight mohair yarn that I have literally had in my stash since my roommate in college gave it to me. I have no idea why I kept it, but I’m glad I did.

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There aren’t a lot of photos of people wearing this tank on ravelry, and I can tell you why—when you knit it in one skein of cotton yarn as directed, the drop stitches make it really revealing. In my version, using three strands of fuzzy yarn, this is not as much the case unless you are looking rather closely.

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There were a number of comments about the chart for this pattern by ravelry knitters, and I’ll admit, it is a tad confusing. I’d say its an intermediate skill pattern. I made a size small with a few mods based on their comments and my own measurements:  stitch makers to mark all of the yarn overs, several extra inches of length, two stitches cast on at the bottoms of the drops instead of three, and an irregular rib at the bottom for three rounds. I’m really pleased with the results!

Pink Kink Collar

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I made this quite a whole ago, but since it uses the same yarn combo as the free fall tank, it seems a good time to share it. The pattern is Kink by Jodie Gordon Lucas, featured in Knitty 2010.

pink kink 1

This in-progress shot gives you a view of what the strands of yarn look like by themselves! It’s a pretty straightforward pattern that works with a variety of yarns and is not too difficult to memorize. You can also wear it in a number of ways, depending on how you attach your pin or button. I’m thinking about attaching another button so I can wear it differently. If you’re not ready to commit to a hot pink top, this is a good way to use a brightly colored yarn. I  mainly wear this with neutral colors, especially black.

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speaking of black…

Black Ear Warmer

Photo on 2-7-14 at 4.52 PM

If you’re more the type to wear black on February 14, I’ve got two super easy projects for you. The first is this Ear Band pattern, appropriately titled Beginning Ear Warmer. I wanted the most straightforward pattern possible, and this garter stitch band was exactly that.Photo on 2-7-14 at 4.52 PM #2

With my hair I can wear this two ways. My main reason for wanting a basic black ear warmer is for riding my bike—my ears get cold faster than anything else, and I wanted it to match anything I could possibly be wearing so that would never deter me from using it.

Black Drop Stitch Cowl

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The quality of these photos doesn’t even capture how cool this cowl is (black objects + rushing to take photos = not the best idea). The pattern is Abi Gregorio’s Drop Stitch Cowl, which I became determined to knit after enjoying the drop stitch look on the free fall tank.

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Most of the ravelery reviews insisted that this was a lightning fast knit, and they were right. I didn’t quite have enough yarn for the pattern, so in my version I used size 13 instead of size 15 needles, omitted one of the repeats ,and shortened two garter stitch sections. I would have loved if my cowl was  taller and wider, but I’m really impressed that there was a pattern to use up my leftover, super bulky black yarn!

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I’m thinking I will make this cowl again in a color when I get the chance.

Chaptstick Holder

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This is the only quick knit that wasn’t for me. After showing my sonic screwdriver chapstick holder to friends, I got a request for a basic chaptstick holder that could attach to a harness during rock climbing. So I used Victoria Trauger’s Chapstick Holder pattern and made this. I could tell you about how in my version I made some mods to make it fit better (12 stitches around instead of 16, 6 stitches instead of 8 for the flap), or how I love the elephant button I used at the top. But mostly I want to tell you why this is related to Valentine’s Day knitting. I supposed it could be the connection between chapstick, lips, and kissing. But personally, all I could think when I was making this pattern in this color was, geez, this looks really…phallic.

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Nevertheless, this chapstick holder does its job! I attached a key ring to the side and handed it off to its recipient at the rock climbing gym last night. Here’s a blurry action shot of the chaptsick holder on his harness.

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And that concludes this edition of quick winter knits! ❤

Activity Knits & Crafts, Original Knitting Patterns

Beta: a chalk bag knitting pattern for rock climbers!

As promised, I have a new free pattern in my series of activity-related knitting. Last time it was a pattern for a colorful yoga mat bag. This time it’s pattern to make a uniquely colored chalk bag for rock climbing! Introducing, Beta:

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I tried rock climbing for the first time ever in a climbing gym about seven months ago. I was amazed at how much I liked it, and I’ve climbed there almost every week since June. I never thought of climbing as my kind of activity, but I love that it is both a mental and physical challenge. (A side benefit of the latter is that I have actually have some upper body strength now!)

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One of the things that climbers often have on their person is a chalk bag, as chalk can help you get a better grip on holds when your hands start to get sweaty. After seeing someone who had a crocheted chalk bag at the gym (she received it as a gift and didn’t know how it was made), I decided I had to knit my own. I also decided that it should match the other gear I use while top roping. So I wrote a pattern that incorporates the colors of my belay device, harness, and shoes, AND for good measure, loosely mirrors the pattern on the strap of my particular harness ( this one by Mammut) with stranded colorwork. You can kind of see all this in the photo above. Here’s a lovely (blurry) action shot of me “chalking up” with my new chalk bag:

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In climbing terms, ‘beta’ usually refers to descriptions of or advice about a particular route. I thought it was a fitting name for a knitting pattern like this one. I don’t expect that many people will want to replicate the exact colorwork that I have done, because it is so tailored to my climbing gear. But you can use this pattern as advice for how to make a chalk bag in whatever style and color you want.

[EDIT: I almost forgot to include some “in progress” pics!]

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The only thing I don’t have good advice on is how much yarn you need, because I used leftovers from the Bernat Handicrafter Cotton that I had from making the yoga mat bag. I would guess that since skeins are 80 yds/50g each, to be on the safe side you’d want to have about 1/2 skein of white, 1/3 skein each of orange and grey, and 1/4 skein of green, but I did not measure or weigh my yarn so I am truly guessing. In the future I will try to take notes!

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I’m going to post the whole pattern below, but for the first time ever I have made a pattern into a free ravelry download, so if you are on ravelry, you can get the pattern there as well, and  post your own finished version!

Beta: A climber’s chalk bag pattern
Yarn: Worsted weight cotton yarn in white, green, gray, and orange
(this version was made with Bernat Handicrafter Cotton)
Materials:
One set of double pointed knitting needles, size 4
Yarn needle
Optional: stitch marker for start of round
Gauge:
18 stitches and 26 rows= 4 in. square.
Gauge is not super important as long as you can fit your hand inside the bag.
Chalk bag pattern
Cast on 56 stitches in green, divide onto four needles (14 stitches on each)
Round 1-4: knit
Rounds 5-8: switch to white, knit
Round 9: (k6, yo, k2tog), repeat to end of round
Rounds 10-13: knit
Colorwork section:
Rounds 14-21: Work Chart 1.
Chart 1
Chart 1

Rounds 22-29: Work Chart 2.

Chart 2
Chart 2
Rounds 30-37: Work Chart 1 again.
Decrease section:
Round 38: with white, knit
Round 39: (k2tog, k1) repeat until last two stitches remain, k2tog
Round 40: knit
Rounds 41-46: Repeat rounds 39 and 40 three times
Round 47: k2tog all around
At this point you should have about 6 stitches remaining.
Break yarn leaving a long tail, pull through remaining stitches. Weave in ends.
I-cord closure
With white yarn, cast two stitches onto a double pointed needle
Knit across, but do NOT turn. Slide stitches to the other point of the needle
Repeat until I-Cord is the desired length, approximately 30 inches.  Cast off.
Weave through the yarn over holes.
I-cord carabiner loop
Cast on 4 stitches in green, leaving a long tail (8-10 inches) for sewing
Knit an I-cord as for closure
When I-cord is 3 inches long, cast off stitches leaving another tail of yarn.
Using yarn needle, sew tails of yarn into the bag at the desired location.
 Liner options:
If you sew, you can make a fabric lining for the inside of the bag and stitch it in place. Otherwise, putting a zip closure plastic baggie inside or using a chalk ball will minimize the amount of chalk that falls out. A tighter gauge will also help loose chalk remain inside.

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 If you prefer written instructions to charts, I’ve typed them up below:
Chart 1 written out:
Round 14: knit
Rounds 15-16: switch to gray, knit
Round 17: (k1 orange, k2 gray, k5 orange), repeat to end of round, carrying floats in back
Round 18: (k5 orange, k2 gray, k1 orange), repeat to end of round, carrying floats in back
Rounds 19-20: with gray, knit
Round 21: switch to white, knit
 Chart 2 written out:

Round 22: knit

Rounds 23-24: switch to orange, knit

Round 25: (k5 gray, k2 orange, k1 gray), repeat to end of round, carrying floats in back

Round 26: (k5 gray, k2 orange, k1 gray), repeat to end of round, carrying floats in back

Rounds 27-28: with orange yarn, knit

Round 29: switch to white, knit

Abbreviations used:

k = knit,  yo =yarn over, k2tog =knit two together

As before, you must ask my permission before reproducing any of the content here, and when you do, cite me as the source!

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Happy Climbing!

Nerdy Knits & Crafts, Quick Knits & Crafts, Tweaks & Alterations

Sonic Screwdriver Chapstick Holder!

My blog reached 10,000 views today! To celebrate, I’m sharing details about my most recent finished object—the 10th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, which I have conveniently modified to serve as a chapstick holder!

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(Yeah, that’s right, because making a TARRIS pillow was not enough whovian knitting for me…)

This project is a modification of a modification of an original pattern for a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver. That pattern was for the sonic used by the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith), which is different in shape and size. I found this modification from user Cordetta on ravelry that changed the colors and some of the shape to be more like that of the 10th Doctor (David Tennant), which is what I wanted. I have to give a lot of props to her mod for helping me out! But I had to modify it even further to make it shorter and tighter to fit two chapsticks with just a little room on the ends.

To be honest, when I finished this project it was late and I did not record every single detail of my knitting. But I wrote down enough to tell you approximately how I did it.

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10th Doctor’s Sonic Chapstick Holder

materials:
-size 3 double pointed needles (set of 4), yarn needle.
-worsted weight yarn in black, dark gray, light gray, and blue
Cast on 9 sts in black, divide over three needles, and join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.
Rnds 1-2: k all sts
Rnds 3-5: p all sts
Rnds 6-10: p all sts
Rnds 11-12: k 1 grey, p 2 black*
Change to dark gray
Rnd 13: k all sts
Rnd 14: k1, m1, k to end of rnd (10sts)
Rnd 15: k all sts
Rnd 16: k5, m1, k to end of rnd (11sts)
Rnd 17: k all sts
Rnd 18: k9, m1, k to end of rnd (12sts)
Rnd 19: k all sts
Rnd 20: k2, m1, k to end of rnd (13sts)
Rnd 21: k all sts
Rnd 22: k7, m1, k to end of rnd (14sts)
Change to light gray
Rnd 23-35: k all sts
Rnd 36: k1, k2tog, k 2, k2tog repeat to end of rnd (11sts)
Rnd 37: k2, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k to end of rnd (10sts) 
Change to dark gray
Rnd 38: k all sts
Rnds 39-44: k1, p1, repeat to end of round
Rnd 45: p all sts*
Change to blue
Rnd 46: k all sts
Rnds 47-49: p all sts
Rnd 50: k3, k2tog, k3, k2tog (8 sts)
Cast off loosely.
With blue yarn and yarn needle, stitch a straight line lengthwise up the light gray section.
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*if you haven’t done colorwork before, consider skipping these two rounds and going straight to the gray section, it’s kind of annoying to do. If you chose to do it (I promise, it looks cool!), be careful to move the black yarn to the inside of the work at the end of the last round.

**at this point, if you want to weave any of the ends into the inside of the tube, do it now! It will be too tight to turn it inside out after the final section.

As always, remember that my gauge is looser than most—use your own tube of lip balm as a guide. The way I made mine, both ends are open but they are tighter than the middle section, so the chapstick naturally remains inside until I push it out. I’m sure there are ways you could make a closure at the top or bottom, but I found I didn’t need it.

The sonic screwdriver chapstick holder—it doesn’t work on wood or deadbolts, but it does work on dry lips!

Activity Knits & Crafts, Original Knitting Patterns, Tweaks & Alterations

Sunrise: a yoga mat bag knitting pattern

Happy 2014! I have been meaning to share this knitting pattern for a Yoga Mat Bag, and I figure the start of a new year is probably a great time to put it out there. (I’ve actually got a series of activity-related knits I’m planning to write about—stay tuned). I have done some yoga off and on for years, but this year but I hope to do even more. I think this pattern is perfect for (almost) mindless knitting on those cold January nights, and it will help you keep your New Years’ resolution to be more healthy—well ok, it may not actually help you do a sun salutation or attempt a headstand, but it might inspire and motivate you nevertheless.

Oh and did I mention this my first ever pattern??

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I never originally set out to make up my own patterns. I reasoned that it would be too much work. However, as I accumulated more years of knitting experience, I found that I was heavily modifying certain patterns. (I originally had this pattern up on ravelry as an extreme variation of this pattern but I now think mine is significantly different).

sunday yoga

I named this pattern Sunrise because that’s what the colors remind me of, and because last summer I went to an early morning yoga session in a park that was glorious, and it reminds me of then (yep, that’s me, yoga-ing on the grass). This began as a modification but morphed into my own design, particularly the color work.  It’s no masterpiece and it may have some errors, but I have decided to try and write it up, as a free pattern for you.

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Sunrise— A Yoga Mat Knitting Pattern

(Quick note—please ask my permission before reproducing any of the content here, and when you do, cite me as the source! I don’t mind sharing this pattern as long as it’s for non-commercial purposes.)

Materials: 

Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Solids & Denim (80 yds/50g each):

White (2 skeins), Tangerine, Hot Orange, Banana Yellow,  Stonewash, Hot Blue, Indigo ( 1 skein each)

One size 6 circular knitting needle (12 inches)  or double pointed needles (or size needed to obtain gauge)

yarn needle

 Gauge:

4.5 stitches per inch

To fit a yoga mat approximately 24 inches wide and 16 inches around when rolled up

Directions:

Cast on 35 stitches in White, leaving a long tail of yarn for later. Do not join yet.

Round 1: Knit into front and back of each stitch [70 stitches total]

Round 2: Purl

Round 3: Join in the round. Knit

Rounds 4-12: Knit

Round 13: Switch to Tangerine. Knit.

Rounds 14- 23: Knit

Round 24: Switch to White. Knit

Rounds 25-26: Knit

Round 27: Switch to Tangerine. Knit

Round 28: Knit

Round 29: Switch to White. knit.

Round 30-33: Knit

For remaining colors: repeat rounds 13-33. (The patter will be 11 rounds of color, 3 rounds white, 2 rounds color, 5 rounds white)

After doing this for 6 colors total, finish as follows:

Knit 5 rounds White

Eyelets: knit 2, yo, k2tog. Repeat until end of round.

Knit 3 rounds.

Cast off.

Weave in ends. Thread long tail of yarn from the beginning of the project through the cast on loops and draw together until tight. Secure end of yarn tail to the bag.

I-cord Drawstring:

Cast on three stitches.

Knit across, do NOT turn.

Slide stitches to the other point of the needle.

Knit across, do not turn, slide stitches to the other point of the needle.

Continue until you have 75-80 inches of I-cord. Cast off.

Thread one end of the drawstring through the eyelets at the top. Fasten both ends of the drawstring securely to the bottom of the bag.

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Notes:

  • I am a loose knitter, always have been. You may want to go up several needle sizes if you are a tight knitter.
  • This is a great project for using up small amounts of cotton yarn. I didn’t calculate how much I used of each skein but I don’t think it would be hard to adjust the pattern to the yarn you have on hand (a really conservative estimate of yardage would be maybe 280ish, based on other patterns?)
  • The coolest part of this design is that when you put on the strap, the bag cinches up at the top on its own. I can’t take credit for this idea, I’ve seen it on other yoga bags, but I figured out how to do it myself. Perfect for taking your yoga mat with you on a bicycle!
Nerdy Knits & Crafts

Three blue knits…including a TARDIS pillow!

I’ve been working on two big knitting projects and one small one in the last few months. It just so happens that all of them were gifts, and all of them were blue. Now that they are all completed, I can share them with you!

A different kind of blue box: the TARDIS pillow!

Time And Relative Dimension In Space

I started watching Doctor Who at the beginning of November and I got totally into it (yes I realize I’m a little late to the party). My brother is also a fan and when I was home for Thanksgiving, he suggested I could knit him something Whovian for Christmas. I showed him the myriad of free patterns on ravelry and he chose this one by Rebecca Norton, a tiny tardis print. Interestingly, the only project on ravelry was the original, so I was going into uncharted (ha!) territory. But as the pattern says…Allons-y!

just a little blue box

This was one of the funnest swatches to knit. If you aren’t familiar with colorwork, this is not a bad pattern to learn on. The pattern was pretty easy to remember after a while, and even when I messed up the window placement on one row and didn’t notice it till the end, it was easily fixed with duplicate stitches to get the proper colors. The pillow uses the intarsia technique for each TARDIS, so I had a short bobbin of blue yarn for each. However, after knitting one side of the pillow, I realized I was going to run out of white yarn. It was stash yarn and I had no idea what it was or where it came from. So I improvised…

bigger on the OTHER side!

And came up with this pattern for the reverse side. I didn’t get too detailed here—no public notice, no “police box” lettering—but I think it came out really well for a TARDIS pattern I wrote on the fly! I used  garter stitch to create the illusion of doors, and each grouping of six windows only used a small bobbin of white yarn. I would write up the pattern but I didn’t save all my notes on it, but I did write down what I could remember on my ravelry project page. If you try to do it and it doesn’t work out,  trust me, there are like six million patterns on ravelry for some version of the TARDIS if you want it.

(EDIT: If you want another blue Doctor Who knit, check out my Tenth-Doctor’s-Sonic-Screwdriver-as-Chapstick-Holder knitting project!)

Baby blues: Newborn booties!

tiny feats for tiny feets

My cousin and his wife had a baby in December, and so over Christmas break I decided to whip up some of my favorite baby booties in the newborn size. Baby items are great because they knit up so quick. I also like making them in colors other than the traditional pastels. Previously, I have made them in a bright purple tweed:

Lelly's booties!

The booties are constructed with short row shaping, so they are knit on straight needles. In the past I sewed them up so that only garter stitch was showing, but this time I decided that having the stockinette part on the outside actually gave it a better shape.

no pastel colors allowed

I highly recommend this pattern, but I should point out that I have always modified the increases to be “knit front and back” because I’m more used to that. I don’t think it changes the pattern, just putting that out there.

Socktober blues: Magic loop toe-up socks!2013-11-24 13.58.18

Way back in October, I started making socks for my friend’s November birthday. I had this really cool sock yarn, the self striping kind, and I was eager to use it. And I also wanted to knit these socks at the same time. So I decided to learn the magic loop method for small diameter circular knitting.

Ever year I try to do a new knitting technique—it’s a slow learning process but it works. I could probably devote a whole post to what I learned and didn’t learn doing magic loop. First of all, you should NOT do what I did, which was 1) switch patterns more than once when I was part way through, so I was constantly readjusting. I initially started out using the free Knit Picks pattern  Two at once, toe up socks but I quickly discovered that it was going to be tough to follow for someone who was new to magic loop. Another thing you should NOT do is 2) connect several interchangeable needles to get the long circular needle needed for this technique, because the metal connecting piece will be a constant pain when you have to slide it through a bunch of stitches. Bite the bullet and buy the exact size circular needles you need.

harder than it looks

What I DO recommend you do if you are learning this technique is watch videos on how to do magic loop. My favorites were from KnitFreedom— Liat Gat’s 2-at-a-time toe-up socks video series. I’m sure it would be best if you were using her pattern, but I found them helpful regardless, especially the videos for casting on and the first increase round. I also suggest practicing magic loop with larger needles and yarn than you’d use for socks, because starting the toe is a bit challenging at first. Ok, a lot challenging.

socks in the sink

I wish I took photos at the start, because it would show you what looked like some pretty bad laddering at the sides that ended up being ok in the end. The Knit Picks pattern has an afterthought heel, and KnitFreedom’s pattern has a fleegle heel, but I wanted I heel I was familiar with, so I did short row heels using the technique described by HeidBears in part 1 and part 2 on her blog. Not a video, but I have done short row heels before and the illustrations were all I needed to translate it to magic loop socks.

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After blocking, you could still see the ladders on the sides of the socks (especially at the heel) and the loose part of the toe where I almost made the socks too big when I switched patterns (thankfully my friend has the same size feet as me and I tried them on and discovered the problem early). BUT despite all the problems and irregularities, I am really proud of these socks. The blue stripes are so cool! And most importantly, their recipient was happy with them.2013-11-24 13.58.02

Historical Knits & Crafts

Blogiversary Special: More (free!) 1918 Knitting Patterns

Knitbyahenshop turns two today! Starting my blog on Veteran’s Day (and on 11/11/11) makes this a fairly easy date to remember. In honor of both things, I’m posting more free patterns from my 1918 copy of Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual. This time, I’m posting patterns for a blanket, several kinds of men’s “service wear,” and two children’s patterns. There’s both knitting and crochet to be found too. Enjoy!

(For last year’s free World War I era patterns, which include women’s sweaters, women’s hats, and men’s service wear, see my “Knitting for Victory” post.)

WorldWarOneKnit07

Blanket

As I indicated in last year’s post, most of these patterns will take some interpretation and creativity if you want to make them—a lot of the descriptions assume you know the basics of knit and crochet, and needle and yarn sizes many not match contemporary ones. But this blanket pattern looks pretty self explanatory to me:

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Sweater

The man modeling Service Sweater Type B  looks rather unhappy in this photo, but I really like the construction of this pattern—especially the three pockets. Very practical indeed.

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Hat

There’s a pattern for his hat too! I like this photo much better. The pattern here looks quite doable to me, pretty straightforward hat construction.

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Socks

I have been knitting socks recently (still a work in progress) so I was curious about what sock pattern was considered standard in 1918. Looks like it was a top down sock with a gusset heel. If you are quite familiar with sock construction I bet this pattern would be fine, but the directions are a little vague so I don’t think it would be good for a beginner.

 

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Children’s Sweaters

Here’s a little crochet for you! I love the color pattern banding on this Dorothea Sweater. The collar looks especially fun. Too bad it doesn’t say what colors were used in the original!

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I also love the collar detail on this Pearl Sweater. Again, apparently there are two colors used here but I can’t tell what they would be. It looks like three quarter length sleeves to me, but it’s hard to tell from the photo.

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Measurements

These should help you if you want to actually make these patterns:

Fleisher's needle sizes
Fleisher’s needle sizes
Fleisher's yarn descriptions
Fleisher’s yarn descriptions

As always, let me know if you make anything using these patterns, I’d love to see it!