Monday, November 8, 2010

Almeara Gloves

This is the second iteration of this Jared Flood pattern that I've made. The first was given to my mom for Christmas 2009. They fit so nicely that I made a new pair for myself in red. Once again, I used Knit Picks City Tweed DK. This yarn is not great for gloves. Maybe it would have helped to knit it at a tighter gauge or to use a thicker yarn, but it's flattening out and pilling up quickly. On the up side, the red gloves look great with my black and white patterned winter coat!

Something to work on in the future for me will be sewing in the ends of fingers on gloves. There are usually holes where the fingers connect to the body of the glove, and I'm not sure what can be done to solve this problem. It is not that harmful functionally, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I'd like to be able to spread my hand out without feeling like the fabric is giving way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Granny Square Blanket

At some point in the past few years (probably when she moved into her new house), my mother gave me a big shoebox full of her old needlepoint tapestry yarns. Of the crafts I do, needlepoint is not one, so this left me with a yarny conundrum. What do I do with hundreds of yards of (kinda crappy) yarn in a million different colors? Some of it I used for a Christmas-themed scarf in a 1x1 rib. I'm fairly certain I was working on this during a business trip to Dallas, which felt a little funny. Knitting a winter scarf in a place that only goes down to the 50s or 60s in January is pretty ridiculous.
The strategy was to always have green and red stripes, but to alternate which one ended its skein. So at any visible break point, the opposite color is still continuous. There were a variety of greens and reds to choose from, so this wasn't too difficult. All of the skeins were 40 yds - I suppose if I wanted to, I could then figure out the yardage that went into this scarf, but I don't care that much. It's about 6" wide and 70" long and after a bath in a some Eucalan wool wash and a little extra conditioner thrown in, it's quite nice. Again, since it's scratchy yarn, you wouldn't want to make an against-the-skin sweater with it, but for a decorative accessory, it's fine.

Still, that left me with dozens of these little mini-skeins. The next thing that occurred to me was to use them to make granny squares. I looked up a great series of videos on YouTube that helped me learn how to crochet them, and made a plan for how best to use the yarn. I selected 6 colors without any thought to coordination or matching and made the first square, then for the next, I shifted each color in towards the center by one space and added a new color to the outside. This way, each square was a little different and I didn't have to worry too much about having the right amount of any given color. I did try to vary the value of colors, so there wouldn't be more than a few pastels or bolds or darks in a row. Towards the end, I had to start reusing the ends and get a little creative with combinations that would allow me to use the most yardage possible, but I ended up with 52 squares.

The biggest rectangle I could make with those was a 6x8 blanket with a total size of about 4'x4'. It's good for the foot of the bed or on the couch, even though it won't cover your whole body. Wool in this form is amazing because the holes mean that it breathes like crazy, but amazingly it still traps a lot of heat. My local yarn store supplied some Nature Spun Sport in a lovely teal for me to slip stitch the squares into rows and the rows into a blanket. Then I did one border round to hold everything together.

I've been thinking that aestetically, I might want to go back and add a couple more rounds to the outside. The picture makes the blanket look much more asymmetrical than it is in person. Can you spot where there are clusters of related squares?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gloves for my Aunt

When I got Selbuvotter for Christmas, I was all excited and asked my family to look in it to see if they liked any of the patterns enough to ask me to make them as a gift. This seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, I was over-excited about it, and people probably asked me to make them things that they wouldn't otherwise want. Nevertheless, I made these gloves after having learned a thing or two during the Christmas gift-extravaganza of 2009.

Pretty nice, no? This is before blocking, right after I finished them (while at work at 3am at my overnight job.) I've since left, and I will tell you what: while it may seem like a great idea to be able to knit between customer service phone calls since you're at a night job anyways, it's not worth the stress of working. Here's a lovely co-worker of mine modeling the gloves:

So, I suppose for a small-handed woman they're a bit large, but I'm fairly certain that EZ and YarnHarlot agree that there's nothing worse than a too-tight mitten or glove. Anyhow, the colors are a dark grey and white in Palette from Knit Picks. The pattern from Selbuvotter is Annemor #8. I like how the rose motif is in both the hand and wrist and the thistle is in the hand and fingers. It's a very connected pattern.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ode to Selbuvotter, Part 1

This entry is Part 1 because I can only assume that there will be many future Odes to Selbuvotter. I got this great book for Christmas because I asked for it. (Knitter's rule! If you don't tell them they'll never know what to get you!)

It's chock full of beautifully rendered classic Norwegian mittens in the Selbu tradition. One or two are modified from this tradition, like one where the note explains that Icelandic tricks are used in the thumb. But even before the patterns, Terri Shea takes the time to lovingly share the narrative of how one woman started this national piece of heritage on a dare. Love it!

Here is another case where Ravelry shows off so brilliantly everyone's different variations on a theme. The charts in Selbuvotter have been modified to flip-top mittens, fingerless gloves, and even some matching hats! I was able to look to my fellow Ravelers for color inspiration, as well!

These mittens are labeled Annemor #5, since they come from Annemor Sundbo's collection. I propose a different name, inspired by the visionary Ron Burgundy and his litany of uncommon exclamations. "By Odin's Raven!" were originally children's mittens made in jumperweight yarn. I used yet MORE leftover worsted from my Christmas patterns (that black is the last vestiges of Kent's Beret). And I modified the cuff because I didn't much care for the plain old checkerboard on the original mittens. Now they're a little more feminie but with a childlike charm. I think the hearts make these grownup mittens a bit more whimsical.

Once I was convinced I could understand the charts used in this book, I moved on to gloves in a finer gauge. I think modifying little girls' mittens was a pretty creative test-run, don't you? The second pair is Annemor #7, also known (to me) as "I Saw a Moose!" I'm allowed to name it after a family inside joke, right? Right.

My color choices on these gloves might be up for a little debate. I knew that I wanted this turmeric and eggplant combination to appear in some form, but I think in retrospect, I would have preferred to go with a more traditional color combination. They're fine and very interesting this way, but I'll go back to MC=white, CC=gray or black for a while.

One more note on this pattern is that the charts were off on count between the palm and the hands. The basic instructions say just to follow the chart, but you have to be creative in where you cast on or pick up stitches in order for the stitch counts to make sense as each finger is starting. I would add another two plain rounds to the rest of the hand once the pinky is done. I saw that technique in my first pair of gloves, and it just now makes sense to use it in order to make the finger joints line up correctly.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bird on a Wire Hat

Bird on a Wire Hat (Ravel it!), modeled by the lovely McKey from America's Next Top Model, in Vogue Knitting's Fall 2009 issue. I was getting sick of the white covers in their 2009 issues, but some of the hats in Fall 2009 made up for the cover-blahs. Some of them were a bit crazy (too BIG, too TALL), but what are you going to do? Designers are designers.

Size and gauge-wise, this pattern was spot on. I worked it in Malabrigo sock and enjoyed the subtle variations in the colors. When we were in Naples, Florida for Thanksgiving, I dragged my sister to the local yarn shop so that she could pick out her yarn. (She has a yarn-phobia, no joke, it can be anxiety-attack-inducing!) She made it through the store just fine. As long as I wound up the hanks into skeins, it was more of a solid object instead of a stringy nightmare, so she could pet her options and feel what she was getting into. The blend in this yarn made it nice and smooth, instead of the itchy wool she was expecting.

So hopefully I've made a double-knitting fingering-weight hat that will last for a while. Lord knows it took long enough to make, as far as beanies go.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter gifts for work friends

You might be asking yourself, "Why is that dog wearing a hat? It does not look very pleased to be doing so." In fact, Dizzy was thrilled to wear this Kent's Beret, but she is a very subtle pup. At least when it come to fashion.
At least the human recipient, who delights in black clothing and black hats especially, looks a little happier to be modeling it. Or maybe smugger. It's hard to tell sometimes. This free pattern by Kent Turman, available on his blog is super. It calls for Cascade 220, so you know exactly what you're looking for when searching your stash for an appropriate yarn. In this case, I used an old ball of black Lion Wool.

I no longer believe in black yarn. It's a belief I hold on principal: it's too hard to knit with black yarn because it is so dark and even if you make something really great with it, no one can see it because it just sucks in all the light. Shawls might be an exception to this, but really, why not do a great burgundy or evergreen or navy or sapphire if you're going to all the trouble of knitting a shawl. It will probably be worn over dark clothing anyways, so punch it up a little! But I digress...

And gosh, I wish I had made the sweater she's wearing here, because doesn't the mitten complement it nicely? These mittens were special request from a work friend. I taught her how to knit (since we have time to at our jobs; isn't that great!?) this past fall, and while she's still progressing through her first scarf, she asked me to make her some mittens if I had time. Some red red red mittens, in fact! These Harvest Mittens come from my favorite issue of Vogue Knitting, from Fall 2008 there are two great sections in that issue: cardigans and mittens. This pair took just under one skein of Malabrigo worsted. I have big hands, and they were a bit snug on me, but fit the tiny-handed recipient perfectly. Big smiles all around.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Christmas Gift-a-thon: Hats

As promised, here are the hats that I gave away for Christmas. Some of them, like all of my Zeebees (Ravel it!), really deserve their own post. But since I'm already playing catchup, they just won't get one. Plenty of people love this pattern, plenty of people have blogged about it (sixty bloggers, by last count on Ravelry). At least I'm still showing you my finished items!

These are shown in the order I made them. The main color on all three is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted. This free customizable pattern from Shmeebot is great for stash-busting. I have only been knitting for six years and have been working on a reduced budget for most of that time. So I rarely found myself with extra yarn after a project was finished. Recently, though, I combined the worsted wool in my mom's stash with my Christmas leftovers. It was a pretty impressive pile. Thus the unusual color combinations in these three Zeebees:

This color combination was described by family as very Nana-esque. I guess navy and red was something she would have worked with. My grandma was the queen of bits and stripes, since her main project in the last 20 years of her knitting life was making children's mittens for charity. She would work up a big basket of them through the year and give them away for the holiday season. Maybe that's what I should do with the hats that don't have a home yet...

This one was fun. I found just enough blue and grey tidbits to make the following stripe pattern in rows all the way around: 12 MC, 4 CC, 4 MC, 2 CC, 2 MC, 2 CC. Each sequence was done in a new blue or gray for a pretty effect all the way around. The base color is black, which happens to match her coat, but what I really liked about it was that using some lighter blues made the background look almost navy. It was a very ninja backdrop to the stripes. The picture doesn't quite show the hat off in the way I planned, but doesn't she look nice in it?

This is a cream hat with a purple chunk and red inset. The other side is just cream. I feel like this should be someone's high school colors - it's just the right mascot purple! It hasn't quite found a home yet, but I'm sure it will.

The above hat was not intended to be child-sized. And I DID check for Errata on the Interweave website. There were none. What kind of crazy hat only has 2" of working straight before starting decreases? The Fresco Herringbone Hat from Interweave Knits Winter 2008, apparently. I love the candy cane coloring using garnet and cream in Knit Picks Palette yarns. All in all, this hat turned out well, but obviously some modifications would be necessary if I ever used it again.
A classic Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern for a classic guy. This Swatchcap can be found in EZ's Knitter's Almanac. It continues to surprise me that my maternal predecessors did not read Zimmerman. She so embodies my grandma's style of knitting. In any case, it appears that she only left my grandpa one had and he has been hurting for a new wool one. Mission accomplished, tradition loop completed.

Oh Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed! You are the best! This simple Turn a Square Hat, a classy, simple pattern found on his blog provided an interesting way to use up tidbits. Since a lot of my Christmas-gift-yarns coordinated, I had fun choosing what to use to emulate the Noro yarn called for in the pattern. If this reminds you of the second Zeebee above, it's no wonder. I used this hat as the inspiration for the striping on that one. The background here was navy, in case you were wondering. Most of the stripes were on the black-grey-white scale.

Saving the best for last, here, I think. This double-thick hat is also known as EZ's Very Warm Cap and is worked both ways out from the middle (using a provisional cast-on). It is also a hat in the Knitter's Almanac. Ravelry had some lovely variations that people had worked with Norwegian stars, so I charted up my own based on the measurements I wanted, and voila! The other side is the opposite and the hat is reversible. It must be noted, though, that a double-thick worsted hat with some stranded work is a pretty THICK HAT and would only be necessary for the coldest of winter days. Or the longest of dog-walks. I guess that expands the usable dates.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas Gift-a-thon: Mittens and Gloves

Wow. After gathering photos, I have decided to split this into two posts: one for Christmas hats, and one for mittens. Let's take mittens and gloves first, shall we?

You will find below all of the Christmas mittens given to various family members in 2009.
Some of them have already been blogged, but now hats have heads in them and mittens have hands! I think this makes said accessories feel much happier in life and look much better in photos. This pairing should also make the aforementioned appendages happier. I know the gator mittens have been featured in daily life, Facebook photos, and a friends' reality tv/home video "show."

Only minimal pattern information is included. May be expanded later, but... probably not!
One of the things I like most about this series of pictures is the different ways in which people interpret "let me take a picture of you wearing your new mittens/gloves/hat!"
Because kneeling on the ground made sense to her... These are Brooklyn Flood's Almeara Gloves, done in Knit Picks City Tweed DK. A lovely gray colorway.
But going up three stairs and demonstrating the chomping action of the Gator gloves made sense to her. These are See You Later, Gator Gloves from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. I really like that book. I haven't loved all of the patterns in it, but when I was first starting to knit, it was an exciting and thorough introduction to modern knitting. Very not-your-grandma's-knitting.

Oh, and these particular Gators are made in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted. Grass and red, with scrap yarn for the white teeth, and 14mm googly eyes. When buying the googly eyes, I really struggled with size, but ended up with these because they're not big enough to mess with your mittens or look like muppets, but suit the size of the puppet/mitten well.

These Herringbone Mittens are a free download from Elliphantom Knits and are great. I especially liked the thumbs and cuffs. Once again, these are in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes. And an afterthought modification was added: photographer's shutter finger. I did single crochet around a hole worked in the afterthought method, and she loves it! In fact, I'm working on a special request for next year's gift.

Finally, a pair of mittens worked from leftover Christmas yarn. Why yes, it's from Knit Picks, too, how did you guess? These are leftovers from the projects in Palette. The yellow is called Turmeric, and I just love it. It's rich but vintage with the cream. Don't ask me how a color can be vintage, it just is. They match up perfectly with my reddish-brown leather jacket. It's the kind of look that aviator glasses would complete the look. I made up a pattern for these. Should have made the thumbs a bit wider, but nobody's perfect.

A post on hats is forthcoming!