Sunday, August 2, 2015

YOP Update - More Gift Knitting

It was a good week for me in the knitting realm.  My baby gifts were finished and given to the recipient to much fanfare and applause.  The last minute knitted stuffed Elephant was the biggest hit as apparently there was an elephant in the movie Inside Out that her kids adored.  I may have to make a couple more for them or at least pass on the pattern to their mom who is a fellow knitter.  

With those projects being crossed off the list (and yes I added the elephant to the list just so I could cross it off as I'm like that) I moved on to finishing more of my Christmas gifts.  In the toy making yarn stash I had a lot of pink colored yarn.  Now, I personally am not one for pink being of a ruddy complexion it only makes me look redder in the face, but I have one friend who is a pink color fan.  I decided to try and make her some felted mittens from this pattern that I've had for some years now.  As you can see they start out huge, but after 40 minutes of felting they are more like actual mittens.  Have you noticed the color change?  The yarn I used for knitting toys was all plant dyed and my guess is that the laundry soap I used to help felt the mittens must of had enzymes in it which changed the color.  Some plant dyed colors are really stable like weld yellow and indigo blue, but others not so much.  I don't care for the resulting shade as much as I did the previous color so I'm going to show them to some friends tonight at my monthly scrapbooking meeting to get their opinions.  What do you think?  

The mittens are also a bit more stiff and clumsy than a traditional knitted pair, but they should be killer warm in the subzero temps we get here in Minnesota.  The inside cuff is knitted in an angora/wool yarn that will keep out the drafts while keeping the mittens from falling off the hand.  I want to knit a pair for my mother, but I'm not sure if I should adjust the pattern and narrow down the wrists some as they bell out a bit. 

In the midst of all this I was breathlessly waiting for the mail to deliver the yarn I ordered from Knit Picks.  It finally arrived on Friday and I wound up a ball and started swatching right away.  After I finish my mom's mittens I believe I will cast on and get chugging away on this sweater.  Who knows maybe I can finish it just in time to use it when Fall hits.

Check out the other Year of Projects participants here.  Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Knitting Baby Gifts

Oh, what fun I have been having this week knitting up some baby gifts for a friend who is pregnant.  I mean what's not great about knitting baby items?  They are small and quick to knit, they are so so cute and they are for a sweet little new babe.  Also, I used stash yarn for these projects making the experience even better.  As you can see I'm not quite finished with the stuffed Elephant who is presently armless and the sweater needs buttons, but that's all that's left to do - oh and maybe some booties as I can't seem to stop.

The yarn I used is some lovely natural grey angora from here, and the pale yellow is a mix of two strands:  Malabrigo Merino Lace in the butter colorway and Tilli Tomas Raw Silk Warmth which is now discontinued (on a cool aside note Ravelry used my picture of the yarn on that page.)  Funny thing is my friend who is having the baby gave me the silk yarn, so it seems only fitting to use it for a gift for her.  I'm really loving the grey/yellow combo, but I have used it before as you can see here.  I was hoping to make angora booties, but I ran out of that yarn while knitting the hat (which looks a bit big to me.)  On the other hand, I do have lots of the yellow silk and merino leftover.  Maybe I'll double/triple up the lace weight merino and make these or these.

The patterns I used were Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Sweater (which there is a great YouTube video series for), Sweet and Simple Baby Hat by Debbie Bodmer and Elephant Elijah by Ysolda Teague.  Both the sweater and hat are pretty simple, but the Elephant is not for the faint of heart.  There is lots of picking up stitches, directional make 1's and short rows.  The pattern is very clear and very well written, but this is not a knock out in a few hours project and you do need to pay attention most of the time.  I love the way it's shaping up though making all the effort worth it.  I'll finish the arms and give him some eyes today, get the sweater some buttons from my LYS tomorrow when I have a babysitter and give my friend the gifts on Friday when we go out for breakfast.  I love giving a gift right after I finish it when I'm still excited about the project so this is working out perfectly.  

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm and Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

YOP Update - Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

I made a big decision today.  I decided to buy yarn for that Veera Valimaki sweater vest from her Color Wheel Knits book that I mentioned in my previous post.  My plan after writing that post was to wait since I have other projects in the wings that use yarn I already have, but then I found yarn on sale.  Yes, I used the age old "but it was on sale" excuse for purchasing more yarn.  I have been scouring yarn websites for the right sport weight yarn that suited the project as well as my pocket book.  My search concluded with the decision to purchase Malabrigo Arroyo sport weight yarn in the Prussian Blue colorway.  It is a slightly variegated dark blue, has good drape and would be under $100.  My only worry was that Malabrigo pills, like a lot.  Since the yarn wasn't going anywhere I thought I could wait - right?  Wrong, I then went to the Knit Picks website searching under "sale" and "sport weight".  What I came up with was the lovely Hawthorne Sport Multi in the Irvington colorway.  It's comprised of super wash highland wool and nylon - much more durable than a merino yarn such as the Malabrigo.  The colorway is a bit of a brighter blue, but still has that superwash shine and drape and the best part is it would only cost about $50 to knit my beloved vest.  Alas, the sale only went to July 28th so I felt I had to purchase now.  I've reset my yarn counter to begin again in the yarn buying freeze.  I made it 70 days this time, not a lot, but double my last attempt.  Maybe next time I can double it again.

Because of this desire to knit this sweater vest, a friend having a baby, and a few changes in Christmas gifts I did some trimming and adding to my YOP list which now reads as follows:

Baby Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Soho

Cowls and Scarves:
Classic Cowl by Purl Soho knit in handspun  Finished 7/6/15
Dudester Scarf by Jana Pihota 
Dryad by Jared Flood

For the Home:
Sock Yarn Braided Rug by Martha Lazar
My Oluffa Doorstop by Lucinda Guy
Cozy Coasters by Joelle Hoverson
Hot Out of the Oven Set by Knit Picks Design Team  (making the square pads) Finished 7/25/15
Out of the Frying Pan by Amy E. Anderson  Finished 7/18/15

Simply Elegant Cable Socks by Judy Alexander
Taylor's Orange Toe Up Socks by Jasmyn Cunningham

Sweaters and Vests:
Ground by Veera Valimaki
Glen Moir Vest by Luise O'Neill 
White Russian by Thea Colman
Glenfiddich by Annamária Ötvös

Astonish Top by Katy Banks 
Jordan by Wendy Bernard

Mittens and Gloves:
Connnectivity Gloves by Mari Chiba
Nordic Mittens by Beth Brown-Reinsel
Double Knit Mittens by Sue Hedgecock
Felted Mittens by Joan Sheridan

A Family Tam by Beth Brown-Reinsel

I added 2 baby items for a pregnant friend, some felted mittens for my mom and another friend for Christmas and my sweater vest.  What got cut was a couple of pairs of socks, the sweater I was going to knit for my mother (yes, I downgraded her to mittens for this year) and a cowl.  It's hard to admit that time has it's limits and I simply cannot knit everything I want as quickly as I'd like.  So, while I was hoping to fit absolutely everything in some projects had to be cut to make it a viable list.  

I did finish one item on my list this week.  In my felting frenzy I knit, felted and trimmed 12 potholders.  Yup, that's 6 pairs or as I like to think of it 6 Christmas gifts done - yay! (these potholders also brought me to the 5K Stashdash finish line!) My rug alas, did not get finished as I really needed a break from cranking out all that I-cord, but I will get back to it this coming week.  Currently though, I have a Baby Surprise Sweater on the needles which I'm hoping to finish this week along with a matching garter stitch hat.  I'm using some grey angora yarn along with a pale yellow raw silk yarn that's paired with a strand of Malabrigo lace.  It's gender neutral since she doesn't know the sex of the baby and of yarn I already own - isn't that the best!  I'm loving the look of the stripes.  It's like a little muted bumblebee.  I feel a bit bad that neither sweater or hat are machine washable, but am making up for that by including a wool wash with the gift.  Ok, this is becoming a bit of a long post so I'll be leaving you now.  Have a great week!

Check out the other Year of Projects posts here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Felting Frenzy

It's been Christmas in July for me this week as I am busily knitting and felting hot pads to give as gifts this holiday season.  I loved how my oven mitts turned out so it got me to thinking what else could I felt.  Then I ran across this pattern realizing I could get a pair of pads from each skein and thought "Perfect"!  It would be lovely to give everyone a pair of the mitts, but I don't have enough yarn to make a pair for each of my friends (or at least a good looking matching pair.)

The pattern is very simple where you cast on what amounts to the outside edge and knit decreasing towards the center.  I did make a couple of changes though.  I knit them on US 11 needles instead of US 13's as I don't have any that size and wanted to get started right away.  For the hanging loop I knit 18 rows of I-cord instead of the 12 the pattern states, and I'm glad I did as I think it would have been way too small a loop to be useful otherwise.  For felting, I threw them in my washing machine with soap and hot water agitating for about 30 minutes.  Then I let the wash cycle complete rinsing out the soap and wringing out all the excess water.  I tugged them into shape and laid them flat to dry.  

The yarn I used (Lamb's Pride ,held double, and Burly Spun) comes out pretty fuzzy from the mohair content so I do some judicious trimming with my scissors.  It's pretty quick to do and not much of a hassle.  The yarn felts so nice and thick I think it's worth the extra effort.  Since, I did knit them on smaller needles their finished size is a bit smaller at 7 1/2 inches rather than the 8, but still a good size for handling hot pots and pans. 

I've got three pairs done with only 2 to still knit so I couldn't be happier with how quickly it's all going.  I'm knitting a couple of odd ducks too with no matching pair to give away as thank you gifts when needed.  I'm just having so much fun using up all this yarn!  

On a side note, I purchased this lovely book of patterns by Veera Valimaki called Color Wheel Knits and really, really, really want to knit the vest called "Ground".  It looks very wearable with what I actually wear - jeans and t-shirts.  Not like all those sweater patterns you see modeled with that perfect shirt, you know the one you don't own and aren't likely too and would probably not wear because it's not comfy and needs to be dry cleaned?  So, I think I would get a ton of use out of it.  The only hiccup in this scenario is I don't have any sport weight yarn that the pattern calls for.  Meaning I would have to purchase some yarn.  Now I've gone about 67 days (as of writing this post) without buying yarn and am proud of myself as the last time I think I only made it around 30 days.  Thus, I am torn on what to do.  Should I just say no and keep knitting from my stash or do I knit what would be a very useful sweater for myself?  My husband said I should go ahead and purchase the Prussian Blue Malabrigo yarn, but I still don't know.  I feel I should wait some, but then I also like to "ride" these waves of excitement as I can get so much accomplished if I do.  Any thoughts?

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

YOP Update - It's Looking Like a Rug

Hi!  Well, it's Sunday and time for a Year of Projects update so here I am inside typing on a beautiful, albeit hot, summer day.  Actually, I'm having lots of fun sitting here in my chair people watching out my front window.  You see today is the Hopkins Raspberry Festival (my city of Hopkins used to be farmland where they raised lots of raspberries) and from my comfortable vantage point I can see all the floats lining up for the parade on Mainstreet as well as all the people walking there to nab a great viewing spot.  I'm not much for parades myself as I really don't like crowds, but the atmosphere is overflowing onto my street which I do enjoy.  

I've been working on my braided rug every morning before my son wakes up and I've been pleased with how its coming along.  Today was, in theory, going to be the grand finish, but it's still a little small to my eye.  Currently it measures 21 1/2 inches wide by 28 inches long (71 cm x 55 cm), whereas I am aiming more for 24 x 36 inches.  With the rug being a bit more circular than oval this will probably end up as 24 x 31 or something along those lines.  My guess is about two more loops around should do it.  I have enough of the red and the blue/green colorways, but am now out of the pink/orange/yellow.  I'll be adding in what I call my "Autumn" colorway which is red, orange, yellow and green.  I think it'll blend in pretty well.  It's really starting to look like a rug don't you think?

I did have a finish this week though, my Out of the Frying Pan oven mitts are now both knit and felted!  The even turned out almost exactly the same size even though I felted them separately.  Cool huh?  I would really recommend this pattern as the fit of the mitt is excellent.  Now I'm all set to start mordanting my base yarn this week.  I only have to skein them up in small sample sized skeins. Yay!

Since I really enjoyed making the felted oven mitts I think I'm going to make some felted potholders for my friend's Christmas gifts.  Every year I pick something and make the same thing for everybody.  Last year it was this Market Bag, the year before simple dishcloths, and this year I was going to make everyone these trivets, but after making all the I-cord for the rug I am getting a little bit tired of the process.  I am trying not to buy yarn, but I think I have plenty of color choices now that I'm using up my knitted toy business yarns. 

Thus, I'm checking off one item to the list and adding one item to the list.  Which means I'm not getting ahead really, but then again not behind either.  Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Making My Own Supplies

Thanks for all your comments on my last post!  Looks like a lot of you are interested in plant dyeing yarn so I hope to show you my progress after I assemble all my materials and begin actually dyeing.  Today, I purchased a single electric burner to use outside in the garage for heating up dye baths instead of taking over my kitchen as I did last time around.  When you have a son who likes to snack all day it simply doesn't work to use your kitchen for dyeing.  Even natural dyeing does not mix well with food prep.

I also needed some potholders in which to handle the hot pots of dye solution which brings me to the above photos.  See, I found some more use for the plant dyed yarn I used for knitting my stuffed toys - felted potholders!  The pattern is called Out of the Frying Pan and it is very, very simple.  The hardest part is waiting for the oven mitt to felt to the proper size.  In my case it took 4 long wash agitation cycles (I would reset the washer each time before it got to rinsing until the mitt was the size I wanted, then I let the full wash cycle run.) in my top loading washing machine.  I mention that my machine is top loading because it is best for felting to have your item submerged in hot water while agitating.  You probably still could felt in a front loading machine, but my guess is it would take a lot longer.

One of the best things about felting is all your knitting mistakes shrink up and disappear as the wool tightens and felts.  My "mistakes" in this case are the "ladders" I always get when knitting with double pointed needles.   Experts all say to tighten up your knitting, but I already knit pretty tightly and get the ladder affect not between the 2 end stitches, but in the middle of the knit V of each end stitch.  Make sense?  The join between is tight but the stitch on either side of it is loose.  I loosen, I tighten it simply doesn't seem to matter - I get ladders.  Thus, now I knit my socks and other small circumference items using the 2 circular method, but I would love to one day conquer the double pointed needle technique. 

The colorway I used on the bottom of the oven mitt was one of Judy's experiments which she gave to me with one of my larger orders as a gift.  It was so sweet, but sadly I didn't really care for it and so it languished in my stash for some years until now.  I didn't have enough for a pair (yes, I am currently knitting the second one) as I wanted so in comes the canary yellow I used for knitting rainbow teething rings.  This mitt is very bright which probably means I won't lose them!   And since they are just going to be for dyeing it simply doesn't matter how they look  They will do their job keeping my hands protected being super thick and just the right size to easily slip on without being too big that they become clumsy.  Hmm, seems I have a lot to say about oven mitts!

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm and Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

YOP Update - All Over the Place

It's Sunday and time for a YOP update.  I finished 1 item on my list, yay!, and added 5 more. What?  Yeah, I was a bit all over the place this week for knitting because of a decision that's been a long time coming.  You see I've had a little knitted toy shop on Etsy for some years now, but I've decided to stop making toys and to change the shop over to something new - plant dyed yarn.  It's not too much of a stretch because all my toys are knit with plant dyed yarn (dyed by the wonderful Judy of Mamajudes also on Etsy) which is a passion of mine.  In my zealousness last Summer I purchased a good quantity of yarn for the shop, but with dwindling sales I have a lot of yarn leftover.  Since I don't want to knit toys anymore, all of it needs a new purpose.  Judy uses Lamb's Pride Worsted yarn for her base yarn which I love for making toys, but not so much for wearing as it's a rather stiff.  The great thing is that I have come up with a bunch of ideas on how to use it up, the bad news is I seem to be trying them out all at once!

So, I added a "Home" category to my YOP knit list with the following patterns: 

For the Home
Sock Yarn Braided Trivets by Martha Lazar 8 of them 
Sock Yarn Braided Rug by Martha Lazar 
My Oluffa Doorstop by Lucinda Guy 
Cozy Coasters by Joelle Hoverson  
Out of the Frying Pan by Amy E. Anderson

With the exception of the Cozy Coasters which uses some Frog Tree alpaca yarn (that never seems to run out as seriously I've made 3 sets of 4 coasters using the yarn doubled and still have yarn for more) they are all knit with my toy business yarn.  They Trivets I mentioned in this post, the rug you can see about halfway done above (it's basically a big trivet), the doorstop will be more of a pillow as it will use some other toy knitting yarn that's angora, and last are felted oven mitts which I'm making for use when dyeing and handling the hot pots.  Felted projects are really perfect for this yarn so I'm hoping to come up with a few more ideas along those lines.

Oh, and the finished object for this week was the Classic Cowl I knit with my rainbow handspun yarn which you can see here.  So, as you can see I didn't go with last week's plan to finish spinning my alpaca/angora yarn, but I'm pretty pleased overall.  Now I probably need to tweak my list a bit by removing a couple of items to make up for the additions I made this week.  Decisions, decisions, decisions...