Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wedding Afgan for Seth & Meredith

My son got married on April 15, 2011. I started this afgan in January of the same year and finished in September (oops! just a little late). I used the Girasole pattern by Jared Flood. I just love his designs! After knitting several swatches, I settled on a yarn spun by my husband that is 80% mohair and 20% wool. Here it is before dyeing - a lovely, creamy natural color.
I kettle dyed it with Jacquard acid dye from Dharma Trading Co. I used Golden Orange with just a pinch of blue to make it more mustardy. When the water began to clear I took the yarn out. There was still quite a bit of color in the water, though, so I added one last skein to it and got the lovely yellow skein.

I decided to use two strands at a time to get a nice heavy blanket, and after months and months of knitting I found that the afgan was very unmanageable and would no longer fit on the needles the pattern suggested. I counted my stitches to see what could be wrong and found that I had made a mistake on an increase row very early on in the pattern and had been knitting 50% more stitches than I should have been. I had 960 stitches on my needles, when there should only have been 640!!. What a disaster! Since the yarn was homespun, I couldn't just throw the project away, so I frogged it all! (frog - to make a noise like a frog: rip-it, rip-it, rip-it) I started over with only one strand of yarn this time. I made amazing progress, and after only two weeks of knitting I was back to the point where I had ripped out and, indeed, had only 640 stitches. Frogging is soooo painful, but it is always worth it! I love how the afgan turned out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hearts knit together in unity and love

I was asked to make some centerpieces for a dinner for the ladies at church. The theme was to be this scripture:
Mosiah 18:21 "And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another."

I went to my trusty free pattern website (knitting pattern central) and they have a whole category just for heart patterns. I found this fabulous little pattern from Berocco. It looked like just what I needed.

Pattern is here

It looked simple enough so I cast on my four stitches and jumped right in. Along the way, I ran into some confusion and it took a lot of experimentation and frustration before I finally figured out what the pattern was saying, so I made this little tutorial with a couple of photos in the confusing bits. I hope this will make your journey easier than mine was.

For yarn, I used Brown Sheep, Lamb's Pride, Cranberry Swirl.

Needles: Size 8.

On the row labeled "1st Hump" you put half the stitches on a holder (above) and cast on three stitches (below). I used the backward loop method.

When you're done with "Dec Row 2" it should look like this:

Now comes the part that really confused me. "Pull up tightly and secure. Sew seam down to cast-on sts." Basically, you snug that trailing thread up and sew the two sides together down to the 3 cast-on stitches you made right at the base of the first hump. Like this:
When you get down to the cast-on edge, it'll look like this:
Next, you "pick up 3 sts in 3 cast-on sts." So - from where your tail is from the seam you just finished, With a new piece of yarn, pick up three stitches, working towards your stitch holder.
Now knit across the stitches on your holder.
Proceed with the instructions for the second hump, and you'll have this:
Sew down to the bottom of the first hump, and continue down to about an inch from the bottom of the heart. I used the mattress stitch. Place your needle down between two vertical lines of knitting and pick up two of the "ladders" from the back side. Then do the same on the opposite side. Snug this up. Keep going back and forth, making sure that you always go between the same two vertical lines on each side, and you end up with a seam that disappears into the pattern of the knitted stitches. It's like magic!
You're now ready to stuff the heart!! The pattern says to use polyester stuffing, but I used my saved stash of wool ends. I keep them in an old sock until I need some fiber fill. Because the wool ends will felt down to a smaller size, you need to stuff the heart extra full!
Yes, I did get it all in there!
Sew down that last little bit.

And you're ready to felt. Don't worry that the humps of the heart are a little pointy. When it felts down, they'll smooth out into nice round heart humps!

(Note: I stuffed my red tails in there with the multicolored ones. Then I used my darning needle to thread my last two tails upwards into the point of the heart and out the middle of the heart. I trimmed them off after felting was completed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reversible faux cable scarf

I asked my 22-year-old son what I could knit for him. (I don't like wasting my time on stuff that will not be used.) He said he could use a scarf. So, the hunt began - I needed something manly enough for him and fun enough to knit for me. I eventually found an online pattern, couldn't make heads or tails of it, so I came up with this. I think it works. He wanted it long enough to fold in half and poke the ends through the fold - ya know what I mean? Anyway, that ended up being 7 feet long. To wear unfolded, the scarf really only needs to be 4 to 5 feet long.

The pattern is what I like to call a faux cable (I don't know - the knitter's bibles probably have an "official" name for it). It looks like cables, but you don't need a cable needle and (wonder of wonders) you don't have a "wrong side" to this scarf.

Both sides look the same. The 1 x 1 ribbing at each edge of the scarf also prevents the scarf from rolling up into a tube (I hate when that happens!).

When I was about 5 feet into the scarf, I could tell I was going to run out of one of my colors before it was long enough to wear folded in half, so I decided to throw in some asymmetrical stripes on one end. That'ld be stylish, right? I was so hoping it wouldn't just look stupid - like I'd run out of yarn, or something. I recently took a class offered by my local weaver's guild on stripes, (taught by Sarah Pilgrim - don't you just love that name?) so I took this opportunity to play around with one of the ideas she gave us. I decided to try using the Fibonacci series to design my stripes. Here's how it works:

You add two numbers together to get the next number. So, if you start with 1, you add the number before that to it to get the next number. What did you say? There's nothing before 1? Exactly right! So you add "nothing" to 1, in other words 0. Now your series is 1, 1. Now it gets easy. If you can just remember how to set it up, you've got it made.


This series is also known as the Golden something or other (you're on the Internet, look it up). It's what makes the Mona Lisa's face look so -- so right.

Since I needed another couple of feet on my scarf, I decided to start with 8 and go down to the 1,1 at the end. 8 of what, you ask? 8 repeats of my basic pattern. Each 6-row repeat gave me an inch, so that was 20 more inches - close enough to 7 feet for me.

Here's a picture of how the stripes turned out. Since I was holding the yarn double, two different colors, I just replaced the color I was running out of with a different color. It kind of kept things the same, but I was hoping the stripes would still show up well enough.

Yarn: Mountain Colors, Bearfoot - held double
Color: A deep burgundy with a variegated yarn with lots of the same deep burgundy.
Colors added: Dark brown, variegated green, light brown, variegated blue, fuchsia, teal.
Needles: US size 8
gauge: Doesn't matter - it's a scarf, not a sweater!

K - knit
P - purl
K2tog - knit two together
K2K - K2tog but leave on needle, knit the first st again and slip both sts off needle

Here's the pattern:

CO 36
Setup row: [K1, P1] X 3; repeat K4, P4 until last 6 stitches, [K1, P1] X3
1st row: [K1, P1] X 3; repeat K2, K2K, P4 until last 6 stitches, [K1, P1] X3
2nd row: repeat 1st row (turning work, so you're now knitting on the "back" of the scarf)
3rd row: [K1, P1] X 3; repeat K1, K2K, K1, P4 until last 6 stitches, [K1, P1] X3
4th row: repeat 3rd row
5th row: [K1, P1] X 3; repeat K2K, K2, P4 until last 6 stitches, [K1, P1] X3
6th row: repeat 5th row

Repeat rows 1-6 until the scarf is of the desired length, ending on row six. Bind off in pattern, substituting K4 for the K2K nonsense.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

M1 Tutorial

There are two ways that I "make one" when doing an increase in knitting. Whichever method you choose, you are picking up the "ladder" between the two stitches on your left and right needles. Here's a still shot of the "ladder."

The first M1 increase method leaves a hole. If you doing a project that will be felted, this is okay. The hole will close. Sometimes you want a hole, as in knitting lace. Also, this M1 method can be used to correct a missed yarn over in the previous row. Just mark the place where you missed the yarn over and M1 when you come to it. I call this the M1, left needle. Insert the tip of your left needle beneath the ladder from front to back. Knit this lifted ladder stitch through the front leg. Notice the large hole formed beneath the M1 stitch.

The other method I use does not leave a hole in the knitting. It's a great way to make an M1 increase more invisibly. I call this the M1, right needle. Insert the tip of the right needle beneath the ladder from back to front. Insert the tip of the left needle into the front leg of this stitch and knit in this position. Notice that there is no hole beneath this M1. This M1 is much more difficult, especially inserting the tip of the left needle into the front leg of the stitch, so be patient with yourself! The result is well worth it.

SSK Tutorial

I just learned I've been doing the SSK incorrectly! I've never been really happy with how it looked, and now I know why. I'm posting this little tutorial to help other "self-taught" knitters. Here are the instructions for SSK: With right needle, slip two stitches knitwise off of the left needle, one at a time. Insert left needle back into these stitches (from left to right). Knit both stitches together from this position. It was the "from this position" that I was missing. Here's the little video I made:

Baby Surprise Jacket

Here is my Baby Surprise Jacket. (Pattern found in The Opinionated Knitter, along with the adult surprise jacket and little matching mitered bonnet and booties.) I've got two grand babies coming, and I hope one of them will be a girl so she can wear this. I finished weaving in the ends and putting on the buttons today. I used Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, Sun River colorway. It's not very exciting on the skein, I think - too much fuchsia - but when it's knit up I absolutely love it!

Here's a detail of the buttons. Aren't they perfect? I'm sure they're made from Fimo clay. Should be easy peasy to make some next time!

Here's a close up of the buttons and miters after washing. This particular yarn gets softer and softer every time you wash it. The mohair in it blooms beautifully.