February 29, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Sock Report

Ha!  Those darned socks are almost finished!  They have become my closest traveling companion over the last week or so in the name of getting them done.  I have taken them to soccer games, I have taken them to meetings, I have taken them to the church parking lot where I wait for my children to get out of Sunday religious ed. classes, I have taken them to Girl Scout cookie booth sales day (4 hours in the cold and wind!) and I have taken them out to dinner when I knew there would be a long wait.  The result:  just the toes are left!

Soccer Game

 I would like to also say that the pattern I am designing is coming along very well.  I am not sure if I am going to do a larger sizing or a smaller sizing after this one--maybe both.  I think this "perfect boot sock" is going to be perfect for both adults and children.  The next pair or two, however, will not be knit in crappy German marled wool that separates with every stitch; all future socks will be knit in Zibeline Knits Rocket Sock colorways for sure.

February 24, 2012

Knitting in-the-round with magic loop

Once upon a time there was a woman who could only knit using straight needles or the dreaded DPNs.  Knitting was dull and tedious, and involved using much seaming of garment pieces.  Then, she had the idea to learn to knit socks--not just one at-a-time because that was too tedious, but two-at-a-time! Surely if women during WWII could knit one sock inside the other and come out with a complete pair with DPNs, it was possible to knit two socks simultaneously somehow without using DPNs.  After much research, the woman realized that to do this crazy thing, she had to learn to knit using the magic loop method.  Lo and behold, a whole new kingdom of knitting wonderfulness was revealed!

I introduce what I am about to demonstrate to you in this dramatic fairytale way because, as a pattern designer, I tend to design patterns according to how I knit.  Several of my patterns require the use of the magic loop method because I assume that I am not the only knitter in the world who hates seaming (magic loop = no seaming!)  I am probably also not the only knitter in the world who hates clumsy DPNs for knitting in-the-round.  Consequently, I tend to also assume that if people are purchasing my patterns it is because they already know how to do the magic loop method.  In reality, that doesn't always seem to be the case.  So, I am including here a link to a video that I think is a very good demonstration (why re-create the wheel just so that you can hear my voice?) of how to begin using the magic loop method.  I can't thank this person enough (Youtube.com avatar is LiatMGat) for having made this very clear and simple video that I am now sharing with you.


Happy magic loop knitting to all!

February 20, 2012

A Few Winter Break Masterpieces

Winter Break has been good to my knitting obsession.  I've needed to get some FOs under my belt for a while now.  I'm that type A personality who is haunted by unfinished things (you may have noticed this from previous posts).  I've made it a point to do as much knitting as possible during this break, and the FOs have begun to accumulate:

One pair of striped Elegy gloves in a custom colorway (makes me think of Florida) for a custom order:

One kelly green merino top handspun version of my Harris Slouch pattern knit in one of the new sizes of the pattern (medium) for me.  This is just in time for Scout #1's first (and last) soccer game of the season.  Scout #1, in a rock-star-of-the-soccer-game moment jumped up to head-butt the ball and came down with a crunch on his ankle, fracturing not one, but two growth plates in his ankle; however, my head was cuddly warm the whole time that I sat on those frosty aluminum bleachers.

And the socks ... they are showing signs of actually getting finished this time.  My new pattern for the perfect boot sock is coming along nicely and I am ready to turn the heels. There will be another pair of these in a more attractive yarn that doesn't separate with every stitch, but for now, this new pattern is knitting up nicely.

I am now down to 8 projects on the needles left over from the new year (2 frogged, three finished, and a new Harris Slouch size tested so far.)  I know that number seems to match the original number on my resolutions list, but I forgot to mention a few projects that I apparently had started and not finished when I made that list, including this one: the Entrelac scarf experiment (from December).  Check that one off the list!

February 15, 2012

In Knitting Heaven!

I am in knitting Heaven!  I'm pretty sure that I have just hit on the gold mine of vintage patterns for knitting, crochet, and embroidery.  It's like the Project Gutenberg of vintage patterns.  It's amazing and I am downloading every vintage knitting pattern and book that they have!  The site is called the Antique Pattern Library and I am in love!  Some of the patterns are written in British terminology, some in Italian, some in German, and I think there are a few Scandinavian patterns, too.

Here you will find patterns from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s.  I am especially in love with the 1910s right now.  Apparently, knitting was very low-class for this time period, as most of the patterns are for crochet--how far knitting has come in 100 years!  I am reminded of my great grandmother's crocheted lace doilies, as there are a gazillion patterns for crocheted lace and doilies.  She was a pro at crocheting intricate lace doilies.  I remember learning to crochet when I was in elementary school (3rd or 4th grade) because I wanted my mother to teach me to crochet doilies like my great-grandmother.  I also recall that my mother made a giant table-top doily, a pineapple design, and I am sure that I am going to inherit it one day (right, mom?).  Perhaps I will one day detour from knitting to go back and re-learn how to crochet lace now that I have this monumental resource at my fingertips.

I've downloaded vintage magazines and pattern books--mostly hats, socks, and purses but there are a few sweater patterns.  The Corticelli Yarn Book offers me the opportunity to learn to knit a dress.

What am I going to do with these?  Well, mostly just squirrel them away I am sure; however, some of them have unique stitch patterns in them that I have never seen before, and wouldn't it be fun to use some of them to design something swell!?

February 13, 2012

Last Minute Valentine's Day Project: Little Heart Pillow

In case you just realized that you need something quick for someone--a teacher, a friend who knits, or maybe just for yourself, this new pattern of mine will do the trick.  Although I knit fairly quickly, I think that even the beginning knitter can accomplish this pattern in under an hour.  It's knit on a circular needle.  Why on a circular needle you may ask?  Well, I tried three patterns from knitting cyberspace to make some little hearts for my daughter's teacher, and they all involved the dreaded DPNs.  After I accomplished each little heart, my hands hurt, my wrists hurt, or both.  Who needs that kind of agony for small projects, especially if you knit and have arthritis like I do?  This pattern is easily accomplished with one circular needle and I knit it pain-free.  Bonus! 

I will say that if you don't know how to do a figure-eight cast on, you will need to check out this great little tutorial following the pattern because the pattern begins with this cast-on method (just like my soap sock pattern) but then few skills are required afterward.  The video tells you that you need to use a 32" circular needle or longer, but I used a 16" circular for my pattern and it worked out just as well

And now for the Little Heart Pillow pattern! (P.S. If you do this pattern in wool, you can felt it.)

Little Heart Pillow

Little Heart Pillow
Materials:  US 8 ( mm) circular needle with 16" cable; worsted weight yarn (approximately 30 yards). Note:  100% wool was used to create the pillow in the picture.  This product can be felted if 100% wool is used. Heart shown is not felted. 
Gauge: 5 stitches x 6 rows (stockinette)
Finished measurements (measured flat, not stuffed): 4 inches wide by 4 inches high.
To Begin:
Co 8 stitches using figure 8 method (4 stitches on each needle).
Knit one round.
Round 2 (Front): knit 1, m1 (from front of fabric, knit through back of stitch), knot across the row, end m1 (from front of fabric, knit through back of stitch), k1.  Repeat for back side of work.
Round 3: knit across front and back of fabric.
Repeat rounds 2 & 3 until there are 24 stitches on each side of the heart.

Round 1:  knit 12, place next 24 stitches on waste yarn, knit remaining 12 stitches.
Round 2: k1, ssk, knit 6, k2tog, k1; repeat on back side.
Round 3: knit all stitches.
Round 4: k1, ssk, k4, k2tog, k1; repeat on back side.
Round 5: knit all stitches.
Round 6: k1, ssk, k2, k2tog, k1; repeat on back side
Round 7: k1, ssk, k2tog, k1; repeat on back side. (4 stitches remain on each side of the heart.)
Round 8: ssk, k2tog; repeat on back side.
Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches; pull taught. Secure and weave in end.
Side 2
Pick up stitches from waste yarn from back side (completed side of heart facing to the left). 
Join yarn. Repeat rounds 1-8 for second side of heart.
A small hole will remain in the top middle of the heart for stuffing.  Stitch closed using mattress stitch to finish.  Weave in ends.
Copyright 2012, Keya Kuhn.  This pattern is intended for personal use only.  Permission must be obtained from the pattern designer for reproduction rights for sale of items made from this pattern.

Here's the tutorial link for the figure-eight cast-on method:


February 10, 2012

KAL update #2

Well, I've finished the Brambles Beret, which I knit in my own Shades O'Sheep Hemlock.  The yarn is 100% organic Spanish merino.  Since it is not super soft and super squishy like Australian merino, the stitch definition is crisp and the pattern is well-defined.  What I am liking best about this new yarn line is that it holds the shape of the beret with nothing more that having wetted the fabric and dried the hat on a 10-inch dinner plate.  I've worn this hat a couple times and I even lent it to Leslie to show off at her house, and it still looks like I just blocked it.

Leslie's hat is almost finished.  I took these pictures a few days ago.  She could be secretly finishing it up to show off at knitting club on Saturday as I speak!  Leslie's yarn is a silk/merino combination, heavy on the silk, and her beret has a pretty sheen to it.  She is very proud of how well this pattern is turning out for her, as well.

 I have to give this pattern props.  It was easy to knit, was a quick little project (mine actually took me about a week to do over a series of random moments--I'd say about 6 hours total spread out over a week), and once I got past the first chart, I zipped through the second chart in no time!  The only issue with the pattern seems to be that the large size has the wrong materials information (copied and pasted from the small size) and there's an odd statement after the instructions to begin the first chart that says that you will work the pattern 8 times.  You won't.  You will work it once.

This was a good little project for my knitting buddy and I to work together. You and your girl pals should try it, too!

February 08, 2012

Look at me! I'm on Craftsy!

I've been thinking a lot lately about branching out and exploring other online markets after a sudden awareness of a lack of seller protection on Etsy, particularly.  Serendipitously, I received an email invitation from Craftsy, and now look at me!  I'm on Craftsy!

All of my patterns aren't up yet, but five are currently making a new home here.  Same great prices, same great patterns!

And, in the spirit of conquering the overload of old projects for the new year, I've managed to get three under control.  My friend Michelle reminded me that I am the master of my knitting, not the other way around, and I was inspired to take the knitting by the needles, so to speak.  One pair of Elegy gloves was frogged (handspun alpaca/silk) and will be reincarnated as something else some day.  One pair is finally underway and I have one glove knit and the other on the way to completion, see:

And those basket weave socks that I hated ... well here's the last surviving picture of those.  After I discovered that I had knit the heel according to the pattern instructions for a size much smaller than I had been working, I decided that it was just better to put these socks out of my misery.

They've been frogged and re-incarnated for a new sock pattern that I am working on. Two-at-a-time, top-down, of course. This could turn out to be the best boot sock pattern in the history of knitting!  I am very pleased and there is no twisted basket weave on tiny needles involved, which is the best part of the whole endeavor right now.  These socks will definitely find their way to my feet!

February 01, 2012

Just a few resolutions ...

Normally one makes resolutions for the new year when the new year is actually beginning.  This new year has been so overwhelmingly stressful and generally miserable from nearly every direction other than my Honey and knitting that it's the first of February and I am just now getting around to beginning to think about my new year's knitting resolutions.  What I have determined thus far, mostly as a consequence of having rearranged my knitting room, is that I have six projects staring at me from the shelves, one for which I haven't even dyed the yarn yet, and three sitting on the table.  So, my new year's resolutions are going to have to begin with wrapping up or frogging the crazy collection of partially begun projects that are staring me down and I type.

First on the list: those darned 2-at-a-time socks that I started sometime (probably last spring about this same time) last year, the ones with the twisted basket-weave pattern done on size 2 needles with a marled German wool that likes to separate with every stitch.  Yeah, those.  Who knew I could come to hate twisted basket weave so much?!  Anyway, after months of pretending that I hadn't even started them, and then a month of waffling back and forth between frogging or finishing, I figured out how to turn the heel and am on my way to having one of two socks with a heel; so I guess I'm committed to finishing this one up.

Second on the list:  Honey's shawl collar sweater, which I am designing as I go.  Who knew that there would be so few pattern resources for a frickin men's sweater!  I need to learn to do my research before I commit, even where Honey is concerned.  I say that not because the knitting is difficult--it's really just knitting in the round right now--but because I'm pretty sure that the measurements of this sweater (it needs to be large enough to fit over a long-sleeved shirt) equate to 2XL.  It's a lot of mindless knitting.  I thought it would be good car knitting, but then I haven't really done much riding in a car lately so that's been an unproductive plan.  Last night, I took this project with me to work on during Scout #2's trumpet lesson.  I got 35 minutes of uninterrupted automatic knitting time.  I think that I will also be taking this project to Rocket's violin lesson.  With 70 minutes of knitting time per week on this project, I might actually get it done before next winter!

Third on the list:  the Elegy gloves order.  I firmly intend, provided the yarn arrives this weekend, to dye the yarn and get this order knit up by the end of next week.  I am totally putting myself on project restriction after the yarn dries until these are finished.

Fourth on the list:  finish at least one of the other three pair of Elegy gloves started but abandoned on the table.  One pair is for Rocket.  I am unsure if it's even worth my time to finish them for her because I have only seen her wear the hat I made her for Christmas once and the mittens not at all.  Of course the weather has been so balmy that my jonquils and hyacinths were coming up by the third week of January, and Rocket will go outside to play happily without shoes, socks, jacket, sweater, sweatshirt--she'll go out in a tank top and shorts if you let her!--in 30 degree weather.  One of the pair of gloves, however, is an olive green pair for myself, and these I think will get done because there purpose was for me to have them to wear during soccer season--you know, we soccer moms have to sport some semblance of school colors while we sit and freeze in the stands.

Fifth on the list:  I have a new shawl design to which I have devoted the 5 skeins of recycled tweed wool from the thrift store spree.  It's turning out nicely, but it turns out that the smaller the needle, the less my hands and wrists hurt and the larger the needle, the more strain I seem to suffer.  The shawl is being knit on US15--which probably seems like it would equate to a quick knit, except that I chose a somewhat tedious stitch pattern for the center panel.  My wrists just don't like this one and it may be months before I can reveal its complete awesomeness.

Sixth on the list:  Remember that Entrelac thingy that I started in December?  Remember how I was going to have that done BEFORE Christmas break ended?  Well, as it turns out, I can knit on that darned thing and knit on it and never seem to make any headway.  I think I have about three more feet to go before I run out of yarn.  I believe that I now fully understand how Penelope felt about that shroud she kept working on for 10 years while she waited for Odysseus to quit playing around in the Mediterranean and come home.  This Entrelac project has become my shroud.

Seventh on the list:  I would like to finish the two test knits for Rocket's cropped cardigan that I made early last fall.  I have knit nearly all the way through the body for the small size, and it's possible that I could get that test knit done by the end of March.  Apparently I was a little overzealous when I mocked up the other pattern sizes because my original plan, I just noticed, was to size the pattern in four different sizes.  I think I might have to nix the extra-small size and just deal.  Theoretically, I could have this pattern ready for sale by the end of July.  I think that will be my goal.

Okay, let's just face it.  That last project, the mostly finished teddy bear improvisation over there in the bowl ... it's just headed for certain destruction.  I think I can honestly say that the knitting of toys doesn't do anything for me.  I know that because that "bear" was supposed to be a baby shower gift, and the kid is almost two years old now.  I'm pretty sure this project has no future.

Eighth on the list:  Scout #2's Reconstruction Sweater ... the body for that thing was finished last year.  Maybe I will actually knit some sleeves for it this year.  Good thing I made the body extra-large on the second go-around because he might actually still fit into it by the time I get it done and next winter's cold weather rolls around.  I'm pretty sure he has given up on my ever finishing it because he's started making concessions, like "Mom, you don't have to knit stripes on the sleeves to match the rest of the sweater.  You can just knit all one color and that will be okay.  Whatever it takes, mom."

And lastly, ninth on the list:  That purple baby blanket that I started because someone wanted me to do it as a special order and then backed out of the deal ... it just needs to be finished and donated to the Linus project or something.  It's a third of the way done and I am sure that there is going to be a point (probably during spring break when I have a lengthy round-trip plane ride) when some automatic knitting will come in handy.  I have the same blanket begun in a bright blue, too, so I should probably bite the bullet and finish it as well. Not to digress, but I understand that bamboo needles are okay on an airplane but not metal or acrylic ... a man made that rule, right?  I don't know about your wooden needles, but I for one have never bent a wooden needle while doing something as innocuous as knitting with it, while I have several sets of straight metal needles that sort of curve in the middle.  Well, I won't tell airport security how they got this "dangerous knitting needle" policy backwards if you won't.

I really only have four other items on my resolution list, and these have yet to be cast on:  The cable cowl from Lion Brand that I bought a gazillion skeins of blackberry wool to make about two years ago, the Buttercup Beret that I bought that expensive silk to make at about the same time as the blackberry wool, a long and flow-y cardigan that I bought the cream-colored Italian silk in December to make, and the top-down mock turtleneck sweater in merino, mohair, and alpaca that I have knit the mock neck for and then abandoned on the duct tape dummy.  Wait, I take that back!  I would like to knit something with my Possum yarn before Stitches South rolls around again in April--probably a chunky cowl that my friends will drool over.  Easy!  I could do that in my spare knitting time!

Okay, so maybe it will be a while before I am able to post another Monday Masterpiece; however, just wait until you see how the Brambles Beret turned out!  I am pretty pleased with that one!


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