Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rethinking My Tools

My cousin and his wife had twins in August. I gave them baby hats at their shower, and when they told my mom that the twins had outgrown them, I sent them earflap hats.  Then they e-mailed and asked if I'd be able to knit hats to go with vests they had purchased. I picked up the vests at Thanksgiving and went on a yarn search.

Here is Thing 1's hat and vest. This hat had to meet two criteria: It had to be machine washable, and it had to go with the vest. This one was knit out of a bulky weight acrylic yarn.

Ann Budd's Basic Hat Pattern knit in Loops & Threads Charisma in Sunny Day colorway

Matching Thing 2's vest was a bit more difficult.  It's not exactly a hot pink. It's some sort of pink/raspberry hybrid. The best yarn in terms of color was a cotton worsted weight.

Ann Budd's Basic Hat Pattern knit in Bernat Cotton Tots in Very Berry colorway

The pattern came from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.  This book is genius.  It's full of charts.  You figure out how many stitches per inch your yarn gives you (bulky was 3 and worsted was 5 for me), what size you want the hat to be (0-6 month), and follow the chart where those two numbers intersect.  Really, really smart and something I think I'll use a lot.

The only problem that I had was that Thing 2's yarn required me to cast on 82 stitches.  I don't own small circulars in many sizes, so I use double-pointed needles for most small projects.

cotton yarn + metal needles = slippery

The only way I found I could successfully knit this was by putting stoppers on every single end of every needle and rotating them around as I knit.  It really slowed me down and was inconvenient, but it was the only way to keep the stitches from freeing themselves with every hand movement.

I may need to be rethinking my Christmas list. There has to be a better way.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hang Them With Care

Note to self: It's wise to finish Christmas gift knitting early for two reasons. 1) I have lots less time to knit during November and December than normal, what with wrapping and card writing and attending holiday parties with people I don't like.  2) Inevitably, I end up doing projects I didn't have on my list. 

In that spirit, I just finished Christmas stockings for two of my nephews.  My sister had knit stockings for her and her husband shortly after they were married, and she asked me to knit one for her firstborn when he came around.  I did, but I was new to knitting and didn't do a very good job.  (Contrast color?  We don't need no stinking contrast color!) Her second was born in May, and I decided I couldn't face knitting him a subpar one to match his brother's nor allowing the first one to hang by the new one.

So I knit two.

My sister is confident that she's not having a third child.

I'm a third child.  My parents thought they were done after sister #2, too.  I'M JUST SAYING.

I told her that if she does have a third, I'm going to reknit all three.  It's very clear that these two are a set. Doing a third with different colors wouldn't fit.

When we were kids, there were three elves that sat under our Christmas tree.  (Well, four.  Elmo was a light-up elf.   We're apparently really into elves.  They do all the real work of Christmas anyway.)  One elf wore red and white stripes, one wore green and white.  They had the same freaky oversized plastic face and splindly body. 

Do you know what my elf looked like?  He was green and stuffed, half the size of the other two, and looked a bit like a troll/elf lovechild who would be comfortable riding a (very small) Harley.  Every year, we put the two elves that matched under the tree and then we put the third, weird troll-like elf under there.  It was always clear to me that they had bought the first two together and then tried to figure out what to do when I came along later.

I'll knit them again if I need to.  Don't worry, Hypothetical Child Three: I've got your back.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Button Necklace

I love the Internet. At the end of September, Wooly Wormhead posted about a necklace she made of buttons.  She had gotten the idea from Craftwerk.  I loved it.  This week, I made my own.

Fifty buttons in shades of gray, purchased off eBay for around $5 with shipping. A barrel clasp and some black silk thread from Michaels. That was it. It was easy and I love the result.

I would echo Wooly Wormhead's advice not to add too many metal buttons.  All of mine are plastic, and the resulting necklace is quite light. I think adding even a few metal buttons would really change the weight. This necklace is delightfully chunky-looking without being chunky-feeling.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Favorite Things

For our last beginning digital photography class, we were supposed to send any picture we wanted.  Flowers are some of my very favorite things to photograph, so I took one of my begonia bloom.

I never liked begonias.  They were old-fashioned flowers in my mind--prissy and belonging in a carefully planned flower bed.  I prefered the exuberance of the daisy or the pleasant memories I associated with moss rose, which we used to plant in our front flower bed when I was growing up.

When I saw this flower, however, I was smitten by it.  It was supposed to be for my mom for Mother's Day, but I convinced myself that she'd really prefer a hanging basket, so I kept it for myself.*  It's looked good on the porch all summer, and I've brought it inside to see if I can overwinter it. 

In knitting news, I'm ready to start my second ball of lace on the wrap.  I only have 3, and I'm a little nervous that it won't be long enough.  I'm trying to ignore that feeling and keep knitting.  If I need more, surely I can find it, right? 

Let's not think too hard about this and instead enjoy the pretty cables.  I hope you're all having a delightful Wednesday!

*I know I should be ashamed of myself, but I'm not.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I've been taking a photography class called Beginning Digital Photography.  We meet for a couple hours once a week for four weeks.  My last class is Thursday.

For the second week, the assignment was to take a photo of something red.

Alpaca with a Twist's Mojito in Hugs and Kisses colorway

This yarn really is this pretty in person. I know what I want this yarn to become, but I haven't managed to get gauge yet.  The swatch is in time out while I try to figure out how to address that issue.*  

In the meantime, the wrap and I have been getting on swimmingly once our last argument was settled. 

*Just in case someone wants to tell me to switch needle sizes, let me tell you that I get stitch gauge and not row gauge.  Tricky.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dear Malibrigo Lace: Bite me.

I'm not superstitious.  Really, I'm not.  But this yarn is trying my patience and making me question what I thought I knew to be true about the properties of wool.

I tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to make this yarn into a stole.  I blamed the needle.  I blamed the yarn. I blamed the pattern.  I blamed myself. 

A friend helped me find a different pattern.  Beautiful, reversible, and cabled.  Sound familiar?  It looked similar to the Jeanie, but there were no #$&%(_ knitting through the back loop and no *(#_%^ dropped stitches.  This would be better.

Before I go any further, let me just say: I'm a good knitter.

It is also true that I don't always read the pattern as carefully as I should.  Several rows into this new stole, I realized I hadn't been knitting the first four and last four stitches of the row correctly.  No problem.   I would spread it out on the conference room table at lunch, tackle it with a cool head, steely determination, and a crochet hook.

I guess I'll cast on again tonight.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken Little

Here's a Christmas gift I made that is safe to show since the recipient doesn't read my blog:

Spring Chicken knit in odds and ends yarn

My cousin raises chickens and has some chicken decor in her home, so I thought this would be a nice Christmas gift.  Everyone needs a stuffed knit bird, right?

Can you say no to this face?

I thought not.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vancouver Fog

One of my closest friends is anemic.  Actually, saying she's anemic is sort of like saying the Grand Canyon is a big hole.  As such, she's cold cold cold.  As a knitter, I find that offensive.

I gave her a pair of knucks I had lying around, and then set about to knit her something heavier.  

Vancouver Fog knit in Vanna's Choice in Sapphire and Fern

I wanted these to wear like iron (no pun intended), and I wanted her to be able to throw them in the washer and dryer without worry.  I had most of a ball of pretty blue acrylic, so I started with that.

When I neared the end of the second mitt, I saw that there was no way I was going to have enough blue.  No problem.  I popped over to Michaels.... problem.  They don't carry that color anymore.  I ripped out part of the first mitt, knit it in green with a blue stripe, and then knit the second one to match.  That way, I had enough blue to finish the thumbs.  I've decided to pretend that I was intending to make it sporty.  

Let me know if you feel cold.  If I were a superhero, making knitwear would be my superpower.