Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Aunt Jane is a great lady. Even though we’ve always lived in different states, she’s always managed to make me feel very loved.

Lately, she’s been sending me clothes for my fast-growing little ones. That’s just one example of the many ways she takes care of the people God has put in her life.

I wanted to do something really nice for her since she’s always so busy caring for everyone else. I decided to do what I like to do best – knit.

Of course, I wanted everything to be just right: The perfect pattern, the perfect yarn, the perfect lining, the perfect size.

The yarn pretty much fit the bill It is a great shade of Araucania Nature. It has a tendency to felt together where it's now supposed to, but at least it felts quickly. And, it creates a nice texture. I held it double stranded, which made for a nice thickness.

The pattern was great - the Knot So Hobo Bag featured recently on the bag-a-holics site:

The only real problem I encountered was me. I didn’t realize that I was twisting my stitches, which created a very bad bias. In fact, I didn’t figure that out until the next project, which I am still working on. As a result my “perfect” pattern didn’t turn out perfectly.

But mistakes can be opportunities.

I cut off the twisted top and opted for bamboo handles instead. The edge stretched after I trimmed the original handles off, but I like the fluted effect. It reminds me of a flower.

I added pockets with the lining. There is also a matching coin purse made from my swatch. (Yes, I was a good doobe and tested the yarn before launching on the big project)

The purse is a tad smaller than I envisioned, but still I think it is a good size. I’m not sure if my aunt is a little bag or a kitchen-sink tote type, but I hope this is just right for her.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

True Confessions of a Self-taught knitter

At first, I blamed the yarn. Certainly that had to be why I was getting such an extreme bias on when I knit in the round.

I read about a post from someone else asking for help with that sort of a problem. The answer was that she was likely twisting her stitches. That wasn't me, I thought. I know how to knit. I'm doing it just like it says in the book. Maybe it's the needles?

But then I was knitting with what I knew to be very good yarn. Three inches into it I realized I was getting that extreme bias. I had just knit a straight swatch with no problem. I studied the stitches, taking a close look at them - could they be twisted? Could I be doing something wrong?

I consulted the Stitch and Bitch book that my former secret pal, Loribird,, was kind enough to send me. The stitches are like little gymnasts straddling the needle, the book says. The leg on my side should be in front. My little gymnasts were backwards! It turns out I was catching the loop clockwise when I should have been catching it counter clockwise!

There may be no rules in knitting, but there are apparently some basic guidelines that must be followed if one wants the piece to turn out as expected.

Off to frog...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Christmas/Valentine's Day/St. Patrick's Day/Birthday?

These are presents for my nephew and niece that I'd hoped to get done for Christmas. Then I'd hoped to get them done for Valentine's Day. Well, they should make it to the dairy state in time for St. Patrick's Day.

Is it a bowl?

Or a hat?

I guess that depends on whether you’re my nephew, who requested a black and white striped bowl, or my 1.7 yo, who thinks anything she can put on her head belongs there.

The bowls are knit from Patons. I’ve read about problems with white yarn not felting. This did, thankfully, although at a slower pace and not quite as completely as the black. They still came out okay.

The pattern is from Leigh Rutherford’s One Skein book (one of my favorites).

And a ball bag for my neice. This is made with Patons and Noro Kureyon. It measures 9 by 10. The pattern is from Monica – thank you for sharing!

The bag works up quickly and, I think, looks great.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

egg plant or Wisteria

For better or worse, I have rediscovered the library. I've been taking my 4yo there to help feed her voracious appetite for books. One day I wandered up to the adult section and discovered they have knitting books - lots of them. Not only that, they can order nearly any book out there! The great news is that I can catch up on all those books that were on my list. The bad news is I can catch up all those books that were on my list! How many patterns can one person knit in a lifetime anyway!?

This purse is from Stitch and Bitch - a book that I wasn't impressed with until I read it. Now I want to buy it. The purple yarn is from Australia, brought by a Christmas guest. The green is from the Cascade 220 heathers collection that caught my eye at the store.

I thought together they looked like Wisteria. My 14yo said it looks like an egg plant. Regardless, I really like the phone leash called for in the pattern. There is a phone-sized bag attached to the tote with an i-cord. Very handy.

Two thoughts on the pattern - maybe it's the yarn I chose, but it seems a tad on the small side. Also, I would cast on extra stitches to make the handles longer. With having to chase children so much, I find I need to keep my hands free as much as possible.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Personal Yarn Shopper Wanted

After giving birth to my last baby and about to turn 40, I insisted new wardrobe to celebrate. I set up an appointment with a personal shopper at the local department store. She was great. She knew where everything in her store was. She looked at me and knew my sizes. And, with just a few questions, she knew my style. In less than an hour, we'd found numerous well-coordinated outifts. She picked out for me things I wouldn't have tried, but ended up loving. She found for me thing in places I wouldn't have even thought to look. And then she got me great discounts on all of it.

That's what I need for knitting! Someone who can read my mind and tell me what I want yarn I want and what pattern. I seem to have a hard time matching the two. I can find a yarn I like, but I don't know what pattern would be good with it. Or I find a pattern I like, but I can't find the right yarn for it.

It's a wonder to me that I get anything knit at all!

I'm open to suggestions - please tell me how you pick your projects - by the yarn or by the pattern or some secret method I haven't uncovered?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Trying to stay warm

The deep freeze has finally hit. We were blessed with a mild winter, but of course it couldn't last. All we can do now is knit frantically and bundle up.
The half mits are from a great silk blend - I modified a mitten pattern. They are knit in double rib for three inches and then knit like a regular mitten and then double ribbed knit for an inch. If (when) it gets warmer, I can wear them alone. For now I wear them over a pair of gloves and under a pair of mittens!
The scarf is knitted in the yarn harlot's rib pattern ( with a ruffled edge. To get the ruffle, cast on twice as many stitches as you want, knit for a row or two and then knit 2 together all the way across. At the other end, knit in the front and back all the way across, knit the same number of rows as you did before the decrease row and cast off. This was the scarf on which I finally learned the long tail cast on.
The picture of me was taken by my d4yo - thus the odd angle and the chopped off forehead. Both yarns were sent to me by Allison in California. I'm hoping she sent some of the warmth from her state with them. To get a touch of anti-dreary-winter, check out her blog:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sweet Dreams

My dd, 4, was having troubles sleeping. It was the nightmares, she said. So what's a good knitting mom to do? Dig into the stash and whip up a dream pillow, of course. It's a great project to use up odds and ends - in this case an acrylic boucle that I wasn't crazy about, but that she loves. It is very soft and squishy. The dimensions and pattern are of her design. We stuffed it full of all the good dreams we could think of. She loves it. She still has nightmares, but at least she loves the pillow.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A stash question for you

There was an article on recently lauding the stash as a collection rather than a shameful ill that must be cured. I like that perspective. We love yarn, why shouldn't we be surrounded by it?

So here is my question - how did you accumulate your stash? Is it yarn bought for projects in which you lost interest? Is it yarn bought for projects you just haven't gotten to yet? Is it yarn you bought just because you liked it? Yarn that you bought just because you liked it? Or was it just gifted to you?

Thanks for your input.