Sunday, September 23, 2007

Help Desk

No knitting today, just laughing. Enjoy!

Medieval helpdesk with English subtitles

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Solstice Stocking

I am thinking of starting a new tradition:  the Solstice Stocking.  For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere (especially here at the 47th parallel), we celebrate the winter solstice or midwinter.  Midwinter is the day when we have the shortest number of daylight hours, but after that, the days start to get longer .  I think we all need a stocking filled with goodies to celebrate the returning of the LIGHT!!!  All in the Southern Hemisphere, how about a Summer Solstice Stocking?

Why a stocking, you say?  Especially a striped one?  Well, another tradition that goes along with this Solstice Stocking could be stash busting!  Check out this fabulous looking example my friend Michelle made for her son, Grant, from pieces of Cascade 220 , Cascade Pastaza, and other mystery yarn from her stash and a pattern from the book, Christmas Stockings.

She brought this to our knitting group the other evening and we all went crazy.  We couldn't take our hands off it.  It's big enough to get your hand inside of it (!) and long enough but not tooooo long.  Just right.


And, since I (and several others in our group) have yet to knit a sock (!!!) what a great way to learn sock basics than on a really big sock, that doesn't have to fit and is going to be felted so that any minor mistakes will be somewhat obliterated!


A couple of interesting items to note:

  1. Michelle tells me she knit all the stripes the same width/same number of rows.

  2. As you can see, they didn't felt the same.  Which, actually, I think, adds to the visual interest of the stocking.  If (no WHEN) I make my stocking, and if I use all the same yarn, I will vary the widths of the stripes so that the end result is like Michelle's.

  3. Shaving the finished product made a huge difference in the look.  The consensus among the group (and most importantly, from Grant's point of view) was the shaved look was superior to the fuzzy look.  Here are the two sides, you decide. 

  4. The Wonder Washer.  I just recently read about this product on Craft Gossip, a new site for me.  I will be checking this site out for tips.  Back to the  Wonder Washer, it looks like it might be a good solution for those of us with front loaders that take forever to felt items.

He's playing soccer now, but come December 21st, he will be looking in his stocking to see what the Solstice has brought him.


Wonder Washer



Christmas Stockings

Handknit Holidays : Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Loving This Apron from Kim

A way to support a local crafts person and  it looks good, too!

Give me grasshoppers!!!!

I love this apron from Kim.




And if you want to dip your toe or your grasshoppers into creating your own apron, try taking a peek at these books:

Bend-the-Rules Sewing or Amy Butler's In Stitches or Denyse Schmidt Quilts for inspiration. 




Monday, September 17, 2007

Embellish Knit Video Tutorial: Part One and Two

Tutorial:  Part One Tutorial:  Part Two

This video tutorial is for the Bond Embellish-Knit!.  and Magicord knitting machine.

Here is the approximate text of the videos:
This is a tutorial on how to use either the Bond Magicord or the Bond Embellish-Knit!.  spool knitting machine. Both machines will produce a very nice, even 4 stitch i-cord of any length that can be used in a variety of ways.  The i-cord straps for my FREE Bib Pattern, were made using the  Embellish-Knit!

I have the Embellish-Knit!.  so that is the machine I will use.
There are 3 items in the package:
1. the machine
2. the clamp or the weight
3. the needle or threader

You are given some practice yarn in the package and I encourage you to use that yarn for practicing since it is in a gauge of yarn that will work in the machine. For the demonstration, I am going to use a sport weight cotton yarn.

One note about this machine is that bulky yarns will not work in it and they say worsted yarn will not work in it, but I am able to make Cascade 220 work in it and I understand that Harrisville Shetland Wool works in it. More about that later.

Before we start, I suggest you sit at a table and have a pillow or a folded blanket positioned near your feet. Toward the end of the demonstration, all will be revealed!

Now on to the demonstration
Before we begin, notice that you have 4 hooks in the center of the machine.
Now, turn the crank. Be certain to turn the crank only in the direction indicated by the arrow on the machine. Notice that the hooks rotate up and down as you turn the crank. Notice that there are little latches on each hook. More on this later.

The first thing you do is thread the machine. You do this by putting the thread through the hole at the bottom and then through the notch at the top and then drop it down the center. You can use the needle provided in the package if you like to make it easier.
Or, you can use any tapestry needle that you have to do the same. Or you can just do it with your fingers.

Once you have the yarn coming out of the bottom of the machine, clamp the weight to the end of the thread. Hold on to the clamp or the weight of it will pull your yarn right through the machine. Like This!!

Make certain that your yarn is to the left of the machine and is "free flowing", or has NO tension on the yarn. If there is tension on the yarn, or if it is not feeding from the left, the machine will jam. Trust me on this…

SLOWLY begin turning the crank on the machine in the direction indicated.  At this point, you will have to hold the yarn (providing some tension on the yarn, just when I told you not to have tension on the yarn) with your left hand to keep it from falling through the machine but later, you will not.
(You will get to turn the crank more speedily later, but for now SLOWLY)

As the yarn passes the 1st hook, make certain it CATCHES in the hook, with the latch down.

As the yarn passes, the 2nd hook, make certain it SKIPS the hook. You may have to assist the yarn, either with your finger, the needle, or a crochet hook. Whatever works for you.

As the yarn passes the 3rd hook, make certain it CATCHES in the hook, with the latch down.

As the yarn passes, the 4th hook, make certain it SKIPS the hook. You may have to assist the yarn, either with your finger, the needle, or a crochet hook. Whatever works for you.

To recap, on the first round, the 1st and 3rd hooks, CATCH the yarn, the 2nd and 4th hooks SKIP or pass over the yarn.

OK, so now you are ready for the second round.
Again, slowly, turn the crank, making certain that the yarn from the second round catches in the 1st hook AND the yarn from the first round goes BELOW the latch on the 1st hook.

2nd hook, yarn will catch on the hook in between the hook and the latch.  There won't be any yarn from the first round to go below the latch like on the first hook because we skipped this hook on the first round, (remember?!).
3rd hook, same as the 1st,
4th hook, same as the 2nd

Before we continue to the THIRD ROUND and all other rounds, this is a good time to check 2 things:
1. is your yarn tension free and feeding from the left?
2. is the clamp or weight hanging free?
Both must be hanging and flowing FREE for this little machine to work!!

ROUND THREE and all subsequent ROUNDS

Now, Stop here for a minute and make certain that your yarn is flowing freely from the left.  At this point, the machine will hold the yarn and it won't fall through.  Also, make certain that the clamp is hanging freely so that it can pull the product through the machine.
OK, now you can crank away. Well, go slowly at first. Keep you eye on the center of the hook area to make certain that things are not jamming.

I like to set the machine on the edge of a table  or my arm on the edge of the table just to make things easier. That way I'm not holding it up in the air! Just make certain that you don't compromise the center hole where the finished product comes out. If that is not allowed to hang weighted, the machine will jam.

So, you see, I am cranking away here. Pretty soon, the product will emerge from the bottom of the machine.

Here it is now. When the clamp starts to get too far from the machine, move the clamp closer to the machine.

When you think the i-cord is long enough for your project, remove the clamp, just temporarily, so that you can measure it. The machine is about 4 ½ tall so you have about 4 ½ of i-cord in the machine and then whatever amount is outside the machine.
After removing the clamp, the i-cord will spring back from being stretched, so you can measure what you have and you will have a pretty good estimate of length. After measuring, PUT THE CLAMP BACK ON.

If in doubt, make it longer, because, once you cut it, there is no going back.

Once you have the length you want, cut the yarn and continue cranking. The i-cord will get a little longer until the machine runs out of yarn and then the weight of the clamp will pull the i-cord through the machine and it will fall out of the machine, usually on to the floor. This is why you want a pillow or a blanket or something soft for it to land on. You don't want the clamp to break since the outside of it is plastic.

Now you have your finished i-cord. If it is too long, unravel it to the correct length. Then, bind it off by threading the loose end through the loops using your needle.  Weave in the ends and you are finished!

The yarn used for this demonstration of the  Embellish-Knit!. is Tahki Cotton Classic which is considered a sport weight or lighter. Although worsted weight is not recommended by the manufacturer, I was able to use Cascade 220 and my method of using this machine and achieve very good results.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Acrobats and Puppy Dogs Need Help

Barbara Walker at some of her most whimsical.

 "Acrobats" (Band 55, figure 91) on the bottom row and Puppy Dogs (Mosaic 105, figure 69) on the top, from Mosaic Knitting by Barbara Walker.



Working on what to do with the wavy sides of this Button Knot Bib.  As you can see, I have started a single crochet to see if that will tame the wave, but I think I will have to be "less tentative" as a friend suggested with my crochet so that it asserts itself over the wavy edge.  I may try a "pick up and knit a garter edge" on the other side to see if that helps, but I am not very good at picking up stitches evenly, so I do it with trepidation...




Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Old Vogue Swatch


My fascination with 2 color slip stitch continues.  This garter slip stitch pattern is from an old Vogue Knitting magazine I un-earthed (I mean re-discovered in a closet) and looks as fresh as it did when it was presented in 1994.

It starts to have a mosaic feel, but the pattern is not charted, and has a repeat that becomes fairly easy to remember.  Combined with the stockinette slip stitch band above and below, makes for a pleasing  overall pattern.




Then I just kept going...



Monday, September 03, 2007

Fuchsia Sophie: From Shapeless to Shapely

Serving up a Sophie Bag in fuchsia for summer. I've been using this all summer and loving it. I know summer is "officially" over, but these summer colors will be a bright spot as we head into the the dark days of winter. Oh, wait, we still have autumn!!!

The bag goes from shapeless to shapely


 by using a firm plastic bottom (!) which I had custom cut at a local plastic shop for only a couple of dollars which included rounding the corners.  They called the material ABS

 and you can read all about what it is at their site: Tap Plastics.  Hint, lighter colors, like white, make it easier to see into the depths of your purse, so if you are making anything larger than this little bag, I recommend you use white or a light color.


It's stiffer than a milk carton and you don't have to sew it in.  You just place it in the bottom of the bag.  

When you go to launder the bag, you just lift it out.  I had the corners rounded at the shop so that there would be no sharp edges to rub  and wear against the felting and eventually poke a hole in all my hard work!

Cascade 220 is the yarn of choice.  Details on felting, finishing, and the Noni Camellias, here.


Chelan Dishcloths

Overdue photo of dishcloths for a friend's condo in Chelan. We have spent many weekends there when we needed some sun and relaxation. Here is the reverse side of the garter stitch mosiac. Makes an interesting pattern. More than once have I seen it used on the reverse side by the recipients of the bibs. (I think they like the reverse side better!!) ;*)
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Three Bibs for Aili

Three Bibs for Aili

Just found out that our friends Anne and Adam had another baby.

I had fun with the colors, which are becoming my signature (to hide food stains: this is my theory since we never had kids, but we certainly spill a lot of food!)

Details on how to make these here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


When is a bib not a bib?  Apparently when it's a hat!! 

Proof positive that bibs are very versatile and when you are through using your bib to dust away your crumbs, up it goes on your head as fashion accessory!

Modeled for you by the beautiful Gwynnie!




Improv Knitting Gee's Bend Style


 It's not that I haven't been knitting, it's that I haven't been blogging (or always taking photos, although I manage to take photos of knitted items that are going out the door so that I don't forget what I did!).

(different light, different photographers, with different skills is why the colors look different.  OK, fuchsia and chartreuse and red are hard to photograph).


Here is my first attempt at short rows, Gee's Bend style, thanks to Nona's tutorial on improvisational knitting.  I followed it to the letter, except I changed colors every time instead of repeating colors.  Also, as you can see, I didn't weave in the ends as I went along. (Tahki Cotton Classic was slippery).   Next time, I will. 

I didn't do the side pieces, so it's a little "bulge-y" on one side but it has rhythm!


BTW, the tutorial is GREAT!!!  Very detailed where it needs to be, but not overly so.  After a while, what you are doing becomes intuitive and at that point, Nona's  must have figured that out and and the directions become even easier  to follow.  Thanks, Nona!  Keep writing great tutorials!!!


Finished and been through the wash a number of times.  Jim uses it as a polishing cloth for one of his many musical instruments...


Variations on a Theme

Variations on a Theme

A quick photo of Aili's bib before shipping. Garter ribs, stockinette, slipped stitches and garter mosaic, all with a garter rib edge to keep it flat.

(Photo would have looked a little better if I had washed the bib before shooting, but I was out of time...)

Details for the straps here.

Getting Ready to Go To Denver's 1st Birthday Party!!

Inspired totally by Jess Hutch's adorable robot, but created without a pattern, since she is no longer selling her book. Some careful looking at photos and lots of counting and charting and trial and error and knitting and frogging and I arrived at a finished product by B-Day, Denver's birthday party!

I decided to try Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool for this project. The verdict: while the wool has a soft silky feel, it pills and fuzzes (technical term). How do I know this since the item was not "worn" or washed? Remember, I said I had to do a lot of knitting, re-knitting, frogging, etc. The yarn did not take kindly to being frogged. There was a lot of fuzzing, making pulling the stitches out somewhat difficult. I guess my benchmark is Cascade 220, which you can pull out over and over again, with little ill effects.

Final verdict: I would NOT purchase this yarn again.

Without a pattern I had to improvise in a few areas:

1. the arms: I chose to pick up stitches at the shoulder and then increase to get the total number required for the arm, knitting it flat, sewing it up afterward. If I were to do it again, it would do it on dpns and stuff the arm as I went along. Not liking all the seaming...

2. the legs: I knit both of them at the same time so they would be the same length. Really, they are, although in some of the photos, they don't look like they are. Again, if I were doing this again, I would do them on dpns, (seaming!!). I would probably switch to flat knitting for the body and head since I think that the seaming does help give the robot more structure.

3. For the antenna, I doubled the yarn and reduced the needle size to 1/2 the size I was using for the body of the robot to get some real structure! Again, I picked up and knit the i-cord antenna before i seamed the top of the head.

in general, I was trying to reduce the amount of seaming/sewing because it is the most time consuming and if you don't do it carefully, it detracts from the look of your toy. I am only so-so on the seaming... (working on improving). But everyone loves the robot, so that's what it's really all about!

Sadly, the gifts were opened after the party, so no cute shots of the kid with the gift...

And here is the requisite shot of the young one with cake on the face and what looks like a future in orchestra conducting! Or perhaps a plea to get this stuff off my face, please.