Cotton!

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3DishT

It’s no secret that I really like cotton.  I love knitting with it.  It’s my favorite fiber for socks and for sweaters.  Recently, I’ve been noticing that I have a lot (A LOT) of cotton around, much of which I had intended for projects like tote bags and dish towels.

Around the beginning of my spring break week off, I started working on more dish towels.  I was hoping to plow through many, since I sure could use them in my kitchen, but as usual, I eventually got sidelined by other projects that began calling my name.

Here’s what I managed to make:

2DishT

I am quite happy with them.  The blue one is Sugar n Cream cotton in a striping colorway, and the green/brown one is knit from one of my favorite yarns:  Lion Brand Recycled Cotton.  I hit the jackpot a while back and found a bunch on sale, and it’s been stored up for some time now.  I thought it might make some nice dish cloths, and it does!

As I have done before, I knit a loop on the blue towel in the waffle pattern so that I can hang it on my pantry door, where I often need a towel to be.

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 It’s so handy!  I hope to make a bunch more like this for use in the kitchen.  I already have the yarn.  Now I just need the time…

~Happy knitting!

FO: Flore Sweater

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Flore1

I decided not to block it, but here is my completed Flore sweater.  I am generally happy with how it turned out.  It is warm and soft to wear.

Flore

My reasons for knitting this sweater were that I really wanted to use this yarn, and I wanted a nice, hand knit, winter sweater that I could wear casually.

Flore3

The pattern is Flore by Julie Hoover.  You can click HERE for the pattern on Ravelry.  The pattern is a bottom up sweater design that is quick and fun to do. 

I knit this with Bernat Denimstyle yarn in the colors cream and acid wash.  It is an Aran weight yarn that is a blend of 30% cotton and 70% acrylic.

I used size 8 Addi Turbo Lace circular needles and size 8 bamboo DPNs.

Flore2

In the meantime, I have started yet another new knitting project.  Here’s a preview:

B1

~Happy knitting!

Camp Loopy 2012: A First Look at Project Two

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My raggedy knitting chair & latest project.

Knitting/crochet for Camp Loopy project two began this past Wed, June 27.  We will have four weeks to complete this project, which is a significantly larger project for most of us participating as compared to project one.  For me, it will be about 3 times the yardage that I knit for project one.

As I indicated in a previous post, I am knitting the Garden Cardigan using Cascade Ultra Pima cotton in a bright red color.  Despite the chaos of the last week and a half, I have made some good headway.

 

 

Leafy border on the cardigan

I have sort of spiraled down into a project schizoprenia again, which doesn’t surprise me, since I’m learning that I seem to cycle.  I can go a while being focused on a few main projects, get them completed, and plan for the next round.  This is then followed by a wave of yarn obsession and pattern envy which drives me to start a myriad of projects, work on them for a day or so, and then drop all of it for an entire new set of ideas and fiber that I want to work with.

Knitting with dealines requires that I focus a bit more, so I am trying to dwindle it down to three or so.

A second deadline I have now set for myself is my sister’s birthday in a few weeks.  I started the Green Grocer bag in hopes of giving it to her as part of her gift if it turns out nicely.  It is actually a crochet pattern!  I am not much of a crocheter anymore, although I was rarely without a hook in my hands in my youth.  I just don’t seem to enjoy it anymore, and I find the versatility of knitting so much more satisfying.  That said, I am enjoying this pattern, and I forgot about the ‘instant gratification’ associated with how quickly crocheted projects work up! 

Here is what I have so far. 

It is actually turning out to be a rather large bag.  Doesn’t it look like it belongs on the beach, or at a farmer’s market somewhere?  I am crocheting it with yarn from my stash called Pattons Pure Organic cotton in a bright pink color that is simply called “red” on the yarn band.  It is SO soft, I am starting to think I should have saved this yarn for a sweater, and crocheted the bag with something else. 

I’ll be working on the bag a bit more tonight, so we will see how far I get.  In spite of all of my ambition and plans for this weekend, I hit a bit of a wall after I got up this AM, so I made it somewhat of a ‘mental health day’ instead: resting, cooking, and hanging with the dogs.  I’ll be off for part of the upcoming week, and my brother is coming into town, so I will have lots of time to get caught up on my knit/crochet projects.

 

~Happy knitting!

FO: Recycled Cotton Pullover (or ‘What To Do When Your Sweater is Too Big’)

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I finished my first official sweater today!  One could argue that the Raglan Sleeve Topper was my first official sweater, but honestly, the construction of that thing is nothing like that of a traditional sweater.  It is more of a shawl or poncho with sleeves, and the finishing involved seaming together what is essentially 6 triangles.   

 This is my first sweater with all of the typical sweater parts, and I finished seaming them together today.  I almost didn’t because once I had the second sleeve attached, but not yet seamed, I realized that I had a problem.  The sleeves were really big, and really heavy.  They were so big that they extended beyond my arms by an easy 6 to 8 inches.  They were so heavy, that once attached to the shoulders of the sweater, they stretched it width-wise so that the neckline got wider, and the pulling made the sleeves even longer and made the arm pits hang as though the garment was a choir robe.

Hmmm.  Not good, people.  Not good.

So this begs the question:  What do you do when your sweater is too big?

When you think about it, you don’t have to just lay down and accept it.  We knitters are meant to handle these situations.  I tried not to wither with dissapointment.  The bad news is, my sweater that I carefully planned, became attached to, and toiled over off and on for months doesn’t fit me.  

The good news is that I’m pretty sure that ‘the giant sweater project’ is a right of passage for every knitter, just like the mushroom hat, and the Bigfoot sock that most of us never speak of, but have tucked away somewhere as a reminder of these important lessons that we learn (the hard way). 

So if you find yourself, as I did, with a giant sweater on your hands, you mustn’t despair.  You have options!

  • Option 1:  Depending on how in love you might have been with the idea of your sweater, or on how much you might have spent on some high-end yarn for it, as well as the amount of time spent toiling over its creation, you might consider gaining weight in order to accommodate your giant sweater.  I suggest Culver’s cheese curds, Dove ice cream bars, and Baker’s Square’s Grown-up Grilled Cheese with a side of pie for achieving this goal.

 

  • Option 2:  If you are not overly attached to it, you could donate the sweater.  In my case, for instance, I’m sure that there must be a needy orangutan somewhere who would greatly appreciate a lovely hand knit sweater.  Contact your local wildlife park.

 

  • Option 3:   Remove those sleeves!  This option is much less fun than 1 and 2, but it is what I found myself considering once the sleeves were attached to my sweater.   Initially, I entertained the idea of removing both sleeves, and then soaking them and running them on high heat in the dryer in the hopes that they would shrink.  It might have worked.  I also spent time reworking the pattern, and at one point had decided to stop seaming the sweater in order to knit two new, appropriately sized sleeves.

I had basically convinced myself of the above plan until I tried the sweater on one last time.  This time, in examining my creation, I decided that the whole sweater was just plain oversized, and that the sleeves were merely a symptom of this overall issue.  I wanted the sweater to be loose-fitting, so I chose the size accordingly, which I think contributed to my problem.

My sweater is knit from Lion Brand Recycled Cotton, and from this detail I derived option 4.

  • Option 4:  Finish seaming the thing as planned, then soak it and cook it up in the dryer on high heat. 

I figured this would either be my solution, or it would ruin the whole sweater.  I decided that it was my best option, and that I would give it a try.  I could always remove the sleeves and start over on them afterwards if I still feel it would improve the garment.  I have yarn left over.

I turned the sweater inside out and soaked it in cool water with some SOAK wash (the special Ravelry scent called Unleash which I love because it smells like watermelon).  Then I drained off the water and ran it in the dryer on the highest setting along with a towel for good measure.  I checked on my sweater periodically, and ended up heating it a good long while (even beyond the point that it was actually dry).

Here is my sweater as it fit me prior to the dryer experiment.  It actually doesn’t look as oversized in the photos as it actually was, so you’ll have to trust me that the thing was huge.

 

 

Here is the fit after the dryer experiment:  it worked!

 

My only complaints are that I enjoyed the drape of the sweater more before I cooked it, and that it is still bulky at the attachment point of the sleeves to the body of the sweater.  I’ll still wear it though, and I have to say that I will also approach my next sweater differently based on what I have learned with this one.

~Happy knitting! 

Sorry the photos are so crumby.  It was storming all day, so the lighting was bad, and after all of the trial and error with my sweater, I wasn’t in the mood for trial and error with my photography.  I left them as is and decided to post with them anyway.

Here we go again…

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…with the seaming.  Yay seaming (with facetious tone).  Does seaming sweaters make anyone else as nervous as it makes me?

So I now have a front, a back and two sleeves for my Recycled Cotton Pullover. 

This seems to happen with me and (my limited experience with) sweaters.  The closer I get to completing all of the parts, the more giddy and happy I get.  Then, when I bind off that last sleeve, the reality sets in:  now I have to seam this damn thing.

My perfectionist high standards make this a task that is basically impossible for me to accomplish adequately, and just the thought of seaming all of my pretty parts together gives me chest pains.

#1  Clearly I’m taking this too seriously.  #2  Clearly, I need more practice seaming sweaters!

OK, so here are the parts sort of placed together so I can imagine my pretty sweater once it’s finished.

This time around, I know that whip stitch is not the answer, and that I need to graft shoulders and sew sides and sleeves.  With this knowledge, I’m already better off than I was at the time of my last seaming debacle.  At the time of this post, I have actually satisfactorily grafted one shoulder seam in preparation for knitting on the neckline.

I’ll just keep telling myself that it will be ok….

…hopefully in the next few days, I’ll have a post featuring me, sporting a loose-fitting, casual, cotton sweater (and not me in the fetal position with a sweater sleeve grafted into my hair as my dogs look on…)

One can only hope.

I Make My Own Sunshine

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Not to overload you on scandal and sex but….

…I have my most recent hand knit dish towel to show you:

     

 Such wild topics being discussed around here lately. 

I actually finished this one a few days ago.  This is knit from KnitPicks CotLin, light weight yarn in the color Creme Brulee.  It started out fantastic and ended up not quite what I was hoping for, but the good news is, it’s a dish towel.  Everything will be ok (or at least that’s what I keep telling my inner perfectionist).

I did start another, in the same pattern (I’m gonna get it right this time!) with KnitPicks yarn called Comfy — 75% cotton and 25% acrylic blend.   Photos to follow.

Meanwhile, the universe has been holding me by my ankles and shaking every last penny out of me.  Somehow, I have averaged about a grand a week in unexpected car repair bills, and other unexpected personal bills over the last three (yes, three) weeks.  I was handling it ok until yesterday when it all just sort of landed on me like a bag of bricks.  So rather than melt into a heap, I have been working on a plan — a plan involving coupons, Spagettios and deprivation — in order to lower my cortisol levels resulting from the situation.

This plan also requires that I knit from my stash (what?!) for a while, so we will see how that goes.  I would rather eat ‘Oodles o’ Noodles’ all year than not buy any new yarn, but I realize that a compromise between the options would be more healthy for me…  So there is that.

I haven’t shown any new photos of the Butterfly Beanie since I have been working on it a bit here and there over the last few weeks.  It kept me busy at the car repair shop, the tire shop, and the Baker’s Square restaurant this past Monday.  I hope to show it again soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to show you this:

My Hide N Sheep stitch markers.  Aren’t they pretty?  I have to say that they doll up my work in progress quite nicely, and they just plain make me happy.

I mentioned Hide N Sheep’s Etsy shop a while back when I placed my order for some things.  It’s really worth a gander if you haven’t shopped there before.  The prices are economical (read:  CHEAP) while the quality of the items is really super.

One of the main reasons that I ordered was to buy this adorable abacus style row counting bracelet.  They make all kinds, but here is mine:

 See that little silver loop on the bottom, just below the clasp there?  It’s to hold your mini stitch markers!  They thought of everything!  AND for those of us obsessive sock knitters, Hide and Sheep makes great, tiny, itty bitty stitch markers for DPNs in the commonly used sizes such as 0’s and 1’s and 2’s. 

 

 

Cute, eh?

 

My secret is, I tend to use the bracelet more when I’m NOT knitting, because it serves to remind me of knitting (which in turn makes me happy).  So on busy work days, when my morale is waning, you might notice me sporting a certain, cute bracelet.  It works! 

One last thing:  if you were wondering about my sudden preponderance of blog posts, I am in fact on a 1 week spring break from the college, which leaves me extra time to knit and blog.  Whoo!

 

~Happy knitting!

Feelin’ Domestic?

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What?!  A new post? 

Sorry I’ve been AWOL again.  Lots going on in ‘real life’.  Knitting did continue as well, in real life, but I didn’t have time or energy to blog about it. 

The good news is, I’m brimming with ideas, and now I actually have time to share. 

So I showed you the Butterfly Beanie that I am working on in the last post.  The pattern and yarn are from knitpicks.com.  With that same purchase, I ordered a sampler (I love a good sampler!) of easy care, spring yarns.  It included small, single balls of five, lovely, KnitPicks yarns in pretty, spring colors. 

 Part of the deal was that each ball of yarn would have a corresponding pattern for working it up.  And each one did…..but the patterns were, well…..let’s say….sad.  (Imagine worsted weight doilies and ‘hats’ that look like toilet paper cozies on the models’ heads…).

So I loved the yarn (why does fiber make me so happy????), but with little, single balls, in different colors, what could I do with it all?

Most of the balls were cotton or cotton blend, and I was overcome by my inner domestic goddess, so I started churning out the dish towels.

Ha!  It seems so boring and simple and not sexy, but I have to confess that I love a good dish towel.  If you have ever made hand knit, cotton dish towels, you know how great they are.  So I will be happy to add a few more into my household rotation.

I made the first one from KnitPicks yarn called Dishie (100% cotton for towel making of all kinds) in the colorway Linen.  I found the really cute and SO easy pattern HERE, where this super lady (misswoolyknits) knits up her own dish towels from left over schnitzels of cotton yarns and they turn out looking AWESOME!  How do some people do that?!

In any case, here is mine, knit from my Dishie, hanging on my pantry door.  I improvised the hanging loop for this purpose.

 

 

This is another one that is still in the works, being knit up in KnitPicks yarn CotLin (a light-weight, cotton and linen blend) in the colorway Creme Brulee:

 

I’m following a pattern from an old pattern book for this one.  It’s a neat, honeycomb-type pattern that is fun to do, and works well with the lighter gauge of this yarn. 

Incidentally, I also bought a sweater’s amount of CotLin in a lovely blue colorway called Planetarium in hopes of knitting a summer, short-sleeved, pullover sweater that I can wear to work.  The problem is, even with an advanced search, I couldn’t find a single, nice, sweater pattern that fits those criteria on Ravelry.  All of the short-sleeved, summer sweater patterns are for cardigans.

If anyone reading this happens to have a suggestion, it would be MUCH appreciated.  Otherwise, it’s back to my Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Book of Patterns to make my own.  I’m not really good enough at sweaters yet to really WANT to design my own, so I’m hoping to find a pattern soon.

Happy knitting!

FO: Mandarin Vines Socks (and a look at SWTC Tofutsies sock yarn)

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The idea of completing many of my UFO’s from this past year is still keeping my interest, and I finished yet another one this week:  my Mandarin Vines socks. 

  

 

I finished the first one last September, and the second of the pair was also started at that time, but never completed.  I knit these on size 0 DPNs, from Tofutsies sock yarn.  The overall design is mine again – combining the overall pattern for an 8 stitches per inch standard sock (from Ann Budd’s book, Getting Started Knitting Socks) with a body pattern option called “Mandarin Vines”, published in the first Socks A La Carte pattern book put out by SouthWest Trading Co., the same company that produces Tofutsies yarn.

Here is a look at the Mandarin Vines pattern stitch detail:

 

Have you used SWTC’s Tofutsies sock yarn?  Most people either love it or hate it.  It is tough sometimes to find it, even in the local yarn shops.  I happen to like it quite a bit, and I’ll pick up a ball here and there whenever I see it.

 

 

It’s a nice change from heavier wool options, and it makes cooler socks.  The yarn is VERY fine and thread like.  It is a combination of 50% superwash wool, with the other 50% content including cotton, a plant fiber called Soysilk, and chitosan which is a natural compound that has antibacterial qualities which are great for feet.

The Socks a La Carte Books are great when you need ideas.  They contain many inspiring photos of completed socks, as well as a flip-book style catalog of options for not just patterns for the body and instep of a sock, but also various heels, toes and cuffs.  So fun! 

 

 

Here are my finished socks with one already having been blocked, and the other just off of my needles.  What a case for blocking your knitting, right?! 

 

 Blocking really helps to show off the quality of the work, and gives the object a professional look.  Once the second sock is blocked (it’s already on a blocker as I type this), it will look just the like the lower sock in the above photo. 

I think these socks are in the running for inclusion as one of my Lake County Fair entries this summer.  They may be my favorite socks that I have made so far.  The yarn really allowed for the stitch pattern to show up nicely. 

I’m now on to hopefully finish my Primavera socks.

~Happy knitting!

Catching Up

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I’m still super-busy here, which explains my ‘dead beat’ status as a blogger lately.  I was also nursing a nasty head cold all week.  I did have some time to relax this weekend (finally), in between laundry and grocery shopping.

I know I never posted a photo of the Socktopus yarn mittens (original design by me) once they were done, so here they are (one with the top surface facing up, and one with the palm surface facing up so you can see the two textures).

I got my email notifying me that my next installment of Knit Love Club Socktopus yarn will be on its way soon, and I’m anxiously awaiting that.

I also got to work over the past week on the first sleeve of my Lion Brand Recycled Cotton sweater.  The front and back of the sweater are finished, so now it’s just sleeves and seaming and the neckline which I’ll probably work on in little spurts in between everything else. 

And look at this:  something is soaking, in preparation for blocking! 

Can you guess what it is?  Here’s a hint – it’s not socks. 

Tune in to my next post for the answer… 

Idle Minds…

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I spend a lot of my free time knitting.  When I’m not knitting, it’s usually safe to assume that I am thinking about knitting.  And when I am thinking about knitting without actually knitting, after too long, I start to BUY things related to knitting.  This is not always a good thing.

I’m almost done with sleeve #2 of the Raglan Sleeve Topper, so I’m mostly on schedule.  I’m hoping that next weekend, I will be able to block and assemble the main parts of the sweater.  The thought of this has left me with a bit of ‘sweater on the brain’, and so I bought some yarn (okay, a lot of yarn) in anticipation of future sweaters.

Even though I bought yarn that I do not in the immediate term need, with money that I really should be using for more responsible endeavors elsewhere, I at least made a relatively economical purchase.  I bought the yarn from knitpicks.com, a company that prides itself in supplying quality yarn that is affordable.  All three of my choices will be entirely new to me, so I am excited to see what they are like.

I chose a sweater’s worth (each) of:

  • Swish, washable wool in the color Garnet heather
  • Wool of the Andes in the color Persimmon heather
  • Full Circle, recycled wool (how COOL is that!?) in a color called Ponderosa

I was really turned on to the idea of the recycled wool.  If you recall, I am also in the midst of knitting my first pullover sweater in Lion Brand Recycled Cotton yarn, which I love. 

Now I will have recycled wool.  Full Circle is said to be a combo of Merino and Highland wool, and I wanted to buy bundles of it, but I decided to get some superwash wool since it is so practical, and also some Wool of the Andes since it’s so c-h-e-a-p — and I wanted to try each one to see which I liked best and how they are different.

Can you tell that I am excited by this purchase (that I had no business making)?! 

Well, that’s not all the shopping that I managed to do this weekend (and if I had a close and trusted friend, I would give her my credit card for safe-keeping, at this point…)

I was perusing knitting blogs this morning, when I came across some information on the Hide and Sheep Etsy shop.  At Hide and Sheep, you can buy all sorts of hand-made, beautifully beaded stitch markers, stitch counters, and these dreamy bracelets that are actually row counters in disguise!  I tend to think of myself as a fairly practical knitter, and other than a little piece of knitting bling that the Loopy Ewe sent to me as a gift along with one of my orders, my stitch markers are more or less all little bits of plastic.  And actually, so far, I tend to prefer those little plastic coiled rings to any other type of stitch marker that I have tried. 

But here is what got me about Hide and Sheep, guys.

I really wanted one of the row counter bracelets because I thought it might be yet another way to have something with me all day long that reminds me of knitting, without being totally obvious (and besides, they are so pretty!).  Since I was planning to choose a row counter bracelet, I was perusing the rest of the available knitting bling, and noticed how nice and how inexpensive the notions were.  This is where I justified adding some stitch markers, row counters and sock knitting needle huggers to my order.  I also had a 10% off coupon code.  And I have no hope of ever retiring.

Speaking of retiring, I am about to go fill out paperwork now that I am eligible for my employment 401K benefit.  Seems like I need to think hard about this one.  I hope, someday, to be a little, old, knitting, lady whose most pressing appointments involve meeting with her knitting group, and cranking out warm clothes and blankets for various charities.  At this rate, that’s going to take some planning. 

I’ll have plenty of time to think about it while I’m knitting all of these sweaters!  Happy knitting!

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