Monday, September 11, 2017

A Day Well-Spent

The Garden State Sheep Breeders annual festival was held this past weekend and my husband and I went on Saturday. We had absolutely splendid weather; sunny, warm, and breezy. That part of New Jersey completely defies the stereotype. It is bucolic with some old towns punctuating the road there. Granted, it's a stone's throw from outlet stores and what-have-you, but none of that matters when you're among 80+ exhibitors and lots of sheep!

So, what did I buy? The first purchase was a mere 20 yards of wool art yarn from Hope's Favorite Things. It's variegated in bright pastels, and look at all those whorls! It's hard to know what to do with such a small quantity, especially something so bumpy. My first thought was to find a beautiful hook and a place on the wall where I can look at it ALL THE TIME! On a more knitterly note, there is a technique, inlay knitting, which is somewhat similar to stranded knitting. In this case, however, the second yarn is not knit, but woven back and forth between the background stitches. This allows the inlay yarn to go much further and doesn't require trying to wrap the whorls around a knitting needle. It can be used as an accent on a plainer yarn.

The second purchase was from Taylored Fibers, a whopping 600 yard hank of 100% alpaca, not-quite red with a bumpy texture. It is on the table next to me as I type, and it makes me want to keep alpacas in the yard.

I also ran across a vendor I purchased from at Stitches West 2016, Cozy Rabbit Farms, now called Cozy Color Works. I didn't realize that she is located in New Jersey. She had little sample cards of her sock yarn. I can't wait to see how they knit up!

For those of you in the hurricane zones, please stay safe and well. My thoughts are with you.

Until next time . . .

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jumbo Golf Club Cover

Family Portrait

The golf club covers were well received but, alas, not big enough for the largest of the clubs. To make the jumbo cover, I used the original pattern, modifying it with ten extra stitches and an extra pair of stripes. Perfect.

I also added a selvedge stitch to make picking up the stitches for the ribbing easier. Not so perfect - - I put it on the gathering edge rather than the ribbing edge. No harm done, of course, but this is why published patterns are test knit. I'm shaking my head at my mistake.

And, oh yeah, I "needed" and bought an even larger pom-pom maker. To speed up the work, I held two strands of yarn together for wrapping the form. It is more difficult to keep the wrapping even but the pom-pom still came out quite well.

I haven't had a request yet for covers for the smaller clubs, so I'm going to try to wrap up the next project I want to share with you. Until then . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Take 2: I Never Thought I'd Make . . .

Sorry, everyone, somehow this post went out unfinished. Cheeky post. Here is the whole thing.

My youngest nephew has taken up golf and my sister asked me to make a couple of club covers in his school colors. You don't have to ask me twice. It turns out they're not a frivolous item - - pom-poms excluded - - but protect the club heads from damage. By some miracle, my local Michaels had Vanna's Choice in the correct colors and matching dye lots in sufficient quantities to make a set. Needless to say, I now have enough black and gold yarn for a set.

I was going to do my own design based on my cup cozy pattern, (and I still may - - after all I do have enough yarn for a set)  but I wanted to get a couple of them done quickly. I found these Swirl of Color covers on Ravelry. It's mostly an easy pattern as the body is knit flat and seamed. The ribbing is picked up along one edge and knit in the round. The pattern calls for binding off the ribbing with a much larger needle, but I used Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off  instead. This is an awesome technique, creating a tidy bind-off with remarkable stretch as you can see in the second photograph.

As it turns out, the pom-poms do serve a function, covering the gap that occurs when the top is gathered. I decided I needed new pom-pom makers (of course I did) and I picked one of the sets from Clover.

The set comes with complete instructions and there are numerous tutorials online, but I did come up with my own little twist. The pom-pom maker has two halves that are wrapped separately. Two halves equals two colors! Now, depending on where you tie the pom-pom, you can divide the colors differently. If you force the knot between the colors, as at the black arrow, you get a side-by-side division like the pom-pom to the left. If you force the knot to the side as at either of the gold arrows, you get a top and bottom division like the one to the right. Looking at that second pom-pom, I think it looks top-heavy. It might be worthwhile to wrap the bottom half a bit more fully than the top.

Okay, now I'm done! Until next time . . .

Friday, April 28, 2017

Underline Stitch

Underline Stitch

This is an original pattern stitch I developed a number of years ago. I call it "Underline Stitch" for the line of strands it forms across the work. It's best worked in a singles yarn because plies detract from the cohesive look of the strands. Also, it biases wildly, so a natural yarn that blocks well is a must. My swatches here are worked in Lamb's Pride Worsted on US 8 (5 mm) needles.

Underline Stitch

Loosely cast on any number of stitches.

Preparation row (RS): K every st wrapping yarn twice.

Row 1 (WS): K every st dropping the second wrap.

Row 2: For every st, with the right needle, go under the head of the next stitch in the row below from the bottom (Figure 1), lift it onto the left needle so it forms an "X" with the next stitch (Figure 2), put the right needle into the back of the 2 loops (Figure 3), and knit them tog from this position wrapping the needle twice.

To finish, work Row 2 with single wraps. Bind off on WS, very loosely, stretching the edge as you go.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Yarn Overload!!!!

The 2017 New Jersey Wool Walk was held a couple of weekends ago. Fourteen local yarn stores planned four days of yarn, yarn, and yarn. There were sales! Raffles! Snacks! Freebies! If you're from one of the larger states (which is most of them), you might think that fourteen NJ stores in four days is no problem. It's not impossible, but it's not all that easy either. I only made it to seven. I did not come away empty-handed from any of them, though. I did buy some yarn that I actually needed for designs I'm doing. The rest -  well what can I say? They had to come home with me.

The Lana Grossa Dacapo Multi is a cotton ribbon. I've swatched a little bit, but it came out too dense. When I go back to it, I'm going to go way up in needle size and pick an open pattern stitch. Since working with ribbon yarn has its own issues, I'm thinking it might warrant a whole post.

The Baah La Jolla yarn is 100% superwash merino wool. The color is "Pink Tourmaline" and it is a magenta-y delight. The Marinated Yarns is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere (yum yum), and 10% nylon. The blue is so beautifully deep, it is irresistible. The Primrose yarn is 100% superwash merino. The colorway is called "Nasty Unicorn" and it will go with almost everything I own.

The latter three yarns are all fingering-weight.  Ideally I'd be making socks, but a number of years ago I had to switch to all cotton all the time. Oh, well. There's probably enough yardage in each skein for a small shawl; if not, there might be other yarn in my stash to combine them with.

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Scarf Part 2

Last month, a meme crossed my Pinterest feed a number of times, "Keep calm and finish it for next Christmas." Yep, I'm keeping that in mind. I had an idea for a knitted Christmas tree, but ran into a glitch without enough time to fix it, test it out, and publish the pattern. It is filed away with sufficient information (I hope) to pick it up in a few months and get it finished.

So, my next project was to finish the scarf I started in early 2013. I was making it to match my new winter jacket which, as it turns out, I needed to wear exactly once in San Francisco. I had no real need to finish the scarf.

But we're back in New Jersey now, and a few weeks ago it was 15 degrees Fahrenheit. And so I finished the scarf! It blocked to about 6.5" wide and just over 7' long. I thought it might be too long, but it feels just right.

The pattern stitch I used, "3/3 Fancy Rib" from 400 Knitting Stitches, shows off the yarn, every eccentric little bit of it, perfectly!  It's a nicely textured pattern stitch in and of itself, though, and I'm rather wondering how I might use it again. (Because there aren't a zillion other pattern stitches that I haven't tried out yet!)

Another project I worked on is the Pussy Hat Project. Their mission is to provide symbolic pink hats to the people attending The Woman's March on Washington D. C. (and sister marches in many other cities) on January 21. I was pleased to find two hats' worth of the right color and weight of yarn in my stash - - how often does that happen! It's a very easy pattern, and it really does form cat's ears when it's worn

And that is it for now! Until next time . . .

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Some Construction Notes for the Mini-Stocking

The beauty of a quick project like the mini-stocking is that it is quick. It doesn't have to fit, it doesn't have to drape well - - or at all, and it doesn't really matter if the seams are stiff or bulky; some candy or little toy is not going to be uncomfortable. But I wouldn't be ME if I didn't give consideration to the construction details. So here they are!

I generally use a long tail for the initial cast-on in a project like this. It's tidy and doesn't require looking up instructions or finding a crochet hook. However, there are a zillion cast-ons out there; try Techknitter (scroll down to the C's) or OfTroys Golden Apples for lots of good stuff.

I used a picot-type cast-on for the stocking up top; "picot-type" because it doesn't actually form picots. I'll have more to say about it later in the post.

For the end-of-row cast-on in Rows 28 & 29, I
used a loop cast-on as shown to the right. I just put my left index finger under the yarn, twisted my finger clockwise, put the needle through the back of the loop, and tightened. This method has minimal bulk but can leave a nasty gap ahead of the cast-on. I found a quick fix for this, again on Techknitter's site. Barring this fix, the gap can be finessed into the seam in this project.

I used a typical chain bind-off at the end of the knitting. I'd given some thought to leaving the last row open and grafting the bottom. However, the hard edge is better for moving from a horizontal edge to a vertical one while seaming. Again, reducing bulk and stiffness is not a priority here, so I did bind-off.

I would normally seam garter stitch using the edge to edge stitch I used on the cup cozy, but it just didn't look good here, especially moving from the horizontal top of the foot to the vertical edges on the leg. So I used mattress stitch on the entire seam. Getting between the first and second stitch on garter edges is a little fiddly, so I'm thinking that slipping the first stitch of every row is a better alternative. If you try this, please let us know.