Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An adorable baby blanket

So probably 4 years ago I bought some yarn, thinking: I'll knit something for this cute new baby I just had.  Yeah, right.  Reality set in, and this yarn has set in my stash all this time.  I finally pulled it out recently and thought, this needs to be a baby blanket.

The yarn is Bernat Softee Baby Yarn, which is easy to find in about any craft store.  I used white and blue.  The blue has a nice sheen to it, while the white has a fuzzy quality.  This stitch pattern uses a section of "feather and fan" shaping - increasing with yarn-overs for 6 stitches, then decreasing with k2tog for 6 stitches.  It takes on a wave-like look.  The other section is plain stockinette stitch, but because of the shaping in the feather and fan section, it waves too.  They are simple stitches, but I like the look.

It measures 28" long and 32.5" wide, perfect to tuck into a car seat, stroller, or cover the baby in its crib.

I wish I had made it when my kids were little - it's pretty darn cute.  Very dainty and sweet.

I'm sure glad I still have a crib in the house to take these pictures with!  My sister is planning to use the crib for her new baby, but has yet to travel from Kansas to pick it up.  Good to have a photo prop!

I used a row of double crochet on the border, to give it a more finished look.  I very much dislike crochet, but I can do it.  This was one of those cases where it was obvious to me that the most simple way of finishing the edge was going to be crochet, instead of picking up stitches and then binding off with knitting.  It turned out good, but don't count on me doing more crochet soon.  :)

This blanket was surprisingly fun to make, and now I've used up more of this huge stash!  Yay!

Here's the link for the blanket on my Etsy page!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Counting blessings

Wow, we (in general) and I (specifically) have so much to be thankful for. Turning on the air conditioner or heater. Having a dishwasher. Being able to drive in a car to get where you need to. Ordering necessities online in my pj's. Having doctors and modern medicine to cure our ails. Having a grocery store with every imaginable food. Having plumbing and especially a toilet.  Being able to buy clothing. The trash truck that picks up our waste. Being (mostly) free from fear of attack, foreign and domestic.

Are we lucky?  Or just spoiled?  Do we often think about what it would be like without those things?  Well for some reason, I've thought about this a lot today. Maybe it's because I watched last night's Downton Abby and in that show get a glimpse of what life used to be like only 100 years ago. Or maybe it was because I have a sick little boy and am stuck at home, unable to go shopping for the things I need. But regardless, I consider myself blessed and will try to not take anything for granted.  

Knitting, however, is very low-tech and old. It's been used for ages to make clothing. Maybe it's a post-apocalyptic life skill. That's what I'll tell myself. I'm excited to have finished my 2 WIP's (work in progress). One more iPad cozy (I won't bore you with more identical pictures), and my baby blanket.  The blanket took a bubble bath today and is drying now. Pictures to come. 

On the needles now is a fingerless mitt in worsted weight yarn.  I started it today, so as you can see it'll go quickly. I love quick.
The second new project is a two-color shawl, not yet cast on. Should be fun!

Weaving is coming along nicely too.  Here's my loom view today.
This is the wool stadium blanket. Kansas State colors. (Boo). As you can see, the weaving is now much denser.  After consulting my instructor about the loose weave and considering options like re-sleying, re-beaming and such, I decided to make it weft-dominant - having more weft shots per inch than warp threads. Oh! and can you see my treadling error?  Grumble, grumble. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm learning. That aside, I'm happy with it.  It is 40" across and this Cascade 220 wool is so soft and stretchy, I think it'll be a great blanket.  If I can find a taker for the ugly school colors ;). 

At class, I have my warp wound and have it about halfway sleyed. I totally forgot to take a picture, so I'll do better this week.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting rolling with weaving

It has been a fun, busy week. The kids have been cooped up in the house over the past few weeks due to the cold, so the recent warmer temperatures made everyone in the house happy. Chris took the boys on several park outings. I think I'm ready for spring. 

It's also been a productive week for me. I purchased yarn for 2 blankets to weave on the floor loom.  Right now I have the loom dressed and have woven about 2", just getting started. I'm becoming more confident in the process of warping and dressing the loom, but it's still nice to have my notes handy.  

I'm a little unsure about the sett on this blanket. It is intended to be a loose, soft beat, and the instructions mention this and say the sett could be changed from 6 to 8 epi for an easier beat. I'm not sure whether to trust the instructions and continue as is, or change and re-sley. Initially, I sleyed the reed at 8 epi, but it took nearly 5" off the width of the blanket, so I went back to the 6. I know this stretchy knitting wool will fluff out once tension is released, but I'm not exactly sure how much, and if I'll like the end result. I might take a picture of it to my weaving class on Thursday and see what my instructor thinks. 

Speaking of which, I did begin my intermediate weaving class last week.  It was fabulous to get out do the house, let the boys play with the babysitter, and go have some me time.  I've decided on a doubleweave project for the class, which will be a new technique for me.  I figure it's a great time to have a more experienced weaver right there to help me with problems or questions that arise. 

Here's my yarn for the doubleweave project. There's something about a yarn shipment coming in...it just brightens my whole day!!

My table loom is sitting, sad, neglected and probably dusty. I have yarn for a placemat project for it, however I need more heddles and they are back ordered. So, until those come, it'll catch a bit more dust. 

Knitting: I have nearly finished a baby blanket in blue and white. I bought this yarn way back when my oldest was a newborn and I never found a use for it, but now I have!  This yarn is very soft, and I think it'll make a lovely cuddle blanket for a sweet baby. 

My second on-the-needles project is a second iPad cozy.  Very soon it'll be two new project starts :))

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I thought it would never be done...

I'm thrilled beyond explanation that I've finished my Arietta cardigan.  This beast has been a tough one for me to keep going on.  As I mentioned before, it has taken careful chart counting and color changing every other row.  There have been times that I was unsure what to do on a certain part, so I'd set it down for a month or so.  And the sad thing is, I'd rather be knitting just about anything else.  But I have been determined.  I held myself to my customary 2 project limit and forced myself to keep plugging away at it.  (Although, admittedly, I have whizzed through many projects on the "other" line.)  Seaming went well, and then I was left to this.  Holy end weaving.
Here you can see the inside of the side seam. Every 2 rows, the color changes. Instead of breaking the yarn each time, I carried the yarn up the right hand side of each piece. After seaming, it looks fine, and was MUCH better than weaving in all those additional ends.
 After all that wonderful end weaving, I gave it a soak in my laundry room sink. 
After 15 minutes, I drained it and held it to drip dry for a minute or so. Then I transferred it over to a towel on the floor. 
I then rolled it up to extract as much extra water as possible. I then laid it out to dry. 

I decided on only 4 button holes.  I still need to find coordinating buttons.  But that would mean a trip to a craft store.  And I detest taking my kids to any store right now.  So I'll get there eventually.  Here is the final project.

The yarn is Knit Picks' Telemark (discontinued line) in 5 colors.  See my ravelry page for details.  The pattern called for cotton, but I wanted wool.  This yarn is a workhorse, not a delicacy.  It isn't the softest of wool, isn't superwash, but nevertheless it knitted up nice.  The colors were inspired by a Navajo blanket I saw at an art show.  They are rich earth tones. 
This pattern is not fair-isle as it appears.  It's actually mosaic knitting (slipping the previous row's color up) and it is enthralling.  I picked this pattern to learn this technique.  And I GOT IT DOWN after a whole cardigan.  :)

This is a sweater for me, and it fits well.  Thanks for following along with me!  I feel like throwing a party to celebrate. Or maybe I'll just start a new project! :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cozy iPad

I have been so excited to start new projects lately.  It's so fun to start anew and see where this particular yarn will take you.  For me, the feel of yarn is therapeutic.  Knitting is a bunch of counting, over and over.  Completing one technique, then another, until the end of a row.  And the sum of all those small movements is a larger look, which so easily can be altered.  I'm pretty sure knitting lowers my blood pressure and takes my mind off whatever is bothering me.  I guess that's why I like to do it.  As it has been said: knitting is cheaper than therapy.  .......usually.

My latest project is this fun iPad Mini/Kindle sleeve.
It is 6.25" x 8.25", so just the right size to fit a Kindle or iPad Mini.  It has the ribbing at the top, to help hold the device inside. 

I also decided to add an access port hole to accommodate the iPad's power plug.  I used a one row buttonhole. 
It was a fast, easy, mindless knit that was great for watching movies with.  The bottom of the sleeve is finished with a kitchener stitch, which is a favorite of mine.  It is almost an invisible seam. 

It is knit out of sock yarn, some I bought a long time ago that has been sitting around.  This seemed like the perfect use for it.  I used about 2/3 of the skein for it, and I have an additional skein so I've already started on another one.  I also think it'd be fun to make it with stripes of different colors, or even use a charted design to put on the front and/or back.  It'd be easy to do.

With so many people carrying these devices, I think it is the perfect thing to protect it in your purse or backpack.  I hear that universities are even having you purchase digital books for your classes, so all you need to carry is a laptop or tablet.  I love my devices, so I approve!! :)
It is now up on my Etsy page, and I'm trying out offering custom colors for this item.  We'll see how it goes!

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Rounding the final curve...

I love football. And basketball, too.  I'm in a minority for women, I imagine, and I tell my husband that he's lucky.  ;)  It has been a lifesaver to have football (I'm a Kansas City Chiefs fan) to get me through seaming this sweater.

I've challenged myself to do one section of the sweater per evening (and no knitting on more fun items).  So I started with the sleeve caps. They were a challenge because I heavily altered the pattern shaping to account for my petite frame (and short arms). So the sleeve cap did not exactly size up to the sleeve opening. It took a little fudging and finesse, but I'm mostly happy it.
See, my pattern rows don't exactly match. I dare you to criticize!

After 2 nights of sleeve capping, I moved to the right side of the sweater and seamed from the bottom all the way up the sleeve (one night for the body and one night for the sleeve). Then the left side. 
Here I am halfway up the left side. I'm very happy with it.  Next will be weaving in the ends.  Oh heavens.

I have learned so much about finishing techniques from The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancy Wiseman. It breaks down any sort of finishing you need to do, offers pros and cons for choices in techniques, and gives step-by-step directions. It sits by my chair each time I start in on finishing a project. It's a indispensable tool for me, and I highly recommend it.  Finishing may not be my idea of a fun time, but it is rewarding to see the pieces you've made come together in a cohesive manner and start forming the final product. 

On a different tangent, I am excited to be starting a new scarf on my loom.
This is the third and final scarf on this warp. It looks a bit like a DNA strand to me. It is going so much faster than the first 2 scarves, since it is using a single weft color. What a difference that makes! As my second project, I am still learning SO much. It amazes me that there are so many factors to take into consideration with weaving. But it's fascinating, and I remember when knitting seemed impossibly complicated.  So there's hope!!  

I hope you're staying warm and enjoying family today. There's nothing better.