Thursday, November 5, 2009

Finally - info about the blanket

My big project is a Star Wars blanket for my son.

I was given the following requirements:
  • Must be blue
  • Must be big
  • Must have Yoda
  • Must have General Grievous
  • Must have light sabers
So, I got to searching online and I found a couple of great "chart" patterns for knitting star war characters into sweaters or blocks ... and decided that maybe, just maybe I could make blocks like you would see in a quilt out of knitting - attach them together with a star wars logo... and voila - a star wars blanket.

I used almost every single chart found here

And I adopted a couple of these, plus all the text charts from here

So, I started off thinking that I would make every block a "patterned" block. But when I did the math and realized that there would be 35 blocks to make a blanket the size of a single bed... I figured maybe I didn't want to make that many with patterns. So, about one-third would be plain dark blue, another third would be a varigated blue; and the final third would be patterned. A couple would have the logo "Star Wars"; and original thought was that I would have a second set of blocks in the middle with "May the force be with you". But, then someone - darn them anyway... as it's a great idea; came up with the brilliant idea that I could add those words all the way around the border. What a brilliant idea... so of course, I'm going to do that even though it means its going to take that much longer to finish.

Next step was thinking about connecting the blocks and pulling together a look. I certainly had the option of joining the blocks with the mattress stitch which is virtually invisible, but I got to thinking that I really wanted a border on all the blocks. To figure it out.... I created an Excel spreadsheet. Made 1/3 of the blocks look dark blue; another 1/3 of the blocks look like a speckled blue; and the last 1/3 I used colored letters that were an acronym to represent what the square might be (SS meant space ship, DS meant death start, etc). Since some of the blocks that would be characters needed different backgrounds, i.e., Darth Vador would look best on a white background, but a white R2D2 wouldn't... so I changed the cell color to the color background that I thought would work best. By the time I had about half of the patterned blocks finished I found a light blue that might have worked as a universal background instead - sigh.... but it was a bit too late... so I just used it on some blocks.

So, I tried adding a border on the blocks in Excel and a copy of the same spreadsheet without borders - and I liked the borders better. I used this to experiment with placing and figuring out exactly what I wanted to place where - which when it comes down to putting the blanket together I probably won't stick to. I figure I'll lay it all out on the bed and change my mind a million times before I actually stick them all together... but at least I had a plan and a design that I liked.

And yes, we added a bigger, thicker border around the whole blanket so I can add the words "May the force be with you" all around the edge...

My original plan was that the back of the blanket would be visible - every knit or crochet blanket/afghan that I have ever seen - you see the front and the back. So, using lots of different colored yarns to make a pattern that looks good on the front, requires a lot of effort on the back to try to "hide" and sew in the ends of the yarns when you add or stop the color. I spent probably three times longer working in the ends of the yarns than actually knitting the blocks.... each time. I made a rule for myself that I couldn't start the next block until I weaved in all the ends of the block before -- the key to this rule is that I knew myself well enough to know that I don't really like to weave in ends... and weaving them all in at the end, well, I would reach a point where I wouldn't want to and I would put the whole thing in a pile and ignore it for dozens of years. It probably would never get finished. So, anyway - it wasn't until I was about 90% done with the blocks before I decided that even though I had been extremely careful, the back of the blocks still didn't look very attractive, and that I really, really wanted to hide them. Knitting a second blanket would be the more traditional method of backing this... but a) WAY TOO MUCH WORK and b) it would end up being a really heavy blanket. So, instead, I went shopping online and found the perfect no-fuzz fleece that is super-super-soft... and it's dark blue with stars... perfect for the back of a Star Wars blanket... perfect.

If you were to follow the links, one thing you would find is that there a) isn't a Yoda pattern, and b) isn't a General Grievous pattern. Sigh. The TWO he insists have to be on the blanket. So, I studied and read and figured out that there is a fairly easy way to create a pattern in Excel from a picture. Hmmm.... lots of pictures out there.... I could certainly try. Let me just say, as easy as it is to do this? It does require an artistic eye that I struggle to find within myself. My first Yoda block was made with a picture that was as close as I could find to a full-front face picture.... translating it into a few colors in fairly large weighted yarn in fairly "blocky" shape? Well, lets just say - it was a bit malformed Yoda that I finished with. That block got thrown out and I went back to the drawing board. I just couldn't find a picture that would be "straight-on" and would show both sides of the face as the same size. So.... I went back to my original pattern and "mirrored" one side of the pattern to the other. Knit it up again. This time, it was a bit closer, and at least he wasn't mal-formed, however? He wasn't Yoda either.... it certainly was a green face, but the ears were to big and his face was too small... he looked like a really sick cat....LOL. Third time was the charm though... I went back to the second pattern and made his cheeks fuller, moved his eyes down a bit, and added grey wrinkles to his forehead for more detail. Still not 100% sure he looks like Yoda, but when you put him next to other Star Wars blocks, he's pretty close.

Trying to make a General Grievious was another big challenge. This time I only needed to knit up two of them. One of the issues is that General Grievious being mostly robot has lots of parts and things that frame his face... yet 3 dimensions in fairly large guage just isn't going to happen. So, I cheated a bit - I did his face mask with nothing else around it. It turned out great the first time - BUT for the fact that the block I made was for some reason over an inch wider than every other block in the blanket. sigh.... It seemed "off" when I was knitting it, but instead of paying close attention and fixing it right away, I didn't really check it until I was doing some of the finishing touches pre-sewing them together before I realized that it stunk and needed to be redone.

Another block I had issues with was the light sabers. The patterns in the links had light sabers, however, they were a LOT smaller than what I was looking to make. Again, Excel to the rescue... I drew up a pattern in Excel which was a breeze this time around. I knit it up, but I didn't really like the yarn I had used -- it was a bit "blah" and light sabers glow.... they are NOT blah. So, I bought more yarn and I tried to "duplicate stitch" over the top of the existing stitches with the new brighter yarn. To do a duplicate stitch, you use a darning needle to put basically a second layer of stitches over the top. It makes it a bit thicker, but I figured that it wouldn't be that big a deal since light sabers could be 3 dimensional then. But it looked horrible when it was done. So, then I tried re-knitting them a second time with the newer yarn and STILL didn't like them. So, then I decided that I had to experiment a bit to figure out the right course of action. I took the small pattern again and did four or five light sabers in a small piece of knitting and tried using different yarns and methods for adding the color to the light sabers. I finally settled on two colors and using shiny yarns.... it's still not "perfect" and it still isn't as nice as I would like - but geeze.... creating light sabers in yarn isn't going to be realistic. So, I picked the style I liked the best out of the experiments and did the blocks that way. I should have done them with a fuzzy yarn that had a "halo" but fuzzy light sabers would just be silly. But, I had actually planned to do five different blocks with light sabers.... but since I didn't like the way they turned out, I had to come up with more patterns instead to replace them instead of having five blocks I didn't like.

Once all the blocks were finished, I need to sew them together. But the nature of the game is that they don't quite lay flat, aren't perfectly square, etc.... so before I try to put them into the blanket, I needed to "block" them. To block knitting - you have to dampen it, pin them to a flat surface and leave them to dry for several days. You can help "square" them up, you can stretch them a bit or straighten them out and you can smooth out some of the puckers that make them not want to lay flat. It won't fix everything (like a square over an inch wider than the others) but it does fix many of the smaller issues. But, I live in a two bedroom apartment with a six year old, a dog, and a cat. There isn't a free surface around that I could use for three days that wouldn't become a cat hair magnet. So, my project went on hold for a while, so I could purchase a blocking board that was portable, able to be leaned against a wall, and affordable. Yep... I went shopping. Guess what? If I could find something that was big enough, portable enough, it wasn't affordable. Affordable wasn't portable or storable or able to be leaned against a wall... hmmm.... so.... I got creative. I decided to make my own. First I needed a) affordable b) rigid and c) size-able stiff boards that d) could be pinned to, e) could tolerate dampness and still be f) light weight. So, I found two foot by four foot 1/4 inch plywood panels. I sanded them and varnished them (to protect against the dampness); then I glued 1/4 inch cork tiles to the front of the boards.... AND then I added to the back of them removable-pin hinges. I didn't really need hinges, but what I wanted to be able to do was join the two boards together edge-to-edge and remove the join easily. By using two sets of hinges, I can join them lengthwise - which would make one board two foot by eight foot; or widthwise - which would make a four foot by four foot board, or leave them individually. Now I had all of my initial requirements.... but there was one more. I needed to be able to have a grid on them that would allow me to pin things out to specific measurements. hmmm.... I did find somewhere where they had a ruler-style fabric but it cost more than all my other pieces together.... so I had decided that I would probably use a sharpie marker to try to draw lines on the cork tiles to grid them out.... but since I can barely make a straight line, I wasn't sure it was a great idea. After I got the cork tiles glued to the board, I realized that I was at risk for having child/puppy/cat damage to the exposed cork AND that it would flake a little off ever-so-slightly, enough to make a mess anyway. So, I decided I really should cover it with a fabric.... went shopping, and sure enough - found some awesome gingham that had one-inch black and white squares. Perfect size to help me pin out and measure things. My biggest issue making these is that whenever I went shopping for items, like the cork or the fabric... I would keep thinking I was making them two by three feet... and would have to make two trips for everything. But, I think they turned out fantastic... and I am finally blocking my blocks which is the last step before sewing them together.

Post-blocking, I plan on using crochet to join all the squares into the final blanket, where I can measure the final measurements as the step to make sure when I make the borders that they'll fit. I'm planning on making them using the afghan hook and a simple afghan stitch. Problem is I'll need miles of it and it'll be plain blue. So, it will be excruciatingly boring. Sigh.... I'm chosing that method for the borders because I'm going to add words to it - and it makes an almost perfect background for cross-stitching; and it will lay flat and not need yet a second form of a border to finish it off. No sense doing two borders for double the work if I don't need to. Then, I get to attach the borders... then I get to back the entire blanket with the fleece. My plan is to whip-stitch the edges together and then do the quilting-style ties at the corner of every block through both layers of material with yarn. We'll see ... but I have really high hopes for this big challenge.

Next come pics and files. I captured some of my preliminary drawings and ideas... my Excel files and the blocks I designed as well as photos of the blocks during blocking. My goal is to be finished by Christmas... which really wasn't very practical at all. So, instead I thought I'd start on it right after Christmas.... during the week I was off of work. ONLY... during that week, I was reading online about Ravelympics, a knitting challenge to start and complete a project during the Olympics. Since I'd started this long before the Olympics... it didn't qualify for the blanket competitioin... HOWEVER, it fit perfectly in the WIPS Dancing event - which is finishing off a work in progress. SO.... that's how this got finished (finally) on the final day of Olympic Competition for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Made for Charity Auction -

I am quite unhappy with it, but it's about as good as it's going to get.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An absolutely BRILLIANT solution for a problem!

OK, So, still working on projects, still have tons of posts to make (just have to find time).

In the meantime. I donated my time to put up an auction item to raise money for United Way. My item to the auction is a hand-knitted Christmas stocking that the user would select from a selection of patterns... and I would customize to their requirements.

Since I have hand-knit stockings that someone else knit for me (ages ago)... I was thinking about the fact that in the inside of the stocking there are lots of yarn loops (that catch on everything I put into the stocking)... from the multiple colors used to knit up the stocking. So, I had planned to do a technique that can be quite tedious (called inartsia) and can create a lot of loose ends that you have to weave in (which I hate) -- but at least the person who bought my stocking wouldn't have to deal with all the yarn loops.

But... once they selected the pattern they wanted (From Knitting Digest Magazine) - Gift Santa Christmas Stocking (1996)... would you believe that they designed the stocking with an even better solution?

The entire stocking is knit in only three colors Leg & Foot; heel & toe are in contrasting colors. THEN they have you knit up the ornament - Santa with a lap full of presents... completely separately - and then you simply attach it to the front of the stocking... and ergo - completely encase all those loops of threads between the ornament on the stocking and the stocking itself. The inside of the stocking a) has no extra yarn loops and b) no hundreds of cut ends of the yarn to weave in... because they can all be hiding behind the ornamentation.

OMG... I've had a couple of ideas for making scarves with characters on the ends of the scarf and or putting initials on it... but didn't want the reverse side to look funny. I can SO do this for that project as well.

It's like a lightning bolt of creative ideas just based on a simply brilliant solution that the back of the knitted piece that has lots of different colors in it just doesn't look good.

Who knew? I sure didn't even imagine trying something like this.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A knitting me-me

Swiped from knittech it's intended for a secret pal swap; but I figure I can swipe the questions and adapt it for a me-me anyway.

Secret Pal

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Actually - I use a lot of acrylic because me & my boys have yarn allergies. Caron Simply Soft is inexpensive & soft. Bamboo is delicious but not right for many projects. Cotton is "ok". LOVE cashmere but have to do a cashmere blended with something else to avoid allergies - besides who can afford to spend so much for yarn? I've knit with wool - once - never again. Am still trying to learn to have the patience to knit with laceweight yarn.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have vases for my double-points and regular knitting needles. Right now my cable needles and extended needles are tangled up in a photo box.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I tried to learn as a child - didn't really work out then. I picked it up again in 1988-1989 - but after knitting up a couple of Christmas ornaments, I dropped it again. Picked it up again in 2006 after my stroke. I find the yarns available now really spur me on to try more and new things.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, have Amazon for books/movies and a wish list on Tiger Direct for electronics.

5. What's your favorite scent? vanilla

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Totally - White Chocolate; Chocolate in almost any form

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? Crochet, paper crafts (scropbooking, card-making), beaded ornaments, just about any glue & go craft - am tempted to learn to spin, but putting it off because I don't know I could afford to learn to spin with non-wool fibers.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I've got an MP3 that I've used like once... just don't download songs... love classic rock the most.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? Love blues, purples, deep greens, reds ... don't care for pink for myself, not much into orange/brown shades.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? Divorced mother to two... plus a dog & cat

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Scarves & mittens yes - hats in the worst of winter only - ponchos never....

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Right now - it's baby sweaters (good thing got two babies to knit for)... wanting to make a sweater for "a" but have to finish his blanket first.

13. What are you knitting right now? WIP - "a"s blanket started two months ago (haven't worked on it for two weeks - on a sabatical); baby sweater for Sebastian (four weeks old) started Saturday and about 75% complete; a summer top for me started (sigh) two years ago - and not worked on for over four months - it's in a time out because I have to redo a couple of rows and am not in the mood.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I mostly use circular's (Addi's) and have a collection of straight needles when needed - mostly aluminum, but some plastic.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? No - but I want one or the other

17. How old is your oldest UFO? My top - which was about 75% done at one time and ripped out back to the beginning. I'm about 60% done now - and still need to rip out a couple of rows.

18. What is your favorite holiday? What winter holiday do you observe? Christmas by far my favorite holiday - my mother made it truly magical and my goal is to do the same for my chidlren

19. Is there anything that you collect? besides yarn? I like to collect various things for Christmas - lit houses for a Christmas village, little santas that are about two -three inches tall, stuffed animated santas, 10" angels.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? More yarn would be soooo cool - love, love, love having yarn around to inspire. Would love to get more patterns for knitting top-down one piece construction (though I have a book now that's supposed to have that covered, it's hard to follow)... and I don't subscribe to any knitting magazines - I'll buy one every once in a while, but most of my patterns come from the internet.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Tons - some of it is a matter of repeating things so that I don't have to always look them up (i.e., kitchener stitch, provisional cast on) - I can do them, but I have to look up how every time I do them. More cast ons, more cast offs, and would love to have some laceweight lace skills..... mostly the last I need to do better at learning how to count (lol).

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes, I have knitted socks... have done a couple of children's socks and one pair of adult socks.... but my adult socks were done in wool I was thinking about gifting them - but can't get the cast off done right - so will probably end up ripping them out and re-using the yarn for something else.

23. When is your birthday? 29June

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID? I'm pennyia on Ravelry.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baby items - FO with pics

Finally some knitting to show.

These were gifted at the baby shower for my co-worker.

First was a crocheted blanket made pre-sex id'd... and I used this as my "tissue" in the gift bag to wrap the other gifts.

I used some orange & white acrylic (for easy wash & dry) boucle for the center section. Then a matching white boucle for the ends. If I were to do it again, I would probably have saved the orange for the ends.

Then for the baby sweater. I had bought the self-striping blue & white yarn with matching blue yarn for a project specifically for this baby. But could not decide on a pattern... or how I was going to do it. I was about to give up and simply do stripes of blue with the self-striping blue with the same hoodie sweater pattern I had made previously in pink/white/blue stripes. .... when I had a 'brainstorm' -- I was watching a knitting show on tv and decided I wanted to "frame" boxes of the colors within the other plain color -- and found a pattern to adapt ... and used that to adjust the hoodie sweater pattern. I liked it while I was doing it, although in the back of my mind I kept thinking that I would probably have preferred it if the "frame" was a contrasting color instead of a coordinating color - to make the color pop. If I had ONLY known how beautiful the self-striping was on its own... I would have simply used the self-striping yarn in a simple stitch for the whole sweater.

I'd already finished the sweater - before I started the booties. AND it was the booties where the heel and foot was made entirely with the self-striping yarn... and I almost wanted to undo the sweater and start it over. The yarn really pops on it's own, and the complicated stitch pattern I used for the sweater didn't really show it off to it's full potential.

But, after the booties, I still had almost a full skein of the self-striping yarn left, and a half-skein of the coordinating blue... so I had to make more... so, along came the hat... and then I had to think for a bit, and found an awesome pants pattern. I didn't like the self-striping quite as well in the pants. And it's a bit much with the sweater - almost like they shouldn't be worn together. If I had to do it over again, I would have NOT used the blue to try to do the complicated stitch pattern on the sweater - which would have saved me enough of the coordinating blue color to have done simple blue pants.

Live & learn - right?

Monday, June 22, 2009

I've been knitting away...

but not posting about it - sorry.

I'm 90% finished with a very special blanket I'm making for my son... and have about a half-dozen posts semi-prepared for posting about it... so that I can share my inspiration, my mistakes, and my patterns (the couple I made up from scratch)... so - you just have to wait a bit longer.

However, I have reached a point in the process where I have to make a final decision about something. The back of the blanket is not going to look pretty. There will be a very definite "right" side to it. I've put in probably over 20 extra hours being extra careful to weave in ends "just-so" and without making it too much of a mess.

AND? I'm thinking I want to put a back on the blanket. (which means I could have tied knots in the yarn & cut it off without all that extra work) sigh

BUT, honestly? Has anyone ever seen a blanket (knit or crochet) that was backed with fabric? I'm thinking a nice super-soft fleece on the back would make it 1) warmer 2) more cuddly and 3) more likely to get used longer.

I'm thinking I'd treat it a bit like a quilt and tie the front & back together with yarn... of course, I'd have to baste all the way around the edges... I would love some feedback - is it too weird? too impractical?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Project in the works

OK - so I'm still stalling on the sweater. And I've crocheted a baby blanket - pic to come... done while we still didn't know if it was going to be a boy/girl for a co-worker. (so it's orange).

I've got some blue yarn selected for a baby sweater -still digging through patterns for her (as yes, it's now known to be a boy).

So, I had to come up with something I could work on at work - as we sit together at lunch at least once a week to knit together. And I can't very well knit a gift for her in front of her and still surprise her!

AND... "a" decided he needed a blanket for himself. As he liked the baby blanket I had made. We talked and talked - and I wasn't able to convince him he wanted a green sweater (as I had already bought the yarn to make him a green sweater - sigh).

Nope - he wants a blue star wars blanket. And nothing else. sigh. But, I had something I wanted to. His eyes have been bothering him. I'm not really sure if it's itching or burning from possibly allergies (I have this, not impossible to believe he might as well)... or if actually it's related to the fact that he's having to deal with his vision issues more so than in the past now that he's really trying to learn his letters. I do know that they bother him more at night or morning - and that's kind of typical with his vision issues which do get worse when he's overly tired. So, I suspect the latter. About all he confesses is that "he can't see" and "my eyes hurt" and he closes his eyes. His "bad habit" is that he wants to lick his hand & wipe his eyes with his hands. NOT GOOD. So, my bargain is that he's to STOP doing this and he can wipe his eyes with a clean, wet washcloth or paper towel instead. It's a hard habit to break already, but I figure that it's going to take me months to knit up a blanket ... and if he sees me working on the blanket, I have a good reason to apply pressure to get him out of his bad habit.

So - stay tuned. I'm a knitting fiend and have several blocks completed already - will post pics shortly. In fact, I also have several graphics. I figure I'm going to write a series of posts as to how my idea evolved from my first plan - to finish product.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A few finished items to share

OK, I'm struggling with motivation on the sweater. I have a mistake that I've been trying to ignore for six rows, and every time I picked it up - the mistake would bug me. Keeping going hasn't helped. sigh. I have to undo back to the mistake and redo or it will drive me nuts. Normally, I'm not this much of a perfectionist, but since the more I do the more obvious the mistake becomes, and the more it's bugging me, I guess I better do the right thing or every time I wear it - the mistake will still bug me. But, it's just as slow (if not more so) to unkit each and every stitch as it was to knit it in the first place. If it wasn't the inexpensive yarn, I could probably just take the needles out and pull the yarn (very fast) to undo it. BUT, this yarn (guess I should call it cheap instead of inexpensive) doesn't take well to such harsh treatment. As such, I've set it aside for a while until I get "more motivated".

That said, I had two other projects that were virtually finished, but just needed a few minutes to call them done. They had sat for over six weeks for the one, and over three months for the other. The other night, I got a wild hair and finished them both in less than 30 minutes. Sigh... guess I had to be in the mood? All the first one needed was six buttons sewed on... and the other needed a couple pieces of velcro sewed on.

But at least they are done now.

Also finished (pics to come later) - a hat & scarf made with "won" yarn from a giveaway. These are going to be held onto until next fall and then given to a charity that provides these to the homeless. I've found a charity in Ohio -- but I may just try to find a local one instead. We'll see, got a few months before someone will want them.

First a baby sweater (unfortunately said baby is now a year old and it will not fit)

Next a doggy sweater (more feminine):

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finally a pic

As you can see from the pic, there are cables (lines) that do some shaping of the garmet... I'm about "boob-high" working from the waist to the shoulders... so some ways to go yet. I messed up a little about two rows back, didn't notice it right away, and just about skipped going back and fixing it, but it's bugging me and my perfectionism is showing. So, I'm re-working the last couple of rows to fix it. sigh

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lot's of progress - still no camera

I still haven't gotten my refund from Amazon for the camera I got for Christmas that died within 24 hours... but hope to shop for the replacement really soon... can't wait to post pics.

The sweater is not-quite 50% done... good news is that I can try it on as we go, and it fits great. Knitting from the bottom hem up - and all the way "around" -- I've finished the hip, the waist (it's fitted) and am increasing now and am starting the bust section. I'm probably about two inches short of the underarm. So, we're chugging right along.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Starting over

A year ago - January... I finished the first ever sweater for little "a". He LOVES it still (good thing). I made it a size larger intentionally - intending it for this winter, and it's still a little big on him. But, he's wearing it & it will probably still fit him next winter.

And, I decided I could handle a more complicated pattern, and started a "spring" short-sleeved v-neck pullover with cables - for me. I had the pattern, the yarn I'm using is Simply Soft from Caron... I managed to get the back done last year - and pick it up & put it back down again & again ever since. I had (notice, the word had) about eight inches along the bottom of the front finished. Wonder why I was working so slowly? I wasn't really happy with it. I had it almost half done & it wasn't quite working out for me. A couple of reasons - the bottom was always going to roll up. The finished pics in the pattern didn't show a roll, which meant that since I didn't like the roll, I was probably ALWAYS going to fight that "curling" along the bottom. Secondly, it so was not going to fit me. My knitting was to gauge, and I'd picked the size I wanted... when I took the measuring tape to one piece, it seemed to come out right, but when you held the two pieces together? Enormous... and unfortunately, traditional knitting requires that you knit the sweater in separate pieces, which means, that often, you won't know how well it's really going to fit until it's done.

I also messed up the cables pretty well, at the top & bottom - the cables switch directions every two cables - in the middle part, every other cable switches direction. I switched directions pretty randomly & it looked ok, but as I was getting better at following directions for the front, the front wasn't going to match the back anymore. I told myself to ignore it, who cares if I mess up the back, not like I'll see it that often. I messed up a little on the front, but wasn't going to undo several hours of knitting to fix one little mistake.

Wasn't - being the key word. I just couldn't see investing 30 to 40 more hours of knitting time for a "mess" - which is exactly what the sweater would end up being. Who spends that kind of time for something that won't fit properly? I sure was going to. But, last night I decided enough was enough. I RIPPED it ALL OUT. ALL of it, even the back - which was finished. I'm starting over, this time - I'm altering the pattern.

I started with a rib knit around the bottom edge (so it won't roll) - I'll probably cap off the sleeves the same way. Second, I'm making it smaller (although - tonight is the test - I have 1/2 inch done - If it's too big, I'm ripping it out again, and making it smaller yet). And, third? So, I can try it on - I'm knitting it all in one piece... knitting in the round is SO the way to knit clothes. So, I now have a half inch done on a sweater that I might actually wear someday. :-)

Pics to come!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Experiments with Color

I wanted to make a couple of hats for infants for the Knit One, Save One Campaign.

Since my yarn budget is non-existent... I started with scraps of yarn.

The first one is from a child's pattern book - modified, as for some reason, following a pattern verbatim is harder for me lately. I made it smaller intentionally - however, as you can see by my pointer finger? This is TOO small. It fits a small teddy-bear though... so "a" has adopted it for his "puppets". The pattern called for a blue brim, red & white stripes to a point. I wanted more blue in it - so when I went to the stripes, I alternated red, white & blue (can you see where I forgot the blue stripe?). Knitting in the round, there's a nice benefit with this many stripes of not having to work in ends every color-change. I thought it was cute. Too small, but cute.

The next two fit the size that I was shooting for...

But, again, I had to experiment. This time, still working with scraps. I mixed it up a bit. I used two strands of yarn at a time and intentionally ended one of the colors & starting a new color on only one strand at a time. This are a little "thick" - but I justify it by telling people that they're really warm hats. That's important right? LOL But, I thought it was so fun how the colors change. What do you think?

An experiment with socks

So, I made two mis-matched tiny baby socks to learn how to knit two-at-a-time. I LOVE the method. I bought some very expensive (for me) sock yarn that was in the perfect color for me (as I wanted something subtle & dark for wearing with my slacks to work). I bought high-end as I was hoping the finer wool & mohair wouldn't itch. And because I knew I wasn't sure how tall I wanted them to be (definitely on the short side)... I wanted to knit them toe-up. But, I could not find any toe-up two-at-a-time patterns.

I did find a wonderful site that had an awesome flexible toe-up design that could be done one-at-a-time. And, I simply adapted it to the two-at-a-time system thanks to Melissa of Two-at-a-time Socks fame. I used the Midnight stitch pattern for the "style" & look from her book as well.

I also manipulated it a little - to add ribbing to the under-side of the socks where the instep is. I love how this "snugs" up the sock. I love making them toe-up so I was able to try them on as I knit them. In fact, in my first attempt at about the half inch done mark, I tried them on, realized that I was making them too big, and ripped them back a quarter inch & was able to re-work it without too much pain. From then on, I kept trying them on. And I have to say - they fit really, really, REALLY well.

But, for two things. One - The cast off at the top of the cuff? It's tight. I did all the things I knew to do to make a looser cast-off including casting off in-pattern, using a larger needle, and hanging onto the second stitch after you pass the first worked stitch over it on the first needle. And, it's still too tight. Not so tight you can't wear them. Not so tight that you can feel it while you're wearing them. But, tight enough that stretching the cuff to pull the sock on over your heel? That's wear it's too tight. But, I could live with that issue. The second issue? The fact that within five minutes of wearing them I want to scratch until I bleed? That I just can't quite deal with. I should have made them with inexpensive cotton yarn.

That's what I get for trying to be a yarn snob. I love the look & the "knit-ability" of fine wool. But, I just can't wear it. When I started the socks I was actually a bit worried about how well I could tolerate knitting with it. And, it was so soft & lovely to knit with, I was so sure that the fine wool & mohair blend was worth the money as it didn't seem like it would bother me. Alas. It does.

So, I spent probably a good 60 hours of knitting time and over $20 making the most amazing & best-fitting socks I have ever owned. And I can't wear them. sigh. I would go so far as donating them to someone who would like them - but I'm too ashamed of the tight cast-off -- so they aren't good enough for anyone else either. Terrible, huh? Anyway - here are the "poor" pics (as my brand-new awesome Christmas gift camera died within two days of getting pulled out from under the tree. Am still waiting on my refund from Amazon to go out & buy a replacement. So, you're stuck with lousy cell phone pics.