Monday, December 24, 2012

Alex's Mario Hat

It's been bitter cold the last couple of days... and my little boy's last hat is just a little too small for him. He's been wearing some old ear muffs of mine, but I couldn't bear to let him go Christmas shopping with his big brother this weekend with a girl's ear muffs nor without any hat. And I had that Mario hat finished early... and he's big on Christmas gifts, but not as big on hand-knit clothing for Christmas. I figured he'd appreciate it more if it wasn't under the tree.

He was pretty happy about it (although it is just-a-bit too big). He's wearing it with the little Mario front and center (because that's his favorite in the hat). He's also wearing it cuffed up so it fits just a bit better.

He got a ton of compliments on it when he was out with big brother. Then he and I did our shopping together and he got even more compliments. He wasn't paying any attention when the cashier at the grocery store complimented him. So I stepped in and said, I'll take the compliment since I'd made the hat. She got really excited and couldn't believe it and told the other cashiers and the men working the bagging to take a look at the amazing hat.

Alex has been on and off the knit-worthy list lately, so I'm thrilled he likes his hat. And it's always nice to get good compliments on something you've made. I tend not to get many compliments, but the Mario hat was definitely a big win.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Red Heart, with Love

So, my latest FO, a scarf that is a Christmas gift.... was made with Red Heart with Love yarn.  It was presented to me as an alternative to the yarn-that-is-not-to-be-named.

The other yarn runs around $3.65 for about 350 yards.
The Red Heart yarn is around $5.00 for about 370 yards.

The other yarn comes in almost a hundred colors.
The Red Heart yarn comes in about a dozen colors.

The other yarn is softer, and has a better all-over-evenness to the yarn that isn't BAD in Red Heart, but isn't quite as good quality-wise. If I ranked the first yarn as an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 in quality; this one is closer to a 7.

But, it is a good 'almost' alternative. And it would be better if they came out with more colors. When it boils down to all else? The limited color options is probably the biggest detriment to me.

I absolutely LOVE that it's made in the US and for the price difference, I'm ok with the barely higher price if it's going towards American workers.

Now, most Red Heart yarns soften with the wash. So, I'm hoping a trip through the washer and dryer will help take this scarf to the next level of softness.

All-in-all? I will use it again... but it probably will be when I need something I can go and pick up quickly (as opposed to ordering on-line or special ordering through an LYS) and when the color matters very little.

Last Christmas gift on my list

Over a month ago, I wanted to make something for my future daughter-in-law. I wanted to make a scarf or cowl... and I ran out of time during the cup term. But, with a favorite color of red, the next thing was to find a pattern. I wanted something somewhat traditional - and couldn't find a pattern that felt mindless enough, or quite just-right. So, I landed back to an oldie - the mock cable scarf. I found the stitch pattern AGES ago and have made a couple of scarves with it. I included the pattern I used for this particular scarf on my ravelry project notes here.

This scarf took 370 yards of Red Heart, with Love yarn. It's a little narrow, but nice and long. A good 5" wide by 70" long.

Here's a close up to the mock cable stitch pattern:

The reverse side looks a little like uneven ribbing.

There is no cabling involved, the 'slant' and the part that looks like it's crossed over? Is a stitch that gets slipped then passed over a couple of stitches. This ends up with a decrease, but on the next row, you add a stitch for each spot where you'd decreased. This results in the little 'dot' which is the yarn over above the slant that helps with the 'look of' a cable.  I found that I could do about 6" an hour, so that makes this a super-fast knit.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FO - Mario Hat

This hat is a Christmas gift for my 9 yr old, DS-addicted son.  I started it last month, but didn't get to the duplicate stitching for it until this month.

Side 1:

Side 2:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snowmen on parade

So, the angel has been shown before.

As has the red-hatted snowman.

And the mochimochi snowman on the far right.

But this is the first time you've seen the other seven snowmen.

I made all of the white bodies, first - and started skipping a few rows and a few increases to get them just a hair smaller. It took about 30 minutes-ish each to make the bodies. I used the-yarn-that-is-not-to-be-named that had a little sparkle in it... and stuffed it with some wool fiber that I'm working at eliminating out of the house to try to remove some of the allergens in my home.

The hats were made in about 15 minutes each yesterday. The scarves were converted to Icords and took about 10 minutes each.

Then it took me a little under an hour to seam the bits together, tack down the scarves and add french knot eyes.

These turned out pretty cute, were fast and easy to make and I love them. I might had made more angels, but "a" didn't like it as well as the snowmen and since most of these are going to school to be gifts for his teachers, I figured he could dictate it. He's getting the mochimochi snowman for his ornament this year. That leaves an angel which will probably go to future daughter-in-law and three snowmen for myself, my eldest and my new grandson.

Woot! One more set of Christmas knitting OFF THE NEEDLES!

Which leaves  me with a hat and a scarf for Christmas knitting. I can deal with that and not feel overwhelmed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Next Years big projects - blankets and making them affordable

While I'm looking at my big projects for next year... I'm also looking at affordable yarn buying options AS WELL AS keeping an eye toward working with buying yarn from a dear friend who just opened up a new LYS in town.

She's been kind enough to offer to special order for me 'big' orders as well as offering a discount on big orders... and I'd love to do my shopping there all the time... but let's face it. Her wool collection has to be larger than her non-wool offerings for sale - that's just common sense. But she is trying to make sure she offers me options as well (which is VERY kind and considerate). So I do want to repay her kindness.

Generally speaking, if she's going to order yarn for me (in bulk) she'll have to get on average 10 skeins of yarn for each color ordered.

So, first out of the gate, one of the blankets I'm planning to make next year only needs 2 skeins of 5 colors and 7 skeins of a 6th color. If she already had in stock the colors I needed, I wouldn't feel bad asking her to order the sixth color in a larger batch for me. BUT she doesn't. I'm looking for rainbow-color-bright with black as the sixth color. I don't think it's fair for me to ask her to order five other colors if I'm only going to want 2 of the 10 skeins from each package as then she has to have someone else around who is going to want to make something in your face BRIGHT.

But, another project I'm thinking about making requires 15-18 skeins of the same color. THAT one I think I should order through her - she'll get to sell most of the order immediately and I wouldn't worry as much about the few skeins I wasn't using being sold as I will be picking a much more muted/in style tone of color.

But let's look at pricing (not including tax - simplify my math).

At the LYS - I can get about 250 yards/skein for $5.40 - but my LYS owner now hopes someone else wants to make a rainbow in your face BRIGHT blanket
At Knitpicks - I can get about 220 yards/skein for $3.00.
At the hobby shop - I can get about 350 yards/skein for $5.00.

For the 6-color blanket - I need about 400 yards for each of the first five colors and 1700 yards for the sixth color.

Knitpicks - 17 skeins - $51.00
Hobby Shop - $75.00 (2 less skeins for the sixth color)

In this scenario - Knitpicks is going to get my order because I can't get away with only one skein of the hobby shop yarn - I'd have to buy two to get 400 yards; which ends up costing me more in the end.

For the 1-color blanket - I need about 3600 yards.
At the LYS - if I order 16 skeins (to ensure enough yarn) $86.40
At Knitpicks - 18 skeins - $54.00
At hobby shop - $60.00

In this scenario - I'm still tempted to buy yarn at the LYS. Yes, I could save about $30 at knitpicks, but the LYS yarn is EVERY bit as nice, if not a bit nicer to work with AND I get to figure that a good portion of that difference is money that is staying in my local economy.

AND yes, I'm fully aware I can buy blankets cheaper at Walmart. This isn't about the end result blanket. It's about finding ways to invest in my hobby, make something beautiful and not go broke while doing it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First December FO's

The mochimochi snowman was super cute, but man - it was kind of a pain to work with. Very fiddly at least in the beginning.

I found a couple of free Ravelry patterns and these aren't as tiny, but are still seriously cute.

First my snowman:  Rav link - Snowman Ornament

He's about 3" tall and uses leftover scraps. I used a little of my initial homespun yarn (very poorly done) - which is a great use for it since I won't ever turn it into something I can use.

Next my angel: Rav link - Quick and Easy Ornament

Also right about 3" tall and using left over scraps along with a little gold crochet thread. Also using a little handspun wool for stuffing for the head.

Per "a" he likes the snowman best, so I plan on making about six of them for him to take to school and hand out to his teachers, aids, and the nurse. Then I will make five more for myself and my immediate members of my family. It's a family tradition that's 25 years old this year to make home-made ornaments and share them with loved ones.

I figure now that I have the pattern sorted and the idea, I'll probably work on them a bit assembly style. Hope to have the first six done before too long so he can get them distributed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Planning


But I do have the following on the needles that will get picked up and worked on as the mood strikes!

  • OWL sweater - colorwork cardigan with about 10 hours remaining
  • Brown Sweater (started in October) - about 40 hours remaining
  • Mario Hat - duplicate stitching remaining - about 4 hours
  • Teddy Bear - 90% of him remaining - about 8 hours of work
So, I wouldn't mind finishing the last two of those. But the first two will get finished to the last end woven in and trimmed - so that I can turn them in for future WIPtheFirsts.

Christmas knitting that I haven't started yet and will probably do this month... though if I don't there won't be anyone applying any guilt (best and only type of Christmas knitting I will do).
  • Christmas ornaments for my family and Alex's teachers at school
  • Red scarf for my future daughter-in-law
Since it'll be the new year around the corner.... there is also one last WIP that hasn't gotten a mention all year.... the hibernating project, the dreaded alligator. About 20 hours of knitting remains on him. And it's down to the nit-picky little bits. Not much to do, but it's all down to somewhat fiddly and fussy. But he's been hibernating for about 18 months and I would like to finish him. If I can get him to within 99% of done, he can be an AWESOME WIPtheFirst in the future.

I will pick out a blanket project, order yarn and knit a swatch for the New Year at some point this month. 

November EOM Progress

ARRRGGG! Again, I didn't manage to finish my OWL.

The Hat Time Trial followed by the enui that followed it, cost me. I knew it was going to be close and the OWL was the only thing I worked on for the full last week of November (sadly this includes housework, so, um, yeah - now I get to clean house today - lol!).  By Friday at noon, all I had left was the button-less button band. Approx. 93" of 22 stitches of K2, P2 Ribbing. I did 3" during my 30 minutes of lunch, getting me to 38". Which left me with 57". At 3" in 30 minutes, or 6" in 1 hour.... that would be 9-ish hours of knitting left... plus seaming and weaving in the final ends - so approx. 10 hours. I was only going to have 8 hours left before HPKCHC end of term.


But, if I wasn't going to finish, I wasn't going to stay up all night trying to finish.

So, instead... I tried to tackle some of my other class ideas.

1 mochimochi snowman

This took a LOT longer than I anticipated and I had a lot of trouble with it. I didn't have any fingering weight white yarn to use - so I used sport, but same size needles recommended (even though I'm a loose knitter -with the idea larger yarn would compensate).  It's certainly cute. And my son claimed it 2 seconds after I finished it. But I will most certainly NOT be making more like this. I might end up trying to see how big they end up with worsted weight yarn on size 3... but if it's as fiddly to start as this is? I probably will come up with a different ornament to make for my son's teachers at school.

Previously posted:
41 hats
2 cowls


My so-close OWL
This is a shot of the body being blocked pre ends woven....

Here's a close up on the colorwork, for a night shot, it's actually somewhat true to the color.

The Mario Hat (hat is finished, just none of the duplicate stitching yet):

And lastly, one little leg (all alone) of a teddy bear:

I also had my TKGA Master Knitter Level 1 hat to start... but it was 10:30 pm, I was tired... and that is NOT the time to try to start a master knitter project.

I may sigh and whine about what I didn't finish. But, honestly? I got a TON done this month. I just need to remember that being a single mom working two jobs? No matter how cupper-crazy I may be, I have boundaries and it's ok. Because... lookie what I did get done!  Seriously? I have a lot to be proud of, you know?

So, my plan for December is to rest and recharge! There will be knitting. And there will be FO's posted. But they will be whatever they will be based on motivation and moments. And no official plan.