Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Speed Knitter

I love working with bulky yarn.  I think chunky things are so cozy and I think big fat stitches are adorable.  Plus there's the added bonus that whatever your knitting feels like it knits up at warp speed.  Especially if you've been working with finer yarn for a long time.

I've been working a very complex sock for a long time and haven't even turned the heel on the first sock yet.  *sigh*.  When Irina Heemann asked for testers for her Bulky Rhombus Shawl Shoulderette, I jumped at the opportunity.   I mean, a whole shawl in less than 200 yards of yarn?!  Perfect relief from sock-knitting hell.  In three short evenings I had produced this:


Beautiful, no?  The pattern is basically just a chart, there's not much written instruction at all.  That being said, I found the chart very easy to follow (all wrong side rows are purled straight across.)  We testers did find a few errors in the chart, but hopefully this means they've been cleared up for all future comers.


The pattern, as written, doesn't have the pointy edge around it.  That was my own addition.  I was worried that the edges would curl under, even after blocking, if I left them "raw" so I crocheted the peaked border on after I finished the knitting.  I used this Triangular Edging which worked like a charm.  I didn't do any calculations before hand (dangerous!) I just started in one corner and it just happened to "fit" the shawl perfectly.


I used some Knit Picks Swish Bulky left over from this monstrous blanket.  The colorway is called Hawk.  I think it's the perfect neutral grey to go with my black winter jacket without clashing with any of my clothes.  I've said before how much I love this yarn, but I'll reiterate again that it's so plump and soft and smooshy and one-hundred-percent pleasant to work with.  It does pill a little, it's merino, buy a sweater stone, get over it.  (Also, it's superwash.  If you make a garment with it and you put it through the washer, it will come out huge.  Instead of freaking out, throw it in the dryer for 30 minutes.  It will pop back into shape just fine.  Have faith.  Throw it in the dryer!)

I love the magic of blocking.  Here it is just off the needles/hook:


And here it is stretched out tight to block:


It went from a bunchy ugly mess to the lovely flowy drapy shawlette you see modeled above.  Blocking = Magic.  Have you blocked anything lately?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


A while back, I told you all that I was making curtains to cover up these ugly metal blinds in my apartment.


Seriously, they are so ugly.  They give the living room and the bedroom (the only two rooms with windows) a terrible feeling.  Especially since they're that sort of dingy yellowish color, like they used to be white back in the 70s but aren't any more... gross.

Earlier in the summer, Jo-Ann's had all their home decore fabric at 50% off, so I decided to do a little improving.  I bought a pattern (McCall 5828) and yards and yards and yards of fabric.  (It takes way more fabric than you think to make curtains.)  I made the ones featured in the main picture, but I didn't make them go down to the floor.  Here is my interpretation.


You can see the covered buttons on the tabs holding the curtains to the curtain rods.  Here's the same curtains, but a little shorter, on the bedroom window.


The hardest part of the whole process was adding the trim that separates the cream from the purple.  I finally figured out that I could do it using the zipper-foot of my sewing machine and stitching close to the ridge of the trim.


This isn't so much a traditional sewing pattern as it is a worksheet for calculating how to make your own curtains.  You have to measure the window, then add some, then divide, then subtract, cut to X length... etc.  I bought some special "green" curtain lining that is supposed to reduce energy waste by keeping cool air in in the summer and warm air in in the winter.  It's cut just an inch or so smaller than the curtains and sewn to the back of the curtain along the top edge only so that it can trap air between it at the actual curtain.  Hopeful it works, it was a bit spendy...


I also made the shears.  They were very easy, just a lot of straight seams then a pocket at the top to hold the rod.  The hardest part was finding double-rodded curtain rods.  Fred Meyer had some, but only in one style... at least it was a pretty nice style.  Plain, but nice.

Overall, I'm so much happier with the whole feel of my apartment now that these are up.  I'm pretty proud of them.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Picky Hat

My latest design is available on Ravelry now!  I've been meaning to get this hat design down on paper for a long time.  I decided to hustle and get it out to test knitters before school started at the end of August.  I've gotten some great feedback and I'm finally confident enough that the errors have all been caught to release the pattern.

Ryan is picky about what knits he will wear.  He has very strict ideas about what is manly.  I've combed the ravelry database of men's patterns over and over having him reject 95% of the hats I propose.  Finally I decided to get as much info from him about what he wanted and come up with something on my own.  This is the end result:

This is not Ryan modeling, this is my brother Adam.  He's 6'10", that's why the photo is taken looking up at him, I can't get far enough away from him to get a picture that looks like it's taken straight-on and still shows off the hat. 

I call the pattern Picky because it was designed because of Ryan's rejection of most other patterns.  It's knit on size 6 needles using worsted weight yarn.  When knit to gauge, the fabric produced is nice and dense without being stiff, perfect for a winter hat.

The yarn I used for this hat is Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere--72% merino, 15% nylon, 13% cashmere.  It's very very soft and I have absolutely no complaints about the yarn itself.  (It looks like it might pill under abrasive use, but hats aren't usually treated that roughly and I hate it when people use merino yarn then complain when it pills... that's like cooking with real butter then complaining that your food is fattening... um duh, take the good with the bad.)  My only complaint is the put up of the yarn.  There are only 87 yards per ball.  At $8/ball it makes for a pretty expensive project, even for smaller items.  It also means weaving in more ends than usual which annoys me greatly.


My brother deserves some major props for modeling in these pictures.  It's about 90 degrees outside in those photos and I had him modeling this and the Habitat I finished during the same "photo shoot."  He was a pretty good sport about it.  I told him to pose as manly as possible, this is what he came up with:


I wouldn't want to mess with that.