Sunday, November 27, 2011


It is all gift knitting all the time in my apartment.  I've decided that while I'm at home I should be working on my gift knitting exclusively so that I don't have to give too many gifts on the needles this year.

My mom is getting a set of BYOBs for her birthday this year (December 21) and as I've been working on them, I've come to appreciate the construction of the handles immensely.  They are so cleaver and so utilitarian.

First, you cast on the number of stitches your handle is going to be and you knit a little strip of stockinette four rows tall.


Next you fold the strip horizontally with the purl sides together so you have a double-thick strip of stockinette only two rows tall.  knit across the row knitting each live stitch together with one of the cast on stitches (which, since you've folded your fabric is up near your needles.  (The pattern has you cast on using a provisional cast on so that you are knitting two sets of live stitches together.  This is totally acceptable, but I find a provisional cast on slow and my way gives the exact same result.)  Here is my handle strip half knit so you can see what I'm talking about.


The stitches on the right have been folded and knit together with the cast on row, the stitches on the left haven't been worked yet.  Here it is from the back.


(Stitches on the left have been worked together, stitches on the right are waiting to be worked)

Once you've finished folding and working all your stitches across you have a double-thick round uber-squishy handle pad.   (From the front then the back)



Once you've made your handle pads set them aside until you're ready to knit your handles.  Bind off the  number of stitches your handles call for.  Then on the next round, instead of casting on over the gap as most patterns have you do, simply knit the stitches from your handle pad.  The rolled double-thick cushion really makes a difference if you're carrying a loaded bag.  It really cuts down on the way that handles can sometimes dig into your hands and makes the handle feel more substantial and less "fragile" than some bag handles feel.

The BYOBs come out huge, and I think a smaller size would really be more practical as a shopping bag, but even if I don't make the pattern again, I will definitely use this handle trick on future bags.  Genius.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SIP (Spinning In Progress)

You know you are falling behind on your blogging when you non-knitting boyfriend notices that you haven't posted in a while.  (Thanks for the kick in the butt Ry! Love you!)  It's been a solid three weeks since I've posted anything.  Partially it's because I don't have anything finished and my favorite posts are showing off finished things.  Partially it's because the weather has been horrible... 5 straight days of rain... and there's been no sunlight to take pictures in.  My apartment is destroyed and I don't want you all to see the mess.  Really, I'm thinking of you all.  It's bad.

I've been very uncommitted to any one project lately so all my projects have some progress but not lots.  Mostly I'm trying to get some market bags done for my mom's birthday present (her birthday is December 21.)  I've got some socks going for working on at sock hour at the yarn shop.  A sweater that I started as part of an October knit-a-long and am only about half done with.  Socks that I can't work on at sock hour so only get attention when I'm on the bus.  A cabled pullover in bulky yarn that I love but don't focus on too much because every time I do I feel guilty I'm not working on gift knitting.  Granny squares for an afghan that I sometimes have interest in.

There are some other things I need to cast on as gifts, but I think I'll keep them a secret for now.  But I don't want to talk about any of that right now.  Right now, I want to show you my current spinning project.


That is 2 oz. of Alpaca/Silk from Abstract Fibers in colorway Mount Hood Rose.  This luscious fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  I've spun it to a lace weight but I'm planning on spinning another 2 oz. and plying it so that I get a fingering weight.  I'm hoping for enough yardage for a triangle shawl--they make the best winter scarves because they cover the whole gap in my coat, not just up by my throat.

Spinning this was a bit hard to adjust to.  I've never worked with alpaca before or any other really long-stapled fiber and I wasn't used to drafting with my finger so far apart.  Once I finally figured it out and got in my rhythm it spins so smoothly and it can be drafted down to almost nothing.


The yarn is not as garish as the photos make it look.  The sheen from the silk and alpaca make it hard to photograph.  Especially in the bad lighting the weather has left us with here in Portland.  Don't expect good pictures on the blog again until June... grumble rain grumble grumble

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New blanket just in time

I finished my OpArt.  Truth.  I know it's been on the needles since forever (June 30, 2009 cast on according to Ravelry.)  Don't you hate how Ravelry can remind you that you've been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to those lingering projects that just won't finish themselves? LOOK!


This is supposed to be our last day of sunshine before the winter grey sets in so I pretty much finished right on time as far as taking nice pictures is concerned.  It's huge, over 5 feet square.  Here it is on the floor with cats for scale (and because I couldn't get them out of the picture--my "shoo"s mean nothing to them.)


It's true what everyone says about blocking this, you have to be highly aggressive with it.  It comes off the needles totally wobbly and not at all square.  Here it is laid out pre-blocking.


See how it's all dimple-y and swirly at the corners? No good.  Time for pins and a yardstick.  I started from the center and pulled out one row of corners along the spiral and pinned them out.  Then I pulled out all the corners on the opposite side and pinned them too.  Here it is half pinned.


Then I did the same thing with the other two sides.  As you can see from the finished pictures, at some point, I had to take a "good enough" attitude toward the whole thing or drive myself crazy trying to make it perfectly square.

I used acrylic yarn (Carron One Pound in colors "off white" and "rose") so I had to kill rather than block.  After it was all pinned out I grabbed the steam iron and held it about 2 inches over the blanket and gave the thing a good steam.  I could see the yarn physically relax and settle into the pinned position.  It was pretty cool.  It also made the yarn way drapier and much softer.

Warning: if you make this blanket using this yarn, there is not enough to make the larger size.  I ran out halfway between the small and large size--with 9 rows left to go in the stripe I was working on.  Luckily a kind raveler sent me her leftovers and I was able to finish without having to buy a whole new pound of yarn.  Now to snuggle on the couch with some hot tea, my new blanket, and an episode of Star Trek.  I hate being cold, but I love being cozy... winter is a weird season for me.