2016 projects, Completed (with project notes), General, Uncategorized

Spats Complete

20160907_074409
Sassy!

What a weird little project but honestly? I love them. They are a bit funny and my husband “doesn’t understand” but I think they are great. I also know I’ll be using them because I have some shoes, two pairs in fact, that are extremely comfortable and fine but are slip-ons/backless. That doesn’t work for me because I basically exist in leggings and skirts all fall, winter, and spring. I need booties, not backless shoes. These little spats make those shoes totally wearable with leggings now. I actually think they make the shoes look better in general.

 

As always, I have some notes:

20160907_074307
A poorly photographed heel loop
  • I used Red Heart Super Saver in black. I used this for two reasons. 1) it is cheap acrylic I had kicking around and would have no problem tossing them in the bin if they didn’t work out 2) it is cheap, hard wearing acrylic that I can toss in the washer when they inevitably get dirty.
  • I knit them in a 2×2 rib. When I did my increases I added to the first knit ridge until I added 4 (on each side), which then allowed me to break it off into 2×2 ribbing again.
  • They JUUUUUUST fit to the top of my ankle but frankly I should have knit them to be longer. What can I say, I was impatient. Future spats (of which there shall be many) will be taller, perhaps even with enough length for a folded over cuff.
  • I had heels in mind when I knit these, especially my two pairs of slip on heels, and I wanted to make sure the spats would stay in place. I crocheted a loop into the back of each spat large enough to slip over the heel and slide (snugly) to the top of the heel. This works brilliantly.

 

20160907_074254
SPATS!
2016 projects, Completed (with project notes), Uncategorized

Acrylic slippers FTW

Do people still use the “FTW” (for the win) acronym?

Whatever.

14089304_10157372480435603_1684730502133303496_nSo these slippers are wonderful. Wonderful wonderful wonderful. Warm and comfy and just scuffy enough to feel slipper-y rather than sock-y. I wasn’t sure how I would like the colours in the main foot of the slipper but actually it turned out pretty neat looking.

As always, I have some notes:

  • Acrylic for slippers is awesome. Just as soft and warm as you could hope, but also machine washable. WINNNNNN!
  • … I will say, however, that they are starting to fuzz/fluff a bit already. Part of that is because I am constantly twitching my feet, usually in the form of me rubbing my feet together, so they are getting the hell frictioned out of them. I’m not worried about the fuzziness, it just makes them look and feel cosier, but it is a bit surprising. I expect that sort of thing with wool and other natural fibers, not with acrylic. And this stuff is 100% acrylic. (Loops & Threads Impeccable)
  • The cuffs were a cinch, just tubes knit on the round and crocheted together. (I’m super lazy.) Then I just picked up 32 stitches around the bottom of each cuff. Knit 6(ish) rows, turned the heel, and then knit the rest of the foot. Easy.
  • I suck so hard at kitchener that I basically didn’t even try to do it right. I mean, yeah, the toes of the socks are grafted together but I did a pretty horrific job. FAR from seamless. It was like this weird faux-kitchener. Like if kitchener was done by a blind donkey. But the toes are closed, so who cares I guess….
  • The double held yarn for the bootie part of the slipper was the correct choice. Extra warm but also extra cushioned for walking comfort.
  • Kept the same needle size throughout the whole project. Kept it at a US9 needle through the cuff (held single) and the bootie (held double). I’m good with the end result.

 

I know they looks like different sizes but they actually aren’t. They both fit perfectly.
2016 projects, Completed (with project notes), General, Real Life, Uncategorized

Welcome Back Mittens

14034838_10157336521250603_2674321381275197185_nSaturday this past weekend I just… needed to knit. I haven’t really had a knitty frame of mind for a few months. Maybe it is because I had sort of overdosed on knitting and my brain just needed a break from it. Whatever the reason, I haven’t knit much in months and had been focusing on other crafts/hobbies to fill the huge gaping void that knitting usually held in my life.

But then saturday, something changed…

[pullquote]Lesley’s Basic Mittens

US9 Needles

Patton’s Shetland Chunky in “Blue Jeans” colourway

  • Magic CO 18 (9 on each needle)
  • KFB the first stitch on each needle, knitting the rest (increasing by 2 each round) until there is 28 stitches total (14 on each needle)
  • K until the bottom edge reaches where thumb meets palm, but the other side also easily stretches to the bottom of palm
  • 6 stitch afterthought thumb
  • K another inch or two, until the mitten top reaches wrist plus a bit
  • 2×2 ribbing for 4 inches or so.
  • stretchy bind off
  • pick up stitches for thumb. Pick up 2 in each corner to close gap but knit those 2 together. If it still looks gappy do it again the next round to close gaps.
  • knit until reaches the top of the thumb, then do rounds of K2tog until 2 stitches left. Pull end through those stitches.
  • Weave in ends.

[/pullquote]

I had a craving for yarn and clicking needles.

I went to my stash… oh my lovely stash… and pawed through it all. I delighted in textures and colours and breathed deeply in the sheepy perfume of my more rustic wool blends. I rubbed various skeins against my face (the only TRUE way to feel yarn as far as I am concerned). I unearthed some long-dormant projects (like my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater) and tsk’d at my failure to show them the respect they deserved. As I mentally re-inventoried I was reminded of all the projects and plans I had made for all of these various yarns and my knitter passion was set aflame once more. Hell, it is a damned blowtorch.

Note the lack of comma in the subject line. I’m not welcoming back mittens. That would be silly. I’m Canadian; mittens are a mainstay in my life and to welcome them back would imply they left at some point. See? Silly. No, what I am referring to is “Welcome Back Mittens”, the mittens I made to welcome myself back into knitting.

14053945_10157336521195603_176939692907972448_nAre they simple? Yep. Dead basic top down mitten with an afterthought thumb. No pattern, no plan. No fancy colour work, cables, or techniques.  Nothing new or complicated or challenging to see here. Just plain old mittens. But hot damn, I made them and I finished them in no time and they are awesome. And for once, they are the same size. When I wing things that come in pairs (mittens, socks, etc) they NEVER end up the same size, but these? These are PERFECTLY THE SAME SIZE. Even the thumbs are the same size!

This has to be a sign.

The knitting gods smiled upon me, friends, and welcomed me back.

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), Uncategorized

One Day Rainbow Thrummed Mittens

Ow.

rainbow_midFor real, these mittens shall forever be known as the cause of my inevitable carpal tunnel. The problem isn’t the mittens really, but rather my insane choice to try to knit these mittens in one day. I started them one saturday morning, just casually knitting and managed to finish one by the early/mid afternoon. Plenty of the day left! Maybe I can finish the other one too!

I’m an idiot.

I mean, yes, of course I could. There are lots of things I COULD do, like smash lightbulbs on my face, or shave curse words into cats, but should I? No. No I shouldn’t. I need to stop and think harder over the “SHOULD I” question. Because in this case I probably shouldn’t have.

Signs that I should have stopped:

  • I developed knitting blisters on the sides of my palm where my needle rubs. The solution CLEARLY was to put on protective bandaids to reduce the friction. No thoughts of stopping.

    rainbow_thrums_for_days
    I also had to make all the thrums, which was a feat of its own
  • During the couple “breaks” (and I use that term very very loosely, since the breaks were only long enough to pee or eat something) I found it increasingly difficult and painful to bend some of my fingers.
  • Wrist pain. Wrist pain that started before I had even finished the first mitten and only got worse as the day went on.
  • A cramp in my hip/butt muscles from the weird way I sit when I knit.

Did I heed any of these signs? No. No I did not. These mittens became a matter of knititng HONOUR. I turned in to some sort of weird knitting Klingon, with a fatalistic “Perhaps today is a good day to die!” attitude. Nothing was going to stop me from finishing these mittens in one day.

 

12 hours, over 300 thrums, a handful of Advil, and five bandaids later, I finished them.

rainbow_finished

I spent the day after popping advil and having ice packs on my wrists while my husband repeatedly reminded me that I did this to myself and that that I had no one else to blame for the pain and discomfort I was in. I wasn’t able to knit for days because of the pain in my wrists and fingers, but you know… I’m still proud of having done it. And the mittens are undeniably warm and beautiful. I just love them.

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), Uncategorized

Unemployment Wrap (aka. Big giant squishy warm thing)

This project felt like a huge undertaking when I started it, which was sort of the point. I started it to mark the end of my near decade in the civil service and the beginning of my private sector career which is a huge undertaking as well. It turns out both the wrap and my major career shift weren’t the big balls of stressy hard work. Both went surprisingly smoothly and I got through quickly and easily in both cases. Go me!

20151102_185208

On to my project notes:

  • Used size 6US needles and 4 balls of Cascade Tangiers in the “Seascape” colourway. I was a bit iffy on the yarn at first but it was fine to work with, it knit up beautifully as entrelac, and it is soft and squishy.
  • Did 10 stitch squares, 6 squares across.
  • Project only took 2 months with me knitting at a VERY slow rate. I could have done it in half that time pretty easily if I was knitting as much as I normally do, but at time I was pretty tuckered out at the end of my work days at my new job and just didn’t have it in me to knit.
  • I had planned on using 5 balls but stopped at 4 because it was over 6 feet long. I didn’t need it to be any longer! It seriously is huge.
  • For my second entrelac project I think it turned out pretty awesomely, and I continue to enjoy using this technique. It really does look cool, and it gets a lot of “How did you do that?” comments from people, both from knitters and non-knitters.
    Worst entrelac fix ever…

    However, I need to make sure I pay more close attention. About halfway through the wrap I somehow doubled back halfway across a row and basically completely screwed things up. My efforts to correct this were huge fails, as the adjacent picture shows. Ultimately had to frog a couple days of work to get back to the point where I made the mistake.

  • entrelac_cowlI used a standard bind off and regret it. The wrap is so stretchy, but that end has exactly zero stretch, so it is a bit wonky. It is one of those things I’m aware of but no one else would notice or care about, I know this, but I am sort of mentally bookmarking this. If the knit is at all stretchy, for the love of god use a stretchy bind off! Doi….
  • I used the remaning ball of yarn to make a cowl for my sister. I think it looks nice but I’m not super duper happy with it. I wish I had knit it at a tighter gauge, and frankly this kind of yarn doesn’t work the best for a cowl. Too drapey/floppy. 😦

Overall I could not be happier with this project. It turned out exactly as I was hoping it would, and I use it every day at work (my new office is chilly so I wear it to stay warm). I works great as a snuggly wrap, but it also looks great as a scarf type thing.

20151103_130531

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), projects, Real Life, Uncategorized

Comment-dit-on “Rainbow Entrelac Hat”?

Me and my menfolk on the Bluenose II

The past two weeks have been hectic. VERY hectic and very nonstop. First, all last week I was in an intensive French immersion course. It was exhausting and hard but I do think my French is better for it. Something else happened during French week, which I will get into shortly. Anyway, after French Week we went to Nova Scotia for four days to visit family and had one of the best visits we have ever had up that way as far as I am concerned. Great connect with family, visited a yarn shop, and even got to connect up with a facebook friend! Great vacation. This week, once we got back from Nova Scotia, has been a week of anxious waiting to hear back from a job I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago. This had been weighing on me like a brick because I really wanted this job. Yesterday, finally, I heard back and I got it! This is a huge deal because for the first time in my career I won’t be working for the provincial government any more. I have been a civil servant for almost a decade, but only for three more weeks! This job will be in the private sector, which is a whole other world, but it is a change I’m definitely looking forward to. New work. New challenges. New experiences. I haven’t been doing a great job about maintaining my weight for the past few months and let my gym membership lapse a few months ago as well. My new job? Yeah, it is like a block from the gym, so I am taking this as a marker moment to get back on that wagon as well. Whole new routine and state of mind starts in just a couple weeks!

Now, back to French week….

During my week of immersion we were expected to spend the entire day there, speaking French, including over our lunch hour. Me, I don’t need an hour to eat lunch (I often don’t even bother eating lunch) so guess how I filled the time!

BAM! Rainbow Entrelac Hat!

20150730_220933

Looooooove how it turned out. The pictures do NOT do it justice.

Of course, I have some notes:

  • Technically I started this thing on Tuesday and I was done it by Thursday, which to me is pretty speedy. People in my French class were pretty surprised/impressed at how quickly the hat got done and they all loved the end result. 🙂
  • Entrelac is NOT HARD. Keep in mind this was my very first experiment with entrelac. Honest to heavens, it was stupid easy and simple to do once you got the first row done, and the end result is absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend giving it a shot to any intermediate or even more advanced beginner.
  • My hat was knit on size US7 needles, using worsted weight yarn. The grey is Paton’s, and the rainbow is the fabulous rainbow yarn I bought from Belfast Mini Mills.
  • My entrelac had 17 squares, each 5 stitches wide. After 3 rows of that (each row being a complete repeat of both a rainbow and grey row) I decreased to 4 stitch wide squares for a row. Next row was 3 stitch wide squares. When I got down to two it was mostly just an exercise in decreasing evenly and then switching to just the grey to finish it off.
  • I didn’t have a pattern and was just sort of winging the whole thing, and because of that it did end up pretty big. Comically and unwearably too big until I picked the edge stitches up with smaller needles (i think US6) and then knit a bit of an extra, smaller, edge. It didn’t take much to bring it in that little bit and make the hat wearable.
  • Like I said, the hat was/is big, and even after the added rows to close it up a bit. The hat is basically a slouchy beret/tam type thing and not something I would usually knit, let alone wear, but the end result really is properly adorable and I think I will wear it after all.

 

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), Uncategorized

Matching Cowl Success! The ultimate Canadian Winter set has been made!

20150716_185240Matching cowl complete! Honest to God, how awesome is this set? I know I know, blah blah modesty blah, but seriously… this set has turned out way way better than anything else I have made, and way better than I was hoping. It looks so cool! And unique! And cool!!! My friend in Texas said that when she first saw the picture of me in the set that it looked like a cool X-Men character. My husband described the look as a sort of brightly coloured ninja. Both sound awesome to me!

Okay, so we’ve established the set LOOKS great. As for functionality, lets delve into this a bit.

It gets extremely cold here in New Brunswick, and the windchill is fairly epic in its terribleness. -40°C level terribleness. I’ve lived here all my life and am as “used to it” as anyone can be, but it still sucks. I think a lot of people who suffer through weather like this every year are always in search of the Perfect Winter Combo™. I know I have been. So when I bought the yarn from MacAusland’s I saw this as my chance.

The whole basis for this project was to create a cute set that would be great for general winter days, would work well as separates, but when paired be able to shield against the worst of the windchills.

Cute? CHECK!

Works well as separates? CHECK!

Shields against extreme winter windchills? As yet untested but I’m thinking it is going to be perfect. Why? I’m glad you asked! 20150716_185202

  1. I knit these at a fairly tight gauge, which makes them snuggly warm but also more resistant to wind. I also made a point of felting them just the tiniest bit to help with that, and to just make the colour blending blur a bit.
  2. The double thickness band on the front of the bonnet creates a fairly robust and effective windbreak. Normal hats that sit snug to the head do nothing to protect your eyes/face from the stinging winds, but this style hat really does a great job of creating a protective buffer from the wind. This isn’t just a guess, I know this first hand – my Birthday Sprinkles hat last winter was great for this!
  3. The extra-thick i-cord edging along the top of the cowl creates a bit of a form-fitting cushion along my face. I’m a fan of scarves/neckers/cowls, but have found that they all either 1) squash too tightly against my face/mouth to be comfortable or 2) are too loose and therefore gappy and drafty. My cowl allows for a snug (but comfortable fit) along the top while still having a looser more comfortable fit for along the body of the cowl.
  4. The cowl stays up. I am not a fan of super floppy cowls that don’t stay up.  Function over fashion, people!
  5. The bonnet overlaps the cowl in the back , creating a wind-proof result. I haaaaaaaaaate when there is a gap between my hat and my scarf/cowl that the wind and cold air can get at, but this combo works perfectly. Plus, it isn’t excessively bulky or lumpy looking.

 

The only thing I would have done differently with the cowl is to make it a bit longer and to have done a bit of shaping to make it wider at the bottom so that it could spread out and and sort of splay out on to my shoulders a little bit so that when I put my coat on it has a solid amount of overlap, again ensuring a wind-proof seam. As it is I think it will be fine. I’m half considering picking up the bottom stitches and extending things a bit, but I honestly don’t think it is necessary. And, well, I don’t think I have enough yarn. I think I have juuuuuuust enough to finish my matching mittens, but I think that will be it. I’m making the mittens the convertible type so that I can expose my fingers if need be. I’m doing this because I want to be able to put on my mittens, then put on my coat (so that the mittens are properly tucked in and sealed by the jacket cuff) and then zip up my coat without difficulty. Have you ever tried zipping up a coat with mittens on? Yeah, it is tricky business.20150716_205432 I’ve completed one mitten and am pretty happy with it. I did a thick i-cord edging along the top but I’m not happy with it – too bulky, especially when the mitten top is pulled over my fingers – so I’m probably going to tear that out and just do a standard bind-off. I also need to come up with a way to secure my mitten tops to the back of the mitten…. maybe. I strongly suspect that the mitten top will be over my fingers more often than not and that the pulled back option will be on an as-needed basis and then be returned to the top on position as soon as I am done using my fingers. If this is the case then going through the effort of making some way to secure the top to the back of the mitten would be unnecessary. If I DO end up securing the flap somehow it will NOT be velcro. Sure, its easy and effective, but it sticks to the whole mitten, not just the loopy bit that it is supposed to stick to, and it ruins the knit.

 

Once I finish the mittens I am definitely going to be writing up the patterns for the whole set.

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), projects, Uncategorized

My hands were able to make what my brain was picturing

Friends, I have done the impossible. I was looking at the awesome yarns I bought while in PEI (namely the three skeins I got from MacAusland’s Woolen Mill) and had this vision in my mind of a hat.

Not just any hat.

A bonnet.

And this bonnet would have the three colours of yarn transition through the around-the-face band, and then again across the main head part of the hat.

This vision was epic and despite the fact that NEVER has any vision of mine ever come to fruition, I decided to go ahead and try it…

BAM! DONE! LIKE A BOSS!

Okay, for real, I am insanely proud of this stupid hat. Twelve hours of work and look what I made!!! Hells yeah! So, as per usual, I have some notes:

  1. Yes, obviously it is roughly based around EZ bonnet pattern and it was inspired by the Neon Ski Bonnets I’ve knit (1, 2). I’m not going to pretend I invented any sort of super creative brand new construction because I didn’t. I mean, its a bonnet. This is not groundbreaking stuff.

    It has a weird bump in the back yellow part NOT because of the hat but because I had a weird bun/pony tail and it was sort of making a weird bulge. NOT the hats fault!
  2. THAT SAID, I did this entirely on the fly without referring to any patterns while I made it, so it is definitely my own creation in that way.
  3. Because I made it up as I went there are some things I would have done a bit differently, like making the main hat part a bit deeper to accommodate my huge noggin. I was able to block it out a bit bigger so it isn’t a big deal, but I will be altering the pattern when I write it up to account for that.
  4. I did make a specific and personal addition to the pattern, and that was to do some shortrows on the back of the hat along the bottom so that the back of the hat extended a bit farther down my head. You can see where I did this in the blue and yellow stripes along the bottom. It has a bit of an 80’s vibe that I didn’t plan but really love.
  5. I also did an i-cord bindoff along the bottom just to give it a more finished look AND because I wanted more practice doing an i-cord bindoff. I-cord bind off is tedious as hell but I really like the end result.
  6. Obviously, my main “I maked this!” creative contribution to this project is the colourwork that I did. I still can’t believe how well it turned out for just sort of doing it on the fly and just hoping it turned out okay. I LOVE the band, and I love how the back of the hat ended up. Not many hats look as cool as this hat does from the back.

 

So this is what I did in just two days (roughly 12 hours of work). I feel crazy accomplished, and sweet mercy do I ever love this hat. This is possibly my favourite completed project to date. Currently working on a matching cowl, and if I have enough yarn I also hope to making some matching mittens for the trifecta of awesomeness!!! WOO!

 

ETA: Matching Cowl done! Check it out!

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), General, projects, Uncategorized

I finally did that thing that every other knitter does when they are learning to knit

megasock
Behold the glory that is Mega-Sock

For so many people a knitted cotton dishcloth was their first project. but me, I’m special. I sort of skipped all that rite of passage. My first project was actually a sock. Not a pair of socks, just one sock. I had this idea in my head that if I could knit a sock I could knit anything so that is what I started with, which in retrospect was not a super brilliant choice. For one, I had no sense of gauge (just bought size 4US DPNs without any particular reason or explanation other than that they “looked good”), no sense of appropriate yarn (I used dishcloth cotton yarn, mostly because it was cheap and pretty colours), and basically had no idea what the hell I was doing. I did finish the sock, which my husband calls “Mega Sock” because it is MASSIVE. It was good I suppose because I did learn to knit on the round using DPNs, and hey, I made a SOCK. Yes, I knew it was an utterly ridiculous and terminally flawed sock, but it was a SOCK. I had a whole lot of pride over the fact that my first project was a sock rather than a silly dishcloth or boring scarf. And since I “successfully” made a sock I felt comfortable having my second project be something more complicated and challenging, so as it turned out I never actually made a dishcloth.

Until now.

On Sunday I made not one but THREE dishcloths! 20150531_171600I did each one a different way, just trying out different techniques. I like them all, but I think I like the k2p2 checker board one the most. And boy, those dishcloths resemble mega-sock, eh? Yep! I used my leftover yarn from my first project to finally make what perhaps SHOULD have been my first project! Ha! Oh, how these things work out. Circle of life and all that.

Anyway, I did three. One is a simple knit purl type checkerboard, one is more traditional diagonally knit with eyelets around the edge, and one is in a pseudo log-cabin type thing that I sorta winged. I actually winged all of them, just guessed at how they should be made, and they all turned out okay.. ish. The diagonal one pretty crappy if I’m going to be honest, but hey! It was my first dishcloth! Your first dishcloth isn’t supposed to be perfect. 🙂

2015 projects, Completed (with project notes), Free, My Patterns, Uncategorized

PATTERN: Kitty Bonnet

Want to make your cat the happiest cat in all the world? If you do then you probably aren’t the kind of person who makes their cat wear silly hats, and if so then move along because this is all about how to make your cat a simple (but oh so fabulous) knitted bonnet! This is basically the slightly improved version of Chickpea’s Toque. I’ve made it so that the ear holes sit flatter, made the hat more shallow so that it sits better on the kitty’s head, and I made the ties to use an icord rather than a weird garter strip. 20150514_162718

 

 

Kitty Bonnet

Pattern features holes for the kitty’s ears, and under-the-chin ties to ensure the kitty’s hat doesn’t fall off.

 

Yarn: DK weight, 10g (scrap yarn, basically)

Needles: US 6 – 4.0mm circular needles

DPNs (optional, but highly helpful for the 3 needle bind off and the icord)

 

  1. CO 40 on circular needles.
  2. Join on the round being careful not to twist.
  3. K four rounds
  4. Count out 25 stitches. From now until step 16 you will be working back and forth on ONLY these 25 stitches. The remaining 15 stitches will be left unworked until later.
  5. K 25 stitches, turn.
  6. P 25 stitches, turn.
  7. Repeat 4 and 5 four times
  8. K2tog, K 21, SSK. Turn. (23 stitches)
  9. P 23. Turn
  10. K2tog, K2tog, K until four stitches remain, SSK, SSK, turn (19 stitches)
  11. P19. Turn
  12. K2tog, K2tog, K until four stitches remain, SSK, SSK, turn (15 stitches)
  13. P15
  14. K 15
  15. Repeat 13 and 14 five times. At this point you will have something similar to what is pictured here to the right.
  16. You will now have 15 stitches that you have been working, and the 15 that you haven’t worked. Convenient, huh? Put the worked 15 stitches on one side of your circular, and the unworked 15 on your other side. Align them so that the right sides are together.
  17. Using a third needle (a DPN works great) do a 3 needle bind off (or do a Kitchener seam, or just join the two sides however you like.)
  18. Pick up and knit 3 stitches below the left ear hole. Make a simple icord that is approx 6 inches long. Repeat on right side.
  19. Clean up your ends and you’re done!

 

Add a sassy pompom to the top to make it extra fancy for the feline recipient. Or hey, you could crochet a frilly edge in a contrasting colour along the brim, because everyone knows cats LOVE frilly edges.

download the PDF of this pattern by clicking here