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!
Ideas and Inspiration, Uncategorized

Spats!

Spick and Spats by Madelaine Pippa Bartlett
Spick and Spats by Madelaine Pippa Bartlett

During the cold months (which is most of the year where I live) my wardrobe is entirely based around leggings with pencil skirts. I own about a dozen pairs of leggings (mostly black) and about a dozen different pencil skirts and mini-skirts (many of which I made myself), so it is very easy to toss together an outfit. Just add a neutral sweater and bam! Fancy outfit!

Grey- grey legwarmers by Katya Gorbacheva
Grey- grey legwarmers by Katya Gorbacheva

My extreme laziness loves it. Maybe some would argue that because I am overweight I shouldn’t be wearing pencil skirts, but they’d be wrong. I look fabulous. And more to the point, I feel fabulous in them. And I apparently have a reputation at work for looking spiffy and well put together, so I must be doing something right.

My problem comes with the shoes.

I don’t own a huge number of shoes that work with leggings. Ankle booties are the style I favour with my leggings and I own 2 pairs, but I get tired of wearing the same two pairs of booties all fall, winter, and spring. It gets boring. And, in all honesty, none of them are quite high enough or warm enough for the crazy snow that we get. It hasn’t been a huge deal because the walk from my car into my office is about 9 feet, but my office is moving and our parking is no longer going to be 9 feet away, it is going to be almost two blocks away. Suddenly my less-than-toasty leggings and booties are more of a problem.

So guess what I’m knitting!

SPATS!

No, seriously, just go with me on this for a minute. This is a brilliant idea.

  • Quick knitting project, so I can fairly easy get a few pairs in different colours/designs hammered out.
  • Spats will allow me to change up the look of my shoes/outfit with very little effort.
  • I can make them with a foldable cuff. On super cold days I can extend the cuff to create a sort of leg warmer.
  • Warm feet!
  • Keeps up with my whole retro look (…though I will admit the era of spats isn’t in alignment with my retro 50’s look I’m rocking these days)

I’ve already started a pair. Just a super basic 2×2 rib in black Redheart Super Saver I had kicking around. Mostly just a proof of concept, but honestly I can’t see why I wouldn’t love some spats. If these work out (and I can’t see why they wouldn’t) I will start experimenting with different design elements like ruffles, lace, buttons, cables, etc. as well as bright colours.

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), projects, Uncategorized

Chickpea the cat has been knit a hat

Chickpea - The soon-to-be hat recipient!
Chickpea – The soon-to-be hat recipient!

My sister put a link on my Facebook wall to a story about knitted hats for cats, and then said she was “putting in an order” for me to make one for her cat, Chickpea.

Well, wish granted!

Chickpea's Cat ToqueStill not sure the original request was sincere, but it is too late for that now! LOL I could have purchased the patterns that were done up by the person in the article, but frankly it is a hat for a cat… It doesn’t need to be perfect. God knows the cat isn’t going to care and will probably hate it no matter what I do! LOL Anyway, I felt pretty confident I could wing it, and I was right! I think I was actually fairly ingenious in how I constructed it. (Not going to get in to it now, I have plans to do up a pattern in the near future.) I wanted to make sure that there would be holes for Chickpea’s ears to go through, but I also didn’t want a ton of seaming or weird boxy edges. Success on both fronts. Also, hello scrap yarn! I used gradient King Cole Riot DK yarn (remnants from my Shawl En Mousse et Vagues) because it is frankly really pretty and a good weight for this type of thing. It is actually 100% wool and fairly nice yarn that I used on this hat. The yarn also made a pretty fantastic looking pompom thanks to the colour transition.  And finally, I knit it at a relatively loose gauge so that it would have a lot of stretch. The cat in question lives a couple provinces away so I tried to make it a size that would fit any cat’s head. It has been a while since I owned a cat so most of this was just guessing.

Anyway, I’m pretty damned proud of this stupid thing. Yes, it is a toque for a cat, and yes I know full well that it is likely to go unused apart from the couple of pictures taken of her wearing it when it first arrives. It only took me a couple hours, so even getting one or two hilarious pictures of Chickpea wearing the hat will make it worth it!

ETA: I have been sent a picture and holy crap is it awesome!

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

Juno Slippers (aka. Adventures in Felting)

Juno slippers! Named after the storm that closed work and gave me the free day to knit them!

SNOW DAY! I live in the east coast of Canada and currently the big storm Juno is sailing through. The entire province (eastern seaboard?) is shut down and for once even my office was closed for the day. Pretty much closed off to the entire world, I decided to try my hand at making felted slippers. The pattern I used was the free Felt Slippers For Adults by Nita Brainard. I had never done any sort of felting before and frankly I found it a bit insane or hard to believe. The size the pre-felted item had to be was comical and I really had trouble believing felting would change the size that much.

SO HUGE pre-felting! I still can't believe how much they shrank down.
SO HUGE pre-felting! I still can’t believe how much they shrank down.

However, after reading all sorts of tutorials on felting as well as going over some other felting patterns I decided to just trust it would work out.

The slippers themselves did not take long to knit, nor were they a complicated knit. I was able to get them done while my husband and I watched movies (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Rainman, just in case you’re curious). They don’t take a huge amount of concentration, and frankly I wasn’t too worried about any mistakes. I mean, they are getting felted and that should hide most mistakes, right? Holy crap, though, were they ever huge pre-felting! Upon seeing them my husband oh so helpfully said, “You do realize you aren’t making these for Shaq, right?”. Hardy har har. But really, seeing them there, waiting to be felted, over 13 inches long (and I have size 7 feet)… doubts over what felting would be able to accomplish crept back in.

013
My felting setup

Enormous knit booties in hand, I sat down to begin the felting process. First of all, felting is a bit of a pain in the ass, or at least felting by hand is. I am sure I will do it again sometime, but I assure you I will be getting dishwashing gloves next time. My hands are all dry and ick feeling after all that time in the hot soapy water scrubbing away at the booties. The felting took a little longer to get going than I expected and took more physical effort than I expected as well. Worried I didn’t have the ability to felt them small enough by hand I threw them in our front loading clothes washer on the hottest cycle. This did help bring them down in size a bit but still not small enough, so I tossed them in to our dryer at the hottest setting. Again, some shrinkage (ha) but not quite small enough. I gave up at that point though. I mean, really, if they aren’t small enough after all that they are never going to be! I’m just going to line them with something fluffy (sheepskin if I can find it) and I am sure they will be perfect then. Hell, they are pretty awesome now in their too-big size!

I do think I will make them again sometime, but I will be making a smaller size, at least in terms of width. Fun project, though, and something fun to show for a snow day at home.

 

Project Notes:

  • I used just over half a ball of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Oak Tweed. I don’t generally like tweed yarns, and I had wanted the natural colour but for whatever reason my local Michael’s was out of every colour was of Fisherman’s Wool except this tweed colour. Oh well.
  • As per the pattern I used size 13 US needles and held the yarn double.
  • In total this took me maybe 8 hours to do (including felting) which to me is not bad.
  • I made the ladies medium size, but if/when I make these again I will be making the narrow version of these. I have really wide feet too, so I have no clue what sort of lady’s foot would fit in these things!
  • While I LOVE these slippers they did end up being a bit big despite my efforts to felt them smaller. They are lovely but I do think I am going to have to line them with some thick something (sheep skin I hope, or in a pinch polar fleece) which should be just enough to make them perfect.

    nice thick even felt
    Behold the nice thick even felt I created!
  • I would add a few more rows at the top of the slipper before you turn the heel, just to have more of a lip/edge at the top of the slipper. I (luckily?) have enough extra at the back of the slipper that I was able to sort of shape it in to a back of the heel lip, but I think it would be better if they were deliberately knit that way.
  • I felted by hand for about half an hour just in hot water with Palmolive, followed by about 10 minutes of hot water/cold water shock felting followed by a run in our front facing clothes washer, followed by about 20 minutes in the dryer. I figured if they didn’t shrink down small enough after all that they were never going to, hence my plan to line them.
  • The end result of the felting in terms of the fabric it created is really nice. I see why so many people use Fisherman’s Wool for felted projects. It just seemed to work well and felt uniformly.

You can view my Ravelry project for these felted slippers HERE.

 

 

UPDATE 2015-01-28:

So apparently I should be able to felt these smaller. According to the knowledgeable people on the Ravelry forums that as long as you can still see some stitch definition (which I can, as the above picture shows) then you can still felt further. This is encouraging! I am fed up with trying to felt by hand so I’m going to toss them in the washer again tonight and see what happens. I just really hope they don’t shrink too much…

Free, My Patterns, Uncategorized

PATTERN: Squashy Cowl

It took me longer than I intended but my pattern for my Squashy Cowl is finally available!

Squishy, stretchy, warm, reversible, fast knit cowl using worsted weight yarn. 085This pattern is done in a basic 6×6 rib but with alternating rows of elongated knit and elongated purl stitches. The knit/purl columns remain constant, but it alternates between rows where the knit stitches are elongated with purl stitches normal, and rows where the purl stitches are elongated and knit are normal. This results in alternating blocks of puffy stitches combined with blocks of normal tighter stitches. The technique is easy to learn and easy to do and gives a huge amount of stretch to the item. When it isn’t stretched out it creates fluffy folds that make the item very warm. Knit flat and seaming the two sides together the ribs are horizontal and the stretch is vertical in the cowl, lending it to being worn as a cowl and hood pull up over the head. Knit on the round the ribs are vertical and the stretch is horizontal. This allows the cowl to be worn loosely around the neck, or stretched out and looped for extra warmth. Made wide enough and long enough this pattern could be easily adapted to work as a shoulder shrug/shoulder cosy.

 

Elongated Knit Stitch

ek – elongated knit stitch
ep – elongated purl stitch

This pattern relies upon an elongated stitch. To make an elongated knit stitch, you make a knit stitch as you would normally except for one difference: you make two wraps of the yarn instead of one. By making the extra wrap it mimics the effect if you had used a larger needle for that stitch, creating a much larger loop. Consider it like a yarn over (YO) WITHIN a stitch, rather than before or after a stitch like a normal yarn over. With a yarn over the stitch count is increased, but with an elongated stitch your stitch count never changes due to how the stitch is worked.

diagram of what each stitch type will look like and how they will appear in the cowl

Creating an Elongated stitch

Insert your working needle into the stitch knit wise, wrap the working yarn around the working needle twice, then pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch as you would in a normal knit stitch. This will result in two loops for that stitch instead of one. The extra wrap/loop is creating some slack in the yarn that will be released when you work it on the next row.

Working an Elongated stitch

How you work an enlongated stitch is key to achieving the effect. When you get to an elongated stitch you will see the yarn wrapped around the needle rather than just looped over like a normal stitch. Pick up the first loop with your working yarn, work it as the pattern indicates, but when you pull the yarn through the stitch you need to pull the extra loop off the needle as well. You are releasing the slack you created by doing the double wrap when you created the stitch, making that loop extra big.

It is important that it is worked as one to get the elongated loop.

  • Do NOT knit each loop separately. This would create extra stitches and you would not get the big elongated loop.
  • Do NOT knit the two loops together. This would keep the loop from being large and elongated.

 

The pattern is actually quite simple once you get a handle on the elongated stitch. You really just need to remember to release the elongated stitch each time you come to one. Now that I have explained the elongated stitch to death, on to the actual pattern!

 

Materials:

  • 300-400 yards of worsted weight yarn. (I used Berocco Vintage yarn)
  • Size 6 US (4mm) circular needles. (Straight needles can be used if you are making the knit flat vertical stretch version of the cowl.)

Option 1: Knit Flat/Vertical Stretch

Cast on 84 stitches using a stretchy cast on technique. This will be 8 repeats of the ribbed pattern. NOTE: If you want to make it wider/more narrow make sure your total number of stitches of a multiple of 6!

OPTIONAL SEAMLESS JOIN: For a concealed seam on the cowl cast on using a provisional cast on method. This will allow you to seam the two sides together using kitchener.

Row 1,3,5 : *(ek6, p6), repeating * 7 times

Row 2,4,6 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 7 times

Row 7,9,11 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 7 times

Row 8,10,12 : *(ek6, p6), repeating * 7 times

Repeat rows 1-12 until it reaches the desired length. In the pattern example 20 repeats were done.

Cast off using a stretchy cast off technique, then join the two sides together using the technique of your choice. For best results complete the seam in such a way that allows for some stretch.

 

OPTIONAL SEAMLESS JOIN: Instead of casting off pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on edge and connect the two sides of the cowl using kitchener stitch. In order to do this and have it be truly seamless you need to be able to do a kitchener stitch for both knit and purl stitches.

 

____________________________________________

 

Option 2: Knit on the round/Horizontal Stretch

Cast on 252 stitches on circular needles. Join on the round.

Row 1-6: *(ek6, p6), repeating * 21 times

Row 7-12 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 21 times

Repeat rows 1-12 until cowl is desired length.

Cast off using stretchy cast of technique.


You can download a PDF version of this pattern by clicking HERE.

General, Ideas and Inspiration, Uncategorized

Goals for 2015

I started knitting in March of 2014 and in less than a year I feel like I accomplished a lot. There was never any sort of set plan when I decided to take up knitting, it was just for fun and to get comfortable in the art of knitting. Mission accomplished I’d say!

This year, though, is different. There are some specific things I’d like to accomplish in my knitting before this year is out, and I thought that keeping a record here of what they are and maybe crossing them off as I accomplished them would be useful. I may also add additional things to the list as the year goes on.

2015 Knitting Goals

1. Knit a sweater

2. Dye my own yarn and use it for… something. Anything. Bonus points if the yarn ends up being colour gradient yarn. (Success!!)

3. Try my hand at spinning my own yarn using a drop spindle.

4. Knee-high socks for myself. Bonus points if they are stranded. Extra super big gold star sticker if they are Harry Potter related.

5. Attempt Illusion Knitting

6. Create at least 5 more patterns to make available to the public. (1)

7. Try steeking for the first time. It seriously strikes the fear of god in me, but I suspect I need not be so terrified.

8. Keep up with this blog. Maybe that isn’t a knitting goal exactly, but it is related to knitting, and I really do hope I succeed.

 

 

Running list of other cool things I did/learned in 2015

1. Attempted Felting (DONE!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completed (with project notes), projects, Uncategorized

Gear shift knob cosy! Possibly my favourite project of the year!

20150316_165718Remember THIS post? Well, I wasn’t kidding. After I finished my Zig-a-zig Ahh socks and got them off the needles I started thinking about what to do for my car.

Behold the envy of all gear shift knobs!
Behold the envy of all gear shift knobs!

Last night I just went for it and did up a simple gear shift knob cosy. Super simple, super basic. Just used some scrap yarn (left over from this shawl) and it only took an hour or so.

The end result? MAGICAL! Holy hell, this is fantastic. One, I love how it looks. It pretties up my car tremendously. Two, I love how it feels. I love the feel of knit and having a knit gear shift is such a treat. Three, No freezing hand this morning! My gear shift sucked for either burning my hand in the summertime or freezing my hand in the wintertime. This has made it temperature neutral which is a relief.

 

The only not awesome part of this project is that it was an absolute beast to get on. I should have used a stretchier cast on because holy mercy it was a fight to get it to slide over. Once I got that part over it was smooth sailing though.

 

Up next…. head rest covers, maybe? We shall see. 🙂