Friday, December 31, 2010

Wild Tam

I have a niece who's 12, and quite fashion conscious. Slouchy hats are 'in' this year, and she loves orange and bright colours. I didn't really have any orange yarn that I felt would make a good hat for her, especially after seeing the tam pattern Diana Sullivan posted. I stopped into my LYS for the first time since we moved here (I was able to hold off for 15 months!), and found some Berroco Sox Metallic that I thought would fit the bill. My only problems were finding the time--I had gifts to make that had to be mailed, and I had a long list of gifts I wanted to make that didn't have to be mailed....LOL. Plus I wanted the hat a little slouchier than what Diana's seemed to be. Although I've read of people on the Yahoo lists making this hat, there aren't too many pictures or blog posts about it. I didn't have much to go on to figure it out.
I don't recall exactly what I did with my first effort....but it resulted in many more rows than the original pattern, which meant when I joined it to the ribbed band, it was very pouffy (lets not go into how on the first try of joining it, I made a math mistake and had to redo it!). It looked more like a wool shower cap than a slouchy hat.
For the second try, I loosened up the tension, and cast on 50st instead of the 45 in the pattern. To work these extra 5 sts into the short rowing and keep the same number of rows per wedge as Diana's pattern, I put a needle into work about every 10 rows, when the carriage was on the left (the pattern has you put the needles into work while the carriage is on the right, and as you do that every time the carriage is on the right, the extra sts have to be worked while COL, or I guess you could put two sts into work every 10 rows when COR....).
I kept the original ribbed band and re-hung it. I had figured out that there were about 33 ribbed stitches per wedge, so I'd pull forward 33 st and hang one wedge. I did the joining and took it off the machine. It still seemed a little pouffy, but I hoped steam would help.
I think the above is the pre-steamed picture. I tried using a dinner plate, but mine were too small. I used a platter, and it was still a little small. I steamed it as much as I could on the platter, then put it on the head. I think I should have let it cool before moving it though, as I think the ribbing got stretched going over the platter as I took it off.It smoothed out quite a bit. I think using a looser tension helped to not get quite a sharp edge to the tam that you can see in others' pictures. I am not a great hat model, and my hair was all pulled up. It's not quite as orange as I would have liked, but I had showed her the failed first attempt, and she did like the could she not--it has metallic glitter in it, LOL!
I haven't gotten it to her yet, I was hoping to get something else made with the leftover yarn. Diana says the tam takes just a smidge under 50gr, but this one took 62gr. That doesn't leave me enough to make fingerless gloves, but I have a few ideas...
(More details are on my Ravelry page).

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Shroom Head

I found out my SIL got a new coat this year. The description on Facebook was that it was olive tan beige green, and possibly iridescent. My SIL's favourite colour is purple, and last year I made her the charcoal "Bella Mitts" for her birthday. I did not think a purple hat would go with this coat, despite my SIL's insistence that purple goes with everything. I find that in this sort of circumstance, a multi-coloured yarn is usually the way to go, rather than trying to match such an interesting colour description, LOL. I searched my stash and found this yarn, "Braemar" by Stylecraft. It's either 55% wool, or 55% acrylic, LOL. I chose the "Shroom" pattern from last year. I had tried to make it last year, but it looked so hilariously ridiculous on me, I had to frog it the instant the shutter clicked. This time, I was much more impressed. It's not too terribly slouchy though; I'm not sure that the current trend is suitable for us more .... mature.... ladies, LOL. You can't see it in the picture, but it does slouch at the back.We gave my son Roxio Creator Pro to "play" with photos and videos for Christmas, and I tried it out with this photo. It has a dedicated "blemish remover" and a "wrinkle remover" too! The caption reads "Does this hat make me look like a 'shroom?" LOL!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Knitted Gifts for Teachers

I struggle with teacher gifts each year. Even though I know it's coming, I'm usually caught off guard, LOL. For Christmas, I like to give something for the teacher--something personal or something festive or something to help out the season...not a "#1 Teacher" mug. (For the end of school, I like to give something for the classroom...this way, the child has moved on and won't be there to say "That's MY gift"). This year, I'm giving a cute ornament made by a high school friend, and the kids made bookmarks similar to this (though not the fancy bookmark, we could only get plainer ones, but they picked all the beads and did it themselves). I had planned to make MK gloves for the kindergarten teacher, but she came out wearing grey gloves the other day, so I canned that. I was going to make some for Hugh's teacher, but he says he's sure the teacher already has gloves. We saw Lucy's teacher at the Santa Claus Parade, and I saw she had some bright green on her jacket, and the teachers wear safety vests in the yarn, one of them is bright green. So I made her some bright green mitts.Mmmm. The colour is much lighter and clearer and brighter in life, not like pea soup on my monitor.

I used the standard old mitten pattern from Patons, with 40st and 4mm needles. After doing the thumb, I knit the next row on the body and then thread a strand through the 20sts of the back of the hand. Knit the rest of the hand, ending with 1x1 ribbing, instead of fingers like you often see. I find the fingers tend to make the mitts a little bulky. Then I picked up the loops of the 20sts, cast on 20st for the palm side, and knit in the round for the flap, following the mitten pattern. They look a little out of balance because the yarn I used (Easy Knit brand "Georga", from Wal-Mart, 100% "Mercerized" Wool), knit up at 22st/4" and 30 rows/4" instead of the pattern's 19st and ? rows (I can't find that page, but I think it was about 24rows). I had followed the row counts for up to the thumb, which resulted in that portion of the mitt being a little shorter than it should be, so the rest of the mitt--knit to the length requirement--looks too long. As well, the mitts are close fitting instead of loose. The weird thing is, the yarn had a 'ball band gauge' of 18st/24rows on 5.5mm. That seemed outrageous just by looking at the yarn, and I think the gauge I got for the mitts is perfect (however, I wish I had ripped back and increased a few sts for the hand as it is stretched a little on me and I think the teacher is probably a bit bigger).

What's even more perfect is that the yarn was sold in 2 ball packs....for $5. I used just under one ball. Yup. And I picked up a LOT of packs over the past month; many shades of green.
Now, the instructions say to handwash in warm, so I'm going to test a swatch in the machine. AFTER Christmas. And should I make her a hat, or a neck cowl?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Gift

Who hasn't known a child to build a fort with a sheet, or wrap one around their neck for a superman cape, or pin one to their hair for a bridal veil? My kids love stealing pieces of fabric from my sewing room, and using them for blankets, forts, costumes, etc. I decided for my 4 year old niece that I would knit her a big piece of lacy pink fabric, to use her imagination with.
Back in the spring, I saw an ad on for some cones of baby coloured machine knitting yarn. I emailed the poster, and it was one of those "wow, you're just like me!" moments...the similarities in our lives were fascinating, although she had just had her first baby. The yarn had been her grandmother's, and she knew nothing about it. Somehow though, I got distracted, or was broke, and forgot to follow through. A while later I saw the email in my box and did a face-palm. I emailed her, and she said since she hadn't heard back to me, she gave it to a machine knitter from Omeemee. I knew instantly who it was, LOL! I emailed her and teased her about taking my yarn. She wrote back saying that she had good intentions to make baby blankets for the hospital, but the yarn wasn't working the way she wanted. And if I wanted it, I could have it, and in fact, she'd be in Brooklyn in two weeks and could even drop it off. For free. Well. Everything for a reason, and there are usually very good reasons why I procrastinate!!!! Marg is the creator of a very popular circular knit dishcloth, and to thank her, I knit a couple of her dishcloths for a gift--I figure she's either sick of knitting them herself, or knits so many for others that she never gets any for herself (I've shown them on here before, they're quite pretty!).
I chose card 7 (Singer), and started with a swatch. I wanted to do it as a tuck rib so that I wouldn't have to worry about edges. As soon as I put every other needle out of work on the mainbed, chaos happened. This card has every other st knit and the alternate sts tucking, for two rows, then it alternates. I tried different combos with ribber needles, but nothing was working. I looked in the mainbed manual to see if there was something else to try. It showed this card doing tuck lace by putting TWO needles out of work! That was the ticket. I could pretty much use what ever pattern of ribber needles that I wanted to--the more I had, the wider the fabric, however, it did seem that placing them in different spots relative to the out of work needles gave different widths too.
Relaxed the fabric is somewhat boring but it is lacey and stretchy.But stretched out with the weights...It's rather neat. This is now the backdrop on my computer, LOL. Of course, it doesn't stay this taut once off the machine and washed.This is the needle set up I ended up with, I used T10 and I think needles 90L-90R, or at least 85-85. I was concerned about going all the way to the ends of the bed; I don't have extension rails. Because it's every other needle tucking, it didn't matter which needles were sent out of work, as long as it was at least two. I did keep track of the rows, but unfortunately forgot to look at the counter before starting the next project. It was at least 500 I think. I think I weighed it, but again, I don't have the info. It turned into a huge, fluffy, frothy, cotton candy squishy piece of fabric. I would have liked it wider, but I was also limited by the fact I had to mail it!
I hope my niece likes it and has some fun!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Super Easy MK Fingerless Gloves for 8 year old

I made two pairs of gloves on the standard gauge machine, and wanted something a little faster, so I thought I'd give fingerless gloves a try. I started with making a pair for Meg's teacher, then suddenly switched to making a pair for my niece's 8th birthday (today!).

Standard Gauge with Ribber
30gr sock yarn (I used old Kroy 4ply, which lists a stockinette gauge of 28st/4")
waste yarn in a highly contrasting colour

Cast on every other needle: MB 30L-31R; RB 29L-30R; do the zig zag row and hang weights, and then the "circular" or "tubular" cast on at T3 (or even a little tighter).
Switch to 1x1 rib and T4. RC=000. Rib for 20 rows.

Now to increase for the thumb gusset. Move the outer stitch at each edge, on both beds, out one position (keep every other needle out of work). Take the heel of the st towards the center of the bed, and place it on the empty needle (so, don't take the heel of the outer stitch that was moved, but from the first st beside it).
Knit four rows.
Repeat these two steps; making increases when RC reads 20, 24, 28, 32, 36. That makes 10 sts increased at either edge. When RC=40, take the 10 sts at each end off onto waste yarn threaded through each stitch (one strand for the MB sts, one strand for the RB sts is fine). Knot the strands!

Continue ribbing till RC=64. This makes a long hand that can be folded back for better finger exposure, or left long to keep fingers warm. Remove main yarn and thread up waste yarn. Set the carriage to knit circular, and knit about 20 rows (10 rounds).

Now, the hard part, which isn't all that hard, you just have to visualize. So far, there is a seam going up the thumb side of the hand, right up to where the sts have been taken off. We will re-hang those sts to keep ribbing, and keep the seam on the outer thumb, but the thumb will be knit in one piece. Start hanging the left side of the thumb (anywhere on the beds), (make sure to hang the original MB sts on the MB...I'm sure most of you would know this, but ahem..some of us need reminders). The 10st is on the RB. Bring the next MB needle in pattern into work, then the RB needle, then another MB needle. These three needles will be empty. Continue hanging the other half of the thumb, starting from the inner part which should be a RB stitch.

Make sure carriage is set to rib, T4, RC=000. Take carriage across, and you can see those empty 3 needles in the middle should now have yarn across them. You can hang a "7" hanger and light weight, or just knit the next row slowly and make sure those sts knit properly, add a claw weight when you can. Rib for 10 rows. Switch to waste yarn and set the carriage to circular, and knit 10 rounds/20 rows. Take it off the machine, cutting the main yarn with a long tail.
It now looks like this, if you fold it to make it look like a glove:

But look closely at that weird thumb:

Here, you can see, sort of, how the outer stitches that were increased, are pulled around and joined in the middle, not joined by the outer edges. If that step was too confusing, feel free to just rib those 10 st on each side separately (and infact, this might make them a smidge quicker as you could leave the hand in hold position while you do each side of the thumb, but it would mean two seams, and you'd have to add one (or more) stitch where the thumb meets the body)To finish off the top, and the thumb, I used the "Smiles and Frowns" cast off from Diana Sullivan's Ribber Course videos. If you haven't seen those, you should, they are awesome. Ribbing is very stretchy so if you want to make them for an adult, I'd try casting on only a bit more, MB 32-33, RB 31-32....keep the MB as the outer sts. The gloves I made for an adult took 50gr, just for reference. 30gr is what I seem to always have left over from a 100gr ball of sock yarn. Diana's adult tam takes 50gr, so you should be able to get a pair of gloves or wrist warmers and a tam from one 100gr ball!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blonde Knitting Math

Also titled "How to Get More Socks Without More Knitting"

Yup. Notice that some of your socks are wearing thin, but don't have actual holes. Think to yourself, this would be an excellent opportunity to try mending them using duplicate stitch, to see how it lasts. Throw the socks in the "almost forgotten but will eventually be finished" drawer because you don't have time to go down to the stash to find the leftover sock yarn bag.

Wait for time to pass. How much time depends on how many kids you have, if you work full time or not, if you have a puppy, how cold your house is...

One day, open the drawer and root around for a needle gauge. Find the above-mentioned socks. Say, "Wow, these just need to be darned and they'll be like new!". Forget about the needle gauge, go get the leftover sock yarn bag and your coffee. In 20 minutes, darn the socks and put them back into rotation. Presto! You've freshened up your sock drawer without having to make a whole 'nother pair of socks!

You can thank me in sock yarn :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


One day, while reading 'my' blogs, I came across an adorable pair of baby booties. A quick scan of Ravelry projects confirmed their cuteness, and suddenly I had to make booties. I'm very particular when it comes to bootie knitting. No seams, no buttons, prefer no long i-cords. I like the patterns to state what size it's going to make. I'm not even keen on picking up stitches around a bottom 'sole' like the ever popular "stay on" booties (you know the ones, knit a rectangle, pick up sts around the sides, knit in bands of reverse stockinette stitch....). I had never seen a baby bootie pattern using sock yarn that I liked either....usually sock yarn is just too flimsy and should be just for baby socks. But this pattern has been great!

The original written pattern is not great, however. The English translation does not seem to have been done by a knitter. Even I struggled a bit with the instructions. This is when Ravelry is great, because other people had posted what they had done too. I thought it might be nice to post an easy to understand English translation of the pattern, changed slightly to make it an easier knit.The first pair I knit are not here but were done with 18gr of leftover Kroy, in the red/orange/blue/green print. Easy peasy; to maximize the yarn (it's knit from the sole up), I knit the first one, but did not cut the yarn after casting off. Then I started the second one, knit till I ran out, then undid a couple rows of the first one, and evened them out. I gave them to our neighbour's 2 week old baby on Hallowe'en, along with a pumpkin hat for next year and a knit toy ball.
The next pair I did was the ones on the bottom left. It's brown Kroy 3 ply on the soles and Trekking XXL for the top. I had only a small amount of it left, and I tried to maximize it by doing the arch panel in the brown, but that was a bit of a bust. Being knit in the round, it makes intarsia difficult (not impossible though), but I was also doing two at a time magic loop...The top two pairs are done in Bernat Baby Soft...the last of the giant ball of yarn. I made a machine knit baby outfit (not sewn up yet) and needed booties for it (I'm also working on hats for it). I used 3.5mm needles, and made the pair on the right. I added a crocheted cord as they seemed a little loose around the top. They tie at the back because that's just how the holes worked out. I wanted a smaller pair, so instead of using smaller needles, I cast on 4sts less and knit 2 rows less in each section. The pair on the bottom right have been my 'purse knitting' and are done in an unlabelled sock yarn that I got at the Spinrite outlet so it's Kroy. They're a grey, white, blue marl. Very sophisticated.
So, here's my version of the Blue Steps baby booties:
18grm sock yarn, 2.75-3mm needles (base this on your yarn and whatever needles are empty),
2 markers make life easier.
Cast on 40st using Judy's Magic Cast On. If you haven't tried it, please do. It's a fabulous cast on. You'll have 20st on each needle. If you're using dpns, you might want to use a set of 5--these instructions will be for magic loop though.
Purl the first round. Mark the bumpy side as the 'right' side. It's easy to get a little confused in the first few rows, esp. if doing magic loop.
Knit 1 st, inc 1, knit to end of needle (or, the first 19st), inc before the last st, knit last st. Repeat with other needle. You will have increased 1 st at each end of each needle, 4st over the round.
Repeat these two rows, until you have 28sts on each needle; 56st total. Purl one row (optional--I just can't recall right now if I did or not).
Pattern Stitch:
Round 1: For the first stitch of the round, bring yarn forward. *sl1, YO, p1. Repeat from * (You need to bring the yarn forward at the start of the round, but from then on, after you do the YO, the yarn will be at the front for the purl st, and you slip that sl1 as if to purl. So, from the start of the round: yarn forward between needles, slip one as if to purl, yarn OVER the needle and bring it forward to purl 1. Slip 1 purlwise, yarn over and back to front, purl one....)
Round 2: Knit the stitch with the yarn over strand, purl 1. Repeat. These is often written as brk1, p1, as to mean "Brioche Knit 1".
Repeat these two rounds 7 times, for a total of 14 rounds. I find it easiest to count them from the inside.
Arch Decrease section:
Work the first 14st in pattern (row 1), place marker. *Sl1, k2tog, PSSO, p1. Repeat from * until there are 14 sts left, place marker and work last 14st in pattern (starts with a p1).
Round 1: Knit in pattern to first marker. Purl to second marker. Knit in pattern till end.
Round 2: Knit in pattern to first marker. K1, SSK, knit to 3 sts from next marker, k2tog, k1. Knit in pattern to end.
Repeat these two rounds until there are 16 sts on each needle (14 in the pattern, and 2 left from the decreasing section).
The next round will be a round 2 of the pattern st, so purl the 4 sts (2 on each needle) between the markers, removing the markers as you go.
Continue in the pattern stitch for 14 more rounds. Switch to knitting every round for 6-8 rounds (depending on how much yarn you have left and how much of a cuff you want), then cast off loosely. Weave in two ends!
I hope y'all make some little booties! It's an easy pattern to memorize once you make a pair and know the pattern. Again, I did not create the pattern; I'm just offering an English, slightly altered, version. Let me know if it works out, cause sometimes it's easy to over look little things when you're too familiar with it :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Warm Hearts Deserve Warm Hands

I've written before about my Auntie Pat. She died rather suddenly this summer. One thing I always associate with her (and her siblings too!) is lifelong learning and passion for hobbies. She was never afraid to try something new, to learn something new. If it worked, awesome. If it didn't, there was still something to be learned.

The first pair of thrummed mitts I made (the second link above) were for her 60th birthday. While knitting the mitts was not an issue for me, going to the farm store to get the kit was! OMG, it was only 3.5km, but it was the longest, iceyist drive on a country road that I've done. Totally outside my comfort zone. But for Auntie Pat, everything was INSIDE her comfort zone!

While cleaning out her laundry room, my cousin found a shoebox of dye materials of her mom's. Now, I remember gathering moss, flowers, walnuts, etc with my aunt and cousin, but the contents of this box were commercially sold natural dyes. Well, I do suppose a box of goldenrod would not have lasted long, nor survived the three moves since she had stopped dyeing yarn. LOL. I was the blessed recipient of the shoebox. I felt honoured to have her materials and knew I had to step outside my comfort zone and learn about dyeing and make something to honour her.

I came up with the idea of a pair of thrummed mittens again, which really were her signature pattern (along with thrummed slippers). This time though, I would dye the fleece myself! And then, I thought a bit more about how this could honour my aunt. What if I could do a raffle and raise money for her favourite charities in her memory?

I started searching around for a source of fleece. I needed only about 2oz, and thought I had found a seller on from the Ottawa area (where my mom and her siblings spent the summers). But she fell through. I asked on Freecycle and was told there was some at a thrift store in Oshawa. Not too close, but Meg and I went. There was nothing (except Meg's figure skating dress!). Turns out the lady thought I wanted doll's hair. Finally, I asked in a group on made up of people from this region. One kind-hearted lady responded and blew me away with her generosity!

This big ball of white fluffy roving is from Heidi, owner of "The Sheep and Spindle" a home based business of fleece and spinning stuff. It's 4oz of Corriedale, total softness, that Meg hugged all the way home. As soon as I opened Heidi's profile on Ravelry, I knew she would be the one....her profile picture is of her late dog and although she was part Border Collie and part unknown, I think the unknown part might just be some Golden Retriever!

The other items in the picture....POISON!!! OMG. There's a jar of cochineal! If you don't know what cochineal is, take a moment to check the link :) The other package I don't remember off hand...silver something I think. And at the bottom is madder and something else. There's also alum and a few other things. I think there's going to be a lot of red roving in my future ("Red Rover, Red Rover, we call Tracy over"....).

So, here's the deal. My aunt's favourite charity was Lion's Foundation of Canada, Canine Vision Guide Dogs. I also associate Golden Rescue with her, and if you're in the Bancroft area, Auntie Pat was a founding member of the Bancroft and Area Recreational Canine Club and I'm sure they'd appreciate donations too. If you donate ANY amount to these three groups in memory of Auntie Pat (that's her website), let me know by leaving a comment here or an email to me at tracykm at yahoo dot com. Please, if you leave a comment here, include your email address if you don't have a Blogger account. Please also include which charity, and an approximate range (ie...up to $25, $25-$50, $50-$75, more than $75). It doesn't matter if you did your donation at the memorial service, online in the summer, or right now. I'll put everyone's names in a hat, and draw a winner for a pair of brown thrummed mittens (if brown's not your thing, we can work something out). I would like to do the draw on her birthday, December 7.

Now, go hug your favourite dog, sheep, or aunt :)

Thursday, November 04, 2010


I have some tough decisions to make, knitting related. Oh yeah, some big doozies. I have some 'special' yarn and have to decide if I should machine knit it, or hand knit it. I've been experimenting lately with doing "tuck rib" on my Singer 327. I used a very fine yarn (label reads Spinrite, 2/24, Mic Acr Wl, Khaki/black, Wrk 06707 July 99...I bought this at a Spinrite tent sale (the makers of Patons and Bernat) and I'm interpreting it as microfiber acrylic and wool. Not so sure about the "Khaki" as it seems grey to me. The 2/24 is the size of the yarn) and a punchcard, T10, and set the ribber and MB up for full needle rib. The mainbed does the tucking stitches (every other stitch for 2 rows, then the alternate stitches), and the ribber bed just does its thing.
While still hanging on the machine, the knitting is very squishy and condensed, but once off the machine, and given a little steam, it opens up beautifully. In the picture below, you can see the 'long' stitches peeking through--these are the stitches that get tucked for two rows before getting knitted (tucking means the yarn is laid across the needle, but it's not knitted, and once it is knitted, the yarn float is knit with the stitch).This picture, below, shows the "ribber bed" side before I stretched it out. It doesn't look like ribbing because the stitches on the other side don't get knit on each row. Even stretched out, like above, the fabric maintains a "double sided" feel that you just don't get with hand knitting. Both sides look great, it's plush and squishy but still open.However much I loved it, I wasn't thrilled by the gentle drabness of the yarn. Here's a case where a boring yarn and a repetitive stitch design add up to ho hum. I love how grey can both be a casual colour (grey sweats) and a dressy colour (grey wool flannel suit). But this 'shawl' was looking more like grey sweats than a dress suit. It needs a more interesting pattern, and although it's a cone of yarn, I might actually hand knit it!

The other yarns in question are MUCH more special. From left...a skein of rayon, textured yarn, about 400yds, from Grand River Yarns (bought at K-W Knitter Fair, 2007), mohair-wool (80-20), 658yds, from Wellington Fibres (the label, website and email on the label spell it Fibre, which seems really odd to me but the web address works and that's how it's spelled on the website too). I went there at the end of May, 2008. I kept meaning to blog about that trip, the place is REALLY cool. Then, the Yarn Harlot wrote about it, with even more great pictures. Maybe I did blog about it then...I'll have to go back to see, LOL. The yarn on the right is Skacel Merino Lace, "shrink resistant", 1375 yds, bought at K-W Knitter's Fair Sept 2008.I know the rayon is not a big skein, and destined to be a scarf, I guess. Although I wear shawls now, I'm not really a scarf person; they just don't seem necessary with jeans and a t-shirt. So I think I'll knit it on the machine just so I can get it done quickly and out of the stash.

The other two yarns....The mohair does have several colours in it, but it's still pretty tonal (with the exception of the gold). I'm not sure how elaborate of a pattern it will tolerate. It might be perfect for the pattern I tried with the grey yarn. The Skacel's got a lot of different colours in it, pinks, browns, yellow,'s going to need something very simple. Maybe a semi-circular shawl in stockinette but with a very ornate border done by hand. Or maybe not a shawl at all, maybe it wants to be a very fine sweater. Although after working on that red tank top in the summer, I'm not sure if I want to assemble a sweater in fine yarn (I have a white cardigan in pieces, waiting since March or so....).

Part of the problem is that I don't often get to hand knit with awesome yarns, and so I really enjoy getting to do that. But on the other hand, if I use the knitting machine, I can enjoy wearing/using the final product so much sooner.

I'm not sure I'm 'practiced' enough to use the good yarns on the machine, and I do have some Christmas knitting I have to crank out. I'd really like to try using the tuck rib and do short row wedges. Has anyone done this? I have a lot of fine, but boring yarn that I could knit up into shawls, scarves, etc. So, I think I can do some more practicing before going for the good stuff! LOL.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hi!  A lot of people visit this page to find out how to make a peanut butter jar costume.  If you're one of them, welcome!  If you make your own, please link back to here, and send me a note at tracykm at yahoo dot com.  I'd love to see what you make.  Also, this year (2013), I am making a strawberry jam costume to go with the peanut butter one!

Halloween has never been the most happiest holidays at our house. I think first went trick or treating when he was 3 1/4. I know when he was 2 1/4 I was a week away from delivering Lucy, and I'm pretty sure we didn't take him out dressed up, but went out a little later to show him the decorations and pumpkins. I don't believe in taking kids out until they can understand it a little, and walk further than one block. With Huey, that took a little longer than other kids :) Between his perfectionism, his low tolerance for frustration, and the Canadian climate, we rarely got through a Hallow e'en without tears. Until this year.

Lucy had a few ideas running through her head. She finally decided on Tinkerbell. I did not want to purchase an over-priced skimpy piece of poorly made costume that Disney thinks is acceptable. We surfed the web and decided to create our own pattern. I carefully measured and drew a fabric layout, and we bought 1m of "Halloween Satin" from FabricLand, for $3.99. We got some light green organza, and found an end cut of ivory organza that was probably a drapery fabric. It's hard to see, but there are 7 green petals, then 7 green organza petals staggered (it was supposed to be just 6 petals, but ahem. The design engineer wandered off before everything was laid out). Under that is the cream organza, cut shorter, just for extra "petal slippage protection". LOL.Lucy did not what shoulder straps of any sort. But how to make the dress stay up, and keep her warm? She found some "velcro" adhesive dots in my sewing stuff. We used them at the points, stuck to a pale pink shirt we found at the Salvation Army (for $1...brand new, high tech kid's athletic shirt!). That didn't work too well, so I got some double sided clothing tape. She's got several shirts on the above picture, actually.
I started with hemming the petals, as this fabric frays terribly. It looked awful. We decided to zig zag the petal (and top) edges to create a frayed, petal texture. So much quicker too!
I bought two pairs of white nylons at the dollar store to make the wings, but then found wings at Value Village for $3.99, so the nylons went on her legs. She wore pink leggings, and over that the two pairs of nylons and that's how she got the perfect pale pink legs. I also knit her a shawl on the knitting machine (as a way to try out a new technique!). For her bootees, I got a suede skirt from a thrift shop ($6; was a little more than I wanted to spend, given how short it was), and found a pattern for fleece bootees but used the suede for the bottoms. She wore them over her shoes. I made the pompoms :)

Meg is easily persuaded to dress up in anything. Last year she was Spiderman, just because we had the costume. She had a lot of ideas this year, but then we were looking at costumes and found this figure skater dress on the rack...for $1. How could I say no? We even found purple skate guards to match, she had purple 'bike' shorts underneath, and I made her purple legwarmers. Some purple earmuffs would have been a good idea. Ooops. LOL.And Hugh. What would he come up with this year? He gets big ideas that are just so difficult to execute or wear. He said he wanted to be a jar of peanut butter. WTF? LOL. How on earth do you make a peanut butter jar costume?!

I started out looking at hoola hoops. WAY too large. Thought about using piping of some sort. Then, while I was looking at yarn at the Sal. Army, Meg found these really large (18") embroidery hoops (2 hoops is a set). For $1. Hugh and I went to FabricLand together to search for peanut butter material. He really wanted something shiny, like the jar, but the fleece was on sale ($6.99 for a meter of solid), and it's warm and easy to work with. One meter was sufficient. For the label, I remembered my old projector...put a picture under it and it enlarges it onto the wall. We just happened to actually have a jar of Kraft pb, although it was creamy, not crunchy. So I just moved it around and used the letters in the French and English words to get most of the letters for crunchy. Then, while colouring, he tells me it should be Chunky. A quick search on the Kraft site showed it is Crunchy! Phew. I traced the bears, Kraft sign, and letters onto white Bristol board, he coloured it out, and Daddy glued them to the green Bristol board. Getting it attached to the fleece was tricky. I used safety pins, but would have preferred about 100 staples.

The hat/lid. We had some ideas, but not until we got working did it come together. We used the left over fleece from Lucy's bootees, and some foam core board, fastened to a tennis hat. After Friday's school party, I got a package of peel and stick vinyl from the dollar store and 'laminated' the label, which gave it some great shine and a bit more oomph. We were worried about rain/snow for Halloween, but it cleared up. Everyone loved Hugh's costume. You know you have a cool costume when even the teen aged boys are excited by it!

Overall, the costumes are not really cheaper to make on our own; it's the little things that add up, like wings, stick on crystals for the face, etc. But the satisfaction of being able to say "We made it ourselves" is priceless. This was probably the BEST Halloween we've had! You can't put a price on that either!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I opened up my Blogger dashboard, and found out I had a new follower! I'm up to 10! That thrills me much more than whatever my Facebook friend count is! I feel like I should have a contest! I'll think about that. I'm actually planning a contest/fundraiser for early December, but I need to find some plain white roving, and that's proving much harder than I thought it would be :(

I also looked at my stats, and see I had another busy day last week, with 35 page views in one day. One page that got 4 views was not what I would think of being an interesting one--showed my pink fingerless gloves from early 2009 (I think...).
But what I really wanted to write about....babywearing! Yup. Now, I know, you're saying, this is a knitting blog now, take that child stuff to your other blog. Well, I did sew the sling, so does that count? :)

The week before Thanksgiving, a woman posted on Freecycle that she had borrowed a sling for the weekend, and loved it, and was hoping to get one for herself. I didn't think I had one to offer, just a knit pouch that was sized for me, and what's the chance of finding another me? But I responded, giving her some suggestions for making her own, places to get instructions to sew one, and let her know that I had the one pouch, and had some fleece I could sew her one for free, or if she wanted a ring sling she could pay for the rings ($5) and I'd sew something, either with her own fabric or something from my stash.

I was her only response! She came over later in the week, and Meg had hidden the pouch sling, and wouldn't you know...the lady, Amy, was short and big busted! However, her baby was already 4 months old so a cotton knit pouch would be limited in longevity. I showed her some fabrics I had and she feel in love with a green paisley fabric....a different colourway of the pink fabric I used to make Lucy a sleeveless dress way back in 2008 (that seems so long ago, but I guess it really wasn't). She would be coming back through town the day after Thanksgiving, to go to Sick Kids (hospital). I was aiming to have it done for then.

It'd been over a year since I've sewn a ring sling, so it took some refreshing, LOL. And I was having one of those days when I felt like I had never sewn anything before in my life. But it all came together, and I tested it with Meg. OMG. I could get her hoisted up, but she is one big girl! Where'd my little peanut go?
When Amy stopped in, her baby was sleeping in the car so she didn't disturb him. But she had done her research and seemed confident and on her way. She sent me an email later saying that he loved right away and they never even bothered to take the stroller into the hospital! She added a picture, and indeed, she looked like a pro!

I'm not going to post her photo, but I am so excited that someone else is babywearing! I got so frustrated with giving away slings before, and finding out the people never/rarely used them. One woman had a 7 month old baby, and a 4 month old foster baby. She seemed really interested in babywearing and the convenience it would offer her, so I gave her one of my slings. A month later I hadn't heard anything back from her, so I asked her how it was going. She replied that her baby had been sick and she hadn't had a chance to try out the sling. What?! Most sick babies I know of what more holding, not less. And with two babies under 8 months? How could you not have ONE chance to try a sling? So now I ask for $5 to cover the ring cost.

I have been knitting, not with the greatest, or most interesting results, but I'll get to that later. Off to look for more Hallowe'en costume items!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interesting Stats

I haven't had many comments lately, despite doing way more posting than normal (due to a week without a vehicle, LOL). So, I like checking out my blogger stats and just making sure I actually have readers. Well, you learn some interesting things, and sometimes get more questions than answers. Like, why, on Oct 14, at 12:00 (noon, I think, and is this EST, GMT, or the weird time on my computer), was there 43 page views? I can't find out what page specifically they were visiting--you can get that detail for the day it is, but not for previous days. Why, when someone searched Yahoo! for "Naughty teen" did a picture of me trying on the bodice of the empire waist dress muslin show up? And why is someone searching "Things to do in a Snuggie"? Why did I get so many views of Fuzzy Wuzzy (the last post)?
Apparently, having a sudden spike in views can mean that someone linked to your picture instead of saving it to their computer. But I can't find out how to know if someone actually did this (hot linked).
While it's great knowing that people are actually finding their way here, and at least looking at'd still be nice to get feedback :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Fuzzy Wuzzy wuz a bear; Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair....what's the rest?

I actually had to look at my photo albums to see if there was anything I made recently that I hadn't posted about! I got caught up last week because I had no vehicle to go anywhere in the afternoons, LOL. I did make a giant sized cloth diaper and a ring sling last week, but I'm sure you don't need to see them. I made two dresses early in the summer and you really don't need to see them. I did some baby booties over the last week or so, but they're not quite finished and I want to re-write the pattern so I can post it too. That leaves the one ginormous project that I did finally finish.

Falling Leaves Fichu (...leaves...LOL).

According to Ravelry, I started this July 10th. I had been inspired a couple summers ago by 3 fichu patterns in an issue of Knitters. They had been based on fichu's from "Victorian Knitting Today". I didn't really care for any of the lace patterns they showed, but felt pretty confident that I could figure something out on my own. I studied lace shawls that I liked, and realized that I didn't like it when stitches in each partial pattern repeat at the start and ends of rows were knit in stockinette stitch. I liked designs which seemed to emerge right from the increase lines, such as Flower Basket Shawl or Heartland Lace Shawl (look at that...they're both by Evelyn Clark!). So I knew I needed a pattern that had a diagonal element. There was this one in a stitch pattern book that I had always liked, "Falling Leaves". It was bold, graphic, and not too fussy. It took some careful consideration to figure out where to start the shawl in the pattern, and I did have some complications along the sides at times, where there were double decreases. It didn't remain symmetrical along the increase lines, but as I'm not about to publish this, I just wanted to get it knitted up. The yarn is, I think, Handmaiden Fine Yarns, "Angel Hair"; 70% mohair (not curly), 30% nylon, 875yds for 100grams. I can't find the label right now, but I do remember how long it took me to wind it up! I bought it at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair, Sept. 2005. I was very pregnant with Meg, Handmaiden and Fleece Artist were all the rage and selling out, and I really wanted something to make a nursing shawl for the new fall baby. This skein literally fell on me in a had fallen off the table and someone from the booth on the other side of the curtain just dropped it over the curtain, landing in front of me. I took that as a sign, esp. when the lady next to me said it would look great on me. I quickly got started on a nursing shawl. A rectangular stole in a fairly easy lace pattern....yards and yards of an easy pattern....Meg soon came along and I was not half-way done. I quickly realized that a mohair shawl would not play well with a nursing pillow that had velcro on it. I had never used a shawl to nurse before, why now. It sat for a long time....I got it out to take a picture at the last "new" house, just as I decided to give up on it. What I thought would be a mindless knit ended up driving me crazy for it's mindlessness!

The patterns in Victorian Knitting took a variety of yardages, and I was uncertain about how big this would turn out, as I didn't seem to have a huge amount. I thought about doing the last shawl (Sweet Lily) with it, but that one called for 900yd+ (I think) and I thought the mohair would obscure the pattern in the lace section. For the fichu I used uhh...5 or 5.5mm needles and it was fairly open before blocking. As it got huge, I started a second needle. I'd knit from one needle, onto the second one, instead of using both to hold 1/2 of each row. At some point, I stopped the increases as I figured it was full enough. I could have stopped a lot sooner! This thing is huge. It's definitely a "wrap up in it" sort of thing. I had once considered using it to make a sweater but didn't think I'd have enough. Oh, I would have for sure!

I had wanted some sort of edging, but it's hard to know when to start that, and I wanted to finish up the last pattern repeat I had started. Ideally, I should have ripped that out, and done the edging from then. Hindsight...

As it was, I was unsure if I would have enough to cast off. On the last row, I took my remaining yarn and tied a little knot in the middle. I did get to the end of the row before the knot...but barely. I knew I needed to cast off loosely and really had no clue if that would take more or less than knitting a row of lace. I went down to my stash, and found a ball of yarn, Highland Aran, I think. It was 3 ply, and a single ply was just about perfect. I'd cast off loosely, untwisting the plies, until it got unmanageable. Then I'd cut it, and start with one of the two plies left. Repeat again with the 3rd ply when I got to the point where the other two had been cut. Repeat the whole process again. Once I had it all cast off, I wove the mohair yarn over the cast off edge, loosely, going from one edge to the other, and then I pressed my luck and came back again. I BARELY made it to the first edge. Then, I thought, what I should have done was cut off the last of the mohair, find the middle of the piece and start weaving it from the middle of the shawl outwards to each edge. That way if I ran out, each side would still match. Anyway, doing this did make the cast off edge blend in better, and provided a nice finish with a bit of oomph. I should have beaded that bit of mohair....LOL.

It was impossible to block. I initially wanted to block it into points, but I didn't have enough room. And the is a BIG shawl. I washed it gently, stretched it out as best I could, then folded the sides over to keep everything lined up nicely, and pulled it as best as I could into a good shape. The next day I picked it up. It felt almost dry, so I shook it to It's warm and fuzzy and almost like wearing a mini-afghan. I think I got a perfect combination of colour, pattern, and design!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


I've written before about knitting diversions. Sometimes they are intentional (need to start a new 'brainless' project for knitting during rehearsal break), sometimes unnecessary (my project is having a time out), and sometimes unexpected knitting adventures (repairing a baby blanket). But I think it is these projects that can really tell us alot about us as knitters.

I've written before also about my favourite aunt, who raised sheep, spun and dyed her own fleece, and made great thrummed mitts and slippers. I'm not sure if I wrote about her unexpected passing this summer. I know when someone goes too early we often wish we could have had more time. Well, knitting is, in a way, giving me more time with her. My cousin was cleaning out her mom's laundry/crafting area and brought an almost finished project over for me. First off, I loved the canvas bag it was in. It was from the community college where she taught sheep/fiber/farm courses, and it stood up by itself! But the yarn inside was a surprise. It was a bright peachy colour, of Canadiana Chunky (that's been discontinued for quite awhile). This is a 100% acrylic fiber, in a colour my aunt never wore. There were also a pattern book (a Patons one that I've temporarily misplaced), and lots of 'extras'...stitch holders and safety pins pinned to the bag, needle and stitch gauge, 3 tape measures, extra needles.
I looked through the pattern book and saw there was one pattern for a single colour sweater using chunky yarn, and counting the sts indicated a size that would have fit my mom or my aunt, but the body length of the sweater was on the short side, and my aunt was tall (oh, I HATE writing 'was'). All four pieces were knit, up to where they would be joined to make the yoke with a textured design. I figured, great, that hide any tension issues.

Upon closer examination, I found that one of the sleeves (I think it was) had an error at the top which meant it needed some ripping back...a few inches. The type of error that makes you slap your head and put the project in time out. I got that settled out, joined all the pieces, and knit the yoke. I opted to knit a single ribbed collar instead of the folded over ribbed collar as I find those too bulky. I wove in a bunch of yarn ends, got sidetracked by the baby blanket repair, then realized we were going to visit my parents, so I stayed up late to finish it and give it a much needed soak. As you can see, it looks like it was made just for Mom! This is the second time I've worked on a project for my mom that has a connection with her sister (the February Lady Sweater being the other one). I feel very blessed to be able to do this!

There is still a LOT of the yarn left. The pattern called for 50gr balls, and the Canadiana Chunky is 100gr balls, and there's no yardage info available, so I think my aunt erred on the side of caution. It's too bad we'll never know the origins or intentions of this sweater, but it just feels right to give it to Mom. I have an idea for the remaining yarn but I'd like to know first if anyone has a fondness for peach, esp. in home decor. Does anyone have any particular requests for an item in this yarn?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dress Up Girls!

When I was at the fabric store recently, I saw in the remnant bin a piece of fabric that Lucy had liked when choosing the fabric for her last dress. Even though she said she didn't "do" polka dots, or pink, or flowers, she liked the fabric (but wished it was another colour). I had never worked with a 'border print" and thought it would be great for her. I decided to make the other design of the pattern I used for their dresses as summer was pretty much over (doesn't stop them from wearing their sundresses!). It was a straight forward job, although I still have issues with reversing the second sleeve!! Luckily I had just enough fabric to re-cut another sleeve.And yes, that's not Lucy. She was in a bit of a cranky mood when she tried it on and declared it too hard to get on and too small. Meg (at the time I made the sundresses) is a bit bigger in the chest than Lucy. But more patient. So now she has a new dress. Meg looks super tall in this photo. The other day she was standing behind a JK student and he barely came to her shoulders (and she's the youngest SK student!). Last night she was at Kindernastics and Rob was on my left, and he says "Look how big she is, it's hard to believe she's only four". The lady on my right nearly fell off her seat. Her daughter had just turned four and is a good size, but still looks small next to Meg. It's hard to believe this is the same girl that wasn't even 19lb on her first birthday!

I mentioned before how I was excited by the "365 Days, 365 New Dresses" blog. About two years ago, I had plans to make some cloth diapers that used hidden polyethylene film and were covered with a polyester fabric (cotton would soak up the moisture around the edges and wick). I bought some outfits at a thrift shop to use as the polyester material. One was this muumuu. I loved the purpley flower print but it was really long. After reading that blog, I knew I just had to alter it for myself--she had done several with this exact neckline!
As I was taking off the sleeves, I found some small holes on the front...the edges were melted. Ick. Probably a smoker, or maybe from around a campfire. One of the holes was noticeable as it laid against my leg. I tried stitching it closed, but it showed badly. I thought about putting a patch behind it, but the stitching would show (even with that print). I thought about gluing a patch, but worried the glue would darken the fabric or be stiff.
My first attempt at taking in the sides made it too tight. I let it back out in the chest and took in the waist, but the chest is still snug. It was snug under the arm, up to the neckband. I cut it back more, but now my bra straps show (under my wet hair). I'm not keen on going braless with an unstructured dress, but it is doable. LOL. I really shortened it. Then I took 4 narrow pieces of the cut off section and sewed two of them together, twice (so I had two pieces). I stitched a gathering stitch along the top edges of the narrow piece and gathered each one to fit (one for front, one for back...easier than one really long piece). I LOVE the little ruffle. I kept it narrow as I thought that looked more modern and grown up than a deep ruffle. I also made a belt, but I don't like the position of it in this picture. It looks much better higher up as an empire waist. Without a belt, the back is droopy. You should have seen the google results I got when I tried searching "Fix a droopy back". LOL!
Of course, it's been very cold since then, except for two days. Oh well, we can't all live in California!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I wrote a while ago about not liking patterned skirts with matching tops. But there is something to be said about having a 'guaranteed' matching top. I've had this sueded rayon fabric in my stash for awhile (bought it from Wal-Mart which stopped selling fabric long before we I probably bought it in 2008 after my initial "success" with sewing dresses...I guess that's not as long ago as I though!). It was a remnant...or maybe end was very poorly cut and was quite a bit shorter than the opposite selvage. I did find another piece in the remnant bin and bought it too. I've been wanting to try skirts now, and picked up McCalls M5856 when McCall's patterns were on sale (side note---the regular price for this pattern is $15.95...the two views are different only by length, there are 3 pattern pieces plus facings....I couldn't believe it when I saw the regular price compared to some Simplicity patterns that give you six DIFFERENT garments...). I thought this skirt had a wide waist yoke similar to a skirt I bought from Wal-Mart and loved. I don't want pleats all the way up to my waist! However, this skirt does not have a yoke; the pleats are stitched down over the tummy. This is great for two reasons--no pleats to pop open, and the stitching helps to prevent the fabric from stretching out and acts sort of like a 'control top' garment, LOL!

I didn't really look at the envelope in the shop and when I got home, I realized that it would not be big enough! I carefully measured myself and added exactly what I needed to the pattern pieces. Then I went to lay them out and saw that the pieces got laid out sideways to what I had expected...instead of the waist up at the cut edge of the fabric, the waist/hem go parallel to the selvage. I was able to fit the pieces onto the largest of the fabric pieces, by skimping a little on the length and bottom width. The different layout actually worked for me as this fabric is a print, not woven, and there ended up being a faint vertical white pin stripe effect. If I had laid it out the way I would have thought it should go, those lines would have been horizontal. While laying out the pieces, I discovered that the second piece of fabric was rather blotchy looking...the blue wasn't even and dark. I wouldn't have been able to use both together for a dress, and I doubt I'll use that piece even for a matching it won't be matching.

Of course, I didn't think about zippers in the store. Once sewing, I looked through my zipper collection. I had just re-organized all my sewing stuff so it's actually in my sewing desk instead ON my sewing desk. I had some bags of odd notions that I'd picked up at yardsales, etc. Inside one was a perfect blue zipper, the exact style and length needed!!The sewing went fine, I just followed the directions for sewing the pleats and the zipper (bit ripply the first time). Had no problems with the facing but handstitching the hook and eye drove me crazy as it was a tiny one and I can never get them lined up right. Did a nice job hemming. But all the while of doing the zipper and facing, I was thinking I should try it on. But how could anything be wrong? I measured myself, the pattern, added what I needed...
Well, I tried it on when finished. And it fell off. I tried it on again and pinned out the extra. EXACTLY the amount I had added!!!!!!!!!! I was ticked, to say the least. I wanted to wear it on the first day of school though, so I had to get back to work on it. It was no fun taking out all the stitching for the facings! Taking out the extra at the waist restored the original angle of the side seams and the second time around improved the zipper. It's still a little loose! The weather was cool on the first day, so I wore this very light knit top. Inside, the whites matched, but outside...not so much. I tried on the white gauzy top I had made long ago, and it was too full around the waist. I have two other white tops to try with it when I'm feeling a bit skinnier. Shoes are another issue. I wore some nice summery beige shoes, but they are not comfy! My other beige sandals are too clumpy, the next pair too flat/casual, the fourth (?! really?) pair are closed toe loafer heels with open backs that I'm just aren't sure are skirt shoes (I think they're pant shoes).

I'll probably make this skirt again. The width at the bottom balances out my bust and makes it feel very feminine. It moves nicely in the breeze, but doesn't fly up indecently. This fabric is surprisingly heavy, given the summery pattern, but it's not heavy as in thick. You wouldn't want to go too thick with sewing the pleats; I wonder if you can trim the bulk? I'm not too adventurous in my skirt styles and this design is very workable with different styles.

On another note....someone was having a bad day....I think this was after her first day at all-day day camp. She had a tantrum for an hour and twenty minutes. But, surprisingly, the return to school has actually been really good, with only one 'going home' tantrum!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sleepy TIme

When I left off on Friday (more than a week ago?!), I was heading out to search for the yarn. I went to my closest Michaels, and they had white Cottontots but not blue. I got the white and decided since I was out anyway, I'd drive over to the other Michaels that I had seen, but not been too. I couldn't find the freakin place. Stopped at a Zeller's and they didn't have blue either. I couldn't do any knitting on it on the weekend (I did some prep work) and on Monday afternoon I looked up the lost Michaels and headed over (it doesn't look the same as the other one!) and they had the blue. I really liked the blue better---when I put the white next to the blankie, it made the blankie look grey (the mom said it had been light blue when new).I cut the top and bottom borders off and unpicked it so I had one even row of live stitches. Then, along the sides, I had done two rows of machine stitching, like for steeking, but I picked up sts just to the ....oh, I've forgotten....I think to the inside of the stitching. I hadn't decided how I wanted to finish the sides so I didn't cut the side borders off, but I needed to prevent any unravelling in case I did cut the sides off. I worked a new border, all in one piece, outwards, using the same stitch pattern as the original border. By working outwards, it will be much easier to fix in the future as the sts will run only to the start of the border. I meant to machine stitch the top and bottoms too to stop any possible running into the blanket, but I doubt it'll happen anyway (the boy is already 8, the new yarn is fluffy and thick and not likely to run easily). I did increases on the corners every other row. It's not a very wide border but it did take quite a bit of knitting! And a long time to cast off! Every time I trimmed a bit of the old blanket off, I felt sad! His grandma had made it for HIM and here I was, a stranger, chopping off her love! I wanted to preserve as much of it as I could. Right up till the end I was still undecided on the side edges. I really didn't want to cut them off and deal with the yarn ends. I thought maybe I could get some cotton ribbon and sew it over the trimmed ends. But that felt too foreign to the rest of the blanket. Once I cast off, I was left with a raggedy flap of old blanket on one edge and an intact flap on the other edge. I thought of sewing it down to the back of the blue border, but there was a lot of contrast between the good edge and the worn out edge. I decided to trim the strings, and sew them down over the blanket. I used a wide zig zag on the machine, and an off-white thread, and stitched the old edgings down.

Although it shows up in the photo (this shows the 'right' side of the blankie) I think that's the flash reflecting off the nylon sewing thread, cause it's not so obvious in real life.
The first ball of Cottontots seemed thicker and very textured compared to what I remembered. There were some very thick and thin spots and the blanket didn't have that. The second ball (of which I used very little), was much smoother and even, even though they were the same dye lot. I wish I had noticed this sooner. I also ended up picking up too many sts on the sides (I used 3 sts per 4 rows, but you can't tell until it gets underway, and that's the one draw back of doing the border as one unit). If it had been for my kids, or not an urgent project, I would have ripped and maybe tried the other ball. The thicker border though gives a nice heft to the blanket now.
The mom was thrilled and I hope her boy was too. It still has the same cottony feel, and almost all the old blanket is still there, along with grandma's love :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Adventure

I have 3 or so more sewing projects to show, but here's a brief interlude. I thought the other day that I hadn't been on for quite awhile. This is sort of like Craig's List. I went to the hobby section and was browsing for knitting machines and yarn. I found an ad for someone looking for someone to repair her son's favourite blankie. How could I not respond to that?!

Alison brought the blankie over yesterday. It is indeed, a very well loved blankie (and we know well loved blankies here!). Her mother had made it when he was born, eight years ago. She had done some repairs, but it was falling apart again and she couldn't knit anymore. It was knit all in one piece, from end to end. There is an embossed/texture design of diamond lattice work, and the edges are in double moss stitch. The stitches that had run down from the cast off row I was able to ladder back up, hopefully getting them correctly into the pattern. The sides and bottom are a different story.
Alison said it was okay if it ended up a bit smaller or a different, not quite rectangular, shape. My plan is to cut off the bottom up to where the repairs are (a white blotch), unravel the top edge back to the start of the edging, and pick up stitches on the sides, in the first complete column that runs the whole length, and then knit a new edging outwards in one piece. By doing the edging this way, any future repairs will be easy. The yarn appears to be Bernat CottonTots. I say this because it is a cottony feeling yarn, with a single binder. Bernat Cot'nSoft has two binder threads that crisscross. Bernat is a popular yarn here, and Alison says it was infact light blue when new, and CottonTots comes in a light blue. It has lost some of the texture of the CottonTots, but I don't think it was a smooth yarn either when the blanket was new. There isn't any Patons yarn that matches. I'm pretty sure it's not Mission Falls 1824, that would have been much heavier, they don't seem to have a light blue (although their colours do change), and it would have been expensive for a baby blanket (although I know people who would use it). Sirdar is another popular choice, but nothing matches in the Ravelry database. Same with LionBrand. It's funny, when I first touched the blanket, I immediately thought of CottonTots and Cot'nSoft. Both of which I've used. It's fun playing yarn detective, although this was a relatively easy case, considering I was knitting 8 years ago in the land of Spinrite (home to Patons/Bernat). The use of a single binder thread simplified it even more.
I'm undecided though how to treat the edges where I'll be cutting off the ratty unravelled parts. Should I sew down the center of the column of sts I want to pick up next to, like doing a steek? What about all the ends then? Weave them all in, individually? Oh boy. I don't like to weave in ends when I knit because A) I often unravel, and B) I prefer to 'duplicate stitch' them to make them really hidden. Any ideas? I'm off to see if I can get CottonTots at Michaels or Zellers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I love being able to make "sew" puns, LOL.

It might seem that I did way more sewing in the summer than knitting. Well, probably. During the school year, I take a self-imposed 'break' every afternoon once Meg goes to SK. Sit'n'Knit (and watch a soap opera). While the kids were home during the summer, this was impossible. I'd DVR the show, but the kids prefer to watch TV upstairs where the DVR machine is, so I couldn't watch TV till they went to bed, and I just can NOT sit through a "live" show in the basement and wait for commercials. So, I'd spend time sewing, going from my work table (the kitchen table) to the 'studio' downstairs and I'd get a few minutes quiet, but then be back upstairs before chaos.

Back when I made the first pair of t-shirt yoga pants, I started cutting the second t-shirt but didn't get to sewing it. I wanted to test out the first pair and work out kinks. Those were from a size L t-shirt, and the new ones are from an XL. They don't seem a whole lot bigger in the hips, but definitely seem bigger at the hem. The sleeves were a little bit longer, but the armholes were about the same depth. This time, the pants are not reversible as I did turn down the top of the sleeve (which became a wide waist), and to make it comfortable, they are actually higher in the back than the front. I thought with my large tummy, the front panel would be longer.
I see in the picture though, that there is some pulling under my bum. Maybe they should be pulled down just a bit.They feel very long, and very wide at the calf. I do have nice calves, so I'm not excited by this length (mid-calf). I could shorten them--I really do need shorts. However, I don't know if it's the colour or the fabric, but I think if I took them above the knee, I'd have to find a field-hockey stick to carry around as a prop. Total high school gym shorts look.Again, Rob said I can't go out in public in these, LOL. But I must say, this slightly thicker t-shirt sewed up really nice, using the elastic over-cast stitch. No seam rippling, none have broken either. There is a bit of a lump where the crotch seam meets the waist panel at the front, and I thought about topstitching down the seam allowances, but I had overcast them together. Maybe next time I'll try a stretch straight stitch, then top stitch down the seam allowance, just like my 'real' yoga pants. Although I guess, working from the wrong side, it's not really top-stitching, LOL.
(The t-shirt says "" and "Music makes you smarter" other love besides knitting is music!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sweet Lily Shawl

I liked the idea of this shawl as soon as I saw it (there's actually several things I loved in that issue, IK, Spring 2009). I first tried it with the very-multi-coloured yarn I ended up making Moonlight Sonota in, and it was clear right away it wouldn't work. It needs a fairly monochromatic type yarn. I decided one day that this yarn would work; it's Tanis Fiber Arts Pink Label Laceweight--a Canadian yarn! I bought it at the fall Creative Festival in Toronto,
October 2009. I chose it because it was the most monochromatic yarn in my laceweight bin (other than cream and black solids), and also had 1000yds and the pattern needed 825yds.The first wedge was challenging...keeping track of the chart row and how many stitches at the other end to not knit. I think it took me a little more than two days to do the first wedge. Oh, wait, even before that there were issues, LOL. I had grabbed the yarn, needle, and pattern to take to an outdoor concert. Got it open and realized it started with a provisional cast on. I had no other yarn suited for a crochet cast on, nor a crochet hook. I fiddled for about 1/2 the concert trying to do the provisional cast on in the magazine, and gave up and tried to remember how I had done a crochet cast on in the past....using the needles instead of a hook. I got it sorted out. I figured the crochet cast on looks very close to the regular cast off. The pattern has you do something a little extra over the cast on and off rows, but I figured I could just do it over top.

After I had gotten a few wedges done, I took a good look at my progress. Something seemed off in the lace 'ladder' between the lily panel and the pointed edging. You can see it between points 1 and 2 (from the top), and between 3 and 4. I paid close attention to the chart, and I was doing exactly what it said, but it looked like a mistake. I started altering it so the lace ladder would continue unbroken.As I got near the end of the shawl, I noticed a big mistake. Okay, it was probably not much more noticeable than those other ones (that weren't "mistakes" LOL), but I couldn't live with it and had to rip out almost one repeat of the lily chart. Then, after I got that going again, I spread it out, and found the SAME error in the wedge prior. Oy. I was not ripping it out again.

Other knitters on Ravelry had made comments about the odd shape of the neckline. Indeed, it does scoop in. I think the biggest reason is that you do only 2 ridges of garter stitch at the cast on/off edges, but every time you knit all the stitches across the row, right to the neck edge, you do 4 knit sts at that edge. It would look better with only 2 stitches but there would still be a curve.After wearing for a day, I noticed a larger than expected eyelet:It all seems secure, so it was probably just an effort to correct a mistake in a previous row, LOL.

I was worried initially about it being too big...the model in the picture looks like a typical model, and the shawl really envelops her....and I'm short.

However, my version turned out QUITE a bit smaller than the original!Although I didn't get the whole shawl in the picture, you can easily tell it's not a big, wrap it around the neck, type shawl on me. Although it's nice and delicate, I've ended up with 56grams of the 123 grams leftover (it used 67 grams; the skein was labelled 115gr). Not enough for another identical shawl, but there are lots of patterns for 400yd shawls. However, I don't need another smallish shawl.

But it DOES look nice on my 'new' rocking chair in the kitchen! (This was a curbside find, re-painted and a new cushion. I'd been wanting a chair for this spot since we moved in but couldn't find any new that I liked/could afford!)