Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It Followed Me Home....

While at the school last week, I was sure I saw on the clothing drive signs that it was going until February 4th.  That was great, I thought, because I was going away for the weekend and wouldn't have my machines, but I would have access to a great store with a good selection of yarn suited for charity items.  So I popped in to see what I could get.  They usually have a lot of the "1lb Mill Ends, Unknown Fibers" bags, and quite often I can tell what yarn they really are.  This time, most of the bags were cotton, or baby type yarns (you know the crimply one with a shiny white strand in it).  However, there were two bags that I instantly recognized as Patons Lace.  One bag was entirely in the Porcelain colourway which I LOVE, and the other bag was mostly in that too, but also has two balls of Sachet which I'm not too fussy on, but might still look nice worked up.  This yarn normally sells for $5.99-$7.29 (according to Mary Maxim), for an 85gr ball.  I got 454gr for $6.99!  Actually, I got 908gr for $13.98, or, 10.6 balls for the price of two, just because there are no labels and they're not all in 85gr balls.  How could I pass that up?!
I also bought two balls of Patons Decor in Rose Country Pink for $3.00 each, and a giant ball of Red Heart Comfort in blacks/greys for $9.99.  I was going to use this to make more of the hats and scarves, but Lucy came home from school on Monday and said everything had to be in today.  However, I have a friend who's currently living in a small, remote, northern town, and I might be able to send stuff directly to him!

Here are my new totals:
2 1lb Mill Ends;                 908gr           $13.98
2 Decor                             200gr            $6.00
Red Heart Comfort          340gr             $9.99

Total In                             1448gr           $33.87 inc. 13% tax

Year In Total                      1917gr + 1448gr=  3365gr
                                           $77.19 + $33.87 =  $111.06
                                            Average $3.00/day

I'll do my Year Out totals in the next post when I show all the items I made for the clothing drive!

Friday, January 27, 2012

I Love This Hat!

Absolutely no affiliation with "I Love This Yarn".   :)
 This is my version of the Magic Sideways Hat, sized up to fit me.   I'd  like to acknowledge Roberta Kelley's Sideways Hat.

This pattern is now on Ravelry!  If you've made it, please share!
Currently, I have the details on a small lady size on the SK155,  a young child size and a large adult size done on the LK150.  If you have other details on sizing/machine/yarn, please let me know.

Machine:  SK155 Bulky, instructions for LK150 in brackets (can be made on any machine by matching gauge and knowing how to do short rows)
Yarn:  TLC Essentials "Surf n Turf" and Bernat Super Value Dark Brown.   Look for a yarn with a suggested gauge of  17-18st/4" on 5mm/US8 needles.  Total weight is  116gr .  LK150 Toddler size, 104gr of Patons Decor (suggested gauge 20st/4" on 4.5mm needles)
Gauge:  T4 (I'd suggest T4* or T4** if you're a larger lady).  17st/4" and 22rows/4" on the SK155 or T6 on the LK150; 17st and 24 rows.

Using  a smooth, highly contrasting waste yarn, cast on 80 sts (90st on the LK150).  This will allow for a fold back cuff, about the center 20 stitches. If you don't want a cuff, cast on 20sts less.

Knit about 6 rows with waste yarn, ending with carriage on left (COL).

Make sure Russell Levers are set to the I position, and put the first needle on the left side to hold position.  Change to main yarn, and knit across.  The yarn will drape over that first needle.
COR, put first needle on right to hold position, and knit across.

Repeat these two rows, using claw weights as the short rows start forming, ending with COR after putting the 8th needle into hold on the left edge and knitting that row.

Put the 8th needle to hold on the right edge, and start knitting back across.  If using a machine with Russel Levers, once you've cleared those held stitches on the right, put the left lever to II.  If using a Bond, etc, push the left needles back to work position.  Push slowly and firmly.

COL.  If using a second colour, change colours here.  Put left needle to hold.  Start going across, and once you've cleared that first needle on the left, put the right Russel Lever to II (or put them back into work position).  Knit across, getting those right stitches back into work. 

Put Russel Levers BACK to I before continuing!
 You're going to do eight wedges.  With the last one, there are two options.  To keep the same number of rows in the last wedge (important if you've been changing colours for each wedge), change to waste yarn before knitting back to the left to put those 8 needles back into work.  You can change to WY right where you left off, or move the carriage to the side and go that way.  The main yarn will be between the center part of the hat and the stitches in hold on the right and you need to cut it (don't need to leave a long tail). When you graft, you will start at the end and work across, which means you'll have an extra tail to weave in.
If you're not too fussy, instead, you can knit the left stitches into work using the main yarn, cut the main yarn leaving a tail 4x the width, and then change to waste yarn and knit across, getting those right needles.  Knit a few rows of waste yarn. You can then use the main yarn to graft across.
 I really like how the top of this hat mimics a "standard" hat with an 8 segment decrease pattern.  Much smoother and less bulky than the double thick hat patterns that start at one end and knit to the other end and just double up the sts 4 rows from the end.
This is what it looks like once you've grafted the first row to the last.  When grafting through the short rowed sections, make sure to get the wraps with the stitches.  There are lots of tutorials on how to graft.  Some people like to do it following the waste yarn, some like to put it onto hand knitting needles and do it that way, some like to take it off the machine, flip it around, and graft on the machine.  If you graft it from the purl side, you will need to turn it right side out through the end holes before tightening them up.

This hat is super quick to make, and if you leave waste yarn between them, you can do a long strip of hats on the machine, then separate them later and graft while watching TV.

To adjust to a larger size, once you've got 8st in hold, you can knit to the left, putting those sts back into work.  Do not put the first left needle back to hold, and knit across, getting the right sts back to work.  Do not put the right stitch to hold, and knit back to the left.  Now start putting a needle to hold like above.  This adds two rows to each section, so you might want to see how that will affect your size based on your gauge.  You might even try doing that on every other segment if you need 8 more rows, rather than 16 more rows.
I have made a large adult version with Bernat Mosaic on the LK150 by doing one extra short row per wedge.  For one wedge, it'll be on the left side, the next wedge it will be on the right edge.  This means if you're alternating colours, you'll have more ends to weave in, but for a yarn like Mosaic, it's not a problem.  The hat turned out to be a bit too big on my 21 1/2" head.  If you're getting 5.5 rows per inch, and add one more row to each wedge, you'll get it 1.45" bigger.  If you're getting 6 rows/inch, 8 more rows is 1.3".

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yarn Confession Time

Yes, I spelled "confession" right this time :)

The school board and police services are having a cold weather clothing drive for northern First Nations communities.  I don't have a lot that I can donate in the way of winter boots or snowpants, but I do have a lot of yarn to make hats!  Or so I thought!  After about 5 hats, I was getting worried!  The pattern I'm using is a doubled hat, and it uses a lot of yarn, up to 160gr for a man's hat!  I wanted to get the kids involved too, so we went to Zeller's, where they just happened to be having a sale on Bernat Super Value and TLC Essentials.  Buy One, Get One 1/2 off.  We picked out 8 skeins, but I found out when we got home that one of the ones Hugh picked--Bernat Camouflage--was not on sale, which meant that one of the other yarns could not be half price.  Oh well!

Bernat Camouflage            142gr    $6.49
Super Value Wild Flowers  142gr    $5.39
Super Value  Super Pink     197gr     $6.49
TLC Dark Brown                 170gr    $3.24
Super Value Damson          197gr     $6.49
Super Value Lotus               142gr    $3.24
Super Value Luxury Ombre 142gr    $6.49
TLC Surf n Turf                    127gr    $3.24

Total                                  +1259gr     $46.41 (inc 13% tax)

Year Total In                      +1917gr      $77.19
Year Total Out                  -1246gr
  Total Surplus                    +671gr yarn in

However, I have over 1200gr of hats and scarves for donation that won't be totalled up until Sunday night.  Although the yarn in got a huge boost last night from a donation from a friend of my mother in law.  Wish I could have gotten it last weekend instead of buying more yarn, but it was fun teaching the kids how to use the machines.  So far, I'm averaging spending about $2.50 per day on yarn.   I expect that to go down though!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Superbowl Scarf

What's that?  A Superbowl scarf on a Canadian knitting blog?  LOL!  Yes!

My sister in law lives in Indianapolis, the city that is hosting the Superbowl this year.  For Christmas of 2010 she sent me a scarf kit from the Super Scarves program.  Basically, the week before Superbowl, Indianapolis is having a winter festival.  They've done a lot of changes to the downtown, and estimated they needed 8000 volunteers.  To make the volunteers easily recognized, they would each get a handcrafted blue and white scarf.  With 11 days to go before Superbowl (or before the festival, not sure which), they have received over 13 000 scarves.  And mine was one of them!

The yarn in my kit was awesome.  Alpaca with a Twist is from Indiana, and I'm assuming created this yarn just for this project, as the yarn is called "Touch Down".  It's 60% fine highland Wool, 20% Bamboo, and 20% FS Alpaca.  Soft, slight sheen, nice twist, it would lend itself to any number of designs.   At first, I thought I could use it on the standard gauge machine as it looked to be about a DK weight.  However, the gauge on the label says 4.5st on 5mm.  I really thought that seemed a little loose, although this was for a scarf, and the yarn would probably bloom nicely.  In  the end, I decided to do it on my SK155, which, co-incidentally, I bought on Superbowl Sunday last year (had to go to several bank machines just to be able to get enough money out--never had that happen before!).  On the site's website they also listed other yarns and the official colours they would accept, and I have to say, I think this yarn was the nicest out of the list!

I tried out some punchcard designs, but it wouldn't make a long enough scarf.  I still couldn't get the tuck function to work, so unless I wanted to hand manipulate 6 ft of patterning, I needed to go with stripes.  I just realized from another project that I could have done vertical stripes using the slip stitch function!  Oh well.  I opted for a diagonal stripe of two rows each colour.  I did this by decreasing on one edge while increasing on the other edge.  I hoped this would tame the curl.  Along with steam, it did a decent job.

The scarf wasn't quite how I wanted it to be in the end, but I will admit to leaving this project to the last minute (they had to be in by the end of November 2011 so they could be sent to the women's prison to get labels handsewn on).  But it's still a lovely, warm scarf, and I hope the receiver appreciates it and enjoys their memento of Indianapolis's chance to host the Superbowl.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Early in the fall I remembered that I wanted to knit Lucy a Sheldon.  I thought about taking it on our cruise so it would be done for her birthday the next week, but decided it'd be too much hassle with different colours and a long pattern.  Not sure exactly when I started it, but I was pleased at how quickly it was coming along.  Until I got to the part where it says to install the safety eyes.  I had searched this town a while ago for safety eyes for a pair of owl mittens, to no avail.  Lucy has a large bead stash now, so I went shopping in her bead box.
 Simple little bronze beads for the eyes.

 At the start of December, I was contacted by a friend of my mother in law, who needed desperate help with a bootie pattern.  I got distracted by that and totally forgot about Sheldon until the week before Christmas!  I managed to get him done though.
 Lucy loves turtles, and got a few turtle related items for Christmas.  Right now there is a commercial on TV for Earth Rangers.  This environmental group for children was founded by the man who owned the company that Rob used to work for.  The commercial is sponsored by the company Rob now works for.  The girl in the commercial is named Lucy, and she is working to protect the spotted turtle.  If only they had known OUR Lucy!
Used Easy Knit "Georgia Wool" from Wal-Mart. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Magic Sideways Hat

I want to start off by making it clear that this is not my pattern.  The info I have on it says it's from "Ann in Tenn" and has an email (though I haven't tried to contact her).  The printout is dated January 26 2006 and was a message in a Yahoo group, most likely the ISM Club.  I'm reprinting it, along with the gauge and size info that I got on my machines.

Worsted Weight Yarn
ISM/USM:  KP 3 with 8 wedges on 70-72sts  or KP 4 with 7 wedges and 58 sts
SK155:  Plymouth Encore, 54gr, T5, 58st, 7 wedges; 18sts to 4"/23 rows; resulted in a toddler size aprox 16 1/2" circumference
LK150:  LionBrand Fisherman Wool, T5.5, 70st, 8 sections; 20st to 4"/23 rows; don't know the exact size but it was too small for a 20 1/4" head.

Sportweight Yarn
KP 2 with 7 wedges over 68 sts and short row the end 16 sts (instead of 12).

Use an open cast on, and cast on 72 sts.  One layer will get folded into the other, resulting in a hat that's 36 sts tall.  12 of these are for the crown and 24 are for the length down to the forehead.  If you want to adjust the length or add a pattern, do it in the 24st section on both sides of 0.  The hat that I made would have only a tiny brim, but I do not have a toddler to try it on.

Knit one row.
Put a needle into hold at each end of the bed, knit across.  Repeat this row until there are 12 needles in hold at each end and you have knitted the row after pulling out the 12th needles.  Make sure to use claw weights.
Place the needles on the far end of the bed into work position and knit across.  Repeat. 
This makes 14 rows for the section, plus the original first complete row.
Knit 7 or 8 wedges the same way (not including that very first plain row).
Take it off on waste yarn, and graft.  Use the yarn ends to close up the little holes at either end.

There will  be one row for the grafting, so the total number of rows will be 7 (or 8) x 14 + 2. 
You may, if comfortable with grafting, eliminate the first plain row and the very last return row on the last wedge. 

You can use an intarsia technique to make the inside and outside different colours.  Change colours between L1 and R1.  You can also change colours for each wedge.  Or do intarsia and make the center 16 sts a different colour for a contrast brim.

In the gauge I got, adding an 8th wedge would add 2 1/2" to bring it up to 19", still a small child size; a 9th wedge would make it 21 1/2", an exact fit for my head which is not really a good idea; you want a little bit of negative ease.  I think I'd try T4 for a wedge and see what that tension gives.  Nine wedges of 14 rows makes a total of 126 rows; I could also try doing 7 wedges with 18 rows. To keep it to 12 sts at either end, instead of one stitch to hold at each end on each row, I'd have to do a little figuring.  I do think that the sections are a little narrow which results in a pointy hat.
I'd also add about  18 sts in the middle so that there would be a fold back brim.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yarn Confession Update

I've decided that the easiest way to keep track of my yarn usage would be by weight.  Many of my yarns are odd balls, or old, or unlabelled, and many of my projects use multiple yarns.  Trying to figure the yardage for these yarns and projects would be too much work.  But I can always weigh a project!
Starting right after Christmas, here's what I've used up:

Cream tuck scarf         50gr (estimate)
Rose tuck scarf           40gr (estimate)
Green tuck scarf          75gr (estimate)
"Blankie" skirt           279gr
felted slippers            129gr (after felting...my pattern says 117gr for the last pair)
sock monkey            125gr (estimate; he's already stuffed)
Marble Scarf               54gr
Meg's cowl                 38gr
Bonnie mitts and scarf   156gr (small amount was Classic Wool; about 6gr)
donated sock yarn     300gr

Total:   1246gr/1.246kg

Yarn that Came In the House:
Green Classic Wool                 77gr/$2
James Brett Marble                 54gr/$2
2 balls Black Classic Wool   200gr/$10
Brown Fisherman Wool       227gr/$11.24
Brown Handicrafter              100gr/$2

Total:  658gr/$30.78 (inc HST, 13%).

So, I've used up about twice as much yarn as what I've bought so far!  That's awesome!

A Tale of Two Nightgowns

Sometime ago, Meg decided she likes satin nightgowns.  Then, one day I was looking around ikatbag.com and came across her free pattern for 45 minute raglan sleeve nightdress.  I realized this was very similar to the raglan sleeve dress pattern that I have.  But I didn't have any interesting satin (just some cream and some brown).  I was at Salvation Army and couldn't find any satin sheets, so headed to the lady's lingerie, hoping to find a big robe or something.  The selection wasn't that great, but I did find a long La Senza nightgown.  I knew I'd be losing a lot from the bust up, but thought there'd still be enough for the rest.
 However, when it came time to cut out sleeves, there wasn't enough left.  I searched my stash, and wasn't thrilled with either satin option, but found this lightweight gold material; I think it's silk.  I cut the sleeves from that, using the selvage as the sleeve hem, and then cut a long strip (actually, pieced a long strip from the leftovers) to make the ruffle.  I did a really simple hem for the ruffle that I think is neat.  I serged the raw edge, then just folded it back that much, pressed it, and stitched on the wrong side, following one of the serger threads to keep it straight.  To tie it together a bit more, I did the hem in red.  Well, actually I did that cause I didn't have a gold thread to match, LOL. 
I gave it to her for her birthday, and she loved it.  However, there is one big issue.  Her blankets slide off her and she wakes me up about three times during the night to get tucked in again!

Undeterred by the sleepless nights (and thanks to my mom who suggested laying the blanket down, having her lay on it, and folding the other half over her!), I decided that I'd make her annual Christmas Eve nightgown, out of satin again.  I was at Value Village and found this seafoam green satin fitted sheet.  I wasn't thrilled with the colour, but didn't know if I'd get back out shopping.  After VV, I headed across the parking lot to FabricLand.  There, in the remnant bin was a piece of printed satin with this exact same green shade!
 I think the sheet was homemade--there were no tags, and there was a French seam going up the middle (about 1/3 of the way across actually).  There were also some holes.  And the sides had been sewn as a separate panel.  All of this cut down dramatically on the amount of usable material, which I didn't notice till I was cutting it out. 
I laid it all out first, so I could decide how best to use the contrast fabric.  This time, the bodice and the bottom ruffle got it.
I hadn't decided on how to finish the sleeve hems, but they seemed a little short.  I opted to just serge the edge, using a combo of teal and brown threads.  I finished the larger bottom ruffle the same way as I had on the first nightgown--it didn't look right with just a serged edge...too much patterning I think.
This satin sheet was a nightmare.  It wrinkled terribly, and was SO slippery, I ended up cutting three skirt pieces, none of which were terribly accurate.  I used pins, I used weights, I traced before cutting (instead of using the uhh...the round blade thingy right next to the pattern).  I tried scissors, I tried the round blade thingy.  I've used satin before, but this was in a class of it's own.  The wrong side wasn't shiny, but it was still slippery.  Thankfully, it's  a nightgown, and not a prom dress!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yarn Confussion Update

The ball of James Brett Marble I picked up just after New Years has been knit into a scarf.  Two balls of Louet Bonnie has finally been knit into convertible mitts and a scarf.  I mailed 300gr of sock yarn leftovers to a friend.
Today, I picked up two balls of Classic Wool ($10) in black for a mitten project, two balls of Handicrafter cotton ($2) in browns for dishcloths, and a ball of Lionbrand Fisherman Wool  ($11.25) in brown (I wanted brown marl, but they didn't have it) for another "blankie skirt" for Meg.  These were all either on sale, or with a coupon, and I have immediate plans for all.  Whether or not I will actually get to these immediately is another story, LOL.

Swimming, swimming...

...in my swimming pool; when days are hot, when days are not, in my swimming pool....

I may not be a "swimmer" anymore, but I do spend lots of time in pools/hot tubs (and the beach on the cruise) so I do need good swimsuits and have, like most women, some challenges with fitting.

After making my first suit, and Meg's first suit, I went ahead and bought a couple Kwik Sew patterns, and made the animal print bikini for Lucy. 

I decided to try the first one I link to above; KW 3779.  Because it's somewhat of a tank, I thought I could use my original suit as a bit of a pattern guide.  It did all go together pretty well, although I had to take in the crotch/bum seam, the center bum, and the side seams.  I did a FBA, however, it doesn't "cup" me quite like it does on the envelope.  I think I need to make my right side bigger.  It's also a little more revealing on me than the pattern...particularly on the right side.  I think because my breasts are closer together (although maybe not evenly spaced on center), and because my shoulders are narrower, the V neck spreads too much.  I have to figure out how to adjust that width and have it line up with the back.  Lucy says it's too low cut, but I think I can fix that on the next one by stitching the cups together at the lower center front for an inch or so.  Or, finding a clasp/decoration that could join the two cups together.
 I did have a little trouble lining up the two cups with the center front seam, and the right side is a little off.

Overall, I was impressed with my first suit for me, from a pattern.  The fabric was a find from Value  Village!
I decided I wanted to make another version, using some fabric from Spandex World.  I figured I should start with the next smaller size since I had to take in the first one so much.  I wanted the back straight across, and the cups wrapping around (for extra coverage) towards the back.  This presented a lot of construction challenges which I worked through in my brain for awhile before starting.  I also needed to line the back pieces as the fabric was a lot thinner.
In the end, I don't think it was worth all the extra hassle.  The back ended up higher than I thought, so it's not really sexier.  I could probably have not bothered with the angled sides on the cups, especially if they fit better, but I didn't want to risk a blow out.  The thinner material has meant that this suit really stretched when it got wet.  I think I need to find a buckle, bauble, or clasp for between the cups to prevent them from sliding over.  What do you call those ornamental bits...they're not functioning buckles or clasps...I do have one from the suit I took apart, but I think it might be too wide.
 Knowing where to position the straps on the back piece was a two person job, thereby voiding the idea of this suit being a surprise for our cruise.
One of these days I'm going to tighten up the elastic around the cups, maybe  shorten the straps.  It's fine in our private hot tub, but a little scary on the public beach.

I can't wait though to make another suit, probably the tankini.  If I can find some brown or black that matches these fabrics, then I can use the scraps as contrast. I highly recommend making your first suit from a real pattern!

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Dress that Nearly Made Me Quit Sewing

Back in early July, I made a dress pattern for knit fabric.  Of course, there were lots of issues, many of which were my own distractedness, and some were due to the fabric.  Overall, I was quite happy with it, and with the purchase of the serger, I thought I'd be whipping out comfy summer dresses by the handful.

After we got back from our trip in July, I started another dress.  The fabric was a Value Village score.  There was a huge amount of it.  Maybe 3 yds, 60" wide.  I had bought "Built by Wendy" book "Sew U, Home Stretch" and liked the pattern where she extends the shoulders to make little sleeves.  I didn't want real sleeves, so I thought this would be a nice solution.  However, when I went to lay out the pattern I had made, I couldn't find the front piece.  In a moment of delusion, I opted to use the back piece for the front as well.

I woke up the next morning and realized my error.  Duh.  I couldn't believe I did that.  Once I got it basted together, I had to think of how to keep the dress on my shoulders.  I thought maybe I could take some brown ribbon that I had and make ties for the back neck (I have a t-shirt like that).  In the end, I opted for nothing, LOL.  I did find that it didn't slip too much once I had a bra on, and a little bit of fashion double stick tape helped.
This is the only picture I have of it.  I've worn it a few times, but since I didn't get it finished until just before our cruise, it's season was limited.  I was a little disappointed that the fabric faded a bit.

OMG, I nearly forgot the real reason this dress was nearly the end!  LOL!!  I had an idea to make the bodice waist be ruched.  Not sure why I thought this up.  I did a ton of googling and found a really nice dress that was exactly what I wanted, but out of print (OOP).  I couldn't find out much about the construction, but I tried several things to try to get the ruching to look right.  It kept drooping.  I thought maybe I could use the earlier mentioned brown ribbon to sew three strips to keep it from drooping too much, but it still did, and it looked a little odd.  I thought about just ....uh, what's that word....the elastic thread gathering....but it wasn't what I wanted, and that had been challenging with my machine.  In the end, I took the inner panel that I had cut with the grain going the opposite way (to help prevent it from stretching out), and used that by itself.  I thought the slight variation in the grain/pattern, would be a bit of an interest piece.  Not sure that happened, but oh well.

I also could not come up with a neck finish.  I wasn't too happy with the different ways I've tried knit bindings.  Finally, I did an edging with the serger.  Stitches very close together, with wooly nylon, but not a rolled edge.  It's fine.  I did rolled edges on the hem and armholes, lettuce edges actually.  Oh, did I do lettuce edge on the bottom?  Don't remember.  I do like doing the lettuce edge--if I can't get the flat edge to look right, and not stretched, then a lettuce edge is a great solution to play up the stretch, LOL!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Confession #1 and #2

After started to clear out stash yarn, I had a trip to Value Village so of course had to pass by the yarn wall.  Snagged an almost full ball of Classic Wool, $2.99 (or was it $1.99?), sage green.  Then yesterday we were in the thrift store in Bancroft, while we're up here visiting, and I got a partial ball of James Brett Marble.  Good for a baby hat or booties.  $1, I think.  Also grabbed an old Sirdar pattern book of assorted novelties (legwarmers, tea cozy, lipstick cozy, etc), and 3 girls' patterns in sizes the girls are growing into, 25cents each.