Thursday, January 31, 2013

Itty Bitty Blankets

The photographer I've been doing a lot of work for recently asked for some small blankets; about 16"x16".  She was finding that traditional baby blankets were too big once folded and placed in baskets.  She had purchased a stack of dyed cheesecloth style "wraps" to wrap the baby up in, about 8 different gorgeous colours.  She didn't want to loan them to me to take to the store to match colours, so asked for a mid-to-light grey and oatmeal blankets.
The pictures she showed me were of chunky knit blankets.  It seems that most baby prop items are made in chunky, or multi-stranded yarns--to be quick, obviously.  I have another weapon in the war on time--my knitting machines!  I didn't know exactly how chunky I could go, so found some worsted weight yarns..."Vanna's Choice" by LionBrand in Linen and Steel Grey (I think).  I couldn't find a medium grey, but liked the blueness of this grey; thought it would look nice with the blue and purple wraps she had.  I asked her, and she was indeed looking for a lighter grey.  All I could find was super chunky, and tweedy greys.  So I went to Value Village, like I wrote earlier, and found the Old Navy sweater.  So soft! 
 I also had a bit of a panic about "oatmeal".  I dont' eat oatmeal anymore, but it was always a greyish colour too.  LOL.  I thought the linen (upper left blanket) was a nice choice, although I think she now needs a warmer taupe colour ;)
The "Vanna's Choice" in Steel Grey is at the top left; the middle one is from the Old Navy Sweater, bottom right is "Vanna's Choice" in Linen.
So, I could do these on the knitting machine, but was I going to negate the quickness of that by having to do a trim?  I've had good results with doing tuck on every other needle, for a ribbed look.  It lays flat when steamed.  I worked up a swatch in this tuck pattern and steamed it.  Seemed to work!  These ended up being 60st and 17" square.  Maybe a little closer to 18" after steaming and blocking. I was worried they might not be plain enough, but she liked the effect of the two different sides.
  I used the entire 100gr ball of Vanna's Choice, but for the light grey one, only 66gr.  It was a cotton blend, and normally cotton feels heavier.  It was actually three strands (I think each was 2ply) and not heavily twisted, so I think the yarn had more loft than the acrylics.  I still have quite a bit of the light grey left.
This is also the tuck pattern that I used in the hat in my profile.  Swatch, of course, and cast on a multiple of 4, plus two seam stitches.  Do not include the seam stitches in the patterning.  Put every 4th needle to hold (so, starting with the 5th needle on the left, then skip 3).  Knit 3 rows.  Put the held sts back to work and knit the row slowly.  Now select the center sts of the three sts that had been in work (so, third needle from left, skip 3) and put it in hold.  Knit three rows, put them back in work, and knit slowly.  For the hat, I changed colours every 4 rows. 

It's such a simple, but interesting pattern on both sides.  These blankets took just under 40 minutes each, on the machine.  And a bit of time to block out and steam, but for a baby blanket, you might want an edging.

Yarn In:  1442gr
Yarn Out:  266gr + 92gr = 358gr
Balance:  1084gr more brought IN than used up
Costs:  $58.61/31 days = $1.89/day

Guess I better sew up that large pinwheel blanket so I can include it's total!  I'm also working on a shawl that weighs nothing, another slouchy Beehive hat, a HK pinwheel blanket, a pair of socks, and a little "fisherman's outfit" for the photographer.  Have the finished green and pink textured hats to show.  Not sure all that will equal up to 1084gr...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tom Sawyer Pants

The photographer I've been knitting for sent me a picture of a babe reclining in a basket, wearing rustic brown pants with "suspenders".

 Made me think of Tom Sawyer, not a care in the world.  I had two different yarns in my stash to choose from, and selected an unknown yarn that had a rustic, woolly feel, with little bits of tweedyness.  In the paper patterns for the KR 7 for my Singer SK155, there was a pair of baby pants.  Well, not newborn size.  I got started before realizing just how big the pattern was....or else my Christmas flu just hadn't worn off totally and my brain was still fuzzy.  Basically, I needed them 1/2 the size of the pattern.  Add in how the KR7 has a half size/full size option, and the trip lever on the carriage....after a couple tries I got the pattern right.  For the straps, I did tuck on every other needle, alternating with each row (row 1:  010101, row 2:  101010).

No, the legs are exactly the same length...just arranged poorly and/or one needs more steam :)

 I made a twisted cord for the waist band (I made the inside of the waist band in a softer yarn, but really, the pants could have been plated with a softer yarn inside).  On the front, I sewed two non-functioning buttons (they came from my brother's partner's mother).  On the back, inside the waist, I sewed little buttons, and the straps had three buttonholes.  This way, the buttonholes are less noticeable as baby will likely be laying on his back for the photo.

They turned out adorable, and I can't wait to see them on a real baby!  I have plans for a more girly version, but not sure if the yarn I have is enough.  I'll just have to try!
I think I did a great job of matching the inspiration photo.  The hat was made by Jennifer herself!

It appears that I already included these pants in my totals for last year :( 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stash Enhancements pt 2

I got the rest of the grey sweater balled up.  It was interesting.  I got most of it taken apart, then starting winding it around a chair to make skeins.  I wanted to wash it before knitting, since it seemed a little dusty and I didn't know if I'd have time after knitting to wash the final items.  When I did the back, it started out normal, then went to two rows with one yarn, two rows with a second yarn.  Odd for a commercially knit product.  Then the sleeves and one front were even weirder--one row for one yarn, one row for another yarn.  Two machine carriages going across at the same time?  I lost a lot of yarn with the front with button holes.  The bands had been knitted as part of the front, which meant less taking apart, but the buttonholes were added after knitting, by machine sewing.  So, if I wanted to unravel it, I'd lose the 4-5 rows that the button hole is over.  Not worth it!  I ended up with 209 gr in big balls, and 31 gr in small balls, plus the 66gr I used for a little blanket.  That's 306 gr for $5.99 (+tax...$ there tax on adult clothes at a thrift store?  My receipt just shows the total tax).

The peach sweater worked out well to take apart.  The yarn did break a couple times, but I ended up with 173gr in big balls, 75gr in medium balls, and 27gr in small butterflies.  Total 275gr for $6.77 as well.

Yarn In:  861gr + 581gr = 1442gr
Yarn Out:  92gr
Balance:  1350 gr more brought in than used up
Costs:  $13.54 + $45.07 = 58.61/26 days = $2.25/day

Yes, I really must get the totals of the things I've finished this month!  Tom Sawyer pants and one long hat were already included?!  Oh, that leaves me with three little baby blankets and a long hat....really?!  That's no where near 1300gr!  LOL.  What else have I been doing?  A lace shawl, a green swatch...anything else finished?!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Stash Enhancements

I had a little talk with myself, and told myself I wasn't going to end this year with another 5kg surplus of yarn.  I'm do a lot of little custom knits, and I'm finding myself in yarn stores and thrift stores a lot as a result, since I don't seem to have the right yarns somehow.  I'm trying really hard to not add to my stash, except for business purposes. the thrift store, yarn comes in bags with often several different yarns in one bag.  Sometimes sorted by colour, sometimes random.  So this adds to my pile.  And, due to the popularity of the multi-textured, many shades stocking hats (two more to show you), I want to offer an older child version, and also be prepared for other colour combinations that might come up.  And, sometimes I buy a yarn (thrift store or yarn store), and it's not right after all, or I used only a yard or two.  So, already my stash has grown.  I'm trying though, really I am!

 This was a thrift store purchase.  The rose at top is Vanna's Choice, 82gr.  I just used different Vanna's Choice for mini blankets; I wish this was a full ball.  But it and the Bernat Boucle will be nice for textured hats.  The Moda Dea "Eden" is an interesting yarn.  Could be a cowl, or added to a hat.  I also bought a skein of Red Heart something, and two balls of Vanna's Choice.
 I bought this grey sweater to unravel for a mini baby blanket.  I had bought a darker gray, but the photographer wanted a light gray.  I was surprised at the lack of worsted weight light grey yarns!  This is an Old Navy sweater, mostly cotton, and very soft!  Felt a little guilty to unravel it, but that's okay.
 I was surprised to find it was knit to size, instead of cut from panels.
 This is a peach sweater I bought to unravel.  I'm not fond of peach for myself, so it might become things for the shop.  I thought the shape of the bottom of the sweater was odd (above).  The angled bits look sort of like leg holes.
A close up of the peach yarn.  It's a little darker than this, but not quite as dark as the above picture.  I don't have totals for either of these sweaters yet.

Yarn In:  200gr + 661gr = 861gr
Yarn Out:  92gr
Balance: 769gr more brought IN than out
Cost $23.96 + $21.17 = $45.07/25 days = $1.80/day

Guess I need to get showing the projects I've finished so far!  Not sure they'll bring me up to 769 gr though!  I didn't include the two sweaters in this calculations as I'm not done weighing them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bit of This, Bit of That

I want to keep up to date with showing projects and stash additions this year....but I don't seem to be doing too well!  It's been busy this month, trying to promote TracyKM Designs, recovering from Christmas, then a delayed Christmas gift exchange, regular parenting craziness compounded by a "political protest" by teachers that meant a day off school was cancelled last minute but the kids still didn't go to school, a return of lice, an unexpected PD Day tomorrow...I've got all sorts of things I want to talk about, show you, etc...but hopefully I can squeeze in a few posts over the next couple days since next Monday and Tuesday are going to be crazy (but at least it's planned craziness, LOL).

Since it's been SOOOO cold here this week, how about I get caught up on mittens first?  I can't even remember what I've shown before! 

Dec 22 was the Christmas party for my Dad's side of the family.  We do a little gift exchange game, and the ladies bring a "girl" gift and the men bring a "boys" gift.  I knew I would sew mittens for my "grandma" and for the game.  I knew that I had to start early in the month since there's a lot going on in Dec. and I also wanted to make some for the school mitten tree and for a girl who invited Meg to her party but Meg couldn't go (and I knew she was low income so I just wanted to share with her).  Rob said he was going to make a birdhouse and I asked him the week before how it was going....well, "can you make mittens for me too"....

I had trouble picking out fabrics for my grandma's mitts.  I wanted them to be special.  Finally I went with this striped cashmere and plain black (which I actually had to shop for).  I showed her how they were reversible, black for mucking out the barn, and stripes for the dreary day you need a boost.  I didn't get a picture of the finished mitts :(

The teal mitts have red fleece with white maple leaves, the middle ones have bright green fleece inside and a dark green wool outside.  The right ones are machine knit.  All these went on the mitten tree, along with ones I think I showed in Dec.

These are the same ones but also with the birthday gift ones--the pink ones in the upper left.  I don't remember what was inside...the bright green fleece maybe.

I might have shown these.  The bottom ones were a custom pair, a woman wanted a pair at Beadle but with fleece inside.  I had just enough of the Gap scarf to do that.  After shopping around I found a bit of navy fleece as t a thrift shop.  It was a really nice fleece!  Also really nice was the pair of black shoes I found...
The top pair has a woven alpaca fabric inside (my mother in law had a long cape that she hemmed and passed the scraps on to me).  I cut that fabric on the bias to give it more stretch.

Another shot of the mitts as I was having a hard time with the turquoise mitts.  They are much more green than this!  And the pink ones were more pink.
For the "girls gift" I made these mittens.  The inside was a boring 80's taupe sweater; a multi-blend with some angora (and shoulder pads).  The outside is from a scarf.  It was a double sided scarf; the other side was plain pink, so I used that for the palms.  Because the fair isle is thicker, this makes the back of the hands warmer while allowing the thumbs to be a little thinner, done in the thinner plain pink.  They were well received.
These are the boy's gift mittens.  The outside was the last bits of the blue DKNY sweater I had used  for the water bottle holders in the summer.    The inside was the red fleece with white maple leaves.  The funny thing....the winners are married (to each other) LOL.
I haven't sewn any mitts since these, and I haven't finished the mitten pattern for on the LK150.  All I have are the photos.  The laptop was acting up, and then the kids got new electronic devices for Christmas so we had to limit our wifi use until we could upgrade our service so I couldn't use the laptop which meant sitting at the desktop which means a sore bum...LOL.  I tried writing most of this post on my new tablet, but I had to upload the pictures at the desktop, and proof read.  It's not a good set up with the tablet, so I hope the laptop stays working!  I much prefer to sit on the couch and watch recorded episodes of Dr Oz while I blog LOL.  Since the kids are home from school now, I'll save the stash update post for tomorrow.  No yarn stash was used in this post anyway LOL (though I have bought several more sweaters...).

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I just wanted to give a little thanks to the recent newcomers to my blog!  I just noticed I was up to 56 followers, and I really appreciate it!  I'm not going to run a give away here for a little bit (the last two did not get the response I was hoping for).  But I do really appreciate people reading what I take the time to write!

On a similar note, I'd like to invite you to my facebook page, TracyKM Designs.  I purposely don't do much business talk here as I like to focus on education and supporting other knitters.  But I need to network!  If you're on Facebook, and comment/like something on my page, it'll show up in your newsfeed.  And while you're a knitter/sewer who doesn't need to purchase anything, perhaps someone reading your newsfeed knows someone who is having a baby, or someone who is a baby photographer,'s not so much who YOU know, it's who knows who you know :)

To show my appreciation of the support I've received so far, I'm having a give away on my FB page when I reach 50 likes.  All you have to do to qualify is like my page!  But if you share the give away post, or a link to my page on your own page/profile, I'll give you an additional entry.

While you're over there, you can check out the new photos I've just posted of some adorable baby photo prop hats, like the long cream textured one from before Christmas.  I can't wait to see babies in the hats!

Thanks again for reading!

Monday, January 14, 2013

So Close, Yet Still So Far...

Did I actually say on Jan. 10 that I hadn't purchased any yarn yet?  I guess what I meant was that no new yarn has entered my house yet.  Somehow I forgot about the yarn I ordered from which arrived on Friday.  Oops.  Four balls for a custom project (of course, I need only a few yards of each ball); the yarn came to $13.78 yet the bill total came to $21.17.  I thought there was no provincial sales tax when you order from outside your province?  That was only $1.49 anyway.  Still, would be good to know for the future.  The four balls came to 200gr.


Don't you hate it when you finish (knitting) a project and breathe that sigh of relief, thinking, that you've finished a project.  Then you remember you have not just sew it up, but find 5 buttons, sew them on, weave in all the ends....Baby Surprise Jackets are great for using up odd balls of yarn--due to their construction you're working both sleeves, and the back and both fronts on each row.  So, if you get to the end of the row (or, since it's usually done in garter stitch--the end of two rows), before running out, you know that you'll have a nice stripe.  However, this leaves a lot of ends to weave in.  And the sewing of the shoulders is not your normal seaming job; it's stitches to rows and often just looks a little funny.  And then finding buttons....

A long time ago (okay, probably late last summer), I started a BSJ in browns since I don't have a lot of boy stuff in my stash.  I had a Ziploc bag of browns and blacks so figured this would be a great way to use it up.  On and on it went.  I used up several of the small balls of brown (and one of camo) and was left with just one ball of brown and one of black.  I finally decided to finish it off this past week.  Last night I was casting off...the whole time wondering if I had enough to finish the cast off in the brown.  Indeed, I did make it, with about 12" to spare. 

Now, for the finishing.  I usually don't mind finishing, but since this is just going in the gift/store box, it's hard to stay motivated.  Interesting.  I'm using the HTML option for loading the pictures, and Blogger rotated those two pictures, but not the one below.
This is a pretty large baby blanket I was making on the LK150.  It's 5 colours, 25 wedges.  It's going to be a doozy.  I need to graft 142 stitches and weave in lots of ends.  Not just 50 ends, but more, since it was double stranded and sometimes one ball would run out but not the other.  Sometimes I had to cut the second strand because it was the cone and in order to wind a new ball I had to have a free end of the cone.  My ball winder would make only these little balls because the yarn was very slippery, and they'd get to a certain size and just fly off the winder.  I should have used my cone winder instead, but I have to wind that by hand, LOL.  More work!

Yarn In:  200gr
Yarn Out:  92gr (the ruffle scarf from last post)
Balance:  108gr more brought IN than used up
Costs:  $21.17/11 days = $1.92/day

I'm starting this tally from Jan 1.  I do have another hat finished, but I want to wait till I have it's mate done too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ruffle Scarf

At the last MK group meeting, I took a ball of ruffle yarn to use up.  I wanted to use a backing yarn with it, but none of the yarns I wanted to use looked good (I had yarns that I didn't want to use that looked good though, LOL).  I got started on it without the backing yarn.  Five needles, with two out of work between each.  Knit for a few rows, and found a knot in the yarn.  Worked around that, after a while, I decreased down to 4 and then 3 needles in work, then increased outwards again.
However...the decreases/increases ended up being too much towards one end.  So, I brought it home, figuring I'd get it re-done soon.  Well, that meeting was the last week of November...and I just worked it up on Sunday evening.  But it went much quicker this time....I think because it was easier to knit it straight from the old scarf than from the ball (and plus, there wasn't the distractions there were at the meeting).
It's a charming little scarf, not too ruffly, with a hint of glimmer.  Not a crazy, bright, over the top scarf, but more subtle.
I didn't weigh this, and I didn't include it in last year's totals.  Should I?  I had certainly intended it to be finished by Christmas, LOL.  I also have a Baby Surprise Jacket that was waiting to be sewn up since the early fall.  It still needs buttons, but really, it was "done" long before the end of the year.  Should I include it?  Sort of feels like cheating, LOL.
This scarf is for sale, just to let you know :)

Stop Me!

A couple weeks ago, I sold my first pair of mittens in my friend's boutique!  The buyer wrote about her shopping trip on her blog, and my friend passed on the link to me.  Looking at her blog, I saw her slouchy beehive hat pattern.  I knew I had to make one!  I didn't know I'd be making (at least) five!

I started out using the extra ball of Shetland Chunky, so handy that's what the pattern called for!  I got it knit pretty quickly, though I had to take out quite a bit that I had knit at a concert since I wasn't used to counting the rows.  I think I altered the decreases a little, but it doesn't matter.  I knew when it was done that it needed a little something extra.  We just happened to have these black rosette barrettes, and I slipped one on.  Perfect!

There is only two problems.  One...Lucy is insisting that the hat is for her.  I have to hide it!  The second problem is that I can't make just one!  I found two colours of unknown chunky yarn and got going!

 Then I bought some yarn to make another one for myself in turquoise and one for Meg in a different turquoise, however, hers came out a little small.  She wears mine sometimes. 
 A little steam helped this one slouch a little better than in the photo.  It's also a little tight on the head form.  Both this one and the pink and white one are for sale.

I did get a black one done for Lucy, but it looks the same as mine, so no picture.

Well,  what a lot of effort to get this posted.  Blogger's photo glitch has wasted a lot of my time.  First I tried setting up a Flickr account, but Blogger said the url was not available to the public, despite having set the pictures to public.  I don't know.  I'm trying Picasa now, since I have it on my tablet and phone, so maybe I'll be able to share photos even easier.  Except that the tablet only has a camera on the screen side (and when you rotate it vertical, the "button" is right beneath the lens), and my phone camera is very basic.  I won't let technology get me down though!
Ack...I almost hit "close" instead of spell check!  LOL.
I already included these hats in the totals for last year.  I haven't bought any yarn yet this year :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Blogger Bites

I spent a bit of time on the weekend making sure I had all my photos on the computer and ready to get back to blogging.  Then I read yesterday on a blog that there was a big issue with loading pictures.  Sure enough, the window comes up, but the line for selecting from your computer is missing.  What's a knitting/sewing blog without pictures?!  C'mon Blogger.  It's not like you've suddenly changed the format.  It was working last week, just put it back the way it was then!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Year End Totals

I really want to clear up all my totals from last year.  I started keeping track just after Christmas, and one of the items I'm including in my totals I finished right at New Years but I'm going to include it anyway, since I should have been done sooner LOL and I'm going to start keeping track from Jan 1 for this year.  I have a matching one in another colour to do, which should have also been done already, but I won't include that one :)

I'll have more detailed posts next week, with the photos.  Right now it's just about the numbers.
Projects done:
      5 Honey Hive slouchy hats:  469gr
      1 pair "Tom Sawyer Pants"  46gr (estimate; pants are 43gr and I'm still working on the straps)
      1 multi coloured, textures stocking cap 91gr
Total  606gr

Yarn In:
100gr Black Shetland Chunky (Black)  $5.23
141 gr RH Soft (Rose); Country Loom 140gr; Charisma 100gr; Shetland Chunky 100gr=$22.78
70gr Easy Knit "Treasure Chest Yarn"...don't know the price, so estimating $5.00
81gr Freecycled
Total $33.01; 742gr

Yarn In:  742gr + 20 354gr = 21 096gr
Yarn Out:  606gr + 16 243gr = 16 849gr
Balance:  4247gr more brought IN than used up
Costs:  $33.01 + $524.43 = $557.44/373 days = $1.49/day

So, I wonder...if I bring in about 4300gr more than I use each year, and I've been building my stash for about 13 years (in the beginning I didn't have a stash)...that would mean 55 900gr of stash; nearly 56kg, or 123.5lb of yarn in my basement.  Mmmm.  I an average of 100gr per ball....559 balls....sounds like a project for some day when I have NOTHING else to do.  LOL.