Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sneaking Them In

I've been working on some small items and while they're not all quite finished, they won't take long tonight/tomorrow.  So, I'm including them!

White Kitty 24gr
Abby Gloves 39gr
Allie Gloves 34gr
Boot Laces 30gr
Lisa Gloves 61gr
Sideways Mittens 68gr
Kroy Gloves 46gr
Lisa Trial Gloves 67gr
Blue Kroy Gloves 34gr
Pom Pom 30gr
Donated Yarn 33gr

Total: 466gr


Yarn In: 9989gr
Yarn Out: 466gr + 8806gr = 9272gr
Balance:  717gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:   $430.10 /365 days = $1.18/day

I think those are pretty reasonable totals.  The two mermaid blankets I'm working on now will use about 1500gr, and the hat and scarf set will use 300-400gr.  And all that is yarn I just bought recently.  So, I would say this year has a 0 net gain of yarn into the stash :) I just wish it looked like a 0 net gain LOL!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Last Time

I had hoped I could do the two new mermaid cocoons with what I had left over.  At least, I thought it would do for half of each cocoon.  After all, she did want them smaller and when I told her the light blue was probably not available, she said the dark blue was fine and I had two balls left over.

Then she tells me she wants them as big as the smaller one I made.  Oh, and wider towards the bottom.  And a bigger fin.

And then I get to Michaels and they have the Delft blue again.

So, I ended up with 5 balls Delft, 2 balls Waterfall, 1 ball Lagoon, and one ball Woollike in White.  A bit more than I wanted, but based on the weight of the other one, hopefully this all gets used up!  170gr x 8= 1360gr, + 100gr=1460gr.  $57.30


Yarn In: 1460gr + 8529gr = 9989gr
Yarn Out: 8806gr
Balance:  1183gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:  $57.30 + $372.80 = $430.10 /364 days = $1.18/day

I have some finished mittens and gloves to show, but I know they won't bring me up to 1183gr.  If Michaels' hadn't been having their big yarn sale, I wouldn't have bought the Mermaid yarns until after New Year's.  And, the annoying thing is, the sale price wasn't any better than any other time it's on sale, but who knows when the next time will be.  Perhaps, since this yarn was bought for a specific project, ordered before the end of the year, I should count the finished weight against this year's totals.  Along with Marianne's hat and scarf.  Or would that be cheating?  It is always nice to start the new year with a negative balance with the first project LOL.  I've been in a yarn deficit for much of this year, so I should be proud of that anyway!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Wool!

I've written before about a wool I picked up at Wal-Mart, called "Georga", which said it is "mercerized".  That's a term that's used with cotton fibres, but not usually with wool.  Some people feel that means it's been treated to be superwash, however, at least one person has used it to make felted slippers.  Anyway, I was at "Giant Tiger" (better and bigger than a dollar store, but not huge like Wal-Mart), and they had some of this same yarn, but not called "Georga", just "100% Mercerized Wool".  One colour would be perfect for two projects I'm working on, so I grabbed it and a black and soft white.  $6 a 100gr ball.  Not the best deal, but it's wool, and beautiful colours!

I was hoping that would be the last of the yarn shopping this year, but the lady that bought the two mermaid blankets wants two more, and Michaels is having another big yarn sale this week.  Maybe they won't have any in stock and I'll have to go back NEXT year LOL.

Yarn In: 300gr + 8229gr= 8529gr
Yarn Out: 8806gr
Balance:  277gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $20.34 + $352.46=$372.80 /362 days = $1.03/day

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Two Mermaids

I received a second order for mermaid blankets, but these ones were to be totally different than the first.  She wanted the thicker, textured pattern that's out there...and for her girls that are 4'8" and 5'1" and done as cocoons.  In pastel green and blue.

I knew I would probably use LionBrand Homespun, depending on what was available, because I wanted both to be the same yarn.  When I went yarn shopping, there wasn't much selection in pastel colours!  I did pick out some Waterfall and Delft, three skeins of each.

What was I thinking?  No way would three balls be enough!

I started with the green one first, since it was going to be biggest.  I based the size on the pattern but it seemed huge.  And it went through the first skein of yarn very quickly.   I decided it would be much skinnier--closer to how a mermaid would be, I guess.  It is stretchy.

I did a lot of crocheting (2 strands, and the big blue hook--don't know the size), and a lot of uncrocheting.  Laying it out to measure was very different than putting it on and checking the length.  Plus I realized the feet needed some room too!

I went back to get more yarn, and I had an idea of starting off white two strands white, then one white, one colour, then two of the colour, then one of the colour and one darker, and then two of the darker.  But there was NO white Homespun!  And...there was no more Delft.  Not even a space on the shelf for it!!  I picked up a darker blue and figured I could do some blending towards the bottom.  And I picked up a darker blue-green for the fin.

Crochet.  Uncrochet.  Repeat.

I wasn't happy.  It was okay, but not spectacular.  What to do?!  And then I got sick.  And hubby wanted to go to Toronto to get a gift.  I made him stop at a Michaels on the way back and they had lots of Delft!  I grabbed ONE skein and got back to work.  And uncrocheting.  I was NOT going to get more, and I had to make sure there was enough for the tail, so I finished it then went back to the cocoon.


In the end, I'm glad I persevered.  There were some little things I would do differently, but they're pretty insignificant in the end.  The client wants two more for other grandchildren--I told her no more Delft though, LOL!

They look really long and skinny, but once on and the width is stretched, the length is shorter.  Green one was 770gr and the blue one was 764gr.  

Yarn In: 8229gr
Yarn Out: 1534gr + 7272gr = 8806gr
Balance:  577gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $352.46 /361 days = $0.98/day

Back in the "more used" side...but I did pick up three balls just before Christmas...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ummm. Yah.

Things did improve as far as the poor timing I was having in the past couple weeks.  But you know what happened instead?  I got sick.  And my son got sick (he's pretty solitary so he self-isolates LOL), and now my middle child is sick.  Ugh.

Kept working on those mermaid cocoons...many alterations.  Came to the realization that I just would not have enough of the blue, tried to introduce graduating stripes (AA, AB, AA, AB, AA, AB, BB, etc) but it wasn't good.  My husband insisted on going to Toronto on Sunday for a gift, and taking me along.  I realized that there was a Michaels in Pickering--half way between Toronto and home, but further than I would usually go to shop on a normal basis.  So, he nicely made the long detour off the highway and we found it, and indeed, they had quite a bit of Delft blue Homespun left!  I got just one skein.  When we finally got home (OMG, traffic in Pickering is crazy), I plowed ahead full steam.

As full steam as I could.

Monday I went to my doctor and got the diagnosis of "very very sick" and about five or six meds.  But stayed up late (I'm not really sleeping anyway, so why not stay up when it's quiet) and got them finished last night.  Photos taken this morning, and then they were picked up.  They are quite nice!   I also helped my youngest make a pair of the 4 Way Reversible Fingerless Gloves to give to her skating coach, but my lack of brain function meant I just couldn't get them finished.

Yarn In: 170gr + 8059gr =  8229gr
Yarn Out: 7272gr
Balance:  957gr more brought in then used
Costs:  $5.64 + $346.82 =$352.46 /356 days = $0.99/day

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Denial

I've been dreading this post.  I had to go back to Michaels to get more LionBrand "Homespun" in Delft and another colour because for some reason, I thought 3 skeins would be enough for a nearly adult size mermaid cocoon. Duh.  Just before I went, I had an idea that I could actually start with two strands white, work a bit, change to one strand white, one Delft, work a bit, two Delft, work a bit, one Delft, one darker blue, work a bit, then two darker blue--if  they didn't have any Delft left.

Well, they didn't have any Delft.  They didn't even have a spot for it.  What?!  It was about two weeks since I had bought it!

And.  They had no white.  None.  Nowhere.  I could however get three more of the light greenish colour I was also using, and three of a darker blue to go with the Delft I already had, with vision of either using one strand of each for the whole thing, or graduating as I got further down the cocoon (6x170gr)

I also searched each and every yarn for a fuchsia that was interesting, but not "blingy".  There were some gorgeous ones I eliminated because they were shiny, had sequins, or were mixed with other odd colours.  I settled on the lovely Loops & Threads "Charisma" (100gr x 3,  which comes in a nice solid and a variegated mix that actually matches the fuchsia (so many yarns don't match a solid colour) and the other colours in it are gray and charcoal, which is the other colours in the project.

And then I found the discount rack.  Oh dear.  A yarn I've never tried before, Loops & Threads "Mirage".  So soft, a thick and thin single ply.  Nice neutral colours.  I picked up 2 black, 2 white, 2 tan, 2 dark grey, 2 light grey (10x100gr=1000gr!).  Also, one ball of Loops & Threads "2nd Kiss" in black (85gr).  All these yarns I can when I work on the fuchsia project, and any similar multi-yarn textured infinity scarf/hat sets.

So...2405gr of new yarn!  Yikes!  Some is being used right away.  But still.  And then...I got sent some ladder ribbon yarn!

I can't find the Michaels' receipt at this moment, but it was $78.98 according to my credit card statement.  If I find the receipt I can probably return some of the LionBrand Homespun.  Or not.  LOL.

Yarn In: 2405gr + 5654gr = 8059gr
Yarn Out: 7272gr
Balance:  787gr more brought in then used
Costs:  $78.98 + $267.84 = $346.82 /351 days = $0.99/day

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

4 Way Fingerless Gloves Tutorial

Last post, I wrote about the development of these 4 Way Reversible Gloves.  Now, I'll share a bit more on how to make your own, with any yarn.

The most important tool is going to be your swatch.  The second most important thing is a schematic with all the important measurements.  For this, I highly recommend Ann Budd's "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns".  I get a copy from my public library.
It has all the important measurements, for sizes from toddler to XL Man.  I don't usually look at the pattern as my gauge always seems to be something like 4.5st/inch and she includes only full stitch/inch (4 st/inch and 5st/inch).  I just take the measurements and my gauge and figure my own numbers, remembering to add 1 or two stitches if needed for seaming.  I recommend to use yarn that is not too thick.  Two layers of DK add up to worsted weight, but even using one worsted weight and one DK makes the gloves quite thick.  

Start with an open cast on with the required number of stitches for the wrist.  Using a tension a little bit tighter than your main tension (about MT-3), knit the length indicated by the pattern for the cuff. Change to the main tension, knit a row, and mark both edges.  Knit the height needed for the thumb gusset (make sure to use the right measurement from the schematic.  I have used the thumb length measurement before!), and place markers at the edge again.  

Look at your calculation for how many total rows you need.  For this, I look at the length needed before starting the mitten shaping.  I figure the tighter tension at the cuff and the top edge shortens it up a bit, and then I round down a row or too.  I like my fingerless gloves long, but other people like them shorter.  For charity, there is no right or wrong.  Depending on the size, take the last two inches of the mitten and tighten up the tension so it will be snug around the fingers.  If the mitten gives flipped upside down to wear, this will still give a nice cuff.

I tried two different ways to make the turning row.  The men's pair has a converted row, creating a ridge.  The lady's pair has an eyelet row (move 1 stitch over, place empty needle in work; repeat across).  When I did the converted row, I realized that it has to be one colour or the other, so take your pick.

Now, you're going to do all this again, but in reverse.  Using the gauge of your inside yarn and your measurements, knit about two inches at a tighter tension, then loosen up to the main tension and knit to the top of the thumb gusset.  Mark it, knit the gusset length, place another marker at the edges.  Knit 1 row and knit the required length of the cuff in the tighter tension.

If there is 1st/inch difference, or more, between the two yarns, you need to account for this.  I would recommend starting with the finer yarn, and then decreasing after the turning row.  Then you will need to increase on the last row of the cuff, so you have the same number of stitches as what you started with at the very beginning, to make for easier grafting.

Take it off on waste yarn, and make a second one.  Or, better yet, knit the waste yarn for about 8 rows, do a row of ravel cord, then knit 8 rows in waste yarn again.  Once off the machine, separate the two by the ravel cord.



Seam up the long side first, leaving the thumbs open between each set of markers.  Weave in any ends.  Then, tuck the one layer inside the other, matching up the open cast on with the open cast off and the thumb holes.  I found it helped to put each colour on a circular needle before grafting.  Pick one colour, and graft the cast on to the cast off.  Then, stitch the layers together around the thumb openings, so they don't shift.

The key to making them 4 way reversible, instead of just inside out reversible, is to make sure the thumb opening is not perfectly centred.  The amount of the cuff should be either a little bit more, or a little less than the amount above the thumb opening.  Having the thumb off centre means that when they're worn one way, they will be long over the fingers, and when they're worn the other way, they will be shorter over the fingers.

Over Christmas, I'll knit another pair and take pictures of this process :)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Stay Warm

Late one night, I had this idea.  I love using my LK150, but it doesn't have a ribber and converting ribbing gets tedious.  I wanted to make some fingerless gloves.  I want to make a lot of fingerless gloves...gifts, to sell, to donate, to have at school for the kids I supervise who come with those cheap stretchy gloves.  But if I just make a stockinette tube, it will curl at the top and bottom.

I've posted the tutorial at http://www.tracykm.blogspot.ca/2015/12/4-way-fingerless-gloves-tutorial.html and it's also on Ravelry now!  If you try it, please post your project on Ravlery!


If I made a tube though, and turned half of it to the inside, and grafted the cast on and cast offs together, then they wouldn't curl and wouldn't need ribbing, would be really warm, and could be reversible!!  I love reversible things!

It took a while before I could put this idea into action.  One night, I just had to start.  I did a swatch and let it rest.  Did the math the next day, and knit the first tube.  I planned to use tighter tension at the wrist and top..slightly longer at the wrist.

Well....of course, it wasn't a tube, LOL.  It was a long rectangle.  I put markers where I wanted the thumb gussets to be, and convert the turning row to garter stitch.  Did the second one.  Sat down to sew them up.

Which to do first?  Sew the side, or graft the bottom?  I started off by grafting the bottom, so my rectangle was folded cast off to cast on, purl sides together.  No problem grafting that.

Then I realized, I wouldn't be able to put it on the machine to knit the thumb gussets!

So, I tried sewing the second one with the side seam first.  No, I wouldn't be able to put that back on the machine for the gusset either.  Well, I might have, I"m not sure, but I didn't pursue it because I was not unstitching the first one, so these ones would be thumbless.  Then I realized I really needed to stitch the sides together around the thumb opening.

I had Rob try them on.  He felt that with the longer snug section at the wrist, that they were too long over the fingers.  He flipped them around and because the thumb opening was not centered, now the portion over the fingers was shorter.  He liked them that way.  I realized that now they could be worn FOUR different ways!


I also had to make a pair for women, as part of a gift exchange game.  I had intended to use similar yarn as the green pair (I think they are Zara (the charcoal) and Georga ) but I really wanted to do a reflective yarn.  Which is much thicker.  I pulled out this Moda Dea "Washable Wool" which is also thick.

Immediately, trying to swatch the Reflective on the LK150, I knew it wasn't going to work.  So, I dug out the SK155 which was on the backside of the table and they swapped places.  I still had to get the tension up to T8 for it to feel smooth.  The reflective strand in this yarn has NO stretch, so it's not really well suited for the knitting machine.  I left the swatch over night.

I did the numbers.  There was definitely a gauge difference between the yarns.  I wanted an eyelet turning row this time, but if I  started with  the Reflective, then I would need to increase after the eyelets when I switch to the beige.  No problem.

I got the first one done.  Ho hum.  Beige.  Yawn.  I knew I had to spice it up.  I tried a Fair Isle punch card with the second one, but between trying to figure out which row to put the dark brown, and a child talking to me, and figuring which row I was on for changing the tension...I messed it up.  It did show me though that I was on the right track.  I ripped back both of them and simplified the Fair Isle, which just happened to fit exactly in the 11 row section now.  I also realized that because I had increased stitches for the beige, I would need to decrease back down to the original number in the purple half, so I wouldn't have to do the decreases while grafting.  I was really proud of myself for figuring that one out before I was actually trying to do the  grafting!


This time, I decided to do the thumb gussets right away, before seaming.  A few false starts since I haven't done this in a while.  However, once I had the first one sewn up, I realized that the two layers of worsted yarn were just too thick around the thumb, especially with having a seam on each thumb.  I ripped all the thumbs out!  Again, being thumbless, they can now be worn four ways!


 It's so hard to capture the reflective nature of this yarn!  Will this catch your eye at the edge of the road at night?  I see too many people out in the dark, wearing dark clothes!









I have been a little envious when I see other knitters selling items with a nice wrapper.  My computer skills are not all that great (and my computer is very outdated now), but I really wanted to give it a try.  It went surprisingly well, and my daughter had a couple tips too.  Printed "landscape" mode, these fit perfectly around the gloves.  I did forget however to include the yarn content.

You might not be able to see it, so click for a larger version.

My cousin opened this during the game and commented that he didn't know I had my own business selling things--he saw how nice they were wrapped and thought they were store bought!  Awesome!  Mission accomplished!  He said they will be very handy but might get caulking on them.  I said that's fine!  I want my knit items to be used and appreciated, not put on display.  I can always make more!

Green/charcoal ones are 114gr and the beige/purple ones are 133gr

Yarn In: 5654gr
Yarn Out: 247gr + 7025gr = 7272gr
Balance:  1618gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $267.84 /348 days = $0.77/day



Thursday, December 10, 2015

I Hate Weeks Like These

The past two weeks have just been one annoyance after another.  Timing errors mainly.  And some, not errors, but just bad timing not in my control.

On Tuesday  I was waiting for a package to be delivered.  I'm SO excited about this package, but it should have it's own post.  I also had to go out.  So I checked my phone and my emails, saw nothing from the shipper, and went out.  It took longer than I expected and when I got home...yup.  A notice saying I had missed the delivery.  But I could pick it up at a gas station, 6km from my home, approximately 11 minutes according to Google.  But at a "bad" intersection, the type of location that you can get into from only certain directions unless you make radical lane changes and cut someone off...At least 15 minutes.  The notice said after 12pm the next day.

So, Wednesday, I went straight from my lunch supervision job (get out at 12:10).  First I stopped at my physiotherapist and paid a bill, then I headed on to the gas station.  Got there at 12:30.  They had had their shipment drop off for the day--and my package wasn't there!

Today, my daughter wanted to go to the walk-in clinic because her ear has been hurting.  It is in a mall next to this gas station (but you can't get from one to the other!).  Got to the walk-in clinic.  They were having a staff lunch party and would be closed for another 45 minutes.  Drove over to the gas station and got gas (4 cents a litre more than yesterday!) and went in for the package.

It wasn't there again!!

Came home, had all the after school madness, searched my email for a tracking number (came up with three numbers), tried to track it online, but it said I was not home for the delivery on Tuesday and there was no further tracking.  Had to try a couple times but finally got through to customer service who was very helpful, though she could not tell me where the package was, she said it was in the system to be delivered to my door tomorrow.

We'll see.

And yes, the package is knitting related!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Swim!

Mermaid blankets have been the hot ticket on the internet this fall.  I had put my hand up a few times when I'd seen inquiries, but without one already completed, most people passed me by.  Finally, I hooked (get it?) someone!

She wanted one like http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mermaid-tail-afghan but in pinks and purples and maybe a little glittery white.  No problem!  I love making girly items!  I was surprised though at how little plain worsted weight yarn I have in pinks and purples, that actually looked good together...and was in large enough quantities!  I started out, made a few tries...too wide...the white with silver thread didn't look right (too harsh!)...not enough of the dark purple I had, etc.

I had hoped to carry the yarns up the sides, but I had chosen an odd number of colours/pattern, and with each colour being just one row, it wasn't working out.  Tangles, too much extra yarn to carry around, etc.  So, I cut the yarn for each row!

I love the photographer's secret technique I used to suspend the tail so I didn't have to photograph it entirely flat!

The final colour pattern I settled on was a 7 row repeat.  Long enough to make it look almost random.  There are actually two different pinks used, one matte and one shiny but almost identical in colour.
I got carried away with crocheting, and totally forgot to decrease for the bottom area!  The good thing was that by tapering it down, the yarn went further than before and the length ended up even better.
I was worried about it being too skinny so to tidy up the side edges, I did a few rows of the shell stitch up the sides, before sewing up the back bottom for about 10".  I seem to have forgotten to take a photo of that!  It seems some mermaid tail patterns create a sort of sleeping bag design, and others are flat like a blanket.  This pattern is a blanket style (it was supposed to be 50" wide!), and then stitched together at the bottom back to taper it in and create a cozy pocket for the feet.  Then the tail is sewn to the bottom, closing off the pocket at the same time.
I gave it a good steaming to relax the shell stitches and soften the acrylic yarns.
 I think the fin took two attempts, the first one being too big and only getting a row or so in.  However, the second half of the fin--the increasing half on the right, took several attempts.  I just couldn't get it increasing enough to match the decrease half and I was 10 stitches short by the time I got back to the dark purple!
I ran a piece of yarn through the top of the tail to gather it in, and folded the sides over a bit before sewing it on the bottom.
To add a little dimension, I did every right side row around the post of the DC of the stitch below.  Back to front? to create a chain ridge.  I like how when I changed colours it created a neat effect.

If I ever make this again, I will limit the number of yarns/colour repeat.   I actually had only four yarns in the body, which is good.  The pattern called for three, I think, and odd numbered repeats are usually more eye pleasing.
I am working on some more, but this time as a tube style, using two strands of LionBrand Homespun, one colour only!  So much faster!!

Yarn In: 5654gr
Yarn Out: 364gr + 6661gr = 7025gr
Balance:  1371gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $267.84 /342 days = $0.78/day


Sunday, December 06, 2015

The Next Generation

All three of my kids have tried knitting.  My oldest, Hugh, did a bit and said "nah".  Lucy learned, made a simple scarf, then did a couple fun fur scarves (that still need to be sold), her cat, and a hippo.  She started another cat but hasn't gotten very far.  She learned the purl stitch, short rows, increasing, decreasing, and figured out for herself that holding the yarn in the left hand made the most sense.  She's used circular needles, and I think she used them to do magic loop when she made the hippo.

Megan.  She is a dreamer, a creator, an inventor...but also was about 5 points below the cutoff for ADHD.  Her planning skills are weak.  She loves to start, and has a great mental picture...but lacks the stamina and skills to work it through.  She started knitting and I thought a dishcloth would be it.  Then she wanted to make mittens last winter, and I was a little worried.  I knew she couldn't handle the purl stitch yet, so I got her going on the garter stitch, sideways mittens.  She really did great, but well, making two identical mittens can be a challenge for even experienced knitters.  I did end up finishing them for her.

It's winter again.  She wants a new scarf/neckwarmer/cowl.  So she went to the basement and rooted through and came up with this really thick grey yarn and another yarn that I didn't really think she'd like.  Another search and she chose this bright blue.  Not really what I would have picked to go with her coat, but she liked it.  I wish I had looked for the yarn she used for the mitts but I figured this was just going to be a passing interest LOL.

I casted on and she started and after a couple rows we decided she should be using larger needles, so we did that gradually over a couple rows.

I think we were both surprised when she had it finished really quickly.  Like, less than two weeks!

 The grey is called "Pow Wow Machine Washable Indian Type Yarn", I think the brand is Kinsie.  It was made in Canada and has 25% wool.  The blue was a cheap acrylic.  It weighed in at 77gr.  Which is no where enough to make a dent at what I bought at Michaels last week!  I think I might be over what I've used up now.  But the year isn't finished!!

Yarn In: 5654gr
Yarn Out: 77gr + 6584gr = 6661gr
Balance:  1007gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $267.84 /340 days = $0.79/day

Monday, November 30, 2015

Yarn In

Oh boy.  I've gotten a lot of yarn lately!  Hope I can remember it all!

Here's a Wal-mart receipt.... "Yarn $4.97".  Ummm.  Another Wal-Mart receipt:  "Yarn $4.47, Red Heart Yarn $5.00, Yarn $3.47".

I have four balls of yarn I can remember buying at Wal- Mart.  One has a $5.00 sticker.  Red Heart "Boutique: Swanky".  A cool shiny yarn with large sequins.  Unfortunately the lady I bought it for doesn't care for bling.  Still a cool yarn but now it has to go into the stash.  100gr.

There is also Bernat "Premium", 198gr; Bernat "Satin" 100gr, and Bebe Luv "Fashion" 120gr.  Wal-mart Total comes to 518gr, $20.16.

And then there was the trip to Michaels for yarn for mermaid blankets.  Of course, two weeks prior had been their big yarn sale.  :(  Got six balls of Homespun, 170gr each, $5.99 each, and a ball of Craftsmart "Value", 141gr, $1.99.  Total for this trip, 1161gr, $42.86

Mmmmm....it used to be when you used a 40/50% off coupon at Michaels, it was taken off the highest value item.  I see on my receipt it came off the Craftsmart yarn (original price, $3.99).  Not nice, Michaels!

I still need probably another 6 balls of Homespun.

Yarn In: 3975gr + 518gr + 1161gr = 5654gr
Yarn Out: 6584gr
Balance:  930gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $ 204.82 + $20.16 + $42.86=$267.84 /334 days = $0.80/day

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Christmas!

Last year, I got an email from a man named Jason looking for three Christmas stockings to match his childhood stocking.  Looking for that email now, I see he actually sent it on Christmas Day!  I hadn't noticed that before!

I've written before about how I like copying pre-existing items or pictures, but usually it's not supposed to be an identical replication.  Often it's the shape, or the colour, or the texture, or a combination.  Rarely do I do something that is an identical copy.

Or, as identical as can be, given the difference in time between the original and the inquiry!

There's been very few inquiries since I've started my business, that I've turned down.  I'm up for almost anything.  He included a picture of his stocking, and I knew I would have no problem copying the pattern and knitting it.  However, he lived about an hour away and I also worried about how closely these had to match.  I explained that yarns change over time, that colours come and go, that while I could do my best to hunt down yarns, I might not be able to match exactly.  Well, I basically knew I could not match exactly, LOL, but how close was "close enough"?  He wanted them high quality, lasting, and functional.

I started off by saying I'd contact a knitter in his town--a former blogger who's skill and attention to detail I felt would match mine.  I asked her if she knew of anyone--I knew she wouldn't want to do it, but she was involved in a knitting group.  She had no leads.

Jason offered to bring the stocking to me as he frequents a large motorcycle shop in town.  Cool! We arranged a day and time.  And then I realized  I was going on a field trip with my youngest.  He left it in my mailbox for me.

I'm a sentimental lady.  I feel very honoured when someone chooses me to make something for them, especially something significant.  Being trusted--on nothing more than my  website being found on the internet--with this stocking felt scary and incredible.  What if I lost it?  I don't lose things.  What if the dog ate it?  He hasn't eaten anything in a few years.  What if I can't meet the deadline?  Happened only once.  What if I just can't do it?  Hasn't happened yet!

I spent some time Googling and discovered that this was a 1952 Knit-O-Graph pattern.  Oh, look at that...there's one available at etsy.com now!  When I was looking in April, there was a modern reproduction of the pattern that one knitter figured out and was selling.  Well, if she could figure it out, so could I :)  And then he asked for a fourth stocking!  Well, for something like this, you can't just multiple the yarn cost for one by 4...some of the yarns I used very little of for all four, so as you do more, each one is actually a bit cheaper in the materials department.

The yarn search....the stocking had a gauge of 6st and ...I forget the rows now per inch.  This meant a likely a sportweight yarn, though not very common, so my guess was that it was most likely knit in Patons "Astra" or perhaps a Mary Maxim yarn (as a kit).  "Astra" has been around forever.  It still is around!  So that's what I checked first.  Red, blue, yellow and pink were no problem.  The white and the green though...All I could find in Astra for white was a bright white, and an "Aran" white which was very creamy.  I needed a softer white.  The stocking may have originally been bright white, but while in great shape, was not bright white now.  I settled on using two strands of Loops & Threads "Woolike" in Ivory.  The texture was a bit different, but it was the best choice.

Green.  Wow.  Who would have thought.  I Googled.  I visited yarn stores.  I bought yarn and returned yarn.  I checked yarn out inside the house, and outside in the daylight.
 Finally, I had had enough and needed to get started--green was in the first inch, so I couldn't delay any longer.  I found Red Heart "Soft" in Dark Leaf, which is an Aran weight.  It was a little shiny, and I had passed up other yarns that were close because they were too thick, but I decided to bite the bullet and commit to pulling out one strand of the yarn!  Crazy!  I would gently pull out one strand while re-winding into a ball.  If it got tangled or broke, or I got bored, LOL, I end the ball and do another.  I needed small balls anyway for the intarsia work.

I got started.  I had a hard time figuring out the cast on.  I searched my books, and tried a few things.  Felt I had found the right technique....then forgot exactly what I did!  So, the tops are not all identical!

Charting...I thought that would be pretty easy.  Count the stitches.  Count across, count down.  But sometimes it wouldn't line up.  A stitch would be six rows down, but the stitch next to it seemed to be 5 rows down, but when I worked across to draw the row, they lined up.  I don't know!  It was probably from the carrying of the yarn on the backside, made the stitches not always line up.

Some of the names are longer than "Jason" so I had to decide what to do.  Keep the same number of rows in the white banner?  Then the words had to be squished a little.  Keep the spacing but have a bigger white section?  That was voted out.  So I adjusted the spacing between the words, trying to make it all even so it gave the same visual look.  While I hadn't intended the above sample to be a swatch, it was probably a good thing.  It ended up a bit small and there were a few things I was unhappy with.
 Due to the size of my chart paper, I worked each, one at a time, till the banners were done.  I was paranoid I would spell something wrong.  It's easy to just glaze over when you look at something so often.  I did find an error in one that involved ripping back a few rows, and for some reason, Blake's gave me a hard time.  It was the last one I worked on and you would have thought I had it memorized by then.  No!

Then I worked on each until the top of Santa's head.  I wasn't happy with the original pink colour, so I paused until I found a better one.  Again, I ended up pulling out a strand of the 4ply worsted to make a DK yarn.

Then I charted the next section, and worked on it.  And so on.  I found as I got further along, that the green balls that had been re-wound with my ball winder a few times seemed to be a bit tighter and a closer match than the original balls I used in the name banners.  Wish I had thought to wind those a few times!
I decided to block them before starting the heels, because I wanted to seam them before the heels and I felt the blocking would be easier while they were able to be pinned out in one layer.  I started with Blake, using pins and blocking wires to get the horizontal lines nice and straight.  Then, I went to town with my steam iron and a pressing cloth.

Ummmm.  Yeah.  WTF.  That curve exactly matches the curve of my iron!  And, when I unpinned it, there were indents from the blocking wire!  OMG.  It was late at night and I nearly cried.  Instead, I soaked it with some water and went to bed.

In the morning, it was dry, but the mark was still there.  Ever wonder why some yarns say not to iron?  I wasn't ironing it, but must of lost focus.  In real life, it didn't show up as well as in the picture, but I knew the stockings would get a lot of up close attention and this was just not acceptable to me!  I knew I would have to do surgery!

The stockings are knit flat, due to the intarsia.  I didn't like the seam on the original stocking, and I really (as a knitter) didn't like how the seam continued through the heel.  I concluded the heels were done as after-thought heels, and at the proper place, put the stitches onto waste yarn.  Well...when I came back to knit the heels while seaming up the legs, I found that because I hadn't broken the red yarn and started a new yarn...I had a strand of red yarn going from one side of the heel across to the other side (inside).  hard to explain, but essentially, from front to back so that the two sides of the stocking could not be pulled apart.  Fine if these were to be decorative, but not fine for stuffing with presents!  But I am a knitting McGuyver and came up with a decent solution...by the last stocking LOL.   THe first three involved knots.  I knit the heels and toes in the round.

It took a couple attempts to get the heel to look right, and I'm so glad I didn't say "Good Enough" after the third attempt!  I wasn't happy with them once done... the toes were cupping, and the heels were a little small and not laying right.  So, I ripped the first one out and tried larger needles.  Bingo.  So I ripped the other ones out and re-did them.  I also got to fix the problem from the above paragraph a bit better, though of course it meant more work.

It's amazing how long it actually takes to knit a heel and a toe.  Times four.  LOL.

In  an early email, Jason mentioned that he wanted to make sure the insides were well done, so fingers didn't get caught.  This is a sign of a good knitter, not leaving long "floats".   I think I did a great job!


But...Blake's stocking!  Time for the fix.  I did not take pictures, because it was pretty darn scary.  I CUT the stocking through the first row of red beneath the white banner and placed the stitches on my needle.  I was hoping I could just reknit the red portion and that would get rid of enough of the damage that it looked okay.  No, that wasn't enough, so I went into the green section.  I hoped I could just stick with the top green part--I couldn't find the chart so I was just trying to work from one of the other stockings and things weren't lining up right!  And it still hadn't gone far enough.  So, I started on the part with the red hat, saying I would only go so far as the white pom pom--I was not getting into another colour.  Then I realized the grafting row (the row created by sewing the top I was now knitting with the existing stocking) would create a row of stitches too.  And things weren't lining up!  I ripped back rows, and ripped the stocking out further, to the top of the pom pom.  Finally, I tried to graft the two pieces.

It was not going smoothly.  Started from the side with the green, but then things didn't line up by the time I got to the hat.  Tried from the other side, which was all red being sewn to red, and it was off by a stitch where they join, which is fine.  It just wasn't working through the front section.  Finally, I had to say "Good Enough".  A good knitter knows when "Good Enough" really is good enough, and when it's being used as an excuse to not try harder.  I consider myself a good knitter :) I don't seem to have a picture of the repaired area.  Oops.

I couldn't figure out how I wanted to photograph them.  We have a fireplace with a nice mantle, but the thought of clearing the mantel off depressed me.  And there are no hooks (not even for our own stockings!) so I would have to get some 3M Command hooks.  I asked in a photo group that I belong to on FB if anyone had a fireplace set up in their studio (most were doing Christmas photo sessions), that I could hang the stockings on and get a picture.  One person posted a picture of how she used her staircase--which I had forgotten was what I did last year.  But, again, I didn't want to get all the Christmas stuff out to really set up the photo.

 I realized though that our outside towel rack (for our hot tub towels) had five hooks!  And would be quick to clean off the shelf (though I managed to just cut it out of the photos).

 But the weather!!!  It was going from bright sun, to rain, to very overcast.  All within minutes.  I didnt' have much time left and couldn't put it off any longer, so I braved the wind and got clicking.

 I felt the pictures were a bit too stark, and wanted to add some snow to soften it up and invoke a more Christmasy feeling.  My daughter said it was odd because it now looked like you were looking in through the window, and the snow shouldn't be inside the house!  But the snow is between you and the window :)  I don't usually over-edit my photos, but thought this was fun, and a learning experience too!


Once done, I experienced "post project letdown".  You spend so long working on a project.  You have highs and lows, times you think it'll never end.  And then poof! Suddenly, they are done, photographed, and out the door!  Gone!  They were like my babies!  My family knew them all!  LOL.  Jason came to pick them up and even though I know I had done a great job, it was still a little nerve-wracking! But he seemed really pleased!  Even my husband said they looked good!

The stockings weighed in at 306gr.  As I was weaving in all the ends on these, and a couple other projects, I saved the snipped ends in a big pile, just to see how much yarn gets wasted.  By the time I weighed the pile (including some long pieces from the small balls), it was 126gr!  I wish I had been doing that all year!

Yarn In: 3975gr
Yarn Out: 306gr + 126gr + 6152gr = 6584gr
Balance:  2609gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $ 204.82 /330 days = $0.62/day

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gray.

Not too much to say about this set, except that I LOVE it!

And, like many of my items...the True Tracy Way prevealed.

I started with the hat.  She wanted gray, or white and/or black...pretty much up to me.  I didn't have much in gray, and was looking for a textured look to mimic the pink/rose/beige set I did last year .  I got out ALL my gray, white and black yarns.  I started with a combo of yarns...after a few rounds, it was obviously too thick for my largest hook (totally forgot I had a jumbo hook that doesn't fit in my case). I wanted to include some black and grey reflective yarn, but it wasn't working.  Tried again, better, got further, but not quite right.  Tried a few more times.  Finally got a combo I liked, though one yarn I was using, I wasn't sure I'd have enough so I sort of made a pattern where every third round I used it but the other two rounds I used a similar, smoother grey.  As usual, it took several attempts to get the right size.  I mean, I was even almost finished when I decided it was too big.  Finally, it all came together.

Until I put it on the wig head.

Ugh.  The yarns were awesome.  But despite looking great on my lap, once on the wig head, the shape was all wrong!  It was too flat at the end.  It draped weird.  It didn't slouch, it just ended and hung there from the weight/length.  Blah.

Started again (I mean...I had even sewed the flower on!  Wove in the ends!).  A few false starts again.  Much mohair up my nose.  But I finally nailed it.  What should have been a simple two day project turned into ...I don't know...a month?


This is the hat.  I know the colouring is a bit off, but it was an iPad picture, inside...You can sort of see there are some rows that are a bit fuzzier.  That's the fuzzy gray yarn I used every third row.


The scarf was easy.  I did 19 DC wide (not sure how I ended up with 19,  it just looked good.  She wanted wide, but I didn't want to go too wide and drown her).  Pick a yarn from the bag, or a combo of yarns, work a row or two or three.

Again, poor colour.  You can see in the picture on the left there are bits of glowing white.  That's the Red Heart "Reflective" yarn.  What a great way to add a bit of safety!  Don't forget to steam liberally for even more drape.

Such a fun scarf, I could have kept going.  Stopped though so it could be wrapped two times around.  Might even be able to get a third time, if you like it snug.

Yarn In: 3975gr
Yarn Out: 246gr + 5906gr = 6152gr
Balance:  2177gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $ 204.82 /323gr days = $0.63/day

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Minion!

Early in October I saw a request in a FB group I'm in for a plain yellow hat.  I knew instantly that someone was creating a Minion costume and I knew I had some yellow yarn left from the Minion hats I did in the spring (as well as a smallish NB almost finished Minion hat).  We worked out the deets, and I crocheted up a yellow beanie, adding some black tufts for the spikey hair.  It didn't look like much when I made it, but on the baby?  Adorable!

You can't see the spikey hair, but it's there :)  I don't think I even weighed it, so I'm going to guess at 33gr (the almost finished preemie one was 28gr).

Yarn In: 3975gr
Yarn Out: 33gr + 5873gr = 5906gr
Balance:  1931gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $ 204.82 /318gr days = $0.64/day

Monday, November 09, 2015

What?

I just took a quick look at my stats, and I've had 15 visits from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.getvesna.android  I wonder what that's about!

Well.

I have finished all the knitting on the Christmas stockings, and I did not have to dip into the second ball of green or the soft white.  I also did not use any of the second ball of grey for that wolf hoodie.  I could return all this, and make my
"Yarn In" totals look even better...but I think I'll keep the stocking yarns in case he wants another one, and grey chunky yarn is not a bad thing to keep on hand.

I have been working on an infinity scarf using every white, grey, and black yarns I have.  It is looking awesome!!  And I didn't have to buy any new yarn for it.  I wish I could put in a few pops of another colour--yellow would look awesome--but it wasn't asked for.  Oh well.  Might have to make one for myself!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Woof!

A simple wolf hoodie, in size 2-4

As usual, I wasn't working with the suggested yarn, and my gauge was different and my math was ...well...creative but wrong, so it took longer than it should have.  Not much else to say about it.  Used just under one ball of Loop & Thread "Charisma" and have one ball left (and no receipt to return it!).  The white and black were from my stash.  In total, it weighs 138 grams.

This is an adult wig head, so the hoodie is a little snug.


Yarn In: 3975gr
Yarn Out: 138gr + 5735gr = 
Balance:  1760gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $ 204.82 /306 days = $0.67/day

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ready for Some "Aaaahhh!"?

I haven't made too many newborn photography props lately.  I don't know...there seems to be a trend towards recycled/upfashion type props.  I did get an order though for a few items and got them off to the photographer yesterday.  I can't wait for her pictures!

She commented on a grey bonnet and pant set, but that was custom dyed yarn and I wasn't planning to dye anymore.  I told her I had a little grey bonnet already done (small fib--it just needed the ties), and she liked it.

I can't believe I had this sitting in my drawer for soooo long, and all it needed were the ties!


The yarn has a nice texture to it, and pink and blue slubs.  I have no clue what the yarn is, I think it was a thrift store find.  This hat weighs in at 23gr.


She wanted a cream, gender neutral set like the grey one I did for Jenna Faye Photography.  The gray was cream Patons "Lace" that I dyed.  I sent her a photo of it, plus another no-name ball of fuzzier cream yarn.  She picked the fuzzier cream one.  As soon as I started knitting with it, I realized it wasn't really all that soft.  Once it was done, I turned the items inside out, and with small scissors, cut off all the halo on the inside.  Then I soaked it over night in hair conditioner.  Much softer now, but it's still not the softest thing I've made.  The set weighs in at 74gr.

She also wanted a brown mohair bonnet.  I did not have any brown mohair!  I tried blending a few yarns together, but it didn't have that "aaahhh" factor.  So I did one up in Patons "Divine".  I love this yarn.  I don't know why they discontinued it!
 Because of all the texture and already being bulky, I made it plain.  It weighs in at a whopping 19gr.  I could knit a lot of these with my Divine stash, LOL.

We were going out, and to a store just two doors down from Soper Creek Yarn...so of course I took advantaged and stopped in to look for finer brown mohair.  I found a basket of Nashua "Creative Focus Kid Mohair", and that was the only brown mohair in stock.  A little thicker than I would have liked, but very soft.
I had a few problems...getting the right stitch count, keeping track of what I was doing.  Ugh, ripping out mohair!  It did turn out a smidge small, but babies come in all sizes.  And it's stretchy.  It weighs 18gr. I let her have her choice of the two brown ones, and she chose this one.

So nice making quick baby items again!

Yarn In: 3975gr
Yarn Out: 134gr + 5463gr = 5597gr
Balance:  1622gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $ 204.82 /301 days = $0.68/day

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Have You Heard the One About a Knitter...

...who goes to the yarn store to get more green yarn for a project, considers getting the white yarn that seems to be running low, but opts just for the green yarn?

And then doesn't even touch that second ball....and gets worrisome close to the end of the white ball?

Yeah, that's the True Tracy Way!

And now that I'm doing the last bits in the white, I'm beginning to think I might just have enough.  But I bought a second ball (100g, $4.50, Loops & Threads "Woolike") anyway.  Because if I didn't, I would for certain run out with only a few yards remaining!

I also picked up a ball of decadent Nashua "Creative Focus Kid Mohair" in Rich Brown (50gr, $12.37) for an order.  I was hoping to use stash, but I had no brown mohair, and trying to blend a few browns to get something interesting wasn't working.  Apparently solid colour mohair has lost it's popularity?  I was lucky to find this in a basket on the floor of the yarn store.  It's so soft!  I would have loved to use Patons Lace, there's one in the sequences line that is dark brown, but Michaels' isn't carrying it anymore.  There is a yarn store that has some stock, but  I just can't seem to get there.

Yarn In: 3825gr + 150gr = 3975gr
Yarn Out:  5463gr
Balance:  1488gr more used UP than brought in
Costs:  $187.95 + 16.87 = $ 204.82 /300 days = $0.68/day

Friday, October 23, 2015

Updates

October 6 was my last post?  Ooops!  I've been working feverishly on the custom Christmas stockings.  And a crochet slouchy hat that I thought was all done until I tried it on.  I re-did it several times and I think I finally got it right this time.  And then another custom order that due to a miscommunication, the client thought would be ready right after Thanksgiving (Oct 12 here).

And then...my two girls and myself got sick.

Trying to climb back to the surface today/this weekend.

I got one stocking blocked last night, and there's an oops!  :(

I don't know if you can really see it in the above photo, which is perhaps a good sign.  It appears, while I was steaming/light pressing (with a cloth), I must have touched down the edge of the iron, creating an arc imprint between the top banner and the green circle, towards the middle of the stocking.


  Not far enough over though so that it'd be on the back.  It couldn't be all one row, so I could remove those stitches and graft in a new row!  I'm going to present it to the client and be honest, and offer to re-make the stocking if he finds it annoying.  He might think it helps to give it more of a vintage look.

 The other order I'm working on includes a dark brown pixie hat.  I've made it in mohair, and don't have any dark brown mohair, but I thought I could combine some yarns for a textured look.  I'm not feeling it though.

I think I might need to go shop for some dark brown mohair.  I know I could dye the yarn I've used before, but 1) don't think I have any dark brown dye 2) don't know how to combine the colours I have to make dark brown and 3) haven't tested the colourfastness on the yarn.