Monday, February 29, 2016


How has it been a week since I posted?  What did I do all week?  I did finish up these mermaid blankets!

Sized for a three year old and her junior American Girl doll.  The girl is a cousin to the girl that got the first mermaid blanket and wanted it to be similar.  I said I wouldn't do as many colours as in that one, ever again, LOL.  That was fine, three colours would do.  But what do I do?  I create a pattern ABAC which meant the A yarn (purple) was never at the side I needed it to be.  I had worked for a little ways and was already annoyed by how many ends there were going to be, so I decided to not cut them, and just leave the last stitch waiting, go back to the start of the row, and work the next colour.  So, I would have several right side rows, one after another.  Double crochets are not identical on their right and wrong sides, but I just call that "textural interest". 

I wasn't sure how long to make it.  The girl is three, but that's all I knew.  I thought and thought and then thought maybe the length for a floor length skirt would work.  So I worked to that length.  Then realized I hadn't shaped the bottom at all, so had to rip a bit out.

While I was working on it, the mom asked for an American Girl doll blanket.  I somehow missed the part saying it was a junior sized one, 14-15".  I searched around for measurements, and found blankets were 17" wide by 21" long.  I worked that length, then realized that AG dolls are only 18" long.  I found a chart for doll clothes, and waist to ankle on an AG is 9 3/4".  Ooops.  So I ripped back.  Which made the blanket seem really wide for it's length.  I mentioned this to the mom who replied that it's a junior sized doll, only 14-15" tall!  I really didn't want to rip all the blanket out because I thought she was on a deadline for a present.  I re-worked the lower half, changing from 5DC shells to 3DC shells as a way to narrow it down.  It's cute.  I just downsized the tail by eyeballing, figuring a too big tail is not an issue with a doll.

It's all made with Loops & Thread "Impeccable" (the bright pink is Impeccable Brights).  Weight for doll blanket is 85gr and big mermaid is 303gr, for a total of 388gr.  I'm going to round up a bit because I had so many ends, so 390gr.

I'm also going to record the Briggs & Little kit I got from Grand River Yarns.  It was 540gr (some of the balls were only 47-49gr, but one was 51gr) for only $28.40. I've made one pair of itty mitts!

Yarn In:  540gr + 1046gr = 1586gr
Yarn Out: 390gr + 3168gr = 3558gr
Balance:  1972gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $28.40 + $46.47 = $74.87/60days = $1.25/day

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What's Next?

Is spring actually here?  Do I stop knitting mittens for the kindie classes?  I'm working one one that's going to be very interesting.  It's not intended for the kids, but will be a visual representation of the pattern.  However, the yarns aren't playing nice together.  If you follow me on Instagram you can see some sneak peeks.  I did just buy a kit from Grand River Yarns so I can make some 100% wool mittens for the kids.  Great deal, but with shipping, it still came to $28! 

I also had to pick up another ball of yarn for the mermaid blankets I've been working on.  I can't believe I went to Michael's and bought just one ball of yarn.  With my 40% off coupon, it was  only $3.38 for 128gr! 

I want to get back to sewing.  I want to hem a shirt I made last summer, duplicate some pants, try sewing underwear, make Megan some skating leggings, maybe a bathing suit for her. Also want to sew up some felted sweater mittens.

In the knitting end of things, I need to mend a ton of socks and my favourite mittens.  I was going to knit a pair of the fingerless gloves for my niece in New Mexico, but the daytime temps are getting up into the low teens (Celsius) although night time temps are still just above freezing.  I've got that headband to rip out and re-work.  I'm not 100% sold on the mittens.  They seem okay  for just walking, but I wore them at work and they kept slipping down.  I could sew elastic inside, I guess.  They are warm.  I've got a neglected shawl in the works, a pair of toe-up socks that are at the heels, a few other projects that just need varying amounts of finishing off.  Two more red scarves have been posted on Mary Ann Oger's blog.  I want to machine knit socks.  I want to refurbish the old Singer 321 I got a few years ago and get it sold.

So many things!!

Yarn In: 128gr + 918gr = 1046gr
Yarn Out: 3168gr
Balance:  2122gr more USED than bought
Costs:  $3.38 + 43.09 = $46.47/51days = $0.91/day

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

More Mittens

I'm on a roll with knitting spare mittens for the kindergarten classes I lunch supervise. I've got to look at the photos to see how many I've made, LOL!  Such a quick and portable project.  Now that I've gotten a few pairs done, I'm doing something different.  I'm knitting a mitten, but on every row that something is done, I'm doing that row in a contrasting colour.  The cast on, the first stockinette row (also has an increase), each of the increase rows of the gusset, the decrease rows at the top.  As long as I have this mitten with me, I won't have to worry about having the pattern or a tape measure with me.  Awesome!

I know it's crazy to make a light coloured pair, but this ball of Patons "Decor" has never spoken to me, so this was it. 
I have several balls of this really bright peachy colour.  The picture is totally wrong.  You'd think it was pink until you see it next to pink.  It's not really orange.  It's a bizarre peach.  Nuclear peach.  This pair of mittens made barely a dent.  The other pair gave me trouble after trouble.  I have a few small balls of mainly multicolours, and none of them really "go" with anything else.  But when you're five, and your hands are cold and there's still 20 minutes of recess, you can't be too picky!

One day, a boy asked for the pair of fish mittens.  I did not understand why he said they looked like a fish (he was talking about the blue and grey ones).  Then, I was stacking these green ones, and realized they DO look like a fish.  I put the thumb at the top, but my daughter said the thumb should be at the bottom.

 See it now?  LOL!!  This multicolour yarn left my fingers purple.  I was going to wash them before I took them in to school, but forgot!  Then I forgot to take them this morning, and we're having a very snowy day.  I'm not doing laundry tonight, so we'll see what happens!

Yarn In: 918gr
Yarn Out: 105gr + 3063gr = 3168gr
Balance:  2250gr more USED than bought
Costs:  43.09/47days = $0.92/day

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I was asked to make two more mermaid cocoons, just like here, but the size of the smaller of the two.  And a bit wider at the bottom.  And bigger tails.

As I mentioned in my last post, I hadn't written anything down.  So, once again, I was blowing up pictures and counting stitches.  This time I wrote it all down.  Including the new tail design. 

If the pictures look fuzzy or small, click on them and look at them through the Blogger picture viewer.

 When I first  started this blog, we'd had a digital camera only a few months.  I took pictures because, well, this is a knitting blog and if you can't see what I'm talking about, what's the point.  When I first started TracyKM Designs, I was doing some newborn photography props, so I didn't worry too much about my own photos because I knew I'd have some awesome, "real" photos to share.  But not all my orders were for photo props, or weren't custom ordered (they were things I made up in hopes of selling).  I had the basics of good photography, but hadn't done actual product photography.  It's been a fun journey.  There are times I get frustrated by having to wait for the perfect lighting outside (not too bright, not too overcast), and times I get cold, or it's taking too long, or I'm stumped by composition or design.  I liked the trick of using heavy invisible fishing line in my last mermaid cocoon pictures, but I hate our deck as the flooring.  I got some laminate floor to put together, but it hasn't happened yet.  And even though it was thick line, it wasn't quite strong enough to support these cocoons.

The benefit of dabbling in sewing is that I have collected quite a bit of fabric.  I started searching and saw this golden sand coloured piece and knew I had to use it.  However, the cocoon was a bit too big.  I wasn't thrilled about scrunching up the cocoon to get it to fit, although I thought it actually added to the lines of the composition.  Looking at the photos now, (I had to crop them as the fabric wasn't quite wide enough), I'm very happy!  Curving the cocoon seems to add a bit of "movement" to the photo.  Draws you down, through the photo. 
I wish I could offer photography for other crafters.  I cringe when I see Facebook pages with blurry, dark, crowded, or distracted photos.  I don't have fancy equipment, so I'm not a "real" photographer.  I don't have a light box, or a studio.  I also know that other crafters tend to be just as broke as I am LOL.

This is the new tail design.  I don't want to give away all the secrets :) I kept thinking of using short rows because I wanted more width across the middle, but not at the top.  You don't see short rows in crochet very much, but I realized one night what you do see, is the different stitch heights used to their advantage.  That's all I'll say :)

Yarn In: 918gr
Yarn Out: 889gr + 890gr + 1284gr = 3063
Balance:  2145gr more USED than bought
Costs:  43.09/41days = $1.05/day

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Benefits of Being Organized

So often when I get an order, I think it's going to be the only one of it's kind.  So, I don't do much about keeping track of what I did.  Even with this blog, I often forget to mention what hook/needles I used, or what size it was.

I had those two mermaid cocoons before Christmas, and the client wanted two more, the same size as the smaller of the first two.  I had to enlarge the pictures I took and try to figure out how many stitches I used.  I settled on 50 as that was a nice number LOL.  This time, as I crocheted the first one, I kept markers on all the decreases.  I worked on the tail and hated it.  She wanted it bigger, but I really didn't know how big the other one was, and I wasn't 100% thrilled with the shaping on it.

When I started the second cocoon, I wrote down how I did the first one!  Imagine that, I just had to follow along with my notes!

I recreated the tail, remembering that instead of short rowing in crochet, you can use the height of the various stitches to their advantage.  I didn't write down what I was doing as I went along, and tried to figure it out for the second half of the tail, and wrote it down as I went.  Then I did the second tail.  And wouldn't you know it, the tails look nearly identical! (I made a simple error on the second one that changed it a bit).

I just weighed them to get them ready for pick up, and despite being massive (nearly 900gr each, or two pounds), there was only 1 GRAM difference between the two!!  I like it when I impress myself LOL!

Stay tuned for photos!  We've got the computer running well again, but now to use picmonkey to add my watermarks, I have to upgrade Flash.  One thing at a time!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Red #1

When Mary Anne Oger ("MAO") posted the pattern for a red scarf for AIDS Awareness Week, last fall, I didn't really pay attention.  I was busy!  Then she posted about challenging herself, and her readers, to create 10 scarves for this year's campaign.  Mmmm...that seemed interesting!  I have a cone of a fine red yarn that just hasn't found the right projects.  I tried a tank top, back in my earlier days of using the standard gauge machine, but got bored and ripped it back into balls.  I thought it might be the perfect thickness for this new scarf.  Or, I could use it doubled, since I had a cone and several wound balls.  I started with it single strand, and that seemed to work fine.

I worked through the first ball, struggling with the cast on instructions, and changing all the settings so much!  I would forget one of the four things each time I got to the zig zag row--if I remembered to stop for it when the row counter was at multiples of 20-2!

I got to the end of the first ball, and the knitting was not the prettiest, but I felt like I was getting it.  Somehow, half the knitting dropped off!  It was an omen to start over and do it better!

 The yarn had been used previously, obviously, and although it had been balled up for quite a while, it still knitted with a bit of a waviness.
I steamed the ends, just to see how it would look, and there was much improvement.  I decided to wash the scarf in the machine, as I was doing laundry and the basement is a dust bowl right now.  Once it came out, I was a bit surprised to see it wasn't totally smooth (above).  I even hung it before it was fully dry, hoping for gravity to help.  Plus, I thought I did my calculations based on it being 6ft long and now it was only 62" long!  I stretched and steamed and got it to 64"  Then I went back to the pattern and the blog and saw it was supposed to be 6x60".  Phew!

 I decided to steam the whole scarf, and it looks so much better.  Almost "commercial"!  This picture shows the bottom half steamed smooth and the top half just with being washed.  My edges seemed uneven but I noticed that it was just where the zig zag rows are.  This is a clever design for scarves...knit as a tube, but with zig zag rows that connect both sides, every 20th row.  So, it can't twist and will always lay flat.

However, it barely made a dent in the red yarn (which isn't a soft and snuggly yarn, but a more dressier yarn)!  Good thing there's 9 more scarves to go!!

Yarn In: 918gr
Yarn Out: 68gr + 1216gr = 1284gr
Balance:  366gr more USED than bought
Costs:  43.09/34days = $1.27/day

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

How to Alter Knitting Patterns

So often in knitting books, they tell you simply to add more stitches to make an item wider.  They don't really get into actually fitting knitted garments, because "knitting stretches and is forgiving".  Wanna bet that was written by a man, or a B cup lady?

Ever chose your sweater size based on the chest size (often the only measurement given), knit up the item and been so disappointed?  You check the measurement--yup, it's 42" around.  You check yourself--yup, you're still 40" around.  So why is it sagging in the back and stretched thin over your chest?

Do a quick check.  Circle your chest with a tape measure, with the 0 at a side seam.  Go around your back and note what it says at the other side seam.  Continue over your bust, and note the finished 40".  Was your back measurement half of that?  No?  Your back was 16"?  So that would make your front 24"?  Look at your sweater.  The back and front are both 21".  The designer assumed you were shaped like a 0 but really, like most women, you're shaped like a D.  The extra width in the back just sags, while the knitting is forced to stretch 3" extra across the front, before accounting for any ease (which should have been one inch, so really, it should have stretched 4").  This is a lot to expect of many yarns!

Here is a step by step guide to getting started on fixing this common fitting issue!

Step 1) Measure the "Upper Bust"--around the chest, tight under the armpits, above the breasts. So don't wear your sexiest push up bra. Wear whatever you expect to wear under the garment you're making.
Step 2) Have a friend measure from the shoulder seam to where you want the bottom to be. Mark this with a pin on your side.
Step 3) Have friend measure your front length, from same point on shoulder, over the fullest point of the bust, to the same length as marked on your side. If it's close fitting, bring the tape measure in to reflect that (not too much, but an inch can change it from a fitted look to an oversized look).
Step 4) while doing step 3, mark where the bust point is and how far down from shoulder.
Step 5) Measure from side seam to side seam across the bust point. Also measure how far apart the bust points are
Step 6) Measure from back side seam to back side seam

The difference between 2) and 1) tells you how much to add in short rows.

The difference between 5) and 6) tells you how much bigger your front is and you can use this to compare with 1). If they are close (half of the measurement in 1 or twice the measure of 6)) then simply choose the size that corresponds to that and add short rows for the front length. If there is a bigger size difference than what the natural stretch of knitting will allow (or if you're knitting a non-stretchy pattern/yarn), then you can play with front width. If you have a belly and no butt/hips, I would automatically go with a larger front size. Compare the bust/waist/hip measurements on the schematic to see how it compares to you. 

If you need a larger front size, you can reduce the short rows somewhat. 

You'll need to cast off under the arms and make the arm shaping decrease so that by the time you get to the shoulder seam, (using the armhole depth of the smaller size), you have the same number of stitches as the smaller size. Depending on the neck design, use the numbers for the smaller size.   Often, the depth of the armhole can be shortened a smidge too.  Often, the patterns get upsized all over, and busty girls aren't necessarily bigger in the arms.

Of course, there is much fine tuning that can be done to these guidelines. Making a "sloper" or a "block" of a basic shape that fits you, in a plain yarn that is typical of what you use, can really help cut down design time in the future. Then transfer all the info to a paper pattern for the knit radar/knit leader/knit contour.

This is a very basic starter guide, to teach when to use just short rows and when to knit the front a larger size.  Even just adding short rows to the front can make a big difference, but mostly if your front and back are close in size.  However, you really should knit the back to fit your back and your front to fit your front.  A person who is "just" busty can get away with making the size to match the upper bust but adding short rows.  

A great site to learn more about adding short rows to shape the length of the front is  This basic pattern could become your sloper as it'd be easy to see where you need to make other changes.  Also take a look at sewing websites about fitting.  A sewing designer would never make the front and back of a piece equal!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Not Too Sure....

My desktop computer is dieing. (Apparently that's not a word?).  The computer is not too bad, but it's so old Chrome won't provide updates, Firefox tells me almost every site is unsafe, it can't keep up with the high speed internet.  I tried Blogger on Firefox, but I couldn't find anywhere to sign in or make a new post.  When I've tried to blog using Safari on the iPad, it hasn't worked.  I've downloaded the Blogger app and will try this.  I don't see anywhere to customize things though.  It'll have to do for now.  If you follow me on Instagram (TracyKM Designs), I'll be doing a post-a-day challenge for February.

Here's that picture:
See....I can't find how to centre it, make it bigger, add a caption, or the text that appears when you hover on the picture.

Another pair of size 4-6 mittens for my kindie kids I supervise at lunch.  Not much to say.  33gr of Patons "Decor".  I added the grey stripes because the blue ball weighed in at 32gr.  I have a small ball left, I'll just toss it in the bag with the rest. Slowly, slowly, the stash is being reduced!  I'm giving away some more yarn today!

Yarn In: 918gr
Yarn Out: 35gr + 1181gr = 1216gr
Balance:  298gr more USED than bought
Costs:  43.09/days = $1.27/day