Monday, January 30, 2017

The Last Thing

Many years ago I knit my husband a pair of "tipless" gloves, in charcoal Decor, all in ribbing. He was doubtful at first, but soon fell in love. Last year he let our son use them for his job (time keeping a men's hockey league--he has to be able to write down player's names for the goals).  All was well until this fall when Hugh lost one. And apparently I don't have have anymore charcoal Decor. Since they couldn't really share one pair of gloves anyway, and we bought Hugh two pairs at a store (gasp! Double gasp cause I went back and bought Rob the same two pairs LOL!)....I opted to make Rob a brand new pair, in 100% wool this time. Dark black.

Once they were done, I thought the "cuff" were too short. I got bored and started the thumb gusset too soon. I kept thinking, "I should be doing this on the SK155" but then saying, no, cause then I have to seam them, and it's tedious with the fingers, and actually, it would be difficult to do the fingers. But really, next time, I think I will do up to the base of the pinky on the machine next time. Even after washing, the wool felt a little too "utilitarian".  I picked up stitches from the top row of the higher red band, on the inside, and knit a ribbed cuff in 100% alpaca. It does't extend too far past the bottom of the glove but it's still enough to ensure they're long enough.

See the odometer? 177 529km. His truck is a 2010 (I think, could be 2011). Mine is a 2001 and has only 266 564km. Crazy!

I do not have a weight for these (or at least I can't find it). I think he's afraid to bring them into the house in case they don't go back out LOL.  So, I'm estimating. They weren't entirely done by Dec 31, but the intent was there. If they weren't black, I probably would have had them finished LOL!  Wow, I'm trying to find the original ones on my blog, and I found a pair I made for me, Dec 18, 2006. In the post I saw I made a pair for Rob "a couple years ago". Whoa. I had no idea it was that long ago--pre-blog. Those poor gloves of mine.  Got frozen into a snowbank near where I picked the kids up from school, had to wait till spring to get it out, then I found one in a puddle of slush in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Hadn't even realized I had lost it and incredibly I had parked in the same spot. Unfortunately, there was only one.

These are 2016 totals:

Yarn In:    11 223gr
Yarn Out: 95gr + 11 098gr= 11 193gr
Balance:  30gr more bought than used
Costs:  $507.27 /366 days = $1.38/day

I ended up with a 30gr surplus?!  Not fair! I'll do a more detailed yearly comparison later. I've got work to do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I LOVE getting custom orders for unique items. Usually they start out as a question--"Is it possible to make....".  With over 20 years experience, I have a lot of knowledge to draw on.  Crochet vs Knit? Wool? Machine Knit or Hand Knit? Design? Stitches?

One day I saw a post in our local "HomeMADE" Facebook group. A woman had injured her wrist badly and was going to be in various splints for quite a while. She couldn't find anything to keep her hand warm (and it was quite cold that week!). I immediately sprung on it, knowing that making a mitten in ribbing would be awesome. I thought maybe I could even felt the hand portion, leaving the ribbing unfelted. She wanted purple and grey and the only wool that I had both purple and grey in was Moda Dea's "Washable Wool".  Which most likely wouldn't felt due to it's chained structure. Oh well.

I got to work swatching on the SK155. Then, I couldn't find my copy of Ann Budd's calculations for mittens! So, I went with what I knew from my 20 years experience (lady's mitten, worsted yarn, 20st/4", Cast on 40sts).  I used T3 for the ribbing and T2 for the stockinette. And why did I knit the hand flat when I have a ribber and could have knit it in the round? Ummm. Habit? Well, this is a real "D'oh" moment. Especially since I struggled a bit to get the seaming of the stripes looking good!

After I got part way through the first one I remembered that I had scanned the pattern. Well, I couldn't find the pages with the calculations, but I could find the schematic page so I worked out the rest of the numbers from that.

The second mitt, I cast on 50st instead of 40 and kept the ribbing going up to the top of the thumb separation, and on the thumb, because her thumb was strapped down next to her hand, though there was space between the thumb and the hand. I had trouble increasing in the ribbing for the thumb and it doesn't look all that great along the seam.  The seam on the normal mitten is at the non-thumb side, which means I did all the thumb increasing in the middle of the piece and moved all the stitches (one side only) outwards. I just love this type of thumb gusset. I also kept the right thumb in ribbing to stretch easily over the splint.

The mitten feels a bit loose on me but I do prefer snug mittens. And it's not knit as tightly as I would have liked. But she needed it ASAP!  And, as luck would have it, she couldn't pick up for a few days and the weather turned warm. Hopefully, with it hovering around 0C now, she can make use of them.

Yarn In:  120gr
Yarn Out: 96gr + 327gr = 423gr
Balance: 303gr more USED than in
Costs: $7.91/25 days = $0.32 per day

Monday, January 23, 2017


Just after Christmas, there was a post in a Facebook group I'm in, for a woman looking for a satin lined, wool slouchy hat. A few people posted they had slouchy hats but no one said anything about the satin lined part. I asked why she wanted satin lining and mentioned some drawbacks (satin doesn't stretch, it might feel cold). She shared a link about how the satin protects the hair fiber from rubbing on the wool fibers and creating damage.

I thought this was interesting. Sock knitters often say that wearing wool socks on carpet will wear them out quickly. Makes sense. We chatted and I sent her some samples of brown wool yarn, and she picked this random skein of "Topsy Wool" that I had. I don't know where it came from, but I think Value Village. I know I could look back on my blog but I don't even know what year LOL. I also had some brown satin.  I did a swatch on the SK155 and got to work. The first attempt wasn't quite right, shape-wise. So I went even simpler with the crown decreasing.

Then I cut some satin to sew into the inner hat, trying to shape the top a bit so it wouldn't be bunchy inside. Somehow, it didn't fit. So I cut another one. It fit better, but I would have still liked it a bit looser in case her head was bigger than average.  I sewed it on using a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine, lining up with the top of the ribbing. I was impressed with how well the wool hid the stitching. I really thought it would look bad!

I like the end result. The ribbed band feels a little loose, but it might just be because the satin feels tight. She says it fits. The wool fluffed up nicely after washing, though it is still a more "rustic" yarn. I'd definitely use it again, especially for mittens.  I used 95gr for the hat, and the skeins are 113gr.  If anyone wants more detail on the pattern, let me know, but basically, I just swatched and worked the numbers :)

Yarn In:  120gr
Yarn Out: 95gr + 232gr = 327gr
Balance: 207gr more USED than in
Costs: $7.91/23 days = $0.34 per day

Thursday, January 19, 2017

They Keep Coming

I was really on a roll over Christmas, finishing up things and creating new things. The kids were in school until just before Christmas, so we had pretty much TWO weeks after Christmas to relax. Lots of knitting time!

I had worked on the two "Work Socks" hats and thought a scarf would be cool. I decided to use up the grey worsted weight yarn I had tried to use for the messy bun version of the hat. I set up for a 2x2 rib. For white, I grabbed some Impeccable and for the red...I saw this red sequined yarn in my stash! Adorable. I was going to do only two rows of red but changed it to four. However, I wish there were more sequins showing. I used up every bit of the grey I had. I've had it a long time, it was a Sears yarn. Really. Back in the old days, Sears had it's own yarn!

It doesn't match the hat exactly, but that's okay. Not every one want to be matchy-matchy. They're available separately.

My husband and I had a movie night in for my birthday (we watched The Hangover. It's all I had recorded that he wanted to see. We hadn't seen it and he thought it was awesome. I somewhat agree LOL). I was having a hard time grafting the ends of the scarf. I knew how to do it but I had that problem with the offset. I gave up and just started grafting. Then, 3/4 of the way across, suddenly, one of the knit columns of 2 sts lined up. I didn't know how I did it, but since it could obviously be done, I had to start over. And over. And over. In the end, one side looks pretty good but the other side has a few blips. Steamed it because there was a bit of edge roll, even with the ribbing.

Yarn In:  120gr
Yarn Out: 80gr + 152gr  = 232gr
Balance: 112gr more USED than in
Costs: $7.91/19 days = $0.40 per day

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


How can you NOT be happy with this bright green cowl, with a green glitter strand?!

I was on a roll between New Years and the return to school. My bulky knitting machine, the Singer SK155 was behaving and I was determined to crank out a few things. I had gone into my storage area for something else, and this bright green yarn jumped at me and insisted on being used. I totally hadn't planned on it. I ended up making three scarves on the knitting machine, but I'm not sure now which came first.

Which one of the tuck rib ones I did first, I did have to do some playing around. I think I did a red one first and I'll show it soon.  In the end, I think I chose the same set up I used here.  And in reading that, I see the pattern was in the ribber manual. Life would have been easier if I had remembered any of this (that I had used it previously and that, even better, it was in the manual).  This time, I was putting the needles into/out of hold position by yeah.  Maybe I should read my own blog?

 I know, this picture shows the hat more than the scarf. It ended up rather short, so it's a single loop.I made sure it would be wider to compensate for the shorter length.  Lots of steam to get it flat and I hope it stays that way.
I just scrolled back in my blog. I'm saddened to see some of the yarns I got rid of (many I gave away, some I sold). I wrote I was thrilled to give away a large ball of "Impeccable" in bright Christmas green. Well, wouldn't you know I used that same colour several times last year for Christmas stockings? This is why I hate getting rid of yarn. You just never know when the perfect project will come along. This green yarn--I bought it in April 2013. Which isn't really all that long ago. But it's still neat to  see how long it had to marinate before being used.

Yarn In:  120gr
Yarn Out: 62gr + 90gr = 152gr
Balance: 32gr more USED than in
Costs: $7.91/18 days = $0.44 per day

Monday, January 16, 2017


I still have one item to show for last year's projects (even though I did finish it a few days after News Year's, the intent was to have had it finished last year!), but I also need to get moving on to this year's totals!

After I crocheted the messy bun work sock hat I knew I had to make a real hat in the same design. I bought the yarn before the end of last year, but I don't think I had this done before New Year's. Isn't it fun? The pompom is huge, although Lucy said it should have been randomly speckled the three colours instead of rings/spot. I didn't really know how it would turn out but I didn't want speckled.  It was made with Loops & Thread "Charisma", a total of 90gr.

I also bought this "Knit a Hat" kit from a discount store here (Giant Tiger...better than a dollar store but not huge like Wal Mart). Came with knitting needles (cable), a faux fur pompom and a 120gr ball of "Home Styles"  "Hat knitting Yarn". 100% acrylic. My daughter picked out a light grey though I liked some of the other colours. Some pompoms didn't really match the yarn though. It was $7, so a little high for one ball of yarn, and I don't need more needles, but I like that it has the pompom and I don't have to go searching for one.

Yarn In:  120gr
Yarn Out: 90gr
Balance: 30gr more IN than out
Costs: $7.91/16 days = $0.49 per day

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Something Totally Different!

What? Yes, it's a mitten. Yes, I post about mittens nearly every week.

But this time, I did two colours per row instead of stripes! I wanted a thicker fabric, but not the hassle of needing a Fair Isle chart.

My first concern--increasing for the gusset. Keep it in pattern, or....just simple stripes. Then, decreasing for the top. I opted to keep the decrease lines in one colour, though on one side they're brown, on the other side, they're pink.

Then the thumb. I figured the only thing to do is continue the vertical stripes. 

The mittens are nice and dense, especially after washing. They are not, however, bigger than the other mittens which was one other goal. Many kids say the other wool mittens are too small--but I think it's because they're used to the big ski mittens.

The first girl to wear these mittens went digging in the frozen sandbox.  I nearly cried. But she was happy and her hands were warm, so that's what matters!

I didn't have them quite finished for Dec 31, but the intent was there :)  I also bought two more balls of Charisma for another "work sock" hat. I wanted to wait till after Jan 1, but it was on sale for $2.50 a ball!

Yarn In:   200gr + 11 123gr = 11 223gr
Yarn Out: 36gr + 11 062gr =11 098gr
Balance:  125gr more bought than used
Costs:   $5.65 + $501.62=$507.27 /366 days = $1.38/day

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Messy Buns!

So, shortly before Christmas, Facebook and the internet got blown up by a photo of a lovely "messy bun" hat in subtle jewel shades. Ponytail hats are nothing new, but this time, the opening was smack dab at the top, for buns and high ponytails. I let people know I would not be taking orders before Christmas but I'd look into it for after Christmas.  One of my Christmas clients wanted one and then asked for a "work sock" style one.

Not a lot to say about this. I used some left over Charisma from the Azel pullovers, and the white is two strands Impeccable, the red is mystery wool. Crochet from the opening downwards, I did use a hair elastic at the start so it could stretch over a bun. Speaking of my wig head's "bun"? LOL. A ball of brown mohair!

I had originally started this in a worsted weight yarn but it just wasn't looking right. After quite a few attempts I ditched that and had this made up almost instantly. Sometimes I love crochet.

Yarn In:    11 123gr
Yarn Out: 67gr + 10 995gr = 11 062
Balance:  61gr more bought than used
Costs:    $501.62 /366 days = $1.37/day

Monday, January 09, 2017

Azel Pullover

This pattern, the Azel Pullover, was all over the internet this past fall. Everyone wanted one. I didn't solicit orders, but I figured if any came my way I'd look into it. Perhaps it could be done on the bulky knitting machine. Then one day, my dad sent me an ad in his local Facebook buy and sell group from a woman looking to get two made--for her daughter and granddaughter. It's a little over two hours to my parents' but I figured I'm there often, or I meet them halfway, that certainly something would work out. I looked into the pattern, looked up the yarn and gave a quote. Well, she actually wanted two lady's small/medium and two girls' 5/7! Okay, no problem. I went to get the suggested yarn. It didn't come in both colours she wanted. So I substituted another one, and had to go all over the store to different displays to get enough in the dyelots for the larger size.

I got home and started swatching on the SK155. I couldn't seem to wrap my head around it, but it appeared that to hand manipulate the ribbing to make it look like the pattern, I'd have to manipulate the ribber stitches. Nope. Not going to happen. I could do it all on the mainbed and convert the stitches every other row, including the edge stitch. Blech. I swatched and swatched and my machine was not happy with this yarn (Loops & Threads "Charisma"). Eventually, I settled on T9* and every other needle. It was still not as loose as the gauge in the pattern. However, I really felt that if it were looser, the fabric would be too loose to do anything for keeping you warm, and would likely stretch a lot (which might be why just about everyone thinks the pattern length for the 5/7 size is too short--the poncho will stretch quite a bit once worn!). So, I had to do some recalculating. And I decided to do just the stockinette portion on the machine, and the bottom and side bands I would handknit. And hey--I could even add in some reflective yarn since I had some that matched!

But I couldn't find the turquoise reflective yarn! I knew I had some. So I went to the store that sells it and they didn't have any in that colour. Went to Wal-mart, who used to sell it, and the whole yarn row was a total mess. Nothing there. Searched online, found a place...turquoise not in stock. Found another place with it in stock so I ordered on line. My timeline was getting pushed back further and further.

The SK155 was not a happy machine. According to my calculations, due to needing every other needle, I couldn't fit the 5/7 size on the mainbed. I would have to do U shaped knitting, which I'd never actually done (I'd done circular, which is a little labour intensive on the SK155). I muddled through the first poncho, not happy with my machine, the yarn (splits!), me, whatever. It should have been an easy knit, but it wasn't.

I don't remember if I did the second size 5/7 or an adult one next, but it went smoothly. When I did the second 5/7, I realized that I could actually get it all on the mainbed, though I would be short two stitches, I think. I didn't care at this point.
The reflective stripes in the band are barely noticeable until light hits it

For the bands, I cast on for the front, forgot the button holes on nearly every one, did two rows plain, two rows reflective (and repeat) then after doing the band, I grafted it to the stockinette piece, leaving the side bands free. I thought I would attach as I go, but it didn't seem to work out. Along the sides, I used the reflective yarn on the edge stitch only. Then I knitted the sides, sewing them on as I went every few inches, then picked up the stitches on the end of the stockinette, and knit the bottom band. For the first 5/7 size, and I think the first adult one, I did the really nice tubular grafting cast off. I don't think it made much difference--stretchiness isn't important there, so I didn't bother for the others.

I shaped the necklines on the front parts. The pattern has it as just a straight slit across the shoulders. This makes the cowl sit very high, and combined with the long length of it, it seems a little overwhelming (many knitters in various groups complained about the cowl being too high).

Some how, the adult grey one ended up a bit wider than the teal. I must of forgotten to take off the number of stitches for the side bands. I don't know. I was not enjoying these anymore.
You can barely see the reflective yarn!

Button shopping. First up, I forgot to take the pattern with me, so I miscalculated how many buttons I needed. I added up 28, but really, I needed 32. And there were not enough buttons for both teal ponchos  to match. When I went to sew them on, I realized my counting error. Luckily, because of the buttons being 3 per card, I went from having a surplus to being short only two. For the two adult sized ponchos, I used one of my metal tags as a button. It doesn't totally work, but it was the best I could do.
The reflective yarn along the edge looks like little beads when the light hits it!

I was then running out of time. I had other orders I was also trying to get finished, and life kept throwing things at me--my stove died, so I lost a few evenings going stove shopping. Sick kid. Things like that. Weekends were busier than expected, I wasn't done them when I met up with my parents halfway, then we had a family Christmas party but I still wasn't done them and we ended up not going because of weather. She wanted to meet the next day, half way between us. I wasn't done! I explained that I wasn't from there (I thought she knew that) and that due to after school activities I couldn't do Monday. So, we met up on Wednesday before Christmas. She's actually from almost 30min past my parents' place, so it was nice she was flexible on meeting me.

After I had started knitting, I went back for more yarn, and I think I did end up needing it for the cowls (couldn't match all the dyelots again!). But I still ended up with a lot of the grey left. The two small ones were 424gr and 411gr each, and the big ones were 657gr and 751gr each, for a grand total of 2243gr. However, I had a lot of yarn left over so this certainly was not a stash buster! I ended up buying  26 balls of the grey and teal, and 5 of the reflective yarns!

Yarn In:    3100gr +8023gr= 11 123gr
Yarn Out: 2244gr +8752gr= 10 995gr
Balance:  128gr more BOUGHT than used
Costs:   $149.76 + $351.86= $501.62 /366 days = $1.37/day

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Wool For Kids

Yesterday in a knitting group online, a woman said wool shouldn't be used for kids' items because it can't be washed.
All wool can be washed. Many wool yarns are treated so they can easily be machine washed, and many other wool yarns can be gently washed in the machine as well.
I am a lunch supervisor in a kindergarten division (90+ kids) and I've been knitting (and sewing) wool mittens to have on hand for "emergencies". I have found that once kids try wool mittens (getting them to trust them, over the expensive store bought gloves from home, is the big hurdle), they love them. The keys are to knit them tightly and wash before use so that the spinning oils are removed and the yarn blooms. You can even do a lanolin soak for extra waterproofness.
Striped patterns don't give any extra thickness, but Fair Isle or vertical stripes can also make them more dense. This little pair, about a size 5-6, weigh only 23gr. So, I can usually get 4 pairs of mittens from one 100gr skein of wool, which is under $10. Of course, I rarely make them all one colour LOL. The problem with selling these though, is they're still time consuming compared to the simplicity of how they long. They really don't take all that long, but at 3x material cost, selling these for $7.50 is an insult. Even at $20, it's hard to feel financially rewarded.
But the joy on a kids' face when they come in from lunch and hand me back soggy mittens and say "My hands are still warm"? Priceless!

Yarn In:    8023gr
Yarn Out:   23gr + 8729gr =8752gr
Balance:  729gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $351.86 /366 days = $0.96/day