Monthly Archives: November 2014

So Yesterday was Black Friday

If you were out participating in that full-body contact sport known as Black Friday, I hope you got everything you were looking for. I hope you didn’t need medical attention by the end of the day. I hope you didn’t find yourself spending an eternity in a place like this:

blackfriday4

…and I hope you bought something for yourself while you were at it.

You didn’t did you? I knew it. That’s why I put together a (short) list of things you might not realize you really need.

Continue reading So Yesterday was Black Friday

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll admit I’ve been looking forward to recommending this pattern and I almost could not wait until turkey day.

Sexy Turkey Hat – CROCHET PATTERN

Sad because its a crochet pattern and you don’t crochet? Cheer up! Knitters get a Sexy Turkey Hat too.

Sexy Turkey Hat – Knitting Pattern

 

Happy Thanksgiving Crafters!

Warming A Cold Shoulder – A capelet in handspun

You know that feeling you have when a finished project comes out exactly the way you imagined it would? Its great. I don’t get that feeling very often. But I did this time.

I took the 300 yds of bulky weight yarn I spun up from Northern Lights Wool Top in colorway Violets (big thank-you to the people at Louet!) and made a capelet.  Its really just a top-down raglan sleeve cardigan that never made it to the sleeve stage. The pattern I used, if you can even call it that, is at the end of this post. Be sure to use that handy “print & PDF” button.

Continue reading Warming A Cold Shoulder – A capelet in handspun

A Real Stand-Up Scarf – pattern included

I’ve been making crochet scarfs for a pair of friends that were, ahh, not prepared for chilly weather to roll in. It seemed to take them by complete surprise, as if winter wasn’t an annual thing. So I made scarfs and collected the resulting gratitude. I let these two guys think I had labored over the making of them.

Ha.

Crochet + Bulky weight yarn + N hook = a super quick project

But let’s just keep that between us.

To make these babies go even faster, I implemented the crocheter’s secret weapon… the treble crochet stitch. Love trebles. Not only are they fast and big, they add a drape-y-ness that crochet often lacks. The only problem is the turning chain. I don’t like the chain 4. It’s messy and makes the edge uneven. Those chain 4’s pokes me right in the eye. Even if I do the “let the turning chain act act the stitch” trick, I still don’t like it.

Which is why I do a standing treble instead of a chain 4. I substitute standing doubles for turning chains too. For half doubles and singles, ehhh, it doesn’t seem worth the trouble. But those rows of taller stitches look messy with turning chains, at least to me.

Here is how I do a standing treble:

(I’m aware that there are approximately one zillion videos on yoube showing the same thing. But all the ones I could find were too talky. I like videos that are short and just show you what you want to know.)

 

Here is how it looks in the scarf. Its not an exact match with the other stitches but its much closer than a turning chain and that’s why I like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pattern I used for my scarfs is dead simple. A standing treble is the only interesting thing in it. Still, sometimes you need a fast and brainless project. This fits that need nicely I think!


 

Yarn: 150 yds (140 m) of any bulky weight yarn. I used one skein of very old, very discontinued Chunky USA Lionbrand.

Hook: Size N (10 mm)

 Abbreviations

  • hdc = half double crochet
  • tr = treble crochet
  • hdc2tog = half double crochet two together (Yarn over, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, 3 loops on hook.  Yarn over hook, insert hook into next stitch, pull up a loop, 5 loops on hook. Yarn over hook, pull through all 5 loops on hook)

To start: ch 3, turn and work hdc in 3rd chain from hook

Increase Section

Row 1: ch2, work 3 hdc into stitch (3 sts)

Row 2: ch 2, work 2 hdc in the first stitch, hdc in next, work 2 hdc in last stitch (5 sts)

Row 3: ch 2, work 2 hdc in the first stitch, hdc in each of next 3 sts, work 2 hdc in last stitch (7 sts)

Row 4: ch 2, work 2 hdc in the first stitch, hdc in each of next 5 sts, work 2 hdc in last stitch (9 sts)

Row 5: ch 2, work 2 hdc in the first stitch, hdc in each of next 7 sts, work 2 hdc in last stitch (11 sts)

Body of scarf

Row 1: tr in each stitch (11 stitches)  The standing treble counts as one of the 11.

Row 2 – 4:  ch2, hdc in each stitch (11 sts)

Repeat Rows 1 – 4 until the scarf is long enough. Or until you are almost out of yarn.  Or until you are just sick of it. Then do Row 1 once more.

Decrease Section

Row 1: ch 2, hdc2tog, hdc in each of next 7 sts, hdc2tog (9 sts)

Row 2: ch 2, hdc2tog, hdc in each of next 5 sts, hdc2tog (7 sts)

Row 3: ch 2, hdc2tog, hdc in each of next 3 sts, hdc2tog (5 sts)

Row 4: ch 2, hdc2tog, hdc in next, hdc2tog (3 sts)

Row 5: ch 2, hdc all 3 stitches together (which isn’t a “real” stitch but its what I did, lol) (1 sts)

Secure that last stitch and sew in the ends. Add mandatory optional tassels.


If you are looking for a way to take this pattern with you, check out the handy “Print & PDF” button down there on the left. And check out our other free patterns. You might find something else you like.

Sunday Round-Up

The weather was yucky and so I got lots and lots done!

The weather here in Austin has been pretty cruddy recently but not so cruddy that we’ve earned the right to complain. Much. For huge swaths of North America its been bad. It’s been so bad that the news people were using words like “snowmageddon”.

We didn’t have snowmageddon in my little corner of the universe. We just had a long string of cold, dark, wet days with some righteous flash flooding.  It was the kind of weather that makes a person stay indoors and watch re-runs of The Big Bang Theory and play with yarn. Which I did.

Today the sun came out and so I hauled my stuff outside, blinking like a cave dweller in the bright light, and took some pictures. Some of these projects will get posts of their own, real posts that they don’t have to share with the other projects. I promise.

 

A pointless crocheted rock sweater made for one of my craft group. They support me in all my craziness up to and including making sweaters for rocks.

 

 

A blue scarf made double-quick for a friend who was not prepared for the yucky weather to roll in. There is no pattern for this one… yet. But I made the mistake of

a) showing the scarf off a few friends

and

b) showing the scarf off to my goggle circles.

 

The result of all that careless bragging was that I agreed to make another scarf for a friend …

… and write up the pattern. I’ll get that done and post it this week. Pinkie-swear!

 

I finished ten whole rows on My Mary Lennox. Ten. Whole. Rows.

Then I wasted at least half on hour trying to convince myself that I didn’t really need to do the last ten which the pattern calls for. But I do. No, really I do. I tried to bully one of my knit students into giving me permission to just be done and bind off. Sadly I’m not very good at bullying and I now I have to do every row of the last section.  Life is hard sometimes.

 

Last but not least, I finished off the capelet in Violets.

I love it. Love, love, love it. Could not be happier. It’s made from the yarn I spun and described in Spinning Violets. This baby will definitely be getting her own post. It’s made using top-down raglan sleeve construction and so easy I’m not sure you can even call it a pattern. But even so, I did take notes while I was knitting it (the members of my craft group fuss at me when I don’t) and I’ll be including instructions on how to make one of your own for anyone who loves it too and wants one.

Also… I made a leaf. Again. I’m still on a leaf kick. You can’t ever have too many knitted leaves, right?

 

That’s all of it! Not a bad bit of progress. And if we get another week or so of miserable weather I betcha I even get Mary Lennox finished and done.

 

Maybe.

Destroyer of Good Yarn

Someone in my google circles was complaining in an amazed sort of way that her cat only makes a mess of good quality yarn. She didn’t understand why her fur-baby had skipped right over the acrylic and murdered the 100% wool.

Duh.

Cats only like the good stuff. If yarn companies decided to manufacture a line of yarn, and market it strictly for cats, it would be wool. Or baby alpaca.  Or cashmere. Or silk. It would be of all natural fibers, hand dyed, hand spun, and really freaking expensive. That’s what they like. That’s all they like.

I’ve shown the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord in all her havoc wreaking glory plenty of times. If you read this blog, then you know how awesome she is and mucking up yarn-y things. But Cowardly Boy Cat does have his moments. He may be the back-up kitty around here but he does have his pride and he has done his duty and murdered more than one ball of yarn.

Here was his first kill. One day a few years ago I came home and found him like this:

Aww how sweet right? That was a skein of Manos Del Uruguay Classic Wool in colorway mandarin. He did more than tangle it all up. He’d chewed it into 18 pieces. Which is funny because I think I paid $18 for it.

Well, that was the end of happy-go-lucky-Jenn. With two (two!) marauding felines on the loose in my home I never, ever left good yarn out on my bed again. Or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve been playing defense ever since.

That poor lady, the one on google who lost her good yarn to a bad kitty… she’ll learn. She too will start hiding her good yarn in project bags and old coffee cans and behind closet doors and in the refrigerator. It will become common place, just another part of her life and when a friend asks her why she has a ball of hand painted yarn in her vegetable crisper she’ll blink and say “because I have a cat”.

Duh.

Thursday Poll – Calling in a Substitute

A few weeks ago I came across a wonderful little website called yarnsub.com. It ate up a few hours of my life (good websites always do!) and it made me think hard about how, when, and why I substitute one yarn for another.

 

A Knit Leaf In Three Sizes

Fall is here and I’ve been making leaves!

Actually I’ve been making leaves all year. I’ve been trying out different patterns and styles and coming up with my own little touches. Yep, more than one person has received a stack of knitted leaves from me this year for no particular reason. Do you ever need a reason to give a yarny gift? Nope!

Then fall landed on me and it touched off another round of leaf making. These here are for mom. Shhh. Don’t tell her. While I’m at it, I figured it’d be nice to post the pattern I’m using.

The pattern is simple and easily adjusted for size. I’m making mine to be coasters…

washcloths…

and big ‘uns to be placemats.


The Pattern

  • Yarn: Sugar and Cream (or any worsted weight cotton)
  • Needle: Size 8. You will need two dpns or a set of circulars to make the I-cord stem
  • Gauge: 4 inches = 19 sts in stockinette (after washing & blocking!)
  • Notions: two stitch markers & a tapestry needle

Abbreviations

  • k = knit
  • p = purl
  • YO = yarn over
  • pm = place stitch marker
  • sm = slip stitch marker
  • ssk = slip two stitches knit-wise, then knit them together
  • k2tog = knit two stitches together
  • sk2togp = slip one stitch knit-wise, knit two stitches together, pass the slipped stitch over

 

Cast on 3 sts using a double pointed needle.

The Stem

Make 1 inch of I-cord using dpn’s & then switch to straight needles (if you like).

Row 1: k to end (3 sts)

Row 2:  k1, YO, k1, YO, k1 (5 sts)

Row 3: k2, p1, k2

Row 4: k2, YO, k1, YO, k2 (7 sts)

Row 5: k3, pm, p1, pm, k3

 The Base (increase section)

Row 1: k to the marker, YO, sm, k1, sm, YO, k to end

Row 2: k3, p to last 3 sts, k to end

 For the coaster size: Work rows 1 & 2 a total of 6 times (until you have 19 sts)

For the washcloth size:  Work rows 1 & 2 a total of 11 times (until you have 29 sts)

For the placemat size:  Work rows 1 & 2 a total of 29 times (until you have 65 sts)

The markers can be removed now. You won’t need them for the rest.

 

The Middle

Rows 1: k to end

Rows 2: k3, p to last 3 sts, k to end

 Repeat Rows 1 & 2 of Middle section once more.

 

The Top (decrease section)

Row 1: k3, ssk, k until 5 sts remain, k2tog, k to end

Row 2: k3, p to last 3 sts, k to end

 Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until 9 sts remain.

 

The Tip

Row 1:  k2, ssk, k1, k2tog, k2 (7 sts)

Row 2: k to end

Row 3: k1, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1 (5 sts)

Row 4: k to end

Row 5: ssk, k1, k2tog (3 sts)

Row 6: k to end

Row 7: sk2togp

Cut yarn and weave in ends.


 

P.S. When you make a leaf it will curl up like a taco. You didn’t do anything wrong, lol. Wash it, press it flat, and let it dry.

 

After blocking

Before blocking

 


If you are looking for a way to take this pattern with you, check out the handy “Print & PDF” button down there on the left. And check out our other free patterns. You might find something else you like.

A Review for Louet – Spinning Violets

A detailed account of how I turned this roving into this yarn

I apologize for not posting over the weekend. I was busy spinning (insert big grin right here). I’ll make it up to you all with this long and (hopefully) informative post on how I spun the Northern Lights Wool Top in color way Violets from Louet.


But first a few notes on the quality of this roving. I’ve spun with top from Louet before so I knew what I was getting; something good. Northern Lights roving comes in a strip that’s thinner than usual. It’s about one third the width of standard roving and so I’ve always called it “pencil” roving. It’s shipped not as a braid but loosely packed into an air-filled bag. What all that means is it comes to the spinner loose, not compacted, and ready to spin. I didn’t have to fluff or strip or pre-draft. You would be surprised how much time it saves you when you don’t have to prep the fiber.

It also makes this an ideal roving for beginning spinners. Bear with me while I try to talk the beginning spinner out of using cheap roving! Inexpensive roving is inexpensive because it’s (usually) of poor quality. The fibers are short, or the fibers are of mixed length, or there are noils, or there are second cuts, or guard hairs, or something that makes it less than idea. All of this makes it more difficult to draft evenly and properly. If you’re a beginner then you are just learning drafting techniques. How can you learn properly with a roving that doesn’t preform properly? I’m not saying that beginners need a gorgeous cashmere/silk/baby alpaca blend. Lol.  A good quality wool top from a reputable supplier is what beginning spinners should use. The first-time spinning students that I’ve worked with have all been happy with pencil roving from Louet, which is what I start them with. They’ve had success from the first lesson. Nothing breeds success like success!

Okay. Rants over. I like this roving. I think it’s great for spinners at all ability and experience levels. Here is how I chose to spin mine:

I decided I’d make a uneven, two-ply yarn. I love those ripply yarns made from one thin weight strand and one thick puffy strand. Sometimes I want my handspun to look like a commercial yarn but this time I wanted it to look hand crafted.

After some test spinning (I always work up mini-batches before I commit) I decided my thin strand would be a lace-to-light fingering weight and my thick strand would be worsted weight. That gave me the contrast and the ripply-ness I wanted. It also meant one-forth of my roving would go into the thin strand and three-fourths into the thick. So I got out my trusty oh-so-(not)-accurate kitchen scale and started weighing out the roving.

Then I chased off the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord.

Then I put my roving into project bags (which were lovingly made for me by the wonderful atx-annabee!). I call them fiber-dignity-preservation devices.

 

Then I got down to the business of spinning. For the worsted weight single I used a short draw. I’ve also heard it called the inch-worm draw. You draft out a few inches of fiber at a time and then let them twist. Here is a short video of my short-draw technique:

I have my wheel (the discontinued Louet S75) set at the lowest speed and medium take-up. That gives me a low-twist thick single.

For the thin single I used a long draw with the wheel set at medium speed and very low take up.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two singles on bobbins.

Then I plyed the two together. With the differences in thickness I knew I’d get a ripple yarn. But I wanted to exaggerate that effect. So I held the thick single out to the side at an angle (about 30 degrees?) from the thin single.

After plying I had too much twist in the yarn. I always do. I over-twist when I ply because I like a sturdy yarn and I hate it when my handspun unplies. After spinning it looked like this:

Then I steamed it. I have a small hand steamer, the kind you use to steam wrinkles out of clothes. A steam iron would have worked too (just don’t press the iron to the yarn!). I knew one spinner who held her yarn over a steaming tea kettle. However you manage it, steam your yarns and that over-twist will relax and set. Here is the yarn post-steaming:

 

I ended up with 294 yds of bulky weight yarn. Its already on it’s way to becoming a capelet, a thick warm capelet! It’s working up like this:

As soon as that’s done and off the needles, I’ll be posting pictures and the pattern.

Yes. I have to say I’m very happy with it.

Profile of a Crafter – Carrie

Tonight it is a real pleasure to share the talent and skill of another Roving Crafter with the world. World meet Carrie, aka ctawq on Ravelry.

Carrie is a true multicraftual crafter with decades of experience in crochet and knit. That’s on top of a whole career providing custom sewing for interior designers. I’ve known her for years and I’ve never seen her make anything that wasn’t perfect. People throw the phrase “attention to detail” around a lot these days. In Carrie’s case, it’s not just a phrase. It’s how she crafts.

I had a hard time choosing which of Carrie’s projects I would feature. There were too many! I whittled and whittled and got it down to …oh… maybe a dozen.

Let’s start with her Rose Fillet Afghan. Isn’t it gorgeous? Here is the note she made on it’s ravelry project page:

I started with a flower from a Mystery CAL that I liked then went off on a bunny trail and ended up with this afghan.

Yeah. Sure. That happens to me. I accidentally create a family heirlooms all the time.

Back in the land of reality…She made this afghan for the Manchaca United Methodist Church Annual Craft show. Let me be clear here. Carrie made this afghan and gave it away to be auctioned.

She gave all of these away too:

The two on the ends are crocheted versions of the Wedding Ring Blanket. They went to very happy (and I’m sure grateful!) couples. The three in the middle went to charity auctions.

Last year, for varieties sake, she offered a knit shawl at the annual auction.

She made this Rendezvous, pattern design by Lily Go. It sold nearly $300 in raffle tickets. One of the ladies who tried for it and lost immediately commissioned Carrie to make one for her.

Would it surprise you to learn that she donated the fee for that commission? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Would it surprise you to learn that she made that adorable little gingerbread man too? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

 

 

 

Not all of her work goes to charity. Some of it goes to this little guy:

That’s what her grandson wore home from the hospital. Its almost as darling as he is. Almost.

 

 

Occasionally, every now and then, she’ll keep something for herself. Like this Omelet Shawl which she the first knit she made “after twenty years of not knitting”.

 

 

It would be easy to feel at little jealous, a little envious of Carrie. Easy, until you meet her that is. Her drive for perfection doesn’t come from a need to be the best or have the best. She’s driven by a love for the people who will wear what she makes. It’s why she gives so very much of what she makes away. When you meet her, that love shows. When you see her work, that love shows.

So, if you’re in Austin, Texas this weekend (here is my big, big, super-duper sales pitch!) you should make the time to go to the 39th annual craft show at the Manchaca United Methodist Church at the corner of FM 1626 and Manchaca Road. It’s this Saturday and Sunday. They’ll have food, and gifts, and hand-made stuff. And this:

It’s a Mirabelle Texture Sampler Shawl by Zehava Jacobs and it’s Carrie’s offering this year for the auction. Go and see if you can win it (for me). The funds raised go to support local and international missions. The shawl would make a wonderful gift for someone special (like me).

If you can’t get to the craft show, you have another chance to meet this wonderful lady because she teaches classes at The Knitting Nest.  Perhaps that would be even better than winning the shawl at auction. You could learn how to make one yourself from someone who has mastered both the art of knitting and the art of being human.