Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Winter Accessories!

Currently, I've been working together with the folks at Schnittchen to create a line of boys winter garments and accessories.  The first in this batch is the accessories set...

The patterns will be sold as part of an all-inclusive knit-kit which even includes a pompom maker.  Seeing as I had just designed my own paper version, I was really excited to use the Clover pompom maker and see how it compares to the traditional paper template.  I have to say, it was daunting at first, but it's a really neat gadget!  I think the most useful aspects are how it can spring apart and that it creates a very round pompom that you don't have to trim down too much.

The toughest step was figuring out how to open it! :D

Monday, October 15, 2012

Block of the Month: September

Last month's block... but, better late than never, right?
I finally had a bit of time to make my quilting blocks for September.  I've yet to complete October's blocks as they require quite a bit of printer paper and special piecing.  I have had house-guests and Oktoberfest, and tons of projects to contend with my time... things seem to be winding down and hopefully I'll have more time to dedicate to finishing projects!

Here's Cleopatra's Puzzle Block:

 And, here's my first ever curved piece block, the Drunkard's Path Chain Block:

 And, that leaves just two more blocks for October to finish the quilt!  I'll likely be adding more blocks so that the quilt matches our bed size, but it's cool to know how far I've come in the process!  Almost there!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Knit Pattern: Squishy Chullo Hat

The Squishy Chullo Hat is the partner to the Squishy Mittens.
This fun winter accessory is sure to keep your ears warm and your spirits high!

The Squishy Chullo Hat pattern features lofty cables atop a purled field, a seed stitch brim, and fun earflaps to make sure the wind doesn’t sneak in. The hat is knit by first making the earflaps, and then casting on stitches to create the brim. Braids and pompoms are optional, but they really do add an extra bit of fun to this really squishy hat.

XS (S, M, L): 20 (21, 22, 23)” / 51 (53, 56, 58) cm brim circumference

• knitting in the round and flat
• increasing and decreasing
• cable knitting
• chart reading

1 to 2* skein(s), Rosy Green Wool, Big Merino Hug (100% Merino; 175 yds / 160 m, 3.5 oz / 100g), in color Coffee Bean #56; approx. 150 yds / 137 m for main hat approx. 8 yds / 7 m for braids approx. 30 yds / 27 m for pompom *Size L may exceed 1 skein with pompom and braids

US 5 / 3.75 mm double pointed needles or 16” / 40 cm long circular needles

8 stitch markers, tapestry needle, scrap yarn or stitch holders, cable needle, and pompom maker or cardboard, scissors

You can find the Chullo Hat on Ravelry here or Craftsy here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tutorial: DIY Pompom

Fall is in the air... And, I love hats with pompoms. And, sometimes you just want to make your own pompom, right? And add pompoms to everything? Okay, well maybe not everything, but just in case you *did* want to add a pompom to a favorite hat or rabbit toy, or change out an existing pompom for a different one, here's a photo tutorial on how to do it using a template I created.

You can download your own template here on Craftsy.

First, trace and cut the pompom templates from chipboard (like the cardboard of a cereal box). Align the openings of the template pieces so yarn can easily pass through.

Hold one end of the yarn.
Wrap yarn tightly around the template until there is very little room in the center of the circle, but the opening remains clear.  I mean really wrap it around until it's hard to wrap any more.  Use different colors of yarn and mix it up for a crazy party pompom!  Most yarns can be used as long as you can wrap it around the template, and cut it afterward...

wrap yarn around the template until center is barely visible

Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut wrapped yarn all the way around the outside of the circle between the two templates.

use sharp scissors to trim between pieces around outside circle

Secure the pompom by wrapping scrap yarn between the two template pieces, around the center circle, and tying a tight knot.
trim completely around the circle and secure
Remove template.  Fluff and trim to shape.
Use tapestry needle and tie-ends to attach to your project.

Want to make your own pompom?  Download your own template here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tutorial: Blocking Your Knitted/Crocheted Items

"Blocking" in the fiber arts world, is usually a finishing step. After your garment (or each piece) is knitted or crocheted, block to match the measurements given in your schematics, or you can seam them together and block them as a completed garment.

before blocking
blocked blanket

The first step I take in this process is looking at the yarn band.  I make sure I understand the care instructions for the yarn I'm about to block.  Then, I look at the pattern for any specific blocking instructions (lacy shawls often have areas that are accented in blocking).  If you're worried about your yarn and want to avoid washing the garment, you can spray/mist it with water and proceed with blocking.

The blanket shown above was made by a friend of mine, and she used a washable yarn.  So, I went ahead and soaked before blocking.  Usually it's a 20 minute soak (often longer because I forget about it).  This lets the fibers relax into its new form.  Then, I squeeze out the excess water.  If I'm using strong yarn that can tolerate it, I'd place the gently wrung-out project in a lingerie bag and set it to the lowest spin cycle on my machine with a towel or other things that need wringing out.  If the particular yarn is too fragile for the spin cycle, I use a fluffy towel and lay the piece as flat as possible on the towel, and roll it up.  This makes a towel-garment sandwich "burrito".  I then squish the towel to remove even more excess moisture.  Once you've removed as much water as you can, bring out your blocking surface.

A friend and I went "halfers" on some kid's foam puzzle mat like this, so that's what I use.  Basically you need a stable surface that can take and hold pins in place.  Some folks use a mattress, others just towels.  I place a dry towel on the foam squares and place the item atop the towel.

Next, I assess the best plan of action.  Should I use the stiff wires?  Just T-pins? Flexible wires?  A combo?  The blanket project above was an easy choice - stiff wires for sharp crisp edges...

I take a blocking wire and kind of "sew" it through the edge of the blanket taking evenly spaced chunks and trying not to splice any yarn with the wires.  Sand down the ends of your blocking wire if you continuously get snags.

For hard edges like in this blanket, I used T-pins to secure the intersection between wires.  This makes a nice crisp corner too.

curved edges = flexible blocking wires
For something round like this curved earflap, I use flexible blocking wires and T-pins (Squishy Chullo Hat).

before blocking the "Percy Shawl"
after blocking the "Percy Shawl"
And with this scalloped shawl, you can see the drastic difference before it was blocked and after...  I used a combination of techniques with this one (T-pins and thread).  If I had had blocking wires back then I would have used the stiff ones for the top edge to get a straighter line.  Instead, I used what I had - thread running through the top edge and T-pins to stabilize the thread.  Then, I used a boatload of T-pins for the scallops.

I hope this tutorial gives you a general idea of the many options you have for blocking your hand-made goods.  These techniques can also be used for pre-manufactured wooly goods, too!

There are tons more resources out there and here are a few to help you out whichever way you choose to block your project...

Blocking Resources:
blocking lace on KnittingDaily
using blocking wires from Knit Picks
using flexible blocking wires on Knitter's Review
blocking with pins on the purlbee
making your own wires: DIY blocking wires
blocking without wires on CrochetMe

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Pattern: Amaranth Shawl

The sister pattern to the Amaranth Headband, the shawl features two colors knit side by side using a simple intarsia technique.  The challenge was to create a curved shawl knit sideways so it could incorporate the lovely lace motif I had encountered when I made the Amaranth Headband. The shawl uses 1 full skein for the main color, and less than half of the lace color. This shawl is knit sideways from one point increasing toward the widest part at center, and then decreasing again toward the opposite point.
Width at center 12”/ 30.5 cm
Wingspan is ~66 - 68” / 168 - 173 cm
(If using recommended yarn and following sample)

• lace knitting
• binding 2 colors vertically (intarsia)
• increasing and decreasing
• cable cast on

1 pair of size US 4/ 3.5mm knitting
needles or size to obtain gauge
4 stitch markers
1 removable stitch marker
Tapestry/Darning needle
scrap yarn for lifeline(s)

It can be found on Ravelry here.

And it can be found on Craftsy here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Knit Pattern: Amaranth Headband

This latest pattern was inspired by a last minute improvised project and quick knit for a Queen’s Day headband (Koninginnedag in the Netherlands). I didn’t have anything orange to wear and so I quickly picked out some orange yarn and knit this up.

The Amaranth Headband, in its published form, is a more refined version that fits most head sizes, and is long enough to be tied at the ends to secure it.

Finished Measurements
(If using requisite yarn and following sample)
Width at center is 3”/ 7.5cm
Length from end to end after blocking is 25” / 63.5cm.
When worn, the headband can stretch an additional 4” / 10cm.

Rosy Green Wool, Cheeky Merino Joy (100% Organic Superwash Merino), 100g, 350 yd / 320 m
15 to 20g, in color #50 Ruby

1 pair of size US 4/ 3.5mm knitting needles (or size to obtain gauge)
Tapestry/Darning needle

• increasing and decreasing
• lace knitting
• chart reading

You can find it on Ravelry here add to cart

or Craftsy here.

The headband was #11 on the "hot right  now" list on Ravelry!!