Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Lot of Gloves

I've been oh so busy the last couple of weeks. We have new kitchen plumbing at my house, and my mother has had some remodeling done in her house. In between home improvement projects there has been some crafting going on too. Want to see some of the latest fiber-related things?

a pile of gloves, Guatemalan styleI have been perfecting the pattern for the Guatemalan-style gloves. See the pile of gloves in many sizes? I want to be sure that the pattern I post will be accurate, so I'm making many prototypes. When I'm finished with them, they will be given as gifts to friends and family who live in colder climates than I do or they will be donated to Dulaan, afghans for Afghans or another worthy charity. They're made of wool so that they will be nice and warm to wear.

balls of plain yarn, hanks of dyed yarnClose up of dyed yarnI've been playing with hand dying some Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool. On the left, some balls of undyed yarn next to hanks of dyed yarn. On the right, a close up of the dyed yarn to show the gentle variations in the color.

I'd heard about using hair coloring to dye locks of wool or mohair for making realistic doll hair and thought I'd try it on yarn. That's l'Oreal Excellence shade number 5 medium brown used full strength for the dark color and diluted for the lighter shade.

I think I'll try other ways of dying yarn. The texture of the hair coloring is too thick to give good coverage and it needs to be worked into the yarn quite a lot before the yarn strand is completely saturated. After a lot of kneading of the yarn the end result is still uneven. When I dye yarn, I want the 'delightful variations' to be deliberate and controlled as much as possible, and repeatable.

Handbag in Noro Kureyon knitted and ready to feltI've knit the Noro Kureyon bag and it's ready to felt in the washing machine. The Toddler wanted a bag with a flap on it to hold in his treasures. I've used the Booga Bag directions to make the body of the bag up to round 60 and improvised from there. I worked the upper rim of the bag and the edges of the flap in garter stitch for non-roll firmness. I haven't decided what sort of handle or strap to use yet, the child may want to make a packpack out of it. I will wait to see what size and shape the bag becomes after felting before deciding.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pattern Testing

Glove in progressI am making progress with my copy of the Guatemalan gloves.

After very close examination of the originals, I found that they had been made inside-out, that is, they had been purled in the round. I had read about this method being used by knitters in South America but hadn't seen it until now. I'd never done it this way before but decided to give it a try. I might learn something useful in the process.

So far so good. It may be unfamiliar, but it's not a bad way to knit a glove. There have been some surprise benefits. Because the stranded work yarn is being carried on the outside of the glove, it's easier to avoid carrying the yarn too snugly. It naturally seems to carry itself loosely along the work. Also, if you are purling everything, it is easier to use two-needle-tubular-knitting to work those tiny fingers. When using the knit stitch to flat tubular knit, you have to pass the yarn forward and back between stitches; you don't have to do this when using the purl stitch. Who knew?

Softies in muslinI am also making progress on my BackTack3 project. I have been testing some patterns for softies in muslin to help me decide which one I want to use. The bunny on the right is the right size and full of cuteness, but he's much too slender for the design treatment I want to use. The Toddler likes it though and I will dress it up for him to play with. The plump body on the left is better, but not quite right. It needs some adjustments before I can start the final piece.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Celebrate Green

Green materials for Project SpectrumThis month's color for Project Spectrum is green. Here are some of the supplies I've gathered for projects this month.

In the foreground I have a selection of green cardstock and an inkpad in shades of green to use for my post card for this month's swap. In the background are some green fabrics, mostly batiks, to make some froggy bean bags. At left are some green sock yarns for various projects, including the toddler gloves.

I plan on spending time in herb gardens this month in order to properly celebrate all the different green plants that we take for granted, especially the culinary and aromatic ones.

Parent's Note: The inkpad, a Versacolor, is a water-based pigment ink that actually cleans up with soap and water when fresh. Yes, even out of the carpet! It washed right off the boy's hands and out of my berber carpet. It's toddler proof!

Finished Project Spectrum items for March and AprilHere is a recap of the finished items for March and April. I was so very busy that I didn't make a proper post last month for Project Spectrum, so I'll just have to add it in now.

Red and pink were the colors for March, so I made baby hats and booties for afghans for Afghans in both colors.

Yellow and orange were the colors for April. I made multicolored hats that included yellow in them and a pair of yellow gloves. My orange striped socks were a bit late, overlapping into May, but I'll call it close enough.

I've been enjoying the flowers blooming everywhere now that spring has come. I particularly enjoy visiting the garden centers to see all the lovelies. Common flowers in bloom in my area the last couple of months: Lantana, geranium, roses, daylilies. I know, the rest of the country won't be seeing these until June, but here in sunny California we have them nearly year-round.

Finished Socks

Orange striped socksThe orange striped socks are finished. Yay!

They fit me well, I'm so pleased. I had feared that I would have to rip and reknit them several times as others have reported doing in order to get a good fit. I am fortunate to have chosen a pattern that fit my feet reasonably well. I only had to rip out and reknit my first ribbed cuff.

Vogue Knitting On The Go-SocksAgain, these were knit to the Leaf Socks pattern in the Socks book from Vogue Knitting. It has a chart for making a striped pattern in the sock, but since my yarn already had a striped pattern built into it I knit the leg and foot plain. I left off the embroidered leaves.

This made a simple-to-knit anklet with contrasting cuff, heel and toe. There's enough striped/fairisle yarn left over from the 100-gram ball to make another pair. Maybe I'll make them with fushia pink heels and toes?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Colorful Knitting

a brightly colored sockI'm knitting myself a pair of socks.

Yes, I'm actually knitting something for myself, can you believe it? I have been feeling a need for something colorful. Must be spring fever.

I'm using the Leaf Socks pattern from the Vogue Knitting Socks book, but without the embroidery or stripe pattern; the yarn has enough pattern to it as it is. I am using a solid color for the ribbing, heel and toe of the sock because I think that a sock made with heavily patterned yarn looks better that way. But then, I seem to think that all socks need contrasting heels and toes anyway.

Rainbow yarn for a bagThe three year old wants me to make him a bag so that he can carry his toys around with him wherever he goes. Not just any bag, he wants one made from Noro Kureyon in a rainbow of colors.

How does a toddler become such a yarn snob? Easily-toddlers don't pay any attention to price or fiber content, they only care about how the yarn looks and feels. In this instance, it was the most delightfully colorful yarn in the shop. He can pick out a ball of Noro from 20 feet away. Which just goes to show that the child spends far more time in yarn shops than his peers.

I was asked via email about the jester cap that I made a while back. I haven't found the hat yet, it's hiding in a box somewhere in the storage room. I will find the cap or make another, either way I'll be posting the pattern soon.

One of my neighbors is planning a wedding. Several other neighbors are planning to gift her with some items that they feel are necessary to the whole endeavor. These conspirators have approached me, pattern book in hand, as the One Most Likely To Finish A Crocheted Project On Time. I have been drafted to make a lovely crocheted wedding set that includes the ring bearer's pillow, flower girl's basket and bride's garter. I was so happy that I wasn't drafted to do all the floral arrangements this time that I heartily agreed to break out the tiny hooks. I will post my progress at regular intervals.

Another request this week: to make a soft toy froggy for a child. I must have a pattern somewhere. You know I do. Or my mother does. She'll have dozens I'm sure. I'll google it too, just to be sure I have several to choose from. Do you have a favorite froggy pattern? Tell me about it if you do!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Toddler Mittens

Here's another pair of mittens, this time sized for a toddler. I was using Elizabeth Durand's pattern for making children's mittens, but needed a slightly smaller size than her instructions covered. So I changed the pattern a little. I used a yarn with a gauge of 22 stitches=4"/10cm, which makes a mitten to fit a 2-year-old, worsted yarn at 20 stitches=4"/10cm will make a mitten to fit a 3 year old.

Here's what I did:

First, I printed Elizabeth's pattern and made some notes in the margin about the changes I wanted to make. You will want to do this too.

I cast on 24 stitches and made knit 1 purl 1 ribbing for 20 rounds. On the first round of stockinette stitch I increased 4 stitches evenly spaced-28 stitches. Knit 3 rounds. Made the thumb gusset as directed, worked until there were 8 stitches between the stitch markers. After removing thumb stitches to a holder, I worked 12 rounds even. I changed the shaping of the mitten tip a bit:
K 1, K2tog, ssk, K 10, K2tog, ssk, K9.
K 1 round.
K2tog, ssk, K8, K2tog, ssk, K8.
K 1 round, stopping at the last stitch. K this stitch together with first stitch of next round to make -->
K2tog, ssk, K6, K2tog, ssk, K6.
K 1 round, stopping at the last stitch. K this stitch together with first stitch of next round to make -->
K2tog, ssk, K4, K2tog, ssk, K 4.
K1 round.
I wove this together with kitchener stitch the same as for a sock toe.
On the thumb I picked up 8 stitches from the holder and followed her directions, knitting 10 thumb stitches for 8 rounds, k2tog around, breaking off and pulling the yarn through the 5 remaining stitches and pulling up tightly.
Weave in the ends and you're done!