Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tip Top - Another Hat

This is Squiggle Hat.  There is absolutely nothing special about this 8X80 knit hat other than the i-cord that squiggles down from the crown and ends with a button.

I am still enamored by the top of hats.  Lots of opportunity for creative embellishment.

And that's all I have to say about it.

PS - Frog Tree Ewetopia yarn.  You should buy some.  It is great.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Water Makes The Yarn Grow

'Tis true.  Blocking is the key to yarn success.  If you are not proficient at the various options for blocking your work, perhaps you should ask your local LYS to either do the task or (even better) to offer a class in blocking hand knit/crochet items.

 Twenty inches.  Straight off the hook, the center spine of this new shawl measures a mere twenty inches.   Now, there is nothing wrong with that depth.  A shawl can vary greatly depending on the desired usage and personal taste. 
 Check this out.  A good soak in warmish water and appropriate use of pins and suddenly that same measurement becomes thirty inches!  A whole ten inches difference due to the blocking process.  Stitches opened up, lace became lacy, and neck wear is born.

Gee - - I love this yarn thing.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Flipping Out

For several years, Flow has held a special spot on my "To Knit" list.  Flow is available as a free pattern from Berroco.  The suggested yarn is Seduce, which is now discontinued.  Fortunately, owing to having planned years ago to knit the tank, there was plenty of Seduce in the stash to finally cast on.

A few modifications to the original pattern were made.  First, I worked this version in the round.  Having experienced Seduce in  a prior project, I knew that seaming the stuff is not a personal joy. 

Secondly, I have reached the stage in life where I do not appear in polite company with narrow shoulder straps.  Yes, the yarn is worked at an open gauge that requires this old lady to wear an appropriate underpinning for modesty purposes.  And yes, I might wear this with additional arm coverage either on top or underneath.  But, I also might find myself glowing on a hot and humid summer day with as little as is publicly acceptable underneath.  So, wider shoulders were knit.

Still, this plain black & white yarn needed something to set it apart.  Enter the flipping flouncy ruffle.  This little ruff is simply a series of increases placed symmetrically on either side of the center front.  I started the increases about one-third up from the bottom of the arm hole and placed the ever popular kf&b on the right side rows.

How often did I increase?  Often enough, apparently.  Because at the end, that extra fabric flipped itself perfectly.

My Flow is such a variation that I've named her Flo - - in honor of my aunt who did know how to be a flouncy southern woman.   You, gentle reader, might not understand, but my family will be smiling at the memory of her approach to life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ida, Warm & Wonderful

Ida is now a warm and wonderful blanket.  All of her tails are safely tucked away and she is ready to be a work horse of warmth. 

 When stretched out it is a joy to see those bands of color and texture just as I first imagined them.  I know that this scheme might not be to everyone's taste.   But that is the joy of designing and making something that is unique to you.  Only you need to be pleased.  And I am quite pleased by the end result.

When tossed about, Ida tends to look like any other striped blanket/afghan/throw. 

Those three terms always mystify me.  What is the difference?  Is a blanket larger than an afghan?  When does a throw become so large that it ceases to be a throw and becomes something else?  Please do not question my sanity, for I have pondered this very issue and come up with no answer.

Here she is in the yarn studio.  That bit of piecework in the background is a stretched quilt top that never got completed.  It is there to remind me that while I understand the basics of many artistic crafts, I am not the master of them all.  I am, however, the master of this Ida blanket.

The alternating knit and crochet bands of Ida, the blanket, just might be the most significant blending of my mother's (Ida Mae) crochet skill and my knitting ability.  I like to think that she is somewhere up above, smiling that I do still crochet and pleased that this work was accomplished with her wooden crochet hook. 

And I am smiling as well.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It Worked!

In a pinch, allowances must be made.  You might have read my confession in this post where I fretted about my lack of packing skills and confessed that I was reduced to a very short tool for yarn work. 

Success!   I've said it many a time and it is my eternal truth.  I am the master of my yarn, I am the captain of my hook (or needles as the case may be).

 Click on this photo to make it larger and you will see that I did indeed work an entire mobius scarf with a very short "fix-a stitch" tool.  To be accurate, this particular tool is just a cut off size C crochet hook. 

I will confess that getting accustomed to not having that almost six inch long hook in my palm took some getting used to - but it can be done.

And thus, I made a fake mobius cowl for the upcoming summer heat. 

*  Fake Mobius because I crocheted the thing flat and then put a twist in it prior to crocheting the ends together

*  Upcoming Summer Heat because the yarn is 70% cotton, 30% linen and I am thinking that when next the 100 degree desert heat comes my way, the whole thing can be doused in water and wrung out prior to wearing.  It should keep me cool in a more eco friendly way.

All in all, I am pleased with the result and pleased that airport security in countries around the world are not threatened by a little two inch bit of hooked metal.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Top It Off

The final days of 2013 were spent getting a jump start on Charity 2014.  I tell you this not to brag about my humble contributions, but to encourage you to consider how you might bring a bit of joy in the coming year.  Let it be a hat for anyone from a premmie to an adult or perhaps a lap blanket for a senior or the every popular cage liner for your local no-kill shelter.  There is always a need - right around the corner.

For a few weeks I was caught up in the top of hats.  Making something different for the crown became a journey to answer the eternal query "where should the decreases be placed this time?"

  Here is the Odessa Hat from Grumperina.  With or without beads, it is a perfect pattern for charity work because it fits a wide range of sizes.  Isn't that swirl fantastic?  I love it. 

The pattern is a series of decreases and YO increases that make a swirl all the way to the top.  If you are looking for a hat that is slightly more than a beginner level but not so complicated as lace work, give Odessa a try. 

This is the crown of another hat.  This one is just a variation of my 8 X 80 hat pattern.  Eight decreases are worked evenly around the crown.  With proper blocking, it would probably look like an octagon on the top.

The sides of the hat are just a series of rounds of knit or purl stitches - aka alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette bands. 

The hat squishes down naturally but expands to fit different head shapes.  The green might look rather nondescript but the pattern give it a bit of a jaunty feel.

 This one shall for ever be known as the Xcellent Hat.  The name comes from the crown that results from four mirrored decreases.  Not only does a nice X result, but the round knitting is magically turned into a square at the top.

Again, this is my typical 8 X 80 hat pattern.  The ribbing is made extra deep so that it can turn up.  The yarn is Universal Yarn Classic Shades Frenzy.  It stripes quite well but in a somewhat unpredictable way at my gauge.  Frankly, I like the lack of symmetry.  The thing about this yarn is that it is described as a bulky yarn.  I had absolutely no problem working it down on a US 8 needle and it is not at all heavy or tight.  The final hat is a bit larger than the green one above but it fits a large male head just fine. 

After these three hats - one a published pattern and two of my own design - I am still searching out different ways to top off charity hats.  The next few weeks will bring a diversion, but 2014 charity work just might be a journey toward crowning glory.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Thoughts

This year I promise to:

  • Finish the Ida blanket.  There is not much left to do on the edge, but the holiday took a bit of wind out of my sail.
  • Change my heel height permanently.  A few years ago, the daughters pointed out that my left hip wanted to hurt from old fashioned arthritis every time I wore the 3+" heels.  NO MORE.  I will not even buy the pretty shoes.  Daughters, I leave it up to you to own the look.
  • Get the piano tuned.  
  • Take a nap at least once a month.  I function better with a nap.  
  • Keep knitting and crocheting for charity.  Again - 12 hats is my goal.  Well, it should be 13 because one is already done.
  • Think of something new to say on this blog.
  • Know when to keep my mouth shut.
  • Have fun. 
  • Eat healthy more than 50% of the time.
  • Remember that chocolate is healthy.
  • Be thankful and show  it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

In A Pinch

In a pinch, allowances must be made.  Or is it that necessity is the mother of invention?  Perhaps it does not matter the truth of the saying, but rather the action taken as a result.  I find myself far away from home in the midst of international travel with no needles tucked into the luggage and nary a local yarn store to be found.

Oh, I packed yarn.  A nice grey Bijou Basin Seraphim and a ball of cotton and linen blend that has been following me around for months.  Luckily, my favorite handy dandy "fix a stitch" sawed off crochet hook was right there where it lives tucked away in a secret hiding spot.  It stays there hiding from vigilant security workers who are brought to knee shaking fear by an old cajun with two inches of metal.

Friends, I am here to give testament to the truth that a tiny two inch long 2.75mm hook can be used to work crochet when travel woes push sanity to the brink and one needs the calmness of hook and string.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Those Are Not Snowballs In Los Angeles

But those are felted balls.  It does not get any more easy than making your own felted dryer balls.  Surely you have heard of these eco-friendly no chemical substitutes for dryer sheets.

If you are unfamiliar, type the following into your favorite search engine:  felted dryer balls.  Today, it took Google 0.22 seconds to return over 50,300 hits. 

You can buy them on Etsy or from the higher end fancy home stores.  Or, for the price of a hank of inexpensive wool and hot water with baking soda, you can make them yourself.

I will spare you the not so difficult details.  Suffice it to say that you loosely wind wool into a ball.  Put the balls into an old pair of knee highs.  After that it is just a matter of hot water with baking soda (that whole alkaline issue) and agitation followed by the shock of cold water.

Voila!  And, if you enjoy needle felting, these are great to use instead of that brush thingy.