Monday, January 27, 2014

This Socks!

One of my most favorite things to knit is socks! 
They are quick to knit, easy to transport, and make great vacation/car trip/playdate/playground knitting. 
Below is Red Heart's Heart and Sole in Razzle Dazzle. 
(oooooo, love this one)

I actually have knit 10 pairs of socks to date. I can only document four here.
Three pairs have homes in Boise ID, Pocatello ID, and Mesa AZ. 
For the Pocatello socks, I used MadelineTosh Sock in Badlands. A Father's day gift.
Mesa was a lovely Shibui fingering weight Staccato in Velvet. Christmas.
 Boise was a Patons Kroy Sock yarn in Grey Brown Ragg. (picture two pics below, red and brown - WIP) 
White Elephant party gift - (I only had one sock made. Had Second Sock Syndrome. 
Made the other before New Year's because she liked them so much. Backfired!)
For Pocatello and Mesa I used this great pattern from Knitting To Stay Sane. 
(Scroll down a bit until you see the Nice Ribbed Sock pattern.)
I use the heel from this pattern on all my socks now.
Two were worn out with use and scraped. 
I used Patons Kroy Socks Summer Moss Jacquard for one (my first sock ever) 
and a yarn I purchased from Big Lots. 
I have no idea what the yarn was. 
I do remember it was made in Turkey. Hmmm...
The final pair was not a true pair of socks, but yoga socks. 
You know this pattern where your toes are uncovered as well as your heel. I hated them. 
They were too big and I felt it was a waste of yarn. I frogged them and wound the yarn back up. 
It was another ball of Patons Kroy Socks in Summer Moss Jacquard. 
I believe it's still lying in wait, but it's so kinked up I don't want to use it. It'll be craft yarn. 
The four pictured here (three below and one above) are the socks I knit for myself. I love them!!

I truly love using self-striping yarn. The change of color is refreshing when knitting in the round. 
Sometimes the patterns even reflect a little bit of Fair Isle patterning. 
The green on the end is Red Heart's Heart and Sole in Green Envy. 
Middle is Patons Kroy Sock in Blue Striped Ragg. 
End is Patons Kroy Sock in Fern Rose Jacquard. 
For my basic pattern I use a pattern I downloaded years ago. 
Its designer Liat Gat is found on Ravelry with many more patterns than when I first found her. 
You can download the pattern I use here.
I like to use this one because it allows me to change out the heel pattern easily. 
I also can adapt the instep or ankle area as well to other designs based on her basic pattern. 
My first pair of socks was knit on double pointed needles. Tough! 
After being introduced to the Magic Loop technique I have rarely gone back to DPN's. 
They are invaluable in your knitting collection, but for socks I LOVE to use Magic Loop.
I typically use size 2 or 3 needles for my foot size. I like my socks snug around my foot. 
The size 2's get that for me every time. 

These little lovelies above are my current sock WIP's. 
The blue/black/red combo is Red Heart's Heart and Sole in Congo. 
The brown/grey/red combo is Patons Kroy Socks in Grey Brown Ragg. 
The brown/grey/red I just had to knit for myself after giving away the first pair. 
I love the big, fat stripes it produces when knit in a small round. 
So 12 pairs total! Nice!
Plenty more a-comin'!

~ S

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stainless Steel Barf, I Mean Scarf

Hello again! I would like to introduce you to THE MOST OBNOXIOUS SCARF EVER KNIT!
(btw, see the awesome frost on the branches!)

Ok, well it's not the scarf that's's the "yarn"! The scarf is actually rather pretty. 
Not warm in the least, but it will be fabulous in Spring!

This "yarn", (I put it in quotes because I don't think it should be categorized as yarn), is the most tedious "yarn" to knit with EVER! It is produced by Lion Bran Yarn. They have labeled it Stainless Steel yarn. To be fair to the "yarn", it's an amazing thing to produce a lace weight yarn woven with stainless steel fibers. The "yarn" keeps its shape or can be squished into something you would find in a post-apocalyptic world. It's very cool "yarn". See below:

But to be fair to the knitter, it's an amazing thing to get through the cone (two cones with two "yarns" held together) without throwing the cone away! You begin to wish for the elated feeling of being free from one of those WIPs that last a little too long! 

I gave this "yarn" way too many chances. It was a knit project, then a crochet project, then a knit, then crochet one more time, then finally knit. My own "throw your hands in the air! What am I going to do with this" plain ol' garter stitch scarf knit on size 10 needles! I just couldn't find the right thing to do with this stuff! And throwing it out seemed unfair because I spent $20.00 4 years ago! Every time I began a new version I hated working with it more! By round 5 I was row 5 too! Crochet was the worst. Can't even see the stuff! I just wanted it gone!

I have heard and it's true, Habu Textiles makes a stainless steel yarn and has a pattern for a scarf called the Kusha Kusha Scarf, but I wouldn't touch that thing with a 1,000 foot pole! Mind-numbing! Seriously, a scarf is all you CAN do. I happen to like Habu's version of this "yarn" because they have combined it with a fuzzy merino wool. Yarn Harlot even blogged about it here. Funny how she felt the same way about her experience with stainless steel "yarn". She even drops an apocalyptic reference...

 Well, here's the token selfie. I refuse to give it more than that. I'm just grateful it's done.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I am a Player...of Minecraft that is.

Steve is time consuming to make and is by no means the perfect version. I am willing to state that this may be the first and last time I will ever make this creation again, but it's nice to have the pattern to go to just in case. I hope you will give him a try. 
Please let me know if there needs to be any updates. 
It's always a work in progress.

~ S

( PS ~ When finished, Steve measures a chesty 5" across (from outer arm to outer arm) and 7 1/2 " tall. 
I think if I was to invest the time to make him again I would try using a sport or baby weight yarn 
and a size E-3 hook to see if I could get him a little smaller. 
Of course you would need to alter your cardboard sizes and headpiece too. Worth it? Maybe... )

Minecraft Steve

A: Cream or Flesh colored WW yarn
B: Grey WW yarn
C: Indigo blue or “Jean” colored WW yarn
D: Turquoise WW yarn

Crochet hook size F
Measuring tape
Yarn needle
Sewing needle
Light-weight cardboard or plastic canvas
Polyester fiber-fill stuffing
Brown, white, and blue felt
Fabric Glue
Small straight pins

With A, ch 2.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook – 6 sc
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each sc around – 12 sc
Rnd 3: *sc in next 2 sc, 3 sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 20 sc
Rnd 4: *sc in 4 sc; 3 sc in next sc; repeat from * around – 28 sc
Rnd 5: sl st in next sc, ch 1, sc around TBL – 28 sc
Rnd 6: sc in ch-1 sp, then sc around as normal – 28 sc
Rnd 7 – 12: Repeat Rnd 6 – 28 sc
Fasten off with sl st . Weave in end.

Head Lid:
Repeat Rnds 1-4 above using A – 28 sc
Sl st to fasten off,  leaving a long tail to sew to head with.

Finishing head:
1. Using the Head Lid as a pattern, cut out 6 squares from light-weight cardboard. (I used a soda box. You could also use plastic canvas.)
2. Place one square inside the Head on the bottom. You may need to trim your square’s sides a bit. I also rounded the corners by snipping off the pointy tips.
3. Begin stuffing the Head. As you stuff, slide the 4 side pieces in as the stuffing gets to the top. The stuffing will hold the squares in place.
4. Take the Head Lid and begin sewing it to the top of the larger Head piece. When you get to the final side, slide the last piece of cardboard into the Head on top of the stuffing. Finish sewing the Head Lid on.Weave in end.  Set aside.

Body and Legs (make 2 legs):
Beginning with first leg, starting at bottom of foot,
With B, ch 2,
Rnd 1: 8 sc in 2nd ch from hook – 8 sc
Rnd 2: *sc in next sc, (sc, dc, sc) in next sc; repeat from * around. – 16 sc
Rnd 3: sc through back loop (TBL) around. Fasten B yarn off. – 16 sc
Rnd 4: Connect C to next sc. Sc around until piece measures 2 ½” from beginning.
Fasten C yarn off.
Repeat Rnds 1- 4 for other leg.
Rnd 5: Holding both legs along one side and using C, sc 30 around both legs, joining legs together.
Rnd 6 – 8: sc in each sc around – 30 sc
(Finished Legs and Hips)

Next:  Measure from bottom of foot to inseam. (Approx. 2 ½” x ¾”)  Using the measurements, cut 2 rectangles from the light–weight cardboard. Place cardboard down inside front and back of Legs. Do not place cardboard on sides of Legs.

(Begin Body section – the next 2 rows make Steve’s untucked shirt)
Rnd 9: sc in next 14 sc, change to D, sc 2, change back to C, sc in next 14 sc. – 30 sc
Rnd 10: sc in next 14 sc, change to D, sc 3, change to C, sc in next 14 sc. – 30 sc
Rnd 11: Change to D, sc in each sc around. – 30 sc
Rnd 12: Sc in each sc around until Body section measures 2 ½” long.
Fasten off.

Body Lid:
With D, ch 11.
Rnd 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next 9 sc – 10 sc
Rnd 2: In same st as beginning, make 3 sc, then working in the back loops of ch, sc in next 8 loops. 
In last loop before end, make 3 sc. – 24 sc
Fasten off.

Next: Before sewing Body Lid to Body, measure length from inseam to top of Body and across the Body from side to side. (Approx. 3"x 2 ½") Cut 2 squares from the light-weight cardboard using measurements. Place cardboard down inside front and back of Body. Do not place cardboard on sides of Body. Sew Body Lid to Body.

Beginning with first arm, starting at top of arm.
With D, ch 2,
Rnd 1: 8 sc in 2nd ch from hook – 8 sc
Rnd 2: *sc in next sc, (sc, dc, sc) in next sc; repeat from * around.
 – 12 sc, 4 dc
Rnd 3: sc through back loop (TBL) around. – 16 sc
Rnd 4 - 5: Sc in each sc around.
Rnd 6: Change to A, sc around TBL. – 16 sc.
Rnd 7+: Sc around as normal until arm measures 2 ¼” from beginning.
Fasten off.
*  Cut 4 pieces of lightweight cardboard measuring 3/4" x 2" and a square for the top of the arm measuring ¾” x ¾”.
*  Place the square down into the bottom (blue end), begin stuffing, then slide each side piece down inside until the bottom is reached. Finish stuffing. (see pictures) - Remember: you can trim the cardboard to fit the space.

Arm Lid:
With A, repeat rnds 1-2 as above.
Sl st in next sc. Fasten off, leaving a long tail.
*  Sew Lid to Arm using long tail. 

 Now it's time to make Steve's hair piece:
1. Cut 4 squares of brown felt, 2 x 2. Cut 1 rectangle 1 x 2.

2. Take the right side piece (on the right of center piece above) and the top 
(center piece where the needle is) and place them wrong sides together. 

3. Using the brown embroidery thread and blanket stitch, sew the side piece to the top piece.

Repeat across.

4. Take the back hair piece (the one above the center piece), place wrong sides together, 
and continue sewing across that too.

When you have finished sewing on the three sides your hair piece should look something like this:

5. Now, you will need to sew on the "bangs". Take the smaller rectangle piece and sew it to the top like this:

6. At this point it is easiest to cut your iconic Minecraft shape into the hair piece. 
I googled a picture of Steve and came up with this motif for the hair:

You can copy it or make up your own. 
Steve's hair is a little shorter in the back, so you'll need to give it a trim as will.

7.  Sew up the two side seams between side 1, back, and side 2. It is easiest to begin at the corner and work down. You will also need to sew up the sides between side 1, 2 and bangs.

8. Grab your head piece.

9. Place the hair piece right on top just to make sure it fits. It should fit snug and well.

10. If everything looks good to you, glue the hair piece in place with your fabric glue. I use small straight pins to hold everything in place. Add a little bit more if the edges don't stay down and pin in place. 
I let the glue dry overnight.

11. Add Steve's eyes, nose and mouth. I cut small rectangles of white and small squares of blue for the eyes.
Then, two small rectangles of brown for the nose and mouth. Glue in place.

12. Sew on the head.
Center it on the body piece and stitch just around and under where the head meets the body.
It will overhang in the front and back by a 1/2" or so.

13. Sew on the arms.
Pin the arms up by the shoulders and sew completely down where the body and arm pieces meet. 
This keeps the arm from becoming to floppy.

14. Enjoy your new Steve! 
(didn't want to end on 13....)

This is Steve standing up. Go Steve!
Here's a shot of the back. Shhhh, he wouldn't want me to show you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moss Rib Stitch Cowls

Oh my goodness! I love this rib stitch! It makes the most wonderful squishy ribbing, perfect for a cowl or a deep scarf. I found the pattern on Ravelry and followed it to Cashmere Blend. This knitter got the pattern from his LYS salesperson. 

When I began I cast on 10 stitches because I only had purchased one skein. If you want to make a wider version, say for a wider, longer scarf or deeper cowl, he says to cast on 32 stitches and get 2 or more skeins of yarn. To cast on I used the long tail cast on for a stretchy edge. I used size 8 needles. 

Note that he lets you know to slip your stitches knitwise in the comments section, but he does state that in the pattern as this: sl 1 k.  I haven't seen that particular way of saying slip knitwise, but it works. Usually it's more like this: sl 1 kw. Sometimes it's not stated at all because the typical way to slip stitches is purlwise unless stated in the pattern. Make sure to do that with the yarn at the back of your work. When working with a pattern posted on a blog, it's a good idea to read the pattern through and check the comments section for answered questions. It's likely another person has the same questions as you do.

The cast off method is good. It does help the cast off edge look like the cast on edge. It doesn't really matter if you're making the cowl. Just sew the two ends together and weave in ends. When ppso (pass previous stitch over) is stated, it is done the same way as psso (pass the slipped stitch over). He's just being more specific because you are not always passing a slipped stitch over. Sometimes it's a knitted or purled stitch.

The pattern does call for 2 skeins of yarn like he says, but it is very generous when knitted with one. For the cream cowl I used Paton's pure wool yarn bought at my local JoAnn's Fabric. It's a nice yarn for the $6.00 price and it's a nice sized skein. I knit it until it was gone. As I have worn the cream cowl it has stretched out and I can wrap it around my neck 3 times. That's why it's not sitting up as wonderfully as the blue. =) It's great for those blustery, nippy days when I want a turtleneck without having to wear a turtleneck.

The blue was knit in a pure merino yarn I purchased on a trip to Salt Lake City. The store I purchased from had a great selection of fabrics, felts, and embroidery supplies, but a very small section of yarns. This lonely blue yarn in the clearance bin caught my eye. Initially, I was drawn to it because of the sheen on the yarn. It just glows from within. Then when I picked it up I felt its softness and springiness. I was sold. I didn't keep the tag so now I have no idea who produced it. (sigh) I'm sure my LYS will have something like it. I knit it until it was gone.

After knitting with a 5 ply pure merino I've found I needed to treat it differently than the pure wool from Paton's. It's much more finicky about needles being stuck into the ball - it breaks the smaller plys of yarn causing unraveling. I would have to break off the yarn just before the unravel and restart after cutting out the weak section. Pain in the butt! I won't be doing that again. Any higher ply yarn - no needles stuck in that ball! Also, it doesn't weave in well because it's very smooth, almost slippery. All those tails now stick out like fuzzy ends. But, despite its little hiccups it's a wonderful yarn to knit with. Flys off the needles and feels like silk. Knit with one ball, it wraps around my neck the typical two times and cinches up close to my neck.

The blue has more structure to the stitches as well. I think that is probably due to the difference between the pure natural wool and the finer spun merino. I like the differences. The cream wears well in everyday comings and goings to school and store. The blue is more for a pop of color on a delicate day. I'm always concerned about the plys being caught on something and breaking. Not my idea of hardy! But, it is beautiful!

It's always nice to have a new pattern that turns out to be one of many go-to patterns. 
This is one I will happily knit for gifts, family, and myself time and time again!