Either/Or

I have had the most fun learning to knit these modular sideways hand warmers.  The pattern, called Either/Or, is a great one.  It’s by Lee Meredith, and she includes instructions for making short fingerless gloves, long fingerless gloves and mittens.   The pattern is very thorough.  There is a little bit of calculating in order to keep track of the stitches cast on for when you knit the second glove.  This is where I went wrong.

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First, I think these gloves are so pretty.  I started knitting in the round with the thumb.  You have to do lots of increasing, and this was kind of funny to me to try to keep up with.

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I didn’t have enough colors so I had to use some yarn markers as well (blue and pink).  The markers indicated where I was doing the increases.  All the markers overwhelmed me a little at first, but then I realized it was no big thing.

Once I increased to a certain point, I put part of the stitches on markers and then knit the top.  When I was done with the top, I came back to the stitches on the bottom and knitted the bottom.  Although – these mitts are so fun.  They fit so that the top can be the bottom or the bottom can be the top.  Either works.

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So back to how I went wrong:

I knit the first mitt and then I got distracted by another project.  I left these mitts for a week or so.  When I returned to the second mitt, I somehow didn’t do my calculations correctly, and I ended up with this:

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Two different sized mitts.  I am not sure how I did this.  I was disappointed though.  I’d hoped to give these as a gift, but I will have to make some more. Making more is not a bad thing, but I wish I would have knitted them one after the other.  I need to resolve to do better in project finishing.  For example, I was looking around at my projects on ravelry today, and I found a sock that I had made in 2010.  I realized that the second one still needs to be made.

So now having realized my finishing problems, I realize that I’ve got to get back to these gnome mittens.  The first one is almost done.  I don’t want the gnome mittens to become another unfinished statistic.

gnome-mittens

 

Superheroes vs. Aliens

We have discovered the fun of stop motion animation.

Meet our cast of characters: SuperDavey, SuperMama and SuperDaddy.

Superheroes

And then there’s the aliens:

aliens

Here are the first efforts of beginners having a great time with stop motion animation!

The inspiration for our movie came from my efforts to convince Davey whenever he was staging some elaborate battle with his action figures that he should have them hug to resolve their issues.  He always says “Mammmaaaa” and continues his battle.  I have said it so often that I don’t think he hears me anymore!  So when we were thinking about making our movie, I thought we should bring in that same perspective of love not war.  He liked the idea.

The knitting patterns came from Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochi Land. Her patterns are great and fun to knit.  She has written several books and has created many art installations with her knits.  She is also my stop motion inspiration.  She creates beautiful, clever, and fun stop motion videos.  She’s definitely worth checking out!

 

Hats and a Koala

We have been on Christmas break, and I have been getting the chance to do lots of knitting.  It’s been great.

David decided that he needed a new hat.  I have a pattern that I have knitted a bunch of times called Boyfriend Hat.  It’s a great hat.  It’s just a 2 x 3 rib with a fun decrease.  I have probably made it at least ten times.  It had been awhile since I made it though, and I’d forgotten to make it a little longer for David’s large noggin.  So it didn’t quite cover the ears as well as David wanted (it’s darn cold in these parts right now, so I can understand the need for proper ear coverage.  I probably should just make him a balaclava).

It’s an ok hat though – we will wear it.  I made it with Plymouth Gina, and it was nice yarn to knit with.  I liked the colors in the hat as well. I convinced my sweet Davey to model it for me.

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It fits him pretty well.  The variegated yarn is really nice.  I’d happily knit more hats with it.

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Since hat number one was not ideal, I began a second hat.  I decided on a Jared Flood pattern that I’d not knit before called Turn A Square.  This is a great hat, and I think it will be my new “go-to” hat pattern.  It’s a lot of fun to knit, and I love how it turned out.  I was able to use the same yarn for this hat for the stripes.  I had some dark gray yarn for the main color, but I have no memory of what that yarn was.  That’s ok though because it was yarn from my stash which is always a good thing.

Jared Flood writes great clear patterns, and I had no trouble following this one.

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I got sweet Davey to model for me again.  He likes to get silly when I take too many pictures.

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These hats both knit up really quickly as well.

So then, I came across the cutest pattern.  It’s a Koala cup cozy.  I had never knitted a cup cozy before, but I couldn’t resist this one.  I made one for a friend, and I liked it so much that I made one for me.

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I was able to go to my stash for this yarn too.  That’s kind of a perpetual New Year’s Resolution for me:  Knit with the yarn I’ve got!

The hat requires duplicate stitch which is always tricky for me to get to look right. For example, the koala pictured above looks like he is a little more dangerous than cute.  I like him anyway though.  Maybe he is saying, “stay away from my coffee!”

I also had to make pom poms.  I am no pom pom expert, so I worry that they will disintegrate at any time.  Hopefully not.

Alexandra Davidoff designed this pattern, and she’s got another really cute pattern for a panda cup cozy on her website as well.  She actually has several designs that I’d like to knit sometime.

My knitting list of things I want to make is LONG and ever growing.

 

Our Friend James

Our friend James died Friday.   My brother, sister and I really considered James to be more like an uncle.  He and his wife Peggy lived across the street from us our entire childhood.  We always referred to them as “PeggynJames”.   We knew they were always across the street (dirt road) if we ever needed them.  James spent a lot of time with my dad over the years.  They often helped each other on different projects they had going.  I always enjoyed going to their house to visit.  Peggy taught me to crochet and helped me discover my love of all things fiber related.

James was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about two weeks ago. He went right into hospice care, and he died at home on Friday afternoon.

I am so thankful that we got to spend time with them this past summer.  We went to their house one afternoon for lunch.  We arrived, and it was like no time at all had passed since we’d last seen them.  I loved that Peggy put me to work in the kitchen helping her finish lunch (and it was a great lunch!), and David and James got a chance to talk.  I am glad that Davey got to see him and that he will have some memories of him.  I sure didn’t anticipate that this would be the last time we saw him.

james

James loved games.  He’d construct these fun little games made out of wooden or metal pieces.  They were like the intertwined kind that you’d have to figure out how to take apart.  When we visited this summer, he showed Davey a paper airplane launcher he had.  Davey thought this was great fun.  He always had something interesting to show us or something interesting that he was working on.

He had a great sense of humor too.  He always made us laugh, and he had a great laugh himself.

For example, when we visited in July, he told us that he had a guard dog:

guard-dog

I started writing this on Friday, the day James died, but I couldn’t decide just what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, or if I could say anything at all.  I decided though that I did want to write about James.  I will have this written to share with Davey someday, because I’d like to remember James with Davey.  James was the definition of a good neighbor and good friend.  Yesterday Peggy told my sister that “James was at peace with himself.  That’s one reason he was able to accept his untimely diagnosis and impending death”. Karen added that “we can all strive to live a life so we are at peace with ourselves when we die”.   That made a great impact on me, and that’s a life I want for myself and for Davey (and I wish that for everyone).

We will sure miss James though.

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(I borrowed this picture from my Uncle Mike Pantelogianis. Thank you Mike.)

Drop Spindlin’

I am learning to spin!  I was at the fair a few weeks ago, and I was looking at all the fiber related things.  I noticed that there were going to be several types of fiber classes offered throughout the fair.  One of them was learning to use a drop spindle.

I’d tried this once before.  My mom taught me, and I have a neat spindle that my dad made me.  But I didn’t get too great at it, and I didn’t stick with it then.  I decided though that I was ready to try again.

Turns out it is one of my new favorite things to do.  I don’t know why exactly.  It’s very repetitious, but I really like the feel of spinning the spindle and then working the twist into the fiber.  People say that knitting is a meditative soothing kind of activity.  I can see that, but I experience that feeling much more with spinning.

So far, I am a beginner who is not too good at it.  Once I can actually make beautiful fingering weight yarn, I imagine it will be even more relaxing to me.

This is the fiber I bought from a seller named woolgatherings on etsy.

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I also bought a really neat spindle from another etsy seller named Snyder Spindles  It is pretty and light and spins so nicely.  I love it.

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My spinning is not great.  There is definite variation in my efforts.  Lots of thick and thin and then those lovely slubs of really thick spots.

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However, I think the yarn on the right side is a small improvement over the other two hanks, and it is the one I did last.  Slowly but surely I am improving.

I finished spinning, winding, plying, washing and drying it this morning, and I was looking forward to knitting it up.  I had 4 oz of yarn from which I think I made about 150 yards of pretty bulky yarn.

I found a free pattern on ravelry called “Big Chunky Comfy Hat”.  It’s a great simple pattern.  I was able to knit the entire hat this afternoon.

I asked Davey to let me take pictures of him modeling it, but he didn’t want to be the subject of pictures.  Instead, he offered to take the pictures of me in the hat.

Here’s my favorite:

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It makes me laugh.  He got much better though.

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He finally got tired of me wanting him to try one more, so he decided to put the hat on after all.

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It’s just a really simple pattern of p2 knit 1 rib, and then I switched to k2 p1.  The decreases are easy and fun too.  I wanted it to be simple because I like the way the yarn (inconsistent as I was) spun up.

blue-hat-5

I think I underestimated how much yarn I actually spun, so I am pretty sure I have enough for another hat!  When I was a beginning knitter, I made more hats.  I am back to that now as I learn to spin more smoothly.

This drop spindling is a whole lot of fun.  I have some BFL fiber from a local sheep too that I’ve started, and it’s wonderful to spin as well.  I’ll have to write about that soon!

Fair Knitting Semi-Disaster and a New Project

Our county fair was this weekend.  It’s a lot of fun.  We all three enter something so we can get exhibitor passes which allow us to go in and out all weekend.  David entered a photograph, Davey an awesome dinosaur Lego sculpture, and I had my knitting.

This year, I entered the sweater I made for Davey.

Wyatt-sweater-1

I have not made many sweaters and I think the assembly can be tricky to pull off.  While not perfect by any means, I had thought it went pretty well over all.

So I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see a red ribbon.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I’d worked so hard on the sweater!  I’d hoped for more. It kind of bugged me, and I was looking forward to seeing the critique when I went to pick it up last night.  I had a feeling that the problems might be in the finishing, and it turns out I was correct.  Although I did not anticipate what I’d done (not done rather).

The critique read:  “Finishing ends is just as important as the outside.”

Sure – I couldn’t agree more!  As I read that, I thought, “gosh, I must not have trimmed my carefully woven in ends close enough.”  So I turned my sweater inside out, and here is what I saw:

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Unwoven ends.  Not only was one not woven in, it was somehow attached on both sides and needed to be clipped and woven in.

So that was embarrassing. However, I do feel lots better now that I think I understand what the major problem was.  When I finished the sweater early in the year, I had some moments of panic because when I blocked it, it had grown exponentially and was humongous.  In trying to repair that damage, I must have forgotten to go back and finish the INSIDE!

Ugh.  On the bright side, they liked my Wonder Woman Hat.

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That’s a mistake I won’t make again.  I can already see myself obsessively checking for ends for years to come.

So I’ve started a new project. When I saw my sister a few weeks ago, she was working on an afghan which I really liked.  It’s a pattern called “Catch Some Waves“.

It’s going to take awhile to finish, but it’s a great pattern for peaceful knitting. The pattern is easily memorized, but it’s not completely mindless so I don’t get bored knitting it.

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I am working from leftover yarns from my stash, and it makes me feel great to know that I will be using some of it up!

A little sweater: my first attempt at intarsia

I recently finished knitting this:

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This was my first attempt at intarsia!  I wish I had a little human on which to model it, but I couldn’t quite squeeze it over Davey’s head!  It’s a 12- month size, and it’s really a great sweater pattern.  I’d highly recommend it for both a first sweater and a first intarsia project.  The pattern is from Roo Designs.  She has lots of really cute patterns.  Puppies, peace signs, penguins – all intarsia.

Here’s the puppy one.

puppy sweater

 

I really like this striped sweater with the skull and crossbones too!

skull sweater

I can thank my LYS, Yarn Folk, for inspiring me to finally try intarsia. I’ve been kind of scared of it. I was afraid that I would have big unsightly holes where I had to join the colors.  It wasn’t too hard though.  It was not unlike what I do when I switch colors in fair isle – when I catch the old color under the new so that there is a smooth transition.

Ann at Yarn Folk was leading a knit-along for this sweater, and she helped me lots.  She taught me to make my little butterflies that I needed to switch back and forth between the colors.

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It was a little tricky – the butterflies took me a little while to get used to.  I am very skilled at tangling yarn as well.  It seems to happen quite naturally for me.  So there was a few breaks for untangling along the way.

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I am pretty happy with it though!  I knitted it with Plymouth Encore which is a great inexpensive wool/acrylic blend.  I like working with it.

Here’s the back:

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I’d like to try this again sometime, and I’d like to do another Roo Design pattern.  Maybe Davey would like the skull and crossbones sweater!  It would be a lot of fun to make.

Knitting intarsia is one of those “makes me feel like a real knitter moments”.  I definitely want to try it again sometime.