Friday, December 31, 2010

Wild Tam

I have a niece who's 12, and quite fashion conscious. Slouchy hats are 'in' this year, and she loves orange and bright colours. I didn't really have any orange yarn that I felt would make a good hat for her, especially after seeing the tam pattern Diana Sullivan posted. I stopped into my LYS for the first time since we moved here (I was able to hold off for 15 months!), and found some Berroco Sox Metallic that I thought would fit the bill. My only problems were finding the time--I had gifts to make that had to be mailed, and I had a long list of gifts I wanted to make that didn't have to be mailed....LOL. Plus I wanted the hat a little slouchier than what Diana's seemed to be. Although I've read of people on the Yahoo lists making this hat, there aren't too many pictures or blog posts about it. I didn't have much to go on to figure it out.
I don't recall exactly what I did with my first effort....but it resulted in many more rows than the original pattern, which meant when I joined it to the ribbed band, it was very pouffy (lets not go into how on the first try of joining it, I made a math mistake and had to redo it!). It looked more like a wool shower cap than a slouchy hat.
For the second try, I loosened up the tension, and cast on 50st instead of the 45 in the pattern. To work these extra 5 sts into the short rowing and keep the same number of rows per wedge as Diana's pattern, I put a needle into work about every 10 rows, when the carriage was on the left (the pattern has you put the needles into work while the carriage is on the right, and as you do that every time the carriage is on the right, the extra sts have to be worked while COL, or I guess you could put two sts into work every 10 rows when COR....).
I kept the original ribbed band and re-hung it. I had figured out that there were about 33 ribbed stitches per wedge, so I'd pull forward 33 st and hang one wedge. I did the joining and took it off the machine. It still seemed a little pouffy, but I hoped steam would help.
I think the above is the pre-steamed picture. I tried using a dinner plate, but mine were too small. I used a platter, and it was still a little small. I steamed it as much as I could on the platter, then put it on the head. I think I should have let it cool before moving it though, as I think the ribbing got stretched going over the platter as I took it off.It smoothed out quite a bit. I think using a looser tension helped to not get quite a sharp edge to the tam that you can see in others' pictures. I am not a great hat model, and my hair was all pulled up. It's not quite as orange as I would have liked, but I had showed her the failed first attempt, and she did like the could she not--it has metallic glitter in it, LOL!
I haven't gotten it to her yet, I was hoping to get something else made with the leftover yarn. Diana says the tam takes just a smidge under 50gr, but this one took 62gr. That doesn't leave me enough to make fingerless gloves, but I have a few ideas...
(More details are on my Ravelry page).

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Shroom Head

I found out my SIL got a new coat this year. The description on Facebook was that it was olive tan beige green, and possibly iridescent. My SIL's favourite colour is purple, and last year I made her the charcoal "Bella Mitts" for her birthday. I did not think a purple hat would go with this coat, despite my SIL's insistence that purple goes with everything. I find that in this sort of circumstance, a multi-coloured yarn is usually the way to go, rather than trying to match such an interesting colour description, LOL. I searched my stash and found this yarn, "Braemar" by Stylecraft. It's either 55% wool, or 55% acrylic, LOL. I chose the "Shroom" pattern from last year. I had tried to make it last year, but it looked so hilariously ridiculous on me, I had to frog it the instant the shutter clicked. This time, I was much more impressed. It's not too terribly slouchy though; I'm not sure that the current trend is suitable for us more .... mature.... ladies, LOL. You can't see it in the picture, but it does slouch at the back.We gave my son Roxio Creator Pro to "play" with photos and videos for Christmas, and I tried it out with this photo. It has a dedicated "blemish remover" and a "wrinkle remover" too! The caption reads "Does this hat make me look like a 'shroom?" LOL!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Knitted Gifts for Teachers

I struggle with teacher gifts each year. Even though I know it's coming, I'm usually caught off guard, LOL. For Christmas, I like to give something for the teacher--something personal or something festive or something to help out the season...not a "#1 Teacher" mug. (For the end of school, I like to give something for the classroom...this way, the child has moved on and won't be there to say "That's MY gift"). This year, I'm giving a cute ornament made by a high school friend, and the kids made bookmarks similar to this (though not the fancy bookmark, we could only get plainer ones, but they picked all the beads and did it themselves). I had planned to make MK gloves for the kindergarten teacher, but she came out wearing grey gloves the other day, so I canned that. I was going to make some for Hugh's teacher, but he says he's sure the teacher already has gloves. We saw Lucy's teacher at the Santa Claus Parade, and I saw she had some bright green on her jacket, and the teachers wear safety vests in the yarn, one of them is bright green. So I made her some bright green mitts.Mmmm. The colour is much lighter and clearer and brighter in life, not like pea soup on my monitor.

I used the standard old mitten pattern from Patons, with 40st and 4mm needles. After doing the thumb, I knit the next row on the body and then thread a strand through the 20sts of the back of the hand. Knit the rest of the hand, ending with 1x1 ribbing, instead of fingers like you often see. I find the fingers tend to make the mitts a little bulky. Then I picked up the loops of the 20sts, cast on 20st for the palm side, and knit in the round for the flap, following the mitten pattern. They look a little out of balance because the yarn I used (Easy Knit brand "Georga", from Wal-Mart, 100% "Mercerized" Wool), knit up at 22st/4" and 30 rows/4" instead of the pattern's 19st and ? rows (I can't find that page, but I think it was about 24rows). I had followed the row counts for up to the thumb, which resulted in that portion of the mitt being a little shorter than it should be, so the rest of the mitt--knit to the length requirement--looks too long. As well, the mitts are close fitting instead of loose. The weird thing is, the yarn had a 'ball band gauge' of 18st/24rows on 5.5mm. That seemed outrageous just by looking at the yarn, and I think the gauge I got for the mitts is perfect (however, I wish I had ripped back and increased a few sts for the hand as it is stretched a little on me and I think the teacher is probably a bit bigger).

What's even more perfect is that the yarn was sold in 2 ball packs....for $5. I used just under one ball. Yup. And I picked up a LOT of packs over the past month; many shades of green.
Now, the instructions say to handwash in warm, so I'm going to test a swatch in the machine. AFTER Christmas. And should I make her a hat, or a neck cowl?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Gift

Who hasn't known a child to build a fort with a sheet, or wrap one around their neck for a superman cape, or pin one to their hair for a bridal veil? My kids love stealing pieces of fabric from my sewing room, and using them for blankets, forts, costumes, etc. I decided for my 4 year old niece that I would knit her a big piece of lacy pink fabric, to use her imagination with.
Back in the spring, I saw an ad on for some cones of baby coloured machine knitting yarn. I emailed the poster, and it was one of those "wow, you're just like me!" moments...the similarities in our lives were fascinating, although she had just had her first baby. The yarn had been her grandmother's, and she knew nothing about it. Somehow though, I got distracted, or was broke, and forgot to follow through. A while later I saw the email in my box and did a face-palm. I emailed her, and she said since she hadn't heard back to me, she gave it to a machine knitter from Omeemee. I knew instantly who it was, LOL! I emailed her and teased her about taking my yarn. She wrote back saying that she had good intentions to make baby blankets for the hospital, but the yarn wasn't working the way she wanted. And if I wanted it, I could have it, and in fact, she'd be in Brooklyn in two weeks and could even drop it off. For free. Well. Everything for a reason, and there are usually very good reasons why I procrastinate!!!! Marg is the creator of a very popular circular knit dishcloth, and to thank her, I knit a couple of her dishcloths for a gift--I figure she's either sick of knitting them herself, or knits so many for others that she never gets any for herself (I've shown them on here before, they're quite pretty!).
I chose card 7 (Singer), and started with a swatch. I wanted to do it as a tuck rib so that I wouldn't have to worry about edges. As soon as I put every other needle out of work on the mainbed, chaos happened. This card has every other st knit and the alternate sts tucking, for two rows, then it alternates. I tried different combos with ribber needles, but nothing was working. I looked in the mainbed manual to see if there was something else to try. It showed this card doing tuck lace by putting TWO needles out of work! That was the ticket. I could pretty much use what ever pattern of ribber needles that I wanted to--the more I had, the wider the fabric, however, it did seem that placing them in different spots relative to the out of work needles gave different widths too.
Relaxed the fabric is somewhat boring but it is lacey and stretchy.But stretched out with the weights...It's rather neat. This is now the backdrop on my computer, LOL. Of course, it doesn't stay this taut once off the machine and washed.This is the needle set up I ended up with, I used T10 and I think needles 90L-90R, or at least 85-85. I was concerned about going all the way to the ends of the bed; I don't have extension rails. Because it's every other needle tucking, it didn't matter which needles were sent out of work, as long as it was at least two. I did keep track of the rows, but unfortunately forgot to look at the counter before starting the next project. It was at least 500 I think. I think I weighed it, but again, I don't have the info. It turned into a huge, fluffy, frothy, cotton candy squishy piece of fabric. I would have liked it wider, but I was also limited by the fact I had to mail it!
I hope my niece likes it and has some fun!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Super Easy MK Fingerless Gloves for 8 year old

I made two pairs of gloves on the standard gauge machine, and wanted something a little faster, so I thought I'd give fingerless gloves a try. I started with making a pair for Meg's teacher, then suddenly switched to making a pair for my niece's 8th birthday (today!).

Standard Gauge with Ribber
30gr sock yarn (I used old Kroy 4ply, which lists a stockinette gauge of 28st/4")
waste yarn in a highly contrasting colour

Cast on every other needle: MB 30L-31R; RB 29L-30R; do the zig zag row and hang weights, and then the "circular" or "tubular" cast on at T3 (or even a little tighter).
Switch to 1x1 rib and T4. RC=000. Rib for 20 rows.

Now to increase for the thumb gusset. Move the outer stitch at each edge, on both beds, out one position (keep every other needle out of work). Take the heel of the st towards the center of the bed, and place it on the empty needle (so, don't take the heel of the outer stitch that was moved, but from the first st beside it).
Knit four rows.
Repeat these two steps; making increases when RC reads 20, 24, 28, 32, 36. That makes 10 sts increased at either edge. When RC=40, take the 10 sts at each end off onto waste yarn threaded through each stitch (one strand for the MB sts, one strand for the RB sts is fine). Knot the strands!

Continue ribbing till RC=64. This makes a long hand that can be folded back for better finger exposure, or left long to keep fingers warm. Remove main yarn and thread up waste yarn. Set the carriage to knit circular, and knit about 20 rows (10 rounds).

Now, the hard part, which isn't all that hard, you just have to visualize. So far, there is a seam going up the thumb side of the hand, right up to where the sts have been taken off. We will re-hang those sts to keep ribbing, and keep the seam on the outer thumb, but the thumb will be knit in one piece. Start hanging the left side of the thumb (anywhere on the beds), (make sure to hang the original MB sts on the MB...I'm sure most of you would know this, but ahem..some of us need reminders). The 10st is on the RB. Bring the next MB needle in pattern into work, then the RB needle, then another MB needle. These three needles will be empty. Continue hanging the other half of the thumb, starting from the inner part which should be a RB stitch.

Make sure carriage is set to rib, T4, RC=000. Take carriage across, and you can see those empty 3 needles in the middle should now have yarn across them. You can hang a "7" hanger and light weight, or just knit the next row slowly and make sure those sts knit properly, add a claw weight when you can. Rib for 10 rows. Switch to waste yarn and set the carriage to circular, and knit 10 rounds/20 rows. Take it off the machine, cutting the main yarn with a long tail.
It now looks like this, if you fold it to make it look like a glove:

But look closely at that weird thumb:

Here, you can see, sort of, how the outer stitches that were increased, are pulled around and joined in the middle, not joined by the outer edges. If that step was too confusing, feel free to just rib those 10 st on each side separately (and infact, this might make them a smidge quicker as you could leave the hand in hold position while you do each side of the thumb, but it would mean two seams, and you'd have to add one (or more) stitch where the thumb meets the body)To finish off the top, and the thumb, I used the "Smiles and Frowns" cast off from Diana Sullivan's Ribber Course videos. If you haven't seen those, you should, they are awesome. Ribbing is very stretchy so if you want to make them for an adult, I'd try casting on only a bit more, MB 32-33, RB 31-32....keep the MB as the outer sts. The gloves I made for an adult took 50gr, just for reference. 30gr is what I seem to always have left over from a 100gr ball of sock yarn. Diana's adult tam takes 50gr, so you should be able to get a pair of gloves or wrist warmers and a tam from one 100gr ball!