Sunday, December 30, 2012

Merry Christmas

Well.  Where did December go?  The world's mildest cold turned into a bonafide flu on Dec 23.  I have been sick since Dec 3, in one way or another.  Four out of five of us have had something incapacitating, starting with Lucy on Dec 19.  I was working on a post a little while ago, but then realized the pictures were still on the camera, and with sick kids, gifts to prepare, my own sickness....I haven't even gotten those pictures off yet.  And now I'm off for a night or two to my parents for New Year's, which happens to be my dad's birthday.  So, I probably won't get back here for a real post until Thursday or Friday.  I hope to do a "Yarn Confession" update and year re-cap; it was a really interesting experiment for the year, which I'm going to keep doing.  One of these years I should be able  to knit more than what I bring in, right?!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sharp Dressed Man

The photographer I've been working with requested a classy, fedora and bow tie set and showed me some pictures.  Ohhh.  So cute.  However, I will admit to hesitating...way too long...I knew I would have to do it in crochet.  And I knew I'd need a pattern.  How on earth do you get the shaping at the top?  You know, the crease in the front?  I searched on Ravelry quite a bit, and it appeared I was going to have to buy a pattern and the best option seemed to be  Okay, it's reasonably priced, the website looks well done, and there's a discount for buying several patterns, and the recommended yarn was one I happened to have in my stash in black already (though I purchased another ball, just in case.  You'll see tomorrow what that became, and how that lead to needing another ball...).  I bought the fedora pattern, the bow tie pattern, and a couple other ones(I had to play with the exposure and contrast so you could see the details. This set is jet black!)
I got started on the fedora, and discovered that it's just a regular, start at the top, hat!  There's no special shaping for the fedora crease.  The trick is to crochet it fairly tight, and then shape it by hand by pinching it.  I did add a couple extra rounds before the brim increases, it seemed really short (there was no row gauge given, but I was meeting the stitch gauge).  I have been a little in the dark about just how tiny newborn heads are...just as I was finishing this, I did get to see a 7 day old baby.  TINY head.  This hat did turn out to be the size the pattern said--13.5"--but's it not stretchy (due to the tight crochet and also possibly the satin band).  I had re-do it a bit bigger as it wasn't going ON the baby's head.  The pattern pictures do show it perched on top, but also that it's a great hat for everyday wear.   Not so, if it's perched just on top, and no way would a non-stretchy 13.5" hat fit the whole 0-3month range!
 I then made the bow tie.  I will say, I was disappointed that this was a paid-for pattern.  It uses the same yarn (Bernat Shetland Chunky), but no gauge was given, but I assumed it should be the same, based on the hook.  You start out with a chain, then work into 5 chains using (I think, don't remember now) double crochet.  However, the way it was written was not really clear and it would have actually appeared that each row would have one less stitch.  I knew that wasn't right, and although I didn't know exactly how it should turn out, it appeared that it was to be a 5st rectangle, 8" long.  Then you join the start and ends, and seam by crocheting together.  I couldn't quite wrap my mind around how to align the pieces; don't know if that's my inexperience showing or the pattern is not clear.  Got it seamed.  Then, the pattern is pretty much tells you to wind yarn around the middle of the bow tie to make the "knot", and then to make a chain to the desired length.  No advice on the length, or how to attach it to the bow.  I really needed to know how long to make the chain.  And just a chain seemed really wimpy, so then I single crocheted back on the chain.  After it was used in this photo shoot, I had to shorten the tie, so I decided to re-do the bow using one less double crochet.  If the hat isn't over-sized, I don't think the bow tie should be.
 I knew the hat needed a hatband, and although I had a braid that was suitable, I went for some grosgrain satin ribbon.  I tried several different items I had laying around for the detail, but none of them really made me happy.  I kept wanting a feather.  After wandering around Michaels' I found a bag of black feathers.  Good thing it's a large bag, since the dog ate the first feather...
It's really hard to see the front crease! 
To make the diaper cover, I decided to give a crochet pattern a try.  I went with this one as the gauge would be close and it seemed popular.  I can understand why photographers like these in this style, much more adjustable.  I played with my button stash, and nothing worked.  Then I tried a cuff link, and it worked REALLY well!  However, it didn't work on the hatband, and I didn't want to give away my cuff links.  But keep it in mind for later.  If you go with a button, make sure to sew it on loose...even put the layers together and sew the button on through the layers (between stitches, so it is able to open still).  I found a package of black, glittery buttons from Michaels' and there were assorted sizes.  Subtle, but a bit of sparkle.
The diaper cover turned out to have some issues...the little flaps weren't staying tucked nicely.  I added inside buttons, but they might get in the way of the main button.  Two buttons instead of one might be a better option, though the photographer said it was annoying to do the button anyway.  Might just stick with the other pattern, but make sure to do drawstring waists.

I'm quite pleased with this set.  Again, had to push myself out of my comfort zone, but I think that's a good thing! The scale says it's 106gr, but I used just under one 100gr ball.  I doubt the two buttons, ribbon, and feather weigh 10gr?

Yarn In:  20 354gr
Yarn Out:  106gr + 16 137gr = 16 243gr
Balance:  4111gr more brought IN than used up
Costs:  $524.43/358 days = $1.46/day

But ummm....I did pick up some more yarn last Thursday....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Simple Things

Last month when I went to my monthly MK group, I needed a quick, simple project.  I made up one red diaper cover there, that takes about 30 minutes.  So I worked on this hat.  It still didn't take up much time, LOL.  The yarn is Loops & Threads "Impeccable" in Sage Butter.  It's much softer than the brown I used for the football set.

The yarn has a slight touch of sheen, but of course, when I used the flash, it turned out too shiny.
It fits 0-3 months, I'll say.  It seems my ball is a little big for newborn heads, but is closer to three months (which I still think of as newborn, LOL).  This weighed in at 69 grams.  Those pompoms suck up a lot of yarn!  I'll add this one to my shop ($15), and if someone wants a matching diaper cover, they can let me know.

Yarn In:  20 354gr
Yarn Out:  69gr + 16 068gr = 16 137gr
Balance:  4217 gr more brought IN than out
Cost:  $1.49 per day

I don't think I can knit myself out of the stash surplus before the end of the year.  Even a MK baby blanket takes 230gr-300gr...that's about 17 baby blankets LOL.  Not happening!

Winter Time

Winter means mitts!  This year the school has a "Mitten Tree" (for mittens or hats) and of course, I have to donate!  I made up a pair of size 4 mitts, using that bright coral that I used for another pair recently.  I forgot to weigh them, or even take a picture, but the other ones were 33gr, so I'm going to call these ones at 30gr. 
This time, I did the cast on and ribbing like in the LK150 manual.  It was quite nice, except for sitting there latching up the ribbing, LOL.  I started a larger mitten and have taken photos for every step, so I am going to write up my definitive machine knit mitten pattern soon.  I've given tutorials and shown how I do things already, but this time I will have ALL the numbers, for all the sizes, based on a 20/26 worsted weight yarn.
I also have an adorable black fedora/bow tie set to show off, for newborn photography, a new slouchy hat for myself that's almost finished, and several more projects lined up (including about 5 pairs of double thick mittens cut out and ready to sew up once my cold starts letting off).  Posting might be a bit sporadic over the Christmas period, but I'm going to try to keep on top of it this year!
Oh, I bought a bit of yarn for a project...144gr of sage green worsted, from Value Village and 60gr of novelty yarns from Bessie's Treasures.  Her shop is closed right now, and I'm surprised you can't see her lovely photos!  This photo is one she sent me while we figured out a custom order.

Yarn In:  20 150 + 204gr = 20 354gr
Yarn Out:  16 038gr + 30gr = 16 068gr
Balance:  4286gr more brought IN than out
Cost:  $1.57 + 26.56 = $28.13 + $496.30 = $524.43/353 days = $1.49/day

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Cute overload

The photographer that I've been knitting for wanted a plain red set (hat and diaper cover).  Plain red.  Oh dear.  I could do plain if the yarn was interesting, but plain red yarn and a basic hat....I put it off for a few days while I stewed about how I could do a plain but not boring hat.  I initially thought of cables, but when I sat down to do that at the machine, and thought about the stitches I'd be converting from purl to knit....I looked for other option.  I remembered the basic square hats I've made, and how a bit of tuck could liven it up!  Bingo!  How cute is this (41gr)?
 I was going to put tassels on initially, but thought they might look a  little ...riske in red?   LOL.  Someone suggested little bells, but I thought that made it too holiday-ish.  So I went with pompoms.  Just as I was finishing up, she emailed me that she'd like a flower for on it too.  I wasn't so sure about that...I felt there was enough going on as it was.  But I obliged and made a red flower.  Then, for a bit of contrast, I made a variegated one.  Then a white and red one....(total, 27gr)
 The diaper covers always get me with their tiny size.  I made the one on the right first 34gr), and the size matches exactly the size chart on the pattern, for a 8-14lb newborn.  However, many newborns are less than that and the original pattern is for over cloth diapers, not disposables.  It looked large, so I made the next size down (or, I think it might have been a half size down).  It looked so TINY (24gr)!  She chose the one on the left, and I let her know that if she does get a bigger baby, just call me :)
 The flowers also would look cute on a little tushie!
 I was smitten with the first hat, but worried about the size being a bit big, or too fussy.  So I handknit a little cable hat.  60st, cast on with 4.5mm, knit in pattern for 5 or so rows, switch to 5mm, work for a bit, then gradually decrease, keeping the pattern intact as much as possible, then a couple rows of decreasing what's left to get the point (22gr).  I hadn't initially wanted the point, but it reminded me of a Hershey Kiss when it was done, and it meant no pompom was needed, which means the flower stands out more.  I might try another one with no point when things slow down.
 See how cute it is with the flower?!
 Just as I was finishing up these items, she sent another email with an adorable baby in an elfish hat.  Done in crochet, it was bold, with a scarlet brim and pompom but soft white and sage green stripes.  I had trouble finding a green.  What I had was too dark, the store had one that was a good intensity but too yellow, and one that was good, I thought.  Once I tried it though, it was too dark.  I dug through my bin and found some wool from Wal-Mart when they were briefly carrying some decent yarns.  It was a little thin though, so I had to pair it with a strand of a fine darker green (which I think did darken it a bit too much).  The white was also a DK and a sock yarn held together, one soft white, one bold white.  I would have liked a bit of texture on the brim, but this red yarn is the same as the diaper covers, so they can do double duty.  Lucy liked this so much she's asked for one too!  (83gr)
 I just want to give two tips with pompoms.  Often, when you pull them out of the pompom maker, they look rather ragged and it's too easy to start trimming.  One tip is to steam them so the fibers open up and they get fluffier.  The second tip is to hold the base of the pompom and swing it around in circles.  This really fluffs it up and makes it round.  My biggest problem with this one was getting into the tip to tie it in.  It was too narrow and I kept ending up with the tie strings loosening up and the pompom dangling.
 Then I got news that a pair of my mittens had sold, and a woman wanted the same mittens, but with fleece inside.  I found some super fleece at the Salvation Army (and a pair of heels that are just what I've been looking for except they need some glue), and whipped up the mittens on the bottom for the custom order (on Tuesday night while Rob took Meg to her skating--normally it's my job, but luckily for me, she wanted him this week!).  While I was at it, I made another pair in the other striped fabric that has been popular (but the mitts that are in the store are too small for most shoppers).  For the inside, I used some beige woven alpaca that my mother-in-law gave me after she trimmed a lovely cape that she felt was too long.  There was no stretch, so I cut the alpaca on the bias.  I wish I had realized this issue with the first batch of mitts--some of the fleece ones don't have stretch :(  They should have arrived at the store today!
And last, but not least, is a simple crochet hat to go with a Baby Surprise Jacket that has been waiting to be sewn up for quite a while.  The pattern said it was for 20 1/2", which I think was around age 4, so I was trying to size it down, but just didn't know how big to make it, and just how big the sweater actually is....then all this custom knitting started and this got sent to the bottom of the drawer.  I decided it needed to be finished!  Less than an hour to finish off!  It's a little loose on my 0-3 month "head" (24gr)

Cannot wait to see babies in these items!  I have gone back to old posts and added photos from the photographer.  Scroll down and have a look.  I really can't believe how awesome my knits look on newborns in photos!  I'm loving this!!

Yarn In:  20 150gr
Yarn Out:  255gr + 15 783 = 16 038gr
Balance:  4112gr more brought IN than out
Costs:  $496.30/347 days = $1.43/day

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Love My Job

I have been so busy the past two weeks, barely home it seems.  I've been knitting custom orders for a photographer, and have two a custom order for two more of those long, textured, multi-coloured hats--one in greens and one in pinks.  So, that meant shopping!  I didn't succeed very well with finding yarns for those projects, but I certainly DID find yarn, LOL.  And a few sweaters for the sewn mitts.

There is actually one new ball of yarn missing from this picture; bought specifically for a custom order but then I didn't use it.  What we do have back left, a bag (335gr) of mostly blue yarns, including 4 balls of Bouquet "Floss", 75% mohair, 10%wool, 10% acrylic, 5% nylon, a ball of Simpsons "Supremacy" All Purpose Yarn, 50% wool, 50% nylon, (Simpsons was like Sears, and was eventually bought by Sears which became Simpsons-Sears in Canada);  and a ball of Harding "Sock & Sweater Yarn" (from the days people knit sweaters by hand at 7st/inch!); it's so old it just says "wool and viscose, nylon re-inforced; washable colours", so I have no idea of what the percentages are!  $2.99+tax

205gr of Pingouin "poudreuse"; 80% acrylic, 10% wool, 10% mohair in a minty, light sage.  This will be perfect for one of the two hats!  A little on the lighter side than I'd like (22st), but it's hard to find mohair-ish yarns at a worsted weight.  This bag was $3.99 - 30% ($2.80)+ tax, from Value Village.

Front right is a bag of cream yarns.  I saw the Lopi and thought it was all Lopi so I was a little disappointed when I looked at it at home.  245gr in total, $3.99 - 30% ($2.80)+ tax from Value Village (so, still a good deal for a ball of Lopi!) and cream coloured worsted yarns can always be used.

Middle front:  two balls of Lionbrand Fun Fur, bought new at Michaels', $8 + tax, 100gr

Left front:  3 balls of Knitpicks "Sugar Bunny", 80% merino, 20% angora in a deep emerald, from Value Village for $5.99 - 30% ($4.19)+ tax.  I almost passed it by because it's not the green I'm looking for, but then I saw the label!  It'll make a nice little set for me and my new black coat.  However, after petting it in the truck, I found green fuzz on my coat :(  122gr...the ball with the label weighs in at 48gr and the label says 50gr.  Even if the label weighs nothing, the ball is still short 2gr and since this yarn has great yardage, 2-3gr can make a difference.  The smallest ball is 28gr and interestingly, has a slightly felted look.

Not shown, a 128gr ball of Loops & Threads Impeccable in "Forest".   I'm sure I've used this yarn in variegated colours, and it was soft and had a slight sheen.  This yarn is dry and matte.  Hopefully steam will improve it.  Total, $3.96

Yarn In:  1135gr + 19 015gr = 20 150gr
Yarn Out:  15 783gr
Balance:  4367 gr more brought IN than out
Costs:  $27.96 + $468.34 = $496.30/345 days = $1.44/day