Thursday, October 30, 2008

The deed is done

OK, I un-grafted the shoulders on the cardigan and replaced the graft with a three needle bind off. It looks SO much better. I'd post a picture, but I'm feeling too lazy. Essentially, now there's a seam.

And now it's finishing time. I'm dreading it. Can I just let the whole thing hibernate for a few months?

p.s. This was my first 3-needle bind off. Yay for me!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Moment of Truth

I finished knitting the sleeves for the hexacomb cardigan tonight:

Awe, aren't they cute? Now comes the moment of truth: I have to decide whether to leave the messed up shoulders the way they are or bite the bullet and rip them out. I'm leaning toward the latter. But I think rather than try to match the pattern, I'm going to ditch the grafting and maybe do a 3-needle bindoff or just sew an actual seam. Having a seam on the shoulder might match the set-in sleeves better anyway. Probably. I must go off to bed now... sleepy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Checking in on the Lace Ribbon Scarf

I've been working intermittently on the lace ribbon scarf and I'm almost done. It's a little difficult to tell because I'd like to make it the 60'' length recommended in the pattern, but I'm having a hard time calculating for myself exactly how much this thing is going to stretch when I block it. Of course, If I had been a proper knitter and (a) knit a proper swatch and (b) blocked it, then I would know. But of course I didn't. It's a scarf for crying out loud!

It looks like I'm not going to need the third skein of yarn, which is sort of irritating since I already balled it and everything -- plus, it's one more single skein in my stash that will remain unused for ages, making me feel guilty about all the money I have poured into yarn that I don't use. The thing is, I buy yarn when I really love it and usually when it's on sale but since I don't have a project in mind, I never know how much to buy so when I find a project that would be perfect for the yarn I inevitably either don't have enough, or I actually had the good conscious to buy enough of the yarn to knit something large and the project I'm thinking of won't use it all, and I don't want to break up the collection. I'm just in a cranky mood because I can't afford to buy new yarn so I have to pick projects based on what I've got in my stash instead of what I feel like knitting. Also, almost my entire stash is composed of worsted weight yarn and far more acrylic than I wish, so I'm seriously limited. I've recently been told that the stories I tell are too long, so I suppose I should summarize the point of this whole paragraph: I wish I had calculated the yardage I would need for this project better because my stash is too large and I am broke.

I bet the scarf will be finished this week... and now back to my homework.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

DS Piggy

I've been making a little cozy for my Nintendo DS - a slightly modified version of the "Mobile Monsters" pattern in Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. It's been a really quick knit - so quick that I haven't even mentioned it yet! Anyway, here is a picture of the cozy -- all I need is a face. I went through my massive button collection but I could only find a small pink button for his nose which might be cute if I gave him a little scrunched up face. I think I'll go to Windsor Button and see if I can find a bigger button first. Why not take advantage of living by a kick ass button store, right?

Also, I decided to get creative and add a little curly tail. I'm not sure if I'll keep it or not.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back to School Vest makes its public debut

I wore the Back to School Vest out in public for the first time on Wednesday. I haven't worn it out before because I finished it last spring and I thought it was a little formal for school with a long sleeve business shirt, plus a sweater vest isn't exactly springy. Then, over the summer when I actually wore business clothes, it was way too hot to wear a wool vest but I did end up buying a couple of short sleeve button-up shirts. Anyway, the past few weeks it has been very mild weather in Boston, so it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time to wear the vest with a short sleeve shirt, which would be a little more casual. It was really cute! I'm happy with it. It also kept me really warm in the air conditioned building. It always amazes me how a sleeveless vest can keep you so warm. So, in conclusion -- fall weather is perfect for wearing this vest. Maybe that's why it's called Back to School? I guess I should have taken the hint.

Here's a pic:

And just for fun, here is a picture of Roxy interfering with my use of the camera's self timer. Isn't she sweet?


I have to admit, I missed the presidential debates. Luckily, I can now reenact them and be sure the candidates address the issues I care about. For the first time this election season, I am inspired.

Thanks Lion Brand:
Obama Finger Puppet
McCain Finger Puppet

I'm also reminded of a pattern I saw in one of my vintage knitting magazines, McCall's Needlework and Crafts, fall/winter 1972-73:
Nothing quite like yarn and politics. (Insert pun about politicians spinning yarns)

(just to clarify - I didn't knit the finger puppets - the pics are from the pattern)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I am a genius!

Sometimes when I use my interchangable needle set I forget what needles I have out in various projects and when I go to put needles away after I'm finished with a project I always forget what size they were, then I have to pull out the knit check, and it's a big pain. So look what I did:

I wrote the color of the needles on the little plastic sleeve that holds it into the case. Now I can easily see what size needles are out in projects and be sure I put them back in the right place. I feel so smart. Go me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Roxy!

It's my baby kitty's third birthday today! They grow up so fast! I knit her this darling little toy - a catnip kick pillow. It's based on a project in 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders called the "Catnip Kick Pillow." Basically, it's a little pillow stuffed with catnip that kitty can hold with her front paws and kick at with her back feet. (Incidentally, this is exactly how Roxy plays with my shoes...) Brilliant idea!

So, I used some of my (ugly) variegated yarn and knit up little 4x6-ish pillow on size 6 DPNs in the round - then to decorate it I knit an attached i-cord all around the edges. Roxy really liked the i-cord - it gives her something to bite. She really loves this pillow - I'm so happy! I recommend this project to all cat lovers.

Here's a pic:
And now a pic of the pillow in use:And, because I love you, a video of the pillow in use:

BTW, the yarn is TLC Essentials Multi in the "Surf & Turf" colorway. When I bought this yarn I thought it was so pretty, then every time I take it out to use it I'm like, "yuck." But Roxy doesn't mind, and this is actually a good project to use a variegated yarn - which is good because I almost never knit with it. It's just not my thing.

The stuffing has a nylon stuffed with catnip and polyfill at the core of the toy with more polyfill stuffed around it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Problem of Escaping Pellets

When I made the Elefante stuffy for my mom's birthday it was the first time I had used poly pellets to weigh down the limbs (etc.) of stuffed toys. I really like the weight it gives the toy. For example, I really wish I had known about these when I knit Joe's Pasha - I would have filled up about half his body with pellets so he would sit up straight! The only problem is that the pellets seemed to work their way out of the little holes in the knitted fabric. It's not like they were pouring out or anything, it just bugged me. So, when I was commissioned to make a second elephant for a four year old, I decided I would try lining the pieces to keep the pellets from working their way out of the limbs and into her mouth (they're non-toxic, but still, toys for 4 year olds probably shouldn't leak).

I decided to use old nylons to line the pieces. (Like any proper cat lady, I have to replace my nylonds very frequently!) I only lined the pieces, I didn't acually construct little bean bags, so theoretically, I suppose some pellets could work their way out of the lined part, up through the stuffing and out through the fabric, but I doubt that will happen.

I tried three methods to do the lining: sewing, fabric glue, and hot glue. Here's the scoop:

I lined the trunk first and I decided to turn it inside out and sew the nylon in. I cut a square of nylon big enough to cover everything, wrapped it around and used a little whipstitch to seam it around the trunk, then I just stitched around the top and bottom to tack it to the knitted fabric. This worked really well - probably the best out of all the options because the fabric remained totally natural - flexible and stretchy (and not stiffened by glue). BUT, it took a long time and I am slightly worried than sewing into the nylon might have started a run that could eventually grow into a hole? I geuss only time will tell if that happens. Here's a pic:(BTW, I tried taking this picture several times to make it look a little less phallic, but there was simply no way. It seems a little NC-17 to me...)

Fabric Glue:
I didn't want to sew the nylon four more times into all the legs, so I got lazy and decided to use glue. I pulled out the Unique Stitch fabric glue and spread over the (inside out) leg and then wrapped the nylon around it. I was a little irritated because it wouldn't stay at all (not tacky enough in its wet form) and I got glue all over my hands. But, I grabbed a clothes pin to hold everything down and let it dry for about an hour, then it held fine. The pros of this method are that it didn't take as long to put the lining into place and at the end the knitted fabric was still flexible, but just not stretchy anymore. The con was that it was messy and I hated waiting for it to dry! Pic:
Hot Glue:
After doing one leg with the fabric glue, I got impatient and decided to turn to the tool that everyone turns to when they have grown frustrated - the hot glue gun. This involved turning the legs inside out, cutting out squares of nylon, then just putting a line of hot glue at the top and just holding on the nylon square for a second while the glue dried. It was so easy and I finished up the other three legs in about 5 minutes. The down side is that the ring of glue that hardened around the top altered the fabric so it was stiff at the top. This wasn't that big of a deal with the legs (because the top got sewn to the body anyway) but it would have been a problem on the trunk, for example (because his face starts there). The obvious pro is that it was fast. I will definitely have to put a lot of thought into using this technique again, because it really can mess up the "flow" of the fabric and probably wouldn't be appropriate in most situations. Pics:
Here you can see how they look a little mishapen:
It looks like you get what you pay for. Sewing is the best way to go, but if I had to line a bunch of things (like for an octopus?) I would probably go for the fabric glue and just plan ahead that I will need drying time. Hot glue should be reserved for times when (1) the stiffness from the glue won't show in the end project, (2) you absolutely need instant gratification or are in a serious time crunch, and maybe (3) you are knitting under the influence (because hot glue always seems like a great idea at those times.)

FO: Emma's Elephant

My father showed one of his clients my knitting blog after I posted the pics of the elephant I made for my mom's birthday. Well, apparently this woman's four year old daughter saw the picture and fell in love with the little guy. She made her mom print out a picture to hang in her room and then another one that she could carry around with her! Darling! So, of course I had to make her one. It was a bit tedious making a second one of these so soon after I had made the first (much like the tedium of my Sheldon army...) But, it was a really great chance to make all the changes that I wanted to make after I knit the first one. I think I made a lot of improvements this time. Hooray! Pics:

yarn details
Red Heart Super Saver in Pink
Red Heart Classic Solid in Parakeet
Red Heart Soft Solid in Tangerine and Navy
Caron Simply Soft Brights in Limelight
Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Ranch Red

black safety eyes (12 mm), polyfill, polypellets, old nylons

project details
pattern: "Elefante" by Susan B. Anderson - it's free!
needles: size 4 DPNs (set of 4)
hook: E (for the ears)
yarn used: hardly made a dent in any of the skeins
duration: August 26 - October 3, 2008

- I got to make the major changes I wanted to make from last time: I knit on size 4 needles instead of size 5 for a tighter gauge and I used metal instead of the bamboo. It was a lot easier with the sharp points - I only had a set of four so I had to spread all the stitches over 3 needles, but it wasn't too bad.
- This time I made the trunk longer so his nose would hit the ground when he stood up. (I knit it to measure more like 1.5 inches rather than 1.25) (In my original notes, I said I wanted to make the trunk shorter, but upon thinking about it - it actually needed to be longer).
- I lined the pieces with old scraps of nylons to keep the poly pellets from escaping. This worked out well (details in today's other post).
- This guy has size 12mm eyes rather than the size 10 eyes I put on Mom's. No real reason, I just thought they seemed cuter.
- I used jogless stripes again, but this time I didn't weave in the ends as I went - or at all. I just tied knots. It took a little while to learn to tie the knot at the right tension, but I caught on.
- I'm not super happy with where I placed the legs. They are all too close together - I wish I had spaced them out more. I had trouble sewing them on for some reason - It was like I put the first two on, and then all of a sudden there was no room for the others, and they looked crooked and all sorts of crazy stuff.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sleeves Part II

Bleh - sleeve drama:

The sleeves of the hexacomb cardigan are knit from the cuff up, with a garter stitch border followed by stockinette with increases placed every 10 rows until you have a sleeve that is 8 inches long at which point you start the sleeve cap. I did all the lovely math and this turns out that you are going to increase 6 times over about 60 rows. So, I was going along my merry way and I was up to about row 47 when I realized that my sleeve was damn near 8'' long already and I still had two increases (20 rows) to go. I pulled out the tape measure and what do you know - I'm at 7.25'' inches. So, to knit the sleeve caps I am suppsed to have 59 stitches on the needle so I just squeezed in two increases in the next 8 rows. I'm mad at myself for not doing the math beforehand and figuring out where to place the increases so they will be even. My row gauge was a little different than the pattern calls for -- I got about 24 rows over 4 inches and the pattern got 28 - but my plan was just to stretch while I blocked.

So, whatever. Live and learn - I really need to train myself to study the whole pattern before I start knitting and pay attention to that kind of stuff. I always get myself into pickles like this!

So, all I have left to do is finish knitting the caps of the sleeves... and then the small tasks of setting in the sleeves and picking up all those stitches to knit the neck and button band... with button holes. You know, no big deal. Ha ha! Arg! I'm dreading it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

For posterity...

I realize that I never recorded the info about the gauge swatches I made in July for the hexacomb cardigan. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to use as a notebook to keep track of all that kind of stuff, so here it is:

Knit Picks Shine Worsted

Size 7 needles:
pre-wash gauge is 18 st over 4''
post-wash/block gauge is 16.5 st over 4''

Size 6 needles:
pre-wash gauge is 21 st and 24 r over 4''
I didn't wash/block this swatch, don't remember why... I ended up using the size 6 needles.


I've decided to knit the sleeves for my hexacomb cardigan flat, like the pattern calls. I think the set in sleeves will look nice (as laiane suggested). Anyway, I've also decided to knit them at the same time, to avoid second sleeve syndrome.

I'm knitting them on the same needle, from two different balls of yarn. This is the first time I've done this, but I'm loving it so far. Every now and then I screw up and turn before I'm supposed to, but it's mostly going well. And I'm psyched to know that when I'm done they will both be done and I can get to the finishing! (yay! and nooo!!)

p.s. I finished up the little elephant for Emma this weekend, I'll post some pics and notes soon!