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Monday, December 26, 2011

More Take It or Leaf It Cowl

I made this cowl in the “Take It or Leaf It” for a friend of mine from school. She lives in West Virginia, so I’m assuming hand knits could come in handy in the winter. Unfortunately, I mailed it as a Christmas gift before getting any detailed close ups, but these modeled shots are good. I've included the photo from the pattern website to show the pattern. Once you get the hang of those K3tog, it's really fun. Because the yarn I used for this green cowl is a fingering weight bamboo/wool/nylon mixture, it’s much lighter than the pattern called for and drapes beautifully. I have made two of these “Take It or Leaf It” cowls and absolutely love them. The pattern is easy to understand and (bonus) a free Ravelry download. The link to it’s Ravelry page is here:

Unfortunately, it’s not on this lady’s blog, so unless you have a Ravelry account, I don’t think you can view it. The picture from the pattern is below (in pink). I felt that pink leaves were a little much, but I’ve done a red one (for autumn leaves) and a green one. I hope to make more of these cowls in the future. It’s a great, quick project.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Fingerless Mitts

Fingerless mitts have been much requested this year. Here is a green pair knit from Gloss DK (from KnitPicks) from my garter stitch fingerless mitts pattern. I highly recommend Gloss. It’s a 70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk  yarn that’s very soft and bouncy. This colorway is called “Grass.” At first, I thought Grass was a little too bright, but I listened to the advice of my knitting group to go ahead and knit something with it. I loved these mitts. The grass green was wonderful and had a bit of sparkle because the silk and wool absorbed the dye differently, similar to the way real grass has so many shades of green in it. 
My sister is modeling them in these pictures. I mailed these mitts off as a Christmas gift last week. I didn’t insure the knitted gifts I mailed last week, but I really hope they all made it to their new homes. I knit them with love. I hope they keep their wearers warm. 

Merry Christmas!

Baby Hats (with an adorable model)

I crocheted this cap from a chocolate brown, DK weight cotton from the pattern Baby Flapper-Girl Hat Pattern. I donated the yellow hat (my first Flapper-Girl Hat) to Rex hospital. They try to give each newborn born at their hospital a cap hand-knit or crocheted. I had such pleasure in choosing the ribbons to coordinate with the hats. The Flapper-Girl Hat has such a nostalgic feel for me. It reminds me of a miniature version of something Violet from “It’s a Wonderful Life” might have worn. The link to the free online pattern is here
The little green hat was also donated to Rex hospital. I have knit a total of four hats to donate to the newborn nursery and I really enjoyed the process. I learned some new crocheting techniques and feel blessed that my crafting can encourage some family with a new baby.
I gave the chocolate brown hat to the newborn of a family I regularly babysit. The ribbon has cursive letters that say “I love you” in pink and brown with curly cue hearts. Isn’t she precious? She was asleep and didn’t mind modeling at all. She didn’t even wake up when her mother put the hat on. 

Garter Stitch Mitts

I designed these fingerless mitts based on a simple technique. This pattern is great for beginners. It only uses garter stitch, but subtle shaping makes the gloves “hug” your hands for an optimal fit. The thumb does not have a separate covering, but instead can be used freely. These mitts are wonderful to use while practicing an instrument (I’ve used mine while practicing the piano), typing on your computer, or while working. For an extra-cold day (not here in the South), you could also layer these over a pair of gloves for more warmth. I will be releasing the finished pattern shortly.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Free-form embroidered hat

I knit and designed this hat with miniature, mock-cables, in order to give the fabric some elasticity and texture. I wanted to have a sturdy, structured fabric to embroider the flowers and sew buttons. I used Marble by James C. Brett (100% acrylic that has the look of a handspun yarn). I purchased this yarn at Great Yarns in Raleigh. Here’s a link to their website: I love their shop, though many of the yarns are out of my price range. I especially enjoy getting inspiration from other knitters, and they have a wonderful, old table in the center of the shop for knitters to sit around, chat, and give help for knitting projects. 
I had fun using bits and bobs leftover from other projects to embroider flowers. I used Koigu’s Premium Painter’s Palette (a smoky, heathered purple) for the purple flowers, and Shadow from Knit Picks (Pink Posy) for the pink flowers. I had a grand time experimenting and doing some free-form embroidery. For some of the flower centers, I used buttons in my stash, and for others, I made French knots. This also was a growing experience for me as a knitter: I had no pattern, and there was no “right” or “wrong” way for me to embroider my flowers. I wanted the project to be balanced, but not stiflingly ordered.

Gift knits

I was trying to make up the increases for a top down hat. As I knit, I realized my proportions were horribly wrong. I cast off, wanting to know what exactly it looked like. It immediately looked like a flower. I knew I had to knit a headband for it. It’s little big for a normal-sized headband, but I made a wide headband and sewed it on securely so it shouldn’t flop around. Also, this isn’t so much a headband as a head-warmer or ear-warmer. I made it to fit the flower. This is made from the same yarn as the XO’s hat and will be given to the same sister for Christmas. 
I knit the headband from Capra, and absolutely love it! It’s so gloriously soft. I really need to get some more. It’s truly the best cashmere/merino blend I could dream of purchasing. The others, well, they’re just out of my price range.
These photos (with the brick background) were taken in downtown Cary, with my amazing photography friend, Emma. Her photography business is here:!

I knit this little baby cap from tiny balls of DK and worsted weight wool, mostly merino wool from Knit Picks. This was a very satisfying quick little knit. I’ll have to wait to see what genders my friends’ babies are. None of them are finding out so I’m just filling up my “give-away” box with boy and girl gifts. I realized I had a real dearth of boy gifts, so this is to fill that need.
I gave it to a knitting friend at church for her newborn son. I didn’t think a non-knitter, non-fiber person could remember or appreciate a gentle, hand-wash baby item. I should get lessons from this knitter, though. Her own hand knits for her baby are stunning: beautiful stitch work and tiny, tiny stitches, too! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thankfulness and Christmas knitting

In my knitting journey, while searching for knitting and craft inspiration, I have read many other knitters’ blogs. What I found had been discouraging. While their crafts were stunning, there was a bite in their humor and I found myself wanting to find more Christian crafters’ blogs. To find some generosity and thankfulness to God. To find a knitter who loved what she did, but did it to bless those around her: her family, friends, and community. I stumbled upon this very sweet, Christian, knitting blog last night:
As I knit gifts this Christmas for my friends and family, I involved my family with the process. When I knit two clutches (from One Skein, by Leigh Radford), and needed to felt them, I brought them along to our Thanksgiving celebration at my grandparents’ home in the mountains. After the evening meal was cleared away, and we were sitting in little bunches chatting and relaxing, I pulled out my clutches, and asked my granny if I could felt them in her washing machine. Our washer is a side-loader, which doesn’t give any opportunity to check on my projects felting. My granny said yes, so my cousins, little sisters, and I trooped down into the basement and tossed them in the washer. 
When we returned upstairs, my dad and brother were playing the fiddle and guitar. We started square dancing, and my papa got up and started dancing with me. He was amazing! I’d never known this before, but my papa used to go to the Saturday night square dancing every week as a young man. We had a wonderful time, unfortunately, knocking over many (unlit) candles and moving furniture farther back. When we finished, my papa collapsed in a chair gasping and laughing, claiming he’d have to quit, or have a heart attack.
At that moment, I realized my clutches were still downstairs without anyone watching them! We raced down the steep basement steps and opened the washing machine. Thankfully, they were fine and just needed one more wash cycle to shrink enough. 
My cousins (both who are in the marching band in their high school) wanted the fingerless gloves I was working on. One even requested my (mostly) made up pattern. Once I get the photos from my photo shoot, I’ll be posting the pattern. Another cousin wanted one of the clutches. I was rather flattered, because while my clutches were draped over candlesticks to dry, they looked rather like muskrats. My mom joked that my papa might accidentally shoot them if he saw them. :) 
After I trimmed one of the clutches today, it looked much more like a purse and less like a muskrat. I plan to line it with a drop cloth (brand new, it’s great fabric for totes/linings/etc.) and sew colorful buttons to it. This coming Sunday will be the time I give my friends their gifts, so I’m trying to finish them all rather quickly. Several of them had very specific requests. It’s helpful in one way (I know this is what they wanted) but a little time consuming as I try to come up with things that match their specifications. I’m happy, though, that my friends and family appreciate my knitting/craftiness. I’m babysitting tonight and tomorrow night (late), so after the kids go to bed, I’ll have some good knitting time. The finishing part seems to take the longest. Finding the right button, sewing all those tails in, making sure the pairs of things match and are the same size. 

I'll be posting pictures of the gifts once they are given away, but until then, I won't, because (I think) several of them read this blog. 

Merry Christmas!