Tag Archives: knitting

Goodies and Parisian Rambles

I have been a neglectful blogess of late, and I feel quite badly about it. I’ve been a busy girl recently– holding down the fort at my boutique and trying to get my sea legs at my shiny new internship. Have I mentioned I’m the Yarn Intern for a group of magazines called Interweave Press? Yes, yarn is in fact part of my official title. Swoony swoon. I now spend my days immersed in fiber crafts, and have decided to get a little more indulgent with my supplies.

Without any more hooplah, I’d like to share the two things that I’m most excited about adding to my craft stash.

Preface: I have not yet fully explored the world of sock yarn, and there are oodles of tasty merino/nylon blends. But I REALLY like the colorways available from Lorna’s Laces. I couldn’t resist picking up a skein of the classic Shepherd Sock in Unicorn Parade. I mean, duh. The color is called Unicorn Parade. I’m a total sucker for names.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Unicorn Parade

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Unicorn Parade, courtesy of EatSleepKnit.com

Turns out, the color is quite a bit more flamboyant than I imagined. I’m thinking it may be better suited to a baby garment than the cabled socks I originally planned. This yarn is handpainted, so I’m not sure if my personal skein is the norm. I purchased online (EatSleepKnit.com has a nice selection) and only have a tiny sample. If I remember, I’ll try to get a good shot of my swatch to show the color.

Secondly, these macaroon stitch markers. On my last, and very brief, trip to Paris, I went on a Special Expedition to track down the best macaroons in Paris. I went several Metro stops out of my way, got lost in a very posh neighborhood, asked several people (some surprisingly helpful, some confused by my Okie-twangin’ français) for directions, and elbowed my way through an out-the-door line, all to order half a dozen of these babies.

I really like macaroons. And now I can ponder their tastiness while I knit.

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Beadpassion

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Etsy seller Bead Passion

Unfortunately, these ship from the Philippines, so I don’t yet have them in my hot little hands. They are 1.3 cm wide, and profess to fit up to size U.S. 10/6 mm needles. This seller also has stitch markers and jewelry shaped like sushi, cupcakes, donuts, mushrooms, etc. Yum.

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Beadpassion

Kawaii!

Until next time,

Love!

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Knitting for Dudes (or, the ticking timebomb)

Knitters are a giving bunch. After all, a gal can only wear so many of her own creations. It’s only a matter of time before the men in a knitter’s life start to look suspiciously in need of a handmade sweater.

So, after weeks of hard work, you hand your man a masterpiece. You picture delight, gratitude, and awe for your knitting prowess. “Aw, shucks,” he’ll say, as his friends ooh and ahh over his new oversized alpaca hoodie. After weeks of tireless knitting, how could you expect any less?

Here’s the thing; non-knitters will never appreciate the amount of love and anguish in every stitch. More importantly, few things are worse for the knitter than shelling out big bucks and lots of time on a project for a guy that rejects them.

So, here are my suggestions for gift-knitting for men without the heartbreak.

The Guy Friend: Scarves are the perfect gift for friendly guys of all non-romantic varieties, from your next door neighbor to the barista slinging lattes for your weekly Stitch and Bitch. While they’re super easy, scarves tend to take FOREVER, and are best saved for someone who’s going to be around awhile.

The Hey-I-Might-Like-You Guy: You’re fresh in the throes of love. He’s everything you dreamed, he treats you like a queen… but you’ve only been dating three weeks. Do yourself a favor, and stick with a Simple Hat for this one. A nice crocheted beanie will show your affection and skillz without scaring him off. Avoid fancy patterns and pompoms, and show the depth of your feeling with the caliber of yarn you choose. Try an inexpensive cotton for your summer fling, or spring for a sumptuous cashmere blend for a real keeper.

The Serious Boyfriend: He knows all your friends’ names, he waters your plants, he uses the words We and Our. This one gets an Afghan. An afghan you say? Isn’t that the most committed project ever? Well, yes and no. Yes, afghans are gigantic. BUT, with a simple pattern and large needles, toiling away on a collection of squares or strips will ultimately cost you far less pain and heartache than weeks of sweater shaping. Besides, if he’s around long enough for you to finish a blanket, he probably deserves it. I like Granny Square Afghans for the endless variety.

The Husband: He shelled out for the ring. He’s danced with grandma. You share dental bills. This dynamo deserves a Fisherman Sweater. Now that he’s stuck with you through thick and thin, knit him something that will keep him warm in all kinds of weather and last for decades.

All pattern ideas are clickable links to free patterns. Knitting With Balls is another great resource, as are vintage patterns. Choose your own adventure!

The Magic of Blocking – How to Wet Block

Wet blocking is basically a highly controlled version of what happens when you put a wool sweater in the washing machine. You take all your hard work, swish it around in some warm sudsy water, tug on it a little, and when it dries it looks finished and professional.

I am explaining how I personally wet block. This works great for me, and blocking can really transform something that isn’t laying quite right.

Fill up a clean sink or a small washtub with warm water. If you wouldn’t bathe an infant in it, it’s too hot. Add a dab of wool soap if you have it. If you don’t, do what I do and add a dab of gentle shampoo. Hair’s a natural fiber too. You don’t want bubbles, a drop the size of a dime is more than enough.

Dunk your piece into the tub and swish it around. Be gentle; you aren’t trying to felt, you just want to get it good and wet. Don’t scrub it, just submerge and swish.

Drain the tub and fill it with cool water. Gently swish your piece again to get the suds out. Drain the tub and press your piece to get out some water.

You’ll need a bit of space for the next part. Spread out a towel and lay your piece out on a flat surface (like the floor). Roll it up and squeeze to get out some water. Treat it like fancy lingerie, roll don’t wring.

Spread out another towel and lay your piece out again. If it’s still wet, do another roll-up.

Once your piece isn’t dripping, begin shaping. First, give a little tug on all the corners to “set” your stitches. Next, do whatever to make it look the way you want. Squeeze those ribbed cuffs in your hand to make them tighter. Stretch out that wonky sleeve. Grab some pins and tack down any rolling corners, or use them to stretch out lace stitches. At this stage you should be able to mold your work like bread dough, but be gentle! It still has limits.

After you’ve got all the dimensions and stitches looking just like you want, leave your piece to dry. This could take a day or two. But when you’re done, it will look finished and fabulous!

::Note:: Blocking only works with natural fibers. I use the same method with pure wool, linen, whatever. But if you’re nervous about blocking a delicate yarn, look up steam blocking, or just try pinning the piece in place and misting with a spray bottle.

Hope this helps!

Hot Little Handwarmers

I have a craft crush on creativeyarn’s blog. I will admit it. She whips up handwarmers and crocheted necklaces like nobody’s business AND shares a bunch of her patterns with all the world.

I just finished a pair of her “Emerald Green Handwarmers,” which are little fingerless gloves worked up flat and then sewn together. Her pattern does not taper at all, meaning it’s the same width at the wrist as it is through the hand and fingers. This did not fit me at all, so I tried altering it a bit. I  still love this pattern, and should note that I also didn’t swatch and I have very small hands. AND I used acrylic yarn, so most of the problems I had could have been solved with some good blocking. So give her pattern a whirl, with or without my changes. I added some shaping and an edging around the thumbhole, and switched the yarn to a flaming hot pink.

Cast on 28 stitches, leaving a long tail for sewing seam later.

Work in moss stitch (row 1, knit 1, purl 1 all the way across. row 2, purl 1, knit 1 all the way across) for three rows. Work in stockinette for 11 rows, ending with a knit row.

Purl 5, increase one using bar increase made purlwise. *Purl 4, increase one stitch using bar increase made purlwise*  all the way across. At least, I think this is what I did. You want to increase 5 stitches spaced out evenly across your last stockinette row.

Continue according to creativeyarn’s pattern, working with 33 stitches. Bind off loosely in pattern leaving a very long tail for sewing AND thumbhole. (note: if you have little hands, I recommend doing only 5 repeats of the pattern.)

To make thumbhole:

Starting from bottom and using long tail left over from cast-on, sew first 2 inches of seam shut.

Starting from top and using long tail from bind-off, sew 2 inches of seam shut. Switch to a 5.00 mm crochet hook and pick up stitches around open thumbhole. This is a little tricky as the edge won’t be perfectly even. You should have around 15 stitches. Chain one, and single crochet all the way around twice. Do not chain one at the beginning of round 2, just work in a spiral. Snip excess yarn, pull end through, and weave in all ends.

Love!

DIY – Raspberry Parfait Slippers

I have recently gotten back into crafting as a way to keep my sad little hands busy while I’m away from my man. A friend introduced me to Ravelry, and I found the CUTEST little pattern for Mary-Jane style slippers.

I think these are absolutely precious. Her pattern is darling and should work, but I made a few changes to the pattern which I’ll explain below. I’m writing these changes assuming that readers have looked at her pattern first, so check it out here.

First, I scaled down the size. I have baby feet, borderline size 6. The easiest way to shrink these is to start with 6 stitches in your ring instead of 8. I imagine for a size medium you’d start with 7, or a larger size start with 9. Increase like the pattern says (2 dc every stitch in round 1, 2 dc every other stitch in round 2, every 3rd stitch in round 3, etc.) Just use multiples of 6 instead of 8. You should now end your increase rows with 24 stitches instead of 32.

For the footbed, work the first 17 stitches instead of 23 (the number of stitches in round 3 minus 1).

When making the loop, I opted for a single crochet chain. This is very easy… when you get to the spot where you’ll place your loop, make one single crochet, then begin a crochet chain of about 25 stitches, and anchor in place with your next single crochet in the following stitch. You should have a neat loop. Continue around as the pattern says.

For yarn, I used Red Heart Super Saver in Shocking Pink held together with Louisa Harding Yarns Kimono Angora Pure in 4, a pretty raspberry color. Don’t knock this combo until you try it. The Red Heart acrylic adds bulk and durability, while the Kimono is beautifully soft but would not hold up well as a slipper by itself. Together they make a sturdy, warm, house shoe that should fluff up nicely with wear. I used some fluffy red scrap yarn for the edging, no recollection of what it’s called. I also upped the hook size to an I/5.50 mm, but I am a tight crocheter. I’m a fan of kitsch, and found these plastic heart buttons for 78¢ at Wal-Mart. 78¢!!! I am not kidding.

If you don’t want to slide around, decorate the bottoms with some puffy fabric paint and let dry.

These have the added bonus of being easy to finish in a day or two. Very cute for gifting!