Monday, December 27, 2010

Gift Knitting

Christmas has finally arrived, and I was able to knit a few gifts this year. I have a few rules that I follow when knitting gifts. First, make it small. This allows multiple gifts to be knit without driving you, the knitter, crazy. Second, make it machine washable, or at least easy to care for. Third, choose a pattern you enjoy. When knitting for someone else, just like giving any present, you can't be sure the recipient will actually like it, so you might as well have enjoyed knitting it.

Great projects that follow these rules include hats, socks, scarves or shawls, and items for the home. Below is Holden, a small shawl that I knit for my sister in machine-washable sock yarn.

A set of two organic cotton washcloths, All Washed Up and my own Corrugated Cloth:

Another set with Corrugated Cloth and Double Bump Dishcloth:

All of these gifts followed the basic rules for gift knitting, and I was able to add a little hand-knit goodness to my holiday. Bigger and better next Christmas, I hope!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

Even though I am mostly all grown up, I am so excited about Christmas that I wake up ridicuously early not just on Christmas morning but also the two or three days prior to said event. I won't pretend like I'm not chomping at the bit to open some presents, but seeing family and spending time together is a larger contributor to my excitement.

And I'm giving some handknit gifts this year, of course. I haven't posted them here at Nothing Fancy Knits to avoid potential spoilers, but will be back next week with pictures of (hopefully) happy recipients with their handknit items. Until then, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Pattern: Big Sweater, Little Pockets

I'm so excited! The pattern for Big Sweater, Little Pockets is live on Ravelry.

This sweater is sized for 2, 4 and 6 years and is intended to be oversized. Learn some new tricks, like the tubular cast on, and then relax with some stockinette stitch in the round. Two tiny afterthought pockets add a little interest to the front of the sweater, and bulky yarn means this project knits up quickly.

Buy it on Ravelry! See what some other fantastic knitters have done with Big Sweater, Little Pockets! Not a Ravelry member? Join here or purchase pattern without joining by clicking the "buy now" button below.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Striped Raglan Sweater

I've spent the last three weeks knitting a sweater for my 2-year-old. Due to his age and proclivity for messes, and my general dislike of handwashing, I used a superwash DK wool. I had a little bit of dark green left over from my ice cream cozy, so I added some stripes to keep it interesting. It's a percentage sweater. I used Elizabeth Zimmermann's wonderful book, Knitting Without Tears, and tried a tubular bind-off method for the first time. I can't say enough about the percentage method: you get exactly the sweater you want, and as EZ promises, you get it without shedding any tears.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

White Caps Fingerless Gloves

As expected, this was the next project on and off the needles. I used much less than one skein of Knit Picks Palette in Rouge, which is an awesomely shocking pink-red.

Overall, a very well-written pattern, and I'm pretty sure my friend liked them. Sometimes it hard to tell with non-knitters, isn't it?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Haven't Been Blogging, but I Have Been Knitting

School's in again, so while I've still been carving out time to knit, I haven't been as good about blogging. As a sort of apology, here's a quick rundown of what's been coming off my needles this month.

Most recently finished is a monster buddy for my son, knit with partial skeins of wool from my stash. The pattern is Adorkable Monster.

I knit a birthday present for my dear friend Frances, but used smaller needles than called for to get more of a neckwarmer. It's Lion Brand Alpine Wool, which is a lovely and soft roving-style yarn.

Simple Ribbed Cowl (pattern link):

Then there was Turn a Square. I actually made two of these: one for charity, and one for my husband, also in stash wool.

And last but not least, the Little Lebowski sweater has been done for a while, but fall is upon us and my son finally got to take it out for a test drive.

I just ordered more yarn (don't tell my husband), and I think these are on deck.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tutorial: Make and Dye a Yarn Blank

I bought a great big skein of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool in natural cream and decided to play around with dyeing on Saturday. I used Paas Easter egg dye tablets that I bought on sale last April and a lot of vinegar to dye a yarn blank that I handknit.



A blank like this could be used for a wide variety of projects, but I'm saving this one for a Fair Isle hat: all the color and half the work of a project that would normally call for six or seven colors.

Full tutorial can be found here, through Google Docs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quo Vadis

Me and mittens have not been the best of friends. I have cast on at least a dozen pairs over the years and maybe three pairs weren't frogged. I'm a sock knitting pro, so I'm a bit befuddled that mittens are my Achilles heel. After finishing the Quo Vadis mittens (Ravelry link) from SpillyJane, though, I just may be a convert.

Worsted weight is totally the way to go when trying to conquer mittens. Come to think of it, I started my successful sock knitting by beginning with a Christmas stocking pattern (read: bulky yarn and bigger needles), so maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Michigan Fiber Festival

The Michigan Fiber Festival, which is sort of in my neck of the woods, was up and running today with two barns full of vendors. I planned ahead and brought limited cash so I couldn't "overspend." I came home with this and could not be happier:

This is Foot Notes by Fiber Optic, and it's a 4-ply, 80% wool and 20% nylon, washable, delicious light blue-purple handful of wonderful.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aestlight Shawl

I followed this pattern to the letter, except for binding off the large garter stitch triangle instead of holding stitches until the end, and it really paid off.

Interesting construction, delicious yarn, utterly wearable shawl: it's going to be hard keep this for myself! The good news is that this pattern knit up really fast and the color changes prevented a beautiful piece from becoming a boring or tedious project.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free Pattern: Luxurious Loops Washcloth

This loopy little cloth was designed a few months ago, but since the pattern just got a facelift (read: now available as PDF), I decided I ought to post it here, too.

I seem to recall this project used most of a 50-gram skein of sport weight organic cotton. There is a simple seed-stitch border, a loop to hang it that can be made with a crochet hook or double-pointed needles, and these fun little loops, which I explain how to make in detail. Available from Google Docs or Ravelry.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Free Pattern: Cabled Ice Cream Cozy

This little chill-chaser prevents frozen fingers while eating ice cream right out of the carton. Sadly, it does nothing for brain freeze.

Knit in the round on DPNs with three simple cables and a k2, p2 ribbing. The stockinette bottom is made with decreases on every other row. Pattern available here with Google Docs or on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aestlight Shawl: Block Party!

A beautiful Saturday in August: what a day for a block party! I wove in the ends on my Aestlight shawl this afternoon and blocked it right away.

I've been guilty of failure to block on previous projects, but when it comes to lace, or shawls, and in particular lace shawls, blocking is a must. It evens out those little stitches, allows the shawl to grow a little, and ensures nice, straight edges and perfect points.

My materials:

After weaving in the ends, I submerged my shawl in lukewarm water with about a teaspoon of baby shampoo. One could always use wool wash, like Eucalan or Soak, but when finances are tight and/or there's a little one in the house, why not use baby shampoo? It's mild, it's inexpensive, and if it can get dirt, spaghetti sauce, and goodness knows what else off of a toddler, then why shouldn't it do wonders for yarn?

After rinsing in another bath of lukewarm water, I put the shawl on a large bath towel, then folded the towel over my knitting and walked all over it. This removed a ton of water, and less water in the yarn means shorter drying time.

I would prefer not to block on my bed, (in fact, I usually block on top of my washing machine), but large projects need large spaces to block. The trash bag prevents my bed from getting damp, but I almost always use a trash bag wherever I'm blocking. Unlike towels, the trash bag won't absorb the water from my knitting, and the knitting tends to dry faster this way.

Finally, pins were placed at all points on the border and I used a yardstick to make sure I had a straight edge across the top. I turned the ceiling fan on high, and three hours later I had a dry, blocked shawl.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Honey Cowl

I just wove in the ends on this yummy cowl from madelinetosh. This was the larger pattern option, which can be worn doubled around the neck. I used about three and a half skeins of Knit Picks Merino Style, a DK merino wool, that were left over from my Fairy Tale Cardigan. It was a very fast knit, thanks to slipped stitches on every other row, and was knit in the round, so all in all a pattern built for speed. I used a bind off of *k2tog through the back loop, place st back on LH needle, and repeat from *. It proved to be a good choice: more forgiving and stretchy than the classic bind off but not too loose either.

Worn long:

And worn doubled:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coming Attractions: Aestlight Shawl

Apologies for the lack of new content. I've been working on some Christmas knitting, which, of course, I won't post about until December 26 so as not to spoil any surprises!

I had the perfect excuse to stop by a local yarn shop yesterday when my husband called in sick after leaving his wallet at work the night before. Once husband and toddler were both down for naps, I ran out to pick up the wallet and came home with a little bag of this:

It's Melody by Jojoland. Gorgeous, no?



It's intended for an Aestlight shawl. This pattern already boasts more than 1220 projects on Ravelry, but I love every single one I see and simply cannot help myself.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mermaid Sorbet

This little gem, which ended up being almost 12 feet long, has been neglected for a week or two because I didn't want to block it. Actually, I had no place to block it due to its enormous, ridiculous size, because blocking on the floor is a no-go with a cat and a toddler. I ended up blocking it in halves on the bed, but I'm not entirely happy with the stitch definition and, when summer classes wind down in two weeks, I'm going to block again.

I really like this tutorial from the purl bee, particularly the part about blocking on a towel that isn't "too linty." It's like they've actually seen my linen closet. . .

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Little Lebowski

Almost two months after casting on, and 10 days of drying/blocking, The Little Lebowski is finished. This project was inspired by Andrea Rangel's amazing pattern, The Dude; Elizabeth Zimmermann's EPS sweater design theory; and the perfect yarn sitting in my stash.

The sweater has a 25" chest circumference and is 16" long with a 14" zipper. It was knit entirely in 1x1 ribbing and has a shawl collar that I improvised as I went. I used three sizes of needles to prevent having to increase stitches in the sleeves, since increasing and decreasing in ribbing is something I've yet to master.

It's intended to be my son's fall jacket, so hopefully it fits like size 2T or 3T come October. My son, of course, detests modeling my handknits, but since it's so unreasonably warm lately, I'm content to wait and get a picture come fall.

Free Pattern: Corrugated Cloth

I recently whipped up a few washcloths with Knit Picks Simply Cotton. The stitch pattern reminded me of corrugated cardboard, or even corrugated metal roofing. The pattern is available here with Google Docs or Ravelry.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Steek: Eeek!

Okay, it's been 24 hours since I did my very first steek, so I think I'm ready to talk about it.

For those unfamiliar with the technique, it involves cutting your knitting: like, with scissors. Perhaps you understand why I wasn't ready to post about it yesterday. The adrenaline/fear has finally worn off, and since I have successfully sewn the newly-formed edges down with no major unraveling crisis. . .

I referred to Eunny Jang's steeking tutorial for guidance, but really this was a by-the-seat-of-my-pants effort. I hand stitched up either side of front-center and then carefully - so carefully - used my sharpest, tiniest scissors to snip my way from bottom to top. I then whip stitched the edges down, reinforcing top and bottom.

Had I to do this over again, I would definitely have factored in some waste stitches at front-center to make turning back the facing a little easier. If you read Eunny's tutorial, you'll see the beautiful little facings she knits. So, note to self: do it the "right" way next time.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Little Lebowski: Stalled

This in-the-round Fair Isle sweater is slated to become a zip-front cardigan for my son, and of course, because it is an original pattern and a stash-busting project, I have run out of yarn. As evidenced by the picture below, I'm roughly 95% done.

I have a handful of decrease rounds left and then the collar. I'm thinking about doing the steek and adding the zipper, then picking up stitches for the collar at the end. Originally I was thinking of a short, simple crew neck, but now that I have to buy another skein of yarn, I might as well try a shawl collar a la the original adult version. Now I just have to convince some of the other ladies from my knitting group to help me reach the $50 free shipping magic total at Knit Picks. . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fairy Tale Cardigan

Done and done, just in time for the first 90-degree day of the year. This pattern is the Gooseberry Cardigan from Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 issue. I made the 48" size and used 13 skeins of Knit Picks Merino Style, which is DK weight, in Fairy Tale.

It took an eternity to block, but it was well worth the effort to get the collar to lie flat. I really like the oversized collar and the long ribbing at the bottom, but think I may have been better off knitting a smaller size for the sleeves, as they seem to bulge under the arms.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mermaid Sorbet: A Use for Otherwise Unusable Yarn

About a month ago I dyed this yarn with Easter egg dye. The yarn is Knit Picks Bare superwash in fingering (sock) weight, and I used four of the color tablets - red/pink, blue, yellow, and purple - to get a sense of what the colors would look like. The yarn looks gorgeous all wound up like this, but because I didn't make a longer skein for longer color repeats, it will not stripe if I knit it into socks and would probably be a horrible, variegated mess.

My solution: dropped stitches. I'm using the Seafoam pattern from Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book and size 5 circulars (40 inches). I am calling this scarf Mermaid Sorbet because of the colors and the pattern, but I inadvertantly cast on 666 stitches (I needed a multiple of 10 + 6), so I toyed with the idea of calling this project Devilfish.

I've completed two pattern repeats, each repeat being 8 rows, and I think I'll have enough yardage to do two more repeats. As bright and crazy as this yarn is, I really like the longer pieces of color I see because of the multiple yarn overs. In my humble opinion, a dropped-stitch pattern or one with multiple yarn overs seems an ideal way to show off a colorful yarn that doesn't seem suited to many other projects.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Little Lebowski: Body

After knitting a stockinette version of The Dude's Sweater from The Big Lebowski last year, I was inspired to knit a child-size version for my son with the leftover yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky in Bare, Caribou, and Coal). I'm also doing this sweater the "right" way, which means the entire garment is worked in 1x1 ribbing.

I toyed with the idea of using a tubular cast on but fear I might be short on yarn. I am, however, using TECHknitting's advice to eliminate the "icky dots" that result from purling in more than one color. Solution: Knit all stitches in the first round or row of a color change.

And speaking of colors, the bulky yarn combined with a pint-sized sweater led me to do away with the more intricate colorwork and use only the repeating "Z" chart (shown below) at the middle of the sweater.

My intent right now is to knit sleeves, then join them to the body and knit around with raglan decreases. Also, I will be doing my first ever steek to turn this into a zip-up cardigan.