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Sometimes making an ornament is as simple as knitting a sock. Which, okay, is not necessarily that simple the first time you do it. Yet wouldn’t it be great to practice the first time on worsted weight yarn, with big needles, on a smaller version of the pattern before trying to do it with those tiny needles and tiny yarn?

Mini holiday stocking ornament by roguecrafter

If you do already knit socks, all I need to tell you for this ornament-knitting mini-tutorial is: knit a sock in worsted weight yarn, but don’t cast on that many stitches. (I cast on 24 on US #8 needles at a gauge of approximately 4-4.5 stitches per inch depending on which yarn I was using. Please don’t swatch for this though – the joy is that it’s gaugeless, because it doesn’t really matter what size your ornament is! Too big, you made a regular stocking. Too small, it’s just really really cute.) Don’t knit a very long leg or a very long foot. Forget using kitchener stitch unless you really love it. Use some of your cast on yarn to create a way to stick the ornament to the tree, or if you want, add some ribbon or something fancy.

You can see I find it rather addictive…and I like blending scraps of different yarns to see what color combinations I can create. I may incorporate some extra handspun into one or two. (There’s going to be a Hogwarts one coming up soon! And what about blue and white for a Hanukkah bush?)

 

1 more pic below the cut )

So what if you don’t knit socks already? Well, knitty already has a handy tutorial on knitting a mini sock in order to learn how to make a sock, so I won’t replicate it here. Just be sure to use holiday colors, rather than random waste yarn, to knit your ornament!

The fun part of these is that you can use them as stocking stuffers or you can use them as gift bags, which can then be hung on the tree if you have one.

I’ll definitely have some of these at the McLean Holiday Crafts Show in December!

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First off, let me say that I’m not going to go into the how’s and why’s of the actual pattern of Wingspan (as it’s now gone paid for). However, I am going to discuss my project notes (which could be freely posted on Ravelry) in case anyone else wants to knit a Wingspan project for someone who gets cold really easily — like me — and wants more than just their upper shoulders covered.

I followed the directions for casting on # of stitches &tc for the fingering weight project; however I used handspun thick-and-thin yarn (made and hand-dyed by me) that was ~mostly~ worsted weight. I also used US # 10.5 needles so that it would have some drape (and so it would go quickly, I admit). I also only did five triangles instead of eight. I’m not sure exactly how many yards of yarn I used, but it was probably around 80 yards per triangle plus a tad more for the border. However, I just used whatever was extra and grabbed it from my project bag to create a random striping effect. The gauge was approximately 3 sts/in (12 sts/4 in), but that is very approximate as I said because it was thick-and-thin yarn. In places it was 3.5 sts in, but that was rare.

I, er, still have to weave in the ends and block it, but I am really happy with how this turned out.

Wingspan shawl in shades of beige, pink, and purple. Measures approximately 60 inches wide by 18 inches long at the widest point. (roughly 152 cm wide by 46 cm for metric folks). Made from Blue-faced Leicester and Alpaca; ends still need weaving in.

Cut for LOTS of photos )
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Wait, I thought when someone told me that fiber arts guilds are alive and well, I can spin and knit and geek out and get to be in something called a GUILD???

Yes, my friends, it is true. There are three fiber guilds in my geographic region (how did I not know this?), and today I went to my first meeting.

Read more... )
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When I was about 8 or 9 my mother tried to show me the mystical art of crochet. It was something she was very skilled in, and I was interested to learn how she’d made the tiny delicate lace blanket for my dolls house.

I managed chain stitch and a very tight row of single crochet before throwing it aside in consternation, because she couldn’t manage to explain to me in a way that sunk in that if I held the yarn really really tightly then I’d never be able to do another row.

I became convinced crochet was too hard, and the bit I’d done became a curly scarf for Kirsten Larson, my American Girl doll.

Fast forward to when I’d learned to knit in my mid-20s. I had taught myself, and everyone (non-crafter and crafter, even the nice people at the yarn store) seemed to think it was just logical that if I could knit I’d be able to figure out crochet.

So I tried again, after seeing lots of tantalizing photos of amigurumi online and thinking, “I want to crochet that.” I started with a dishcloth, and thought I’d try it as a sampler of basic stitches. And you know what? I figured it out. (Knowing about gauge/tightness in knitting really helped.)

But then I felt like I had to finish the dishcloth in order to do anything else…and I have a lot of hand-knit dishcloths. It wasn’t exciting, and oh by the way SHINY PROJECT distracted me. But suddenly I knew the basics enough that I didn’t want to stab someone with a crochet hook after a row of chain stitch.

Yesterday, I finished knitting a green baby hat. I’d been planning to put Shrek/Alien ears on it, but I’ve done that before with preemie hats and I was just kinda bored with the idea. (I think that was why this hat had been three rounds from done for about three months, taking up workspace.) So then I thought, it’s for a girl, why not a flower? And then I thought, why not a crocheted flower?

And so the first crocheted object I ever completed came to be:

 
Cut for 2 images )
P.P.S. Special shout-out to [personal profile] sage  for all the cool crocheted creatures. That was also a bit of a push.
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This week I’ve been spinning MOAR BFL from that 1 lb. bag I got from a local farm. It is SO SOFT I WANT TO SQUISH IT ALL THE TIME. I am going to be spoilt for other fibers I tell you.) I also spun the last ounce or so of some alpaca I’d gotten at, of all places, a garden market. (The farmers were there with their alpacas and I marched up to them and went, “Do you have fiber for spinning?” It was great! They did, obviously.)

Then I dyed the fiber I spun, some of it with natural dyes even! All was attempted with natural dyes, but the avocado did not cooperate, so that yarn got dyed with other dye I had on hand. Oh well, one can’t have everything.

Four hanks of yarn, two dyed shades of pink and two shades of cream/beige.

Four hanks of yarn, two dyed shades of pink and two shades of cream/beige.

The beige one on the left was dyed with paprika, which the website I found said would result in a “pale orange” color. Well, I was not expecting *that* pale an orange, but it works for me. The beige one on the bottom of the pale on the right is still wet; I dyed it with yellow day lilies from my neighbor’s garden. I was expecting a slightly different color, but it works with the others so I’m happy.

 
Cut for length and 2 more photos )
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Hooking my nephews on yarn (part 1)

(pictured here above: yarn dyed by my nephews; a wound ball of green/yellow/blue done by the 7 year old and a hank of red done by the 4 year old.)

A few months ago my brother and his family came to visit, which included my two lovely nephews aged 4 and 7. As part of their trip, I began my insidious plan to help them appreciate the fiber arts. Step 1 was having them dye their own yarn. The 7 year old elected for food coloring, and the 4 year old was delighted to use Kool Aide to dye yarn.

Now comes part two of the Master Plan – somewhat delayed by other works in progress, a ton of spinning, life, health, pick an excuse. I am going to (attempt to) knit them the object of their choosing using the yarn that they knit.

They were *very* specific. The 7 year old wants a very special hat, and he even drew me a design. (Trust me, that is getting framed or something.) The 4 year old wants…a fire truck. We shall see what I can do with that. (There’s a crochet pattern for fire trucks on Ravelry, but I think it’s beyond my crochet skills. So…we’ll see how this goes! I think I will basically make a rectangle and embellish it with wheels, etc.)

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The finished handspun/laceweight object is a cowl! *g*

Handspun/hand-knit cowl with cream as the primary color and added accents of blue/teal, purple and pink/magenta. Worn by a model who shows only the neck/shoulders; the model is wearing a grey sweater and standing in front of a white background.

If you wants it and must have it... )

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I made a previous post about plying handspun yarn and machine-spun lace weight. Here is another thing you can do with handspun yarn and lace weight (or any weight): knit with one of the yarns “held double”:

work in progress

Teaser work in progress photo of cream blue-faced leicester (bfl) handspun held double with teal, pink, and purple cotton lace weight yarn.

I have now woven all the ends in and finished blocking, but alas the light today is not good light for taking photographs. As I can’t show you the finished object in all its glorious splendor I don’t want to tell you, but can you guess? What do you think this is?

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I learned how to untangle thread, although I didn’t know it then, when I was about three or four. I used to go over to “Grandma” Rosie’s house after preschool; she volunteered at my preschool and agreed to help look after me when both my parents were at work.

Her embroidery was stunning. She never did counted cross stitch or anything that required her to follow a written pattern, instead preferring pre-printed patterns on soft cotton. She said anything that required so much counting was “for the birds.”

She would patiently allow me a chance to try my hand at embroidery or cross stitch, and inevitably I would pull the thread too hard and it would tangle.

So I pulled the thread harder.

It took me years to understand her wise advice that if – as with a Chinese finger trap – you moved the two twisted bits of embroidery floss together, then you can ease them apart.

Now that I’ve learned how to spin, I don’t do much embroidery or cross stitch these days. However, I did do a little bit of embellishment with some of my handspun yarn the other day. I thought of Grandma Rosie when my yarn got tangled and I used her lesson to free it; I hope that she is at peace.

Hand knit business card holder

Red and pink garter stitch business card holder closed with a purple button; embellished with cream handspun yarn making an animé-style smiley face. The business card holder rests on a sea of buttons, with some remaining yarn above.

Note: posted to Wordpress in what was technically the middle of the night, did not have the spoons then to cross-post.
There is also another post about my dog's illness which I will not be cross-posting here, as I have spoken about it elsewhere.
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Earth handspun shawl hand knit
triangular shawl hanging from a fence gate. The shawl is knit from chunky handspun with a brown/white twist as the main color and a few stripes of a white/multicolor twist and a brown/multicolor twist.

Driving back and forth to the beach, I finished knitting a glorious shawl made from my handspun yarn. (I should clarify, I was not knitting and driving.) It is a warm and snuggly triangular shawl with stripes of three different 2-ply yarns, which are blends of some of the same fibers.

The main color is a yarn I dubbed “chocolate Escher,” and is a thick-and-thin 2-ply blend of imported British Black Welsh Mountain sheep’s wool and local Virginia Finnsheep. The two contrasting colors are plyed with an “art batt” from a Loudon, Virginia, USA farm cooperative that is labelled “mostly wool” (but contains some small amounts of acrylic and other yarns for texture and color, please be aware if you have any allergies). The cream/art batt blend is an ultra-soft Targhee sheep from the Montana/Wyoming area. The chocolate/art batt blend is more of the Black Welsh Mountain sheep and the art batt.

I had a lot of fun knitting this yarn because it was all from my hands, and from the hands of farmers and from the wonderful animals who provided these fibers.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

(For the curious, it’s on Etsy. I decided not to keep it because I already have All The Shawls. Moar photos on Etsy.)

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Image below the link )


This hat is available as a finished product on my Etsy Store.

Pattern Notes:
This hat makes me think of gardening in late fall in early winter (pruning, raking, putting the garden to bed with a last layer of mulch, etc.) and hikes in the woods past raspberry hedges. I liked knitting this hat because while there are sections of more complex stitches to keep things interesting, they are interspersed with "zombie knitting" to give the knitter a break for those times when you have to put the kettle on or the kids are screaming. As a side note, you may want to practice Raspberry Stitch and Wildflower Knot in your swatch so you get the hang of them (just remember to do them in the round or convert to back-and-forth knitting!) before you begin knitting the hat. Just remember that they will distort the swatch, so be sure to take your gauge measurements from a section of stockinette. Do choose a yarn that does not split easily, or you will want to strangle someone.

Yarn:
Cascade 220 Superwash, Colorway "Aporto" (Color No 856), 100 grams per ball, 1 ball. Can substitute any worsted weight yarn as long as you get gauge and it does not split easily (as you will be purling and knitting three together multiple times).

Needles:
US #8 16" circular needle (if desired)
set of US #8 double-pointed needles (or second circular needle) for top of hat
*or size needed to obtain gauge*

Pattern below the cut )
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I'm very excited because I just got a bunch of new tie dye supplies today. Some t-shirts, a bandana, pillow cases, and an extra special surprise...some very cool shirts that I think might work well for anyone into Goth/Steampunk/Vampire LARP/awesomeness once I have tie-dyed them from blah cream to a very exciting color combo.

Stay tuned, I'm going to be posting a free knitting pattern coming up to go along with a hat that I just finished. Both should be posted sometime in the next few days, once the weather cooperates enough that I can get decent lighting for a photo (and the hat finishes blocking).

October 2013

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