Estonian lace, and conquering the nupp

Today I had a nice quiet day ahead of me with both children at school and nothing on my calendar.  Everyone has been sick for the past week except me and I needed a restful day.  What better way to get rest, than to knit Estonian lace for the first time?

This is a Nancy Bush pattern, Ulla’s Scarf, from Ann Budd’s “Knitted Gifts” book.  I am using Knit Picks Palette in white, with US size 5 needles.  

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I cast on and was quite relaxed while making the lace border.  It seemed straightforward enough.  However, as I started to approach the lines in the charts with the nupps, I started feeling nervous.  Anyone who has knit lace or has looked into it will know that a nupp is a little knitted nubbin – consisting of knittng/making yarn overs FIVE times into one stitch, then purling those 5 stitches together coming across the back.  I have heard so many complaints from lace knitters about nupps.  I feared them and they actually stopped me from casting on this scarf many times.  

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Oh goodness, please ignore the dirt under my fingernail.  I’m a mother, OK?

Anyway, that little blob of yarn there is a nupp.  And I used to be afraid of them, but no more.  I have learned two secrets to knitting them without fear.  One is to knit the 5 stitches as loosely as you can, like obscenely loose.  Then as you come across the back side and need to purl them all together, don’t even try with your regular sized needle.  Grab the tiniest sock needle you own (I think mine is seriously a 000, what on earth I was planning to knit with a size 000 needle, I have no idea, but the thought of it makes me slap-happy) and tuck it into all 5 of those stitches, grab your working yarn with the end of it and hold it tight, then just purl that nupp with the skinny needle, and slip back on to your right hand  needle.  Piece of cake.  Well, not as easy as purling one stitch with normal sized yarn and regular sized needles, but it is a good way to not fear the nupp.  

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I love lily of the valley and it would look all wrong without the nupps.  I am glad I figured out how to make peace with them.

 

Birthday, then sick-day activites

My daughter has been home from school sick for the past two days.  Today she is better but still needed a day to rest.  I got out some tools I thought she might enjoy, but it turned out that at 6 years old, she isn’t quite ready to use them.  There is my childhood potholder loom, which she was able to warp without a problem but even I had issues with the weft.  (I’d actually put a sign on the house in my childhood, trying to get people to stop and buy some!)  The other tool is a neat I-cord knitting loom made by Lion Brand Yarns.  It was a little tricky to get it cast on, but once I changed to cotton yarn (that wasn’t fuzzy and splitty) I was able to get in the groove.  Not sure what I would do with a bunch of I-cord, although I believe the Mason-Dixon Knitting ladies had an idea for a rug in one of their books!

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Tuesday was my daughter’s birthday.  (She started getting sick Tuesday evening.)  She has a book called “Your Kind of Mommy” and there is this little patchwork, stuffed octopus in the book.  The octopus shows up in several places in the book but just inside the front cover, the octopus is with her baby – affectionately named “baby splat” by me and my daughter.  She asked me if I could make them both for her and I told her I probably could, as my sewing skills are not bad.  A bit rusty, but I used to make my own clothes and I was a costume shop assistant at the theater when I was in college.  So, here are mama and baby splat along with the photo of the inside cover of the book.  

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I did use a tutorial to help get me started on the mama octopus – Oopsie the Octopus by Moda Bake Shop.  I couldn’t have figured out how to attach the legs and the bottom.  This is a great little tutorial and it’s free with a printable pattern, so if you’re inclined to sew an octopus, check it out!  

Monsters

I have recently knitted a pair of monsters for 600 Monsters Strong, a group that was formed on Ravelry in response to the Sandy Hill school shootings.  It first began in an effort to provide the kids at Sandy Hook with cuddly toys, but has since expanded to donate monsters to any child who has experienced gun violence.  Check them out on Ravelry or on Facebook.

The pattern I used is Daphne and Delilah.  They were knit with Caron Simply Soft and stuffed with polyester fiber fill.  I used safety eyes (6mm I think) and the mouth is felt that was glued on with fabric glue.  

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Doesn’t this just make you go squeeeeee?  Both my kids want them now.  I knew my daughter would but for my son to also want one is a big deal!

Trio of Baby Hats – Free Patterns

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I have a friend who is pregnant and expecting a little boy this winter.  She asked me if I would knit some baby hats in what she said “masculine colors”.  So I went out shopping and picked up some Paton’s Canadiana, which is 100% acrylic, very soft, very springy, and not at all like other cheaper squeaky acrylic yarns.  I found a deep chocolate brown, a lovely taupey tan, and a denim blue.  I had some ideas in my head for some hats and after working on them, I thought I would actually take the time to write down what I did (gasp!) and offer up the patterns.

It’s been a while since I posted a pattern.  So I am long overdue.

The size of these hats is 0-3 months.
For all of these hats, I used a size 7 long circular needle and used the Magic Loop method.  You can use double pointed needles or one or two short circulars if that’s your thing.  I prefer the Magic Loop method so that’s what I did. The yarn I used is Patons Canadiana which is worsted weight. The colors I chose were Timber (dark brown), Toasty Grey (taupe) and Dark Water Blue. I bought one skein of each color and there are 205 yards in each skein.
Gauge: 10.5 stitches/2 inches (stockinette stitch in the round)
13 rows/2 inches

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Hat #1:  Plain Beanie with Ribbed Brim

Cast on 64 stitches and join to knit in the round (again, using the tools you prefer for knitting in the round).  Knit 2×2 ribbing (K2, P2) until the brim measures 1 1/2 inches long.  Switch to stockinette stitch (knitting all stitches) until the piece is about 6 inches from the edge of the brim.  This will allow the brim to be folded up.  If you do not want to fold up the brim, you can knit in stockinette stitch until the piece is 3 1/2 inches long.

Decrease section:

Once the piece is to the desired length, start decreasing.
(K6, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit all st.
(K5, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit all st.
(K4, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit all st.
(K3, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit all st.
(K2, K2tog) until end of round.
(K1, K2tog) until end of round.
K2tog until end of round. 8 stitches left.
Cut yarn and using a tapestry needle, draw yarn through all remaining stitches and secure. Weave in ends.

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Hat #2: Striped Beanie with Curled Brim and Topknot

You will need two colors for this pattern. Choose a main color (MC) and a contrasting color (CC). Cast on 64 stitches in MC and join to knit in the round (again, using the tools you prefer for knitting in the round). Knit in stockinette stitch until the edge is curled enough for what you want. I knit 11 rows on the hat in the picture. You will want it to curl, yet still be able to see some of the stockinette stitch.
Switch to CC, and knit 5 rows.
Switch to MC, and knit 5 rows.
Switch to CC, and knit 5 rows.
Switch to MC, and knit 3 rows.
Then start the decrease section:
Using MC, (K6, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit 1 round in MC.

Switch to CC for the next 5 rounds.
(K5, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit all st.
(K4, K2tog) until end of round.
Knit all st.
(K3, K2tog) until end of round.

Switch to MC for the rest of the hat. Continue to decrease:
Knit one round.
(K2, K2tog) until end of round.
(K1, K2tog) until end of round.
K2tog until end – 8 stitches remaining.
K2tog until end – 4 stitches remaining.

Using a double pointed needle, slide all 4 stitches on to one double pointed needle and work an I-cord until it is long enough to be tied in a knot. I knit mine to 3 1/2 inches.
Bind off and weave in ends. You will need to take some extra time to weave in ends inside the hat if you did not carry your yarn colors all the way through the color changes.

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Hat #3: Striped Beanie with Garter Ridge Contrast

You will need three colors for this hat: A Main Color (MC), about the same amount for the first Contrasting Color (CC1) and a small amount for the second Contrasting Color (CC2). This would be a good stash-busting project.

Cast on 64 stitches in MC and join to knit in the round (again, using the tools you prefer for knitting in the round). Work in 2×2 ribbing (K2, P2) until the piece is 1 inch long.
Change to CC2: K 1 row, then P the next row. This makes a garter stitch ridge. I will refer to these two rows in CC2 as the garter stitch ridge throughout the rest of this pattern.
Change to CC1. Knit 4 rows.
Change to CC2. Knit a garter stitch ridge.
Change to MC. Knit 4 rows.
Change to CC2. Knit a garter stitch ridge.
Change to CC1. Knit 4 rows.
Change to CC2. Knit a garter stitch ridge.
Change to MC. Knit 2 rows only.

Begin Decrease Rounds:
In MC, work the following rounds:
(K6, K2tog) to end of round.
Knit 1 row.
Change to CC2 for garter ridge with decrease:
(K5, K2tog) to end of round.
Purl 1 row.
Change to CC1:
(K4, K2tog) to end of round.
Knit 1 row.
(K3, K2tog) to end of round.
Knit 1 row.
Change to CC2:
(K2, K2tog) to end of round.
Purl 1 row.
Change to MC:
(K1, K2tog) to end of round.
K2tog around – 8 stitches left.
K2tog around – 4 stitches left.

If you wish, put all stitches on 1 double pointed needle and knit 4 rows of I-cord for decorative finish. If you want to omit this part, you can cut yarn at 8 stitches and draw end of yarn through the 8 stitches with a tapestry needle and secure. Then leave plain, or add pom pom or tassel.

If you don’t know how to knit an I-cord, there is a good video here. (Please take the time to look around and support this site!)

Gifted Socks

My stepmom asked me earlier this fall if I would knit her some socks.  I told her I would, but she wanted to pick out the yarn.  A couple of weeks later, I got a box of yarn in the mail – three different kinds!  She told me to chose the yarn for her socks, and keep the rest.  I chose  Zitron Trekking Maxima in colorway 906, which was a twist of blues, gray, yellow, red and purple.  It has nice long color changes.  The pattern I used was a free pattern called Globe Trotter Socks which can be also downloaded as a PDF from Ravelry.

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This was a great pattern for this yarn.  She asked for plain socks but I didn’t want to knit the whole thing in stockinette.  This is a seed stitch rib which was just enough to keep things interesting.

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There is truly nothing warmer than a pair of hand-knit wool socks for cold feet in the winter!

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

600 Monsters Strong

We have all been left reeling from the tragedy in Connecticut a week ago.  Some really wonderful folks on Ravelry’s group called LSG (stands for Lazy, Stupid and Godless) decided they wanted to get knitters and crocheters from around Ravelry to spend some time knitting a cute monster for each child at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In just a few days, it exploded.  There are now more than 2000 people in the Ravelry group and about that many “likes” on their facebook page.

I am happily knitting away on a monster and I will post photos here when it is completed.

I would encourage you to check this out if it resonates with you.  This group has a lot of great ideas for also helping other young children who have experienced gun violence.

Ravelry group:  http://www.ravelry.com/groups/600-monsters-strong

Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/600MonstersStrong

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Need photographer!

I have a couple of large projects I have finished but I need to get my pictures taken! It is very difficult to take photos of yourself wearing a sweater you knit… so I will need to get somebody to help me out when the lighting is good, when it’s not too hot and when I’ve been inclined to put on a little makeup and wear my hair in something besides a pony tail! I’ve completed a great ribbed tank top and a short-sleeved spring/summer cardigan – will post pattern links once I have the photos up!

Right now I have several projects in the works. I am making a pair of thrummed mittens, I am making a lacy drop stitch wrap out of sock yarn, and I am also working on a cotton/linen blend tunic. It’s no surprise that 2 out of these 3 projects are green. I have noticed that out of the large projects I have done, only one of them has no green in it! So green must be my color. Summer knitting is sort of hit or miss for me. If it is hot and I’m really tired, I don’t want to knit… other times I am busy gardening or doing other things with the kids. I do take projects most places I go so that I can knit away from home and that works out well. Happy summer knitting and hopefully I will have some pictures before long!

Splash of Cranberry Fingerless Mitts Pattern

I really love garments and objects that have an unexpected pop of color. I especially love aquamarine blue with a pop of red as an accent. These colors seem to go so well together and seeing them together makes me happy! These little fingerless mitts are perfect for the times in between seasons when it is too cold to have bare hands but too warm for mittens. I knit them using the magic loop method with a long, flexible circular but it can easily be adapted to double points if that’s what you prefer.

You will need:
150 yards of worsted weight wool, or wool blend (Main Color, MC) (I used Berroco Vintage, color #5120)
A small amount of yarn in a contrasting color (Contrasting Color, CC) (I used Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Cranberry Swirl)
Buttons to match the contrast yarn (I chose mismatched vintage buttons for charm)
Size 7 long circular needles or whatever you need to get gauge (Or a set of double pointed needles in that size)
Ruler
Two stitch markers
Tapestry needle
Thread to match buttons and a sewing needle

Gauge:  10 st and 14 rows over 2 inches

Abbreviations:
K – Knit
P – Purl
M1 – Make 1 increase
PM – Place Marker
Sl M – Slip Marker

How to make them:
Cast on 40 stitches in the contrasting color. Pull out a loop of your circular to prepare to knit using magic loop (or arrange on double points). The next step could be done in one of many ways, so you can try different things and see what works best for you. You will need to join your CC in the round, but you will actually start knitting with the MC which will be the main body of the mittens. You can tie the new yarn on to the working yarn of the contrasting color, then carefully join. One other method I tried was to cast on one extra stitch, and join in the round by knitting the last stitch and first stitch together. Then you would proceed with the main color, knitting 2 inches of 2×2 ribbing (K2, P2) or until your cuff is the desired length.

Once your cuff is done, knit one round of stockinette.

For the thumb gusset:
Row 1: K1, PM, M1, K1, M1, PM, K rest of round.
Row 2: K all stitches
Row 3: K1, Sl M, M1, K3, M1, Sl M, K rest of round.
Row 4: K all stitches.

Continue in this way, increasing the thumb gusset stitches by two every other round. When you have 17 stitches between your markers, knit one more round and your thumb gusset will be done.
On the next round, K1, then thread your 17 gusset stitches onto a piece of waste yarn or a stitch holder. You will pick up these live stitches later to make the thumb. Continue to knit the remaining stitches of the round.

On the next round, K1, then cast on 1 stitch. Knit the rest of the round. You will now have 40 stitches again and can continue to work on the main body of the mitt.

Continue knitting for about another inch past the thumb hole. Then change back to 2×2 ribbing for another inch or as desired. You can make this part as long as you need, for whatever is comfortable. When your mitt is long enough, change back to the contrasting color. Work one more round of 2×2 ribbing in CC, then bind off. Carefully weave in ends so that the CC does not show through the MC.

For the thumb: Place live stitches on your circular, and pick up 3 stitches from the body of the mitten. You will have 20 stitches on your circular, Pull out a loop and work 2×2 ribbing until your thumb is of desired length. Change to CC and work one more round of 2×2 ribbing. Bind off and carefully weave in ends.   You will also have a tail left at the base of the thumb from picking up the 3 stitches.  I like to reinforce the web of the thumb by using the tail to sew a bit from the inside before weaving in that end.  I think it finishes off the thumb nicely and will keep that end from coming loose.  If you plan to do this, remember to leave a little bit of a longer tail when you pick up the 3 stitches.

Repeat for the other mitten!

Once you have two mittens, you can sew the buttons on the backs of the hands, arranging them in a way that is pleasing to you. Be careful to be sure you have one right and one left, as both mittens will be the same. Sometimes it is helpful to put a pin on the back where the buttons will go.   I decided to embroider a spiral on one hand and buttons on the other, I was testing which I liked better and decided to leave them mismatched.  You could also leave them plain if you wanted.

You can easily make this larger or smaller by casting on more or fewer stitches in multiples of 4.

As always, if you find an error or have a question, please leave a comment and I will reply right away.  I strive to make my patterns easy to understand and fun to do!

Little socks

I decided it was probably time for me to knit some socks for my daughter. I have made so many for myself, trying out different colors and patterns. There is nothing like a pair of hand knit wool socks for keeping your feet warm in the winter. She likes them and says, “they won’t be picky after you wash them, Mama.” I don’t think they are picky now, but we have a little Princess and the Pea thing going on here. :)

To make these, I bought one skein of Kroy Sock Jacquards. I cast on 40 stitches, knit my entire leg in 2×2 ribbing. Then I did a reinforced heel flap and I like how the angular turn fits so that’s how I turn my heels. Then I knit a plain foot, took it down to 8 stitches at the toe, then grafted it closed. I used size 2 needles, since Kroy is a little thicker.

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