This blanket is for a lovely couple, Dan and Jess, who live in the Boston area. I knew it needed to be warm and classic and casual and big because this was another "tall groom" situation.
I took my inspiration for this blanket from the wedding site. The couple got married on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, at the same site where my husband and I got married five years ago. It is a beautiful verdant location with ferns and pines and birch trees. I really felt like I wanted to make a blanket evocative of the place.
I started out with a pattern from an amazing 1968 Bernat pattern book of my mother's. I may have fallen prey to the wonderfully kitschy styling in the photo shoot. It should have been a dream, worked on large needles, yarn held doubled. But goodness, I just didn't like the pattern. It seemed to take ages to get one row finished, and I couldn't keep the tension even between the two strands of yarn.
So I said phooey! I put the blanket aside, made the several blankets you have seen recently on this blog, and a few pairs of socks beside. But I always knew I would need to come back to this blanket and this yarn and make something beautiful.
At some point between giving up on the Bernat pattern, and actually starting to re-knit, I found a pattern I really liked. The Serenity pattern looked fun to knit, and warm, and lovely. It was written for worsted weight yarn, which is what I had. The only catch was that it was written as a baby blanket size. I mentally prepared to have to figure out how to expand the size. Behold my surprise when I finally went to (re)start the blanket, and found that an intrepid Raveler before me had already worked out the graphs to expand the blanket, and the designer had linked to those graphs from the project homepage. It was like a Christmas present in July.
I worked an applied border, mostly because I really wanted to have a cable go all the way around, and i didn't want to knit it separately and sew it on, because that way lies madness. Because the cable isn't as stretchy as a garter stitch border, it did result in a slight ripple to the edge, but who knows, maybe it's charming? I think the ripple does add to the overall lusciousness of the blanket.
And, a bonus project:
A birthday gift for my supervisor. I think the bluebird of happiness is a potent symbol and this pattern was a fun knit, one piece with short rows for shaping. An improvised party hat is the cherry on top.
I've got quite a few finished projects to talk about!
And the weddings are all wed, so I can get to talking.
The first finished, and almost the last given, is this lovely square throw. Photo maybe not the best, but listen people, you run out of ways to photograph a blanket and you want to mix it up a little, and sometimes you don't hit it out of the park, but I think you can get the idea!
I chose traditional wedding ivory and used a wool/acrylic blend so the happy couple won't need to worry about washing instructions, or finding a place to dry a blanket in their Brooklyn apartment with curious cats. This blanket was a breeze from start to finish, so enjoyable to knit that I made a second one, which has already appeared in an earlier post here. I went in a totally different direction with the second iteration, making it in grey and giving it a striped border. I love that one, but I also love the simplicity of this one. Both have the central motif that suggests a compass rose to me, which seems an auspicious symbol for a newly married couple. Also I love the bobbles, and the simplicity of the eyelet rows for the border that give the blanket a vintage feel. Yay for Steve and Fran and I wish we could have been at what was, from all accounts, a most lovely wedding full of thoughtful touches.
And since I'm attempting to feature these wedding blankets, but also play catch up, thrown in at the bottom is this little guy:
He's from the Anna Hrachovec's book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi. Her patterns are great go-tos for quick cute knits, and he was a birthday present for a friend of mine who just turned 4! Congrats Graham! There really isn't anything to indicated scale in this photo, but lets just say he's as big as a large grape. Like, one of the big dark purple dusty grapes that are full of seeds.
This blog has been silent for a little while, while I try to figure out what to do with it. I've decided that an exercise in daily writing is a good way to get out of this indecisive phase, and as an example, the following is writing from Friday night and Saturday night. I've thrown in some photos of finished items for the last little bit of time to keep things light :) Each photo is linked to the pattern if you're interested. Here we go...
Oh my gosh, knitting frustration! I have at least 9 work-in-progress projects going on right now. And I don't want to work on any of them. Is the solution to start a new project? It certainly seemed hopeful. The first project I tried to start called for size 13 circular needles. I checked, and I have no regular set of 13 circulars. I have two interchangeable needle sets, one of which goes up to size 11, and the other one does have size 13s. Good news, except that I only have the shortest cable available for that set. It is 9:30 pm at this point, so I can't run to the store. Husband points out that I could order another large cable. This wouldn't help me in the moment, but, I tell myself, I can endure this crazy for a few more days, so I order one from Amazon. But I still want to knit to relax and I still don't want to work on any of my current projects.
Maybe I could start something else that is ready to go. Maybe a hat that I bought the yarn for last Christmas. Let's see, that wants size 10 double pointed needles. I don't have those, but I can come up with two size 10 circulars on the short cables between the two interchangeable sets. Let me just check gauge before I'm off and running on this... oh, I have 8 stitches per inch instead of the 6 required by the gauge. And, the fabric already seems like it is too loose, and when you stretch it, you can see through the "holes", no good for a hat. Going up in needle size to get the right gauge would make the fabric even looser. Could I hold two strands of the yarn together? Yes, but then I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the project, and this yarn is actually discontinued I've had it in my stash for so long.
Hm, maybe I should start some complicated doily, because I finally have some size 30 thread. No, I know that is a bad idea for what is now 10 pm. I'll just work on this reversible project that I started in 2009 and picked up again recently. It is a little tedious because there are so many stitches per row, but it has a certain appeal. You know, after the gauge being so off on that hat, maybe i should just check it on this for a lark. Oh, I'm 2 stitches off on the vertical and horizontal gauge, oh, and I also just learned a much prettier way to join the sides. So, I guess I should take it apart? but each row takes around 20 min. I don't want to take it apart, but on the other had, I still have much further to go on the project than I've already gone.
After a morning of continuing to bemoan my situation, I awoke from a nap to a mail delivery of the most lovely Icelandic yarn from a friend who just came back from a trip.
The colors are beautiful and the sentiment is charming. Alright, I'm feeling better. I planned to go to a bagpipe jam session with my husband that night, and had thought I would bring a project to while away the hours, but in my current state I was beside myself as to what that project would be.
Ultimately I decided to go back to a wedding gift project that is due in August that I hadn't worked on since October (a conservative estimate). What a good project to return to! Cables to keep things interesting, 100% wool yarn, one eye calming cream color. Pleasant music, and a lovely bunch of German women who happened to be there who lavished my project with ego boosting praise and then descended upon me trying to show me how to do a continental purl stitch.
There were three women, two were mother and daughter, and each had her own slightly different continental purl technique and each felt her own way made the most sense, and it was such a nice moment of knitter fellowship and so charming to be literally hugged from behind by one of the women while she grabbed my hands and attempted to lead them through her version of a purl. So i'm back in the game, inching my way back to relaxing knitting.
And that's why i need to write every day here, because the experience of knitting is so mercurial to me and I want to try to document it, maybe for 2 weeks?
My friend has a joke that her blog is a “blog for moms.” Not that she writes for moms, but that her main readership is her mom, a friend’s mom, her boyfriend’s mom, etc. I think it is mostly a way of expressing the confusing feeling of writing for the internet. You don’t really know who you are writing for, besides your mom.
Personally, though I don't always know who all is reading, I know that my mom is my most dedicated reader, and also my most dedicated harasser when I fall behind in my posts. One of the reasons I fall behind is that I get it into my head that I have specific things I want to say about my projects, and I can’t say them to my own satisfaction. My mom always has tons of nice stuff to say about what I’ve made, so I decided to just let her say it this time, and also clean out the backlog of projects I needed to share with you all, and then maybe I can get motivated from here moving forward. I've included links for the patterns. Some are only on Ravelry, one is on Lion Brand and you have to log in to see it.
So, without further ado, here’s my mom:
Sarah just finished making me this beautiful silk shirt. Last February, I took a trip to California to visit the kids and go with Sarah to the Stitches West Show in San Jose. There, we found this pattern and yarn. It sat around until late July when we gathered in Paradise (Michigan), and there, Sarah started working on the project. So soft, so lovely. This pattern can be adjusted for any body size. And of course, Sarah made it so it fits me perfectly. [pattern]
The cute red and white placemat is 100% cotton, and 100% LOVED by Sarah’s cat Mona. I guess you could say that it is a catmat… The pattern is a free pattern from Red Heart. [pattern]
Lovely wool socks for the fisherman. Sarah’s father-in-law loves to fish – and loves to keep warm. These socks work for both! I love the red toes and the heals as well as the ultra cool pattern on the leg. [pattern, though I did a jojo heel, which is not in the book.]
Mom and Mom-in-law both got a pair of these paneled socks. The blended yarn worked in sections really makes for some cool socks. [pattern, above with a short row heel and picot hemmed cuff, below with a heel flap heel and ribbed cuff.]
Having such a talented daughter, I tend to make a lot of special requests. Sarah really went out of her way for a dear friend of mine. With a new German Shepherd in the family, I thought it would be nice for my friend to have a knit German Shepherd for her collection. So I sent photos of the puppy to Sarah, who went through her stash to try to match the markings of the actual dog. She did a fantastic job (of course). The odd thing was that the dog was scared of the knit dog. She wouldn’t stop barking at her miniature. Sarah thought this might have happened because she made the dog while dog sitting. Maybe the dog could smell the other dog on the yarn? Who knows? [pattern]
And the HATS.
My husband has worn a knit hat forever. His mother was an amazing knitter (as is his daughter). When Sarah was researching the perfect hat to make for her Dad, she came into a quandary. There were TWO hats that she liked. The best solution was achieved. Sarah knit two hats for her Daddy. One for really cold weather, one for medium cold weather. Both lovely (although the patterned one is my favorite). Both blue (because that is her Daddy's favorite color). Both wool (because that is what Daddy loves). [and I never got a finished photo of the one on the right! left: pattern, right: pattern]
Okay, thanks Mom! for guest blogging. I’ll be back next week with a post about a new project.
Thought I might not post frequently, I always keep busy! Here are some pictures with their origin stories.
Meet tiny Texas Zombie!
I combined two of Anna Hrachovec's wonderful tiny patterns. The armadillo is from her book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi, and the zombie is from a separate pattern collection. I changed the pattern for the zombie just a little, making the legs longer, and making the shirt white. I made up the little hat. It is crocheted, starting at the top, making a little tube, and then increasing in every stitch to make the brim. I should write up the pattern for those that want a tiny hat, but I haven't yet, so I would just say, trust your gut, and let the tiny hat flow from you naturally. I put some wire into the raised arm so he could give a proper yee-haw, which shows a little in this photo, but just think of it as yarn zombie bones. The reins are embroidery floss. He now lives on the desk of a co-worker who is from Texas and loves zombies.
A little treat for my husband who lends emotional support to all the projects you see on this site. When projects start to go south, he listens to me talk it out, and he calmly accepts a bedroom destroyed by trying to find that one ball of yarn that just can't be found. This pattern may look familiar. It is the Sidewinders pattern that I've knit several times already. I knit it with Mini-Mochi which was a lovely experience. I was very pleased that the pink stripes landed on the sides of the socks so that it really looks trouty. For fans of non-traditional sock construction (I know I'm not the only one!) I recently happened upon Hypercycloid's blog where she has been up to lots of non-traditional sock construction. I've saved several of these patterns for future use.
Kilt Hose, click on the images to make them larger
More husband socks! My husband has been taking bagpipe lessons for almost a year, and he played in a competition for the first time recently. Not only have I learned a lot of about the instrument in this time, but I've also learned about the parts of traditional Scottish dress. Eventually he will have his own kilt, but in the mean time, he rented one, as well as all the fixings. Of course, I was darned if he was going to rent or, perish the thought, buy the hose to wear with the kilt. Also of course, I only came to the realization that I would need to make these hose 3 weeks before the competition (I ended up finishing them the night before). No problem! I found this lovely free pattern through Ravelry. I chose the toe up version of the pattern because I knew I would have to make a few modifications to fit my husband's larger calves. The hose are knit with worsted weight yarn (Cascade 220) but on US size 1.5 needles. When the socks are on the leg, my vertical gauge ended up being 15 rows per inch, which is quite a few more rows than I think the pattern was intending. Instead of two balls of the 220, I ended up using almost 4, but the result is a pair of very nice dense hose, no holes between stitches (which was my husband's main concern). Besides doing many more rows for the leg and cuff, the only other modification I made was to do two more rib increases on the back of the calf, instead of the suggested single center rib finish. (Sorry, I'm not sure how better to describe that, look at the picture of the back of the calf and I think you'll see what I mean.) I want to try kilt hose again, and he is competing again in September, so, more kilt hose might show up here in the future.
Last, but not least. I had had my eye on this pattern on Ravelry for some time, but had no reason to make it. Enter the reason, I had the opportunity to go to a Dr. Who themed party. Hurrah! This is a crocheted Ood. The Ood are hilarious and also full of pathos, and so, they are favorites of mine. This pattern was super quick and super easy, it took me about 2 nights of work. I had all the yarn in my stash, so, good de-stashing project if you have some left over sand from an under the sea blanket and some left over coral color from making sea horses. The pattern is also brilliant because there is a mouth opening behind the tentacles for breathing and eating.
Okay, and we're not caught up yet! I have a lot of gifts to give in the near future and then there will be a catch up gift post!
Whenever anyone tells me "Hey, I like your blog," I feel compelled to say: "I don't post enough! But I just like crafting more than I like writing about it." As a result, a lot of projects never make it onto the blog because they were finished so long ago that by the time I get it together to write a post, I'm onto something totally new. But I've done a lot of projects recently that I like, so I'm just going to overwhelm you with a big smorgasbord of finished projects. Dig in!
Here is the finished Under the Sea blanket. Though I am pleased, and my friend who received it is pleased, it somehow never lived up to my elaborate conception, (which was much more sculpture than blanket). All of the items button on with toggle buttons, and so they can be re-arranged and moved around.
More socks for my mom. They are both from patterns that you've seen here before and that just work particularly well. I liked the Sidewinders pattern so much, that I knew I wanted to make a pair for my mom. I used some Felici self striping yarn and it ended up coming out so perfectly! The last pair of Skew socks got rave reviews for fit, so I thought I would make another pair. This time around I used an acrylic blend so that they won't be quite so warm as wool. A summer sock.
More socks! This time socks for my husband, who, you may have noticed, doesn't get a lot of stuff. The items in the cue for him are long and varied and he is very patient about it, so I got the lead out and actually finished something for him. These were designed by the witty little knitter, and the pattern is here. I was worried about tightness in the ankles, so I did the all of the white accents on the leg in duplicate stitch. I hadn't really ever given a lot of though to the technique of duplicate stitch, but thankfully and serendipitously, smartygirl at the filmcraft blog posted a link to a Watermelish tutorial on duplicate stitch which was awesome! And everything came out much neater than my original attempt.
Tiny seahorse is finished! I put it off for so long because I was worried I wouldn't be able to pick up the stitches for the belly. I hadn't even considered how absurdly small the back fin would be. So tiny! This is, once again, a Hansi Singh pattern. I didn't have to change the pattern at all, just used smaller needles and yarn. People's main reaction has been, "how do you make it so tiny," and my only answer is "tiny needles." The stick supporting the seahorse in this photo is actually one of the needles used to knit it. They are size 0/6 and I got them from BagLady, where I also got 0/4 and 0/5. They don't sell 0/8, thank goodness, or I would probably be blind.
And I know I'm kind of burying the lead here, but ta-da! Tiny chameleon. He was inspired by a little guy you may have seen in the news a little while ago:
One new chameleon was found on Nosy Hara, an islet off the coast of Madagascar. Named Brookesia micra, it is the smallest of the four species. Juveniles are small enough to stand on the head of a match.
Well, I didn't quite get it that small, but pretty close! Also, chameleons are incredibly fun to look at! When ever I'm doing a project where I'm trying to match something in nature, I do a lot of image searches first, and that was how I learned the super fun fact that baby chameleons ride around on their mom's faces. So, then, of course, I knew what I had to do.
Both mom and baby are Hansi Singh patterns. The mom was knit with sock weight yarn and using 0/4 needles. The hardest part by far was the tail, but it wasn't impossible. The legs are knit separately, but the head and eyes are knit with picked up stitches. There are wires inside the legs so that they are positionable.
I haven’t done a blog post recently because I’ve been concentrating all my energies on this:
This is a close up shot of the making of my under the sea blanket. I just found the color combination too pleasing now to document it. I’ve posted a few finished items for this project on the blog, here, or here. I started this project in 2008, but I’ve actually made the bulk of it over the last month. In the past few days though, I’ve realized how glad I am that I waited. It is nice to be able to see improvement in your own skills. I think what I see most in my own work is an increased willingness to improvise, and I’m glad to see it. The blanket will get its own post after Thanksgiving after I’ve had a chance to give it.
But wait! I have photos of other projects that have just been hanging around. I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for, except that I’ve just been knitting sea critters all night, and so I haven’t been in a writing mood. I thought I would do a little winter cleaning and get these photos posted.
Here is a miniaturization of the Hansi Singh Jackalope pattern. I made a larger version for my parents a few years ago. Being Mid-Westerners always in their hearts if not their address, it was much appreciated. I love Hansi’s patterns, and I love making them tiny. This guy ended up being bigger than a chipmunk, but smaller than a squirrel.
I worked this pattern almost exactly as written. I attached the legs after the body was grafted together, making them set a little wider apart at the top, and I had to redo the bottoms of the feet, which didn’t miniaturize as well. I suspect this is because my rainbow yarn is a little thicker than fingerling weight. I just picked up the recommended number of stitches, K2tog around, and then threaded the needed through the remaining stitches and pulled tight. I used 000 needles, some brown sock yarn I had kicking around in my stash and some rainbow yarn left over from this project. I used some of my trusty garden wire in the legs to make them a little stronger.
My favorite part of this pattern! Isn't this a ridiculously life-like rump?
I also just want to give a shout out to my Tiny Laptop Pattern. Over 100 have added the project to their favorites on Ravelry, my favorite social network site for knitters and crocheters. One industrious crafter has already made several for her little monsters to play with! I agree with her that it is pretty irresistible to put toys to work when you’ve got a tiny laptop bumping around your house. On the internet, nobody knows your a Jackalope.
I'm pretty much a sucker for an awesome pattern. I mean, I'm sure that is the case for most knitters. I horde yarn for a polar bear sweater I will make some day, I buy and then later get rid of scads of pattern books. (No, I don't really get rid of them, keeping them for inspiration is a totally valid rationalization.) Upon seeing a truly amazing pattern, I will probably buy the yarn that day and start it that night. I also love a new way to do something that I've done before.
Enter this amazing octopus:
Don't you love the eyes! You knit his head with slits and then push the eyes in afterwards, so for a while you have a blind zombie octopus in your house! Also, as you can see, the eyes make a really great hand puppet. This may be my low key Halloween costume, two of these babies sewn onto some kind of finger sleeve, I haven't decided.
It turns out that I was the first person to finish this pattern on Ravelry and the designer Max Alexander has asked if he can post one of my photos on his blog. Max has got it down with the eyes. To me, his pieces have a great cartoon quality, almost like they are drawn. I really like this bee.
Because I am, and love to be, a machine for cranking out yarn versions of friend's inside jokes, this guy has a few accessories, including a baked potato from Anna Hrachovec's Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi.
and a laptop. I'm very proud of the laptop.
I designed it myself, and this weekend I'm going to write out the pattern, because there are no tiny laptop patterns floating around the internet that I could find and now, knowing that, well, this situation cannot persist.
A slightly larger partner in crime to my smaller mantis from a few months ago. A co-worker saw my little mantis, and the large one from longer ago (both have made it to work somehow, on different desks). She asked if I might make one for her daughter who had a spring birthday and is also graduating from high school, and, more importantly, had been working on a final art project, a watercolor of a mantis. I had been itching for the chance to make another mini-mantis/work any Hansi pattern small, with no real justification for doing so, and I liked the serendipity of the whole thing.
When I was at Stitches South in April, I made a special point of visiting the Miss Babs booth. I had gotten overwhelmed there at Stitches West and wanted another crack at it. Not only did I purchase many beautiful skeins of yarn for socks that you will hopefully see here before too long, but I was also able to get two little half balls of sock yarn for the mantis. The beautiful depth of the Miss Babs yarn makes you never want to buy machine dyed yarn again, until you remember how much it costs. For the special toy though, I think it is totally worth it. And this guy is special from the tops of his antennae down to the tips of his tarsi.
This is actually what it looks like while it is being knit, too cool not to share.
The other lovely thing about this Miss Babs yarn is that they use very poetic names. Sometimes I resent poetic naming on yarns because I feel like I'm just being tricked into yearning for a yarn that isn't available, that I don't really need* because of some deep emotional attachment to some movie. The yarns for this project though, are so thoroughly beautiful, and I had to buy the yarn for a project, so the names are just icing on the cake: Violets in the Grass and Ghost Ship. Beautiful and evocative.
*as though there is such a thing, but I can still aspire to be practical.
Check out that nifty Ghost Ship abdomen!
Because this yarn is a little fuller than the yarn I used to make the tiny mantis, I went up a needle size to 00 needles. I also made sure to amend my earlier mistake and not trim off the tops of the wires inside the legs. This time I left them long and bent them so they fitted nicely into the body. The result was a much more stable mantis who can actually stand with his abdomen off the ground completely if he so chooses.
Well, I had fun making the mantis, and I thought that was that. I feel pretty strongly that I can't take money for making something from a pattern that I didn't design, so I just said don't worry about it, and my co-worker was very appreciative. And then she and her daughter spoiled me rotten. I got two beautiful cards, one with a charming paper cut, and one of them hand painted by the recipient herself of a little parrot, a gift certificate to a local yarn store, and the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, which really match the mantis quite well. I love trading a craft for a craft, and I certainly don't mind working for flowers when the project itself was intriguing anyway.
This octopus is another Hansi Singh pattern. He is done in worsted weight yarn and is larger than I typically make my toys. He is bigger because he is destined for a very special project which is finally getting some momentum. More on that later.