Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Spirits

Christmas is around the corner and the holiday decor is pretty much done- we just need to put more presents under the Xmas tree!

I decided to knit a Xmas tree skirt this year and started over the Thanksgiving weekend- not a good idea to start a big project so late in the year! I do however love how it turned out.

The pattern is my own and based on EZ's 7 spoke shawl. The skirt is knitted flat with 7 spokes and each has a double yo increases every following 4th row. (This blog explains it in further details in the Nov 05 post.)  Knit in plain stockinette first, I then added the snowflakes lace pattern from Barbara Walker's 2nd edition of stitch dictionary (2 repeats). The border is knitted first in moss stitch followed by garter stitch. I didn't take a photo of the knitted side edge but it is also in moss stitch and I incorporated 4 button holes in the beginning but found that I didn't need to sew on buttons to secure the skirt around the tree. Bind off is on WS using K2TOG TBL - I love how it looks with garter stitch. It is much stretchier than regular bind off and easier to use on large projects than EZ's sewn bind off. I highly recommend this bind off to those who haven't tried it.

Cascade Eco Wool in natural for the body, Eco+ in red for the border, size 10 circular needles with lengths ranging from 24" to 60" (however 47" would suffice if you're not knitting a ginormous skirt.) I didn't measure my skirt but it is not huge- I'd say that the radius is about 30" blocked. The skirt easily grew 15%-20% post blocking. I used about 1.75 skein of yarn for the body and maybe half a skein for the border.

I've also decided to knit our stockings this year.  

Stocking pattern is from Purl Bee, and the yarns are Madelinetosh Tosh DK using size 6 needles. 

To personalize the stockings I ordered silver dog tags with our names engraved. I'm not completely happy with how this looks but it will have to do for now.

Here are a couple more decor photos- non-knitting related but purtty to look at.

Wishing you lots of merriness and laughter in this holiday season!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Knits

Here are photos of some of my holiday knits- it's going to take some organization to keep track of what I've knitted for whom....

Here are some bread cozies that I've knitted while experimenting with different borders for each one. I kept the dark red one for myself- can't wait to use it! The yarn is Knitpick's Cotlin, which I find to be the perfect yarn for this project. It's a blend of cotton and linen. I've knitted another version (sadly I was in a rush to send it off and forgot to take a photo) for a friend's housewarming gift. I included a fruit/bread bowl (the same white one in the second photo from the top) and a copy of The Bread Bible. A friend had given me this book a few years ago and it started me on the path to home-baked bread. The original pattern for the bread cozy is the biscuit blankt from

Various hats for the kids in our family. Yarn is Rowan's All Seasons Cotton.

A leaf lace ascot for my sister's birthday. Details at my Ravelry project page.

There's more to come later...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shipley Carriage Blanket

I wanted to knit a small blanket just for use with the car seat and stroller for our new baby. I had cables on my mind, so I did simple C3F cables separated by knit stitches instead of the usual purl stitches because I want the fabric to lie flat. After the body was knit and bind off was done, I picked up stitches around all 4 borders and knit the edging in garter rib and in the round. The edging's bind off was done with a 2-stitch applied i-cord which gives it more structure and body and rounds off the corners nicely. This is a very quick knit- it was finished in about 4 evenings.

The cable crossing is done on the following 8th row.  Some readers may notice that the 4th cable crossing from the bottom is slightly longer than the rest- that was an oops. Instead of frogging it, I made the same longer crossing at the other end of the blanket for symmetry. I'm going to pretend that it was my design all along. The pattern does not include this longer crossing. Feel free to improvise with this pattern- you can add in purl stitches or use other cable patterns and go wild.

Knit in Cascade Eco Wool, this blanket is warm and lofty. It is approximately 20" wide by 22" long, which I find a good size to use with car seat and pram/stroller. 

Here's a closeup of the corner. With all 4 borders knit in the round,  the garter rib fans out and frames the cabled body nicely IMO. The bind off is done with applied i-cord, which is my latest "find" and I love how all 4 edges are identical with this bind off. Please note that the 32" circular needles listed in the pattern is used for a blanket in the written size. If you plan to knit this blanket any bigger, a pair of 40" circular needles is much more comfortable to use.

I would love to knit this in a throw size for big people one day. But I'm actually running out of Eco Wool! Must replenish my stash soon.

To download a free copy of the Shipley Baby Carriage Blanket pattern, please click on the Ravelry link.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meet the Soccasins

I've never been tempted to knit socks before- mainly because I didn't think I possess the dexterity to knit dental floss yarn on toothpick-sized dpns. But after knitting 3 Christmas stockings in a row, I guess I got curious about knitting a pair of socks in human size. (Said Xmas stockings are shoved in a cabinet somewhere, waiting to be blocked and photographed. I guess I got burnt out from knitting three in a row. And I have one more to knit.) So I got to thinking about knitting socks for loved ones this holiday season. Everyone has socks already, and if I'm knitting socks I want them to be SEEN and ADMIRED.  I went back to a much-browsed copy of The Knitter's Almanac by the incomparable Elizabeth Zimmerman, and lo and behold she has a pattern for moccasin socks! I've always loved socks with a different colored sole!

I was eager to cast on, and I didn't even consult Ravelry for tips beforehand. What resulted could be fairly described as sadomasochistic knitting. I'm not one to enjoy tearing apart my knitting, but I got completely absorbed in this project and for several evenings in a row I was thoroughly preoccupied and experimenting with different techniques and designs. Man, EZ's pattern was pithy to the pithiest power. But I guess that was her genius because instead of telling the reader exactly what to do, she described her method and reasoning behind the construction. It ultimately gave me more freedom to design my own moccasin sock, which I have renamed soccasins. Soccasins are meant to be worn indoor and are knit in worsted/bulky yarn. I have departed quite a bit from EZ's original pattern to fit my design and knitting preference.

Without further ado let me introduce Hilary:

This was knit for my MIL, Hilary. She has tiny feet (size 5ish?) so I decided to knit a pair of soccasins for her first. I used light worsted superwash wool in yellow for the instep and grey for the sole (to hide dirt- very practical.) I designed delicate cables because Hilary wears a lot of cabled sweaters. Instead of the usual purl stitches in between cables, I used knit stitches. They feel less "socky" and more "soccasiny" to me.

And here's a pair of men's soccasin, Nick.

Nick features one bold cable down the instep- Nick, my husband, really wanted to make sure that his socks didn't turn out too girly. Because in his opinion most hand-knitted stuff are kinda girly. I used aran-weight yarn for the instep (simply because that's what I had in my stash) and the same yarn for the sole that I used for Hilary.

There's another pair of soccasins coming soon- it is knit in luxurious alpaca/merino wool blend in bulky weight. Since the yarn is so warm, I incorporated a bit of lace on the instep. The prototype has almost dried, and then I will knit up an official pair in the most awesome color combo yet.
Stay tuned! Link to Ravelry

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Carrie Handwarmers

Inspired by the Emerald Green Handwarmers by creativeyarn, here are the Carrie handwarmers that were created as a birthday present to our beloved babysitter. The cuffs are done in k1p1 ribbing and the body in moss stitch. So simple, but very cute when worn!

- About 1/4 skein of Malabrigo Worsted Yarn, the color shown in the above
  photo is verde adriana
- Size 6 needles
- Size 7 needles
- Size 8 needle (for cast off only)

Note: the edge salvage stitches are knit in stockinette stitch for easier seaming and a neater edge for the thumb hole. The wrist portion is knit in smaller needles to ensure better fit.

- Using size 6 needles, cast on 34 stitches and begin k1p1 ribbing as follows:
   Row 1 (RS): k1, *k1, p1, repeat from * until the last stitch, k1
   Row 2 (WS): knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches
 - Repeat rows 1&2 two more times

- Start moss stitch:
  Row 1 (RS): k1, *k1, p1, repeat from * until the last stitch, k1
  Row 2:  knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches
  Row 3:  k1, *p1, k1, repeat from * until the last stitch, k1
  Row 4:  knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches
  Repeat rows 1-4 5 more times
  Switch to size 7 needles, repeat pattern 5 times

- Start k1p1 ribbing as per direction above, knit rows 1 & 2 twice (total of 4 rows), then cast off to pattern using size 8 needle.

- Sew up the seams, approximately 1.5" from the top down, allowing 1.75" for the thumb hole, then seam up the rest. Try it on as you sew to ensure better fit.

- I have smallish hands. For larger size try casting on 36 or 38 stitches.

Since I have some leftover yarn in a different color, I made a shorter pair for myself. The body color is applewood. I did 6 rows of ribbing for the bottom cuff, switched to main color and started with rows 3 and 4 of the moss stitch and then continue on to full pattern of rows 1-4.  2 1/2 pattern repeats were knit in size 6 needles, followed by 5 pattern repeats in size 7 needles, then 4 rounds of ribbing again.

The longer pair is 7.25" in length and shorter pair is 6" in length.

You can certainly knit this in the round, just omit the first and last stitches in the ribbing and moss stitch instructions. I chose to knit flat and seam because while I don't mind knitting a few rounds with dpns, I don't enjoy knitting an entire project with dpns. The seaming here is easy and fast since the handwarmers are small.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ear Flap Hats 2010

Around this time of the year I like to knit hats for my friends' children. My favorite hat pattern is the Ear Flap Hat from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. Parents always rave about this hat so this year I've knitted a new crop for the upcoming winter.

The lovely owner from Imagiknit yarn store in SF helped me pick out the new Malabrigo Twist yarn that was recently released. It's my first time knitting it and it won't be my last. I like the Twist better than the regular worsted yarn, and I love the colors I ended up choosing.

I bought 1 skein each of:
Unk (#753)- It's a pretty neutral brown with flecks of grayish lavender woven in. I can't find the color on Malabrigo's website- maybe this is a test color? It's a very sophisticated neutral, muted without being dull.

Damask Rose (#130) - I love this pink. Pretty without being bubble gum.

Green Gray (#411) - I don't think the name accurately describes the color- it looks more like a green-blue to me. Almost teal but not quite so intense.

I used up all three skeins for 2 toddler-sized hats and 2 child-sized hats.

For the ear flaps I slipped the first stitch of every row WYIF for a neater edge. For the last decrease row, instead of K1, K2TOG I did SL 1 WYIF, K2TOG.

For the hat pictured above, I picked up the stitches for the ear flaps on the wrong side of the hat. I thought it looks cleaner this way since the ear flap is a different color from the brim of the hat. I looked closely at the photo in the LMKG book and it seemed to me that the featured hats were knitted this way too. (But I can't be sure.)

For the hat pictured above I decided to shake things up a bit since it was my 4th straight hat. Instead of garter stitch for the brim and the ear flaps, I alternated 2 knit rows with 2 purl rows. (After I was done with the hat I realized that I only did 1 purl row in the middle of the brim. Oops. I'm going to pretend that it was my design all along.)

For the ear flaps, I continued the pattern but did stockinette stitch for the first and last stitch of each row for a neater edge. (Meaning knit the first and last stitch on the right side and purl the first and last stitch on the wrong side.)

I followed the decreasing instruction per pattern, substituting P2TOG instead of K2TOG when appropriate. I knit a row of the brown yarn in the brim but it's not very obvious. Next time I will try purling the row instead so that the color will pop.

Now it's time to send them off!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mocha and Cream Lace Blanket

This is the throw version of the Baby Carriage Blanket I did a while back. The final dimensions are 63"x40".

In San Francisco where I live, you pretty much need a blanket all year round. This blanket was a good stash buster. I used 1.5 skeins of Cascade Eco Wool in each color on size 10 needles. The border is done in moss stitch. The lace pattern is very easy and I changed color on either row 1 or row 9 of the lace repeat.

The pattern started with .5 skein of mocha for the border and the lace, then a whole skein of the cream for the body, back to a whole skein of mocha for the next section of the body, then enough yarn from the cream to match the length of the mocha end of the blanket.

I called it mocha and cream because it reminds me of desserts, like a rootbeer float or a mocha tort with whipped cream.

I tossed the finished blanket in our front-loading washer on wool setting and hoped for the best. (I used the cashmere wash from J. Crew. It smells great.) The blanket came out with no felting at all. After I blocked it on our dining table, I gave it a good iron and steam as I do with all my lace knits. I find that simply blocking it (sans blocking wire) doesn't open up the lace enough.

I love how it turned out. I like the bold stripes as I find it a good contrast with the lace and made the blanket more modern. If I were to knit this again, I would cast off with a larger needle as my cast off is tighter than my cast on.

Feel free to ask me any questions! Link to Ravelry