Monday, June 25, 2007

Shawl (stole) for Sonja





Pattern: Lacy Stole from the Lion Brand website (free registration required)
Yarn: Lion Brand Microspun in Ebony
Completed: March 2007
New skill: LACE!

I began this project in the spring of 2005 while I was on internship and looking for ways to decompress. I bought the yarn and began shawl-type projects for two of my closest friends, ideally for their 2005 birthdays. One was finished in time for that event and was featured here--Suzi's fake-fur capelet. This is the second one and became Sonja's 2007 birthday present.

This was a project I tended to work on from home rather than on airplanes and such, and it was long enough that it endured a few major hiatuses (hiati?). The pattern was definitely difficult at first. I learned quickly that making a mistake with lace was a pain in the butt to frog. And the whole thing, once I passed Sonja's 2005 birthday, seemed to be taking FOREVER to complete.

But once I got used to the pattern, I kind of got fond of it in that "you're difficult but I love you anyway" kind of way. Sort of like an unruly child, I imagine. When I measured it in March and realized with a jolt that it was practically finished, I just couldn't bear to bind it off right away. I didn't want to bid farewell to the pattern just yet. So I worked a few more repeats, said my goodbyes, and bound it off. Is that weird?

I opted to not block this, after much agonizing over whether or not it was worth it to try and block acrylic. It's not knit from laceweight mohair or anything, so it's not a little crinkly ball that doesn't look like lace until you block it. Microspun is slippery, sport/worsted weight, but very very soft. It looked pretty good from day one (once I got the pattern right). Finally I figured we can always block it later if Sonja wants (kind of like the post-gift-giving felting in Mom's birdhouse).

Anyway. It was a good first lace project, if a little long-winded, but having it be a straight rectangle made things simpler. It's now kind of a bummer though, to have your first lace project have such a ho-hum name as "Lacy Stole". Maybe I'll have to think of a cooler name.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Mystery FO

So, I finished something mysterious in March, something I'd been working on for about two years, something that was a whole new genre of knitting for me to explore, something I'm quite proud of.

But I can't tell you what it is, because chances are good the intended recipient will have her surprise spoiled by reading about it here. (It's on its way to her now.)

Need a hint? Look at the top of the page, at the photo on the far right.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Birdhouse for Mom



Pattern: Felted Birdhouse from Fiber Trends (scroll down the side to "Felt Bird Houses")
Yarn: Brown Sheep "Lamb's Pride" Bulky combo of wool and mohair in Blue Heirloom and Deep Charcoal
Completed: April 2007
New skill: Felting, knitting in the round with circulars

I'd been wanting to try felting for a while, and this seemed like a good project to start with. It didn't have to fit anyone in particular when it was done. It was fairly simple to knit (once I figured out how to knit in the round with two circulars, yay!). It didn't matter if it was too heavy or hot. Great, off we go. The yarn was lovely-feeling, if a bit pricey.

I finished it just in time for my trip home after Easter, but didn't have time to felt it before Mom's birthday. So I just wrapped it up as-is and thought it would be fun to give it to her beforehand, and then felt it there, so she could see the transformation.

She opened it up, tried to wear the roof as a hat, tried to wear the house as a neckwarmer, but eventually I stopped laughing and explained what it was. Then it was her turn to laugh and be skeptical, but she was up for the challenge.

We carefully felted the pieces in separate pillowcases (after reading about Yarn Harlot's mishap with Mr. Washie). The felting went FAST! Only one wash cycle and it was almost done. We felted it a bit more for good measure, then propped the pieces up to dry properly. After a few days, we cut the hole and Mom went out and found a twig, and I carefully sewed the roof on with a curved needle (this was very tricky. Good thing the stitches are hidden). I love how the roof makes it look like a funky mushroom.

Voila! A knitted decorative birdhouse, to add to Mom's collection. And the best part is, she remembers the fun time we had making it together whenever she sees it. Highly recommended.

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Scarf for Stephenie




Pattern: "Yo, Drop It!" from Stitch n' Bitch
Yarn: Moda Dea Ticker Tape in Festival
Completed: April 9, 2007

I picked this yarn up at Michael's a while ago when it was on sale. It's a beautiful sunset kind of palette and I really liked it. Of course ribbon yarn is hard to use, but I remembered this pattern and so it was paired with this yarn for a few years while it waited patiently in the stash.

Originally I was thinking it would make a good, quick birthday present for Grandma sometime. But my cousin-in-law also has a birthday in April (that makes four of us in the family), very close to my birthday and Mom's birthday, so when I planned to head home this year after Easter, Mom planned a birthday party for the three of us. What can I give her? I thought. Aha! I answered myself, realizing that such a color scheme was better suited for Steph anyways.

At some point, Steph asked Mom to de-emphasize her at the party, which was fine, but I still had this scarf for her...I finished it on the plane (made a great, easy, portable plane project) and gave it to her discreetly before she left the party. It was a hit...the ribbon yarn means it's not very warm, more of an accessory, and perfect for spring. Part of me wanted to keep it!

This knits up really nice and fast with all the drop stitches, and does show off the yarn color changes really well. The yarn is fairly soft, especially for ribbon yarn, but a few rough spots on my hands did keep catching it. Still, I'd recommend it.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Sweater for Danielle



Pattern: five-hour baby sweater (there are a million patterns out there if you Google it--I got a printout of one of these patterns from the local art co-op)
Little Lehigh in Sleepyhead
Completed: February 2007

This baby sweater is MUCH EASIER than the last one (which is already considered easy). The person at Clicking Needles suggested I use a double strand throughout, which created this really nice springy soft fabric that wasn't too heavy. The pattern is pretty plain, but I've seen more elaborate versions of the pattern since that might be good for a second go-round.

I really like Little Lehigh. It's produced locally, it's washable, it's a combo of cotton and acrylic, it's nice and soft and squooshy, and the colors are not too sickly pale or overdone. They are typical baby colors, but there's another version of the same yarn with a different name that has more grownup colors. I've added two skeins in green to the stash for when a fellow UO alum has a child.

After the tricky but cute hippo buttons on Lucia's sweater, I opted to put cute lavender ladybug buttons on this sweater but use them to cover up large snaps that can be easily fastened by parents on a squirming child. Good trick. Must remember. And no need to remember to knit in buttonholes. Everyone wins!

Dani is the daughter of one of my colleague friends and his wife, and they really appreciated this because a.) it's not pink, and b.) it doesn't say "princess" in any way, shape or form. They'd really like her to grow up to be a tomboy, and heartily approve of the ladybug buttons. I actually completed this and gave it to them well before she was born. I just met her...what a beautiful, mellow, charming, Zen little baby. It was a pleasure to knit for her.

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Sweater for Lucia




Pattern: CH33 "Baby Brights" by Fiber Trends (scroll down the side to find it)
Cascade 220 Superwash, color 837 (I think)
Completed: January 2007
NEW SKILL: wrap and turn, joining sleeves into a sweater body

I happened to see a sample of this pattern in the local art co-op, and thought it seemed like a good first knit baby sweater. I've since discovered much easier patterns, but am glad that I took the time to get comfortable with this one. It was my first project with raglan sleeves and using this small of a needle (I have a bit of a phobia about small needles). But I liked that you knit the button band in with everything else, and knit in the buttonholes, and didn't have a ton of seams to do.

I was looking for a project for Lucia, the daughter of my friends Anke and Chris from seminary. Never mind that I was a bit late (Lucia was born in August 2006). I decided to make this in the 12-month size and just hope that it would still fit her and not fit her just when it was summer and not needed.

I think next time I'd go for making this in the smaller size, as the smaller needles and larger size (and fairly simple pattern, apart from the raglan shaping etc.) meant that at times it seemed to go on and on forever. The sleeves almost look too long (although I suppose you can always roll them up). Plus I think I'd not put the buttonholes in there, and instead put big snaps and cover them with buttons. Probably a lot easier for parents! But it felt really good to finish this and gave me a good sense of accomplishment.

(Oh, and the buttons are little purple hippos. Cute!)

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Neckwarmer for Edie



Pattern: from Barbara S. at First Lutheran in Vancouver
Jo-Ann Sensations Angel Hair in Denim Blue
Completed: sometime just before Christmas 2006

This should look familiar to you if you've read any back entries of Needlin'...I made this exact neckwarmer with the exact same yarn for my grandma the Christmas beforehand. It took a skein and a half of yarn, so I just bought another skein and used it all up to make another one.

It seemed appropriate to reprise Grandma's neckwarmer for Edie, as she is my delightful first-rate neighbor and very much a grandmotherly figure to me and to the whole neighborhood. She tells the juiciest stories about previous pastors, makes a mean scone, and always collects my mail when I'm away. Bless her heart.

Still not happy with the button choice here, though. Tried larger ones and it still isn't quite right.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Purse for Rianne's birthday




Pattern: the Chinese Charm Bag from the original Stitch 'n Bitch
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in color 115
Completed April 15, 2006

Knitting with Manos was AWESOME. I highly recommend it. It's handspun, kettle-dyed and is the product of a women's co-op in Uruguay. Wonderful texture and great colors that have some complexity and variation without the obviousness of variegated yarns. Because it's handspun, it's not completely uniform--some parts are fluffy and others are kind of stringy--but that was fine for this project. Oh, and it smells a little funny because of the dye and isn't the softest wool you can find. But who cares! It was great to knit with.

That is, once I got past winding the ball. This was my first time working with a hank of yarn that was twisted instead of already in pull-from-the-center status, and winding it into a ball was slightly frustrating. But I only had to do it once! I bought two skeins but only needed one (so some other lucky person might get a version of this purse someday).

I used handles from JoAnn and added a dragonfly button instead of a Chinese charm, because Rianne loves dragonflies. The lining is warm chocolate brown flannel. I should have made the lining (and the bag itself, for that matter) a tad smaller, but it came out okay in the end. Adding the handles is what really got me excited about the bag. Until then it was a nice knitted tube, but the handles really make it cool.

I'm psyched about this finished project! And Rianne is a purse junkie, so I hope she likes it too. :)

P.S. I got my first e-mail from a reader that didn't know me before I began blogging, so in tribute, please take the time to go visit Girl is Crafty!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baptismal blanket for Markku (what was I worried about?)




And some artsier photos...




Pattern based on the "dishcloth" baby blanket described at About.com
Patons Be Mine in Wuzzy White
Completed March 20, 2006

This is my first completed project that was at least sort of documented in previous posts, so that makes my job here a lot easier!

Let me just say that this is a lot bigger than it looked on the needles, and also that it will probably never be exactly square (unlike its cousin the dishcloth) because knit stitches are taller than they are wide. Blocking helped a tad but not a lot. Apart from those foibles it's a simple and functional blanket. I'd recommend it again for a beginner, but I'm ready for something more complex now.

I borrowed the hood idea from the hooded baby blanket at Lion Brand's website, pretended I was knitting another blanket and then cast it off as a triangle (see second photo above) before sewing it to the blanket. I love how soft and cushy the yarn is, but it doesn't do well with elaborate stitches, so the only real way to create a pattern is to use different colors, which is what I will do next time I use it.

Mom used her sewing machine to embroider "March 2006 Made for Markku" on a ribbon and I wove it through the yarn-over spaces on one side, which was a nice touch!

I love imagining a soft little baby wrapped up in this blanket, getting water poured on him (and maybe waking up with some frustrated squawks), and then being snuggled into the hood. Awww!

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yoga mat bag for ME




Pattern from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
Lion Brand Cotton in black
Completed January 2006

This wasn't supposed to be for me! Originally I had bought the yarn and formulated the plan when I was looking for farewell and thank-you gifts for the members of my intern committee. My friend Angela does yoga pretty seriously and I thought something handmade would be a good present. Long story short, I didn't have time to follow through and ended up buying gifts for them.

So, months later, I decided to make it for myself. Easy lace pattern, minimal referring the pattern required. Accidentally made it a little large, so it stretches a bit when it's slung over my back by the strap, but still works just great. And, get this, I used half the amount of yarn the pattern called for! So, someone else is probably going to be getting one of these in the future...

I think that's the last of my backlog of projects (I have completed more throughout my life but don't have photos of them all). So it's likely that Needlin' will be updated much more sporadically in the future. Just so you know!

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Capelet #2 for Mom



Pattern found on Fuzzy Galore through a Google search
Moda Dea Wild! in Titanic
Completed mid-January 2006

For Mom's birthday last year, I made her the Town and Country capelet from the Lion Brand website. The pattern was all right (except I don't care for the big chunky rose), but I was not pleased with how the Homespun was wearing as she was wearing this pretty frequently to keep warm during the day.

So, for Christmas, I gave her the promise of a new capelet (and a bunch of dishcloths, which I'm slowly working on and probably won't post here unless they happen to be really cool). The Wild! fit the described yarn closely, came in some neat colors, and reminded me of my first experience knitting with Geisha...sort of like a yarn version of heroin. I had to adjust this particular pattern, as I started making the M-L size and about ten rows in it looked positively tiny. I did two more rows of brutally increasing and it was fine from there on out. Very simple and impressive.

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Neckwarmer for Grandma



Pattern from Barbara S. at First Lutheran in Vancouver
Jo-Ann Sensations Angel Hair in Denim Blue
Completed: January 1, 2006
NEW SKILL: short-row shaping

Grandma found this in her stocking on Christmas. I had started it the day before and it was obviously nowhere near done, so I put it on a stitch holder and wrapped it up and gave it to her partially finished. Now that it's done, she loves it--she lives right on the water and it's perfect to keep her neck warm.

Loved this pattern--easy and interesting at the same time. Mail me if you want it and I'll ask Barbara's permission to send it out. Loved the yarn too...it was a nice surprise. Two skeins needed for this project. Note to self: keep looking for better buttons...these look nice but don't work worth a darn. Grandma added additional clippy-button-things to keep hers together.

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Beret for Aunt Arlayne




Pattern from an old tattered piece of paper Grandma gave me
Cool Finnish mohair in bright purple (can't remember the brand), also donated by Grandma
Completed December 23, 2005
NEW SKILL: using double-pointed needles!

Not long ago, Grandma went through all her old crafty stuff and gave me a bunch of things she thought I would enjoy. As I pondered what I could make for Christmas gifts that were cheap to free, I thought, "Of course! That yarn is Husky purple and I could make the beret pattern that came with it!" (I am SO not a Husky fan, so this was a big concession for me.)

So, off I went. Overall I was pleased with how it turned out. It was slightly too big even for me, so I threaded some gold elastic string through the hatband since that matched the color scheme. The yarn did something unexpectedly beautiful--it started out definitely purple, then became more of an indigo blue, then went back to purple as I finished the very top. And the dpn's at the end were very tricky, so finally I sliced an old wine cork into six pieces and stuck them on the ends of the needles I wasn't using. Booyah! And the resulting star-like top was really cool.

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Purse and scarf for Rianne




Purse:
Pattern from the Bernat website with a free login
Bernat Boa in Cardinal and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick 'n Quick in Black
Completed December 2005

Scarf:
Pattern from the Bernat website with a free login
Bernat Boa in Cardinal
Completed December 2005

I love these keyhole scarves. Last year for Christmas I made dozens of them for all my friends that celebrate the holiday. They were a quick and relatively inexpensive way to use nice yarns (nicer than Boa) to make a useful gift. But last year I neglected to put Rianne on my list. (oops!)

This year I made sure she was on there, and added a matching purse since purses are a slight obsession with her. I altered the purse pattern as I went, since I used a thicker yarn and larger hook than recommended, using fewer stitches. I also added the diagonal trim on the body of the purse to cover up my joining stitch at the end/beginning of each round, and added a snap on the inside to close the purse at the top.

I altered the scarf slightly as well, since the finished product was not long enough to reach around an adult-sized neck. I sewed the knit-in slit shut and instead added the black tab you see here, to put the other end of the scarf through.

All together the set took two skeins of each kind of yarn. Rianne says she gets lots of compliments on the purse. :)

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Christmas cow coaster for Pat



Kit, pattern and materials purchased from Michael's
Completed December 2005

Pat collects cows. To the extreme. And I had found these coaster kits years ago at Michael's and never managed to discover them in enough time to whip them out for Christmas. So, I finally found them this year and did the cow one early enough to give it to Pat at their annual tree-trimming party. (btw...Pat is Suzi's mom...see the earlier entry.)

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fancy capelet for Suzi




Pattern from the Lion Brand website
Lion Brand Fun Fur in black and Chenille Thick 'n Quick in black
Completed October 2005

This was for my friend Suzi's 30th birthday in November. I made it in all black for a more sophisticated look. The pattern turned out a little wonky though; if I made it again, I'd make the furry part with the exact same instructions as the lining. It was a little off and as you can see in the second picture, Mom and I used some quilt binding to make a secure top edge so the whole thing wouldn't slip and fall off one's shoulders.

Notice one of Mom and Dad's bad kitties in the top photo...I think he thought I was knitting another cat. He kept trying to walk on it and rub against it, and finally after we removed him, he walked over and viciously bit the ribbon.

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Baby clothes for Lucas




Sweater pattern came from the yarn label (and is also at the Bernat website with a free login)
Bernat Baby Boucle in Waterslide
Completed August 2005

Hat pattern came from the Lion Brand website
Lion Brand Velvetspun in Lavender
Completed September 2005

These were for Margaret Anne and Kelly's first child, Lucas! Loved both of these yarns and patterns. (I was trying to cover my bases gender-wise with the color choices.)

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Prayer shawl for Ashley




Prayer shawl pattern at www.lionbrand.com
Bernat Soft Boucle in a shade that appears to be discontinued
Completed sometime around June 2005

This was a gift for my friend Heidi's sister Ashley upon hearing that Ashley's Hodgkins lymphoma had returned. This yarn is great, nice texture (it hides all your mistakes) and I used a slightly larger needle to get a lacier effect. I made the shawl slightly narrower than the pattern calls for, but only two skeins gave me plenty of length.

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