Auntie in progress

Hi all! It’s been a looooong time no see… Well here I am back, with a bunch of unblogged subjects. I find it most convenient to share my latest works, which would be baby items for a little boy who is due at the end of this month. I found it hard to choose a gift for him because I wanted it to be a knitted one, and since he’s going to be a summer baby, my options were limited. You see, the baby items I find the cutest are mostly made of bulky yarn, like these little booties I made earlier for someone else’s baby:
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Chaussons Mignons by Pruline

The summers are really warm and long here, especially the last few. Knitted tops, vests, jackets and such aren’t needed, not even if they are made from fingering weight cotton (and I am unwilling to knit with any lighter weight cotton). I have no time to make a little blanket, although that would be nice and I would love to do that. Maybe later.
After browsing patterns for months, and learning that newborns need hats even in summertime (as they are unable to maintain body temperature), I decided to make two hats accompanied by matching baby booties suitable for someone who just entered this world. But I liked Chaussons Mignons too much to let it go, so I reached for my calculator and modified the pattern in order to make some from fingering and heavy DK yarn. The result:

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I’m happy with what I got, but I must say that I still think the bulky one is cuter. Since it’s a very simple pattern, it wasn’t hard to make the modification. In fact, I spent more time thinking what color to go with. It’s so much easier to knit for baby girls! You can read the details on my projet pages, both for the Fingering weight and the Heavy DK weight Chaussons

For the hats I have chosen two wonderful patterns, the Swirl Hat by Mandie Harrington and the Otis Baby Hat by Joy Boath

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I can sincerely recommend both. For the Swirl Hat I followed the instructions for the 4 – 12 month size, used slightly bigger needle and tried to keep my gauge relaxed (knowing that I’m a tight-knitter, especially when knitting with dpns). Ended up with a tiny newborn size :-) The pattern is amaizing, well written with very clear instructions and a perfect crown shaping. I’m very picky when it comes to decreases, but in this case I can only applaud the designer, the shaping is perfect and the pattern isn’t ruined either. The pattern is very easy to memorize and can be made in any size/with any yarn weight, by adjusting the number of stitches (it has to be multiple of 8). Great project for keeping yourself entertained while traveling or commuting.
For the Otis Baby Hat I can say pretty much the same; it’s beautiful and easy with perfect decreases. Once again I used a size larger needles, and the yarn (in my opinion) is at least heavy DK, if not worsted. Of course I got a newborn sized hat…

Let me show you the decreases on these hats, from different angle:

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You see why I am gushing about it?

The third hat I made (oh yes, there’s one more) is an improvisation that turned out well, it’s a basic blue cotton hat with a something little extra. It’s bigger than the other two and hopefully will fit the baby’s head during autumn.

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I hope that the parents and the baby will like my gift.

Cheers,
Mimi

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The Stockholm Scarf

I started to work on the Stockholm Scarf from knittedblissJC back in March and I finally finished it last month. There’s nothing wrong with the pattern, in fact I liked it enough to knit it again, I just put knitting aside this summer. When the autumn kicked in, my mojo came back.
At first I read the pattern and decided to knit in round. The 6.00 mm needle seemed strange, after all, it’s a winter garment. I always use either 3.5 or 4 mm needles for DK yarns. Yet I decided to follow the instructions. Cast on 252 sts (to eliminate the extra ribbing) and started working as the pattern described.

1st lesson: I should listen to my gut and pick the needle size that sounds reasonable TO ME.

2nd lesson: Think before act. The pattern gives instruction for knitting flat, it just mentions the possibility of knitting the scarf in round.

The 2nd attempt was a succes. Using 4 mm needle cast on 266 sts. To get stronger vertical lines between pattern repetitions, I twisted the stitches that constitutes the 1/1 rib.

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What I like the most about it, is that it’s reversible, it looks exactly the same on both sides. In the beginning I took it everywhere with me, the pattern was so easy to memorize that I could work on it even in, let’s say, less than ideal circumstances, like when riding a bus. I was a little sad when this scarf outgrew my purse (which isn’t small by the way).

I noticed that as the weather get worse, I tend to bake more. Right now I enjoy this Gugelhupf:P1150825

How are you fighting off the weather-blues?

Cheers,
Mimi

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Fwd: Jacques Cousteau Hat related giveaway

Lalla Pohjanpalo, the designer of the well known and afore mentioned hat, had a very interesting idea (the following is from her blog ):

I’ve been honoured and happily surprised of the Cousteau hat’s popularity. It’s been part of the charity campaigns ex. in New Zealand after the terrible fires. It’s been knitted in all the continents. Lots of divers have got their own and mostly it has been the hat of the male special someones. It wasn’t the original intention because knits for men is a truly challenging territory. After all I’m very happy with the surprising result.
The only right way to celebrate this unexpected success of the Jacques Cousteau hat is to create a Jacques Cousteau photo album. I think the simplest way to do it, is to collect all those pictures in the blog’s Facebook wall. If you don’t feel like do it on Facebook, please email me (punaisensydamentorppa(at)gamail.com) your Jacques Cousteau hat photo. If you feel like telling your hats story, even better. All the variations are welcome too, but please, share with us what is different. I’ll gather a mystery present and will arrange a give away for all the posted photos. I don’t want to exclude those who doesn’t knit, so you can choose the mystery gift or custom made Jacques Cousteau hat. If you don’t have Cousteau Hat photo, you can just comment this post and share this give away in your own blog or Facebook page. Let’s see how many hats we manage to get to this Jacques Cousteau Hat photo album.

How To

1) Post your Jacques Cousteau Hat picture on this blog’s Facebook wall or email it to me (punaisensydamentorppa(at)gmail.com). Variations are welcome too, but please mention about it. If you have a story tell about your hat, you are welcome to share that too.

2) If you haven’t knitted JC hat or anything else, you are still welcome take part in the custom made Jacques Cousteau Hat give away. Comment the Jacques Cousteau Hat Celebration post and share this give away in your blog or Facebook wall.

3) You have one month more. This ends the 30 November.

Feel free to take the button with you!

(edit: 29.10.2013)

I have already sent her 3 photos, and it made my day seeing those posted on her Facebook.

PS: I havent knitted a lot this summer, and somehow lost my mojo for writing too. However, once a knitter always a knitter. I will pick up just where I left one of this days.

Cheers,
Mimi

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Fair Isle-ish

Lately I accumulated a lot of DK leftover yarn, and since I was craving some color work on my needles, decided to use them together. For quite some time now, I would like to practice knitting Fair Isle or at least Fair Isle-ish. I chose to knit mittens, and to add one more twist, opted for knitting them simultaneously on two circulars (in order to learn this technique and prevent running out of any of the colors on the second mitten).
Here’s my work:
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and here’s my experience:

1. Knitting with two circulars is just like knitting with magic loop, except that it’s easier in the first few rows.

2. Knitting mittens (and probably other garments that comes in pairs) simultaneously is very convenient. It was frustrating in the beginning because the progress seemed to be slower, but once I got past 50-60% and I was able to see both mittens taking shape, I realized that there’s not too much work left and once I’m done I’M DONE.

3. Using both ends of the yarns (the outer and from the middle of the skein) while knitting with multiple skeins and 2 long circulars isn’t such a good idea. Except if you are fine with untangling every 5 minutes. I wanted to save time, so instead of rewinding the skeins into two smaller ones I simply pulled out the other end from the middle of the skein. Retrospectively, I don’t think I managed to save time, in fact I probably spent more time untangling my yarns and needles.

4. I clearly have tension issues (I mean, look at the photo). While I knit I hold the yarn coiled on my left index finger and that works fine. So I coiled the main color on my index finger and the second color on my middle finger. I managed to work really fast this way, but the problem is that I tend to hold the second color much tighter which results in vertically wrinkled fabric. When I realized I have a tension problem, the damage was already done and I wasn’t sure if a redo would give better results. So I kept knitting and focused on my tension. That helped. Now I’m wondering what to do, should I finish the mittens and try to mask the problem with severe blocking (I checked, it fits even like this) or should I (not be lazy and) rip back. It’s been more than a month since I put this project aside, and still haven’t decided what to do. What would you do? (Feel free to tell me “stop being lazy”, I firmly believe in constructive criticism)

5. Knitting a color work makes increases (and probably decreases too) a bit more complicated if one doesn’t want to break the pattern. Until now, I always opted for making the thumbs on the sides, as it seems more comfortable to wear a mitten made that way. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s no difference between a thumb that’s placed on the side and the thumb that’s placed on the palm. To find out the difference between the two versions of thumbs and the proper terminology, once again I turned to google and found this wonderful blog with this well written post about thumb knitting. I had no idea there’s so much options out there! Which is your favorite? I still have to find out which is mine.

In the meantime, I started yet another JC hat and knitted a hat from felted wool (an experience I want to share with you in my next post).

Cheers,
Mimi

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First FO of the year

First of all, Happy New Year to all of us! May this year bring us lots of happy crafting time!
I’m starting to get back to normal and I realized that there’s not much to show. What was I doing all those days? There was absolutely no knitting going on during the holidays, which is strange to me. I did managed to finish the crochet blanket, making it the first FO of the year:

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It measures 165 x 165 cm, and even thought most blankets are approximately this size or bigger, the first reaction of people around me was “It’s HUGE!”. Well it has to be big, otherwise it wouldn’t be very useful, right? Here’s one more pic with me on it:

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It’s made of cotton, so it’s heavier than one would guess. I haven’t measured it yet, but it surely weights more than 2 kg. This doesn’t bothers me, I don’t mind my blankets being heavy. What’s nice and cozy for me, others would describe as suffocating. Other benefit of using cotton is that it’s machine washable. Now I can’t wait the summer, to start using my new blanket.
As you can see, basically it’s an over sized granny square. So there’s very few skills required to make it, but you will need a lot of patience. One one hand, technically it can’t get any easier than this, and once you are done, you are done. On the other hand, this is not a project that will entertain you, that’s for sure, and managing it as it grows can be challenging. In my experience, the biggest challenge is not loosing the motivation. Handling a huge and heavy wip was easy for me; I either used it to cover my legs while sitting on a sofa or put it on a small coffee table while sitting on a chair, depending on my mood. I can’t tell you whether it’s better to crochet a blanket in pieces and sew them together or in one piece, probably it’s up to one’s preferences. I tend to avoid seams if it’s possible.
This project was a great stash buster. Speaking of that, I should reorganize my stash to see what I’m dealing with. This year I’m planning on using it up as much as possible and I’m proud of myself for leaving 2012 behind with less yarn than I entered in it. It’s not just about the stash, I’m trying to downsize the amount of stuff I own. For a person who lives in a small apartment and moves on a yearly basis it’s better to own less.

Cheers,
Mimi

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Snow means more knitting

Well, not necessarily, but if you are trapped in your apartment, and even going to the nearest store is a carefully planned and executed operation, and you don’t watch TV (yeah, I’m weird) than the only way to entertain yourself is crafting. That’s why I have been so productive lately (and because being unemployed and searching for a job without success has to be balanced out with something positive, like proving to myself that I am able to make something pretty and usable and therefore I’m not an useless person).
So here’s what I have been up to lately:

Japanese lace cowl made from a single skein of St George’s Tara (80 % wool, 20% nylon, 115m/100g)

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It measures 60 x 20 cm
Not the best yarn I tried, on a scale from 1 to 10, it would be 6. I will probably use it in the future, since the price is unbeatable, but certainly not for something that comes in direct contact with the skin.

Improvised slippers

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Since I already had this inexpensive sturdy yarn in my stash, I thought that maybe I can save a couple of box by making a pair of slippers instead of buying them. It’s not a masterpiece, but wearable and comfy is good enough for me. About saving money by making things, it’s discussable at least. While the yarn was really inexpensive in this case, the time we spend crafting is significant, and time is money… But if someone has more time than money on her/his hands, that it is saving, right? Besides, it feels good to be able to make something, even if it’s not as pretty as store bought. What are your reasons, why you choose to make things that would be easier to buy?

Super warm hat from Gedifra Highland Alpaca

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I see why they discontinued this yarn, it sheds terribly. I would be very upset had I paid the full price for it. Used 10 mm needles, started with 6 sts at the top, increased with 6 sts every round until it measured a little less than the circumference of my head, knitted 4 more rounds, decreased by 18 in the next 3 rounds (-6 sts/round), knit in 1/1 rib until run out of yarn

Puff stitch hat #1 and #2

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I highly doubt that there’s a faster way to crochet a hat. If you know how to make a puff stitch, here’s the recipe: ch5, join to 1st ch, R1: 6 puff stitches with ch1 in between, join with sl st, R2: 12 puff stitches with a ch1 in between (2 in each ch1 hole of R1), R3: 18 puff stitches with ch1 in between (2 in every second ch1 hole of R2), R4: 24 puff stitches with ch1 in between (2 in every 3rd ch1 hole of R3), R5: 30 puff stitches with ch1 in between (2 in every 4th ch1 hole of R4), and so on. Basically you start with 6 puff stitches and increase by 6 in every round until you get the size you want. Then crochet without any decreases or increases until the hat covers 3/4 of the recipient’s ears. Next thing is 4 rounds of single crochet (2 scr in every ch1 hole in th 1st round) and you are done.

Owl hat

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This is an easy one too, I was done with it in no time.

Snowflake earrings

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Since I made up the pattern, I’m going to share it with you:
Ch5, join with slip stitch
R1: ch4 (counts as first dcr + ch1), [dcr, ch1] 11 times, join with sl st in 3rd ch of the ch4
R2: scr into the first ch1 loop (the one between the ch3+1 that counts as the first dcr + ch1), [2 dcr into next ch1 loop, ch6 and join with sl st into the first of the 6 ch (=picot), ch5 and join with sl st into the first of the 5 ch, ch 4 and join with sl st into the first of the 4 ch, ch5 and join with sl st into the first of the 5 ch and the sl st of the first ch5 picot, ch6 and join with sl st into the first of the 6 ch and the top of the 2nd dcr. 2 dcr into same ch1 loop, sc into the next ch loop] 6 times, but in the 6th repetition instead of the sc make a sl st into the first sc

I also made two Jacques Cousteau hats but the recipient took them while my needles was still smoking, I will try to take photos later.After browsing JC hats on Ravelry, decided that in order to get a less pointy top decrease five stitches in each row instead of four (140/5=28). Pulled together when 25 sts left. It worked out fine.

On my needles:

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I call this Gloves with twisted start. What you see here is the 2nd try. Wasn’t happy with the yarn, haven’t knit an inch and already found 3 almost broken sections. I don’t want gloves full of knots, so decided to cut that part and start over with few changes. I liked the changes made, but… the yarn again. After once again running into a broken part, examined the ball, it turns out all the damaged parts are lined up (yep, more to come later) and seems like this ball had a close encounter with a scissor/knife, very possibly in the store when they opened the package. It’s too late to go back, besides I didn’t purchased it in my city, didn’t saved the receipt, so I have to suck it up and learn the lesson (look at what you give money for).

I’m also knitting a pair of Fair Isle mittens from DK leftovers. This is my very first Fair Isle project, and also the very first time I knit with two circulars and both mittens simultaneously. It goes slowly, but at least there wont be second mitten syndrome. I plan to write my next post about this project.

Cheers,
Mimi

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Filed under Crochet, Jewelry, Knitting

Balancing

Lately I haven’t posted much. The reason is that there’s not much to show. I’m working on a crochet blanket that makes me miserable. It’s basically a huge granny square, a more than simple but big project. I started it in august and it was fun to work on it. I enjoyed having an easy and fast growing item, but as it progressed I started to get somewhat bored (who wouldn’t, it a granny square…) so I turned to small projects for instant gratification. I continued having mixed feelings about the blanket, but small projects helped for a while. By now, I have reached a faze that I don’t know will I be able to enjoy that blanket once it’s finished. You see, a row is longer than 6 meters and it takes me way more that an hour to crochet a row. I feel that no matter how hard I work, there’s no progress. Knitting on a plain vanilla sock – after I crochet for an hour or two – feels as exciting as a roller coaster ride . There’s “only” 5 more rows to go, but I’m drowning in the frustration that keeps building up. Can a crafter hate a project?
From my latest little projects I only managed to take a decent photo of this little purple hand warmer from St George Tina Superwash (DK):

It’s 48 sts in 2/2 rib, 52 rounds.
I also made two cowls, one is just garter stitch, the other has a lace motive (I find bulky lace cute). Currently working on a pair of sock that will keep my always icy feet warm in my beloved flip flops (no matter how cold it is, I rarely wear anything but a flip flop while home). If this pair shows practical, I’ll knit more of it.
Maybe I’ll try to knit Ugg style boots from bulky 80% wool 20% nylon yarn this winter, to see how I like wearing those at home. Any idea how to make the bottom more durable?

PS: speaking of instant gratification, I find my kitchen also quite sooting lately :-)

Cheers,
Mimi

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Filed under Crochet, Knitting