Posted in knitting

Toe-Up Socks

You knitters who have made many a toe-up sock are encouraged to skip this little blog. But those who are new to knitting socks may find the following somewhat interesting. It’s time. After ten years of knitting I am finally making a pair of socks knitted from the toe up.

My inability to learn toe-up sock knitting is 100% the fault of Judy’s Magic Cast On.

Judy, I am sure that you are a fabulous knitter and a wonderful person. But I just couldn’t get my head or my hands around this technique. All the talk of top and bottom needles, wrap the tail end of the yarn around the top and the ball end around the bottom, (being careful not to let go of your needles or wrap the yarn too tight or too loose) it was just awkward and more than a little confusing. So sorry about that. My fault entirely, I am sure. But I ask, why not start with a crochet chain?

Starting with a slip knot and using a hook close in size to your sock needles, chain the number of cast on stitches specified in your pattern plus one. In my example I chained nine stitches. If you study the image above, you will see a top set of loops and a bottom set of loops. Now replace the crochet hook with your first needle. Pick up the loop next to your needle and knit it, then pick up and knit all of the others loops along the upper edge. Rotate your work clockwise until the bottom loops are now on top and to the left of your working yarn. Using another needle, pick up and knit all of the bottom loops (Ignore the slip knot. It will be hidden inside the toe.) When you get to the end of the round your work will look like this.

Divide the stitches over four needles so that there are an equal number of stitches on each needle. Continue with your pattern.

After knitting the next round on four needles.

I know some of you are already pointing out that the toe seam created by this method seems to have purl bumps. I say have courage and knit on. Your seam will not look perfect, but it will smooth out somewhat.

After knitting all the increase rows.

And, by the way, the toe seam will be hidden inside the shoe during wearing, so no one will see. And I promise not to tell.

Posted in knitting

Dropped and Found

Dropped and found

My friend Kathy tossed this knitting pattern at me a few weeks ago with a plea.  She really liked it, but was intimidated by the instructions to drop several stitches and then pick them up again.  I couldn’t understand what she was afraid of.  So I agreed to test knit this pattern.

Here is it, as designed by Jesse at Home.

Dropped and Found Wrap

Frankly, this is one of the easiest patterns I have ever knit.  It is a basic garter stitch rectangle.  The dropping and picking up takes place at the final two rows. I chose to use a bulky 2-ply yarn from Universal Yarn called Marled. I theorized that the frequent color changes would keep me from getting bored while knitting plain garter for several hours. Fortunately, I had a long, easy car trip during which most of the work took place.

120519a
My test wrap is roughly 15 in. wide by 50 in. long before blocking.

Here’s how the braided sections are completed.  On the second to last row, drop three stitches roughly every 12 stitches.  Knit one more row, leaving the needle in place.  Now gently pull the dropped stitches apart all the way down to the bottom row.  Starting with the bottom four floats, use fingers or a crochet hook to braid the floats in groups of four back up to the top.  Put the top loop of each braid back on the needle and bind off.  Voila!

120519b
I made mine narrower than the pattern called for, hence only three braids.

I can imagine several other uses for this decorative technique.  It would make an interesting treatment up a sleeve, or flanking the button band or center back of a cardigan. How else can you imaging using the dropped and found design element?

Posted in knitting

Sweater Weather?

Well, not really. The morning started as sunny, breezy and temps in the 70s. But I am encouraged to think about cooler times with the arrival of the last day of September.

I’m also encouraged by the fact that I’ve moved to the blocking stage a cardigan that has been on my needles all summer long. Here she is, drying under a ceiling fan.

The pattern is called Passages and is from Knit Picks. I purchased it for my daughter over a year ago. She was unable to make a lot of progress on it with the new baby and all. So I thought I would try it.

The stitch pattern, called Gull and Garter, is an easy stockinette variable over five stitches and four rows. Row 1: Bring yarn to front, slip five stitches. Row 2: Purl. Row 3: Knit two stitches. Insert right needle under loose strand and into next stitch. Knit normally then bring the new stitch out from under the strand. The loose strand is caught up behind the third stitch. Row 4: Purl. This Gull pattern is interspersed with three garter stitches. Here is a link to the sweater pattern on KnitPicks.

https://www.knitpicks.com/passage-cardigan/g/52475220

The only adjustments I made to were to gauge for a thinner yarn and add some waist shaping. After sewing up the shoulder seams I will knit on a 2 inch button band-collar and sew on the sleeves. This WIP will be DONE.

Posted in hand embroidery, knitting, quilting, sewing

Old-Timey County Fair Fiber Fun

Who loves going to the fair? If today’s attendees are representative, I would say everybody! There’s a lot to see and a lot to do. Our county fair focuses on all things agriculture, but also includes some things that city folk enjoy, like growing flowers and taking photographs. Here is what I did at the fair today.

I checked out all the Fiber Providers:

Some chickens managed to get into the picture.

Oops, NOT fiber providers, just cluckers and layers.

And I got a good look at the various needle arts entries.

Sadly, there were not near as many needle arts entries as there were in past years. Achieving a couple of blue ribbons for my two was not that gratifying.

But I was very pleased to see that some of my fiber arts kids had entered items that they made during our class last year. Here is Gianna’s Blue-Ribbon strip quilt.

Going to the fair felt so nostalgic to me. It made me wonder: How many more years can the county fair tradition continue into the 21st century? Are needle arts as a craft doomed to die out? Or can they be revived in a brave new world?

Posted in knitting, recycling

A Little Remake

In March my daughter gave me three garments that were in need of a remake. I have already dealt with the silk blouse and the brown cardigan. The third was a blue wool baby sweater which got machine washed in hot water by mistake. The consequence was that it thoroughly felted and shrank down to the size of a doll’s coat.

I had been mulling over what I can make from a felted sweater. No ideas came forth. Then I shifted my thinking and considered what could be done with the felt itself? Remembering a conversation that I had with my grandson, about the poor performance of hand-knitted mittens in wet snow, I hit upon the idea of felt mittens. Melting snow will rarely, if ever, penetrate a heavy felt garment. Could I make mittens for the baby with this felt?

To start with, I cut off the sleeves. They looked vaguely mitten-like.

Using a crewel needle and sock yarn, I blanket-stitched around the lower edges of the sleeves. Then I picked up and knit into the blanket stitches and joined for knitting in the round. I knitted the cuff downward in rounds. After a few rounds, I started 2×2 ribbing for about an inch. Then I decreased, knitting another five rounds and bound off loosely.

Cuff finished. Beginning thumb for right hand mitten.

The process for the thumb was similar, except I had to slice a one-inch gash in the heavy felt. About eight rounds of knitting later, I decreased with k2tog, pulled the yarn through the remaining loops and fastened off.

Here comes the fun part. I cut down the top edge, making the total length of the mitten 5 inches. The upper edge was closed with running stitch and then sewn with blanket stitch all around. Using pink and red yarn, I embroidered a heart on the back of the mitten.

The letter R is for Right Hand Mitten!

Right hand mitten is done. I do hope that this will be a workable mitten. Now to make the left hand mitten to match.

Rainbow Beanie Baby, holding the mitten for me while I make the second one.
Right-Hand Mitten’s buddy has arrived.
Posted in crochet, knitting

Playing with Dolls: The Purple Yogi

Like many women in my demographic, I get my exercise by practicing yoga. I don’t remember when I got the idea to make a purple yogi, but I know where. It was during a yoga session. While searching for a drishti (otherwise know as a focal point) in the middle of forming tree pose, my eyes glanced at a ceramic yogi in seated position. Breaking my concentration, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to make a posable figure from yarn and wire?”

Thus was conceived the Purple Yogi. He is constructed of yarn, florist’s wire, a little fiber fill and some white glue. The gestation period was about three months, and the birth itself took two half days of work. I started with a sketch, and proceeded in single crochet to make his torso and head.

Next I crocheted down from the waist to make a pair of manly hips. The arms were knit in I-cord. One wire was inserted through the body at shoulder height and slipped inside both the arms.

The legs came next. I inserted a wire through the hips, with loops where the ball sockets would be. A wire was inserted into each loops and stretched down for the legs. The I-cord legs had two increase rows, to make them a more tapered shape. Then the knitted legs were slipped over the wires, sewn to the body, and a little glue added to shape his feet. Here is the completed doll.

Yogi is sitting still while his gluey feet dry.
Here he is in seated pose, ready to start his first yoga session.

I discovered very quickly that he could not sustain a pose without a sticky mat. I cut one out of a rug grip pad. Okay, Yogi, let’s strike a pose or two!

FORWARD FOLD
PLANK
COBRA
DOWN DOG

This project really made me smile. It’s good to play, even if one is a bit old for dolls.

Posted in hand embroidery, knitting

The Luna Moth Returns

I’m finally getting back to the little knitted baby dress. After I became inspired by the Luna moth in my backyard, I decided to embroider a Luna on the green dress. I had finished knitting it a few weeks ago. Today I completed the embroidery. Here is the Luna moth image which served as my model.

And here is the baby dress from the front view.

My plan is to work the embroidery on the back of the dress. But first, I will need to reinforce the yarn so that it can support the embroidery stitches.

This is a very lightweight version of fusible interfacing. It actually flexes with the knitted fabric. Next I drew a pattern of the moth and pinned it to the dress.

I was forced to shorten the moth’s back wings, in order to fit the dimensions of the dress. To transfer this pattern to the dress I simply stitched all around it with white thread. The embroidery took a couple of hours. I tried to use colors that were true to nature. Here is a picture of the finished piece.

I’m sort of happy with my work. Perhaps after a night’s sleep, I will reconsider my choices, and make a few adjustments.

Posted in knitting

Wool, Silk and Glass

Today’s fiber project combines yarn with glass beads to make a fun, easy and beautiful necklace. I like this because I can make the whole thing in an afternoon. Also, I’m always on the look-out for unusual accessories to jazz up my standard daily look of jeans and t-shirts. You see in the photograph the makings of two necklaces. I chose the purple variegated yarn and the iridescent beads in the glass dish. The yarn is a lace-weight blend of merino wool and silk called Stream from Willow yarns. The pattern, by Carol Metzger, is called Scallop-Edge Beaded Necklace. I’ll have a go at making up a design for the ribbon yarn and ceramic beads on another day.

Cast-on and first row completed.
Notice that all the beads were strung on the yarn before starting to knit.
Necklace bound off but without the jewelry fittings

After weaving in the yarn ends, I used all-purpose thread to sew a jump ring to one end and an alligator clasp to the other. Here I am modeling the finished work. Photography courtesy husband Bill.

It’s so light and delicate. I can hardly tell that it’s there.

No special skills were needed to make this necklace. I recommend that you use a floss loop to thread the beads, or buy a special bead needle from a craft store. Carol’s pattern can be found on Ravelry at https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/scallop-edge-beaded-necklace.

Posted in knitting

Mowing around the Luna Moth

The green expanse of our back yard is not the monoculture of grass species typically found in American suburbs. Due to the presence of several mature trees, the grass will not grow thickly. Instead, we have what I call an English lawn. Today it is dark green, dotted with the yellow, lilac and white blooms of English violets, false strawberry, dandelions, oxalis, white clover and tiny bluets. It still requires weekly mowing. But one of the virtues of this diverse ecosystem is the abundance of wildlife. Today I noticed a luna moth clinging to a leaf of fescue. I stopped the mower and went to get Bill, so he could take her picture. The moth held perfectly still. In fact, she simply would not be budged. I carefully rolled the mower around her. After spending nine months as a pupa beneath the soil, this magnificent creature has but seven to ten days to complete her life cycle. If she is lucky, she will attract a mate tonight. They will dally together for a few hours, then she will be off to lay her eggs in a nearby tree top.

I was struck by the strong resemblance of the moth to this little dress I am knitting for the grandbaby. At the end of the first skein I am nearly finished with the skirt.

Ruffle and all but a few rows of the skirt section complete.

I have named the project Luna Lou Dress and plan to embroider a moth on the bodice. I will keep you posted on my progress.