Not the usual place one finds butterflies. These little twisted pieces of yarn are called butterflies, wound up in pursuit of knitting multiple colors at once. I am attempting to make a colorful vest for my daughter. Here is what I have so far:
This is the start for the back of the vest. The concept is to create a riot of color while keeping the front very plain. Back interest is a tactic that I use frequently in my knitting designs. Sometimes I use a dramatic over-sized cable, sometimes a fancy lace panel. I like to make a good impression both entering and leaving the room.
In the picture above you can see a chart that I made for this project. The actual concept, however, isn’t mine. I have to give credit to Irishman Kieren Foley, the creative force behind knit/lab.
I have been a fan for years. The first project I made inspired by his work was a skirt. I incorporated one of his fair isle designs into the hem area. Completing this project really helped me to gain confidence as a knitwear designer.
The next project I made was men’s scarf. I actually made two of them – one for my dad and one for my husband. The pattern, available for free on Ravelry, is called Fair Isle Rapids. Here it is on the knit/lab site.
The message came in over the week-end, with a tone of some urgency. It seems that the baby toddler girl had outgrown her hats, and the carefully saved wool hat of #1 grandchild was no where to be found. With the onset of cold weather, there was no time to waste in meeting the need.
The criteria was pretty simple. Earflaps were desired and a cord to tie the hat under the chin. Consulting my stash I found an almost full ball of Cascade 220 Superwash in a pale yellow color. I had purchased this yarn two years ago when I first learned of the baby’s expected arrival. I was excited to try out some stranded patterns using this yarn and various bits and bobs left over from other projects.
First I consulted my knitting stitch dictionary (750 Knitting Stitches – The Ultimate Knitting Bible.) For this project I needed a pattern with a fairly short repeat. I also needed a motif that would fit on the ear flaps.
These two will do nicely. Cosmea will work for the earflaps and Aubrieta can circle the body of the hat. I also liked that the pattern repeat was six stitches. With my gauge of 5.5 stitches, a multiple of six will help me achieve the 18 inch diameter I needed. Here is my chart for the earflap and body, and my calculation for the cast on. I came up with a total of 96 stitches, which is divisible by six.
Ear Flaps done.
After casting on, I completed a modified version of Aubrieta, stopping when the hat body was 4 and 3/4 inches tall from cast on. Next I consulted the pattern I had used ten years ago for grandchild #1’s hat to figure out the crown decrease rate. I added a few rows of dots in the first three rounds of decrease, then completed the rest of the decrease in the solid yellow yarn.
This was a fun and quick project to make from one’s stash. I was pleased that I could use up some yarn scraps of a beautiful Malibrigo yarn that was left over from my blue ribbon vest.
UPDATE: Hat was received, and put into use quickly. Not only does it cover the ears, it covers the cheeks as well. It’s so big that it will still fit her next winter.
Knitters: What is the big cliff-hanger that every knitter faces? No, not the one about whether it will fit, or if you will finish on time. I’m talking the night-mare proportion, no-turning back, hold-your-breath issue. (Clue: I had 4 yards to spare.)
My latest stash-busting knitting project is the Peace and Love Gloves, from the colorStyle book by Pam Allen and Ann Budd published by Interweave. That book is 10-years old, so I don’t know if you can still buy it. The pattern is by Veronik Avery who has many patterns on Ravelry. Here’s the link.
This is my second go-round to knit these gloves. I lost the first pair in Milwaukee last spring. But lucky me – I had another ball of the grey Knit-picks Stroll and almost two balls of the 100% alpaca white finger weight yarn.
The pattern claimed that I would need two balls of the main color, but ha, I didn’t believe it. After all, I had already knit this pattern, using only one ball with a little bit left over. Well friends, that bit made all the difference today. It was used to knit the two thumbs.
Okay. I am now ready for winter weather. Dish it up, Mother Nature.
Trigger mittens, also know as trigger finger mittens, have been used by the American military since at least the Civil War. A clever combination of the warmth of mittens with the flexibility of gloves, these mittens have a separate index finger to allow soldiers to easily operate machinery in cold temperatures.
I made these mittens for my grandson, based on specifications from his mother. She had made him a pair similar to these, but he lost one. Since I don’t care for military associations, I have renamed this style the Notta Glove. The name is self-explanatory.
You start the normal way, with a 2×2 rib cuff in the main color. Next, with larger needles, begin the 2 x 2 stranded knitting with the 2nd color.
Use waste yarn to set up for an Afterthought thumb – I worked it over nine stitches. Continue in pattern to the top of the palm, where you divide for the 2 finger compartments. I put the outer 2/3rds of stitches on waste yarn and worked the index finger with 1/3 of the stitches. Add 2 stitches where the front and back meet between the fingers.
Put the held stitches back on the needles, continue in pattern until you reach the tip of the middle finger, and decrease down to nine stitches in the usual manner for mittens. Put held thumb stitches back on needles and knit the thumb last.
These Nottas are pretty neat and quite warm. I may make a pair for myself.
Over the past few days I have been engaged in work on fiber objects that take a lot of time to complete, such as painting the hydrangea leaves for a wall hanging and knitting a sweater. So I don’t have anything new to share on the blog today.
In perusing my design book, I was reminded of a project that I made in 2013. It has an interesting story which involves knitting sweaters for a little boy.
Have you ever worked hard on a hand-made gift, only to have it rejected on the spot by the recipient? I have! As a new grandmother, I was joyfully knitting sweaters annually for my grandson. One year it was an Elizabeth Zimmerman design (the modular Tomten Jacket described in The Opinionated Knitter.) After unwrapping it, said grandson simply cast it aside. (sigh.) I resolved never to let that happen again. For his birthday sweater the following year, I chose soft, brightly colored acrylic yarn and came up with a design that no little boy could resist.
Like all boys, my grandson loved trucks – BIG trucks and BIG earth-moving equipment. I decided to make a rugby style sweater with the image of a John Deere digging machine on the back. This project required a custom chart and my husband gleefully helped me to create it.
The picture was downloaded from the JD website, but the grid required a little adjustment. In knitting, the number of stitches per inch almost never matches up with the number of rows per inch. To avoid compressing the image, the squares of the grid need to be fatter than they are tall. I gave husband my gauge (stitches per inch and rows per inch.) He calculated the ratio and used spreadsheet software to adjust the grid to match. From this chart it was relatively simple to knit using a combination of stranded and intarsia techniques.
Upon receiving his gift the following birthday, my grandson jumped for joy.
This sweater was happily worn for several years in all kinds of weather.
One final note: If you try this technique, you may find it helpful to outline the details of the image in black yarn. This will help the image come together.
This week blogger Sharon Mann’s post of masked women reminded me that I wanted to make a fiber piece on this same theme. The idea of self-censorship pokes into my brain from time to time. When does one decide to speak no more? Am I adding to the rattling noise of empty voices flooding the air? Am I speaking just one sentence too long? Is anyone listening? Or are we all talking to and about ourselves?
Then there is another take on the phrase: It could be : Say, “No More!” It’s time to demand that indifference and injustice cease.
Yesterday, as I was tidying up my studio, I came across a project bag. In it were four small balls of sock yarn and this inspiration photograph:
Technically, this project is half finished. I knit my first pair of gloves last winter, using an eight stitch square stranded knitting pattern that I had designed. They turned out great and I wore them frequently during the cold months that followed.
But I had intended to make patterned mitts to wear over the gloves, as a fashion statement and to give some extra warmth when needed. Today I will start this project. I don’t want to copy the inspiration photo slavishly, rather, I’d like to make something unique. It will be a bit tricky, because 1: The design must be about 8 inches around because that is the diameter of my hand, 2. The mitts are knit in the round, and 3. I don’t know the gauge yet. I will need to determine the gauge before I finalize the design. Here is the chart that I drew:
This design suggests palm trees to me. Notice that the pattern stitch repeat and the pattern row repeat are both multiples of eight. My plan is to cast on 64 stitches, assuming that I will get a gauge of 8 stitches per inch. At least that is what I usually get with sock yarn and stranded knitting. So here is my 64 stitch swatch fresh off the needles:
It knit up pretty well. I kinda like the design. Here is the swatch blocked:
If you have sharp eyes, you will notice that the blocked piece is 4 and 1/2 inches across, making it 9 inches around. Too big! While I could try to get gauge with smaller needles, I’m not sold on this design for the mitts. The scale is too large. I’ll go back to the drawing board and try again. Thankfully, the cold weather is over for the next eight months.
Artist Robert Indiana played a central role in the development of assemblage art, hard-edge painting and Pop art. As a young artist in NYC, he scavenged for materials which he would craft into free-standing structures he called “herms.” I met him in 2004 when he came to town for a solo exhibition of his paintings and sculpture. A fairly retiring man, he did enjoy the company of women. He was happy to stay and chat with our (largely) female staff before the opening event, but quickly disappeared from the scene when invited guests began to arrive. My craft of today is drawn from Indiana’s 1960s series of number paintings. These works were loaded with personal symbolism for the artist. To Indiana, the number 6 signified the prime of life. Let’s see how well I can translate it into a knitted piece. Here is the chart I drew fashioned after the number 6 poster.
Obviously, translating a curvilinear design into a chart is a bit dicey. Let’s see what happens when it is knit up.
Below is the washed and blocked piece. While in the water, it is important to pull the piece in all directions. This helps even out the stitches and the rows.
I’m not fond of all numbers, but I’m very fond of 2 and 6.