Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 2: Color Change At Ribbing

Even with the stripes, this is a very quick knit on 5.0 mm needles.  I sped through the body and did everything according to the pattern ...

... until ... haha, you knew there was an until, right?  

I didn't make the sweater as long as the pattern suggested because I like my tops to hit at the widest part of my hips.  I find that it's a great way to break up the bulk down there and having the shirt flare out accentuates my waist.  It's probably against the rules, just like horizontal stripes, but that doesn't bother me.

(OMG, see how big that armhole looks?  I'm trying to ignore how freaky big that hole is.  Just keep knitting.  Just keep knitting.)

The pattern suggested that you go down a needle size for the bottom ribbing.  I thought that would pull in too much and make the cardigan balloon-ish.  So I did two test swatches.

My suspicion was correct.  4.0 mm needles made the ribbing way too tight.  Both of the swatches are exactly the same number of stitches across and down.  The smaller needles also make a shorter row.

I was even tempted to go up a size to do the ribbing so it wouldn't pull at all.  But the sweater is cotton, so I figure it'll stretch a little and loosen up. We'll see.

A super-happy consequence of swatching was that I noticed the problem with starting 2x2 ribbing in a new color.  It reminded me of a striped ribbing trick I learned from Color Knitting The Easy Way:

The trick is, if you're knitting stripes and ribbing at the same time, to knit every stitch the first row, then go back to the ribbing on subsequent rows.  Ta da!  No dashes mucking up your stripey stripes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 2: Embroidering the Label

Embroidering the label for Perrin's Starling Handbag was a perfect craft night project.  That means I can do it *and* listen/talk at the same time.  I tried working on the blue knit lace scarf at craft night once and I ended up having to take out all three hours of work.  Gah!

I have an Embroidery On Felt Tutorial if you're wondering how I make my labels.  I forgot my trick of making sure the grain of the stabilizer goes top to bottom.  That makes it easier to remove since most of the letters have vertical bits.  Oh, well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 1: Picking Stripes

At the beginning of December I decided to start a couple of sweaters.  Out of the blue, I suddenly HAD to cast on for both of them.  One is slumbering now, but I'm still in the thick of the other, so I'm going to start blogging about it - Panoply of Purple Stripes using Stefanie Japel's knitting pattern Shapely Boyfriend.

What drew me to this pattern is:
  • Top down!!!  So you can try it on as you go.
  • V-Neck.  I'm usually warm, so having a v-neck helps me maintain a "just warm enough" temperature in the winter.
  • Free.  So I could take a look at the pattern instructions and make sure I could handle it before starting.
Looking in my stash, I noticed the three purples I got in my yarn extravaganza Knit Picks order and thought I'd combine two of my favorite clothing design elements: purple and stripes.

When I mentioned I was making a striped sweater from three different purples to a co-worker, he said, "Do you think you can pull it off?" Ha! Of course I can!  Although without seeing the three purples, I'm sure what someone would imagine is nutso.  I think the mix I have is perfectly balanced.

The next step was to figure out what stripe pattern to use.  I used Open Office Calc to test out stripe patterns because it had bunches of colors to pick from (as opposed to my ancient Excel which had 12 or something).  

I looked at the knitting pattern and figured out how many rows were going to be in the back of the sweater.  I made the OpenOffice file that many lines tall so I could get an idea of how each stripe pattern would actually look.

Here are the stripe patterns I made in order.

1. Totally random.

2. Totally ordered.

3. Each color blends into the next.

4. Same as before with less overlapping.

5. Thick dark stripes interspersed with thin medium and light stripes.

6. Kaleidoscopic pattern.

7. Now that I see this one, it looks like I made a copy/paste error in the rows because I pattern I *expect* to see here is not the one I see.

8. Orderly and neat.

9. Thick light stripes interspersed with thin medium and dark stripes.

10. Expanded version of above.

11. Medium stripes with alternating sets of light and dark stripes.

12. Light stripes with alternating sets of medium and dark stripes.

13. Dark stripes with alternating sets of light and medium stripes.

14. Overlapping sets of 3 stripes.

At this point I was feeling a little seasick from staring at stripes.  I looked back through my sets and picked some of my favorites: 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, and 14.  I asked Andrew what he liked and after hearing what he thought, ended up picking 6, the kaleidoscopic one.

I wanted to use about the same amount of each color, so I adjusted the thick medium-purple stripes to be only two stripes thick, instead of 3 stripes thick.

I can't remember, but I'm pretty sure I did a stripe swatch to make sure I liked it.  Of course I did, right?  In what world do I not swatch every tiny thing?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 1: Blocking a Starling Handbag

Now that I'm done with the Fennec Fox, I've picked my new featured craft project, Perrin's Starling Handbag.

I got to know Perrin through my site.  She wrote a crazy-sweet post about me on her blog Paper Clips and Play Pens.  After just a couple of emails, I could tell she was the kind of direct, open, and passionate person that I get along with perfectly.  I just love Perrin. :)

When I got my annual burr behind my eye about not having a futuregirl logo, I emailed Perrin to see if she was interested in helping me out, since she's a freelance web designer.  She was amazingly enthusiastic.

We exchanged several epic emails talking about my craft blog, my audience, my direction, my hopes for the site ... me me me.  Ha!  How could I *not* love it?  She even sent me sheets of preliminary sketches from her brainstorming sessions.

Our conversations got the gears turning in my head.  Eventually, I was inspired to create my own logo, but I believe I couldn't have done this without first consulting with Perrin.  I'd spent 5 years trying to come up with logo on my own, with no luck.

I wanted to pay her back for all her help.  She'd said something about wanting a Starling Handbag of her own, so, in secret, I crocheted one for her.  And I bought the fabric for the lining.  And tucked it away in my WIP drawer ... for at least a year ... sigh ...

I could have just taken this out of the WIP drawer, frogged it, and put the yarn back in my stash since Perrin didn't know I'd even started it.  It's no fun admitting your shortcomings ... but as my Midwestern up bringing taught me, doing so probably builds character, so I'm sucking it up.  As bad as I feel about letting this token of my appreciation languish, I still want Perrin have a special Starling Handbag made just for her.

As you can imagine, being tucked in a drawer for a year, her Starling had a couple of folds and creases.  I needed to lightly block it.

It just so happens that these cartons of chicken stock are the perfect shape and size to create a blocking form ... bonus that they are waterproof, too!

I inverted the Starling over the cartons and lightly sprayed it with a water squirter.  There was a little smoothing and pulling involved to work out the wrinkles.

In this photo you can see the nice crisp edge around the bottom of my Starling thanks to the innovation of Chicken Betty.  She came up with the idea of crocheting in the interior-loops-only when you transition from the bottom of the bag to the sides.  Brilliant!

After drying overnight, good as new!

This is the gorgeous fabric I bought for the lining.  I love those flowers!  I recently came across a great felt flower tutorial that I hope will work to make the outside embellishments for the bag.  Oh!  I'm looking forward to working on this handbag!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

*sniffle* My New Swift and *sniffle* Ball Winder

I didn't post over Christmas because I holed up in my apartment and knitted my little heart out.  I knew from years past that my blog traffic dips around the holidays so I gave myself a little time off. :)  The plan was to write a couple amazing posts during the New Year's Eve 3-day weekend.  Ha!  I've been sick since 12/29, so that didn't happen.

I keep telling myself I'm feeling better and then I sneeze out a face-full of snot and fill my little trashcan with tissues blowing my nose.  Boo hoo, poor me. :)

Here's a topic that lightens my sickly burden, though, my new swift and ball winder.  Ahhhh.  I had a gigantic hank of lace weight yarn to wind into a ball, thanks to Linda Permann, and I enjoyed every tiny second of the winding.

Imagine me sitting there turning the crank of my ball winder with bright shining eyes and the sparkliest of smiles ...

This is not a commercial/sponsor post, but you probably are wondering ... it's the KnitPicks Ball Winder and the Amish-Designed Swift.  I picked the ball winder because you can mount it or snap on the handle and hold it while you wind your yarn ball.  I picked the Amish-Designed swift because you can take it apart when you're not using it and store it away.  It easily slips together when you want to use it again.  They both worked wonderfully.

Whew!  I've tired myself out.  Here are a bunch of photos I took of the process.  Enjoy!  And send me some healthy juju.  I've got some crafting to do! :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grey Gloves - Crossing Stitches

You may remember that the mustard gloves were an experiment to not make little holes when the stitches split at the thumb/palm and in between the fingertubes.  For these gloves, I'm trying the crossed stitch technique I found on TECHKnitting.

Yeeessss!  It totally works.  The only problem is REMEMBERING to do it.  I did a lot of re-knitting on these.  Thank goodness there isn't much knitting in these in the first place, right? :)

Here is a close-up of the thumb cross-over.  I decided to have the palm-stitches be on the outside and the thumb stitches be on the inside.  

Here is a close-up of the fingertube cross-over.  You can see the un-highlighted cross-overs on the right and left, too.  For the fingertubes, I put the stitches for the one I was knitting on the outside and the saved stitch was cross-under-ed.

This in my girl-hand in a boy-sized glove.  You can see the little swish at the place where the fingertubes connect with the glove.  Not a huge biggie.

This is a shot of the edge of the long tail tubular cast on for 1x1 rib that I love SO MUCH.  Seriously, I love this cast on.  If you look at the outside rib, then turn to the inside rib, there is no break in the stitches.  They wrap around the cuff-edge flawlessly.  It's like magic.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Me & The Fennec Fox

Several people have asked about the fennec fox's size.  I tried to make him tiny, like a real-life fennec fox.  His body is 5.25" long and 2" tall.  What a heart melter!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Fennec Fox is Done!

It's been so nice to have you all along on this finishing-adventure for the fennec fox.  Honestly, without the public oversight, I think he still might be languishing in the dark WIP drawer.  He wasn't an easy project, by any stretch of the imagination.

Gah!  So adorable. :)  All the work and stitching and fiddling was worth it in the end, though.  The best part is that I made him as a gift for my husband, so he gets to stay here at home with me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fennec Fox Tail

I tried lots of under-bumps.   Even stacks of terraced felt that looked like a topographic map.  No matter what I tried, the tail just didn't look right.  Finally, I decided to try just cutting the fur ribbon into the 2-D shape I was trying to make in 3-D.

Success!  Oh look at that luxurious fur tail!

The only issue on the flat shape is that the fur has a direction.  Along the back edge of the curve the fur flows away from the edge and the under-grid to which the fur is attached is exposed.

I carefully curled under that edge of the fun ribbon and sewed the curl in place.

Here's what the back of the tail looks like.  with the one edge curled and sewn.

Here's the tail from the front.

Strangely, just that tiny bit of work makes the tail look 3-D.  The fur seems to grow from behind the fur ribbon and come to the nice foxy point near his little paws.

The next post is going to be the big reveal ... woohoo!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Fennec Face Detail (or cutting tiny felt shapes)

For most felt stuffie pieces, you use pattern pieces and trace them onto the felt.  But for small details, that won't work.  Felt is bumpy and fuzzy and any outlines you trace are imprecise.  That just won't do when you're making circular eyes or curvy nose detailing.

For small shapes, I will lay the felt next to the shape to see where I should cut.

After I cut the felt to the right height, I lay it next to the shape to see what the width should be.

If I need two, I cut them at the same time to be sure they are the same shape.

Then carefully, with small sharp scissors, I start cutting bits away from my rectangle.  I use manicure scissors with curved blades - they are perfect for small felt shapes!

I keep cutting away bits.  Just a little at a time.  This takes patience and a steady hand.  And, of course, if I totally jack it up, it's no big deal!  It's a tiny bit of felt, I just start again. :)

Here are my final nose curve pieces.  Ta da!

This can be used for any shape, just start with the bounding rectangle and snip away until your shape is revealed.  For circles, start with a square and trim away little curves at the corners - it works like a charm!

**Edit**  Anne posted this link in the comments, but I don't want you to miss this amazing tutorial How To Cut Out Felt - REVISED from Wee Folk Art which shows you how to use a paper pattern piece and packing tape to cut out tiny shapes.