Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cowboy Kids

Attending a county fair is not complete without a day (or two) at the Rodeo. Here are my cowboys at the Puyallup Fair in September.

First Place!

I entered a shawl in a local county fair (the Puyallup Fair) and to my surprise it won first place in it's class! The pattern was Revontuli by Anne M. I added some small glass beads in the last section of the pattern which gives the Kauni yarn a little more weight and swing.

The Home Arts section of this fair is really amazing, I've never seen so many beautiful handcrafted things in one place. Worth fighting the crowds, traffic, parking hassles to attend if you get a chance. I'd by-pass all the fast food and shmoozy gadget sales people and head straight upstairs at the Pavillion where all the Home Arts and Fine Arts entries are.

Log Cabin Baby Blanket

A co-worker is expecting twins next month! And as if that's not a big enough deal, I decided to knit two baby all-purpose blankets. After attending a couple county fairs and seeing some beautiful quilts, I was inspired to knit a simple log cabin pattern blanket, all in garter stitch except the edging and with minimal finishing. It's a LOT of garter stitch, so be warned it may drag out, but it's the perfect project for long car rides, waiting rooms and any other opportunities when you want to knit without following charts or complex patterns.

As the mother of 2, I appreciate and treasure handmade items that are easy to use, wash and use again. This 80% cotton/20% merino wool blend is washable, snuggly and drapes nicely. The finished size of the blanket is 26" x 22", perfect for infant use, on a car seat, in a stroller (won't drag on the ground), emergency nappy changing surface or burp cloth (folded in half). As kids get older it's a good size for becoming the all important "blankie" or "night-night" as my youngest calls his. I am happy with results and thought I'd share the pattern with you here.

(BTW, the second blanket is still on the needles and it's a 3 strip blanket, done in the same colors, but as a sampler, with much less garter stitch! Will post pictures when it's done.)

5 skeins Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece
I used: A= CW 105 Putty, B= CW 375 Rue, C= CW 930 Candy Apple, D= CW 400 New Age Teal and E=CW 455 Willow Leaf)

1 Sz 8, 24" or longer circular needle
2 smaller size double point needles (I used sz 6)
Waste yarn (12")
1 crochet hook (sz G or H) or finger crochet know-how
Darning needle for weaving in ends

Notes: When changing yarns, make sure you have 8" of tail for weaving in. I weave the tail as I pick up stitches to help secure the yarn, then finish weaving later.

With A, cast on 20 stitches and knit 40 rows or 20 garter ridges (2 rows = 1 garter ridge). This should be a square. Call it A1. Cast off and turn your work 1/4 turn counter clockwise to the left.

With B, pick up 20 stitches on the right side of your work, one for each ridge in square A1 and knit 20 garter ridges. Call this square B2. Cast off and turn your work 1/4 turn counter clockwise to the left. You now have a rectangular piece of material.

With C, pick up 40 stitches on the right side of your work, 1 for each ridge in square B2 (20 stitches) and 1 for each cast on edge stitch of square A1 (20 stitches) for a grand total of 40 stitches. Knit 20 garter ridges. Call this square C3. Cast off and turn your work 1/4 turn counter clockwise to the left.

With D, pick up 40 stitches on the right side of your work, 1 for each ridge of rectangle C3 and 1 for each ridge of square A1. Knit 20 garter ridges. Call this rectangle D4. Cast off and turn your work 1/4 turn counter clockwise to the left.

With E, pick up 60 stitches on the right side of your work, 1 for each ridge of rectangle D4, 1 for each cast off edge of square A1 and 1 for each ridge of square B2. Knit 20 garter ridges. Call this rectangle E5. Cast off and turn your work 1/4 turn counter clockwise to the left.

Continue changing yarn, picking up stitches, knitting 20 ridges and casting off in established pattern until you have worked pattern for 2 complete color rotations (i.e., you will have used A, B, C, D & E twice each).

Edging: Thanks to The Purl Bee for the great, easy instructions for applied i cord! See the instructions here: Applied i-cord edge

The i-cord edge gives the blanket some structure and nice finished edge. It can take a while to complete the edging, but it's worth it. I used color A as it was the biggest remaining skein.

I grafted the beginning and end sections of the i-cord together at the corner so used a provisional crochet cast on:

With waste yarn, finger crochet or with crochet hook, crochet a small chain of 8 to 10 stitches and cast off (pull working yarn through last loop)

Using smaller double pointed needles, pick up 4 crochet 'bumps' and knit one row. Slide these stitches to the other end of the needle, DO NOT turn work! *Knit 3, slip one as if to purl with yarn in back, yarn over and starting at a corner of the blanket, pick up one ridge or one cast off edge stitch. You now have 6 stitches on your double point needle. Pass the yarn over stitch and the slipped stitch over the picked up 6th stitch. You now have 4 stitches again. Slide these to the other end of the double pointed needle and repeat from *

To accomodate turning corners, insert 2 regular rounds of i-cord, one before and one after the applied i-cord pattern above: Knit 4, slide stitches to the other end, Knit 3, slip one, yarn over, pick up and pass 2 stitches over as above, then insert another round of regular i-cord before continuing with applied i-cord to the next corner.

When you are at the applied i-cord beginning, unpick the 4 cast on stitches and put them on a spare needle. With darning needle, kitchener stitch the beginning and ending 8 i-cord stitches together.

Weave in all ends very well as cotton has a tendency to pop out after washing. Wash cold water with gentle soap on gentle cycle. Remove promptly to avoid any bleeding (the Candy Apple red bled ever so slightly on the Putty edging because it sat in the washer for a couple of hours). Dry on low heat. Remove, shake into shape. Check ends and trim any that may have popped out.

Give to prospective parents and smile as you remember how you felt when you were expecting your first child!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bad GUAGE! Good Knit group

I have been knitting the February Lady Sweater and enjoying it, waiting for the day to finish it, put some hand-blown glass buttons on and wear it. I'd hoped to have it done in the month of February and was so close. Earlier this week, I decided to try it on before starting the sleeves. BIG problem...can you say bad GUAGE? The sweater is about 6 inches too small around. You'd think I'd have noticed this long before this point - it's top down after all! I pulled out the pattern and lo, saw the guage should have been 18 garter stitches over 4 inches. I got 22!! The numbers and the math don't lie, and for proof, I've got a beautiful, almost complete sweater for a slim teenager! Unless I'm knitting socks, I always make a swatch - I've got tons of swatches - so why oh why did I deviate and dive in without one this time?

So, in my disappointment I declared, "I'm not knitting anymore!" and even thought of what yarn in my stash I'd post for sale on ebay first. Of course this was before my weekly knitting group meeting. I've been knitting with the Fiber Fiends almost every Wednesday since I joined them 3 years ago. We/I don't usually get much knitting done, but we talk about knitting, yarn, patterns, our kids/husbands/parents, etc. endlessly. I shared my sad story and just as I'd hoped they snapped me out of my knitting depression and got me going again. They are a good group of friends.

I'll frog that sweater and try again, but not just now...I hear an unfinished Hanne Ballerina calling to me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January, after the snow

Finished the scarf for hubby 2 days before Christmas. Looks great on him! He was surprised. I had lots of time to knit while on an unexpected trip to the East coast and with the two-day delay getting back to Seattle.

I treated myself this holiday by attending the Acorn Street Yarn Shop sale and added some Dune and Noro sock yarn to my stash. Love that shop almost as much as Weaving Works!

Currently, completing sweater started Jan 2008 before I start another new project. Kind of a resolution, finish one, start one, we'll see how this goes, it's early yet.