Muriel

Knit leafy sea dragon

Hello, my darlings. I have a little PITA treasure of a pattern almost ready for you. This is Muriel:

Knit leafy sea dragon
Muriel is a leafy sea dragon, the third in my dragon series.

Muriel, an Irish name meaning something like “brightness of the sea,” is a leafy seadragon. She is named partly for her own nature, and partly for my great-aunt who passed a few years ago and who was herself a shining spirit.

I do not want to discourage you from giving this pattern a try, but I have noticed some consistent feedback on my two easier dragons that makes me feel I must give you fair warning. The skills used to create Muriel are in and of themselves pretty basic. Muriel is, however, tedious at times. She is decidedly fiddly. Most importantly: she requires artistic interpretation. I have given explicit instructions for reproducing the body exactly and for general ways to make all the different types of fronds, but what fronds go where, how long they are, and which ones you mix and match is entirely up to you.

I fully expect that this means that some of your Muriels will outshine mine, so I hope you’ll share pictures with me¬†on Ravelry. And if you run into rough spots, I also hope you’ll message me–I’m happy to give clarification, make corrections, or offer general advice on my designs.

And here’s where you find her when you’re ready.

UPDATE: The Ravelry code I sent out is apparently malfunctioning for folks. I’m trying to solve the problem, but if you can’t make it work, just reply to the enewsletter that went out and I’ll reply with the PDF. Thanks to the folks who pointed the issue out!

Woolly Ball Sacks

A while back, I made a set of wool laundry balls for myself. A friend pointed out to me that they’re useful for cutting down drying time and softening the clothing without use of chemical-laden dryer sheets.

Making them is pretty easy. So easy, in fact, that I decided to make a whole mess of them as Christmas presents for various people. (I had some very cheap wool acquired from the farmer’s market and a yard sale–not nicely suited for spinning, but great for dyeing and felting.) I ended up with four sets, which is few enough that I figured I might as well make sacks for them too.

I used the Grrlfriend Market Bag as a template, sizing it WAY down and only adding one handle bit enough to hang over a doorknob (which is where I store my woolly balls). I love the pattern and it works up so quickly that some folks might just see a few market bags in their stockings this year too. ūüôā

Woolly Ball Sack

Here’s my quickie mod of the pattern, sized down to hold four tennis-sized balls.

  • Needles: DPNs, size 5 and 10
  • Yarn: Worsted weight cotton (I used scraps of Peaches & Cream)

With size 5 needles, cast on 8 stitches. Join to work in the round.

  • Round 1: Knit.
  • Round 2: *k1, yo, k1, pm, repeat from * a total of 4 times (12 stitches)
  • Round 3: (and all odd rounds) Knit.
  • Round 4: *k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, sm,¬†repeat from * a total of 4 times (20 stitches)
  • Round 6: *k1, yo, knit to 1 before marker, yo, k1, sm,¬†repeat from * a total of 4 times (20 stitches)

Repeat rounds 5 & 6 until you have 13 stitches between each marker (52 stitches total). Switch to size 10 needles and move to lace netting stitch:

  • Round 1: *k2tog through back loop, yo, repeat from * around
  • Round 2: (and all even rounds) Knit.

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 of the netting stitch until you reach the desired length.

  • Work garter stitch (knit a round, purl a round) for 4-6 rounds.
  • Cast off knitwise, all but last 3 stitches.
  • Work in i-cord for six inches, pull stitches through and sew end of cord to the border to form a loop.

Weave in your ends and use your new little bag to store your handy homemade laundry balls!

SlipPIPpers

That’s a hiccup slipper, a slipPIPper. Say it out loud, go ahead. Are you giggling yet? Hrm. Maybe I need to lay off the mimosas when I’m knitting. Might lead to a few less hiccups in my slippers anyway. Don’t look at the pattern stitch too closely.

SlipPIPpers

Anywho…

I’ve been playing around with the Must-Try Stitch Sampler Slippers from the Summer 2013 Creative Knitting and I LOVE them as a Christmas present. Why?

  • Super easy and fast!
  • The principle works with just about any stitch you want to mess with.
  • Hello, sexy use of i-cord!

This is also one pattern I like acrylic for (my favorite is Caron’s Simply Soft) because it wears pretty well and doesn’t tend to pill as badly with multiple washings and abusive use, which is what I need in a slipper. Two strands held together in a light worsted makes a pretty sturdy fabric and, of course, acrylic is cheap enough that I can afford to make these for ALL THE PEOPLE.

Regarding the i-cord, I can’t stress enough how I love this. I hate doing i-cord that I then have to go back and attach. It’s boring and stupid. I LOVE magical i-cord that gets worked into the edge of something as you go, making it look all purty.

I’m going to make the next pair up using the Bee Stitch, which I think will make them thick and fluffy. I haven’t done the gauge or the decreases for the toe, but here’s the stitch with the i-cord.

Cast on a multiple of 2 + 7 stitches.

  • Row 1 & 3: k to last 3 stitches, slip 3 purlwise with yarn in front
  • Row 2: k4, *k1b, k1, repeat from * to last 3, slip 3 purlwise with yarn in front
  • Row 4: k5, k1b, *k1, k1b, repeat from¬†* to last 3, slip 3 purlwise with yarn in front

k1b means knit 1 below. The link for the Bee Stitch above has a video demonstrating the technique if you’re not familiar with it.

Dobby Socks

At long last! Here is the promised pattern for the Dobby socks. If you missed the story and the tips behind the crazy steeking, you can catch up here. Now that the pattern is written, I can get these in the mail in time for my sister’s birthday…if two years late.

Harry Potter Socks_5_sm

Dobby Socks

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might also like Cho’s Magical Gryffindor Gloves.

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Bifrost Beret

Many, many apologies for the delay on this promised pattern. I have excuses for not putting the pattern up, but since they mostly involve a preference to watching Torchwood and knitting over formatting images in a Word document, you don’t want to hear them.

Either way, here’s the promised pattern!

Bifrost Beret

(Click to download or print.)

Bifrost Beret - Link opens PDF pattern

Knitting On the Fly

I hate hats. By which, of course, I mean that I love them to pieces but they have an irritating way of defeating me. Frequently. When my mother gave me some purple  yarn to make baby hats for October to raise awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome, I cringed inside. More than a little.

I picked up another skein from her excellent LYS while I was visiting her knitting class, though, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The bulky, soft alpaca was more delicious than any yarns I can afford on a regular basis and I figured it was worth the effort of mastering a few baby hats just for the chance to work with the yarn.

The lovely thing about bulky yarn is that beautiful things just sort of fall off your needles. You cast on and it seems like only an hour later you have a hat…or three. My success with the baby hats inspired me to pick up the intriguing and slightly odd variegated yarn I found in the bargain bin at the same LYS. It was surprisingly pleasant to work with for an inexpensive wool/acrylic blend, and I think it had a little bit of magic stored up in it because the tam just came together, hitting that Goldilocks ratio.

The first tam I ever made is bigger than my entire head. The second one barely covers my ears. I made one in there that fit my youngest sister, but it didn’t come out quite the size I was aiming for. This lovely bit, however, was just right.

You can’t really tell from the wet, blocking project how nicely the color runs work up at this length, but I was quite pleased. Once it’s dry and properly photographed, I’ll be putting up the pattern for it, so come back sometime next week for the B√Įfrost Beret.

Just in Time for Autumn

When we left home last weekend to visit our various sets of parents for various delightful reasons, I was a little loathe to hit the road because of this:

Have I written about the blocking situation yet? I don’t think I have. Short version: after wasting many miles and minutes driving around to local places looking for just blocking mats and failing to find them outside of super-expensive kits that included pins and wires I didn’t need, I ended up ordering interlocking foam non-slip gym flooring from Amazon, which is cheaper than actual blocking mats. My review: foam flooring = awesome blocking mats.¬†

Even with free two-day shipping (Amazon Prime rocks), I had to wait to block my sweater until Wednesday, so last week I was knitting sleeves like a mad woman and trying not to expire from anticipation at just how close to done my darn sweater was. I finished the final sleeve just before the season premiere of Doctor Who (perfect timing), but then had to wait two more days to get the sleeves blocking since we were visiting family.

Finally and finally, last night I got within sight of the finish line sometime around 10:00 when I finished the second placket and had nothing to do but set in the sleeves and work the collar. I ended up staying up until 1:30 or so, and not because “What About Brian?” is such a captivating show. (In case the sarcasm isn’t carrying: it’s really, really not.)

Bad, late-night Netflix choices notwithstanding, I managed to finish my sweater. It’s a little wonky, being my first ever fitted sweater, and both the pattern and the errata could have be easier to work with. I also wouldn’t recommend KnitPicks’¬†Wool of the Andes for this sweater to anyone else. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoyed working with the yarn, and I think it’s a great product for the price, but this sweater is a very fitted piece which is worn close to the skin, so something softer would probably be more comfortable. I love the softness and drape of KnitPicks’¬†Simply Cotton Sport, and if the worsted is as good, that might work nicely without the $500 materials cost of the yarn the book suggested.

All that being acknowledged… I FINISHED MY SECOND FREAKIN’ SWEATER!!!!!

My favorite part about this pattern is the length of the sleeves. I hate where long sleeve sweaters fall when I’m at home. I’m constantly pushing the sleeves back and getting annoyed that they won’t stay put. The half-length will keep my shoulders warm AND give me the freedom to put my fingerless gloves to actual use when I’m knitting. I love fingerless gloves. They’re like socks without having to turn a heel or graft a toe.

This pose and camera angle make my shoulders look oddly large, I know, but isn’t the sweater just lovely? So, so pleased.

Pattern Info:

Seeded Cables Cardigan by Sarah Heiniger, published in Sensual Knits: Luxurious Yarns, Alluring Designs, ed. Yahaira Ferreira.

Costume Up!

Because I feel like I don’t have half enough unfinished projects clamoring for my attention, I have decided to take up costume design. My seamstressing abilities are limited to sewing crooked seams, so I’m taking the approach of buying really cheap thrift store finds and repurposing them. When I inevitably destroy a perfectly good shirt with my ineptitude, at least my bank account won’t be groaning in despair, right?

Right…

I dragged John with me to go shopping for shirts because he is my less-reluctant-than-you-might-think partner in cosplay. We’ve got two costume missions: renaissance and steampunk. I have lovely mental designs for these, but since I have the artistic skill of an untalented third grader, I will spare you from my sketches. Instead, I will invite you to comment on the Pinterest board where I keep track of pictures of pieces that come close to my mental image.

I’ve been mostly working on my steampunk costume (which involves a lovely blue corset that is way too cheap to actually wear fully cinched) and John’s renaissance costume. Now that we have his boots (and it took long enough…eBay and PayPal can be such a hassle to deal with sometimes), I only need to make a few modifications on his shirt and figure something out for his pants because his wonderful mother made us gorgeous leather vests for Christmas.

Mine is a lighter-colored leather and more corset-ish–I’ll post pictures when I’ve figured out what to wear under it to preserve my modesty.

The costume piece I’m VERY excited about working on is my next fingerless glove design. I’m thinking of upping the design challenge and actually making them “top-of-the-finger-less,” with partial finger gussets. My mom’s LYS had a nice sale on alpaca lace yarn so she picked me up enough for about eight pairs of gloves…that’s what I call margin for error.

My plan is to modify the stitch from the Curved Diamond Shawl in Victorian Lace Today to work in the round as the main glove base and play with picots for the bottom edging. The gauging and gusset design for this will be…interesting, if you’re Chinese. “Fun” if you play Dwarf Fortress (their unofficial slogan is “Losing is fun!”). It should be a wild ride, and I’ll be taking better notes this time.

In short: come hang out with me on Pinterest and keep your eyes open for my upcoming misadventures in costume design. Good times will be had by all, at my expense.

Too Much Yarn

My husband and I are struggling a little bit in the face of not having to work forty hours of week at the moment. His schedule actually allows him a four-day weekend, the lucky duck. As we were out on a date the other night, he sighed about his inability to set goals for himself on his personal projects.

“It’s not that I don’t have anything to do,” he said. “There’s just so much I want to do that I can’t settle on any one thing, so I end up playing video games all day.”

Because that’s the solution, right there. I tease, but I know what he means. Knitting and spinning make up one very tiny portion of the way I spend my time–I’m lucky if I manage to sneak an hour a day to work on my projects, and out of those…good Lord, we better narrow it down.

Spinning: I do less of that. I’ve been reserving it as a treat for myself, as in “when I finish knitting project X, I can spend some time spinning,” and half of the time I get so excited about the next project in my knitting queue that I cut my allotted spinning time in half. (It’s a little harder to set goals, since I’m still SOOO slow with a spindle.) So I don’t really spend much time spinning yet, much as I enjoy it. And yet, in the last few weeks, I have acquired this:

 

That’s about two pounds of raw dog hair (black poodle and golden doodle…I’ll let you know how that goes when I get around to playing with it), 6 ounces of beautifully dyed roving from Lancaster (my mom has come over to the dark side of fiber arts and discovered that acrylic is not great…BWAHAHA), and a pound of raw virgin fleece I bought at the farmers’ market for cheap because it comes off lambs who have been raised for meat (Sheep are a pretty sustainable meat source and their wool can be repurposed, so I’m sorry if you’re a vegetarian and/or bothered by the thought of dead sheep…my tactic is to try to be a responsible omnivore, so it doesn’t really phase me).

With this intriguing pile of fiber waiting patiently in line behind a long list of quickie projects, a sweater, a book to edit, a half dozen excellent books to read, and a long list of things to research about buying a house, what do I choose to do? Write a blog post about my first-world problems.

Good decision-making, me. Good freaking decision making…

Hydrating Hydrangeas

So…the Guild of Rookie Designers called. They revoked my membership card. ¬†I dialed up the League of N00b Designers, and even they were hesitant to accept me back when they heard why the Guild gave me the boot.

LND Rep: “Let me get this straight: your strategy for organizing pattern notes for a new design consists of two regular notebooks, a graph paper notebook, and a box of loose paper, and you’re surprised that you can’t find the notes for your latest pattern?”

Me: “Well, in my defense, I did just move…”

I was about thirty seconds from trying to reverse engineer the pattern from the finished product when I decided to leaf through the magazines I had stuck in my bin of projects-in-progress. I just about leaped up to turn a somersault when a loose piece of graph paper fell out with the hydrangea stitch and eyelet rib…until I noticed that I was missing my notes on how to build the bottom. Unfortunately, that was the only part of the pattern I knew I would have to rework to try to remember what I had done.

I really don’t remember getting the graph paper to work out the stitch on, but the only reason I can imagine that I would use loose-leaf graph paper instead of doing the work in my notebook is that I had already packed my notebook before the move, but my husband hadn’t packed his. If all of my pattern-note-taking-books were packed, there was one other place I might look: the sticky note app for my computer.

I had to dig what felt like piles of random urls, bits of shortcode, knitting tutorials, fiber fair dates, and writing ideas, but sure enough, at the bottom of the mess I found a piece of gobbledygook that no one else in the world would understand the meaning of. Thank goodness I worked up this design recently enough to remember what my notes meant.

With no more ado (as this simple pattern has already had more ado than it’s due), enjoy this quick and simple water bottle cover.

Hydrating Hydrangeas (Click to download or print)