Archive for December, 2012

Midnight Adventures

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

So….I was looking at some interesting blogs to get inspiration for some spinning and knitting to do now that the Christmas gifts are all done.  Of course, inspiration hits close to midnight, and next thing I know I’m experimenting!  This is my first try dyeing with Wilton food dyes.  I got lots of helpful advice from this site.fleeceIt turns out that blue is a bit of a tricky colour, so I added some yellow to make green, which seems to be pretty potent!  The big trick is to add acid to the water (I used vinegar).  I don’t know how much I used, but I think it’s enough, since the colour stuck to the fleece! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also read that the temperature of the dye pot is important.  I used my candy thermometer to make sure that the temp got up to 180 F.  This yarn was once dyed (rather unsuccessfully) using black beans.  I’ve re-dyed it with a LOT of food colouring, making it a combination of reds and oranges. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI rinsed everything and now it is drying in my bathtub.  I’m looking forward to making some interesting things out of this!

Red Light Specials

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

While sitting indoors fighting off my cold, in the hazy days that follow Christmas and Boxing Day festivities, I finished off these two lovely hats.  I’m quite taken with the Red Light Special Pattern.  I love how different it looks with each new colourway I’ve light specialThe blue one was started on Christmas day, but not quite finished in time to be under a tree.  It has already been delivered to my sister in law, and the orange one will be given in the near future to a very big fan of orange who needs a bit of extra warmth and encouragement this winter, specially since we’re finally getting lots of snow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a closer look at the pattern.  I bet you can’t make just one!

A Hat Fit For An Olympian

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

This past week has been an exciting one!  We had a secret santa exchange in our class, and one girl, a young rower, had asked for her secret santa to get her Will Crothers for Christmas.  Will is one of Team Canada’s men’s 8 rowing team that won the silver medal at the London Olympics. [youtube]

men's 8

Photo courtesy of Will Crothers

He’s a local guy, and a distant cousin of mine, so I sent a few emails and was thrilled when Will agreed to come and visit and sign a picture for my student.  She was incredibly surprised, and giddy all day after his visit.  My students enjoyed the opportunity to touch a real silver medal, and to talk to an Olympian.

Will CrothersTo thank him for going above and beyond, and making a young rower’s Christmas wish come true, I gave him a hat that I’d knit this fall.  It is the Red Light Special hat, one of my favourites.  He told me that he’d wear it often.  My students offered me a very big complement: they didn’t believe that I’d knit it.  They were sure I had bought it.

Thanks Will for making this a very memorable week!

Secret Santa

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

‘Tis the season for giving.  I love this time of year!  The weather gets colder, and it just seems sensible to wrap up in warm woolies.  I’ve been taking advantage of the long evenings to whip through a few gifts for the secret santa exchanges that I’m involved in.

My three high school classes are all exchanging gifts.  Each person is limited to $5 to prepare their project.  These limits have brought up all sorts of discussions generally starting with “you can’t buy ANYTHING for $5″.  I am a firm believer in creating gifts.  For $5 you could bake cookies/cake etc, draw or paint a picture, or in my case, I choose to knit.  I’m curious to see what gifts get exchanged.  Last year my gift was a Christmas tree ornament and a can opener.  I still use the can opener to this day!

Here’s what I’ve made for my secret santa students:  Here’s a slightly modified version of the “End of May” hat (ravelry).  secret santaI knew that I didn’t have time to knit up the hat at the gauge that was specified, so I used heavier yarn (acrylic so it’s not itchy) and worked 3 pattern repeats rather than 4.  I also didn’t work the internal lining, but rather did ribbing for one hat and a Latvian braid for another.secret santa

The yarn is scrap from my stash.  The red is not actually red, but more of a “radioactive salmon” hot pink/orange colour, which seems to be quite fashionable amongst the youngsters these days.  This yarn was rescued from the GAP where it was used as part of a display, but going to be thrown out afterwards (shameful!).  I remember the day when a big bag with many balls of fluorescent yarn appeared in my office–thanks so much to Rachel for giving me some.

secret santaThe third gift I made is a pair of 100% wool mittens (Sean Sheep brand from Walmart, purchased AGES ago). It’s a very cozy softly spun single ply yarn that sometimes didn’t hold together under tension.  I knit these mitts with extra long cuffs, then decorated them with snowflakes embroidered on top.

I hope that my students realize that although their gifts cost me less than $5 to create, they are worth much more.  I invested my time, and my care to create something specially for them.  I have high hopes that teenagers can appreciate these gifts.

Julekuler-Norwegian Knitted Balls

Monday, December 10th, 2012

It’s rainy here these days.  We’ve only had one brief dusting of snow which was quickly washed away by showers.  All the rain is making me remember my experience in Norway.  There is some amazing knitting that originated in Norway, the entire Selbu tradition for instance.

I recall my visit to the Selbu knitting museum where a young boy working there on a summer job told me that the very intricate mittens were knit in a day by Altzheimer’s patients who had forgotten everything but mitten knitting.  I’m a little doubtful as to the truth of that story, but here’s another little bit of Norwegian knitting that could be done in a day.  From my poor translations of the Norwegian websites I’ve discovered that Julekuler are knit balls that are stuffed, and hung as Christmas decorations.

Here’s the pattern for the reindeers in love julekuler shown below. (ravelry)

julekulerI knit this one for my brother and his wife to celebrate their first married Christmas.  He has a thing for moose–reindeer are pretty close.

Two Norwegian guys Arne and Carlos have made many different Julekuler as seen below.

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Their pattern for the snowflake Julekuler is given on their site.  I made this one for my other brother and his wife for their first married Christmas.  snowflake

If you are counting down the days until Christmas and looking for a quick and interesting project, I recommend giving these a try.  They’re knit in the round with a gauge that creates a dense fabric so the stuffing doesn’t show through.  I’m sure there are lots of traditional motifs around, but I’m sure that a creative crafter could invent some non-traditional motifs.

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Happy knitting!

A Mountain of Mittens

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

mittensIt’s been a busy fall!  I’ve been working on this pile of mittens for some time now–all Christmas gifts for various friends and family members.  The vast majority of the mittens I make are my slightly modified version of Robin Hansen’s Fox and Geese Mittens.  I started making this pattern when I was in grade 8 when my grandmother gave me Robin Hansen’s book “Fox and Geese and Fences, A Collection of Traditional Maine Mittens”.

My mods are: narrower longer cuff, and using a Latvian braid to stabilize the non-ribbed cuff from rolling.

thrummedAlso from the same book, I learned the technique of thrumming mittens.  This is where bits of fleece or roving is knit into the fabric of the mitten, leaving the ends loose on the inside as extra insulation.thrummedThese mittens are the warmest ones I’ve ever made.  The only issue with them is that there is limited mobility while wearing them.  They’re big, like boxing gloves, when they are first completed.  After years of wear the fleece tends to mat and felt a bit.  I’m using fleece that I washed myself.  It is clean, but has a bit of lanolin still on the fiber (it’s good for soothing chapped hands!).  It is not combed or carded fleece, I’m thrumming with the locks of fleece.

Knit a Penguin

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I’ve been looking all over to find a knitted penguin.  I’m going to make an ornament for a friend, so I wanted a pattern to make a little stuffed penguin.  My searching led to a few possibilities, and I’ve knit up one of them already.penguin

The pattern is an adaptation of a free pattern for an Easter peep.  It was a really quick project, knit on 4mm needles from some roving that I had.  I’ve never knit directly from roving before.  It worked really well!  I stuffed it with even more roving.  I had thought about felting it, but I haven’t tried that yet.  It’s a little bigger than I had expected–maybe too big for an ornament.  My modification to make it smaller would be to knit it out of sock yarn on small needles.

Another pattern that I have found since is here.  I’ll try this one next and compare the two for cuteness.

If anyone has found any patterns for tiny penguins please let me know.

Tis The Season For Elf Slippers

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

December brings twinkle lights, snow, and best of all….it’s the only time where it is perfectly acceptable to wear elf slippers.  I made a pair for my dad a few Christmasses ago, and was so intrigued by the process that I have knit up some Cascade 220 from my stash into some child and infant sized slippers.  The free pattern from Flint Knits blog explains the entire process, from knitting the oversized slippers to felting them.beforeThey go really quickly since they’re worked on 6.5mm needles….child size…the pointy toes are a clever addition…infant size…as are the pointy additions to the cuffs.  With a quick trip through the wash (twice through worked really well), they are felted and drying stuffed with paper towel to keep their shape.afterI’m pretty pleased with the sizing of the child’s pair, but the infant pair seems to be really large.  If they don’t fit for this Christmas, they’ll fit for next year for sure!

Dragon Baby Set

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

A friend of mine has just had a baby.  This is no ordinary baby, it has been nicknamed a “dragon baby” for the last little while.  I spent this rainy weekend knitting up some lovely warm and “dragony” things to drop off at my friend’s door.dragon babyThe hat is what came up on a ravelry search for “Dragon Baby”.  Here’s the pattern, from the blog SpinKnitUp.  I have knit it with the most dragony green from my stash.  It’s a good quality sport weight acrylic that should be easy to care for, and will last for years!  dragon hatThe pattern really looks like dragon scales!

To complement the hat, and use up the last bit of my yarn, I mashed two patterns together to create some cute dragon booties.  bootiesThe patterns involved are Dino Baby Booties (ravelink) which didn’t have a pattern available–but I loved the picot teeth idea, and the Monster Booties pattern.dragonI am not sure how well the booties will stay on, or how long they will fit a growing baby, but they certainly will be a cute addition to the dragon set.

If you are curious, here are my instructions:

Follow the monster bootie pattern for the sole of the foot. I used garter stitch rather than stockinette stitch.

When picking up for the top of the foot, pick up in “tooth colour” the number of stitches required for the rest of the bootie.  Knit a round, then work a picot edge (YO, K2tog) around.  Knit a round.

Join in main colour and knit the round, joining the edges of the picot together by knitting the live stitch with a loop from inside, several rows down–the first loop in “tooth colour”.

Continue working the monster bootie.

I hope that these will keep the little dragon baby warm and cozy this winter.