Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Having a Ball

The first spheres I knitted for Rachel's Knit Cents LAL were from the book Knitting for Baby by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas. The pattern is called Baby's First Ball. Ok, I got a little carried away and finally stopped at 10. This is potato chip knitting at its finest. The first 5 or so were made with remnants from my wool stash. It was fun using up every bit of wool of a particular skein until I realized I needed something to sew the hole up with after felting. (I forgot that the end piece would felt also. Knock on head.) Noro Kureyon makes the best colors but some of the best felting wool is plain. Dark wool tends to felt more quickly than light wool. Why? I have no idea. Maybe a spinner can tell me.

I like the looks of the colors in one of the big salad bowls hand turned by my dad.

Billiards, anyone?

Learning experience: In the photo with two green and purple balls: the ball on the left was knitted with alternating segments of Noro Kureyon and Cascade 220. (green). The ball on the right was made only with Cascade 220. These were knit on the same needles and run through the same wash together. Since the Noro did not felt as quickly as the Cascade, the blended ball is nearly twice the size of the Cascade ball. These two balls went with my friend Carol for her little grandson in California.

There are many lovely balls, but I'm partial to the colors in this one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's a Dumpling Bag

Rachel of the Knit Cents podcast has an LAL for the month of May. LAL means Learn Along. The concept is to learn something new and share. Knit Cents is becoming one of my favorite podcasts. Rachel has a pleasant voice and the show is informative as well. I chose one knitting theme and one less-knitting theme.

For My Learn Along...

  1. Knit different spherical shapes.
  2. Learn more about my two
    cameras and Adobe Bridge.
    Since much of my photography is for my blog and Ravelry, this is the less-knitting related.

Dumpling Bag by Sharon Dreifuss has been in my queue for a while. It is in the Fall 2008 Interweave Knits. I'm not sure how often I will actually use this bag but it is spherical so it seemed like a good time to try it. It only took a few hours to knit and an hour or so to embroider. For the embroidery I used handspun and hand-dyed wool that I bought ages ago.

Knitting spheres turned into a lesson on felting wool as well. I've not been very successful with felting in the past. In the two weeks that I have been felting I've learned a few things.

  1. Felting works best for me when I don't care what size the end result is.
  2. My front loading machine DOES work for felting. Yeah!
  3. My favorite wool for felting is Paton's Wool Classic. This is an inexpensive wool that I bought on sale at a chain store. This wool was actually in my stash and somewhat of a buyer's remorse issue so I am thrilled that it works well for felting. It only took one time through my front loader and the stitch definition was gone. I put the bag in a pillow case with a few tennis balls. An old pair of jeans was added to the wash, outside of the pillowcase. I used a little bit of Tide.
  4. Hot water, heavy cycle.
  5. Try not to mix wools in a project. They felt at different rates and that can affect the product. I actually learned this while knitting Baby's First Ball which will come up soon.

Modifications to pattern:
  • Eliminated the rings on the handles. Just looped the long handle through the little loop.
  • Made the long handle 22" instead of 13".
I have since made a larger version of the Dumpling Bag which will be photographed soon.

This was a fun, quick project and would make a great gift for a younger person.

Friday, May 21, 2010

DROPS Garter Stitch Baby Sweater

I love this free pattern by Drops Design. It has a Scandinavian feel to it. The dark blue and the variegated sock yarn from Happy Feet turned out to be a good combination. I had purchased the wool to knit Minni, but I wasn't having much success with it. There are a few notes for this Drops Design Cardigan on my Ravelry page.

You cast on in the contrast color (blue) along the left front vertical border. The sweater is knitted from side to side with only a bit of seaming under the arms at the end. The two yarns are alternated in short rows for the striped effect. There isn't a purl stitch in the entire thing. Elizabeth Zimmermann liked garter stitch for its stretchability, among other traits. It is especially charming on babies. I'm sure I will be making this sweater again. Next time I will widen the sleeves just a bit as they look a tad skinny, but on the other hand, I haven't seen a lot of babies with bulging biceps. Although I knit the newborn size, my gauge was off (refused to go down to a smaller needle size) so the result is about 9 mo to one year.

The blue is actually darker than it appears in the photos. The Happy Feet yarn has a lovely bounce to it.

The pattern is similar to one in a knitting pattern book from the 1950's that my grandmother had given me. I used this pattern to knit a gray sweater, bonnet, mitten, and bootie set for our first born son. Of course, back then we didn't know whether we were having a boy or a girl. Gray was gender-friendly and untraditional. Elizabeth Zimmermann suggested gray wool for babies and in the 1970's she was the only knitter I knew, needed, or heeded. So I heeded.

I scanned a few fading photos of our baby in his little gray sweater. Here we are when he was just 6 days old, in the middle of January 1978. We called that his "Cheerio Look" because his little mouth looked like a cheerio cereal bit. He was a bit of a fuss-budget but we were so enamored we barely noticed at the time.

At 8 weeks he was going with me to a folk dance festival weekend. I am wearing my (fake) Swedish costume. As we were poor graduate students I cut our hair to save money. You can tell. It's a good thing I did not decide to become a hair dresser. That is one sweet baby, isn't it?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Summit Stole

Summit is the teaser that I posted about a few weeks ago. It was a gift for my little mom for Mother's Day. When Dad opened the package and showed it to her, they both gasped. Isn't that just the reaction we knitters are looking for?

Summit is a free pattern from Knitty.com. I used an alpaca/silk blend that was left over from a shawl I made. My version is only 9 columns wide so it is considerably less wide than the original. Once the intial set-up rows are established, the pattern is easily memorized. Next time I'm going to try garter stitch as the reverse side reminds me of calamari. There are more notes on my Ravelry page.

Yesterday the knitters from my Prayer Shawl group came over a Porch Morning. We sat in the sunroom with steaming mugs of coffee and tea, watching the busy birds flitting back and forth from the feeders. I suppose a little knitting was done also. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been migrating through and were constantly at the feeders and in the nearby trees all day. This morning I am watching them as I sit at my laptop. How could one not be impressed by such a display? These birds (the males, of course) seem to be aware of their magnificence and love to show it off. I would love to watch these birds all summer but I know we are just a stop on their way to northern breeding grounds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Big Blue Sweater Tale

Our life revolves around the university academic year. It is now the time for final exams with graduation on Saturday. Recently we attended a year-end honors banquet for my husband's department. At the end of this banquet the senior engineering students have the opportunity to roast the professors. All in good fun, eh? Actually, they tend to be quite tasteful with their jesting. This year my knitting came into play.
In their Power Point Roast they put a photo of my husband on the screen. The student said, "Dr. F is known for having quite a collection of sweaters. One of them is very large and very blue." (I knew exactly which sweater they meant.) He went on to explain that Dr. F was explaining a concept to the class and used his own love of cookies as an analogy in explaining the concept. (I'm not an engineer so the details didn't make much sense to me.) Then they showed a picture of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster on the screen next to my husband's photo. Everyone had a good laugh about the Cookie Monster Blue Sweater and I probably laughed harder than anyone. Later the students asked me if I was ok with it and I said, "Of course. It was perfect." What was really sweet is that they had actually emailed my husband to wear his sweater to school so they could get a photo of it. He became suspicious and told them that I knit all his sweaters and I would be there. He was afraid they might hurt my feelings. Hey, they are right, the sweater is big and blue. Now I get a chuckle every time he wears The Cookie Monster Sweater. The next morning he was shaking his head as he told me that this is the first time in 30 years of teaching that he realized that the students notice what he is wearing.
I made him pause for a photo this morning as he left for work. Poor man! No one likes to have their photo taken at that time of the morning, but he was a good sport, as always.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Red Tea Leaves Cardigan is Finished

I believe Tea Leaves is my favorite cardigan of all time. Combine the softest merino wool (Tosh Merino) with a great fit and interesting detail and you have a sure winner. The neckline is perfect. I did add a short row or two in the first band of garter stitch at the back neck edge but I probably would not do that again as I do not think it matters.


  • Added about 1 inch of short rows in the back between the armholes and the garter border so the back would not ride up. (ala Elizabeth Zimmermann).

  • Widened the sleeves by about 2 inches by casting on extra stitches at the underarms. They were too close for comfort

  • Used Elizabeth Zimmermann's One-Row buttonhole instead of the one in the pattern. I tried it on a swatch and preferred my old stand-by. The next time I knit this sweater I will make the buttonholes just one stitch smaller to accomodate a slightly smaller button.
The ceramic buttons are from Heartstone Ceramics on etsy.com. I think they set the sweater off nicely.
If I had remained monogamous while knitting Tea Leaves, it would have been done in two weeks. What a fun sweater to knit!

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