Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mara, a Simple, Elegant Shawl

"Mara" is a simple triangular shawl, knit from the top down. It is a free pattern from Madelinetosh. The simplicity of the pleated border is the hallmark of this shawl. Though simple to knit, it is not for the faint of heart. I started the k1 p1 part of the border when I was 1/2 way through the yarn supply . Yes, that means the border is half the shawl. I did add some increasing on the side corners to make them longer and more fitting to the shoulders. Knit Picks Options needle points, one on each end of a long cable, were lifesavers. When I reached the k2 p2 part of the border, there were 550 stitches per row. "Wait until I finish this row," takes on a whole new meaning at this point.

There are more details on my Ravelry projects page. The colorway held my interest in this garter stitch extravaganza. This shawl will go in my shawl stash to be given away when someone needs it.

The photo of the completed shawl was taken in an unblocked state during one of the rare bits of sunshine we have had in recent months. Since the yarn is not 100% wool I probably won't block it. The only part that seemed a little lumpy was on the ends of the tails. A gentle burst of steam and a pat down might calm them a bit. I envision this shawl knitted in a tweedy gray or brown, similar to the shawls worn by the ladies of Cranford and Lark Rise. If you are fans of BBC productions, you know exactly what I am talking about. Cranford, Return to Cranford, and Lark Rise to Candleford (not related to the first two series mentioned) are high on my list of Netflix recommendations.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scroll Lace Scarf

When visiting my friend in Scotland last April I bought yarn at Old Maiden Aunt in West Kilbride. The color seen here was designed by Ysolda Teague and is called (you guessed it!) "Ysolda". It was a limited edition color and designed also for this project, The Scroll Lace Scarf. Note that the photos do not do the yarn justice. It is handpainted and has a lot more subtle tone variations. The pattern is the last one in Ysolda's latest book, Whimsical Little Knits 2.

The constructions method makes for very easy knitting. This was a 4 day project for me knitted Dec 22-Dec 25.

First you knit the lace border which is a simple pattern, one that I memorized quite quickly. Then you pick up the stitches along the top edge of the border and knit the stockinette part back and forth using short rows to shape it. The picot bind off adds a nice finishing touch. I do plan to knit this again but I'm going to use garter stitch instead of stockinette. That predictable roll of stockinette never rests, does it?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cute as a Bug in a Shrug

I had so much fun knitting up this little shrug from Interweave Knits. Notes are on my Ravelry Page. The yarn is Bernat Cottontots Country Red. Since the baby is the first girl in a family of 3 boys, pink HAD to be the color. You can't get enough pink in this situation. I aimed for a 6 month to newborn size. Shrugs seem to be very forgiving for sizing.

The cap was my Christmas Eve car knitting project. I used a basic cap pattern and added holes for threading the I-Cord. Because I love the combination of pink and brown I ran a running stitch of brown through the cap just to give it a little zing.

The gift bag is my first attempt at making a name label using iron-on fabric bonding. I used an extra fine Sharpie marker for writing on the fabric. The tutorial on Rachel Griffith's blog p.s. I quilt gave me the inspiration and know-how. I got a little fancy with the heart shape and making a background with another fabric.
This little gal couldn't be cuter. I hope she and her mama enjoy the shrug and cap--and the menfolk too!

Damson is another word for Happy

This is my second Damson and both are knitted with Malabrigo Sock Yarn. The color of this yarn is called "Mossy Green" but it is so dark it really looks black. In certain light the green shows but only just hint of it.

Ysolda Teague is the designer of Damson. The shawlette, which is the new term for these small shawls, is started at the center top back with an ingenious method. By the time you get to the outer rows you have quite a few stitches on the needle. I particularly love the scalloped bind off. It is great fun to knit and it looks good too. Damson is a project you will wear for a long time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Just a couple more bag ideas

I made two larger holiday gift bags with fabric I purchased at huge discount. It was less than $3 a yard.

On the casings I played around with the fancy stitches on my Singer Simple machine. Those puppies use up a lot of thread. I don't like changing bobbins, so I doubt I will use these very often. I got it out of my system.
I think I will write the year in one of those light green polka dots.

Here's another idea. Make a fabric or paper label for the bag that will stay with the bag over the years. Write the recipient's name, date, and the gift on the tag. Wouldn't it be fun to have a whole list of names and years to look back on? What if your gift bags last for 50 or more Christmases? Ask children to write their own names and the date. It would be fun to see how their handwriting changes over the years.

After making these two bags I realized they look a lot like pillowcases. So why not purchase pillowcases on sale? I was stuck in Ohio in the snow before my meeting last week and ended up spending some time shopping at Kohl's. I found sets of sheets for around $22.00 (70% off). That's Queen Size, too: two pillowcases, bottom sheet, and top sheet. That is two ready-made bags plus lots of yardage to cut up for bags. The problem is that I've grown so fond of the sheets that I now want to put them on one of the guest beds next Christmas. Sigh.
The next post will be about Christmas knitting. I promise. I have finished quite a few projects.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gift Bag Tutorial for your Knitting

My pile of fabric gift/project bags is growing. I'm making up a little stash of them while I have my sewing supplies out.

The first part of tutorial is my super-simple, one seam bag. Then I will give you variations to finish it off in different ways. I am no great seamstress and I'm aiming this for non-sewers. Just so you know. This is what I learned from one book and The School of You-Tube. (Thanks!) My version is a blending of these.

To make this bag, buy a fat quarter at a quilt shop or fabric store. I washed this batch but sometimes I don't do that. If you wash it you will have to trim up the sides. Make sure it is somewhat square.

This fabric piece measured about 10" x 12" folded. I used about 2 and 1/4 inches for the casing. A casing for the drawstring is optional.

Fold the fabric with right sides facing. Starting at the bottom edge at the folded corner, sew to the next corner. Stop treadle with needle in the fabric. Pivot 90 degrees and sew to top. You have stitched a large "L". You COULD at this point, trim the top of the bag with pinking shears and call it a day. (This part of the tutorial is original. No one else thought of stopping here. That's my big contribution to the sewing world. ;))Trim the inside corners as shown. Tie the top with a piece of yarn or ribbon like Santa does. This is a great project for a child.

But you don't want to do that, do you?You want a casing. A casing is a tube in which you can run a ribbon or yarn as a drawstring. The bag is still wrong side out. Fold over about 1/4" at top and press to inside. Fold over again 2 inches and press. You might want to put in a few pins but don't sew over the pins. You might break the needle.

Stitch along the fold to secure the bottom edge of the casing to the bag. Then mark a line 1.5" from top of bag and sew along this line.

With a seam ripper carefully cut the seam stitches between the two lines of stitching.

The first stitch is the hardest to cut. (It helps to lengthen the stitching on your machine when you sew this area but I usually forget.)

Turn the bag right side out. Looking pretty good, isn't it? Give it a little touch with the iron.

Thread a bodkin or pin a safety pin to your ribbon and thread it through the casing, coming out at the same place. Tie the ribbon ends together.

Now this next part is TOTALLY optional but if you want to square off
the bottom of the bag, turn inside out again and mark corners of bag as shown. About 1.5 to 2" is good for this size bag. Trim corner with pinking shears.

See what I mean? Pretty cute isn't it? And how do you like that gender friendly fabric?

Squaring off the bottom of the bag changes the size of the bag considerably. Here are two of the same size bag side by side for comparison. The square bottom version is on the right.

Now you have an excuse to buy all the cute fabric those quilters drool over. When you consider the hours we put into our handknits, another 10 minutes to make a bag that can be used many times is a small investment.

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