Archive for March, 2012

Some friends are expecting their first baby this spring.  I had already made a baby hat, but haven’t given it to them yet.  My husband heard the mother-to-be talking about a handknit baby blanket which her grandmother made years ago, and how much she wished she had more like it (with a lament about how people don’t ‘do that anymore’ I believe) he made a point of steering my knitting in that direction.  Since I’ve just finished the Mantis it was time to buy yarn anyway, so that’s the next project.


I rarely work the same pattern more than once, but on occasion I come back to something.  I’ve crochetted two or three of Betty Saxon and Luana Nelson’s Dragon, all but one pre-ravelry days. I will quite possibly come back this critter. (I think my Mother-in-Law might need one).

I made Knitty’s version of the Hoover Blanket, doll sized, two and a half years ago, using Lion Brand Homespun.  It was a doll blanket for my niece.  I liked it, but didn’t find it particularly interesting to knit, and I wasn’t happy with the yarn choice.  Homespun is a fun yarn.  I love the softness, the interest, and the price, but it’s a bit overwhelming for some projects.

So it’s the Hoover again. This time in sport weight yarn, in baby-pale colors.

I got a gauge of 22 st/4″, so I cast on 121.  17st for the border left 87 to double knit.  I opted for three blocks of 29 stitches, which I will pattern in various pastel ways.  Five rows of blocks ought to do it, I think.   We’ll see how fast I can work this baby up…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Bernat Mosaic giveaway.  That’s OK, because I entered the Knit a While giveaway for “Knitting With the Color Guys” by Kaffe Fasset (deadline April 6), and the Lion Brand ‘most meaningful handmade gift‘ contest (April 16)

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Mom’s Mantis


He’s not quite stable enough to stand on his hind four legs, but he’s pretty cute nonetheless.

Celeena Cree Creations

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Celeena Cree Creations is offering a free pattern to social networkers who post about her etsy shop, she’s also giving free patterns away with any purchase.  Here’s my take on it, if you decide to follow suit, be sure to contact her through her shop or on Ravelry, where she’s known as SwitchCleo.

Here’s a sample of her knitted creations, this adorable little alien just sort of calls out to sit on your keyboard, doesn’t he?  She’s got a bunch of these little guys, as well as some really nice beadwork earrings.  She has a lot of bead earrings up as well.  The rainbow turtle in particular is jaunty and fun.

Her prices are very reasonable, everything I saw was under $10 US, and many items are less than $5.  Please check it out.

Yarn Lover’s Bumper Sticker

Some of you may recall that I won the drawing for a yarn themed bumper sticker from Diary of a Smart Chick:

She sent me two copies of this sticker, one of which has a home somewhere much more interesting than the back of my car:

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win a pattern from Classic Cable Knits from Small Things. I did enter the Goodknits yarn giveaway (April 2) and the  Yarn Madness giveaway (deadline April 10) – the entry involves posting a picture of the prize choices, so here it is:

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Book Review

I received a copy of Barbara Albright’s “The Natural Knitter” for my birthday. It was an impulse gift.  According to my daughter, my husband flipped through it, found a really complicated looking chart, and declared that it was the right one for me.

Don’t let that put you off, though,  there’s a lot more to the book than patterns which challenge.

What I Love About It

The book is really meant for people who are interested in natural fiber of all sorts.  My favorite thing about the book is the brief bit of background, history, and discussion of a wide range of fibers, animal and plant derived, as well as naturally sourced dyes.

The book also has a nice discussion of organic fibers, including all the different terms and how each differs from the other (as ‘organic’ means a whole range of different things when it comes to yarns).   The style is fairly informal, but not overly chatty.  There are a couple of charts, where they are useful, and lots and lots of sidebars.

Qivuit Cardigan Chart

...a small part of the complicated chart which told my husband the book was right for me...

The Patterns

Of course, this book is mostly about the patterns.  As mentioned above, there are some (like the Qivuit Twinset, charted to the right) which are impressively complex, but others are much easier.  I think the “Flirty Ruffle Edged Scarf” would be an excellent project for anyone who has mastered knit and purl, and is ready to venture to the challenge of increases and decreases.

The patterns are by a range of designers, and there is as wide a range of styles as there is of difficulty level.  There are patterns for men, women and children, and I even found a few my husband might be willing to wear.

What I Didn’t Love

My only objection to the book was the limited range of sizes for the clothes.  Not too much there for the plus sized body (though there is some), and many of the patterns lack options for the extra small body as well.  I think I could size up the patterns I’m most interested in, but it’s something to be aware of.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win either of the Phat Fiber giveaways this week, (the Wandering Wool sock yarn or the drop spindle), but there next giveaway is really different, a slot in a spin-along/knit-along (and the material to use for it) (April 2).  I also entered a drawing for a skein of Anzula’s Squishy at Windy and Friends (28 March)

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Here’s some more detail on the assembly of mantis limbs.  The first trick was to work the ‘chenille stems’, i.e. pipe cleaners, down to the very tip of the whip stitched end.  This was a bit tricky, and would have been much more frustrating if I didn’t have a pair of needle nosed pliers on hand.  The jewelry making tool set I have served me in good stead here.

I probably could have gotten away with just the pipe cleaners, but since I already had the 16 gauge copper wire, which I had used on the legs before, I added that as well.  This makes the pincers as strong as the legs are.  I’m planning to use the wire (but not the pipe cleaners) as a backbone for the body as well.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Ravelry book giveaway, and Cincinnati has guaranteed that I can’t win the March Madknits yarn giveaway.  On the other hand, I joined the Simply Sockupied Yarn Giveaway from knitting daily (30 March), and the Fandom Yarn giveaway from bluetooth toaster (8 April), and a pattern from Classic Cable Knits (26 March)

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I haven’t wound the brown skein of Cascade 220 into a ball for the Mantis yet.  Instead I’ve been merrily knitting away on the green bits.  Click on the picture at left for a (much) larger image, showing the stitch texture and the sheen of the yarn.

I’m currently ‘stuffing’ the legs, which means whip stitching them closed over both chenille stems and the 16 gauge copper wire I mentioned before.  I’m liking the results both for texture and stability, and holding the two together while I stitch is much easier than trying to ‘thread’ them through the finished legs would be. The same method would probably work really well for flower stems, should I ever be so inclined.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

Didn’t win the Patons Divine. I entered A Year at the Wheel’s March Giveaway (31 March) for a couple of skeins of Knitpicks Suri Dream.  She’s also got fiber up for grabs, but I’m so slow at spinning…  I also signed up for another Phat Fiber giveaway, this one for Wandering Wool sock yarn. (26 March) Not a blog contest, but Celeena Cree Creations Etsy story is giving away free patterns to people who blog about their store.

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After reading through the Ravelry notes, I’ve picked up some 16 gauge copper wire for my mantis.  I also got a set of beading pliers and cutters and some stretchy beading cord.  I decided not to get the aluminum or silicone jump rings this time.  I’m holding off on another row counter until I can get hold of number beads, but one is in the future I do believe.

Past Projects

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Where’s George I had been having a little bit of trouble with the currency tracking project.  I invested in a couple more stamps, and got some less beaten up bills, and it’s going much better now.  At least, it’s going better when judged by the clarity of my stamps.  I’m still not getting a great record for actually tracking currency.

In Other Blogs

Vanessa has posted about an awesome Oriole FO, and how hard it can be to accept compliments.  In Cast-On, Brenda brought my attention to the Government Free VJJ Campaign. This led to some interesting conversation with DD#2, who is a bit of a prude at times.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

No news on the  Countess Ablaze yarn drawing yet.  The name the button contest has been extended until the 22nd.  I’ve entered the Ravelry library tour giveaway for 25 books (22 March deadline), and I’ve filled out my bracket for the March Madknits giveaway, and now that play has started I can say with some confidence that I’ve found my place in the middle of the pack.  I’ve also entered the All Free Crochet Bernat Mosiac giveaway (deadline March 28) as well as Truly Myrtle’s  homemade handbag giveaway. (March 23) and Phat Fiber’s Dawning Dreams spindle giveaway (March 26)

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I had so much fun making the hermit crab for my friend Colleen that I just had to play around with a couple more of these little guys.   So now that he’s done there are a couple more knit amigurumi in the pipeline.  So I suppose it’s time to do a book review.

The Book

The source book for these little guys is “Amigurumi Knits” by Hansi Singh.  As I said before, these projects are all skill enhancing, they work on middling small needles with worsted weight yarn, and there’s plenty of fiddly bits involved. There are lots of different processes covered here, in a great deal of detail.  As I mentionGutsy Wormed before, there is only one type of short rows detailed, and no description of kitchener for ribs, but that’s actually a pretty minor issue.

All of the patterns are written for smooth yarns in worsted weight, but it’s not actually that hard to use something with a little bit more interest to it.  Here is my go at the Earthworm, which I knit up in two days using some of my own (rather primitive) handspun yarn.  I think he turned out just fine, although he’s definitely more ‘fuzzy’ than slimy looking.   I’m giving him to my mother for her birthday.

The earthworm is one of the easier patterns in the book, it being a straightforward matter of short rows and grafting.  The hermit crab, which also involves picked up stitches, ‘chenille stems’ and sewing several parts together is labeled as being more challenging.  It was certainly more time consuming, but doable.  I’ve just started my third knitted amigurumi project, the praying mantis, which is listed as the most difficult project of the three.  We’ll see how he comes along.

I’d recommend this book for the adventurous knitter who wants to focus on small projects and who thinks that realistic, multi legged (or leggless) critters can be beautiful (or at least cute) too.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered a drawing for 3 skeins of Patons Divine Yarn from All Free Crochet Afghan Patterns. (20 March)  One for the Munchkinland Socks pattern and skein – believe me, the pattern is every bit as exciting as the sock yarn.  I also joined a name the button contest at Nichols Buttons (deadline 18 March)

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Yarn U iPhone App

iPod Application Review

In the interest of full disclosure,  I was given a free download code to download this app for review purposes, but apparently mangled it, because I ended up being charged the $2.99 anyway.  I don’t think this affects my ability to deliver the review, but it did make me feel a bit stupid.  😦  I have the iPhone/iPod version, and am using it on my daughter’s iPod Touch (which is several years old).

What Yarn U Is

This app is basically a database of yarn manufacturers.  It includes a list of yarn brands, and partial lists of their yarns.  It includes the basic statistics on the yarns, photographs and comments on the various yarns from other Yarn U users, as well as a map showing where the yarn manufacturers are located.

What it is Good For?

Let’s face it, most of us check out new yarns on Ravelry.  Why would we want a dedicated app for that?  Well, right off the bat(t), I find it awkward to get online and surf on the go.  It’s nice to have an actually portable database, with some idea of pros and cons, user comments, and MSRP if you happen to find yourself in a yarn shop without time to do homework ahead of time.  Note that every yarn has pros and cons listed, so that may be more information than you could find on a specific yarn on Ravelry (unless you posted to the forums asking for opinions). It’s also nice to be able to see what yarns are manufactured locally (not many, as it turns out).

Where Could it Use Improvement

The price is probably a bit high, and the database could use more entries.  On the other hand, she’s putting out frequent updates and revisions, so the second problem is getting better all the time, and it won’t be too long before it’s value catches up to the price tag.    The more often you buy commercial yarns the more use you would get out of this app.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I’ve entered a Buffalo Shawl design contest at the Musk Ox – Qiviut blog.   (April 30 deadline) – the prize is… the yarn to make the shawl and bragging rights as the publish your pattern.  So don’t go sending your master pattern…  🙂  I also entered a giveaway for a skein from Countess Ablaze (March 18).

I didn’t win the Crafty Hare gift basket, the Knit and Seek Tosh Merino Light, or either of the Phat Fiber giveaways this time around.  I did win the Diary of a Smart Chick bumper sticker giveaway – I’m looking forward to getting this.

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The Portable WIP

Last post was devoted to Wonton, the sit and think project. As per usual, I also have a less brain intensive project going…

First Repeat Almost Done

Stockinette and dropped stitches

This is my Les Miserables shawl (the Ravelry project is named “Miserable Maiden Aunt” because of the yarn I’m using for it).  Most of the finished projects I’ve seen for this pattern have used solid yarns, but I really think it calls out for the variation.  I might randomize the dropped stitches a little bit too for a more tattered look.  12 repeats of 54 stitches, then felted.  Whee!

The KIPping experience

This has been my car-and-waiting room project recently.  I’ve been getting a lot of comments and queries on it.  So far, none of them have been ‘is that crochet’? which tends to be the most common KIP response in general.  Crocheting in public gets (you guessed it) ‘are you knitting?’  Honestly, it’s to the point where I’m pleasantly surprised when someone gets it right.

Have I been tempted to snark when it happens?  No, not really.  I guess the yarn in hand lowers the blood pressure to the point where I’m pre-mellowed.  It’s just a friendly experience, and I generally respond with a smile (as opposed to laughing in someone’s face), well, sometimes I may chuckle.

It’s not very common that I come across someone else KIPping, though.  Recently ran into a woman at a coffee shop struggling with a new cast on.  I might have been able to walk on by, but she was using such yummy chunky yarn – it turned out to be pure roving, and we’re not talking pencil lead width roving, I just had to say ‘Hi’ and see if I knew the CO she was trying (I didn’t).  Her children showed up and had that ‘oh no, not again’ look on their faces because here was Mommy, talking about knitting again.

Search Term Observation

I was thrilled to see that someone found this blog by searching for “crochet beholder”, and disappointed on the searcher’s behalf that there is not, in fact, a pattern for such here. I assume that the searcher was looking for an amigurumi version of the the D&D monster first published in the original Greyhawk by Gygax and Kuntz. I may put one up sometime, but there are already several of them out there.  A quick Ravelry search revealed these three, reproduced here in case the searcher is not a Ravelry member:

They are all pretty awesome.

Success in Searching

If the above searcher was in fact looking for my Pokeball Tea Cozy she could now find it listed at Crochet Pattern Central!  Thanks for the link, guys. I can see my hits going up already (on that one page in any case)  🙂

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I did not win the skein of handspun from Wool and Cotton,  I did put in for a Phat Fiber drawing for undyed local wool (results probably on Friday).  I’ve also joined the March Madknits NCAA tournament pool – for yarn! I passed on the Addison’s Yarn Giveaway (closes March 14) because I don’t love the color, but other people do. You might, in fact, so check it out!

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My Sister-in-Law and her new husband gave me a gift certificate to JoAnn’s this past Christmas.  I already knew that they only sold yarn-ball-winders online, so I decided to see what else they carry that isn’t available in their brick-and-mortar store. I discovered that they sell a lot of books which are definitely worth checking out.  I fell in love with Hansi Singh’s Amigurumi Knits, and apparently so did Comet –

The cat used it as a pillow, along with the WIP

Apparently the book is as cuddly as the project

The book has a “top 10 list” of reasons to love Amigurumi knitting. #4 is that it “helps you become a precise, highly adept knitter”. This seems to be the case, as I’ve never been much for Kitchener before, but look at this seam –

The seam really does look like another row of stitches here.

I impressed myself with my awesome grafting skillz

Now that the shell is done I’ve started on the chelipods (claws), which use a lot of short row shaping.  I did the first one as written, but since I’m knitting with two different yarns (Wendy Aran with Wool and Filatura di Crosa Baby Pom Pom) held together this got a bit tricky.  So for the second claw I used a yarn over short row method, which I like doing a bit better but is still a bit awkward and I don’t think the results are as polished.

YOs to mark short rows

Here is a sample before closing the gaps. The novelty yarn makes short rows a particular challenge.

I’d like to try the Japanese short row method next, but I don’t know if I have enough split ring stitch markers on hand…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Phat Fiber yarn giveaway, but that’s OK, as I put in for this week’s Sample Box giveaway. I entered Yarn Lover’s bumper sticker giveaway (7 March)

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