Saturday, July 16, 2016

It's In the Bag

I'm pretty sure I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had subscribed to Jimmy Beans Wool's Big Beanie Bag.  It's a once per month bag of goodies that includes a pattern along with yarn to make it, and some nice little notions like Heel foot cream, Clover darning needles, Lo Lo Cuticle Intensive and others.  It's like a happy little surprise that shows up once a month at my door and it currently serves two purposes - 1) I tend to forget to include accessories in my regular knitting which is the main staple of the bags, and 2) it keeps me from binge spending (so far) on massive amounts of yarn to feed the stash (The Husband should rejoice - I'm trying to knit my stash down).  I've gotten two of them to date and have finished projects to show from both.  You can choose warm colors, cool colors, or neutral colors.  I chose neutral.

The first bag, which is the one I previously posted a picture of, included four shades of Rowan SoftYak DK and a pattern for wrist warmers.  

I modified the pattern a bit because it called for the thumb increases right after the beginning of the round and I thought it would be best to offset them so that I could hide the round on the underside of the warmers.  I used the little trick to hide the offset stitch for the color change that I found online, but a knitter can still tell where the rounds begin.  Plus, seeing as how I hate weaving in ends, I managed to carry the yarns up the "seam" of the warmers by alternating which color I "caught" at the beginning of every two rounds or so.  Yay me!  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out and the yarn is an absolute dream.  Soft and beautiful.  I need something else out of this stuff.  Um...that is, after I've knitted down my stash a bit.  

The second bag contained another four colors of different yarns* and a pattern for a cowl.  The pattern seemed to have issues from the posts I read on the Big Beanie Bag discussion group on Ravelry and I really wasn't very keen on it anyway, so I searched through my Barbara Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns and found a four-color pattern that I liked that fit with the original pattern's 95 stitch cast on.  I'm pretty keen on the result:

Four-Color Fancy Pattern, page 59

The only thing I'd do differently is that I'd increase the cast on by a few stitches.  It's a snug fit over the head (although I do have a rather large beaner).  But it does fit and if and when the weather gets cool here in South Mississippi I'll be wearing it proudly.

Never mind that it was 90+ degrees when I put this on.
And whose old lady chin is that??

Speaking of South Mississippi weather, while I love that I never have to shovel snow or drive on ice-covered roads down here, there are moments when I really want to move back to the north in order to take advantage of the cold weather and knit all things wooly.  Is that weird, do you think?


PS - Will post pictures of my granddaughter in the dress I knit from my last post soon!

*Yarns used were:  Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine, HiKoo Kenzie, Berroco Maya, and Plymouth Mushishi.  Liked them all.

Monday, July 4, 2016

How to Knit a Birthday Gift with Finesse and Style - In 45 Easy Steps

In celebration of my granddaughter’s first birthday, I decided to share with you today the highly technical and skilled steps required to make the birthday goodies I sent up for her party:

  1. Cast on for dress pattern, then realize the cute picot edging was done by seaming. 
  2. In a fit of rebellion, rip out the cast on and choose a provisional cast on for the picot edging instead. 
  3. Feel really smart about getting out of seaming the hems.
  4. Blast through knitting all pieces of the dress - back, front, two sleeves.
  5. Block pieces.
  6. Realize pattern does not include any real information on how to create the smocking effect on the bodice.
  7. Google “smocking hand knits” and find only one semi-useful article
  8. Attempt smocking, then realize that something is terribly wrong because your bodice doesn’t look anything like the pictures on the pattern page.
  9. Read over notes from other Ravelry users who made this pattern.
  10. Feel like an idiot as it slowly dawns on you that there is an error in the pattern which would have been very clear and avoided if you’d glanced over these project pages before beginning.
  11. Curse yourself and the pattern writer until you realize the pattern was free.  Then curse just yourself.
  12. Make yourself feel better by casting on and finishing a hat.
  13. Rip back entire bodice and reknit correctly.
  14. Re-block front.
  15. Stare blankly at above mentioned article, then at dress bodice, then back at article. 
  16. Try and pinpoint the moment when you lost the ability to understand English and make sense out of a perfectly logical diagram.
  17. Appeal to your knitting friends on Facebook, revealing to them your newfound inability to see the obvious.
  18. Be thankful they don’t judge.
  19. Make a trip to your LYS for moral support.
  20. Do a happy dance when the lightbulb finally kicks on.
  21. Finish smocking and steam block bodice.
  22. Remember that you hate seaming, especially sleeves.  Procrastinate using the excuse, “I have to make sure it is really dry before I try to seam it.” 
  23. Feel a little bad for lying to yourself, noting the birthday party date is rapidly approaching.
  24. Calculate time to ship using 2 to 3 day Priority Mail.  Lie to yourself again about when you’ll be finished and ready to ship.
  25. Seam dress and knit on neckline - garter stitch rounds - piece of cake (no pun intended).
  26. Realize you cast off too tightly on neckline. 
  27. Lie to yourself again by planning to pull out just the cast off and reknit using a stretchier method.
  28. Admit to self halfway through using the stretchier method, you don’t have enough yarn because you’ve already cut it.
  29. Decide to pull back entire neckline and reknit.  Need to be careful because some stitches were picked up and some were live stitches, but again…garter stitch rounds - piece of cake.
  30. Get back to last row of picked up and live stitches and DROP a live stitch on the bodice.
  31. In less than 30 seconds:
    - allow dropped stitch to ripple down three rows
    - realize what happened
    - spend a moment in disbelief
    - grasp for a stitch holder as your eyes well up
    - gasp for air as if someone punched you in the gut
    - hate yourself
  32. Throw a huge fit that the neighbors can probably hear while your husband wonders why you enjoy knitting and says something completely inappropriate which makes things worse.
  33. Throw a flip flop at your husband.
  34. After five minutes of your hissy, sink down into the sofa as a sobbing mess.
  35. Be grateful your husband didn’t call the men in white coats.
  36. Sit down with the now ruined dress, sure that you cannot fix it.
  37. Fix the dress.
  38. Cast off appropriately.
  39. Steam block one last time.
  40. Take some aspirin.
  41. Go to bed and wonder when exactly you lost your mind and if it’s hereditary.  Worry about passing it on to your granddaughter.
  42. Package up dress and hat and realize you’ll have to overnight it.
  43. Drop package at post office after work, paying just slightly less for shipping than all of the materials combined cost you.
  44. Go home and lie down.
  45. Wonder what you’ll knit next. 

Pictures to come.