Saturday, January 27, 2007

All done ...

but the tucking in of ends .... and with a seamless sweater the only "sewing" is for the underarms ...

Here's a close-up of the yoke patterning.

I think I"ll call this one "September" ... the final days of green blending into the browns, golds and yellows of Fall. I knit this one using Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool in: daffodil, freesia, malt heather, nutmeg heather and cedar with just a touch of natural I had left over from another project. The colors blend so beautifully, don't they? I used a US 7 for the body (and a 3 for the ribbings).

Here's the swatch cap I did when I first started out. This swatch gives me an accurate gauge because it's knit in the round (just as I'll do for the sweater) and then the plain knitting is using the correct needles. Also, doing a swatch cap shows what the final pattern will look like "off paper". You'll notice the patterning is different -- I decided I didn't like the original patterning, so I recharted it. And here's the third benefit to a swatch cap -- I can donate it to the Dulaan Project or other charity knitting project....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Here's a really easy pattern

Here's a really easy, but cute, starter project that I designed a few years back for Lion Brand Yarns. They produced it as one of those freebie leaflets you see at the craft stores.

A Simple Starter Project --
Super-simple Beginner Backpack

This backpack is made all in garter stitch on size 10 needles using chunky yarn. It goes together quickly and looks great!

Materials: 2 skeins chunky yarn (such as Lion Brand "Jiffy"); size 10 needles; tapestry needle; homemade button (1") and bead (large enough hole to pull doubled drawstring cord thru) or purchased; 60 inches of knitted or purchased cording.

Backpack Base: Using size 10 needles, cast on 15 stitches. Knitting every row (garter stitch), work until you have 15 ridges on both sides (30 rows). Bind off.

Backpack Body: Cast on 25 stitches. Knitting every row, work 9 rows than place drawstring hole -- K2, yarn over (YO), K2tog. Work 9 more rows, work drawstring hole (make sure you're working on the same edge!). Continue in this way until you have 72 ridges done (144 rows) and 14 drawstring holes. Bind off.

Using big-eyed needle ("tapestry needle"), sew backpack body cast-on edge to cast-off edge. With drawstring holes at top, sew base to body tube -- ridge to ridge every 4 ridges, than 2 ridges from body to 5th ridge of base. Continue sewing tube to base by sewing to cast-on and cast-off edges of base just as you did the ridges -- until you have sewed tube all around base.

Backpack Flap: Using one of the size 10 needles, pick up 18 stitches (9 either side of back center seam) from top of body tube by inserting tip of needle from front to back into the edge stitch of the tube, wrap yarn around needle and "knit" stitch onto needle.

Garter stitch on 18 stitches for 5 ridges (10 rows) than begin to shape flap: k2 tog, work across to last 2, k2 tog -- every other row until 8 remain. Work buttonhole -- k2, k2tog, YO, k2tog, k2. Work 2 more rows on 7 stitches and bind off.

Make knitted cord by casting on 4 stitches and working until cord is 60" long -- or you can purchase a cord of similar color. Thread this cord, starting at the back center, in and out thru each drawstring hole. Thread both ends of drawstring thru large bead; tack ends of drawstring to two back corners of base. Sew button to front of backpack (pull drawstring and close flap -- mark where buttonhole falls and sew button there). Tuck in all loose ends and enjoy!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yoke Sweater -- almost there ....

Well, I've finally got all the pieces joined for my EZ Yoke Sweater -- I had to do the second sleeve AGAIN because I had forgotten to switch from the rib needle to the body needle (from a 3 to a 7 -- BIG difference in gauge!). And, yes, I had done this earlier on the body so I wasn't too pleased with myself for doing it yet AGAIN!

But, thanks to football playoffs -- boohoo Saints lost, YAY that the Colts won -- I got a lot knitted yesterday. So here's the sweater to date:

I've just got a few more yoke rows, than I get to do my first dec round (going from 240 to 180 will make the rows seem so SHORT!) and then the colorwork -- which always seems to go so fast. I spent Friday and Saturday morning choosing motifs and charting them in preparation for the moment when I get to stop the boring (but mindless) plain green and go to the colorwork.

The charts are a combination of charts from the wonderful resource 1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Luise Roberts. I like this book because the charts are done in color and it's easy to see the repeats. The only downside is that many of the really cool charts have more than 2 colors per row -- a no-no for a "traditional fair isle" sweater.

I have a software program from Knitting Software called Stitch and Motif Maker that makes charting very easy -- either in color or black/white with symbols. They have some great knitting software -- for designing sweaters, socks, whatever -- so you might want to check out that site anyway!

I'll post when I'm done with this sweater -- it's getting close now....

Friday, January 19, 2007

First FO ...

String Bean (my almost 7 yod) finished her first ever knitted project -- this lovely (I mean "cool") scarf that she gave to her brother for his 8th birthday. This was knit with one skein of Lion Brand's Thick n Quick wool-ease on US15s. You can that she started on the left (very loose and uneven) but she persevered and the right-hand side really is quite good. She's anxious to get started on her next project, knitting a scarf for WW2 veterans.

I think (and hope) she's caught the knitting bug!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Like I need yet another project ...

... but this one sounds so cool. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has started a new project called "Knit Your Bit". This project has folks from across the nation knitting scarves for WW2 veterans as a sign of appreciation for all that they did back in the 1940s.

I think this is a GREAT idea. Knitting during the war was a big part of the Homefront's effort to encourage our men and women "over there". In fact, String Bean and I just read about this in her Meet Molly book she got with her American Girl doll. So this is a great tie-in with our knitting unit and my encouragement of knitting for charitable causes.

Anyone want to join us? Scarves (and there is a simple pattern at their site if you want or you can make one of your own) need to be received by March 15, 2007. So get those needles clickin'!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Too busy visiting the frog pond to post

...yep, I'm in the midst of doing my best to knit a sweater for ME. Santa actually brought some beautiful Elann wool in shades of browns and yellows with a rich green for the background. I even did a cap swatch to ensure the colors blend well and to get a true, in the round, gauge.

My PLAN is to do an EZ fairisle sweater but with a henley style opening (the 3 buttons at the yoke) ... I started it once with a hem and didn't like that so .... rip it, rip it, rip it....

Then I re-started with a ribbed waistband (actually I think I'm going to make it long enough to have it sit on my hips) that uses the five background colors -- cream, yellow, gold, light brown, dark brown. I was going great guns, increased for the body using the green -- but FORGOT TO CHANGE THE NEEDLES ... this is a problem as I go 4 or 5 sizes down for the ribbing needles and so I was using 3s instead of 7s! A difference in gauge of 6.5 vs 4.25 per inch! So ... rip it, rip it, rip it ...

NOW, I think I finally have it back to working well ... I was able to get a few hours last night to do the mindless, all-one-color knitting that in the round is a blast becuase it's ALL knit without counting or changing colors or anything....

Keep your fingers crossed, though -- just in case!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Living Books and Living Knitting

Sometimes I like to combine something we're doing in our home school and something I want to knit.
Here's a great example of what I'm talking about. We're getting ready to send someone a "baby shower in a box" -- she doesn't live close enough to have the shower in person. Anyway, we thought a Jan Brett theme would be fun. Since the baby was born in the winter, we chose The Hat. Here's the Christmas stocking and hat I designed from Brett's illustrations (Kotch helped me chart the hat): Pretty cool, huh?

Swatches for TNNA

As a hand-knits designer, I am a card-carrying member of a really cool guild named Association of Knitwear Designers. We all help each build the design profession as well as encouraging those in the yarn and knit publications industries to purchase our lovely designs.

One way we get our name out to those who should know us is by submitting swatches for the semi-annual convention of the trade association, The National Needlework Association (TNNA). They have a convention in January in San Diego and one in June in Columbus (Ohio). The swatches AKD members produce are then placed on the Great Wall of Yarn as way to advertise the yarn as well as the designers' talents.

For the January 2007 convention, I created seven swatches from some absolutely luscious sample skeins:

1. Silk purse made from GGH's "TajMahal" is a gorgeous rusty orange -- 100% silk and a dream to knit!

2. Baby cap made from Kraemer Yarn's "Vingtage 2006" -- a 100% alpaca yarn that I knit with thistle panels.

3. A traveling cable stitch called "dancers" makes this 50% silk/50% wool blend yarn from Lorna's Laces really look nice! The yarn, "Lion & Lamb" is soft but holds a texture pattern nicely.

4. Misti International has a lovely 100% baby alpaca yarn called "Misti Alpaca". Using a US#7, I have swatched a sample that could eventually become a lovely, soft, cozy shawl.

5. Another baby cap, this one uses a small traveling stitch panel and Skacel's "Sojabama" -- a blend of 55% bamboo and 45% soy. This picture doesn't do justice to the soft, cozy feel of this yarn!

6. Twinkle Handknits has a gorgeous 70% silk/30% cotton blend yarn that holds a texture pattern brilliantly. Here I've knit a cable/garter stitch medley called "Jacob's Ladder" -- this would make an elegant spring/summer knitted top.

7. Last, but certainly not least, this swatch is probably my favorite of all. Woolyarns, a New Zealand company, has a line of yarns called "Zealand" -- this is a black (which is why it didn't photo too well) yarn with that is a merino and cashmere blend. The softness of this one is unbelievable, especially if you see how well it takes a cable pattern -- this one is called horseshoe. Isn't it lovely?

I love helping with the Great Wall of Yarn -- I don't get paid for doing these swatches, but I do get to play with yarns I'd never be able to afford to play with; I can see all the latest colors, fibers, and just have a month or so of satisfying my fiber fetish.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Happiest of New Years to you all -- you are all in my thoughts and prayers tonight, and every night of this new year!

(I'm pretty upbeat considering I just had to rip-it, rip-it after 2 hours of knitting -- I realized that I was doing a red snowflake on a cream background, rather than a cream snowflake on a red background. Such are the challenges for us hand-knit designers!