December 31, 2009

2009 Project Recap

There are a few of my favorite knitting projects from 2009. Some are still WIP and will extend into 2010. I have SO many projects I want to start, but I will try my best to finish some first!

I feel like I've improved as a knitter in 2009. I did more lace work, beginning with Elizabeth Zimmermann's February baby sweater (hats & sweaters), started on a leafy lace cardigan, made a few sweaters as gifts, and finally started cables in December on a vest for my mom. I've discovered that I really don't like seaming so raglan is the way to go for now. Maybe I won't mind it a few years from now!

I haven't been posting any in-progress photos because I didn't want to ruin holiday surprises for the people receiving knitting items for Christmas. Now that everyone has gotten their gifts, I will be posting more photos in 2010 :)

Happy new year & happy knitting!

October 13, 2009

Dewey Cable Pullover in Progress

I've been working on this baby sweater pattern from Vintage Baby Knits for a while now. The Dewey Cabled Pullover was adapted from a vintage 1941 pattern, with a boatneck, 3/4 sleeves, and classy cable detailing, I decided to make one for myself. Instead of knitting it in baby-scale, I decided to use larger needles and worsted weight yarn to make this sweater. I'm using KnitPicks' Shine Worsted in color Green Apple, one of my favorite colors. I'm about 3/4 done on the body, then I've got the sleeves to go. I think this will be a great top for Fall, and I can definitely wear it with jeans or work trousers. I can't wait to finish!

This will probably be the last knitting project I'm doing for myself this year - I have got to start knitting for the holidays!

September 6, 2009

Vintage Knitting

A generous friend (Hi Barbara!) shared some of her thrifted goodies with me - vintage knitting pattern books. I have been pouring over them and marveling at the wonderful photos such as the one above. The whales on the wall are the best! I haven't had a chance to study the actual patterns just yet, but I have a feeling I'm still too much of a novice to give them a try. I'll just enjoy the photos for now.

September 4, 2009

St. James Completed

This is my 2nd knitting project for the summer, St. James by Tonya Wagner at MetaPostModern Knitting. It's a really lovely fit that reminds me of vintage sweaters from the 60s. Plus I just had to knit it because I love anything with a bow.

I used Cascade 220 Wool in color Summer Sky, purchased at Webs/ when they had their Anniversary sale back in April. It's a very versatile yarn that knits up nicely and comes in so many delicious colors. I only find it slightly itchy but I'm sure I'll get over it once Fall comes around and I'll look super cute in this sweater, haha.

I don't like to pick up stitches, so I used the tip on Ravelry and cast-on the whole thing at once, using size 7 needles for the tie, then after an inch of seed stitch, bind off until there's enough for the neck and knitted down from there on sz 8s. It's a raglan-style top so no seaming is required, yay! I also changed the row count for the waist-shaping decreases in the side seams because I'm not a very curvy gal - instead of every 4 rows, I did a more gradual decrease at every 5 rows and did one less decrease. I followed the instructions for the hip increases.

I'm really happy with how it turned out - it was a good project to sit in front of the telly with and a pretty fast knit. I only used 2.5 skeins of the Cascade 220. This project was great, I want to make a few more.

Such a pretty and classy design!

August 9, 2009

Lace Stitch Cardigan Completed

The Lace Stitch Cardigan is finally finished. Hooray!

I finished the cardigan last weekend but haven't had time to properly block it (shape it into place) until yesterday. I love my new blocking mats from KnitPicks. I had considered purchasing blocking boards, but they are much more expensive and take up a lot of space. The KnitPicks mats come in 12"x12" squares and store nicely in my craft room.

Now I just have to wait until Christmas to give it to my Mom-in-law. I hope she'll like it!

July 29, 2009

Lace Stitch Cardigan in Progress

Everyone who knows me knows that I adore vintage styles. If I could, I would love to travel back in time to the early 1960s when fashion was classy - with simple lines, sleek silhouettes, and fit that flatters every figure. Whenever I go thrifting, I often go through old books and magazines in hopes of finding old knitting and sewing patterns. One of my most recent favorite finds is this 1963 knitting pattern booklet by Spinnerin:

Isn't that fantastic? That might as well be Betty and Sally Draper from Mad Men (if you're not watching, you're totally missing out on one of the best TV shows ever - Season 3 premieres Sunday, August 16th)!

And yes, I got it for one whole dollar.

This booklet has many great patterns that are perfect for an advanced beginner, and all garments are raglan style, so there is no seaming involved (yay!). I decided to try one of the cardigans patterns to make as a gift for my Mom-in-Law.

So. Adorable.

I started a little over a month ago and now I'm down to the last sleeve, then it's button bands, block, sew on buttons, and voila! Here is a quick progress photo from a few weeks ago:

20090620 cardi, take two

I am liking it so much I almost want to keep it for myself =)

May 16, 2009

Vintage Baby Knits

I love vintage-style knitting and often come across vintage patterns when I go thrifting and flea-marketing. Imagine my excitement when I read about a new book that's all about vintage baby knits!

Vintage Baby Knits is a charming treasury of more than 40 contemporary updates of timeless baby patterns. Author and longtime knitter Kristen Rengren amassed hundreds of knitting pattern booklets from 1920 through 1960 while working as a vintage clothing dealer, combing through estate sales and eBay listings. What a wonderful idea it was to update these classic patterns for the modern knitter!

One look at the beautiful photos and I was in love. As someone who loves knitting for babies, I can't wait to get my hands on the book and start some new baby knit projects for my friends and their little ones!

April 26, 2009

Tutorial: How to Purl English

The purl stitch is just as important as the knit stitch - you can't do one without the other. I know a lot of beginning knitters who get confused and frustrated when it comes to purl stitches - I actually learned how to purl before the knit, and I find it just as easy. Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make a purl stitch, English style. You'll get the hang of it with a few tries.

 First, take your nicely cast-on work in your left hand and pick up the ball-end yarn with your right hand. Then take the right-hand needle and slip it into the first loop, right to left, bottom to top (Figure A).

April 18, 2009

Tutorial: How to Knit English

I am an English knitter. No, it doesn't mean I have tea with cream and scones when I knit. ;) it just means the way I knit, which uses my right hand to wrap the yarn around the needles, is called the English method. The other popular method is called Continental, which I will cover at another time. Most beginners will find out which they prefer soon after starting their first knitting project. As a personal observation, right-handed people usually knit in English and left-handed people in Continental, but it should be whichever you feel most comfortable with.

 Take your nicely cast-on work in your left hand and pick up the ball-end yarn with your right hand (Figure A).

April 4, 2009

Joy of Yarn-Winding

As you can see, I am now the proud owner of a DIY yarn swift thanks to my very handy husband B. :)

For years, I had been shying away from buying beautiful hanks of yarn because I did not own a ball winder or a swift. I always thought buying balls of yarn would be enough, and that hanks are for "hardcore knitters" who consider knitting as much more than just a hobby. Well, years later, I find myself admiring lovely hanks of yarn and wishing I had a winder and swift to make them into balls. Hmm, does this mean I am slowly becoming a hardcore knitter? :)

I bought a ball winder from KnitPicks at a great price a few weeks ago, and I started doing some research on yarn swifts as well. There's the umbrella (most expensive) style, the ferris-wheel style, the pinwheel style, and a few others. The umbrella style is the best looking, and the kind they usually have at yarn shops - they retail anywhere from $50 (on sale) to $100 (Scandinavian-made, really nice quality wood). I showed them to B and he thought it would be possible to make the pinwheel style for a fraction of the cost, so why not?

We found a really cool tutorial by Craft Diversions, and after 2 weekends I finally have a working swift! I tried it out for the first time this morning and was able to wind up a hank of Cascade 220 wool into 2 balls of yarn. Success!

March 29, 2009

Leafy Lace Cardi

Well, here goes nothing.

This project officially marks my entry into knitting non-raglan style garments. I haven't really felt confident enough to try it because basically, it is much like sewing, where you have several pieces that you construct together by stitching them at the seams. I'm terrible at hand-seaming, but I thought I should just try it just to see what happens.

So far, I am totally loving the yarn I'm using - Optimum DK by South West Trading Company in color Desert. I bought six balls on sale when I went to Unwind in Burbank with my dolly friends Paula and Clarissa. The yarn has been discontinued, so I hope I have enough for the project! If not, I'll have to track some down via Ravelry.

The lace part is going well - after doing four inches of 1x1 ribbing on sz 2 needles it was good to dive right in. The pattern is well-written and I love the leaf shapes! After doing three repeats, I realize that I need to loosen up my stitches because the lace part doesn't look as nice and even as I'd like (I know I always tend to knit too tight), but hopefully it will open up when I block the pieces into shape.

:: :: ::

The Leafy Lace Cardi pattern is available for free via Craftster.

March 27, 2009

Tutorial: How-to Cast On

After you learn how to make a slip knot, you will need to know how to cast-on. It takes a little bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to do it with your eyes closed.

This method of casting on is called the Long-tail Cast-On. It's the first type I learned and I find it really fast and easy to do, especially for beginners. So when you make your slip knot, be sure to leave a tail end that is at least three times the width of the item you want to knit. For example, if you are knitting a scarf that is six-inches wide, you'll want to have a tail that is at least eighteen-inches long.

Got your slip knot ready? Let's cast-on.

Hold the needle with the slip knot with your right hand. With the left hand, close the bottom three fingers around the yarn, then spread the yarn open with your thumb and index finger (Figure A).

March 18, 2009

March Baby Sweater

Finished my third February Baby Sweater tonight. I used 2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere that were given to me by Caroline (thanks!) and I love how it knits up - substantial and warm, with a subtle sheen. This is my first baby item that isn't knitted in a "baby" color yarn and I really like how it turned out. I hope the mommy (and baby) I'm sending it to will like it.

After doing this pattern three times, I feel confident with the gull pattern (love it!) so it's time to move on to my next project. I'm going to knit something for myself and hopefully have it be ready for Spring!

Pattern from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac

March 16, 2009

Tutorial: Make a Slip Knot

Since I've shown quite a few people some knitting basics, I thought I should share them on the site as well. Here's the first of the tutorials I will be sharing. Stay tuned for more!

. . .

The first step in any knitting project is making a slip knot. It can be done in a few simple steps. 

Wrap a piece of yarn on your left hand clockwise between the index and middle fingers, with your fingers spread about one inch apart. Pick up the back loop with your right hand (Figure A, where arrow is pointing) and pull it through the middle of the loop (Figure B).

March 12, 2009

New Additions

Some of the recently purchased yarn. Top to Bottom: Bollicine Revolution in 14 (sky blue), Jo Sharp Summer DK in Sailboat, Louet Riverstone in Pewter, South West Trading Company Optimum DK in Desert, Rowan Big Wool Fusion in 01 (cloud?)

I just adore these colors together. Such nice, muted earthy tones. And they all feel so soft and warm. It will take me a while to find projects worthy of the yarn!

March 2, 2009

Slouchy Hat for Blythe

I've been wanting to make one of those very stylish and hip slouchy hats for myself, but I always seem to have too many projects and never enough time. So it dawned on me this weekend: why not make some in Blythe size?

After making a prototype, I was ready to go! I am having so much fun knitting them right now. Plus I get to make more of the little crocheted flowers that I love so much. It's the only thing I know how to crochet, but boy do they come in handy! ;)

February 26, 2009

February Baby Set

Okay, is that super-duper sweet or what? :D

 I'm so proud of myself for finishing the set: Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater, with an inspired-hat (pattern from Ravelry), plus a little crocheted flower for a little extra sugary goodness, just in time for a February baby!

Now that I'm pretty comfortable with the gull pattern from the sweater and the gradual decreasing needed with the hat, I'm probably going to make a few more sets to give away. There have been so many babies arriving in my circle of friends that I feel like a baby sweater factory, but hey, the more practice the better :)

:: :: ::

Pattern from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac

February 18, 2009

February Baby Sweater, Take Two

Ah, I finally figured out EZ's pattern and finished my second February Baby Sweater! The second time was definitely easier than the first. I guess I was too excited and didn't read the pattern correctly the first time and made the increases around the collar too soon. The second time around, everything started to look right. Yay! I love this pattern so much!

The only thing I did differently from EZ's instructions - I put the two sleeves on waste yarn and finished the body first, then I picked up the sleeves and continued. I added seven stitches under the arms and they felt just right to me, not too bulky like a few people mentioned on Ravelry. With more friends having babies this year, I think I'll be making a few more of these EZ sweaters!

:: :: ::

Pattern from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac

February 9, 2009

Rowan New Shapes

I am SO excited to be finally getting the Rowan New Shapes pattern book - I love the Anise jacket (shown here on the cover) and tried to make a Blythe-sized version (abandoned halfway through, boo!) over a year ago. I didn't think I'd be knitting anything adult-sized so I never bought the book - until I saw Jenny/Wikstenmade's beautiful cardigan on Flickr and Ravelry. That pushed me over the edge and I had to go searching for New Shapes - found it on Kaleidoscope last week and now it's on its way to my hot little hands.  I got my copy through Kaleidoscope Yarns!

I'm a bit nervous about trying the patterns, though. First of all, Rowan yarn is not exactly cheap. About eight balls of yarn are required to make a garment, and I hesitate spending $120 on yarn that I may destroy with my novice knitting. And, I am absolutely terrible at seaming. I can't hand-sew to save my life. Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into?! After some thought, I'm most likely going to purchase a few balls of practice yarn (Perhaps LionBrand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick?) and do a few practice runs. At $5 a skein, it won't break my heart too much if I mess up... right?

As scared as I am, I'm still pretty excited about trying my first Rowan patterns. I can't wait!

February 7, 2009

Branching Out

Okay, I'm not actually knitting Branching Out, but I'm really trying to branch out from knitting to crocheting! After talking about it for a few years (and accumulating quite a few books), I finally decided to take the plunge and tried my hand at crochet! Here's the very first thing I tried, a little flower. I'm surprised it actually came out looking like a flower!

There are some knitters who pooh-pooh on crocheters, and I've had crocheters come up to me and my friends at a cafe and make comments on how crocheting is better than knitting(!). One thing's for sure - craftspeople sure are passionate about their craft. I guess I am a knitter by nature, but you won't see me put crocheters down - I think crocheting is amazing! There are so many things you can do with crocheting that just isn't the same with knitting, and I want to try it all, especially amigurumi! I'm an equal-opportunity crafter :)

January 27, 2009

February Baby Sweater

I started the February Baby Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmermann during my weekend of recovery. I'm sure quite a few of you heard me whine about my wisdom teeth extraction so I shall spare you. EZ's pattern took some getting used to - the way it is written is not like any pattern I've learned, there is a lot left open for interpretation. Plus I'm not very good at doing lace - it always takes me at least a few runs before finally ""getting"" any lace pattern. This was my first EZ garment, and I have to say she is quite a writer. She is such a funny lady, and I love how much of a wool snob she is. That said, I bet she wouldn't approve of the Berroco Comfort I'm using here, but it's for good practice. I don't know about the babies around EZ, but most of my friends would probably not let their precious babies wear wool in fear of allergies. Whatever happened to the good ole days when babies actually wore wool?

After a few days, it started to take its shape, but not without hiccups. I could totally see what I did wrong here too!

Here is the completed February Baby Sweater, complete with dark lilac buttons. It kind of looks cute in its own wonky sort of way. Another great learning experience! Now that I know what to do the next one will be much improved.

:: :: :: 

Pattern from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac

January 26, 2009

Pumpkin Capelet Modeled

I loved the Anthropologie-Inspired Capelet so much that I made one for my friend Yvonne. She loves the color orange, and I thought this style would look super cute on her. It took me a few days to complete, and I gave it to her about a week before Christmas. Today she wore it for the first time and sent me a photo and it totally made my day!!!

Is she super cute or what?! She was happy that it fit her so well, and so was I. I love seeing people wear something I made. This keeps me want to keep knitting. Thanks Yvonne!

January 21, 2009

Lake Circular Shrug

My Circular Shrug in-progress - free pattern from Ravelry. Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in colorway Lake, on sz 8 needles.

This was a super-easy pattern but stitching it together was a pain in the butt because I found the pattern illustrations really confusing. Plus I think it's too big on me >_< Oh well, it's really nice & cozy though, and I love Cotton-Ease!