Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Swatches Swatches Swatches More ideas

After a lot of swatching and a lot of new techniques, the swatches have been piling up.  Here's some more ideas for you.

A use for 5 more swatches is a plant hanger.  Create just like the beanie, join 4 into a ring and put the 5th on a side to close it in.  Now add 4 straps, set at the juncture of 2 squares, keeping the open side of the block facing up.  The straps need to be the same length.  Tie a knot or otherwise fasten them together at the loose ends to allow it to be hung.  Sew around a large ring at this end to facilitate hanging.  The straps can be small 2 round granny squares joined into a long line, macramé, or heavy twisted cording.

A use for another dozen or so is a tea cozy.  Pick some of the larger swatches for the outside and smaller ones for the inside.  Outside first:  Starting with the larger swatches.  Seam 5 together into a ring.  Seam another 3 together into a ring.  Now seam the two rings together to create a type of open cone shape.  Put a single swatch on the small end of the cone.  Now repeat this with smaller swatches for the inside without the single swatch on the small end of the cone.  Instead run a line of stitching around the small end of the cone and pull tight.  Line with quilting batt or fiberfil thickly and seam the bottom edges together.

Another use for some is to create dresser scarves.  This is dependent more on the size you want and the size of the piece of furniture.  For those who don't understand, think placemat, except larger.  I might hesitate to put this on my fine wood furniture if I'm using coarse yarn.  But this is a great way to hide the scars on a well loved chest or dresser.  This might be an old fashioned idea but it can come in handy.  Perhaps this is not one of the greatest ideas for those swatches with a lot of high profile texture.  Things can tip over on bobbles.

As you can see, the uses are limitless and not just for afghans.  The key to keeping it from looking like a paint display exploded is color choice.  To a lesser extent the choice of patterns is also important.  By this I mean, choose 1 to 3 colors that coordinate by sitting next to each other on the color wheel or are the same color just a shade darker or a hue lighter.  I might also pair laces with laces, textures that are all close in the amount of "lumpiness", cables with cables.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

November is National Alzheimer's month

National Alzheimer's disease month.  We all know someone who is affected by this disease. In the early stages,  it gets passed off as general forgetfulness,  things like I forgot to mark my calendar.
When it reaches the end stages,  the people probably won't recognize family members or be able to live safely at home even with round the clock supervision. 

No matter how far down the line this disease has progressed,  people have tactile memories.  Smell is one of the first things to go as we get older with or without Alzheimer's, as is the sense of taste.  These go hand in hand.  Sight may go.  Hearing may go.  We don't know completely how the brain interprets these senses as the disease progresses.  One thing that doesn't change much is the sense of feel.   This can show itself as fidgeting, a love for touch or a fear of human touch.  It depends on how the individual's brain interprets these and what latent memories from earliest life are available.  Others lose their sense of touch in places.  They lose the ability to feel pain, to feel hunger, to feel thirst.  In many cases the victims of Alzheimer's will lose the muscle memory for swallowing as the disease enters its end stage.

A way to help these people to stay safe instead of up and wandering around to get lost or to fall is to create a fidget cloth.  Before I knew about these and could make one for my maternal grandmother, she would shred a box of facial tissues a day, one tissue at a time.  However, a fidget cloth is something like a lap robe or smaller like the size of a napkin.  It uses texture instead of color to create interest.  It uses pockets, ties, zippers, buttons and other things to create tactile interest.

Crochet textures can include front post and back post stitches, lace stitches, cables, heavy seams on patch pockets, beaded strings to feel and fiddle with, crochet chains for tying or wrapping around fingers and unwrapping, buttons to do and undo, snaps to feel snapping, zippers to zip.  Be sure to make these embellishments stay firmly attached.  Choking is not something we want.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

National Knit Month is November

November is National Knit Month.  So awe inspiring. So daunting.  If I choose to knit all month, what should I do???  Things for me?  Things that are gifts?  Things for charity?  Something completely different?

Well, since January is selfish knitting month in response to the gift knitting that has been taking place, I guess things for me can wait.  Charity items and gifts seem to be at the top of my list.

Gift items this year will be including...…  Well I don't have that exactly figured out yet.  I know I want to do a pair of monster pants for my newest granddaughter.  I thought a pair for her older brother might be interesting.  Different sizes and different colors are a given.  Her oldest brother?  A dinosaur sweater?  Some toys?  I don't know.  For my oldest granddaughters I have no real clue.  Sizing is difficult from across the country.  I've been kicking around the idea of ruffled skirts for them paired with legggings.  I also wondered about a cardigan for each.

I have 2 sons, a daughter in law and a prospective daughter in law.  I have no ideas for these adults.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Something a Bit Different but Still Yarn Related

I have a very small orchard, vineyard and berry patch.  Truth be told, it's a dwarf pear tree (5 varieties on one trunk), 2 dwarf apple trees (one red delicious and one 5 on 1), a dwarf peach, 8 raspberry bushes, 2 black berry bushes, 2 concord grape vines.  My fruit is extra yummy because it is picked at the peak of ripeness.  Tonight I am canning 3 quarts of grape juice concentrate.  There's a fourth in the refrigerator because there isn't enough in the jar for safe canning.  But I digress.

The part that gets me is the colors of autumn and harvest season.  Over winter the canes of the berry patch give a nice red to mahogany color to the landscape.  The grapes get cut back.  The trees are all bare.

Come spring, the colors really get going.  New leaves come out in varying degrees of green and in some cases red to purple.  The apple trees have a dirty-ish white flower.  The peach tree has delicate pink flowers as do the raspberry bushes.  The pear tree has white to the very palest pink flowers.  Blackberries have a white to a very pale peach color.  The grapes have a green tone flower.

Once a decent summer shows up, the leaves deepen in color and the fruits start growing.  This year with 2 months of almost continual rain was not ideal.  The berries start growing in maroon hairy sepals.  When they burst open they are bright red and darken to deep purple.  The grapes are green ripening to dark purple blue.  The peaches and apples also start hard, small and green.  As they ripen in their seasons, they change colors.

In autumn, the fruits are long eaten or preserved and their leaves turn colors.  This is dependent on the weather, just like most of the other changes.  The apples, pear and peach leaves usually turn brown.  The grapes turn a beautiful chartreuse.  The berries turn a beautiful dark red.  Some years the colors are spectacular.

Then there are years like this.  This year the colors that have changed so far have  been mostly drab in color.

The colors have inspired me to look for yarns in these colors.  I want to knit fingering weight shawls in these autumnal colors.   This is so unlike me.  I have on my calendar to knit or crochet 2 sweaters for my beautiful 7 year old granddaughters in San Diego, a sweater for a grandson who is 5, a sweater for a 2 year old grand son and something for our newest granddaughter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pi(e) Shawls

I was recently testing some yarn for wool content before rehoming it to a local elementary school.  A big ball of black fingering weight came back wool.  It must be merino from the feel of it. It's so wonderfully soft.  It's been calling to me that it wants to be a Pi shawl.

Before I started, I wanted to finish some things.  I got some of them finished and some are half way done.   The soft black yarn finally won.  

In my version, I started with 5 size 3.5 mm wood done. Using a magic ring,  I cast on 4 to each needle.  I knit a round.  I knit 1 and yarn overed for a round.   I knit 2 rounds.  I repeated the knit 1, yarn over round.   I knit 4 rounds.  I repeated the increase round.   I'm currently working on the next 8 rounds of knit. I moved the work to a US size 5 (3.75mm) 16 inch circular needle.

Then I thought to look at Pinterest to see what others might be doing with this.  I thought about various lace patterns I could include. All I need is the right number of stitches for the repeats to work out.   But back to Pinterest...

Donna Druchunas has some beautiful pi shawl patterns.  Brooklyn Tweed also has some great ideas and patterns for the pi  shawl concept.   Were I using any color other than black,  I'd be all over them.  Sadly black doesn't show stitch patterns to their best advantage.  I continued looking.  

Surprisingly,  there are a number of methods for working the Pi shawl.  Some make the increase round the 3rd round. Others use the 4th round.   Depending on the number of stitches cast on and the size of the hole left in the center,  you could start with almost any number of stitches.

There are 2 different versions from Elizabeth Zimmermann.  One is the almost solid knit with the increase rounds at 1, 4, 9, 18, 36, 72, 144, 256, 576 or something like that.   The other one is the concentric circles of yarn overs coupled with the k2tog unless it's an increase round, following the same numbers as the solid.

The only thing I wouldn't recommend is cables.  Cables tend to draw in the work. Sometimes it can take in the knitting 30 to 50%.  Smocking stitches will do the same.  Some slip stitch patterns will also.   Indian cross stitch comes to mind.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Charity Begins at Home

We've all heard this at one time or another. I heard it growing up, little did I know how much it was true.  But let's look at the different ways this applies to us.  Here is one way to apply knit and crochet to people in need.

1. What is charity?  If we consult a dictionary,  it will say something like an agency set up  to provide help and raise money for those in need. It's also the things given as help.   For our purposes,  charity is the time, talents, and money we contribute to those in need.  My cooking for homeless people is time and talent spent in charitable works.  Sometimes, though,  money is the best fit.

My local clothing bank needs men's socks in particular. The knitter in me says sure I can knit socks. Realistically speaking,  I don't have time to knit men's socks.   Not only are men's feet larger,  but the leg must be longer and they prefer dark colors that can be hard to see. Plus in a week's time, I can only do maybe a sock.   It's far more expedient to use the sock money to purchase a package of 3 to 12 pairs of socks in appropriate colors.  I have saved time and helped more people for the same outlay of money. 

Now if I know that every year they will need socks,  I can knit throughout the year and feel great about that.  I do this with blanket squares.   Check out my year of crochet stitches and year of knit stitches posts for ideas. 

Other charities to consider are Humane Society to help pets, environmental causes,

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Baby Showers

Babies seem to be cyclical in my life.  What handcrafted items do you like to give?  What fibers do you use?   What weight of yarn do you use?  With so many people utilizing gift registry,  it's sometimes difficult to figure out what to give that will meet expectations of both the expectant mother and the giver. 

What are the expectations?  As an experienced mother, my expectations are softness,  durability,  washability, fit, and looks good.  A new mother to be might be looking for the WOW factor before some other things. 

One gift that is a usually a hit is a bling blanket.   No I'm not suggesting that we add beads,  crystals, or anything like that.  Bling here means a special stitch pattern or a fabulous yarn. 

Yarn choice :  I stress washability.  All of us who have kids, been around kids, been a kid, know that illness is a thing that happens whether caused by germs or over eating.  I stress that wash after wash the thing must hold up and look great. No one wants a shabby looking blankie, onsie suit or anything else after a couple of washes.  The broomstick lace from Sept. 16 is a fabulous blanket stitch.

I also think that bibs make a great gift.  No matter which way you slice it, babies drool.  No one likes  a wet chest, especially in these days of no coats being worn in a car seat. However, new moms to be don't seem as enthused by these.  Perhaps I or they are missing something?  Bibs protect clothes from getting soaked.  Bibs can protect from babies learning to eat.  Those of us who have had strained veggies erupt all over know that bibs on both feedee and feeder can be great laundry savers.

Toys have the WOW factor but not necessarily the safety factor.  Besides who says that the theme mom has laid out for the new little one is what the kid will like.....  Safety is very important.  I advocate embroidered facial features as well as most other details.  Tight stitches to prevent stuffing from coming out is important.  See below for a knit and crochet version of my go to toy for babies.  It could be a bunny, a cat or a bear.  Depends on how you do the ears.

Knit toy                                                                    Crochet toy
Worsted weight yarn                                                Worsted weight yarn
Size US 5                                                                  Size F hook

Cast on 14 sts.  Knit 28 rows. Break yarn.                Ch 15.  Sc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch.
Cast on 14 sts.  Knit 28 rows.                                    Ch 1, sc in sc across.  Rep this row 13 times.
Work across 28 sts for 28 rows.                                 Break yarn and repeat.  These are legs.
Work across 28 sts for 4 rows in 1x1 rib.                  Crochet across 28 sts in sc for 15 rows.  Body
Work across 28 sts for 18 rows in stockinette.          Ch 2, * hdcfp, hdcbp.  Rep from * across.  Neck
Bunny                                                                         Rep neck row once more
Continuing in stockinette stitch, BO 4, K 6,              Ch 1, sc across.  Rep this row 10 times more.
BO 8, K 6, BO 4.  Break yarn.  Join to ear                Bunny Sl st across 4 sts, sc in next 6, sl st across
Knit ears in stockinette stitch for 4 more rows.         next 8, sc in next 6. * Ch 1, sc in next 6. Turn.
K2tog across.  Cut leaving 18" tail.  Join yarn to      Rep from * 4 times. Dec sc across.  Cut, leaving
other ear and rep.                                                       18" tail.  Join yarn to other ear and rep.

Cat                                                                              Cat
Continuing in stockinette stitch, BO 2, K8,               Sl st across 2 sts, sc in next 8, sl st across next 4,
BO 4, K 8, BO 2.  Break yarn.  Join to ear.               sc in next 8.  *Ch1, dec sc, sc to last 2 sts, dec sc.
*K2tog, k to last 2 sts, k2tog.  Rep * to 2 sts.            Rep from * to 2 sts.  Cut leaving 18" tail. Join to
Break yarn.  Join to other ear.  Rep.                           other ear.  Rep.

Bear                                                                            Bear
BO 4, K 6, BO 8, K 6, BO 4.  Break yarn. Join         Sl st 4 sts, sc in next 6, sl st across 4 sts, sc
to ear,  k1, k2tog, k2tog, k1. K back, keeping in        in next 6.  Ch 1, sc, dec sc, dec sc, sc.  Turn.
stockinette st.  k2tog, k2tog.  BO.  Break yarn          Sc across.  Dec sc, dec sc.  Fasten off, leaving 18
leaving 18" tail.  Join to other ear.  Rep ear.              inch tail.  Join to other ear and rep.

Arms                                                                         Arms

Rep legs and BO before join.  Fold in half               Rep legs.  Fold in half lengthwise.  Seam and sew
lengthwise.  Seam and sew across end.  Stuff.         across end.  Stuff.  Sew across open end.
Sew across open end.

Finishing for both knit and crochet animal

Fold at 1/4 and 3/4 mark vertically.  Legs will be folded in half lengthwise.  Ears will be folded in half lengthwise.  Using tails, sew across bottom of legs, up inseam of legs.  Stuff legs.  Sew up center of back, neck and head.  Stuff.  Sew ears.  Stuff.  Sew top of head closed. Fold the arms in half lengthwise.  Seam down the side and across the end.  Stuff.  Sew across open end. Sew to the body just below the neck ribbing. 

Embroider face and any other touches you might want.  Other embellishments include working the sections to look like clothes.