Monday, May 28, 2018

Swatch! Swatch! Swatch! There's so many Swatches!

Moving right along with what to do with them all, we come to what to do with more than a dozen at a time.  The obvious idea that we can all see is...........AFGHANS!!!!  These can use from 2 dozen up to 9 or 10 dozen.  You decide how many based on how big you want it to be and how big the blocks/squares are made.

OK.  Now that that has been said.  Let's come up with more ideas.

  1. Bathmat:  Take a dozen in a 3 x 4 pattern of swatches/blocks that are 6 - 12 inches each in cotton.  
  2. Welcome Mat:  Take another dozen in a 3 x 4 pattern of swatches done in jute, clothesline, rope or twine.  These fibers will stand up to some abuse.  The swatches/blocks should be at least 9 inches.
  3. Heating Pad Cover:  Take 24 blocks/swatches in a 4 x 6 pattern.  Fold in half.  Seam along 2 sides.  Put buttons on half of the third open side and crochet along the other half of the open side and add some chain loops to fit over the buttons to act as button holes.  Insert the heating pad and button.  
  4. Slippers:  With a dozen swatches/blocks you can make 2 slippers 6 swatches each that resemble booties.
  5. Jacket or Coat:  With another 4 - 6 dozen blocks/swatches, you can make a coat or jacket of any size.  With tiny 2 inch granny squares you can make a baby cardi.  See this post for the basic layout.  To make this a longer coat, add more rows to the body.
  6. Poncho:  With three and a half dozen (that's 42) swatches/blocks, you can make a poncho.  You can line them up in a diamond pattern or a very long rectangle to make the poncho.  It's up to you.
  7. Rocking Chair Back:  With another two dozen in a 4 x 6 pattern and a couple of ties, you can make a wooden rocker back more cozy and comfy or cover a worn back.  Be sure to measure your rocking chair so you know your back will fit.
  8. Contoured Bath Rug:  With a dozen more swatches/blocks that are 9 inches each arrange in this configuration.   Make it from absorbent cotton so it's easy care and can be warm to your feet in the middle of winter.
  9. A variable number of squares or rounded grannies to fit your window, make a chevron shaped valance to add interest to a window that doesn’t need to be fully covered.
  10. With 19 squares and some lining fabric, you can make a rectangular tote bag, 6 on each side and the rest are the gusset (sides and bottom to make it more usable).  Line for stability.  Add purchased handles or strap.
  11. With 30 tiny thread squares sewn together into a long ring, you have a fancy lanyard for a convention name badge or scissors.
Now that's another 20 dozen or more swatches or granny square blocks used.  Leave comments with other ideas.  I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Games Kniters Play

This post could go a couple of directions.   This will not be ways to lie to yourself and others about how much you or they spend,  how big the stash is or anything else. Deception is not something I advocate especially between spouses. 

I am games mistress for retreats in my knitting guild.   I will give you a peek between the skeins at some of the games we have played and might play in the future.  Sometimes the prizes are knit cash to be used for an auction.  Monopoly money could be substituted.  Sometimes the prizes are actual knit related items.  You can also google knitting games and there are a lot more there.

Trivia  ::  before a retreat, I will Google knitting trivia.  I print questions with the answers and a bit of history if available.  I use this as a way to keep the retreat goers on their toes and earn knit cash.  I just blurt out a question with an amount that I think it's worth.  All correct answers will collect that amount.  Obviously easy questions are worth less.

Stories   ::   someone reads a story that has a lot of repetition of a few words or phrases.  All retreat goers sit in a circle.   There is a ball of yarn that gets tossed around according to the predetermined terms.  Ie. If a is said the person tosses it across the circle while holding the part they caught, or a quarter of the way around either left or right. The final goal is to have a web of knitter's.

Magic ball  ::  this is similar to the stories above.   All sit in a circle.   A story is read and at predetermined terms the yarn ball is passed left or right by 1, 2, or 3 people unwinding as it goes.  The magic is that there are small trinkets wound in the ball, fancy stitch markers,  small tape measures,  blunt yarn needles, buttons, charms.  The person who gets the prize is the one is sitting at the slip knot holding the trinket to the ball.

Ugly sweater card game  ::  by changing the rules this can accommodate a large group with only a deck or two.  Dole out the cards.  Play as directed mostly.  The oldest or youngest starts.  Pull a card from person to right or left. Make a pair if you can and display it.  Next person does same.   If you pull and can make a pair that leaves You without cards, you are out.  You can have 2 winners if you use the ugly sweater cards only.  You can have 3 winners if you use the 2 ugly sweater cards and the person with the most pairs.  You can have 4 winners if you use the same as 3 and include the first person to be out of cards.  This can take a while until all the pairs are made.

Knitting relay races  ::  these can be fun.  Timer is needed for these.
1.  Have the people pair up.  More fun if they are not great friends.  Have a set of straights for each pair with a long tail cast on already on the needles.  20 sts seems right.  Each pair has to knit with one person holding a needle.   Use a timer and the pair with the most sts or rows each win.
2.  Each person knits onto the left needle  as opposed to the way you normally knit onto the right.  Again most sts or rows wins.
3.  Line up in teams of 4 or 5.  Each person knits a row and passes to the next person.  Keep going until time is up.  Team with most rows wins.
4.  Using set number of stitches already cast on, each person has to knit behind their backs.  Winner will be the person with the most sts or rows. 
5.  Again with already cast on needles, each players runs in place while knitting.  Winner will be the person with the most sts or rows.
6.  Another relay type of game inspired by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  I am thinking of the picture of EZ knitting on a shawl with someone else that is in one of her books.  Cast on in the round and knit 30 rds using 4-7 balls and 4-7 circular needles.   Have several of these set up to accommodate all players.  Usually this works best with 2 to 4 people per circle.  Divide retreatants into groups and  each person gets an end to 2 separate circs as well as their own ball of yarn.  winning team has the most rounds with fewest dropped stitches.

This last can be set to music and played like a variant of musical chairs.  2 people knit until the music stops, they trade places and continue knitting until the next break in the music.  Winning team has the most rounds with fewest dropped stitches.

Jeopardy  ::  play just like the t.v. show.   Make up the board large enough for all to see.  Have each player use a different ringtone on their cell phone for their buzzer.  Topics are all yarn, fiber and knitting related.  Utilize your knit cash.  All cash won is kept for an auction or other game.

Auction  ::  run just like any auction you have attended.  Utilize your knit cash here.

Knitting bingo  ::  I made up 2 types.  1 knitting bingo game I combined 3 different bingo games from Untangled Knots  blog post found here.  Things you hear knitting in public, Christmas knitting and summer knitting.   I used these 75 terms plus some from the comments and made up cards that mixed these.  Knitting bingo 2 is a swatch bingo.  4x4 swatches that are tagged with not only the name but how to knit them.  Names are mixed on the cards.   I pull the swatches from a small suitcase and it doubles as a trunk show.  Many are not things everyone has seen.  For this I had a head start in that I used my certification swatches and the increase/decrease swatches are 2 calls.

I also have other ideas for using kids games and changing the directions to knitting terms.   Candyland cards, each color is something different like red is k4, orange is p6, yellow is a yo,  and so on.  When I get the game set up, I'll post about it.

Chutes and ladders and again each move is a knitting term.  I wonder what ideas could be done with clue, monopoly,  hearts, slap Jack, war.....

I also saw an interesting Christmas game recently.   Pick up sticks using candy canes held in the mouth.  It brought an idea to mind.  Pick up sticks using straight needles and crochet hooks or cable needles to pick up the straights, maybe not by mouth.  I don't think it's hygienic or tasty.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Premium Fibers and Yarns

What are premium fibers?  Are they worth the price?  Are they easy or hard to work With? 

Premium fibers are high end but not necessarily super expensive.  They can be synthetic,  animal and some plant origin.  They can be a fancy synthetic that adds glamour and glitz.  At the top of the spectrum is the yarn made from pearls in 2012 to celebrate an anniversary of Vogue Knitting, as well as yarn made from vicuna or musk oxen (quiviut).  These fibers range in price from a few hundred dollars an ounce to nearly a thousand for actual yarn.  This goes down a bit (not much) if you can get the fiber and spin it yourself or if you can get the yarn from a wholesale site or auction site.

Not many of us can easily afford these super premium fibers.  So let's step back a bit and look at this list below. Note that the higher end fibers will be mixed with wool or cotton to bring down the price charged to the public.
  • angora bunny fiber
  • angora goat fiber (mohair)
  • cashmere goat fiber (cashmere)
  • llama
  • alpaca
  • bison
  • possum (New Zealand possums, not the sole marsupial of North America)
  • hemp
  • linen
  • merino
  • silk
  • organic cotton
  • Sea Island cotton
I'm not listing synthetics because there are so many brands.  There's the most affordable and readily available Red Heart and Caron Simply Soft, but these aren't really premium.  They are however the go to for many people for many reasons (affordability by the masses, wide range of colors to name a couple). 

Even wools and cottons can go from pedestrian to premium.  Dishcloth cotton (think sugar and crème and handicrafter and kitchen cotton) can range from inexpensive but durable to more expensive but not necessarily out of  pocket expensive (think takhi mercerized cotton yarn to name one) yarns that yield some perks that the readily available don't.  Wools can range from animals that are known as meat animals (very coarse wool that is more suitable for rugs and other non wearables) to the finest merinos which can be so very soft.  

Now all this goes completely out the window when we travel to other countries than the US.  Some of the most readily available yarns in the US are actually are very expensive and desired in other countries.  Location, location, location as my favorite realtor says really does mean a lot.  Fabulous silks are commonplace in other parts of the world.  Premium cottons like Egyptian are common elsewhere.  

So while this list is incomplete at best, it is a starting place for you to consider what might be a purchase of something out of your ordinary and a way to consider more premium fibers.  Most importantly, purchase the fibers and yarns you will actually enjoy working with and wearing as well as meet your needs.  Only you can answer these questions.  Own your knitting and crocheting.  Be proud of what you create.  

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Knit/Crochet and Bullet Journal Lists

Bullet Journals.  This is a new way to say what I saw my mom doing every day when I was young.  Meals were planned. Grocery shopping done.  Dates and days of recycling pick up and other upcoming events that she didn't want to forget.  After a while it went to a calendar and the tablet.  One difference was that once the tablet was full or the day had a line through each chore, it got tossed.  Bullet journals today get kept, those lists didn't.  Another difference there was no drawing in it, no doodling either.  I'm a great list maker.  Sadly I'm really great at losing them too.  Cue a notebook rather than a slip of paper.

I have decided to offer a few of my lists as ideas for you:

  • A list of fibers to try that are new to you

  • A list of techniques to try that are new to you.

  • A list of UFOs and the location of each and maybe the progress of each.

  • A list of patterns to try.  Bonus if you have at least a few kitted up.

  • A list of new dyers or spinners to try.

  • A list of fiber festivals to attend

  • A list of teachers to take classes from

These are a few ideas to get you started.  

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Earth Day

With earth day come and gone, let's check out some ideas.  I know everyone else is hot for recycling.   I am as well, but my ideas run a bit different from others.  Here's a post from last year with ideas.  Knit or crochet reusable shopping bags.

Recycle jeans. 

If the jeans are in good shape, donate them to a resale shop.  This way someone else will be able to wear them and for an affordable price.  Also I will feel better about helping people who need it and my closet will be more trim.  But say those jeans are not so great and can't be resold to be worn.  What then?  I'd suggest creating blocks from the good parts of the fabric in specific sizes and using them for quilts or patching.  Another idea is to create a fabric from the blocks and make purses, wallets and other small things.  Pinterest has many ideas to inspire you.  I've done this for each of my sons'.  As an added interest and type of scrapbook, I sewed all the patches they had from scouts and various adventures they went on growing up. 

Replace swiffer cloths and other disposable cloths.

I have a person in my family, ok many people, who must wear steel toed shoes and boots.  Because of foot configuration, I have a lot of socks with holes on the top of the toes but are otherwise in almost new condition. Darning them is a waste of time. I have tried that. It lasts a shorter time than the new sock does.  I use these for disposable jobs.  I start with cutting the elasticized part from the foot. Cut the toe off. Now I cut down the side of each part.  Flat rags waiting for a mess.  If the mess is washable,  I'll clean these for re-use. If Not, no tree was cut down to make a cloth that I'm paying for just to throw it away.  As for the swiffer and other dusting tools, there are plenty of patterns to knit and crochet. See Pinterest again for more ideas. And Pinterest also has green cleaning solutions to stop poisoning the planet and ourselves.  Pinterest has an amazing array of recycling ideas for the viewing.

Shrunk and felted sweaters.

It's a sad thing when a beautiful sweater gets shrunk because it got mixed in the regular laundry rather than the hand washable basket.  You can use this as a basis for many things.  Have a small dog?  The sleeves can be used to create dog sweaters.  The body has a myriad of ideas.  How about a small shopping bag? Just sew across the bottom and remove the sleeves. How about a pillow? Cut off at the underarm and seam. Stuff and seam the other side. Make pillows for a myriad of places. Cut the neck pieces from the pillow-pa-looza apart to be joined into a cowl or scarf of your favorite sweaters.
These are just a few ideas to get you started.  What ideas can you share?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Temperature Blankets and scarves

Have you been bitten by this bug?  What is this phenomena?  Temperature blankets!  What is it exactly?  Well that depends.  A very loose and quick explanation is pick a year, easy would be to pick the current year and for the high temperature every day knit or crochet a row in a specific color to correspond.

So many have so many questions about this.  Do I have to do a blanket?  No, You can choose to do a scarf, a skirt or a series of lap robes (one month or two months per robe) for just a few ideas.  If choosing an article of clothing, It might be wise to choose fingering weight yarns and fine hooks or needles even if you are only doing 6 months.  A full year is 365 days or 365 rows, unless it's a leap year then 366.  But let's all admit that's a lot of rows.  

First choice to make, what are you making?  A blanket?  Great.  What stitch choices do you have?  To keep things from growing to house cozy size, garter stitch/stockinette stitch or single crochet/moss stitch.  You could even choose to do a granny square of one round  or two rounds.

Let's discuss what year to do.  The current year ensures that you only do a row or two a day.  But maybe you want to commemorate a special year.  How about the year you were born?  The year you were married?  The year you received your degree?  What special year do you want to remember?  What about a year with really peculiar weather?  Those with children and/or grandchildren may want to create a blanket for the year they were born or   The choice is wide open.  NOAA has weather for the last 30 - 40 years.  You can google for the websites that will tell you the temperature.  Pick the site that meets your needs.  Don't forget to plug in location.  That will have an effect.

Now let's choose colors.  How do you want to divide up the temperatures? big of a range do you have to work with?  How many colors do you want to work with?  As an example, I want to work with 14 colors.  I want to do both high and low temperatures.  My range is from 0 to 104.  I will choose 7 colors, one dark and one light.  My high temperature is the light and my low is the dark. You never know when the high and low temps of the day won't change.  If I divide my 104 by 7, my divisions are as follows:

0 – 15

16 - 30

31 – 45

46 – 60

61 – 75

76 – 90

91 - 104

For yarn choice, I'm thinking of a sport weight superwash wool.  But that might not be readily available.  What is readily available is worsted weight in acrylic.  There are hundreds of hues spanning the rainbow.  I also want to have snowfalls and rain days marked.  For those days of precipitation, I'll use white eyelash yarn and grey eyelash yarns.  I'll hold these double with the color for the temperatures.  For days with no precipitation, I'll just use the color single.  Days of phenomenal downpour will get double white (blizzards) or dark grey or black (hurricanes), blue eyelash for wind storms.......  Of course this assumes I can find the colors and weights I'm planning.

My pattern?  As noted above, I have a few obvious choices and a few not so obvious.  I could utilize Apache Tears, or ripple stitches in single crochet half doubles or pineapple stitch.  There are many short stitches that can be used.  What about changing stitch pattern every month??  I'm thinking of utilizing a two round granny square.  High temperature in the center and low temperature around it.  One "square" for each day.  For days that don't exist in the 6 x 6 grid, I'll crochet or knit a patch that has the month name worked in white with black lettering.  For the special day of the year???  Gold or silver eyelash yarn or sequin yarn!!  No special day?  No need to find the fancy stuff.

How wide will it be?  For a scarf, I would choose 4 to 12 inches.  For an afghan, I will start with 48 inches.  But if I want the afghan to cover a bed, I'll take the top measurement from a chart of the most common sizes (you can find one here).  A different take on it would be to go 180 stitches if you are doing a 6 month afghan, 365 stitches for a whole year......

You are the boss of your work.  You make the choices!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Swatch! Swatch! Swatch! What can I do with them all?

We've found a home for so many swatches.  How many you ask???  Would you believe 99 swatches of a variety of sizes?  It's amazing.  Can you come up with any new ideas?  Here are ideas for 8 to 10 swatches each.

  1. Seat Cushions:  Nine granny squares is also the right size for a seat cushion for the dining room chairs.
  2. Tote bag cover:  Nine four-inch granny squares can cover the side of a slightly worn, but ohso-handy tote. Eighteen squares and you can cover the whole thing!
  3. Doll House Afghan:  Nine tiny granny squares will make a doll house afghan. The best yarn to use here is one strand of three-ply needle point yarn.
  4. Tote Bag Cover:  Eight 6 inch squares and you can cover the same tote above.
  5. A whole sofa cushion:  Eight swatches or squares and you can cover on both sides of a sofa cushion
  6. Slippers:  ten 3 -4 inch squares, 5 to each one can make slippers.  
  7. Vest:  For larger children and adults, 10 swatches of 2 sizes will make a vest.  Take 2 very large swatches for the front and back panels.  Use 3 small swatches seamed to the left and right side of the front.  Seam them now to the back panel.  Seam 2 of the remaining 4 small swatches together on one side to form a shoulder strap.  Repeat.  To place the straps, start at the 1/4 mark and the 3/4 mark at the top of the tube you formed before and seam them working toward the outside edge.  To give a finished appearance, single crochet around the outside edges.  
And here we have found a home for another 63 squares/swatches in a variety of sizes.  Bet you can't guess what all there is in store for next month!