Tuesday, August 13, 2019

An Update and a pattern

So much has happened in my corner of the world. 

Early April saw me teaching during a festival of the arts to 8th grade students.  I may have said about this event previously.  The students were a joy.  I will be looking forward to this next year.

April also saw my older son and daughter in law home for a visit over Easter.  They got to relax and we got to spend time together as a family, something that happens too infrequently.  Looking for ideas for their next visit has been fun in the few free minutes I have.

No sooner did they leave to go back home than my younger son moved home again and brought his daughter.  Good thing he did it at the time he did as he was on the verge of being hospitalized with strep.  Round the clock rest, antibiotics, and care were the order of the day.  Having a baby in the house again has been a joy, good for a waistline, and just plain fun.  Ok the floors could stand a mopping more often, but that is a small price to pay.

We've had quite a few trials and tribulations with my mother in law recently.  As an aging woman, who is too stubborn  for her own good, she brings some of her issues on herself but most are just results of aging.  She is exceptionally lucky that she didn't break anything during her falls.  Some of the issues we (as a family) have been able to rectify.  Others will take some retraining.

My church's festival was in early June.  Due to an elderly congregation, there are few to do the heavy lifting of the festival.  There's more than one type of heavy lifting.  We have a rehabilitation facility we can call for the literal heavy lifting.  The heavy lifting of chairing the various festival parts is just falling by the wayside.  Those who have done it for decades are mostly unable any longer.  But for all that, this year's festival was a success.  The other churches had good weather so I have high hopes they also had successful festivals.

Recently (ok 3 or 4 years ago), we found a muzzle loading faire.  This is designed for those who do reenactments of the 1700s to mid 1800s.  Some of the people build their own weapon.  Some of the people make their own clothes and all the other accoutrements of the era.  As this is a destination type event, some of the ladies decided to do a ladies in waiting group.  Here the ladies and children learn the crafts of day to day living.  Things like weaving, spinning, open fire cooking, and more esoteric like needlepoint and tatting and ice cream making without a churn are the order of the day.  This year I taught foundation piecing and straw weaving.  Always a fun activity.  The straw weaving is like inkle loom weaving except larger scale and designed for kids.

Immediately after this was my knitting guild's retreat for summer.  Sadly I didn't get to attend.  My family experienced a loss.  My husband's uncle died.  It was not totally unexpected but still a devastation.  Thankfully the retreat could go on without me.

Finally, I have figured out early what to do for my grandchildren for Christmas.  This is a struggle most years.  Each child will get a hand knit blanket.  I was helped along by a good sale at my local Joann's.  The sale was on Bernat Blanket yarn.  That will help with the time element and the fact that I have 5 beautiful grandbabies (ok some are in elementary school).  Each one will be different and individualized.  The first one is center out.  I'm on the 2nd ball.  I have a gauge of 1.5 sts per inch and 2.5 rows per inch.

The basic pattern for a simple square blanket.

size 13 circular needles.

Cast on 8 stitches with a magic circle.

K 1 rd, pm after every 2nd st.  Make the first corner where you start the round different.
Kfb around.
K1 rd.
* Kfb, k2, kfb, sl m.  Rep from *
**K 1 rd.
*Kfb, to last st before marker, kfb, sl m.  Rep from *.

Rep from ** until you reach the size desired or you run out of yarn.  Bind off loosely.

Weave in ends.  Sew fast with a needle and thread if you are using the same yarn as I am.  The ends will worm through with use.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Teddy Bears for Babies

Years ago a women's magazine had craft projects that were good sellers for bazaars.  They might have been at one time but not any more. I was a very young knitter looking through my mother's magazines. This is when patterns were still a part of the regular line up of features. 

One of the things that stuck with me over the decades was the cat/bear/bunny stuffed animal. I always wanted to make a bunch of them for my future children and for sale. It turned out, selling them for a profit was next to impossible. Being young and not having a large extended family, it was considered strange to make them for children that might never be.

The animals have the same basic body and head until you get to the ears.  Sew across the corners or add triangles or tubes to differentiate.  However,  I've been dissatisfied with it for a long time. The first issue I have with it is the loose gauge.  Size 8 US needles and worsted weight yarn is fine and dandy for a sweater.  It is not fine for stuffed toys.  The fluff stuffed inside shows through or worse migrates out.  The next issue I have is the lack of neck.  The original pattern has 1x1 ribbing for the neck for a few rows. Stuff these with any amount of firmness and the neck expands.  The pattern countered with a ribbon tied around the neck.  This becomes a choking hazard for very young children and just doesn't work well.  Another issue is the attachment for the arms.  They are just sewn on in the approximate location of the shoulders.

What do I like about it??   Quite a lot actually.  The pattern is so memorable that decades later I can tell you the basic pattern.  It seamed up the inside of each leg, then seam up the middle of the back of the body and head and across the top of the head and ears. It's also worked in garter stitch  for the most part, if you want.  It's easy enough to adapt the legs to wear pants or shorts,  the arms to long sleeves or short. I even worked it out for a dress.  I would do the arms as a 4 needle bind off instead of sewing them, but that is more not wanting to sew them on die to laziness.

The reason I am revisiting the pattern is because of my granddaughter who lives local to me.  We see her quite a bit more than any of the other kids.  She needs toys to play with at Nana and grandpa's house.  I'm in favor of kids having to use their imaginations.   I am also a firm believer that soft toys should be soft. That's not really what I found at the local stores.  

So let's get started.

I suggest worsted weight yarn or bulky weight yarn 1 skein of each color you intend to use, body color,  pants color,  shirt color.  If you don't want your animals wearing clothes, make it 1 color.  Use needles half the size normally used for this yarn. I'm using US 7 or 4.5mm with bulky weight yarn. You can use smooth yarn or textured,  just not eyelash or similar yarn. 

For each leg,  cast on 16 sts. Knit 10 rows.  Is it wearing pants?  Change color, knit 12 rows in stockinette stitch or 22 rows in garter. If this toy isn't wearing pants, k 22 rows.  If this animal is wearing shorts,  you determine where the shorts start, change color and work until you have the correct number of rows.  Make 2 legs.

To start the body,  work across both legs in the same color and stitch as the top of the legs. Knit 5 rows of stockinette stitch or 8 rows of garter stitch. Is it wearing a shirt?  Change to the shirt color and k 11 rows stockinette stitch or 20 rows of garter stitch.  If it's not dressed,  continue with body color and stitch.

Shoulders to neck.  Continue with body color and stitch,  k 5, k2tog,  k 2, k2tog,  k10,  k2tog,  k 2, k2tog,  k5.  Continue with body Color and stitch,  k4,  k2tog,  k2,  k2tog,   k8,  k2tog, k2,  k2tog,  k4.

Neck to head.   Change to the main animal color if needed. K4,  kfb,  k2,  kfb,  k8,  kfb,  k2,  kfb,  k4. Turn, k5,  kfb, k2,  kfb,  k10,  kfb,  k2,  kfb,  k5.

Head.   K 10 Row. 

Ears. Bear  K 7 rows.  Bind off.

Cat.   K 10, turn, * k2tog,  k4,  k2tog,   turn,  k2tog, k2,  k2tog,  turn,  k2tog,  k2tog.  Bind off.  ** With right side facing, attach yarn to stitch next to the ear, k to the end.  Repeat from * to **.

Bunny.   K 10, turn,  * **k5,  turn, repeat ** 6 times,  k2tog,  k1,  k2tog.  Bind off. *+.  With right side facing,  repeat * to *+.

Seam and stuff. Fold legs in half lengthwise.  Sew  across the foot and up the inseam. Repeat for the second leg.  Stuff the legs.

Sew up the center back and head.  Stuff the body before the head is seamed.  Stuff the head before seaming for ears.

Sew across the top of the head and each ear. Stuff the ears before the final closure.

For bear, sew diagonally to "cut off" each corner at the top of the head 4 rows (2 ridges if garter stitch) down and 4 stitches in from the edge.

For Arms.  Repeat the leg instructions to the last 2 rows. K1,  k2tog, k3, (k2tog)2x, k3 , k2tog,  k1, turn,  k1, k2tog, k1, (k2tog) 2x,  k1,  k2tog k1, substitute shirt color for pants for color.   Determine if you want long or short sleeves.  Fold in half to match leg.  Seam across hand and up the arm.  Stuff to same firmness of body.  Seam shoulder. Sew to the body just below the first row of decreases on each side.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Update to the Masters

At long last, I am finished with my swatches.  I am finished with the written portions.

I had sent in the whole portfolio.  My first reviews came back.  There were a few that needed redoing.  There were many that needed the finishing redone.  I had taken finishing techniques from various decades of books in my library of books.  What was considered acceptable in one time period isn't in the next.  It's amazing how many different ways there have been in the last hundred years to weave ends, seam, even work the stitches.  On a working vacation I redid all that were required to be redone.   The newest way to finish is to make the ends disappear.

I sent in the corrections.  There is one overlying theme that I discovered about my crocheting.  It has become a problem as I get older.  Perhaps it is also one for you.  I have trouble following a written pattern when the lines of text are close together.  My eyes jump over lines.  They are perhaps helped along by the bifocals I wear.

There are several methods I can use to fix this.  If I don't fix it, none of my patterns will be right.

1.  I can (and do) rewrite each row in larger letters and spaced further apart.
2.  I can read aloud each row as I execute.
3.  I can chart on graph paper the written directions.
4.  I can use 1 line width highlighter tape and put it every other row.
5.  I can use a chart keeper of some sort to underline each line of text in the row.
6.  I can and do compare my work with the picture of the object.  Most have a finished object picture.
7.  I can count my stitches and for the few patterns that have a final stitch count per row, compare mine to the pattern.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

March 20 ~~ Sweater Day ~~Did You Hear of This?

I've never heard of this day.  You would think that a knitter would know about sweater day.   Wear a Sweater Day is March 20.  It's a day to wear your favorite sweater.

Why am I telling you about this?   Better still where did I find out about it?   What is this day about?
Recently my husband and I were watching a cartoon on PBS, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, while waiting for the show we wanted to watch to come on.  We commented back and forth as married couples do in those little half sentences how this cartoon reminded us of Mr. Rogers and his long running show for kids.

Being the more curious of the two,  I hopped on Google and zoomed in on Wikipedia.   I had known he died of cancer.  But his wiki page had much more information about this amazing man.  My husband was amazed he was a Pennsylvania native.  But we both agreed he did pretty great things for preschool kids and wondered if there was a memorial to him.  There is.  It's in Pittsburgh.


Wikipedia has this to say:  Picture of the Fred Rogers Memorial Statue located near Heinz Field on the North Shore in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 2009. 

Mr. Rogers production company planned and hosted several events to commemorate what would have been his 80th birthday.   Wear a Sweater Day is one.  It is still celebrated.  The date of March 20 is Mr. Rogers birthday.

As you might be able to tell,  I'm a big fan of his.  He offered something special to children, beyond a calm interlude in the fast paved world children are living in these days.  My sister and I watched his show as little girls.   My children watched him when they were little.

At least some of the reasoning behind the day is Mrs. Rogers, Fred Rogers mom.  She knit all the sweaters he wore on the show.  She did an amazing job with the zipper installations, not a wrinkle to be seen if memory serves.   Wearing a sweater knit or crocheted by a loved one is like receiving a hug from that person even if they are far away.

So remember March 20 and wear a sweater.  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Ribbing:: Let's see the various ways to create it

Ribbings::  So easy.  So many ways to create ribbing.  Let's explore.

Once upon a time, when I was younger, the Flintstone's was an after school cartoon.  There was knitting in one episode.  Wilma was expecting a baby.  She sat in a chair knitting away for her new baby on a pair of baby booties while talking to Betty.  I can still hear her to this day, knit one, purl two, knit one, purl two.  Now I realize the cartoons back in the day were not terribly detailed but there was no ribbing to be seen.

Knit one, purl two is a three stitch repeat of ribbing.  It is more decorative than stretchy.  It is also not really balanced.  That's obvious when looking at it.  But I'm talking about working it.  Knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl.... This is a balanced stitch pattern.  It offers maximum stretch.  It offers an easy rhythm to knit to.  This is the same with knit two, purl two.

Ribbing of a sort can also be had from garter stitch.  When knitting every stitch on every row and turning at the end of the row creates a corrugated fabric very similar to knit one, purl one.  Double garter stitch (knit 1 row, purl 2 rows, knit 1 row and repeat these 4 rows) can almost substitute for knit 2, purl 2 ribbing.  I say almost because they aren't quite as stretchy but close.

Ribbing can also be had in a number of ways from crochet.

Ribbing can be done using just single crochet.  Now when you turn work only in the back loop and single crochet across the stitches.  Turn and again work in the back loop while single crocheting across.  Keep doing this and you will see how it has an accordion effect.  This is a very stretchy ribbing.  However, it can lose its stretch and cause over stretched loops.  To a certain extent this can be corrected by giving a vigorous tug from the sides, not the chain edge, evenly spaced across the entire ribbed section.

Ribbing with crochet can also be achieved by using post stitches.  Start with the chain and work double crochet across.  Chain 3 and turn.  Now work a front post double crochet around the second stitch.  Work a back post double crochet around the third stitch.  Repeat the front post and back post stitches across.  Chain 3 and turn.  Now make sure you work a front post double crochet on the stitches that protrude towards you and back post double crochet on the stitches that are trying to get away from you.  As you can see after a few rows, the stitches are very pronounced in their protrusions.  This won't stretch out like the above ribbing can do.

Which variant do you like and why?  I find specific uses for each rather than a favorite.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Merry Christmas

To all a very Merry Christmas!

Did you give special hand crafted gifts?   Tell me about them in the comments.  Did you intend to and not get done in time?  Tell me about these in the comments too.

Let me tell you about my gift giving fails/wins.  It's all in how you spin things sometimes.  I planned to crochet cardigans for my 7 year old twin granddaughters.  I planned to knit or crochet stuffed animals for my 9 month old granddaughter.  I planned to knit pullover sweaters for my two grandsons, aged 6 and 2.

Those were the plans.  Here's what actually happened.

I actually did start in time to accomplish this all.  I started in October.  I started with the crochet sweaters first, because 1) they need to be mailed to the other side of the country, 2) they are larger to make, 3) I was designing them both.  They were not the same sweater done in different colors.  I learned a few things.  I need to start earlier still.  Don't get derailed by tragedies.  Don't do multiple granny squares and motif squares with multiple colors.  The weaving in of ends is murder.

Here is a look at the front and the back of them.

They love their sweaters.

This is as far as I got.  These were not even sent until January 4.  I got them done the 4th.  I made it to the mailing station 10 minutes before the delivery truck left to take my box of goodies away.  These were feast of the 3 kings gifts.  They got presents on Christmas day.  

The stuffed toys and knit pullovers?  They didn't happen.  Yet.  Presents were purchased for these grandkids.  Their birthdays are coming up soon and I will make these happen for the birthdays.

The blue sweater is Caron Simply Soft in teal zeal.  The pink sweater is 2 different hot pinks from Red Heart and Caron Simply Soft as well as a soft pink and a geranium pink from a long defunct yarn company.  The blocks were inspired by or actual patterns found on pinterest.  The back 6 are 8x8 inches.  The sleeves are different.  There are half square triangles, whole squares, jumbo squares.  Each jumbo holds 4 whole squares, 2 over 2. 

This year will be different.  I'm starting in June.

Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Charity Knitting/Crocheting Month is January

This is charity knitting and crocheting month.  We have spent untold months doing projects for gift giving.  Now is our chance to do something for those who aren't in our family.

I kind of disagree with this though.  I kind of understand it, but disagree.  Let me explain.

In spring we are preparing for vacations that might be upcoming.  We are planning our gardens and getting the beds ready for planting.  We are cleaning up from winter.  We might even be preparing for a late snowstorm or early deluge.

Come summer, kids are getting out of school which changes our schedules.  We are in full swing with gardening.  We are going on vacations.  It's hot.  I can understand why there is little knitting or crocheting in summer.  In late summer, we have the go back to school shopping to do.  We have the back to school flurry of activities.

In October, the northern reaches of the northern hemisphere are hitting cold temps and need the things we work so diligently to make.  October is also thanksgiving for Canada.  Not knowing how much prep work there is for a Canadian thanksgiving, I will assume it's the same as for the US thanksgiving in November.  Some of us do a lot.  Some of us not so much.  We all have our family's own traditions.

November brings colder temps lower in the landmasses of the northern hemisphere.  Bitter cold in the mountainous regions comes along now.  November is also the time when people start ramping up for Christmas.

December brings us Christmas.  There are parties to attend.  There is a myriad of decorating to do.  Special dishes and special baking done only at this time of year are making claims on our time.  There are concerts, pageants and plays to attend if we have children in school or grandchildren for that matter.  Gift creation has to finish up to be ready to go in the mail or under the tree.

So really I can see why January was chosen.  BUT, I still disagree with it.  The weather is cold for most of the northern hemisphere, whatever that means to your locale.  I understand California considers 40s and 50s cold.  This is not a knock on California.  They consider temperatures hotter than I can stand to be normal.  Most of the celebrations are over.  Football is done.  Basketball hasn't quite gotten into the time of the season when it "really matters", just like football in August and September.

But here are some links for things that can be used for charity.  Remember to use the fibers called for by your chosen charity.  If you don't, they won't take your contribution and you are left with things you might not want.

http://warmupamerica.org/  Knit and Crochet patterns suitable for a blanket
http://www.redheart.com/free-patternshttp://www.lionbrand.com/patterns are just two locations to find patterns for anything.  If you can imagine it, someone probably needs it.

Hurricane relief, help for the poorest of the poor, preemie needs, earthquake relief, Warm up America receives requests, as does the Red Cross.  Check with your local clothing bank, homeless shelter, police department, fire department, elementary school, middle school, humane society.  Blankets, hats, mittens, scarves all in neutral colors or whatever is popular in your location as well as darker colors for men are always in need.

So truly I can see why January was picked, but I want to relax in January and be a little selfish with my talents.  I will continue sneaking in blanket squares and small things all year long.

Enjoy the links above.  Take time to explore.  Most are simple patterns that can be easily memorized and take little time to complete.