Three Holiday Dec Ideas

As l022_Baublesong as we're on the subject of knitting for the holidays — if you have some spare time and spare yarn, here's some cuties for you.  All these are my original designs, and newly available on Ravelry.

First up, felted Holiday Baubles, made with short rows in garter stitch and embellished in any number of ways:  I used needle felting and stripey color changes on these, but you could do just about anything with them!

No ideas?  Look no further than the interwebs for inspiration.  I might not advocate trying to do an entire wreath of yarn balls before the 25th, but you could embellish an existing wreath with just a few.  Or make a sequin-y garland.  More ideas for ornaments here, and here.

You can copy just about anyone's favorite anything onto a baIl shape.  How about super-hero logos for the super-heroes on your list?  Sports team colors work perfectly with these.  Animals and cartoon characters work too (OK, maybe not a SpongeBob SQUAREpants, but you know there's always one exception to every rule).  I have made a Hello Kitty one, and always meant to make a Chococat one for myself, and I definitely NEED a Grumpy Cat this year!


In related news, th023_MrSnowere is Mr. Snowman, who is knit and felted on the same lines as the baubles but in three different sizes, of course.  Again you have an opportunity for a little creativity in how you dress him (or her) up.  He is hot-glued to a juice can lid to keep him upright, even after a few egg-nogs.


And finally, who doesn't have le016_PBX_Bftover sock yarn lying around?  These Mitered Square full_db_016_PBX_Eornaments have a rustic, "Olde Worlde" look to them and no wonder – they are made with a traditional knitting technique that is lots of fun to try on a small scale like this.  But change up the colors, and add a touch of glittery, sparkly yarn and they can look quite modern!


Enjoy the holiday season, keep warm, and Happy Knitting!

Read More

More recent FO’s

Here's some eye candy for ya:  a few FO's!

Sari Silk bag:  this was knit from some recycled-sari silk yarn, although at this point I'm not sure exactly which manufacturer.  This major FO accomplishment started life as "Unbiased", a bag pattern from Knitty, Fall 2004.

Unfortunately, mine was biased.  When I sewed the pieces together, they did not hang very well.  Discouraged, I took a look at the pattern on Ravelry (a few years later, to be sure) and found that not a lot of people were thrilled with the functionality of the finished product.  That was enough for me — frog city.  If a bag doesn't really hold things very well, not much use, then, is it?

sari silk bag with felted bottominside of sari silk bag

Eventually, I cooked this one up myself.  I can't say I recommend it to anyone else, though, because it was kind of a bear to knit.  But here's how I did it:

  • 2 strands Cascade 220 held together, about 120 g; size 13 needles.

  • CO 40 sts, work in garter st 24 rows.  Pick up and knit 12 sts along short side, 40 sts along CO edge, 12 sts along other short side.

  • K 18 rounds (stockinette st).

  • Next round – cut one strand of yarn.  **K1, YO** around.

  • Next round – K2tog all the way around while binding off at the same time.

Weave a strand of non-felting yarn through the eyelet holes and tie securely.  Felt piece.

When dry, remove the non-felting yarn, and pick up and knit in the eyelet holes with silk yarn.  Adjust number of sts after first round if necessary to get silk section the same width as felted section.  Work in linen st forever, until bag is as tall as desired.  Bind off.

Unfortunately, even though the bag was made of non-stretchy silk yarn in unyielding linen stitch (which is why it was SO DARNED FUN to knit) — it turned out that when anything was put in the bag, the knitted section stretched anyway, and the sides became kind of concave.  What to do?  Add a fabric lining.  And glue that sucker directly to the knitting, to keep it from sagging out of shape.

I cut up an old shirt of my husband's and hemmed it with fusible web, because at this point I just didn't care any more.  I was pretty well just finishing it to finish the damned thing.  I fused the lining into a tube of the appropriate diameter, fused adhesive to the lining, and stuffed the lining inside to be fused to the knitting.

The final hurdle was this:  how to keep the knitting stretched to just the proper width while doing the fusing?

Answer:  I turned the whole thing inside out, and stuffed a pillow inside the bag.  Sheer genius, if I say it myself.  Having the cotton lining on the OUTSIDE while fusing kept the knitting from being stretched out too far by the pillow, and the pillow made an excellent surface upon which to wield the iron.

Finally, the straps are repurposed belt loop material I bought at SCRAP.  I glued those on, too.  Lazy, I guess.

To my own surprise, I use it often, and I've gotten a number of compliments on it!

completed Flame Rib socks

Believe it or not, I did get these bad boys finished, too.  I proudly present DH's Flame Rib Socks.

There is a heckuva lot of history on these, which started out as a guilt project and turned into the Socks from Hell.

You will notice, I trust, that they are now 100% mirror images of each other.

I do think I found an error in the stitch pattern, though.

May Barbara Walker forgive me, I am convinced there are a couple of rows missing off the top of this chart.  Fourth Treasury (the green one), page 188.

There are 18 rows in the first half of the chart, and only 14 in the second half.  Yet the first half and second half are mirror images of each other, except for that rather significant difference.

I believe that additional rows 34 and 36 should be included as mirror images of rows 16 and 18.  And that's the way I knitted these socks.

What?  There's more?   Oh, yes.

I don't think I managed to post this FO here, although it has been on display over at the Knitting Bee as a class sample for a couple of months now.  This is a version of EZ's famous Ribwarmer vest, restyled.

Restyled ribwarmer, frontrestyled ribwarmer, back view

In case anyone wonders, I put some real work into redesigning this vest — and anyone who's been here a while knows I don't use the term "design" lightly.

EZ's original directions are about two paragraphs long, and while I applaud her cleverness and the originality of the basic concept — the "style" factor just isn't there for me in some of the boxier designs.  I particularly disliked the very squared-off armholes on the original — so I fixed 'em, along with a few other things.

The class material covers seven pages, and contains several improvements on the original.  A couple of them were gleaned from other sources, and some of them are my own — including a schematic, step-by-step knitting instructions (including wrapped double short rows in garter stitch) and MULTIPLE SIZES.

This came out so nicely, I'm working on finishing up a seed stitch version in Manos, too.  However, that one is still in the stack, so that's it for the FO's!

If anyone else is keeping score:  the old UFO pile is down to THREE.  Yup, only THREE.  Will wonders never cease?

I did fall off the "no new projects until the UFO's are cleared out" wagon, and added a couple of new projects in the past few weeks — so in the stack I have two new projects, three old UFO's, and two projects that are "holding" (one is waiting for yarn).  Not bad!

Read More

Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on Its Way

And if you need yourself a little Easter Basket, here’s the ticket!mobius basket - side view

I’ll be teaching this mobius-handled basket at the Knitting Bee in early March.  It goes amazingly quickly, so you’ll have plenty of time to whip up one or more before the holiday.  Among other things, you’ll learn how to do a provisional cast-on — a must in every serious knitter’s repertoire!

This new sample was knit using 2 colors of Malabrigo, and it felted beautifully.  I think it’s the easiest felting I’ve ever done!  (In teaching the class, I plan to use the rest of the yarn to knit another basket in the opposite color scheme, so we can find out if you can get two baskets out of two skeins.)

This is a Polar Bear Pattern, and is available at the Knitting Bee.

2 Saturdays, 3-7 and 3-14-09     1:30–3:30 pm

mobius basket - top view

This funky-cute little felted basket uses a mobius strip for the handle and top edge.  I prefer to cast on for a mobius strip with a different method than the one Cat Bordhi uses:  I kind of think my way is better and easier, but maybe you should be the judge.  (Oh, I can also do the Cat Bordhi way if you insist.) 

Previous experience knitting in the round required.

Class fee: $35







Read More

A Bunny Dilemma!

OK, so I went and got white pom-poms and some bunny eyes last night.

But Houston – we have a problem.

The original eyes of Hip and Hop are pink with black centers, 18 mm diameter, with little radial lines or "veins" in them.  The poor furry little guys have been sadly abused over the years, so Hip and Hop have cataracts now — I told you they were elderly — but believe me, the veins are there, even if you can’t see them well in the photos.

original eyeeye closeupjoann brown eyes and poms

The local Joann’s didn’t have pink eyes, so I picked up a couple of packages of 20 mm brown eyes — on the theory that having something is better than having nothing.  Plus, they were like a buck apiece.

Pros:  cheap; already in my possession.

Cons:  very unlike the original eyes.

Today, I stopped by a local doll shop to inquire about pink eyes, and they had nothing to offer, either in the way of pink eyes, or other places to find them.


The Internet to the rescue, of course!

So, I started looking online for pink eyes.  After a couple of solid hours of searching, here’s what I found:

ebay pink eyes

On Ebay, I can get a package of one hundred forty-four pink veined eyes, 19mm, for around $11 with shipping.  (And I will sell you the 140 leftover eyes for $10.)

Pros:  these are the most like the originals, with the veins.

Cons:  what the heck am I going to do with 140 extra pink bunny eyes? 


etsy shop eyes

On Etsy, there is a seller who is showing these eyes, 18mm, in a pkg of 5 pairs for about $6.00.  I’m assuming I could get them to sell me just a couple of pairs of pink ones — but worst case, I could buy 2 sets of them.

Pros:  similar to the originals, but without the veins; would only have at worst 8 extra sets of eyes.

Cons:  do not have the veins.

So — what’s a girl to do? 

[poll id="2"]

Read More

UFOlympics! the fourth event

OK, so I know I said I wasn't going to work on the UFOs during my "vacation".

Well, that was before I got strep throat on the very first day of my "vacation".  I mean, it's not like I had this penciled in on my calendar:

  • Friday morning:  Drop off DH at airport.  Teach Friday group class.
  • Friday afternoon:  Get sick.
  • Saturday:  Continue being sick.  Work on the bunny ears for UFO #2.  Look up symptoms of strep throat. Become concerned.
  • Sunday:  Get a little sicker.  Decide that spending 2 hours feeling lousy at home isn't any better than spending 2 hours feeling lousy in the urgent care waiting room.
  • Sunday afternoon:  Obtain positive strep culture and antibiotics.

fur vestSo, as long as I wasn't doing anything really exciting over the weekend, I did disposition UFO #3, which was the glam rock vest:  a top-down vest in a funky furry & eyelash yarn of somewhat questionable taste.  Yes, the eyelash in that yarn is a shiny, pretty yellow-gold.  And somewhere underneath all that eyelash, the furry yarn is pink and white.  This was meant to be the back of the vest, from the shoulders to the underarms.

The glam rock vest was so-called because I fondly imagined it as something Elton John might wear.  However, a while ago, someone had remarked that it looked more like a Muppet — or maybe they were suggesting that I would look like a Muppet wearing it — I wasn't listening too closely.

janice muppetWell, there definitely are some cool Muppets:  for instance, Janice, the lead guitar player in the Electric Mayhem, whose style I have always admired — particularly those fab eyelashes.  (And finding out that she was originally conceived as a male Muppet, as a takeoff on Mick Jagger, has only increased her cool factor in my eyes.)

However, whether you're talking Elton John, Janice the Muppet, or Mick Jagger — I've concluded that I just don't think I have that kind of stage presence.  (Nor that kind of sexual ambiguity.)

And, since it is unlikely I'll be joining a rock band any time soon, I really won't have anywhere to wear the thing, anyway.

Sadly, though, I still kind of like the look of the fabric.  There's something about it that appeals to my 9-year-old's dramatic fashion sense.

OK, OK, I admit it:  it's all that fluffy, dancing eyelash.  You can never have too much eyelash, IMHO.  And that yellow-gold would really look GREAT on Janice — it would go so nicely with her hair.

But, the feel of the fabric was really kind of – well, gross.  While it was undeniably glam, and furry, it was also rather plasticky.  It actually had a kind of icky "scroop" to it — definitely not a nice one like silk has.

Silk has a special characteristic called "scroop" — this is often referred to as a crunchy feel, and it also has a rustly sound.

So, the vest was frogged in about an hour, and that takes care of UFO #3.

Which — in case you're keeping score at home — puts me about 3 days to the good.

AHA!  but what about UFO #2, you ask?

Ahhh, the bunny slippers.  Well, yes.  I've been deliberately keeping you in suspense on that one.

When we left off, I had two ears knitted, and two to go, and then we would be off to the felting races — or felting crapshoot, as the case may be was.

I got all four ears knitted, although not in the extremely optimistic timeframe I had predicted in the last post.  Over Strep Throat Saturday, I finished embellishing them with the fur yarn, and finally felted them.  Don't they look great??  They even have a bit of curvature to them, just as bunny ears should.  (And if I had tried to achieve that on purpose, I'm sure it wouldn't have worked out.)

I've attempted to keep the lint trap of the dryer about the same size in these two pics, so you can see they shrunk quite a bit.

ears before feltingears after felting

Unfortunately, not quite enough.

ears with slippers

You can see that they are still rather too big to fit comfortably on the top of the slippers.  And believe me, I tried.  I felted those things three times.

Just before I gave 'em up for dog toys, I got out one of the original slippers for a comparison shot, because I felt (get it?) that the previous picture really didn't show just how oversized the ears were for the slippers.  Notice how on the original, the white part is the actual size of the ear, and the rest is just pink fur sticking out around the sides…

Hip with big ears

… heyyyyy… wait a minute…  if I trim those pink edges off my ears, they might be small enough!!  and they will actually even be more true to the original!!

So I got out the scissors — what did I have to lose?  I'd just have some slightly smaller dog toys, if it didn't work out.

Here the ears on the left have been trimmed, and the ears on the right are as felted.  I think this photo makes it plain that the ears, as-felted, really were just too darned big.

ears big and small

And here, both sets of ears have been trimmed, and we're back in business!  Hooray!  Now for some pom-poms and pink eyes!!  As long as I get these done by the 30th, I'll still be on my medal-winning pace.

 ears after trimming

Read More

UFOlympics! the third event

Wow, this UFOlympics thing is getting to be quite an eye-opener for me.

For one thing, I have started to realize just how little time I devote to knitting in the course of a standard week.  I mean to the actual act of pulling one loop of yarn through another.  Sure, I spend plenty of time writing about knitting, and teaching others about knitting, and working on my someday-I’ll-have-a-new-cool-website-about-knitting — but as for ACTUAL KNITTING, it seems to be an endangered species at my house.

This was brought home over the weekend, in particular.  I started working on UFO #2, the bunny slippers, on Friday evening.  OK, I have the slippers themselves made, so "all" I have to do is decorate them — add ears, eyes, noses, and tails.  Simple, no?

Even better, I already have a starting point for the ears:  this online pattern for a Mutant Bunny Hat.  As I have said before, no point in reinventing the wheel.  So on Friday eve, I started knitting a prototype of the ear to see just how big it was going to be, and how big it might be likely to be after felting.

I didn’t get it done Friday night, so I finished the prototype on Saturday morning.  And then I didn’t knit a single stitch for the next 36 hours or so.  Yikes!

Sunday night found me a little freaked out that my 4-day advantage, left over from UFO’s #0 and #1, had more-or-less evaporated. 

Well, onward and upward — or citius, altius, fortius, as the case may be.  I measured the ears on Hip and Hop (the original slippers), and used this data, plus my prototype, plus some wild guessing about what will happen in the washing machine, to decide that using the same yarn and needles as for the slippers has a decent chance of yielding a reasonably-sized ear — that is, an ear in line with the scale of the slippers, once felted.

So I ripped out the prototype ear, and started in earnest on ear #1.bunny ears 1 & 2

The designer of the bunny hat used double-knitting for the ears, which works quite nicely – but as usual, I changed a couple of minor things.  (First of all, I didn’t knit a hat.)  Second, on my prototype I started out where she does with the ears, and realized my ears aren’t going to need quite as much "base" as hers have.  So I’m starting my real ears a few rows further on in the directions. 

Third, I changed the ribbing on the edges to be symmetrical.  It’s not a terribly obvious thing, but the ribbing on either side of the ear is written as "K1, P1, K1, P1" which means that it’s not a mirror image, and on one side of the ear you have a pink K st next to the lining, and on the other side of the ear you have a pink P st next to the lining.  YES, I know these are going to be felted.  That’s why I didn’t reknit ear #1.  But you may be able to see that the pink edges on the ear on the left are a bit lopsided, while those on the ear on the right are more balanced.

Thus, ear #2, and all subsequent ears, will have this minor upgrade.

Finally, I had to write out the directions row-by-row, because I kept getting lost and it took me 2 hours on Sunday night to knit ear #1.  After writing it out, it took me 1 hour on Monday night to knit ear #2.  With any luck, ear #3 and ear #4 will be completed tonight.

Which brings me to the crapshoot part of the whole thing.

After knitting the prototype ear and real ear #1, it occurred to me that the SMART thing to do would be to embellish ear #1 with the fur and felt it, to see if it comes out OK.  Then if all is well, proceed with ears #2-4 — or if not, re-engineer the ears.

However, I just don’t have that kind of time.  So, I decided to go whole hog and knit all 4 ears, and hope for the best.  If you’ve seen some of my other felted works, you may realize just how foolhardy this is on my part — but what else could I do?

So, watch this space for updates and wish me luck!

Read More

Third Time’s A Charm!

If you think waaaaay back, you might remember a few issues I had while trying to make some felted slippers for myself.

hip and hop, the elderly bunny slippersOf course, these were not just your garden variety felted slippers.  No, I had to make it harder than that.  My goal was to replicate my dearly beloved, but quite elderly, pink furry bunny slippers:  Hip and Hop.

I had a couple of abject failures that turned out to be dog chew toys, rather than slippers.

But today is a different story!

Not to jinx myself or anything, but I believe I am finally over the biggest hurdle on my way to my very own, handmade, furry pink bunny replacement slippers.  Check ’em out!!slippers

Since I’m certain you’ve been pondering this problem since last fall, as I have, I know you will ask:  what finally worked?

Well, of course it was Sandi who ultimately hit upon the correct approach.  The idea she gave me was to knit the slippers from wool (and/or MOHAIR) first, and add the fur yarn later as a surface embellishment, prior to felting.  This way the fur yarn would theoretically not interfere so much with the felting of the slipper body.

Once I had the slippers knitted, I did get started with this new concept, and then I promptly got sick of weaving bits of fur yarn in and out of sts with a tapestry needle.  It was like weaving in ends, but never-ending.  Tons of fun, as you might think.  So, I put the whole thing off for a long time…

… fortuitously, while writing about my Anny Blatt "Jonelle" top the other day, I remembered how I had used a crochet slip st to embellish it with the sparkly metallic eyelash yarn after the fact, instead of knitting it in as the pattern said:  partly because I wanted the eyelash to all be on the outside, and partly because I was freaked out at the idea of trying to knit in yet another yarn.

So I did the same thing over the surface of the slippers:  I used a crochet slip st with the fur yarn, which could be done with a crochet hook and a continuous length of yarn, instead of a billion 2-foot-long pieces and a %#$@&* tapestry needle.

I did have one ridiculous, fleeting concern — which I actually said out loud to DH, while I was deciding whether to crochet the fur onto every row, or only every other row:   "Do you think maybe the slippers will be too furry?"

(Did I really say that?)

Three sessions of crocheting later, the slippers were covered with fur, and I was (gulp) ready to felt.  Or at least, as ready as I was ever gonna be.

It was touch and go there for a while last night, as I anxiously hovered around the washing machine.

I was already thinking, if it doesn’t work this time, I’ll give up.

But voila!  I now have slippers!

Although, as DH says, we don’t know what’s going to happen when Kodi the dog sees me walking around wearing a couple new chew toys.

Due to my previous issues, I decided a while ago that the ears would be a separate issue from the slippers themselves.  I plan to use this online pattern for a Mutant Bunny Hat as a starting point for the ears — no point in reinventing the wheel, after all, and there’s something about this hat that I think is pretty funny, anyway.  The fact that the designer used double-knitting for the ears is a big point in her favor, too.  Excellent use of technique.

Of course, I will need some pink eyes, and white pom-poms for noses and tails.  Pffft, that part’s easy…

Read More

Felting with Effing-U-N Fur

Last Friday, I made another attempt at a pair of felted slippers for myself. (For those of you keeping score, DH has a pair already that he wears & loves – made in 2004.) 

sm_hipandhop.jpgThe original concept behind this project is that I have a fabulous but very elderly pair of slippers that I’d like to replicate. These are totally classic, pink-eyed, furry bunny slippers, which I purchased in Canada around 1991. The one on the right foot (at any given moment) is named Hip; the one on the left foot is named Hop. As footwear goes, they are among the most comforting items I have ever owned. Obviously, though, they have seen better days.  They would like to retire.

sm_kodiwslipper.JPGThe idea I’ve been working with is to use a fur yarn in with the felting yarn, to give the finished slipper a fluffy, furry texture.

I’ve tried this once before, using a doubled strand of mohair for the sole, and adding in a strand of fur for the top of the slipper. The sole felted fine, but the top part of the slipper did not felt down sufficiently to allow it to stay on my dainty little foot. The post-mortem conculsion, reached by a group of us at my LYS, was that the triple-stranded fabric was too dense, and I should have dropped one strand of the mohair to be replaced with the fur, rather than just adding in the fur.

All was not lost, however – the dog loved ‘em.

So far I’ve been wedded to the idea of incorporating pink mohair into these slippers: partly because I love MOHAIR, but mainly because, in a moment of weakness in 1999, I purchased an entire bag of bubblegum pink mohair, and after coming to my senses later (NO, a BUBBLEGUM PINK MOHAIR SWEATER is NOT a good idea!) I found I had absolutely no idea what else to do with it. And my Midwestern sense of “waste not, want not” just hasn’t let me NOT use this appropriately colored animal fiber to make these slippers.

However, after this most recent experiment, I’m thinking, pink or no, the mohair will just have to be abandoned.

This time, I tried using just 1 strand of mohair with the fur for the uppers: therefore this time the fabric would not be as dense, and thus it would be able to felt down to the correct size. Right? Here they are, prior to felting, and here they are, after felting: sm_before.jpgsm_after.jpg

Once again, the sole felted fine – actually, since (again) I felted these blasted things for the better part of an hour, the soles (again) felted far too small – but (again) the top part of the slipper did not felt down sufficiently to allow it to stay on my dainty little foot.

I’m coming to the conclusion that perhaps effing-U-N fur + mohair just DOES NOT FELT WELL. (I have 2 data points now, after all, and that’s plenty for any engineer worth her salt to come to a conclusion.)

Actually, I don’t think it’s necessarily the MOHAIR that’s the culprit here – because the soles on Pair #1, made with a double strand of mohair, felted just as densely as the soles on Pair #2, made with a double strand of Cascade 220.

I’m not giving up yet, though I know I’m letting myself in for continued public humiliation. My felting disasters are all but legendary at my LYS. On Friday afternoon, as I sat knitting on Pair #2, Sandi told Rock Star all about Pair #1, and Rock Star just about wet her pants laughing. (There’s an easy joke in there about baby boomers and pants-wetting, but I digress.)

So, onward and upward, and (except for that last snarky comment) I will attempt to maintain dignity in the face of mockery and felting adversity.

Next step: give second set of failed slippers to dog for chew toys.

Step after that: make & felt a swatch that includes

  1. plain wool (double-stranded),
  2. plain mohair (double-stranded),
  3. wool + mohair (1 strand each),
  4. wool with fur, and
  5. mohair with fur.

Probable steps after that:

Curse the day I bought the stinking pink mohair.

Buy more Cascade 220 in pink.

Defiantly cast on yet again, and make Pair #3 entirely of wool and fur, with no mohair content.

Reconsider: just how bad could a bubblegum pink mohair cardigan be, after all? … kind of sassy… kind of retro… with a fur collar to match the slippers… … I could always give it to Rock Star for Xmas…

Read More