FO Friday ~ two hats are better than one

So – I mentioned that I was planning on making a bunch of things for gifts. I don’t remember if I also mentioned that most of these things ended up not happening because I decided early to mid-December to relax instead of stress out this holiday. So, most of the things I had been working on didn’t get made.

BUT – two unexpected projects did get finished! One was a hat for me, and the other a hat for my mother-in-law as a birthday gift. (The majority of my family – both by blood and marriage – has birthdays within three months of Christmas. This makes gift making annoying if I don’t work on it year-round, but sometimes magic happens.

One such magic project was the Caput Helianthus hat.

When I realized I was starting to burn out on gift knitting, I cast on a Caput Helianthus for myself. I used a fresh ball of Chroma fingering (Sugar Cookie colorway). Also, since I didn’t have the US 2.5 needles called for, I used a US 3 for the body of the hat, and a US 2 for the brim. (FYI, this worked really well, and the hat fits nicely too.)

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It was a fun knit, but I did manage to set it aside periodically to work on gift knitting. (In that respect, it worked! I finished the gifts I really wanted to finish, and I didn’t burn out.) I had fun with the hat, and finished it in time to wear for Christmas.

Caput Helianthus hat

And I decided to cast on another, since the first one had worked so well. I had another partial skein of Chroma fingering that I thought might be just enough yarn for another hat. There are two options for the crown of the hat, and since I did the 8-petal version on hat #1, I did the 16-petal version for hat #2.

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This hat knit up REALLY fast. Partly because I decided I wanted to send it to my MIL for her early January birthday, and partly because I didn’t work on any other projects at the same time. I nearly ran out of yarn at the end – and in fact, I think the only reason I didn’t is that I switched to the US 2 needle for the final pattern repeat before the brim

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But in the end, I finished it very quickly and got it blocked and mailed in time for her birthday. And it fits! Yay! I think I’ll be making at least one more of these hats, this time with a variegated yarn instead of one with a long repeat. They’re fun, easy, and I like the way they look when worn.

Knitting FO ~ Kraken

Today’s FO post is something that I was asked to make a long time ago, and have only just gotten finished. (To be fair to me, I only started it a little while ago, too. I was procrastinating the knitting of it, but once I started working on it I kept working on it with only one stumbling block. I’ll get to that later.)

Finished Kraken

This is the finished picture of a Kraken from Hansi Singh’s book “Amigurumi Knits: Patterns for 20 Cute Mini Knits.” My brother-in-law, for some reason, really likes the kraken, so this was a knitted toy that he truly wanted. (It might have something to do with liking Kraken spiced rum…)

At any rate, I started working on the toy (here’s a link to my Ravelry project page), and per the book’s suggestions, I put pipe cleaners in the legs when I stuffed them in order to make the toy pose-able. It worked really well as far as the posing aspect went. However, this made assembling all the legs REALLY DIFFICULT when I got to that stage.

But, I soldiered on, and fought the legs into submission, and off I went knitting the body. That part went smoothly enough. Then next hard part was knitting the fins at the top of the kraken. Getting all of the stitches picked up was a pain, as were the first couple of rows. After that it was simpler again, though.

And then… then I came to the part where I stalled out. The eyes. From what I had seen on Ravelry, several people used other options for the eyes than what is called for – felt, or embroidery, or other crochet/knitting options. Other people complained that they couldn’t get the eyes right as written. So, I was unsure what I wanted to do for the eyes. And the project sat in my OTN knitting bag, and waited. And waited. And December came along, and still I waited.

Finally, on the day before Christmas Eve, I decided I was going to trust the designer and knit the eyes as written. And they were no problem at all. I had them both finished and sewn on in a matter of a few hours, and the kraken was given his bottle of rum (this was the main reason I wanted pipe cleaners in the arms, so he could hold on to the bottle) and wrapped up for a Christmas gift.

Kraken!

I’m really pleased with how this turned out. I’m also really happy that I decided to cut back on the hand-made presents this year – even some of the ones I had started ended up getting put in my “make later” bag. It made my Christmas so much more relaxed and happy that I am glad I made that decision. However, I’m also really glad that I finished this little guy. He was a big hit.

Very Merry 2015 ~ Ramona

So, this is the first of many FO posts with objects that I haven’t been able to show you in WIP Weds posts, since the people receiving them might read the blog and I didn’t want to give anything away.

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This one is the Ramona Mini Hipster bag, a free pattern on the Swoon Sewing Patterns website. They have some awesome patterns! The free ones are good, and the paid ones are worth it! I have made several Swoon patterns now, and I haven’t had any difficulties understanding the patterns. And I always get compliments on the bags made from these patterns.

The first one of these was a birthday gift for my niece:

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Like many girls her age, she loved Frozen when it came out, so this fabric was a no-brainer.

The other bag was a birthday gift for my mom:

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Cinderella is one of her favorite Disney movies, so when I found this fabric, it seemed a good fit. (My favorite part of the fabric is, predictably, the mice. I don’t think I got a good photo of the mice, though, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

I sewed up these bags as written, with two exceptions: 1. I only did the stripes on one side of the bag. I wanted the full design of the fabric to be visible somewhere, so I left the back of the bag un-striped. 2. I added pockets:

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I love pockets in bags, so I tend to add at least one if there aren’t any written in. (This particular one was easy enough. I cut out the size pocket I wanted, turned the edges under, top-stitched the top of the pocket, and then sewed the pocket down to the lining before sewing the lining pieces together. It also seemed like a good place for my “handmade by me” labels, so I stitched those on to the pocket piece before sewing it to the lining.)

Anyway, that’s the first of several gift FO posts for 2015! If you like the bag, remember that you can make your own (The link I added at the top of the post takes you directly to the pattern page.)

Nice Crispy Bacon

I promised you a bacon scarf FO post… and here it is! Yay!
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This scarf was one that a friend asked me to make him. He had asked me for a bacon scarf, so I found a few patterns that I could knit easily and showed them to him. However, I was looking on Ravelry, and so in addition to the ones I suggested, he saw a different pattern that he liked most because it LOOKED LIKE BACON.

So. Silly me, I decided I could make it for him, “no problem”. I guess, when you come to it, there technically wasn’t a problem, in that I did finish the scarf. (Though it was over a year after he asked for it.) But there were little problems. First, the pattern was not really a pattern, just a bacon chart. (A very well done bacon chart, mind you. It really does look like bacon when worked up.) Second, there’s no delineating mark between the edge of the bacon and the “no stitch” part. (There’s no excuse for that one. I don’t understand that part, and have to adjust my opinion of the value paid for the chart accordingly.) So once the pattern and the yarn was purchased, I still had to spend a bit of time marking the chart up to determine what was going to be worked and what was not.
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The third little problem was determining how to work the scarf. I had originally planned to knit it, because I greatly prefer knitted fabric to crocheted when it comes to clothing. (Yes, there are some exceptions. This was not one of them.) However, I really don’t like knitted intarsia, and also I wanted this to be a double-sided scarf. I didn’t want to carry fair-isle style floats on the back of the piece. So, the scarf had to be crocheted. Which meant I needed to learn how to do crochet intarsia. (Turns out it’s technically easy enough, but either you have to carry all the other yarns inside your work, or you have lots of little balls of yarn which make wonderful yarn spaghetti. I carried yarn inside the darker colors without a problem, but every time I carried the yarn inside the white yarn, it kinda showed through. So I had lots of ends. Fortunately crochet makes it really easy to hide ends.)
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The fourth (and final, thankfully) little problem was length. I wasn’t good enough at crochet intarsia (since I had just learned it) to know how long the resulting project would turn out. I had to go with a gauge that gave me a good fabric, and hope it would be long enough. Given the type of chart, making it longer wasn’t an option for me either, since I didn’t want to pause during the final third and spend weeks trying to work out more design that matched the style of the bacon I had just crocheted. So it ended up however long it ended up, which is long enough to be a scarf, but not long enough to tie around a neck.

Anyway, the final result is that I am pleased with how the bacon turned out, and I think my friend is also pleased with it, even though it isn’t exactly what he had in mind when he asked for it.
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SPECS:

PATTERN: Big Strip O’ Bacon
CHART DESIGNER: Regina Rioux
YARN: Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids (in Aran, Soft Rose, and Claret)
HOOK: US G (4.0 mm)
START/END DATES: August 9, 2014 – January 31, 2015 (though most of the crochet was done in January due to Christmas knitting)
MODS: Either none or lots, depending on what you call the chart prep-work.

Two More Christmas 2014 Knits

Remember when I said last week that I had too many Christmas FOs from 2014 to show them all in individual posts? Well, we’re going to do another two-fer today.

First up is the shawl I made for my Grandmother:

Canyonlands Shawl

This one was like working two separate projects. you knit a basic stockinette shawl, and then you knit the intricate edging on for the cast-off. I thought I was doing great on time, until I realized just how long the edging was going to take. Oops. It is estimated to take half of the yarn in the shawl, so I should have expected it to take half of the knitting time, too. I just didn’t think about it.

Anyway, the pattern is well written. And the lace edging isn’t that difficult even though there’s lace on both sides. It is, however, detailed and you have to pay attention to it. If you don’t… well, let’s just say I did some tinking to make sure I had the edging pattern right.

I used Chroma for this shawl, and I loved the way the color changes turned out. I think it was a perfect yarn for this pattern. My grandma loves it, too.

SPECS (and a link to my Ravelry project page):

PATTERN: Canyonlands Shawl
DESIGNER: verybusymonkey
YARN: KnitPicks Chroma Fingering in Seaweed
NEEDLES: US 6 (4.0 mm)
START/END DATES: November 27 – December 21, 2014
MODS: none

Next up is the pair of mitts that I made for my dad:

Raw Honey Mitts

I bought this Capra yarn a while ago, with the intent that they would be mitts. And wow, this is the perfect yarn for mitts! The cashmere content makes it really soft, but the wool gives it a nice firm fabric and stability. So lovely to knit with, and to wear. (Just trying them on made me want to keep them for myself. I’ll have to get more Capra.)

The pattern is well-written, but it’s deceptive. It’s simple enough to memorize easily. And then you don’t pay attention, because you think you’ve got it. And then you realize that you’ve put the purls in the wrong places and you have to go back and fix it.

SPECS (and a link to my Ravelry project page):

PATTERN: Raw Honey
DESIGNER: Alicia Plummer
YARN: KnitPicks Capra DK in Burnished
NEEDLES: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)
START/END DATES: September 27 – November 29, 2014
MODS: none?

Christmas FO Two-Fer

I’m going to post two of my Christmas 2014 knitted gifts in this one post, because:

  1. There are so many of them that it will take forever at this rate; and
  2. I didn’t take many pictures of these two knits.

The first one is:

 Man Hands Mitts for my BIL

These mitts were a last-minute knitted gift that I made when I realized that I had a handmade gift for nearly all of my family members, and wanted to make it ALL of them. Also, I had my brother-in-law try on the mitts I was making for my dad (to test the size), and his (BIL) reaction was such that I realized he wanted them for himself. Well, instead of giving him the ones I made for my dad, I made him his own pair.

(an in-progress picture… one of the few I took of this project… and those are Jamberry nail wraps for anyone who wonders)

I made him the first free mitts I found in my Ravelry queue that looked appropriate, and I used the softest yarn I could find in my stash of the correct size. It happened to be a hand-spun yarn that I hadn’t been able to decide what to do with, and I think the result was great. Also, I really enjoyed making these mitts, so I will be almost certainly making another pair in the not-too-distant future. (Maybe for me, since they’re not really a gender-specific mitt regardless of the pattern name.)

My only complaint about the pattern was something I had before I tried them on: you bind off the thumb instead of placing the stitches on waste yarn and adding more later. I thought the thumb wouldn’t be long enough, but it was. And it was much more comfortable than I’d expected. So it was a complaint that I shouldn’t have had, because the designer knew what she was doing and I was pre-judging. Now I know better!

SPECS (and a link to my Ravelry project page):

PATTERN: Man Hands DESIGNER: Shireen Nadir YARN: handspun by me, merino roving from Bonkers (no link found to the dyer) in the Emerald Forest colorway NEEDLES: US 6 (4.0 mm) START/END DATES: December 3 – 15, 2014 MODS: none The second project for today is:

Miss Fanny The Fabulous Fox for my nephew

I won this kit from one of the Yarn Harlot’s karmic balancing gifts from her 2013 (I think) bike rally, and I finally got around to making this fox for my nephew. I’d meant to make it for his first Christmas, but instead it was a gift for his second.

This kit contains wool “hand dyed with walnut + cosmos flowers”. Very cool. The pattern was straightforward enough for a knitted toy. (They’re all a bit fiddley, in my opinion, but this one wasn’t any more so than most.) My biggest issue with this one is that I hate knitting tight things at a small gauge. I always feel like I’m going to snap my needles in half as I’m knitting. (Doesn’t help that I did this with socks once. I haven’t done it since, but I always fear doing it.) The yarn was very nice to work with. I would have enjoyed doing colorwork with it, had the pattern called for that. (Technically, there’s a tiny section of the tail that is colorwork, but that only served to prove to me that I would have enjoyed a larger colorwork project in this yarn.) The pattern was also pretty easy to understand, with the exception being that there were a couple of things I tried to over-think. Once I figured out that I was going about things the hard way, and backtracked and did them the correct way for this pattern, it went much more smoothly. Also, it was my first time double knitting. That was fun, and it was written in an easy enough way for a double knitting newbie to understand.

SPECS (and a link to my Ravelry project page): PATTERN: Miss Fanny The Fabulous Fox DESIGNER: Mary Jo Martinek YARN: not sure… it came with the kit NEEDLES: US 0 (2.0 mm) START/END DATES: August 3 – December 24, 2014 (yup, this was my final present finished) MODS: Because it’s for a 1 1/2 year-old, I embroidered the eyes instead of using the included buttons. I also didn’t put the gingerbread man button in the pocket for the same reason.

Mom’s Christmas Socks

I’ve mentioned before that my mom likes handknit socks. And so I make her socks:

These particular ones I started with no purpose in mind other than to cast on something that was not a Christmas present. (I was a bit sick of knitting for others at that point.) And then I realized that they were going to be a present anyway.

I used Cat Bordhi’s “Seeds In The Heart Of Winter” pattern as a base, but all I really used it for was the basic instructions in how to knit her Sweet Tomato Heel. I didn’t use the stitch count, because I purchased the pattern not realizing that it was for the completely wrong weight yarn for what I wanted. I didn’t use her heart patterning, because I wanted to do my own slipped stitch thing. I just used her heel and toe numbers (modified for my stitch count).

I mostly enjoyed the heel, though I’m not sure how it will wear, since the socks weren’t made strictly to my size. (I can wear socks I make for my mom, but the fit is different than when I make socks for myself.) I think my favorite heel is still the traditional heel flap heel, though I do rather like moving the gusset to the bottom of the foot. And the double gusset that I tried makes a nice fit.

But I’m getting off track. The yarn for these socks is one that a member of my SnB named, and then Tina of Blue Moon Fiber Arts created a yarn colorway to go with that name. I really like the way it turned out. And being Socks That Rock, the knitting process for these socks was marvelous. (I really love that yarn base. And the Blue Moon dyers.)

SPECS (and a link to my Ravelry project page):

PATTERN: Seeds In The Heart Of Winter (kinda)
DESIGNER: Cat Bordhi
YARN: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock lightweight in As High As An Elephant’s Eye
NEEDLES: US 1 1/2 (2.5 mm)
START/END DATES: October 11 – November 28, 2014
MODS: Lots. See above.