Friday, March 26, 2010

Commissioning crustacean accessories

To my delight, the lobster pillow was a huge success. So much so, that I've been offered handmade jewelry to make a companion pillow- a crab. Without a pattern, I've begun work on my own. A quick Google of "free clipart crab" led me to several great options.

I printed a few favorites, in hopes to convert the image to a knitting grid. Of course, this required a knitting grid that I clearly lacked. I designed my own in plain-old Excel and printed several slightly un-square graphs.
And then, in the highest kindergarten-level technology I could muster, I taped my crab image to the kitchen window, and then taped my graph paper over it for tracing. I was a bit skeptical, but it worked precisely as planned. So well in fact, that I made two distinct crab graphs to give B a choice.
She chose the more symmetric of the two, which I also preferred. I also took the initiative to dye some yarn. I think my first attempt didn't get warm enough and seems to be rinsing out too much. No pictures yet, but whatever. It's so light that I can easily overdye with just about anything.
I'll have to wait until the yarn dries to see how it looks next to the yarn used for the lobster pillow- I'm hoping it coordinates without clashing or looking like I just didn't match it very well. be continued.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birthday Crustacean

This gift was a direct response to my dozen+ homemade AMAZING blueberry cookies that I recently received for my birthday. I felt compelled to undertake a total DIY birthday gift for my true love, B.

First I wound little mini skeins of Fisherman’s wool that was hanging around in the basement. I was inspired to DIY all the way (and circumnavigate the closed yarn stores) by dyeing my own yarn. I used my tried and true Kool-Aid/microwave dye-job, purposely going for an uneven slightly kettle-dye-like look.

The pale blue-green took 3 tries to achieve. The first two were waaay to dark, and the final color was actually created by using the leftover dye water after I removed an unsuccessful turquoisey-green attempt (3 ice blue lemonade, 1 lemon-lime). Since the first batch into the water struck most of the green, round two ended up a seafoam-y color that I really liked.

The red-orange was the result of 1 Strawberry Kool-Aid, 1 Mandarina-Tangerine Kool-Aid, 1 Splashers Orange, and in a moment of panic 1 Flavor-Aid Lemonade. I was surprised by how red it was despite all the yellows added in, but the end color was pretty perfect.
Next, I knit a modified free lobster bib pattern (basically just using the chart), by CO 36 (pattern repeat plus 3 sts on each side) and k the first and last stitch on each row (RS and WS). I also omitted the garter st border. I knit 8 rows before starting the pattern and after finishing it.

If I were to knit this again (because seriously, I will probably need another knit lobster pillow…) I would add more sts on each side of the repeat. As you see it’s a stout pillow, and a little wider would cause the image to wrap around a little less in the claws.

Once knit and blocked, I really took a leap of faith and decided to machine sew the knit panel to the fabric backing for the other side of the pillow (since I didn’t really want a knitted back to the pillow). I had no idea if it would stretch or get screwed up- luckily it didn’t. (I had an idea it would work since I’d lined a purse this way a long time ago).I also had to customize the standard pillow-form to suit the odd size, and it totally worked out. I just unstuffed the form (which had a zipper closure), traced my lobster panel onto the pillowcase, sewed the new shape, cut it out and re-stuffed it. It sounds like a lot, but this was actually the easiest part.

Then I just fit the pillow into my custom case and voila. Happy Birthday, B!

Friday, March 12, 2010

That's so Raglan.

Ok, so I mentioned the Queensland Collection gray tweedy awesomeness that I got (ahem, 40%). I was really inspired to make a Mr. Rogers-geek-chic deep V-necked cardigan and had every intention of making the Mrs. Darcy cardigan. However, upon winding the yarn, I realized that as a DK, it was definitely more on the 'fingering' than 'worsted' side of the spectrum. It's a surprisingly delicate yarn for having that manly tweedy look. Anyway, there was no way I could knit Darcy on size-9 needles, and even less of a chance that I'd properly rewrite the pattern for my yarn.

Thank goodness for Google, which allowed me to successfully search for "top-down raglan formula" I was hoping to find somewhere to plug in my gauge and measurements and head off to the races- and I did! Enter: Pam Costello, from St. Paul, Minnesota who adapted and published her "Incredible Custom Fit Raglan Formula."

So the new plan: use Hilary Smith Calis' Safire (top-down raglan, deep-V cardigan) and the original Darcy as inspiration and modify stitch counts with the Formula, and then hope it turns into something wearable. (Isn't that always the hope?)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hittin' the knittin'

Contrary to my posting frequency, I have been knitting, thinking about knitting, and sciencing. As a preview of things to come, I have recently finished a pistachio-colored shrug, a secret gift for B (featuring a return to my yarn dyeing adventures), and a wacky vest/tunic/dress that i love/hate. So expect photos soon.

This weekend I scored big time at Knitter's Mercantile, who was holding a winter sale on wools. I snatched up some Queensland Collection- enough for two sweaters- at 40% off!! Cannot wait to start on two cardigans that I have planned for this great yarn. I know a wool cardigan is inherently wintery, but whatever, I love cardigans all year round.
First on the agenda is the Mrs. Darcy cardigan in Rustic tweed in an awesome gray kettle dyed tweed. The yarn is a wool/alpaca blend so it still feels soft. I'm stoked about the completely nerdy combination of a tweed cardigan.
Next is a cardigan I've been dying to make for a long time, the Emerald Isle Cardigan by Melissa Wehrle from neoknits (I love love love her designs). I bought the issue of Knitscene at JoAnn's with a 1/2 off coupon when it was out in print for about $4.00 (pretty good for that many patterns, in hindsight). I had been planning to do navy or silvery gray to be practical, but I just couldn't commit to a yarn. I should say I couldn't commit to a yarn, until the sale at the Merc. The Queensland Collection Rustic Wool was just staring at me, in the 40% off bin, in my color- olive. Olive is a new neutral anyway, and besides, I just like it. Case closed.

Cautiously optimistic that I'm back for a springtime full of knitting!