Friday, June 22, 2007

Hard at Work...Crafty Work That Is

It seems I've gotten on a roll and have managed to carve out more time than usual to work on unfinished projects. For instance, the drop stitch scarf is done! After months of languishing in a bag, then being "completed" but having an untimely accident in the finishing process, it really looks rather good. I decided not to add a fringe, since the yarn snags so easily anyway. I love the pattern I ended up using and will definitely do more in different yarns. Whoo hoo!

So, next on my list was the Mother Bear Project bear and I added a good 7 or 8 inches to that last night. I've done a few of these, enough to want to take liberties and push my creativity, so this one is going to be a hula dancing polar bear... don't laugh, I'm serious. Pics to come soon. I'm still looking for the sock pattern, so that left my recycled sweater purse needing some attention.

I was inspired by a tutorial on ChicKnits and started this project over my spring break. I was at Goodwill looking for some old jeans and sweatshirts to take on an outdoor trip and found two very nice looking 100% wool sweaters for $2 each. Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking ahead and have no photos of the unfelted sweaters. Basically, I machine washed them to oblivion until they were densely felted and then put them in the dryer. Ouch! Next, I cut the sweaters apart at the seams, removed the arms, and spread everything out to see how much felted material I had to work with. Working with the first sweater, I cut out some templates on poster board in the shape I wanted for the purse and traced those in marker on the sweaters. I love the colors of this sweater, but needed to be careful because of the stripe pattern (matching up the front and back of the purse). Next, I pinned the two pieces inside out and sewed on three sides with my sewing machine. Unfortunately, on one side I got a little careless and did not watch my stripes, so there a jog, but I think it won't be that noticeable. I'll definitely watch for this in the future. So here's what I have so far. The tabs sticking up will be sewn down for purse strap loops.

So, this is where I picked up this morning. I've been thinking about the straps for a while and decided to do black i-cord, but I was also unhappy with the edge of the purse. It had an unfinished look to it that I didn't think would improve without work. If you look at the tabs, you see what I mean. I decided that a nice single crocheted edge in black would help , so I used a tool to push holes through the felt as I crocheted the border.

I think it looks pretty good and will felt the edge by hand using some hot soapy water. I have to get started on the i-cord straps next. Not sure of what length I want yet, but will play it by ear. The finished purse will have a black lining and magnetic snap. I've used these great tutorials on Hello (Purse lining tutorial--PDF and Magnetic snap tutorial--PDF) in the past to learn how to do this. I will post more purse pictures as I work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Beginnings

A new day, a new start on the drop stitch scarf. Trying to put the horrendous catastrophe of the scarf behind me, I chose this pattern from my wish list and cast on today. The picture of the finished scarf is gorgeous!

So far so good! I think I like the look better anyway. I tried this pattern back in December with some ribbon yarn, but frogged it, not because of the pattern, but because I had trouble with the yarn. It was a ladder yarn and my needles kept getting caught in wrong places. My only trouble with this yarn is that the nylon content keeps snagging on my embarrassingly rough hands. I suppose that's my cue to get some better lotion or use more of it...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Drop Stitch Gone Horribly Wrong

Today was a sad day, but it started really well. I finished my Hufflepuff hat last night and was on my way to finishing the drop stitch scarf ("Magic Scarf") this evening. Two projects done in two days! That almost never happens. The scarf is for charity too (I rarely keep anything I knit) and will be part of our fall fundraiser for Stitch for a Cause. Now, I've never done a drop stitch scarf but have been eager to try this pattern. I thought I followed everything to the "t" and it looked pretty good after I had cast off. You can see the stitches on the left starting to run down the length of the scarf (as they are supposed to).

Now, the first problem I had was that at the second to last row, I was supposed to purl a stitch then drop the next. This was little freaky, but it went fine until the end of the row. I was supposed to be left with 21 stitches, but found I had 22. I decided to knit the last two together and bind off on the next row according to the pattern. Didn't seem like a big deal. I would have a row next to the edge that wouldn't drop, but I didn't think it would be very noticeable. As I started to pull my scarf lengthwise, you can see the dropped stitches running just like they should.

Then things started to go wrong...really wrong. In a few spots, I got big loops of yarn that seemed knitted o.k., but were just REALLY loose. I figured I had just knit a stitch too loosely. As I continued to pull on the scarf and use my fingers to help the dropped stitches, it looked very pretty, but I noticed some of the other rows that were not supposed to drop, starting to come loose. Ahh! What was happening? So I stopped pulling and laid it on the table again. This is what I had.

I felt sick. All I could do at this point was frog the whole thing. I am planning to knit the scarf again, but may use a different drop stitch pattern. I'm sure it was something I did wrong in first rows, but since I'm not sure what... Part of my problem came from working with a slippery yarn, so the next time I try it, I'll try a different yarn. In the meanwhile, I'll go back to knitting more hats...sniff...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Finally...Yarn for a Gryffindor Hat

I stopped by Hancock Fabrics today and they had just the colors I needed for my Gryffindor hat for the Charmed Knits KAL. Finally! I also found a better (brighter) yellow for my Hufflepuff hats and a pretty purple sock yarn on clearance (color didn't photograph well on that one).

I am not a sock knitting fan and keep wondering if I'm missing something when I look at all the blogs and patterns out there, but I'm willing to give it another shot. If I don't find a pattern I can get into, I find that sock yarn makes very cute self-striping baby hats also. *smile* I have an unfinished pair of socks I started last year that I dug out today. One sock is finished and the other is about half done. I would have worked on it today, but I can't find the pattern...oops! If I can't track it down in a few days, I'll talk to my friend who owns the yarn shop where I bought the yarn. The pattern was free with the purchase, so I'm sure they have more copies.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hufflepuff Baby Hat

So, I've been working on Hogwarts hats for the Charmed Knits KAL. This is my eighth one, a little Hufflepuff baby hat. It's rather a pale yellow, but oh well. I've had to be budget-minded lately and got some Wool Ease on sale, but the choices were pretty limited. These hats are super simple, which makes for great mindless knitting (when you want busy hands but not a busy brain). I'm so used to working on hats for little heads with my charity knitting, that I scaled down the size a little from the pattern. I'll do some bigger ones when I increase my yarn stash.

Here's a look at the inside. Do many of you carry the yarn for stripes along this way? Is there a better way, short of cutting it off and weaving in each bit? I've tried twisting it every three rows instead of only at the color change, but I didn't like it any better. I'm happy with the jog technique I'm using (knit row in new color, slip first stitch in row 2, knit normally until next change). It only looks a little funny on the hats with the narrow stripes (two rows). I will have to investigate other jog options.

I've got to find a box so I can get these all in the mail this weekend. I've wanted to do a Gryffindor hat from the start, but I can never find the right colors when I'm looking for them. I've got the scarlet now and just need to get the gold.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My First Squidoo Lens--Knitting Needle How-to

I've long been a fan of Squidoo and just created my first lens! Check it out: Make Handmade Knitting Needles With Jewelry Beads.

It's kind of long, but I wanted my directions to be thorough. I will post a picture of the finished pair of needles as soon as I can. One bead jumped out of my hand and rolled away, so that's why there is only a picture of one finished needle *smile*. Oh well...

I first ran across Squidoo with this lens on Making Fairy Wings. I made my daughter a set of Painted Lady Butterfly Wings for her Halloween costume last year. They came out well and got lots of compliments.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Under Construction...

Welcome to my blog! I am still planning and setting things up, but hopefully will be posting regularly before long. Thanks for reading!