Monday, January 31, 2011

Flip Top Fingerless Mittens

Ben likes fingerless mittens so he can do things. Like start the car, I guess. Or count change maybe?

But his fingers are freezing cold from Sept. until May, so he needs tops on his mittens.

Luckily, I am a knitter! (I am knitter, hear me click?)

Now my honey will have warm(er) hands.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Picking Up Stitches

I realize that the title of this post could very easily be on a deep and meaningful life goes on kind of post.  But in this case, no. I'm actually talking about knitting.

I'm knitting Ben a pair of flip top mittens, but I was using my own hands to judge the fit.  While his hands are slightly bigger, my fingers are longer, so the the inner fingerless part ended up too long and almost covered his fingers to the tip.

Ripping back in knitting can be intimidating, because it seems impossible to get all those little live and loose loops back on the needles without dropping at least a couple.

The photos illustrate my favorite solution.  I put the needles back in place BEFORE starting to unravel.  That way, I know just where my stopping point should be, and the stitches are ready and waiting on the needles when the ripping out is finished.

It is important to remember to put the right. Leg of each stitch in front of the needles when getting them in place. This results in the live stitches being positioned correctly on the needles and prevents inadvertent stitch twisting.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I *heart* winter!

Winter is really starting to creep up on Fall as my absolutely favorite season.

It's been so cozy staying inside and working on knitting and embroidery and sewing projects. I love having no guilt about the never-ending yard and garden work going undone.  There isn't anything that has to be done outside this time of year!

Well, other than the morning and evening chicken chores that is. But the heater under the waterer and the timer for the coop heat lamp make those chores quick and simple.  It's nice to get a breath of fresh air every day refilling the feeders, spreading more bedding, hauling the day's water, and throwing down a handfull of sunflower seeds to give the chickies something to scratch.

Then I head back in for hot coffee and cleaning and baking.  It's nice to have the oven on during these cold days.  Yesterday I baked and pureed and dried more squash.

I've been reading too, with my new found winter leisure time.  I read some very good books by an Amish author named Linda Byler.  They're about an Amish girl and are kind of like the Little House books in that they're a series of books about the girl's whole growing up years.

Oh, about the photo! I've always resisted doing embroidery like this.  Going down and coming up in the same stitch, I mean.  I guess when I was young and I learned how to embroider, it was easier for me to make a neat job of it by pulling the thread through going down and coming up.  Well, I recently tried it out on a project and (surprise, lol) it goes so much more quickly!  I'm converted to the new way.  At least for x's, that's for sure.

So, what are your favorite winter past times?  I have to say knitting and listening to audio books are right at the top of my list.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Looks good!

I finished off the Mario mushroom hat today. Yes, I'm that bad at getting around to weaving in ends, lol.

I had a snow day for myself today. It was super fun. I read, played Just Dance and knitted. Sometimes it's just so great to be your own boss. ;-)

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Loves me some mail man!

I'm loving my mail man right now, because he brought me this fun stack of creativity fodder today.

I like to design felt projects for my Associated Content articles, because they fun, fast, and generally pretty cute and effective.  So far, I've only worked with the craft store felt that can be so plastic-y feeling. While browsing Etsy the other day, I decided to indulge in this adorable sampler of wool-blend felt.

It feels super nice! It's slightly thinner, but feel more substantial at the same time.  I can't wait to give sewing with it a try!

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mario Mushroom Fair Isle Hat

Here is the promised finished knitting project.  I've had fair isle mushrooms in the back of my mind for a few years now, so I'm very glad to see them realized.

This hat is for Ben, and I made it from Pattons Classic Wool.  I planned the project be starting with the colors.  Red and white were a given, and we added the very dark coal grey because I thought is seemed warmer and less stark than a pure black would be.

The mushroom chart is 16 stitches wide, so I spaced them 4 stitches apart, thinking that would look good since the space is an exact quarter width of the figure.  It also gave me a 20 stitch repeat, which made the rest of the math very simple.

I cast on 100 sts (16 inch size 6 circular needle) and made a pretty deep 2x2 ribbing.  It's six inches of ribbing, because Ben likes to turn up the ribbing on his winter hats.  That's also the reason I didn't do any stripes or color work in the ribbed portion, because he is no respecter of the "wrong side" of stripes.

After the ribbing, I did the colorwork.  I broke a bunch of fair isle rules while doing it, as well.  I carried the yarn across 10 stitches at a time, and used three colors in the same row through most of it.  I know, I'm a rebel.  Actually, I'd not usually leave such long floats, but I figured it was safe enough inside a hat, where fingers or toes never go.  I did catch the floats with the working yarn in some places, but didn't care for that for a couple of reasons. It twisted up my working yarns, showed a definate line on the right side and really broke my knitting rhythm to remember to do it.

After the colorwork, I decreased 10% of stitches every other row until there were 40 stitches left, and then decreased 10% every row until there were ten sts. I decreased by 50% and threaded these remaining 5 sts on the working yarn to gather them up.

This ended up being a taller sort of winter hat, not a skull cap tight fit.  It's really warm with the three colors of floats in the colorwork band and the doubled 2x2 ribbing.

Ben's pretty happy with it, and I'm deciding how matching mittens would look.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Well, goodness.

I think I've just about recovered from Christmas.  It's not so much the holiday (which I love) that takes it out of me, but the constant travel and visiting and being away from my own bed and my own routine (and my own kitchen!) that seems to wear me down.  I love our families, but how much easier would my life be if we just lived closer and I didn't have to go visiting in such long unbroken shifts!

This year, our flights home were cancelled the night before we were set to leave, so we just took off driving.  I'm grateful we live relatively close, since that's a possibility and that we had the money available for the extra car rental and Super 8 room that it cost us.  We did get a refund on the flights after the fact, so it was a wash.  Ben had to get home for work, and if we'd waited around for Southwest, we'd have only left today.

We got to finish off our vacation the relaxing way, watching movies for a day straight, before we both got down to business and back to work yesterday.  Honestly, it was a relief to clean and organize again, once I got started on it, yesterday.

I've unpacked all the suitcases, organized the load of things and stuff that seem to follow us home from MI every time we visit, especially Christmas, and am feeling like I'm all the way home again.  I'm slowly organizing the Christmas decorations and putting them away.  This year, I sorted out all the things that I might want mid year, or early in the season next year (like packing tape, gift packagaing, small gifts picked up at clearance sales, Christmas clothes and socks, etc.) into one storage bin, so I'll be sure to know just where those things are, and have no trouble getting to them.

Really, I'm just getting back into the swing of things, after enjoying hetic visiting and veggie down-time.  It's a good change from both to feel productive and hopeful about new prospects in my work.  I'm thinking I'll have a finished knitting project to show off tomorrow, and by next week, some fun new articles on Associated Content, and lots of new plans for the new year.

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