Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easy Portable Knitting

I know knitting is already pretty portable, but sometimes I don't want to deal with unnecessarily long needles and I only have a few sets of shorter needles in my collection (and none in the size I wanted). I wanted to cast on a scarf that I could carry with me and that would probably be on the needles for a long time. My long 10.5s are already tied up in another project, and they're a little too long for me to carry easily. I didn't want to tie my interchangeable needles up in this either because I like to have them accessible. Instead I pulled out 2 of my size 10.5 double pointed needles. I'm making a fairly narrow scarf, so this works well for me. I stuck a point cover on the end of each needle and use them just like regular needles. When I want to shove my work in a bag and take it with me, I pull the cap off the free needle and use it to keep my work on the other. 

[Want a say in how this scarf turns out? Go to my previous post and comment with the color I should knit next. Thanks! Want to make an audience participation scarf of your own? Check out Leafcutter Designs' conceptual knitting pattern for The Social Knitwork]

What tricks do you have for keeping knitting projects portable? Is this idea completely unnecessary, or do you like it? Don't forget to comment on that last post and suggest the next color. Tell your friends or neighbors to comment too! Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Help me make a scarf! (but only if you want to)


Leafcutter Designs posted a new conceptual knitting pattern. It's called The Social Knitwork. So the idea is to use your social networks to create a scarf. Pick a color from the photo above. The options are navy, red, pink, and pale yellow. Leave your color choice and your reason for choosing it in the comment section. I'll knit a stripe with that color in the order the request was received. Tell your friends and have them comment too so that I can make a scarf and not a pot holder. Thanks for your participation! If you want to make one, let me know and I'll pick a color for you (you know, if you want, this is all totally voluntary) I'll post the scarf (or potholder) when it's finished

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cthulu Pouch

My husband bought me a Cthulu Dice game for my birthday, but I didn't have anywhere to keep it. I put all the pieces in a plastic bag, but that didn't do it justice. I thought I'd hop on the crocheted Cthulu trend and make a pouch worthy of the game. 

This pattern uses a few unconventional crochet techniques, but at it's core it's pretty simple. If my techniques don't work, there are other ways to do it. I wanted to work it all in one piece because I hate weaving in extra ends. 

I used worsted weight acrylic yarn and size H and J hooks. It's big enough to hold a big die, several glass vase filler pieces that are used as counters in the game, and the folded rules. Gauge isn't really important.  This is what I did to create a pouch that works for what I needed. These techniques can be used to make any size pouch. 

Start with the tentacles:

With smaller hook begin first tentacle:
Ch 16, sc 15 back, this creates the first tentacle. do not break yarn or anything between tentacles. It'll work out but it might be a little fiddly. 
Tentacle 2: ch 21 sc back (20 stitches)
Tentacle 3: ch 26 sc back (25 stitches)
Tentacle 4: ch 26 sc back
Tentacle 5: ch 21 sc back
Tentacle 6: ch 17 sc back
Tentacles in progress
If the tentacles aren't curly enough, twist them a little to encourage them. 
Finished tentacles
Now is the weird fiddly part. Look at the top of the tentacles where the pouch will be attached. Try to identify any loops you can find that you can crochet into. The goal is to find 4 loops/tentacle: 2 loops/ side. The loops are marked by the stitch markers in the picture below. I know it's hard to see, but do whatever works.

Crochet into one side of all the tentacles making 12 stitches. Then crochet into the other side making 24 stitches total and beginning circular crochet. 

Now switch to bigger hook and crochet 10 more rounds, don't bother to join, just work as a spiral. 

Now work the flap by working back and forth. 
Ch 3 (count as 1 double crochet) dc 11 across
turn work and repeat this row 2 more times (3 rows total)
4th row: Ch 3. work a double crochet decrease. double crochet to last 3 st. Work another double crochet decrease then do one more dc. This is the end of the flap. Cut yarn.

Add buttons as eyes and closures low on the pouch. The buttons should be an appropriate size to fit between the double crochet posts and hold tightly. I used red eyes sewn on with green yarn that I separated. 
I hope this inspires you to make a cool pouch of your own. I know the pictures aren't great, but I'm not expecting much natural light during a snow storm. The green is actually a dark forrest green and the eyes are much more red. I hope you like it. Please comment or email me if you have any comments or questions. Also look for my designs on Ravelry and Pinterest. Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Peggy Hat

I actually made this hat a while ago. It must have been last October when we really started getting into hat weather up here in the Pacific Northwest. I call it the Peggy Hat because it's inspired by a dress Peggy wore on Mad Men. It's actually a confluence of influences. I watched a lot of Mad Men with my husband and knew I wanted to do something with all the inspiration. I also love the way Zooey Deschanel dresses especially when she mixes blues and reds and all of her sixties influences. Then I saw this skirt tutorial at Sew Delicious (where you can also see a screen cap of the original skirt inspiration). I'm really not much of a sewer though and I'm definitely not brave enough to make my own skirt. Then I saw this pleated knit hat at Susan B. Anderson and an idea was born. 

This is a pretty simple slouch at it's core. I don't have a real pattern, but I do have a methodology. Use your gauge and measurements and preferences to make your own version. I do this because I so seldom find patterns that work exactly the way I want them to or that work with the yarn I want to use and I feel that in many cases a method would work better for me than a rigid pattern. 

Here are my original project notes which will probably do more to confuse than clarify. You'll also get a glimpse at my somewhat muddy knitting process. Below that are some notes that may help, but will probably also be confusing. Please comment or email me with any questions or comments or anything. 

I used a provisional cast on to knit the hat from the top of the brim up circularly. Then I folded over the pleats and applied a simple 2x2 ribbing at the base.

The red is a simple rectangle of color worked using circular intarsia. I don't like the way the stitches look at the edges of the color work (they look stretched out to me, maybe I'm doing it wrong) but this is covered by the pleats. I just googled to find a circular intarsia tutorial. You could also knit this portion flat and then seam it inside one of the folds. I worked a row of purl stitches in blue at either side of the red to make sure I had nice folds around it. 

The purl line crease and circular intarsia stitch irregularities
I didn't want the rise of the hat to get much wider as it went up, so I worked decreases into the rise to account for the decrease in the amount of cloth folded over the red portion. These decreases are also folded into the pleats. For a 20" head and 2" of red: cast on 24" worth of stitches because some of the blue will be folded over: 2" worth of red and 2" worth of blue to be pleated: 1" at each side of the red. At the end of your pleated color portion, you want to have eliminated the extra inch of blue at each side. You want to work decreases evenly up the rise to get rid of the fold. I worked my decreases starting at 1" from the red on each side so that they would follow the fold of the pleat and work toward the purl crease. At the upper most decrease I worked a decrease instead of the purl crease to make it look more seamless if that portion is shown. 

Work the top as you would any other hat. 

For the ribbing: Use smaller needles to make a tighter brim. You will be knitting three layers of stitches into one at the pleats. You cannot simply pick up the provisional cast on stitches as they were cast on because you won't have any pleats. I recommend folding the hat as you want it and pinning the layers in place. Then carefully place your stitches onto new needles using a different set of needles for each of the 3 layers: one for all of the outer stitches, one for the blue that are folded under, and one for the red stitches. Knit around one layer to start the ribbing. Do not purl or else red will be visible in the ribbing. When working the pleat stitches onto the ribbing: treat it like a three needle bind of, except that you're taking stitches from 3 needles and knitting all of them together instead of the typical two. This can be rather tricky so go slowly. 

Knit ribbing until it is long enough for your liking. Bind off. Add a large button and weave in ends. You're done! 

I had a really hard time finding a button large enough and in the right color. I ended up using the button shaped lid of a container of buttons I found at Michaels in the dollar bins. 

I hope this explanation isn't excessively confusing. It's a really simple hat, but my process is muddled. Thanks for reading! Please email me or comment if you have any questions or anything!