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Day 5: tree

Christmas tree scarf (3)

This tree is on a scarf I made on my knitting board, lo these many years. It has been languishing in a bin, waiting for someone to love it enough to take it home. In other words, I made it for my Etsy store. I made up the pattern on my own. I even had to sketch out my own little grid because I had no graph paper at the time. The scarf used up two partial skeins of yarn that wouldn’t have made anything on their own, but I think the combined effect turned out pretty nice.

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Day 3: Stripes

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Another knitted thing, this time with stripes and this time for Granota. I finished this sweater more recently (about a month ago). I tried blocking it out earlier this week, but it didn’t take, so here it is pinned out again for another round of blocking. (For non-yarny people, that means steaming it into its final shape; if I don’t block it, it curls up like a scroll which makes it awfully hard to sew together. Even if I did manage to sew it together like that, can you imagine how rumpled and “homemade” it would look? Blocking is a necessity.) This is the wrong side showing. Cross your fingers that it will block out right this time!

One thing that makes me extra excited about this sweater is that I was on a mission to use up yarn from my stash. The aqua and the variegated are the only ones I managed to kill off, but at least the others are reduced!

Day 1: Warmth

It lives!!!

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Once again, I’ve resuscitated the blog to participate in The Idea Room’s photo challenge for the month of December. I’m going to do things a little bit differently this time and post about things I’ve made in the last, uh, however many months.

To kick it off, we’ll start with “warmth,” which was actually yesterday’s word, but when you’re chronically late like I am, what’s one day out of a whole month?

Warmth:

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May I present to you, my very first ever knitted grown-up sweater. It’s my second ever knit project, the first being a tiny sweater I knitted for Baby Sprinkaan just before he was born. I’m pretty proud of this. I made a thing! I made a wearable thing! And it is made out of the thickest, softest, chunkiest yarn I could find.

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Cozy Wool — I think it’s the Michael’s store brand

I have to wait for the very coldest days to break out this sweater or I’ll actually get too hot. I think that qualifies for “warmth.”

This sweater was fun and relatively quick to make, owing to the thick yarn and the humongous needles used to make it. Here’s a photo showing the size of those suckers compared to a regular ol’ pencil.

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Mondo knitting needles

I’m actually considering making another sweater like this in a different color. The next time I make it, I’ll pay better attention to gauge and measurements so that I don’t have to add an extra band of ribbing around the bottom to make it long enough to fit me.

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Another one of my famous “design elements.”

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To quote Rana as a 3 year old, “I’m is all worm and snoogly.”

Sweater for the new (little) man in my life

Tell ya what, peeps: Single parenting? Not for this girl. Mr. Gren just completed four weeks of Corrections Office Academy last Friday (Congratulations, Mr. Gren!) and there was much rejoicing. [Yay!!] He was able to come home on weekends, thank goodness, or I might not have any hair or sanity left now. To all military families and anyone else who has to do the single parent gig for whatever reason: mad props (or, for you, mon frère — mad promps). Going into it, I had the endearingly naive idea that I’d be able to keep up with blogging.

Bwahahahahahahaaaaa!!! When will I ever learn?

Miraculously, I did manage to complete a few crafty things and now that Mr. Gren is back home in his semi-official position as Munchkin Wrangler, I can tell you about them!

You may recall that I had begun knitting a little wrap sweater for Sprinkaan several weeks before he was born. This was my first real knitting project. Ever. In my life. With real needles and a pattern and angst and stuff. Yeah, that’s right, knitting is not quite relaxing for me because the entire time the project is just mere millimeters away from disaster. Does that make knitters more daring than crocheters? I don’t know, but I kinda like the safety the hook provides. Besides that, if I screw up in crochet, I can fix it; I can’t fix knitting errors yet. If I had dropped a stitch, I probably would have had to start completely over and the likelihood of that happening: Pshhh. You so funny. So this whole baby sweater was a bit of a do-or-die moment for me. A very long moment.

The pattern I chose was a baby wrap kimono sweater. I needed something super basic for my inaugural knitting project and this pattern fit the bill. It used only knit and purl stitches (I can do that!) and had simple decreases and increases (I figured out how to do that!). It was worked side to side in one big flat piece. I wish there had been pictures of what that looked like because I was having a hard time visualizing how all these flaps were going to turn into a sweater. So I took pictures of it while it was blocking out — for posterity and any other novice knitters who might want to see what the finished product will look like. To me, it kinda resembles an animal pelt stretched for tanning.

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In a noble attempt at stash-busting, the yarn I used was leftover from a baby blanket I crocheted for my nephew when he was a newborn. He’s 10 now, so this yarn has been kicking around in my bin for 9 years too long. It is a Bernat baby yarn. Kind of crinkly with green and yellow strands woven together, plus a little white shimmery strand. So here I am, knitting along, knitting, knitting, knitting. I get to the second shoulder and… I ran out of yarn. Like I said, this yarn was 10 years old, so there’s not much chance I’m going to find the same yarn, much less the same color. And forget the same color lot! Besides, buying more yarn really defeats the purpose of stash-busting. I dug through my bins and found another green Bernat crinkly baby yarn, minus the yellow strand. “It’ll be close enough,” I told myself. Also, the light in my living room was dim. Come daylight, I found that the new yarn isn’t as close to the old yarn as I had thought. But you know what? Too bad, so sad. It’s on there and it’s staying on there. If anyone happens to wonder aloud to me why one sleeve is a different color than the rest, I will tell them it’s a design element. So there.

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The little sweater is not without other imperfections, either. There are random floating rows of purl stitch where there should be knit. “Look, Baby Sprinkaan — this is where one of your siblings had dire need of me and when I came back, I couldn’t remember what I was doing.” Ah, memories.

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I’d say I finished the sweater none too soon. Sprinkaan is a little log of a baby and probably won’t be able to wear the sweater for long. But who knows, maybe if I move the buttons over, we can buy a bit more time in it and Sprinkaan’s little tiny T-rex arms will have a chance to grow into those long sleeves.

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I feel it coming together

Warning: The following post may result in the theme song from “Fame” playing endlessly in your head for the rest of the day.

We had a dilemma here in the Gren household. Rana and Granota enjoy wearing skirts and dresses. They do not, however, enjoy wearing tights. Once the cooler days start kicking in, there is a lot of wailing about the atrocities of tights and the unfairness of having cold legs whilst wearing skirts. This happens every year. But this year, I made the decision not to entertain the inane Cold Legs vs. Evil Tights debate. Usually, the main complaint is that the girls don’t like how the waistband of the tights compress their bellies (I haven’t told them about control top panty hose yet; they can make that discovery on their own). Rana also gets upset about the toe line that makes funny little squares on the sides of her feet which then bother her in her shoes. So they want to wear skirts and have warm legs, but nothing touching their bellies or feet. It’s almost a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation. But there was one solution.

Enter: The legwarmer. And 1982. Hey, we’re gonna live forever.

I chose to use a knitting loom rather than crochet for good stretchiness in the finished product. The yarn I chose was some kind of soft, bulky wool from Michael’s; it’s almost like roving, but it’s washable.

Once you know the circumference of the leg you’re warming, choose the loom that most closely matches that measurement. My girls’ legs are about 10 inches around, so I chose the blue loom. From there, you’re basically making a tube, so there’s not a lot of “pattern” needed (unless you want to get fancy, which I didn’t this time around). I found these instructions which were great for getting me started, especially since I use the round looms so rarely, I couldn’t remember how to cast on.

Enter the Vortex

Enter the Vortex

There’s not a lot to say about the actual process. It’s repetitive and somewhat therapeutic. One thing I did learn the hard way is that finished length does not correspond well to measured length on the loom. Each girl ended up with one legwarmer longer than the other; good thing they’re stretchy (the legwarmers that is — not the girls). So my advice is to count rows, as tedious as that is, rather than to rely on a measuring tape.

A little strategic stretching and ta dah! They're the same!

A little strategic stretching and ta dah! They’re the same!

The other thing I learned is that the bind off video that is recommended in the above instructions results in a tight, unstretchable cuff. I did a little looking and found this Super Stretchy Bind Off video that worked much better for this project.

Ribbed cuff

Ribbed cuff

I kept waiting for the girls to both wear their legwarmers on the same day to get a good picture, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon. Rana was happy to pose for me, though.

You ain't seen the best of me yet

You ain’t seen the best of me yet

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Baby, remember my name.

 

Sock loom tips

As you saw last week, I recently finished my first pair of matching socks on my sock loom! One friend had been having trouble with hers, so I proposed putting together a little photo tutorial. This isn’t a comprehensive tute by any stretch of the imagination, but hopefully it will help differentiate between the knit stitch and purl stitch process. If it proves helpful, I can do more later.

First, I want to apologize that I don’t have beautifully lit, high resolution photos. I live in a log cabin, but as far as lighting is concerned, it may as well be a cave. There are two useable windows and they’re both on the north side and… you see where I’m going with this. After a long, painful and frustrating photo session involving Mr. Gren and myself and a lot of contortions and bitter muttering, we managed to get a few pics that should more or less illustrate what I’m trying to explain.

To start with, I’m going to make the assumption that, if you have a sock loom, you already know how to cast on. This could very well be a faulty assumption. If so, leave me a comment and I can show you how to do that next time (although “next time” is going to have to wait until I get the current sock off the loom). Right now, I am working on the cuff, which is ribbed. Ribbing involves alternating knit and purl stitches. In this case, I am doing two of each; if you want wider ribs, you can make them 3 knit, 3 purl. When I was making my very first sock on this (which I had to redo a couple of times and then it turned out the wrong size), I had a lot of trouble remembering whether I was on a knit or a purl. I suppose in regular knitting you would use stitch markers or something or probably, you would just be able to see where you had left off. But with the loom, all your completed knitting goes down inside the loom where it’s hard to really see what you’ve done. After having to go back and count from the first peg several times, I got sick of it and figured there had to be a better way. My solution was to line the outside of the loom with a narrow strip of masking tape and then marking the two pegs that would hold the knit stitches. Since then, it has been much easier to keep my place!

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So first, a knit stitch. Lay the yarn above the loop that is already on the peg.

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I’m working on the third peg from the right.

Then poke the hook from the bottom of the loop up to reach the working yarn.

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Hook the yarn and pull it down through the loop, so now you have a loop on the peg and a loop on the hook.

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Pull upwards with the hook and the loop on the peg will lift off. Gently place the loop from your hook onto the peg. Ta dah! Knit stitch done.

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Purl stitch is really no more difficult. This time, start with the working yarn laying underneath the loop on the peg (I didn’t get a great picture of this, so you’ll have to use your imagination). From the top, poke your hook down through the  loop on the peg and hook the working yarn underneath.

You can see the working yarn laying underneath the loop on the peg.

You can see the working yarn laying underneath the loop on the peg.

Pull the working yarn up through the loop on the peg, giving you a loop on the peg and one on the hook.

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Now, for me, I can do the knit stitch in one fluid motion, but at this point in the purl stitch, I have to take the hook out to change the angle of my hand. But the concept is still the same. Pull upwards on the hooked loop until the peg loop comes off and then place the hook loop onto the peg. And that’s all there is to it.

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Lifting up and off

Putting the new loop back on the peg.

Putting the new loop back on the peg.

Knit begins above, purl begins below. I hope that makes sense!