Friday, June 29, 2012 0 comments

Giveaway Winner!

I totally meant to get this posted yesterday, but it was a busy day. So here you go ... The winner in this month's giveaway is ...

... which was ...

Get me your address, and I'll get that out to you as soon as possible. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: More Socks for Lesotho

I've already sent a big box of these socks to the charity coordinator who sent them to South Africa, but I thought I'd share a bunch of pictures of them all at once.

These first two are from the Waffle Socks 32 pattern (free and easy). They were made with an angora/lambswool/nylon blend yarn from an unraveled sweater.


Then there are the Kid Socks 32 (free and even easier yet) in a few variations. First up is the ribbed version, which is especially nice because it will fit nearly any size leg:


I made this one with a formerly yellow wool/angora/nylon unraveled sweater that I dyed (after knitting) with Cherry Kool-Aid.

Then we have the plain stockinette versions. It really doesn't get any easier than this when it comes to socks ...



I absolutely love these first two, since I dyed this yarn in the skein and got a variegated effect. I referred to it as "Dreamsicle". Believe it or not, it started out as the same yellow wool/angora/nylon yarn as the ribbed version!

To use up the last little bit of that gorgeous yarn, I used it for the ribbing, heels, and toes of these socks (and a few more to come).

Then I used another pattern, Child's Two-Color Socks (free and easy because it tells you when to change colors if you're doing it for the first time):


See? More Dreamsicle heels and toes!




And this last one goes to show that you can change a pattern if you want to. I made this one all in one color, despite the name of the pattern, and no knitting police showed up to fine me. :) I made it with the same red angora/lambswool/nylon blend yarn as the Waffle Socks.
Monday, June 25, 2012 1 comments

Sweaters to Yarn: Shopping Trip #2

We hit a few thrift shops this past week, and I found some "new" sweaters to unravel.

Let me tell you, I never realized all the cashmere that was hiding in my local thrift shops. I literally had an armful at one thrift store and then went through and narrowed it down to my two favorites. Let me share those two first.



100% cashmere by Old Navy - men's size large

I have ideas for this one already, and I'll share as soon as I get the details worked out.

If you want to get into unraveling, I'll caution you about striped sweaters. Always be sure to check the seams to see if the yarns are carried up the sides at each stripe or if they're cut at each stripe. If you're hoping to use it on a big project, it might be more bother than it's worth if it's cut at each stripe ... But if you're making striped socks or hexipuffs, it might be perfect that way.






100% cashmere by Lord & Taylor - women's size medium

This is a thicker cashmere than most (not worsted, though), so I happily bought it even though I'll lose one of the front panels to the buttonholes. I think I'm going to "felt" that panel with buttonholes and sew something with it. (Cashmere "fulls" more than "felts.") Any ideas?

If a sweater has buttonholes, always check to see how they're formed. If they're knit right in, you'll be able to use all the yarn. If they're cut (most are), check to see if they're on a detachable button band or they're cut right into the front of the sweater, like this one is. The detachable button band is the best case scenario, since you can just throw away the button band and still reclaim most of the yarn.





100% Shetland wool, women's European size 34 (small??)

Shetland wool is a bit scratchy but is highly prized for its warmth and quality. I was thrilled to find it in this kid-friendly lime green color, since I do so much charity knitting for children in impoverished countries where they like bright colors. Trust me, green doesn't get any brighter than this unless it's neon. :)












100% lambswool by J Crew - men's size XL

Again, I was drawn to this sweater because of the nice, bright color. It would look fabulous with the green (really). I may have to find a few stranded projects for these.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Socks for Me

I participated in several knit-alongs this month, and one of them was for these ankle socks.

As much as I admire the pretty patterns on the high socks everyone else seems to knit, I can't stand to wear socks that go more than an inch above my ankles. So when this pattern came up as a suggestion for this knit-along, I was very interested in making a pair.

This was my first time knitting from a DROPS Design pattern, and I wanted to be sure that I had help if I needed it. Their patterns are written and formatted quite differently from other patterns, and it can be confusing. I think it has something to do with English not being their "first" language, but I could be wrong about that.

At any rate, I used the pattern 106-20 Ankle Socks in "Fabel" to make these, and I was pretty happy with how they turned out. They are a little lower than I prefer (the pattern is designed that way), but they fit perfectly otherwise.

This was my first pair of socks that I actually finished with sock yarn instead of worsted-weight yarn, and I am very pleased with myself. I didn't get terribly bored with them, and it didn't take me forever to finish them.

I've decided that I prefer using double-pointed needles to the "magic loop" or "two-at-a-time" methods. I still have a pair of two-at-a-time socks sitting on a circular needle waiting for me to get some more patience with them. After finishing these socks, I'm seriously considering transferring those socks (one at a time) to DPNs to finish.

I picked up this superwash sock yarn (Schoeller Esslinger Fortissima Colori) in a bag of other wool yarns at the thrift store. I estimated that I spent about $0.25 for it, so I'm especially happy with my new wool socks.

One last thing that I love about ankle socks is that I can get an entire adult-sized pair from one 50-gram ball of sock yarn. That's like getting half-priced socks! :)
Monday, June 18, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: Hats and Socks for Lesotho Babies

The group I knit for, Hearts for Warmth, just received news that at least one of the hospitals in Lesotho is sending newborns home wrapped in newspaper for warmth. It's probably going on in most of the hospitals, but we've rallied around this one in particular and are making hats, socks and blankets for them to send home with as many newborns as possible. Most of these people heat their homes by fire instead of our modern heating methods, so they have a real need for warm things for home, too.

I've knit a few sets already and took pictures of some of them. I'm bad about taking pictures of the projects, and even worse about blogging about them, but I'm trying to do better.



These were the first booties I made for this project. The pattern is a free one called Bundles of Love Booties, designed to be used for charity knitting.

They were fast, easy and beautiful, but I suspect they're going to be a bit big for these newborns. There is a row on them designed to weave in a ribbon to help tie and make them fit better, so all is not lost. They will be sent, and they should be useable.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of this yarn left to make a matching hat, so I'm going to make one that coordinates instead of matches. I don't have it made just yet, though, because I've been working on the rest of these ...







This Preemie Beanie is another free pattern designed for charity knitting, and it's perfect (if a little time-consuming because of the ribbing).

The ribbing can shrink or stretch to fit a variety of head sizes, so this one is very near perfection.









Here are the booties I made to go along with them. This pattern is called Seamless Baby Booties, and it's also free.

I worked the top-down version, since that's what I'm used to, but she also has a toe-up version for people who prefer that method.

These are cute and very well-designed, but I felt they were still a bit big for newborns. Like the other booties, there's a row designed to weave a ribbon through, so all is not lost. They should still be useable.




And here is the last set, which will probably end up being my go-to patterns for this project. They're fast and easy, and they're the right size.

The hat is called Basic Baby Hat and is one of the easiest projects I've ever done. It's almost mindless, so it's perfect to take along on trips or when you'll be knitting in a loud, distracting doctor's office.

The socks are Baby Fixation Socks, and they are absolutely tiny and adorable. Finally - something that will definitely fit those tiny newborn feet!

If you're familiar with sock-making, these go fast. I timed myself out of curiosity, and I can make one of these socks in an hour without consciously rushing.

If you've never made a sock before, this is a perfect introduction to it, if you don't mind the tiny project paired with smaller needles (US size 3). You get all the sock-making techniques, but it doesn't take as long to get to each different part, so it's quicker to learn.

Do you have any favorite baby knitting patterns?
Saturday, June 16, 2012 1 comments

Knitting: More Mittens for Maine



Summer is full of vehicle trips around here, and mittens are a wonderfully portable project. I made a bunch of them on a recent road trip.

I made these for the Maine organization that gives out gifts to underprivileged children each Christmas. They need around 1600 pairs of mittens each year, so they can use all the help they can get!

This pair should fit the older age range of children because it fits my hand quite nicely.










I used the Basic Pattern for Children's Mittens for both of these. This one is made in the middle size, which should fit a 6-8-year-old.









 They need the smallest and largest sizes the most, so I've been knitting a pair of these tiny mittens as often as possible. They come together quickly because they're so small, but also because there is no need for a separate thumb at this age.

This blue yarn is a soft lambswool.










The pattern I used is called Baby Mitts, and it's a great simple project.

This pink yarn is one of my favorites, 75% merino/25% angora. It's one of the softest yarns ever. As usual, all of this yarn was recycled from thrift store sweaters.
Friday, June 15, 2012 5 comments

Sweaters to Yarn: Shopping Trip #1

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been knitting more than anything recently. The only way I can afford to knit this much (with this quality of yarn) is to buy thrift store sweaters, unravel them, and use the yarn. It sounds like a lot of bother, but it really isn't once you get the process down.

And if you price a sweater's worth of cashmere yarn, you'll understand why this is so fun and exciting. Let's just use one of my recently-unraveled cashmere sweaters as a comparison ...

We'll say this is laceweight, which is the case with most of the luxury yarns I find in sweater form. There are a few exceptions, but let's use a typical one for an example.

 





For $5.50, I got a women's size large Lord & Taylor cashmere sweater at my local Goodwill.











 
It unraveled like a dream and appears to be a light fingering weight. I got a total of 254 grams of yarn out of this sweater:




For comparison, the cheapest light fingering cashmere yarn I could find on a quick scan retails at $27 for 50 grams. That means that I would have paid $135 for this as yarn.





What, you can't imagine spending that much money on yarn for one sweater? I can't either. That's why I unravel sweaters for my yarn.

So, with those kinds of savings in mind, check out what I picked up at the thrift store yesterday ($5.50 for each sweater):






100% cashmere, men’s size Large - Although there is some serging on this sweater, it appears to be mostly decorative. I hope so, or I’m going to have a warm, snuggly nightgown this winter! I just couldn’t pass it up …







50% cashmere/50% silk, men’s size ?? (really big), made in Italy - I love the color of this one, and a silk/cashmere blend is absolutely amazing to touch.















100% cashmere, men’s size small, made in Macau - I’ll lose a little bit of yarn to the buttonholes, but this thing is huge for a size small, so I’m not concerned.















100% silk, from Neiman Marcus, men’s size XL - The amount of yarn in this sweater is almost unbelievable. It hangs almost to my knees and wraps the whole way around my body without me being in the sweater.







After finding all of those in the men’s department, I realized I could use a coupon and get another sweater for just $0.50 more. So I grabbed this one from the women’s racks because I dearly love the color:






100% cashmere, women’s size XL - You probably can’t tell, but it has flecks of darker pink scattered here and there in a very tasteful way. It’s pretty hard to describe but definitely a feast for the eyes. If it were the right size, I’d be wearing this one!








So, let's recap the savings, shall we? I paid a total of $23.85 (including tax) for these beauties. If I bought them as yarn, I would probably be looking at $675, probably more because most of these sweaters are a good deal larger than my sample blue one. If you guessed that as an entire lifetime yarn budget for me, you're probably close.

Now I'm sure you understand why I say that I love unraveling sweaters!
Friday, June 8, 2012 2 comments

Quilting: Doll Quilt


I ran across the picture of this doll quilt that I made for an Etsy customer last year and realized that I had never shared it on my blog. So, here you go!


I love the mix of patterns and colors, and I love that it's also scraps from the rest of the quilts I made for the same customer.







Because of its size, this one was easy to quilt the traditional way (not quilt-as-you-go). That made things a good deal easier!

If I remember correctly, these were 3" squares that I started with. It's a great way to get rid of scraps, and it's a generous size for a doll quilt.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 2 comments

Crocheting: Dishcloths


On Monday, I shared a bunch of knitted dishcloths I've made recently. Today I'm going to show you my favorites - the crocheted ones. It's quite ironic that the crochet ones are my favorite, since one of the reasons I learned to knit was to be able to knit dishcloths. Maybe I'll find a really great knit dishcloth pattern, but for now, these are my favorites.

I had a large cone of natural-colored cotton, but I didn't want to make all-solid dishcloths. I was in the mood for a little bit of color. This pattern, my absolute favorite at the moment, uses scraps for the stripes, so it was perfect. I made two of these for my gift stash, and I was able to use just scraps for the stripes on both dishcloths.

I also love the fact that this dishcloth is simple, doesn’t need any border, and comes out looking very “clean” and professional. It's called Simple Stripes Dishcloth and is available as a free download on Ravelry.

I made it in a few more colors, too ...


Natural and Fiesta yarns from Peaches & Creme






On its own, the Fiesta colorway is pretty overwhelming. Paired with this natural color, though, I really like it - in small doses. :) It’s just cheery enough to make a person smile in the kitchen.




For this one, I used a bright color for the main part and a neutral for the stripe. Since I was using up the last little bit of the Natural-color cone, I only made one of these. I really, really like it because I adore the color yellow (Dandelion Yellow in this case).


This Scrubbie Dots pattern is from the same designer, and I love it! It's also available on Ravelry as a free download.

What I love most about these is that they were designed to use all scraps. Trust me, they use up teeny, tiny scraps. Well, not 6" scraps, but you know what I mean ...

This is my favorite scrubbie pattern, and it will be my go-to pattern for my cotton dishcloth scraps from now on.
Monday, June 4, 2012 2 comments

Knitting: Dishcloths

I've been making a pile of dishcloths in the last few weeks, mainly because I realized that I have an entire banker's box filled with cotton yarn. That, and the fact that dishcloths are fun, quick, and useful.

This first cloth is called Eyelet Border Facecloth and is available for free.

Here's a closer look at the actual stitch pattern:


Like most people, I knit tighter than I purl. That made it nearly impossible to work the purl rows in the pattern stitch. To compensate, I switched to a larger needle for my knit rows and used the smaller needle for the purl rows. I only went up one needle size this time, but I may try two needle sizes next time. It worked, but it was still a little tight.

I love this pattern because it’s nice and tight, but I think it really needs a top and bottom edging that match the sides. That was the only thing that I didn’t like.

Since I have such small hands, I wanted to make a dishcloth with a lighter-weight cotton. Since that's almost impossible to find outside of a local yarn store (which I don't have handy) or a catalog (which I didn't want to spend shipping for), I recycled a thrift store sweater in a lovely tangerine color for this one.

The pattern is called French Stripe Dishcloth and is available as a free download at Ravelry. As you can tell, I eliminated the stripe, although I do love the look of it. I just didn't have a second cotton yarn in the same weight at the moment, and this was an experiment to see how well it would hold up.

Following the instructions exactly (except changing to a smaller needle), my dishcloth came out to 6” square.
It used about 0.5 oz of this recycled cotton.


The last little project for today is a Tribble Scrubbie, which is available as a free Ravelry download.


This was a fast and fun knit, but I had a hard time gathering it when it was done. I think it has something to do with the thick cotton yarn rather than the pattern, since I've crocheted something similar in a linen/cotton blend and had no trouble gathering it.

I used up scraps for this scrubbie, which is a concept you know I love. However, it's not my absolute favorite scrubbie. You'll have to wait until I can get pictures of my favorite one. :)

Do you have any favorite knitted dishcloths? I'd love to hear about them. They make great take-along projects when we go out thrift store shopping for a day.
 
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