Sunday, June 25, 2017

Addictive useful potholder instructions

These are really, really good pot holders/trivets/coasters and I've been obsessed by them for months.  I've nearly always got one in progress in my purse, even if I can only put in a few stitches here and there while I'm waiting for something else to happen, or after dinner if, as usual, I've finished first - or whatever.  For the past six months or so, I seem to be working on them in spare moments, with the result that I've finished quite a few - and I have more in progress.  Lately I've been working on other things, so it was great fun to turn back to this project today.  Here are two finished ones.  The one on the left was made from thinner cotton yarn, the left-overs from a table runner explained on my shop's last FB post (look for graceful arts fiber studio on Facebook and you'll see it).  The one on the right was made this afternoon, using some of my hand-dyed originally-sugar-and-cream cotton, which I turn into a variegated where the colors don't pool - more calico in its final effect than blotches.  When it was done, I suddenly realized that in order to explain how to make one from its beginning, I needed to start yet another.  Oh, good!  any excuse will do, actually!

In the thinner cotton, I began by chaining 32.  In the thicker cotton,  (pictured above) I began by chaining 24. (I use a smaller hook than I'd use for other projects - an F for the DK weight, a G for the worsted weight cotton.)  Either way, make 3 single crochets in the second chain from the hook, one SC in each chain across, then 2 additional SC in the last chain.  Turn the work, and you can see I've begun making one SC per space on the opposite side of the CH.  When I say "per space" in this context, I mean one between each SC of the first side.  When you reach the end, you continue in a spiral, one SC in each SC of the row below.  No joining rounds or rows, you simply keep going.  Pretty mindless.  Which is why I often get a row or so done while singing vocal exercises at the beginning of a rehearsal.  When we have to start reading music, of course, all bets are off and I put it away...  but not too far away because sometimes the tenors have to practice a few lines while the rest of us wait.  So you want to keep going until you have a bag that looks approximately like this when it's flattened.

At the point when you've got about half as many rows as you have stitches on one side of the bag, you start checking to see if this production makes a square when you flatten it this way.

Ummm....  Not quite.  A few more rounds are needed.  Note that because you want to flatten it out this way, which by the way, as you can see, puts one side crosswise to the other, which adds a lot to the strength and stability of the whole, you've got to end in the middle of one side (i.e., when it's flattened as in the previous photo.

Then you can sew it together.  Play with it a little, pulling the corners out until it lies flat.  (See the top photo for reference).  This makes a good, useful, hand-protecting pot-holder, and you might have a small amount of yarn left over.  So after you've made potholders for all your friends and family, you can put together the interesting leftovers, much as you'd do in the kitchen with supper remnants from the past two days, and make something terrific for yourself from the blend. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mitten instructions & tutorial

Time for me to start a year's worth of mittens again - and I'm hoping to persuade others to join me.  Most of the mittens I make go to children in the younger age range for Seneca Santa (a local charity for needy kids in Schuyler County, NY).  The idea is that warm mittens will probably be accepted most readily by littler kids...  while older ones might just prefer "magic" gloves, which could come from anywhere, unlike homemade mittens which could potentially identify them among their peers as having received a charity gift.  Or maybe some older children don't mind and just want to be warm, which is what we want for them when we knit.  You can, of course, crochet warm mittens, but knitted ones are differently stretchy and conform better to small hands.  Seneca Santa gives gifts to children newborn to 10 years old.

These mittens are for 4-5 year olds, the target audience.  I like using two strands of yarn for extra thickness and warmth.  These are variegated knitting worsted and a yellow baby yarn held together.  The red ones at the end, for a slightly  larger/ older child, are knitting worsted.heavy sport weight held together.  I'm putting in stitch counts for both; use a smaller needle than you think you'd need and knit loosely.  size 7 or 8  needles are great; you'll also need two stitch holders and a yarn needle for sewing.

Cast on 24/27 stitches.  K1, p 1 ribbing for 12/14 rows.  On the next inside row, increase 5 stitches across in purl.  knit one row, purl one row for four more rows, ending on the right side.  (The red mittens are more traditional: I purled one row, knitted a row and began increasing traditionally for a thumb gusset on three right-side rows each time I was at the 12th stitch from the end.

 When I got to 9 stitches, I put the thumb stitches on a holder).  For the yellow mittens, knit 12, increase 1, knit 5, increase 1, knit 12.  Purl next row.
Last thumb gusset row on the yellow mittens: Knit 12, increase 1, knit 7, increase 1, put the thumb stitches on a holder and knit to end of the row.  Purl the next row, picking up one stitch above the thumb to close the gap.

It looks stubby when it's flattened out for the photo, and the stitch holder is a lot larger than it needs to be.
Knit and purl until you have 11 rows above the thumb stitches.  This part goes pretty quickly!  On last row, K 1, K 2 together across.  Cut yarn, thread through a yarn needle and take off all stitches, pull tight and fasten with one buttonhole sewing stitch.

Put thumb stitches on the needle, knit across, adding one stitch to the end of the row.  I knit in my end, having left a tail of yarn long enough to knit three stitches with.  Knit 8 more rows.  Cut yarn, thread through a yarn needle and take off all stitches, pull tightly, fasten off and sew thumb seam.  Fasten off again at the join between thumb and hand, then run the tail through the purl stitches, trim flat.  Sew the  hand seam.  You can start from the tail left from casting on, meet in the middle with the tail left from finishing the mitten top.  Run all tails through the purl side of the mitten, a few stitches in one direction, then zig zag back in the other direction for security.  Trim all tails.

Here are two pairs of  finished mittens.  Not sure yet what I'll do about matching hats.  Variegated yarns make really nice- looking mittens; the "louder" variegations like the Christmas red/white/green that often show up in yarn donations can be toned down a bit with a solid.   Having these cool colors is also  frankly more fun for the knitter, too. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

This year I've decided to spin a lot, knit a lot, crochet a lot, tat like crazy - and finish projects.  And off to a good start, I think.  I managed to complete this only about five months later than intended.   I got permission from the mom of this sweet charmer to show the sweater on my favorite baby.  It was a race to the finish - I kept adding more stitches to each part of the sweater while the little sweetheart did her best to try to outgrow everything before I finished.

 I added a little more to the sides and I'm really, really glad she got the sweater last week, because this week could have been too late... 

This week, among a bunch of other things, I decided to make some pussyhats.  I dyed my favorite super-bulky yesterday, and today, since it was dry, I wound balls and began knitting.  Here's the first one, using the pattern for superbulky from the website, the top left is the second hat in progress...

I figure it will go to DC when I can't, and it's a small way to stand up and be heard.  And just possibly, we need as many of those as possible.