Monday, March 24, 2014

Gray Counterpane Scarf


In a few weeks I will be teaching my Take The Pain Out Of Counterpane knitting class. It was time to finish another project using my counterpane modules. One third of this project was knitted eight years ago (at the time I came up with the idea for the class). Last week I finally finished the scarf. I ended up making eight squares and twelve rectangles in all.


Yarn And Needles

I hand spun a worsted weight yarn using 50% merino and 50% angora (bunny). The bunny is mine, so I know it is naturally colored. I purchased the gray merino fiber from Jagger Spun and cannot attest to it being natural or dyed.  My gut feeling is that it is dyed. The last photo show a close up of the fabric surface because bunny gives the fabric such a wonderful halo.

I started this with size five double points. Looking back, I wish I had used larger. But that is what I started with so that is what I finished with. With the winter we have had in Missouri, thick scarfs are good.

The Nice Design Surprise

I did not realize that the edges of the piece would become scalloped. This just happened as I was sewing (mattress stitch). These scalloped border made the piece for me and I love it. I think the scallops really shine when the scarf is tied. To me, it looks like a jabot.

Jabot Style

This photo demonstrates how I first sew two triangles to one square and create the scarf using these larger sections.


The Angora Halo

I think this is going to be my comfort scarf. It was cold here this weekend and I had the flu to top it off. I put this warm fuzzy thing around my neck and I just felt better!

For an idea how versatile the square can be, here is my shawl post from September that uses the same square. I just knitted it a lot larger and with lace weight yarn on very large needles.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Changing The Rows-A Great Stash Buster



The latest off my needles-went for a Monet color palette on this one.

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A few months ago I had a request to make a tutorial about my “Change Of Row” technique that I use on scarfs, shawls and Afghans. I have finally settled down and decided to write it. If there is something in the following that is not clear, please let me know and I will try to fix it. 

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INTRODUCTION  
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The knitting stitch for this technique is usually the Garter stitch, which is knitting every row. * I use very large needles so the fabric is not heavy and thick.  I consider the knitting secondary to this technique. Developing an eye for how colors and textures work together is the most important technique here. It can be learned with study and practice. 


The Instructions


1.     SETTING UP- Pick the yarns and the circular needle size you are going to use. It must be a circular needle to handle the length of the rows. These projects are knitted horizontally and you could have 123 to 200 stitches on the needle. I use 47" Addi Turbo circulars in size 17 . Use the best needle size for you. There are always exceptions, depending how you knit and what you are knitting. I will discuss variances later in this article.

2.     YARN THEMES-As far as yarns, it helps to have a theme. One theme that I have used is Monochromatic (all one color family). This is probably the easiest. The red scarf pictured below has a monochromatic theme.  Monet and his Water Lilly’s has played into the color choices. The ocean, desert, spring flower garden could be ideas to use.

3.     YARN CHOICES-I use quite a lot of multi color and textural yarns in various thicknesses. Solids colors are also important. If I had to put it in numbers, I would say it is a 40 % multicolored yarn, 40 % textural yarn, and 20 % solid yarn mixture.  I you have a thread yarn; it is always good to have a solid to knit along with it.

4.     GAUGE-Knit a swatch using a few of the yarns so you know how many stitches per inch you are going to have. This Is important. From experience, I know that I am pretty much going to get 2.5 stitches an inch with my size 17 needles.

5.     NOW IT IS TIME TO DO THE MATH and figure out how many stitches you are going to cast on. If I want a scarf that is 60” long, I am going to multiply 60 x 2.5 for 138 stitches. 

6.     CAST ON YOUR FIRST ROW, using the cast on of your choice. I would suggest that you use a smooth yarn for this row.You need to leave a yarn tail at the beginning of the cast on row. This will be the first fringe.

7.     AT THE END OF THE ROW, decide how long you want the fringe and cut the yarn a little longer. Don't worry about getting all the yarns the same length at this point. They can be trimmed up when the project is finished. Start knitting with the second yarn. After a few stitches, I go back and tie the yarns together at the base of the knitting. Then, I don’t have to worry about any stitches coming loose and don’t have the drudge task of tying the entire fringe at the end of the project.  Knit two rows, tie two row is my mantra on that one.

8.     DECIDE HOW WIDE YOU WANT THE project and then bind off.  I had 34 rows of knitting for the monochromatic red scarf and 146 rows for my golden brown shawl.

 

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This technique does not have to be limited to just scarfs and such. The last photo below is of a caplet. This was the first thing I made using this technique and was knitted in the Stockinette stitch. The shawl and scarfs came later.

My golden shawl. This photo show the knotted ends clearly.


Close up of fabric


A study in red


Fabric closeup

This close up is from a shawl that I made for my daughter. She sent me a close up. I never took a picture of the project.




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My caplet-the first project that I used the" Change Of Row" technique with. I sewed in yarns every few rows so It would not be so overwhelming at the end of the project.


I do love my closeups. The vintage mother of pearl buckle came from Ebay.



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So the next time you see one or two skeins of fantastic yarn on clearance for a great price, get them.  They could be the basis for a wonderfully creative project. And I will guarantee you that you will get complements!




* I say "usually" the Garter Stitch because I like having my scarfs and shawls reversible. As pointed out on my caplet, I used the Stockinette stitch. My notes say that I used a SZ 6 circular needles. 

And if you are on Ravelry, here is the  link to my page. I would love for you to visit me. Hope to see you there!








Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Long Promise Finally Kept


A very long time ago, when I was a small girl, the local grocery store would get in wonderful toys right before Christmas. One year, I fell in love with the Cinderella doll. And I did get her! I never scored very many dolls so this was a big deal. After all these years, she is still with me. ‘Rella was pre-Barbie, so for the time, this was a high fashion doll.

'Rella was originally dressed in a beautiful gold and pink tulle ball gown, which disintegrated ages ago. The pair of silver plastic shoes also disappeared.

'Rella in her new top to toe outfit.

She is 29 inches tall and I've not found patterns for her. My Mom found one for a 32 inch doll (see below) and used that in the three garments she made for her all those years ago. For decades, “Rella has been barefoot and dressed in a limited and increasingly distressed wardrobe.

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A very old and worn pattern, but all the pieces are there. The styles don't fit Rella's image and are not a perfect fit. But it gives me something
to work with.

For years, I have promised myself that I would make the old girl something new*. I finally did. I don’t think this design is extremely fashion forward. However, it does fit the look of the doll.

I made seven pieces in all. To keep this simple, I have organized them in a list each with a little blurb.  

Fitted Pants-I adapted the pajama pant pattern to create a fitted pant with front pleats, back zipper and waistband. Next time, I am going to try and cut a new fitted pattern, rather than trying to fit that on on the doll. 

Lined Cape With Collar-This is pretty much the original. However, I wanted a collar and cut a pattern. Black grosgrain ribbon detail is used on the collar and cape (and also down the pant's side seam). 

I made these two garments from a fabric remnant from my Mom. It was in a dresser that I took home after she passed (along with all her patterns). I had seen this fabric as long as I can remember and have no idea where it came from. I know it has been around at least forty years. Sophia and Niko (my Poodles) also got Christmas outfits out of it. I still have some left!

A side view showing pleats, waistband and grosgrain ribbon tuxedo stripe down the side of the pants. Also, it's a good view of her new mani!

Short Sleeve Sweater, Arm Warmers And Beret.-I designed the sweater and arm warmers. The beret came from Ann Budd’s book The Knitter’s Handy Book Of Patterns. I used the 0-6 months size. 

The back of the sweater has a placket with vintage mother of pearl buttons.


The yarn used is Trendsetter’s Rapunzel. It is a Mohair and wool blend. This yarn was one of my Tuesday Morning finds.


Shoes (actually boots)-These are made from some fairly thick black felt. They have leather soles and heels created from Sculpty clay. I lined the top inside so they could be turned down for a different look. Shoes are always going to be a challenge. They are a whole different ballgame from regular sewing.
My research has found a wonderful and knowledgeable resource from Finland. Tarja Simpanen has a wonderful blog and website with valuable information about creating doll shoes.  
 
The boots showing the option of the turned down cuff. 


Purse-I designed this using leather and jewelry findings. Fortunately, I have an ancient heavy-duty Singer sewing machine that will sew through fairly thin leather with ease. 


   
 A closer view of the purse.



The only thing I bought specifically for this project was the Sculpty clay. I scavenged everything else from my stash.


I had a great time with this project. It covered a lot of different skill sets and made me research on how to do some aspects. 


* I have actually knitted one top for 'Rella. I wanted a sample for my Simply Color fiber class, so decided to "kill two birds with one stone", as the old saying goes. However, nothing goes with the knitted top. Next doll design project?