A fall knitting challenge!

As you know from the previous post, I love autumn. Unfortunately, this year’s autumn often looks like winter, especially in the morning when you can actually see your breath if you bother to look… Brrr! Now, I love autumn but I hate having cold hands – and that’s exactly what you get if you go out early in the morning five times a week to walk your kid to school (and some of the afternoons are hardly any better).

Those hands are crying for help…

Source: Web

Source: Web (tell me if you know the artist!)

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Beware the ‘Vaders!

As you probably know, toddlers have a tendency to outgrow new clothes quicker than you can say “get dressed!”, which, combined with the aversion to all things new, can turn your life into a battlefield of epic proportions. I don’t know if all toddlers (or all boys, or any kid other than mine) ever do it, but Mr. Toddler has to put on a show every time he’s presented with a new item of clothing: he would say “No!” and run away and, when forced to put things on, he’d cry and wriggle like a colicky newborn… He does it so well that we actually bought him a second pair of shoes before realizing it was just a comedy.

So… we bought him a new winter jacket (I skip the details to preserve your nervous system) and, of course, the last year’s hat didn’t match. So I “had to” knit him a new one. To design a new one, to be exact. I began by searching the web for a simple pixelated character and this is how I met Space Invaders (aren’t they super cute? I’m not a gamer but definitely a fan!). Unfortunately, these little aliens are under copyright and, to be frank, I find them somewhat too scary for a two year old, so I have created my own version: they are slightly taller and friendlier-looking (but still willing to conquer the Earth, so beware all the same!). Thanks to the sprint knitting method, I have finished the hat in a week. I had to use a different yarn to finish the lining (shh! I never told you!) and my stranded knitting could have been better but on the whole, I’m very happy with the result: the hat is extra warm (one stranded layer plus the lining, all 100% wool), it looks funny and my Mr. No wears it like a good boy. I have even invented a trick or two while working on it (what I adore about knitting is that it allows you to grow with every project!) but I won’t tell you unless I decide to publish the pattern ;)

But you want to see the hat, don’t you? Here you go!

Threee…

Twooo…

Ooone…

Ta-daaam! Meet the ‘Vaders!

Beware the 'Vaders!

Beware the ‘Vaders!

P.S. In case you’re wondering about my son’s reaction to his new hat, it was “Oh, no! Oh, no!” once again… I would have been surprised to hear anything else…

Sprint knitting

If you keep track of what’s going on in the knitting world, you have probably heard of speed knitting. In case you didn’t, here is how you do it: cast on, launch the stopwatch and go, go, go! Every now and then, a speed knitting competition is organized that brings forward a new champion. There’s even a Guinness Book entry for speed knitting! The current Guinness record holder is Miriam Tegels from the Netherlands, with 118 sts per minute. (The speed record has been beaten multiple times since 2006, but the Guinness guys weren’t there…)

This is all nice and cool, but where am I trying to lead you? Well, a rocket knitting speed is an obvious advantage, but you won’t probably be able to go on for hours, unless you have a couple of robotic arms attached to your torso… And here is where the concept of sprint knitting enters the stage!

I’ll describe sprint knitting from a mum’s point of view but it can easily be applied to any busy person: just replace the word “kid” by whatever factor prevents you from becoming a full-time knitter…

Just like in sport, sprint knitting means running (er… I mean, knitting) at your top speed for a short period of time. This is how you do it:

Step 1: find a distraction for your kid that will last at least a couple of minutes;

Step 2: grab your knitting and go, go, go! until the kid loses interest in what he was doing;

Step 3: clean the mess produced by the kid while you were busy knitting.

Repeat whenever an opportunity presents itself. Get proactive and create opportunities. Life’s too short to spend time on complaining about not having time to knit!

And if you really don’t have time to knit, consider getting yourself one of these…

Week 19: Mitered knitting

w19Mitered knitting is yet another form of modular knitting. If you have ever seen an afgan, chances are, you have already seen what a mitered square looks like. If not, here’s an example:

Not bad, hein?

The good news is, it’s very easy to knit and the number of stitches decreases as you progress!

Here’s a video tutorial from the Creative Knitting magazine showing you all you need to know:

And here are a couple of free patterns: the blanket you see above (from chocolateachuva.blogspot.com), a mitered scarf from DROPS and why not a pair of mitered socks (by Monika Steinbauer)?

Got leftover yarn? You know what you have to do!

Week 13: Selvedges

w13This week we’re going to explore selvedge (or selvage if you prefer) stitches. The reason of this choice is simple: I’m back to designing and I need the best, neatest and most pick-up-and-knit-friendly selvedge ever!

Speaking about design… I know I never really stopped “improvising” baby clothes but this time I’m up to something big, as big as half a sweater, adult size! I’ve already knitted a swatch – which is rare – and I’ve totally enjoyed it – which is even more rare! My hands are itching to start knitting but before I cast on, I need to persuade my baby boy to fall asleep so I can do my math… Wish me luck!

Yes I know I’m hopelessly late… But not with my knitting! I have cast on an intimidating total of 366 stitches and my big mysterious project is moving on!

All right, now to selvedges: instead of repeating what others have written, I give you a link to a very good post from tessknits.com: here you go!

As to my question (which selvedge will suit me better), the answer is – none! That is, no selvedge, both the first and the last stitches should be worked in the main pattern (reverse stockinette) – this will provide me with a denser edge without bumps – just what I need!

Hope you enjoy your knitting as I do!

 

Week 11: Double rolled and shagged knitting (and thrumming)

w11With -12 Celsius last night, one is more likely to think about toasty mittens rather than sleeveless tanks… Hence this week’s topic! Both double rolling and shagging are used to create a lining adding an extra layer of warmth to socks, mittens etc. The first technique uses an additional thread (roving is the best choice but I think any bulky single-spun yarn will do) and the padded lining is created while knitting. The second is worked in two steps: first an item is knitted in a specific kind of ribbing to prepare the base for shagging and then a padding is added with the help of a sewing needle.

Here’s a picture of a double rolled mitten:

And here is what the inside of a shagged sole sock looks like:

Image source: Dawn Brocco via http://www.craftsy.com

You can find the directions for double-rolled knitting here and here (pp 36-45) and there’s a description of a sewn shag on p. 46 of the same book. The source for both is Favorite Mittens: Best Traditional Mitten Patterns from Fox & Geese & Fences by Robin Hansen. This part of the book is published on Google Books and is accessible to everyone so there’s no copyright breaking involved.

And while we are talking about warmth, there’s one more technique that can provide a similar result – thrumming. Here’s a thrummed mitten:

And here is a tutorial (based on the same book as I can see).

Now you have no excuse for having cold hands or feet!