Friday, February 25, 2011

knitting balls

Knitting a ball opens up so many creative possibilities.  It's easier than it looks.  I found this simple pattern, called 'Oh Balls!' on Ravelry (must be a member) and quickly knit up two of them as cat toys.  They take a tiny bit of worsted weight yarn (I used Lion Brand Wool Ease) and 4 double pointed needles.    

I used bits of batting to fill the balls halfway, then poured some catnip in them, then more batting.  In the smaller blue ball, I put a bell.  The larger ball, at about 2.5 inches diameter, was knitted on size 8 bamboo needles and the smaller one, a little less than 2 inches diameter, on size 6 aluminum needles.  I like the bamboo needles better as they're grabbier and will not drop out of the stitches.  

Using double pointed needles can be confusing at first.  I suggest searching out YouTube videos and watch how it's done.  It's so worth learning this method!  You can now knit teeny tiny tubes!

Now that I've mastered balls, I can knit octopi and an eggplant!  Eventually I hope to graduate to praying mantis.  Amigurumi Knits
by Hansi Singh is one of my favorite knitting books, and I have yet to try any of her patterns.  They intimidated me.  I now have no fear!  
From Blogger Pictures

Knucklehead is crazy about his new toys.  He's our old boy at 15 years, and still playful.  
From Blogger Pictures
From Blogger Pictures

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

kumara diamonds for kayla finished and lessons learned

I didn't finish it in time to bring it to Kayla last Saturday night.  I blame work.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  As a relatively newby knitter (I learned when I was about 10 but stopped knitting for decades before finding a passion for it about 2 years ago), I learned a few lessons from this hat pattern.  I am happy to share them.

  1. I got this one right.  Knit a gauge swatch.  I knitted a fairly big swatch with the recommended needles in the diamond pattern.  
  2. M1 (make 1) stitches can make holes if you don't do them correctly.  I started the M1 row and realized they weren't invisible new stitches as advertised.  What was I doing wrong?  I followed directions I found on a YouTube video, but I got little holes.  I reread the directions in the pattern which state: "insert LH needle under horizontal strand between st just worked and next st, from the front to the back, knit through the back loop."  Examining my method, I saw that I was picking up the stitch, but not knitting through the back loop.  Knitting through the back twists the stitch and closes the hole.  To rip or not to rip?  I had some little holes.  Holes - shmoles.  I chose to see them as design elements.
  3. Try to use a yarn as close to the recommended yarn as possible.  I had the yarn weight right, but Lion Brand Wool Ease is wool and acrylic.  I want the hat to be easy care for a soon to be 18 year old who may not want to hand wash and block her hat.  I gave up some stitch definition for this choice.  The yarn called for is Kumara which is merino/camel.
  4. Switching needle sizes would seem like a simple thing.  I use interchangeable addi clicks.  They are wonderful, but don't actually think.  Your brain has to do that part and mine failed at this instruction. Here's what I did.  When the pattern said to change from size 7 to 9, I pushed all of the stitches on BOTH needles onto the cable and changed BOTH needles to the size 9s.  I then cursed through the process of pushing the stitches back onto the now too large needle.  I got through the round, but realized...HEY!  I could have changed just the right hand needle, knitted the round, then changed the other.  Go ahead, laugh. 
  5. Change from circular to double points when the going gets small.  I turned to YouTube again for this (even though I think I received bad instruction for the M1).  Instructions usually say to do these things assuming you, me and everyone else reading them know how to do this.  After all, if they explained every little thing, the pattern instructions could be as long as War and Peace.  This video helped me to see exactly how to change to the double points.
  6. Now I have to close the last stitches.  I had 14 of them on 3 double pointed needles.  It seemed like a lot and I wanted to decrease them, but someone with more experience than me wrote this, so I took up my tapestry needle and cut the yarn.  Thread the yarn end on the tapestry needle then through your remaining stitches.  Pull it tight and weave in.  
  7. Blocking.  I've done that!  On flat things like bookmarks and shawls.  This is a 3 dimensional object.  I happened to have a basket the perfect size and shape.  The hat is drying on it now.
From knitting
From knitting
I immediately started another bookmark and a mitered dish towel (from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines).

To be added: picture of the lovely Kayla wearing her new hat.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

kumara diamonds for kayla

It has been a dreary damp day.  Perfect for knitting, since I have the day off.  I'm working Saturday and Sunday, so won't have much time for knitting this weekend.  This is a hat I promised to make for Kayla, my best friend Jimi's granddaughter.

Kayla picked this pattern out of 100's of them on Ravelry.  It's called Kumara Diamond Cap by Classic Elite Yarns.  I really, really like it.  It is the first time I've knitted a hat in the round.  It's ridiculously easy, mostly knit stitches with pearl pumps delineating a diamond pattern.  I'm using Lion Brand Wool-Ease in black.  Progress pics...
From knitting
From knitting
I hope to be finished by Saturday night, when we're due to go to Jimi & Leon's for dinner.  I've learned a lot in the process today.  I hope it fits (gauge swatch, check)!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

knit up a roadkill 'possum for a furry friend

Last year I knitted a Mouse Mat for Cat from the book Pet Heaven: the Animal Accessory Bible by Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir.  It was a fun quick knit with chunky yarn.  I used Lion Brand Thick and Quick, which was a pleasure to work with.  I gave the mouse mat to my dear Mother-in-law, who has 20 or so cats.  The only thing I changed about the book's pattern was to make 'x's for eyes, instead of using buttons.

It was so much fun, I decided to make one for my cats.  I needed it to be bigger to fit  extra large Sasha.  I also wanted to make it look more like a rat.  I started off with the tail, casting on 2 stitches and knitting until it was about 4 inches long, then increased in one or two stitch increments until it was 16 inches.  I didn't keep notes, so I can't tell you exactly how many rows, but this pattern is so easy you can just eyeball it and knit until it looks right to you.  I made the body a bit longer, maybe by 12 rows.  The head is longer and narrower than the original pattern.  I beefed up the ears, by sewing the fronts and backs together with the chunky yarn, and also used it to sew the ears to the head, spreading the bottoms out, so that they wouldn't flop over like the first one I made.

Sasha decides to give it a test run.  She's watching me while I knit the ears.  That was fine, until the moving yarn was just too much for her, and she pounced on it.
From knitting
It looks more like an opossum than a rat.  What better to dress this faux dead 'possum than faux tire tracks? I used some black Wool-ease and used masking tape to keep the tracks somewhat even.  They aren't perfect, but I think it looks pretty cool.  Knucklehead is not so sure.
From knitting
Lenny Bruce shows the possum some love.
From knitting
From knitting
OMG! There's a dead 'possum on my pastry table!
From knitting
Okay, I will deign to sit on this ridiculous looking thing for two seconds.  Now, give me treats.
From knitting