My Knitting Life

Fast and Easy Blocking

I need to finish this project in a hurry, but it is in serious need of blocking. Here’s a trick I do whenever I don’t want to plunge my project pieces into water and wait 36 hours for them to dry.

Put a towel (or two) on the floor, smooth it out, and then pin your pieces out to the dimensions listed in the pattern. Pin, pin, pin. (I was seriously hoping the squares on the towel were 1″ square, but that would have been too easy!)

Take a spray bottle and mist the pieces to your satisfaction. It’s not necessary to soak them, but they should be something between slightly wet and fairly wet. (Sorry, describing degrees of wetness is not my forte!)

I pinned and misted these around 4:30pm this afternoon, and hope to be able to sew the seams and do the finishing starting tonight or early tomorrow morning. What pattern is this, you ask? It’s Lexie (link takes you to Ravelry) by Elsebeth Lavold. If you like this yarn, you can buy it here: Quixotic Fiber You need 3 or 4 skeins depending on the size. I’m sure this LYS would appreciate your business!

Free Knitting Patterns

Off Piste Cable Sweater

A few years ago I bought a 6 skein set of gradient yarn at a fiber festival in Idaho Falls. Those skeins sat around and I admired them, but now in my motivated state to knit up the yarn that I have, I started to knit this yarn in a few patterns, but none of them seemed right. So I decided to just start knitting a sweater, without having a pattern. You can find the link below to this pattern. It’s really more of a formula for making a top down sweater.

Off Piste Cable Sweater Link:

off piste cable sweater pattern

Interested in this yarn? I bought it from Blue Savannah. Check out her offerings on Etsy!

Baby Patterns · Non-Knitting Projects

Houndstooth Heaven

Subtitled: How to Upcycle a Sweater

I was in a thrift store a few years back and saw what I affectionately call an “oops” sweater. You know, the kind of sweater where someone didn’t believe the “dry clean only” directions?! In fact, I found three of them, so I bought them with the well-meaning intention of doing something fabulous with them. Several years later I am just getting around to working with them. Here are all the items I made with one sweater:

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Much of the sweater body went to make a custom computer case with leather details (I also bought a leather skirt at the thrift store that day–smile). Actually, I finished this right after buying the sweater. The sweater sleeves went to make some water bottle covers and coffee travel cozies. And my feet are showing off the me-sized slippers. I modified a pattern from Purl Soho (here’s the LINK) by sandwiching some plastic canvas between the bottom pieces, blanket stitching it all together, and then adding a back strap. Instant warmth! Or, maybe several hours of sewing and then the warmth.

As for those sweet little baby slippers, I used another pattern from Purl Soho (Felt Baby Slippers). I cut out the pattern pieces with my pinking shearers, pinned them together, and then hand sewed them with sock yarn and a running stitch. Maybe 2 hours tops to complete. You can also check out this patternLINK for baby shoes.

Yeah, I’m not going to be doing this again, except for the baby slippers because they’re so cute! And to be honest, I feel like a super-dork in my slippers, but a warm super-dork!

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My Knitting Life

End of an Era (or, It’s Not Done Until You’ve Blogged About it)

Blanket on chair

Here I present the end of an era. It’s the end because I started this leftover sock yarn blanket in the fall of 2008. After almost 9 years, a lot of changes have happened. It’s inevitable. The kids grew up, we moved almost across the country, went from a house to a condo, and now we own e-bikes, for crying out loud! Change happens! It is time to knit other things. Or, finish other things, because of the way my year went, with teaching almost a full schedule at school, and then throwing teaching 3 graduate classes for SLC teachers on top of that! I have about 5 projects that are mostly finished, but need a little more attention.
Back to this blanket-afghan-throw thingie. I wasn’t sure how big I was going to make it; I was just enjoying the process. But 8.5 years later, I’ve decided to finish. And by finish, I mean, squaring it off, not adding any height or width to it, and most importantly, edging it in i-cord! The edging, you see, is like a stopper; it prevents me from adding more rows. Smart, huh? Done.

Blanket on wall

But at the end of this crazy-sock- leftovers-turned-into-a-blanket era, I have a crazy urge to come up with something else “scrappy” because I’ve still got a small tub of sock-yarn leftovers. Maybe in a year I will have a new pattern to show.
I briefly entertained the idea of putting this on Etsy for a ridiculous sum of money. I was thinking something over $2500, just to see if anyone would “bite.” But that’s cheap. Way too cheap. I calculated my labor at $10/hr (hey, I’m a skilled knitter!), 30 minutes per block which takes into account tucking in loose ends and knitting the i-cord edging. So, with 380 blocks @ 30 minutes per block, that’s 190 hours. Multiply that by the $10 per hour, and the labor cost on this blanket is around $1900.  That doesn’t include the yarn. And it takes a lot of sock knitting to accumulate a great variety of yarn. (That was my excuse, anyway). So, the next time someone knits something for you, they don’t do it to save money or time. They do it because they LOVE you!

For now I’ll just sit on my balcony on cool mornings and enjoy the warmth of this throw.

 

Free Knitting Patterns

Iceleaves Shawl–Free Pattern

Dramatic and plush, the Iceleaves shawl is a fast knit using superbulky yarn and size 19 needles. With a gauge of almost 2 stitches per inch, you’ll be done knitting this before you’ve binge-watched two episodes of your favorite series!

This pattern is for your personal use only. Please don’t sell items knit from this pattern, and please don’t pass the pdf along to your fellow-knitters. Instead, refer them to this blog. Click ice-leaves-shawl to download.

Free Knitting Patterns · Free Sock Patterns

Diamond Array Socks

About 15 years ago, I came to the happy realization that I was equally comfortable with purling as with knitting. I’m not sure why it took so long. But I remember as a child I would always finish with a purl row if knitting stockinette stitch, so that the next time I picked up the project, I would do so willingly because I would be on a knit row. Every project was subject to this rule. Hated purling. Doesn’t everyone, at first?

Brick Pic

But lately I’ve begun to realize how beautiful the knit stitch looks as it travels along in a field of purl stitches. Texture. One of the features that makes this craft of “knitting” so beautiful. Perhaps I should call myself a “purler” instead of a “knitter”!

So, here’s my latest free pattern offering, Diamond Array Sock Pattern, with a cute but true little story at the beginning.

 

Free Knitting Patterns · Hello World! · My Knitting Life

Diamondweave Hat

Diamondweave Hat20160205_172929

Not tight enough to be a beanie, yet not loose enough to be a slouch, Diamondweave Hat delivers highly textured diamonds that float over background purl stitches. As you know, “textured” means you’ll be moving a lot of stitches around, so be prepared. But the payoff is a beautifully patterned hat that has depth and drama.

Click on the link below for the free pattern pdf. Enjoy!

Diamondweave Hat

Free Knitting Patterns · My Knitting Life · My Sock Philosophy

72 Stitch Sock Pattern (aka Checkered Heel & Stripey Toe)

It’s raining and my back hurts. I guess I’ll blog.
Knitting has been a bit rough lately because my back is aching. The good news is that I’m on the mend, after many physical therapy (brutal!) sessions, and now visits to a chiropractor. I am now able to sit and knit for a bit. Sigh…

72 Heel Closeup
72 Toe Closeup
72 All Sock

But the little knitting that I have been doing has been creative! I test-knit a pattern for a friend, and I’ve come up with a simple design for a checkered heel and a stripey toe. Even though I only have one sock finished, I think you’ll get the idea about what’s happening. And I’m not the type of knitter to leave a sock unknit. I want to wear these! I used Brown Sheep Company’s Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn (75% Washable Wool/25% Nylon), color: Licorice. Love it!

For the checkered heel, I grabbed some contrasting yarn and knit the first 2 heel flap rows, slipping every other stitch on the right side and just purling the wrong side. Then I changed back to the main color for the next two rows. The heel flap is about 28-32 rows long. At the point where I turned the heel, I used the main color only.

For the stripey toe, on the decrease rows I changed to the contrasting yarn, and used the main color yarn for the other rows. Except I did the first decrease on needle 1, and then I started the contrasting yarn on (what I refer to as) needle 2, so that the woven-in-end wouldn’t be on the bottom of the sock. This made for a perfect end with the kitchenered main color.

Wouldn’t it be fun to use up lots of crazy sock leftovers doing this? I think it adds a bit of charm.

72 Stitch Sock Pattern

Free Knitting Patterns · My Knitting Life · Technology Patterns

Stashes and School and Tablets and a Free Pattern!

Tabcover 2

Stashes

Good News! I am no longer held hostage by a huge stash of yarn! My current stash consists of: enough Jaeger fingering yarn for a lightweight sweater (in last year’s Pantone color of the year), some Dale of Norway superwash Falk for future use (since I live in the mountains again, I feel the need another Norwegian inspired sweater!), about 5 skeins of sock yarn, 2 skeins of a worsted Noro and 2 skeins of ivory worsted, and a few skeins of yarn leftover from sweaters. I also have a small container of fingering yarn scraps and leftovers for my mitered square blanket, and some leftovers from my nine patch afghan, in case I want to knit another row of nine patches (probably not!) or in case I want to knit some hats for kids at church (a better option). That’s it. THAT”S IT!

So, I encourage you to take an honest look at your stash and make some changes. It will free you up to knit what is new or current! I can walk to my LYS (local yarn shop–Blazing Needles) and buy something for a new project with very little guilt. This makes me smile. And the fact that I can walk to a yarn shop makes me giddy with excitement!

School

If you read my not-very-frequent posts, you’ll know that my husband and I moved from a very small town in Indiana to the very large (large for us, our 2nd time here) Salt Lake City. I started looking for a job; I’m a teacher by trade. I love kids, teaching English as a Second Language, watching kids learn, expecting them to try their hardest. I still feel fresh and ready for the demands of this profession. (BTW, if you’re a teacher and you feel lackluster in your profession, make a change! Read a few books, go to an excellent workshop, or even retire and find something else. You might find joy again, even if it the joy is outside of education!)

I was on a serious learning curve during the first month, new acronyms, new colleagues, new students. But I’ve hit my stride and the students and I are making good progress. Whew! So happy to be teaching again! I’ve even started a 3rd grade knitting club during the last recess. Twelve or so students give up their last recess to come and knit for a bit. The students (all girls right now, but a few boys have come) are knitting little headbands to keep their ears warm. Here’s a photo of their beginning stages of knitting:

knitting club

Tablets

During the first week of school I won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 from the Teacher’s Union! I love gadgets and new technology, so I vowed to use this at school with kids. I bought a kid-friendly protective cover and put a few apps on the tablet. But after a few weeks, I realized my little Tab 4 needed more protection. So I knitted a protective cover. I really like how this turned out! Here’s the basic pattern, and it’s free!

Materials:

Size 6 (US) knitting needles for knitting in the round, worsted weight yarn, tapestry needle, safety pin

Techniques Used:

Know how to use: Judy’s Magic Cast on, Knit 2 Together (K2tog), YarnOver (YO), attached i-cord, traditional 3-strand braid (for closure)

Gauge: 23 stitches = 4″  Row/round gauge is not important. Check your gauge, or at least be familiar with your gauge with the yarn you’re using. My gauge is fairly tight for worsted yarn on this needle size.

Tabcover 3

Start Knitting: Using Judy’s Magic Cast On (many YouTube videos available), cast on 60 stitches, placing 30 stitches on each needle. Round 1: Knit. Round 2: increase one stitch at each end (62 stitches). Round 3: Knit.  Round  4: increase one stitch at each end (64 stitches).

Knit until cover is 8″ long (about the place where the tablet peeks out a bit when inserted into cover). EYELET Round: *K2tog, YO* repeating between *s around the row.

Knit one more round. Then work an attached i-cord, tie off, and use yarn tail to sew i-cord ends together. Turn inside out and weave in the yarn tail from the start of your cover.

Make tie: Take nine strands of yarn, about 25″ each strand. Separate the nine into three groups of three strands. Tie all nine together near the top, begin braiding and when it’s long enough, use a safety pin to secure to an arm of a chair and braid until braid is 18″ long. Tie off the end. Trim yarn ends about 1/2″ beyond the knot and fray with end of safety pin. Thread the tie through the eyelet openings (from the K2tog/YO row). Tablet Protection is Achieved!

Tabcover 4
Free Knitting Patterns · Home Projects Patterns · My Knitting Life

Twice Recycled Lunch Bag

My knitting life hasn’t been great lately. I have been knitting a bit, but not as much as I want to. With my job being pretty all-consuming right now, I work all day and come home and sit on the couch trying to finish what I didn’t have time to do at work. UGH! I just want some needles in my hands! Feelin’ sorry for me yet? I hope so, but enough of that.

I do get hungry at work, and I wove a little lunch basket last year, but it has ended up being just too small for all the lunch I need to take to work (I’m hungry!). Enter thoughts about a market bag I wanted to knit. But why not just turn it into a lunch bag? Done! Leftover yarn from my “Look Twice” sweater, and it’s recycled yarn to boot, like being recycled twice!

Twice Recycled Bag

So here’s a free pattern for you. Please be a somewhat experienced knitter who knows terms like “kitchener” stitch, i-cord, etc. Hey, its a free pattern!

Twice Recycled Bag