Buttons! (Again!)

Like any good crafter, I love buttons.

After I wrote (in too much detail) about how much I love buttons, I received a mystery box from my grandmother.  And, I bet you can’t guess what was inside.

Buttons!

Hundreds and hundreds of buttons in every color, size, shape and material.  From every decade of the last 60 years.  They’re kind of amazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese tiny blue buttons were held together on a great big gold safety pin.  The picture doesn’t do them justice; they’re shiny and perfect, and the prettiest shade of periwinkle.  And I think they’re going to have to end up on a baby sweater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese tiny little rhinestone buttons were kept safe in their own little manilla envelope, away from the others.  I don’t know their back-story, but I can tell they’re very old, and deserve to be kept safe until I can find something really special to put them on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese pretty 1-inch buttons are a super cool.  They’re resin (or something like that) that has been cast into layers, then carved out into the shape of flowers.  I think Mom said they were from 1976 (although she could have been talking about the other red, white, and blue buttons) when everything turned all patriotic for the Bicentennial.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are actually buttons!  They are some sort of plastic, and about 2 inches across.  My mom thinks they were originally on one of my great-aunt’s dresses back in the fifties.  I think they are super weird and super fantastic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are so many more gorgeous buttons!  I can’t wait to find things to do with them.  From now on, everything I knit is going to end up covered with dozens of buttons.  I can’t wait!

Do you have a favorite button?  Do you have a button jar?

Wedding Blanket- the Last-Minute Edition

As a knitter, I use any excuse to break out my yarn.  Whenever a friend has a baby, they get a sweater.  When a friend gets married they get a blanket.  That’s just the way it goes.

Usually, I pay attention to the schedule of these things.

Except, for some reason, I totally spaced on my friend Michel’s wedding.  It’s next weekend.  I started her blanket last weekend.  I’m a dumbo.

I knew I had only about two weeks to do it, so I had to pick my pattern wisely.  I decided to crochet the blanket, since that goes faster, even for me.  And, I wanted something super simple, without any seaming, so granny squares were out.

I considered making a ripple blanket for a while.  I particularly liked this one.  The white against the brightly colored stripes is super cool.l32025a_medium[1]Modern Ripple Baby Blanket by Lion Brand Yarn

But, a couple rows in, it turned out I had messed up on my counting and I had to rip it all back.  So, I decided to try something a little simpler.  Something I could work on while binge-watching Parks and Rec.

1_medium[1]V stitch by Sucrette

Totally cute, right?  I used the V-stitch pattern, and a made up a semi-random stripe pattern inspired by the first blanket.  But, in a very cool (if I say so myself) neutrals-and-neon color palette.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think it turned out pretty well.  It’s a good size for snuggling under with a good book and a cup of tea, or throwing over the back of a couch.  I hope she likes it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I’ve got to go put ice on my wrists from crocheting too fast!

Do you ever knit to a (ridiculous, self-imposed) deadline?

 

Pattern: Maritime Facecloth

The patterns just keep coming!  And this one is free!

As part of Knit Picks’ “52 Weeks of Dishcloths” series, I’ve designed a brand-spanking new washcloth, and it’s available for free from the KP website.

55807_medium[1]The Maritime Facecloth is a generously-sized square of squishy garter stitch bordered by an unbroken cable. Knit in silky Knit Picks Comfy Sport, this washcloth is perfect for even the most delicate skin, and makes a fabulous gift. The Maritime Facecloth is knit on the bias, with two cables worked as you go. To finish, a few stitches of Kitchener stitch join the cables into a beautiful unbroken border.

Not in the mood for a fancy-pants spa washcloth?  Use regular old Peaches ‘n’ Cream (I know you’ve got a ball or two hiding in your stash.  Everyone does) and make a very cool dishrag.  Or, if you want to try something a bit bigger, I think this pattern would make a really nice baby blanket (or an afghan, if you’re really persistent!).  Just follow the pattern, repeating the increase rows until your knitting is big enough!

You can get the Maritime Facecloth pattern here!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Today’s the day! Today’s the day!  I get to give away two copies of the most fabulous Knit Picks Spring 2015 Accessories Collection!

Let’s just say, the response to this giveaway has been fairly crazy (Hello, new readers!  Welcome!).  The traffic on the blog has jumped by several hundred hits the last couple days, and over 80 people put their names in the hat for the giveaway!

That’s amaze-balls.  (It’s a technical term.)

I typed out everyone’s names, printed them out, cut them up into little slips, and folded up each one.  I pulled out my favorite ceramic yarn bowl (isn’t it pretty?)  and mixed them up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI closed my eyes and pulled out two names.  (Drum roll, please!)

First- to win the physical book:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACongratulations Linda!  Soon you’ll be able to flip through this awesome book and knit whatever you want!

And, the second draw, for the ebook:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACongratulations, Denise!  You get a copy of the ebook- all the pretty pictures and beautiful patterns, but without having to worry about it taking up space on your bookshelf!

Congrats, ladies!  I’ve sent you emails, but if you don’t get them, let me know, and we’ll get it worked out.

If you didn’t win (sorry!  I wish I could afford to give away books to everyone, but alas, I am not a millionaire), you can still get a copy of the Spring 2015 Accessories Collection here.

(And, I’ve got something else awesome (and free!) coming on Friday!)

Yarn Spotlight: Hawthorne

I feel a little bit like I’m turning into a shill for KnitPicks, but, well, I’m just in love with everything I’ve done with them for the last couple months.  (Sorry!  I promise this blog won’t become an annex for KnitPicks.)

A couple weeks ago, KP sent me, out of the blue, two of the most beautiful skeins of their new Hawthorne yarns:

Lovely, deep-chocolate-colored fingering weight in Fawn Kettle-dye, and gorgeous rainforest-colored sport weight in Mt. Tabor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(I failed at taking photos today- sometimes I’m good at getting colors right, but today was not one of those days.  The yarn is actually much more beautiful in real life than in any of these pictures-all subtle variation and intense shifting colors.  Not washed-out and kind-of blueish.)

I’ve got a friend who’s expecting a baby  in a couple months, so I thought, “Hey!  Perfect timing!  I’ll make a baby sweater.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I broke out my Opinionated Knitter, and whipped up my one millionth Baby Surprise Jacket on size 5 needles.  Here’s what I found out:

1.  The new sport-weight yarn is perfect for size 5 garter stitch, and makes a super cute BSJ.  It’s subtle colors and crazy-good stitch definition make a very sleek-looking BSJ.

2.  You need 2 skeins of Hawthorne Sport to actually complete the sweater.

3.  The Hawthorne Fingering, held double, is just a little thicker than the Hawthorne Sport.  The brown parts of the sweater ended up a little stiff.

4.  Babies really don’t care about stuff like gauge, so in the end, it doesn’t really matter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sweater, while not perfect, is super cute.   I always love how variegated/hand-painted yarn looks when used on super simple patterns, especially with garter stitch.

If I was to do this project again (which I’m sure I will, because… BSJ), I’d order two skeins of the Hawthorne Sport.

What would you make with Hawthorne?

 

(Also, don’t forget to sign up for the Spring Collection Giveaway!  My Dahlia Shawl would be really pretty in Hawthorne Fingering Weight Kettle Dye in Turkish Delight.  Just saying.)

Ouch!

At my “day job” (which hardly even counts as a day job, because it’s too much fun), I spend several hours each afternoon hanging out with elementary schoolers and teaching them how to use a sewing machine.  It’s pretty rad.  I love talking with them (they’re seriously goofy), and helping them figure out new skills.  The best part is when they finish a project they are really proud of, and they go around, showing each other their awesome projects (I had a girl finish an owl-shaped backpack a month ago, and she’s so proud, she wears it to class each week).

But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in sewing class.  When you have more than a dozen 6- to 11-year-olds, sometimes things go wrong, especially with real-life sewing machines, scissors, pins and needles.  Each week, we get a couple kids who poke themselves while pinning something and need a band-aid.  Sometimes an especially tiny 6-year-old tries to carry their sewing machine and drops it on her toe.  And I’ve even had a couple kids sew through their fingers with the sewing machine, while they weren’t paying attention.  (I know… horrifying!  They’re both OK now, though.  Pro tip… always watch where your fingers go when you’re using a sewing machine.)

But usually, I manage to keep myself relatively injury-free.  Sure, I poke myself with pins as much as the next person, but nothing bad, no scars or anything.

Until last week.

I reached into a bag of fabric which I thought was pin-free.  It was not.  The pin sliced a 1-inch gouge on the side of my right index finger.  There was blood.  It freaked out the kids.  I had to step up and be all “No big deal, kids.  It totally doesn’t hurt or anything.”  But, I really wanted to be swearing like a sailor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis cut is exactly where I wrap my yarn when I knit.  (No!!)  I had to forgo knitting for about a week, so I broke out a quilt that I started a while ago, and worked on that instead.  It went well.  I actually made quite a lot of progress on it.  And, my finger was healing up nicely.

Until… the needle slipped and I sliced my finger open again.  Same finger, same size injury, just shifted over about a half an inch.  (I was at home, with no little kids around, so I swore loudly this time.)

So, I’m still on knitting bedrest, until my finger heals.  And, I’ve got to say, it’s not super fun.  I’ve still got that quilt to work on, but I’m itching to get back to my husband’s sweater, and a couple other projects I’ve been neglecting.  If only it didn’t hurt so much to knit…

What do you do when you can’t knit?

(And, don’t forget to put your name in the hat for a copy of the Knit Picks Spring 2015 Collection!  You have until Wednesday morning!)

Patterns: Dahlia Shawl and Puddle Jumper Socks AND a Giveaway!

Holy crap, you guys!  It’s finally here!  Today’s the day I can FINALLY tell you about not one, but TWO patterns that I’ve been working on since May!  AND, I get to hold my first ever On the Needles giveaway!

(I was going to try to play it cool, but I’m so excited, I can’t even pretend that I’m not freaking out.)

I have two patterns in the new KnitPicks Spring Collection.  It’s a book.  An actual, real-life book, and my patterns are printed in it.

For real.  Here’s the cover (It’s not my pattern on the cover, but it’s still super cute!):

32490Want to see my patterns?

I’m totally in love with my Dahlia Shawl.  I wear the prototype one all the time.  It’s the perfect size to wear as a scarf, tucked into my coat, or as a shawl, wrapped around my shoulders.  The modern lace edging is super easy to knit because it’s worked at the same time as the main body of the shawl.  (And the yarn is merino and silk, and is totally gorgeous and drapes wonderfully.)

51851220_5 51851220My second pattern in the collection are my super-cheerful Puddle Jumper Socks.  They’re knit from the top down, with an afterthought heel, so they work up in no time.  I love the stripe pattern, especially the way the third contrasting color really pops on the toe and heel.

51850220 51850220_10So, I bet you’ve guessed what the giveaway is.

I’ve got two copies of the 2015 Spring Accessories Collection (one paper book and one ebook) to give away to two lucky readers.  (It really is a great collection-there are lots of fabulous patters, not just mine.  I particularly like the Pyra Mitts, the Modular Triangle Shawl and the Charm City Socks.)

If you want to try and win a copy, comment below and tell me what you’d knit first if you won the book!  (Don’t post your address or anything-we’ll figure that all out later.)  I’ll pick the winner at random in one week (on 2/25).

Good luck!  (Now I need to go drink a nice, calming cup of tea.)

Husband Sweater: The Body

My husband’s sweater is coming along (slowly, but I’m still making progress).  It’s looking pretty good, if I say so myself.

I split off the arms a while ago and have been working on the body.

See?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI actually modified the body a bit from the pattern, which should make the sweater a little more fitted.  When I was measuring my husband’s favorite cardigan to pick the size for this one, I noticed that the torso was slightly tapered.  The chest measurement was 40″, while the waist was 36″ around.

I figured, why not add a little waist shaping into this sweater?  That’s why we knit, right?  To make beautiful, customized garments.

So, it was time to do some math (Yay!).

I knew I wanted to decrease 4″ (which comes to about 20 stitches, based on my gauge).  And, I wanted to arrange the decreases in pairs underneath the armpits, along the “side seams” (this sweater is knit in the round, so there aren’t seams, but you can imagine where they would be).  This means, that each time I work a decrease row, I’m decreasing 4 stitches (2 under each arm).

So: 20 decreases total / 4 decreases per row = 5 decrease rows.

I wanted the decrease rows to be spread evenly down the torso.  Based on the Emilien pattern, there are 88 rows between the armpits and the top of the hem ribbing.

So: 88 rows total / 5 decrease rows = 17.6

Because you can’t knit .6 of a row, round to 18.  So, I work a decrease row (decreasing 4 stitches under the arms) every 18th row (ish).

A couple inches doesn’t seem like it’d make a lot of difference, but you’d be surprised.  Adding just a few k2togs will change this sweater from a standard, boxy cardigan to a cool, slightly fitted one.  I hope my husband will like it!

Happy Blog-Day To Me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn The Needles is two!  It’s going to start throwing temper tantrums soon.  (Or whatever it is that two-year-olds do.)

It’s been fun, you guys.  I really didn’t expect this blog to go very far, and two years later, I’m still writing it three times a week (I think I’ve only missed one day, but I’m not even sure about that), and I’m getting hundreds of visitors every day.  It’s kind of amazing.

I’m actually turning this whole knitting thing into a semi-legitimate job, too, which is something I didn’t expect, even in my wildest dreams.  I never thought I would do anything knitting-related in my professional life, yet here I am.  How awesome is that?

And, you guys, I have so much more awesome stuff coming up, you don’t even know! I can’t say what it is yet, but you should totally be sure to come back on Wednesday.  I have a really exciting announcement and a super cool giveaway! (I know, right?  A real, actual giveaway!)  You’re totally going to want to get in on this.

So, keep reading, and I’ll keep writing, and together, we’ll keep knitting.

Inspiration: Heart Day!

Hey guys!  Heart Day is this weekend.  (Or at least that’s what one of my 7-year-old sewing students told me yesterday.)  So, let’s knit some hearts for your… sweetheart.

This is an adorable card, and (I imagine) wouldn’t take too long to make.  (And now I kind of wish my husband didn’t read the blog, or I would make this card for him…  oh well.)

Valentine Hearts by Elizabeth Murphy

DSC_1041_medium2[1]Everything is cuter with tiny eyes.  (If you haven’t checked out Anna Hrachovec’s other work, you need to do it.  Now.  You’ll thank me.)

Hearts by Anna Hrachovec

handhearts_medium[1]This is a tattoo I wouldn’t be too chicken to get.  (Don’t worry Mom… I’m not getting a tattoo.)

Winged Heart Tattoo by annypurls2474641999_5fa3fe77ff_z[1]Even though I’ve been out of grad school for years, a big part of me is still a biologist, and I love a good anatomical model.  If you’ve got a weirdo scientist side, this pattern might be just what you’re looking for to celebrate “Heart Day.”

Heart by Kristin Ledgett

heart_view_1_medium[1]So eat some chocolate, drink some champagne and bust out your red yarn for Heart Day!