Blocking!

I’ve gotten a few questions recently about blocking.  And it is kind of mysterious, so I understand the confusion.  It actually took me several years of serious knitting before I started regularly blocking my projects.  And let me tell you, it was amazing how much nicer my projects looked once I started blocking them.

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Think of blocking like adding a squeeze of lemon or a dusting of powdered sugar to your project.  It’s a flourishing touch that turns a good project into a great one.  Sure, your sweater will fit, even unblocked, but it will be so much better if you do.  Blocking makes your stitches more even, straightens out any little pulls and makes your knitting look more professional.  And (and this is a huge bonus), it lets you cheat a little bit on the size of your finished project.  Did the scarf turn out a little too small?  Are your sweater’s sleeves a little too long? Blocking can fix (or at least kind of fix) it.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll talk about how I block (of course there are as many ways to block projects as there are knitters),  what you need to block a project, and what blocking can do for you.

Stay tuned!

 

Pattern Spotlight: Human Beans Sweater

Just when I thought that my Human Beans couldn’t get any cuter, the folks over at Knit Picks had to go and do this:sweater_girl1[1]I mean, seriously?  How cute is that?  A tiny, pink cabled sweater on a tiny doll with red shoes, sitting on a tiny wicker chair.  Honestly.

They modified this free pattern, changing the shoulders slightly, since the Human Beans don’t really have shoulders.

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This pretty pink sweater was worked up for a middle-sized doll, but you could totally modify it for the larger or smaller dolls, simply by changing the gauge.

sweater_girl2[1]Thanks, Knit Picks folks!  You’ve totally made my day with this ridiculous little sweater.

Husband Sweater: Button (er- Zipper) Band

I feel like it’s been a hot minute since I gave you an update on the sweater I’m working on for my husband.  Oof- actually it’s been almost a month.  (Sorry, husband!  Hopefully I’ll have it finished by August at this rate!)

Anyway, this time, I knit up the button band (or rather, the zipper band).  Instead of using the pattern, I used my own standard button band (mostly because I lost my paper copy of the pattern).

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My button bands actually start when I’m knitting up the sweater body.  I always slip the first stitch of each row.  This creates a nice, neat edge that makes it easy to pick up stitches evenly all the way around.  And I’ve found that picking up one stitch for every two rows makes a button band with just the right tension.  This way, you don’t even have to count, except for making sure you have an even number of stitches to make your ribbing come out right.

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I worked the button band on this sweater for about an inch, in a 2×2 rib.  This is a little narrower than my usual button bands, but that’s because I’ll be using a zipper, not buttons.  If you use buttons, the button bands will overlap, so you’ll need a wider band.  If you use a zipper, the bands don’t overlap, so you need a narrower one.

Next up-I’ll start working on the sleeves!

And The Winner Is…

Woo!  Hello new folks!  And hello not-so-new folks!  Thanks for entering the  drawing for a copy of “Cute, Cuter, Cutest: Knit Toys to Love in 3 Sizes.”  I loved reading about your favorite childhood toys.  Such sweet stories and lovely memories!  If you haven’t read everyone’s comments on last Friday’s post, you should definitely take a look.

But, enough sentimentality!  You’re all here for the giveaway!32673[1]More than fifty people entered, but only one can win.  I wrote down everyone’s names, and picked one at random.

*Drum roll*

And, Jan!  You’re the big winner!  Congratulations!  I’ll be emailing you later this afternoon.

32673101[1]And, if you’re not Jan, you still want the book, right? (Of course you do.  Because it’s stupidly cute.)  Head on over to Knit Picks and pick up a copy for yourself.

Design Series: Halfway there!

We’re almost there, guys!   I’m itching to go buy yarn and cast on!

If you’re just joining us now, we’ve been designing a knitting pattern together.  We decided to make socks, and we wanted them to be warm and cozy.  And, last week, we decided to make them with a simple gray and indigo-blue pattern.

This week, I have two questions for you.

First, do you want the socks to be made at a standard sock-yarn gauge, or should they be slipper socks, worked at a larger (DK or Worsted) gauge?

And, of course, what do you you want our simple stripes to look like?  here are 4 variations to choose from.

Design Project Socks

Vote!  Quick!  I really want to go visit the yarn store and start knitting on these socks!

 

(And, don’t forget to enter your name into the drawing for a copy of “Cute, Cuter, Cutest!”  You’ve got until Friday before I pick a winner!)

350 (yards)

It’s my 350th post!  That means I’ve written almost enough posts for you to read one every day for a year (if you wanted to go back and re-read them, I suppose.  Though why would you?).  I’ve got some awesome things planned for the next few months, and I can’t wait to show them to you (hopefully I’ll have time to realize all my ideas.  That’s always the problem.  Too many ideas and not enough time).

I’ve even got three free patterns churning around in various stages of not-quite-finished yet.  In the meantime, here are three awesome patterns from Ravelry that use about 350 yards of yarn (See what I did there?).

In the next couple weeks, I should have a very cool shawl/scarf pattern (not this one) finished up.  I just need to take some pictures and do some formatting on the final pattern.

TGV (High Speed Knitting) by Susan Ashcroft

rainbow_10_medium2[1]I’m working on baby sweater for a friend that’s expecting.  Once she gets her present, I’ll be posting the pattern I designed for her.  It’s not as fancy as this one, but still pretty cute.  (And, sorry to be vague.  I think she reads the blog.)

Latte Baby Coat by Lisa Chemery

DSC_0414_medium2[1]And, this one you know about.  We’re getting dangerously close to casting on our Design Series Socks.  I can’t wait!  (But, I suppose these are cute, too.)

Simple Garter Stitch Slippers by handepande

DSC_6605_medium2[1]Thanks for being patient!  I am excited about these upcoming projects (and other ideas bouncing through my head.  Soon, guys!  Soon!

(And don’t forget to enter your name into the drawing for a copy of Cute, Cuter, Cutest! I’ll be picking a winner on Friday!)

Pattern: Human Beans (And a giveaway!)

Hello Knitters!  I’ve got exciting news!

Another of my patterns was just published in the newest KnitPicks toys collection!

I love tiny things, and this collection really scratched that itch.  All the patterns come in Large, Medium, and Itty-Bitty.  So, of course the book is called Cute, Cuter, Cutest: Knit Toys to Love in 3 Sizes!

32673[1]There are some fantastic patterns in the book.  I love the raccoons, especially.  And the dinosaurs are too freaking cute!  (I mean, come on.  Who doesn’t like multi-colored dinosaurs?)

32673103[1]But, I have to toot my own horn a bit, here.  I am just in love with my little Human Beans!

32673101[1]They’re a family of fully-customizable little dolls in three sizes.  The pattern gives instructions on making any outfit you like- long sleeves, short sleeves, pants, skirts, or shorts.  And the tops can be stripey or decorated with a heart or star emblem.  I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!

32673102[1]Do you want a copy of Cute, Cuter, Cutest: Knit Toys to Love in 3 Sizes? (Yes, you do.)  Post below and tell me about your favorite childhood toy to enter a drawing for a free copy of the book!  (I’ll pick a winner next Friday, so don’t wait!)

Inspiration: Mother’s Day

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of “inspiration posts” lately.  I’ve picked up some extra work, so my knitting-and-blogging time has been cut down a bit.  Sorry about that (unless you’re into the inspiration posts, in which case, you’re welcome.)

But this post isn’t so much an Inspiration Post, as a PSA.  Everyone!  Pay attention!

Mother’s day is this Sunday.

You have been warned.

Let’s take a minute to celebrate our moms!  Our moms who taught us to knit, to sew, and to make a mean pan of brownies.  (Or maybe that was just my mom?)

And our moms who dressed us up in matching outfits.

(Luckily, as far as I know, Mom never did the whole Mother-Daughter outfit thing (Thanks Mom!).  But, there is a pretty adorable Sears portrait of my brother and I in coordinating overalls when we were itty-bitty (Mine were pink, and his blue.)  I think Mom actually sewed them herself.  She’s talented like that.)

I get the impulse behind the idea.  I mean, kids are always cute when they look like tiny adults.  And, Lord knows, I can’t hold myself back when I think of a new craft project. But there is a right way and a wrong way to execute the whole matching knitwear thing.

Exhibit A:  The wrong way.  Look at that poor kid.  Her eyes are saying “Kill me” or maybe “I will burn this sweater as soon as I can get out of it.”

Mother/Daughter Sweaters #20306 by Lion Brand Yarn

20306ada_medium[1]Exhibit B:  This girl looks like she’s having fun, at least.  And the dress isn’t terrible.  I wouldn’t wear it with a white T-shirt and a pair of kakhis, but maybe that’s just me.

Mother-daughter Tunics by Pierrot (Gosyo Co., Ltd)

img57876435_medium[2]Exhibit C:  Now, this is how you do matching knitwear!  These cowls are fantastic-cozy, comfy, and they look age-appropriate on both the mother and the daughter.  I love them! (I might even make one for myself!)

Cocoon Cowls by Stefanie Japel

IMG_1285_medium2[1]So, don’t forget, folks!  Call your mom on Sunday!

And, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  Thanks for teaching me to knit all those years ago!  I bet you didn’t expect it to turn into a lifelong obsession.  (And thanks for not dressing me up in matching outfits!)

Inspiration: Princess!

There isn’t much reason for people (especially American people, like me) to care about the British royal family in the 21st century.  I mean, honestly, what do they do?  Not much.

Well, not much except have adorable babies that they dress up in the most amazing knitwear.

The Royal Family is at it again, with their brand-new (and so far unnamed) baby girl.  Look at her!  (And look at the Duchess… dang!  Can you believe she gave birth about 24 hours before these pictures were taken?  What a trooper.  I bet all she wants to do is go home and sleep for about a year.  And put on some PJ pants.)

Lindo__close_up_ka_3289646b[1]And, let’s take a closer look at the new princess’s knitwear (click on the photo for a larger view):

royal-baby-tele_3289946b[1]That bonnet!  That blanket!  So gorgeous.  (I probably wouldn’t wrap my newborn in a white, heirloom-quality shawl, but then again, I’m not a Duchess.  So.)

I love the bonnet.  It’s so simple and perfect.  Squishy garter stitch and tiny cables… Could it be more classic and adorable?

Silverfox Bonnet by Lisa Chemery

SilverfoxBonnet_main1_sm_medium[1]Lilacs for Lila by knittedblissJC

8931079780_5475beaff6_z[1]And that blanket!  Look closely, and you’ll see it’s knit from teeny-tiny lace-weight yarn.  It must have taken forever to make something that beautiful!  I love the stockinette body with the simple, geometric edging.  Very classy.  (Although, honestly, it’s something that should only be taken out for international press events.  You don’t want to have to scrub spit-up out of such fine wool.  That makes me sad just thinking about it.)

Amalthea by Anne Hanson

Amalthea164_72dpi_medium[1]Christening Shawl L252 (My Weekly) by Gladys Amedro

2417516836_27d245680e_z[1]All the best to the new baby princess!  And, Kate- go home, put on your sweat pants, and eat some ice cream!  You earned it!

Design Series: Color!

I know, I know, I know.  This sock-design project is taking longer than maybe you (and certainly I) expected.  But, honestly, these are all the questions I have to ask myself while designing any pattern.  I’ve just never put my thought process into words before.  It’s a bit of work at the beginning, but it’s worth it to get started the right way.

Last week, we talked about the technical theme of the socks.  And, it looks like “Simple socks” won by a hair!

IMG_2698_medium2[1]We’ll be making super cozy socks in a simple pattern with two or three colors. (Maybe we could even make them at a big, cozy gauge!  That would be fun!)

So, the next question of course is:  What color are our socks going to be?

Actually, what colors are our socks going to be?

Lets first pick a main color:Maincolors

And then we can pick an accent color:Accentcolors

Vote, Vote, Vote!  Or, if there’s a color I didn’t include, let me know and I can add it in!