Category Archives: Pattern Spotlight

Pattern Spotlight: Pussyhat Project

You guys know I try not to get too political on this blog (though I seem to be less good at being apolitical lately).  But sometimes there’s something political that comes up that I simply can’t ignore.

And when that something political also happens to involve knitting, well… I can’t help myself.

So you all know what’s happening on Friday (Hint: someone new’s moving into the White House), but you might not know what’s happening on Saturday.

It’s the Women’s March on Washington (and, really, across the country-  take a look, I bet there’s going to be a March near you this weekend).  The March is in support of women’s rights, as well as inclusivity for all minorities- African Americans, Muslim Amerians, LGBTQ+ Americans and everyone else.  It’s going to be an amazing event, and I can’t wait to take part.

And, one of the grassroots symbols of this event is this goofy knit pink hat, the Pussyhat (like pussycat, get it?).  pussyhatprojectcoverIt’s a simple hat, but it means a lot.  First, it’s taking some very “feminine” things (the color pink, the act of hand-knitting) that have been underestimated and devalued, and turns them into a strong political statement.  Second, the hats are a visual marker of just how many women (and men) believe that women’s rights are important- I’ve already seen people around town wearing their Pussyhats.  More than 100,000 people have pledged to make hats already, and yarn stores across the country are running out of pink yarn!  And third, these hats are all handmade, all worked with care, thought, and love, by people who believe in the power of women and that we all (women, men, people of color, etc.) have an important role to play in this country.  And, in my mind, at least, that’s a powerful statement.86c0bfde-6956-4e87-957e-63787f2444d4I’ve already made three hats, but I plan to work up as many as I can in the time before Saturday.  I’ll keep one for myself, but I’ll give away the others to anyone who wants them.  They’re a small gesture, but they’re a great reminder of what we’re all fighting for- equality, respect, and the right to live our lives the way that is best for us.

If you’re interested in making a hat (or two or three), you can find the official instructions here.  Or, if you prefer to knit in the round (like me), here’s what I did:

Pussyhat In The Round

One size fits most adults

Materials:

  • US8 12-16″ cable needle
  • about 50g worsted weight yarn (pink)
  • Yarn needle

CO 80, and prepare to work in the round.  (K2, P2) around for 2 to 3 inches.  Then, K all sts until the hat measures about 8.5 inches from the CO edge.  Cut the yarn, leaving a very generous tail, and use the tail to sew up the top of the hat with the Kitchener stitch.  Weave in ends and block if desired.

Favorites

Everyone has their favorite patterns.  My favorites are well documented:

Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth ZimmermanOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHitchhiker by Martina Behm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApparently I have a thing for garter stitch. Who knew?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get into a bit of a rut when it comes to patterns.  I keep falling back on my favorites- evergreen patterns that I cast on time and again.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than working up a friendly old pattern, one you know like the back of your hand and you’re sure is going to give you reliable, fantastic results.

But sometimes you want to try something new.

So, here’s my question for you:

What are your all-time favorite patterns?  What’s a pattern that you turn to again and again?  And why do you love it so much?

I’d love to hear from you, and if I get enough comments, maybe we can have a whole post next week about your favorite patterns!  I’m excited! I always love finding a great new pattern!

Dishcloth Mania!

I got a lovely surprise in the mail the other day!  Apparently KnitPicks made a beautiful book of all the 52 Weeks of Dishcloths patterns that they published for free all last year.  32978[1]The book is filled to the brim with literally dozens of patterns for beautiful dishcloths.  Some are simple and classy (Checks and Eyelets Facecloth):55829220[1]Some are silly and fun (Pumpking Dishcloth):55834220[2]And everything in-between.

I’ve even got three patterns included in the book, the Maritime Dishcloth:55807220[1]The Pinwheel Dishcloth:55826220[2]And, the Snowbank Spa Cloth (It’s a “spa cloth” because I like alliteration.  You could totally use it as a dishcloth):55831220[1]I’ve got an extra copy of the book , so let’s do a giveaway (I love doing giveaways!  They’re the best!).  To enter, respond below with your favorite dishcloth from the collection!  I’ll pick a winner some time next week.

And, if you don’t win, or if you’re too impatient to wait until your copy of the book arrives, all the dishcloth patterns are available here for free!

A Passel of Pigs

Remember how I made all those teddy bears for the Mother Bear Project (which is still accepting bears).  I used a bunch of leftover KnitPicks Swish that I had laying around-little bits that weren’t enough for a sweater, a scarf or a even pair of mittens.

Well, after the bears, I still had little bits left- tiny little balls of yarn the size of a golf ball.  So, what’s a girl to do with amounts of worsted-weight yarn of 5 grams or less?

Make some Pigs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChichester the Pig by Helen Apocalypse is one of my favorite I’m-bored-and-want-something-quick-and-easy-to-do projects.  It has virtually no finishing, and I can blast my way through one of these tiny pigs in about a half hour.    And, they’re flipping adorable.

In worsted weight on US6 needles, the pigs work up to just under 2 inches long- think just smaller than an egg.  The pigs’ little ears and tiny trotters are all worked as bobbles- so there’s no futzing with sewing on little bitty arms and legs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd they’re a fun way to play with my collection of tiny safety eyes.  I’m a particular fan of my evil pig with the red eyes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, if you ever find yourself with a tiny bit of leftover yarn, a handful of stuffing and a half-hour of time, think of Chichester and all his little piggy buddies.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut, now what should I do now with them, now that they have taken over my desk?

Pattern Spotlight: Socks by the Numbers

Woo!  We made it through Christmas! That can mean only one thing!  No, silly, not that you need bigger pants.  And, no, not that we can put away the tinsel.  It means that I can actually show you guys all the socks that I made for gifts this year!  Finally!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, here’s the big secret:  They’re all made using my “Socks by the Numbers” pattern.  It’s free and available here:

 Socks by the Numbers

This pattern is hardly even a pattern, it’s more of a recipe.  You plug in your gauge and the size of the foot you’re trying to fit, and away you go.  I show you how to do the math, so you’re free to play with color, texture, and stitches, all the while making an perfectly-fit top-down sock with a heel flap.

Now, to the socks!

I made a pair of lovely burnt-orange socks for my father-in-law with a pretty cool all-over basket-weave stitch of knits and purls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy mother-in-law got a pair of adorable ice-blue socks, decorated with a lace pattern modified from a vintage stitch dictionary.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy dad got a pair of utilitarian socks with simple ribbed cuffs, perfect for Chicago winters in a really nice shade of brown-gray.  (Trust me, in real life, the yarn is kind of cool and heathered.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy brother got a goofy pair of black-and-yellow fraternal-twin socks.  Because he’s my brother, and he’s a little goofy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd my husband got a pair of socks in sapphire blue with just enough ribbing at the cuffs and down the sides to make them interesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWoo!  Socks for everyone!  (OK, not quite everyone, but “Socks for everyone” sounds a whole lot better than “Socks for about three-quarters of the people on my list.”)  And, with my Socks by the Numbers pattern, I was able to work up perfectly-fitting, customized socks without any problem!

Did you have a go-to gift for everyone on your list this year?

Pattern Spotlight: Christmas Balls

Have you guys ever come across Arne & Carlos?  They’re a ridiculous pair of Swedish/Norwegian knitwear designers.

They design ridiculously amazing sweaters:

Men’s Setesdal Sweater by Arne & Carlos

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Adorable customizable dolls (also with ridiculous sweaters):

Knitted Dolls: Handmade Toys with a Designer Wardrobe by Arne & Carlos

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And they’ve just put out an uber-charming video with instructions on making their perfectly festive Christmas Balls:

5067704452_a5c4cd9983_z[1]Just beautiful!

They’ve created literally dozens of designs for their Christmas balls, each inspired by traditional Scandinavian knitting patterns.  The balls are all worked following the same basic instructions (as outlined in this video), but each color work pattern is unique.  (Talk about a great way to practice your color work skills!)51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Their book, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window Dressings, obviously has 55 different patterns.  But, they’ve got 24 patterns up for free here.  

Arne and Carlos say, in their video, that their Christmas tradition is to make a Christmas Ball each day leading up to Christmas.  I love that idea!  Maybe I’ll do it next year?  It would be like a create-your-own advent calendar!

Will you be knitting up any of these adorable Christmas Balls?

Pattern Spotlight: Itty Bitty and Teeny Tiny

I love tiny things, it’s true.  Especially really tiny things.  Especially especially teeny tiny adorable things.  It’s one of my weird quirks.  When I’m feeling down, stressed, or just in need of a quick pick-me-up, one sure-fire way to raise my spirits is to make something cute, pointless, and tiny.

I’ve been keeping this pattern in my back pocket for years, waiting for a day when I would need a tiny, adorable, pick-me-up.

Well, that day came, and instead of moping around the house, I broke out my fingering-weight yarn and my US0 DPNs and these two little bears just about flew off my needles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are tiny.

Seriously.  Tiny.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey measure just under 2 inches tall from the tips of their toes to the tops of their ears. And the best part?  Their dresses are removable- look at the teeny bare naked (naked bear) adorableness!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the best part?  The pattern is well-written, clear and free!

Teeny tiny knitted toys by Julie Williams2456725646_6de7080305_z[1]itty bitty dress by Julie Williamsminibun_medium2[1]Next time you need a quick, fiddly and adorable project, remember to keep these little guys in mind!

(And, don’t worry about me.  I just had a long day, but it was noting my tiny bears couldn’t handle!)

What do you like to make when you’re feeling blue?

 

(And don’t forget to order your Mother Bear Pattern for the first annual On the Needles Charity Knitalong!)

Mama Bear

I don’t know about you, but I’ve already got Christmas on the brain.  I’ve been cranking through lots of projects… that I can’t talk about here because family members read my blog (lame!  Not really, but it does throw a cramp in my blogging this time of year).

But when I do a lot of targeted, purpose-driven, knitting sometimes I get a little burnt out.  I can start to feel like I’m “manufacturing” projects, not actually knitting.  Sometimes I want to just make something fun- like a stuffed animal.

And, you know, if it’s a stuffed animal for a good cause, that’s even better!

So, imagine my excitement when I found this amazing teddy bear-making project (or rather, re-found… I had read about it before, but totally forgot about it).283434_220092554695040_4064929_n[1]The Mother Bear Project  makes adorable, one-of-a-kind, hand-made teddy bears and then distributes them across Africa to children whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS.  Could you ask for a better cause?lesotho1[1]I went over to their website, and saw that they have patterns for the same bear, both knitted and crocheted, worked flat and in the round.  bear_about[1]The best part (other than that whole helping-children-in-need thing) is that the pattern is so simple, it just begs to be embellished.  Take a look on Ravelry to see everyone’s take on the basic Mother Bear.  There are bows and dresses, overalls and striped shirts,  and teddies of every color of the rainbow!Mother_Bear_in_Liberia_1_medium2[1]This project is just inspiring!

Have you ever taken part in a big group-knitting project like this?

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.

51077220

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.

Pattern Spotlight: Mini Mochis

I love my job.  Working with little kids is the greatest, and my students are so smart and goofy and interesting.  I could hang out with them all day.

Except for one thing.

They are little germ factories.

I’ve been sick more days in the last year than in the last five years combined.  And I 100% blame my students.  One of them literally sneezed directly into my face two weeks ago, and another put both her fingers up her nose mid-sentence as we talked about her sewing project. Working with kids a glamorous job.  That’s for sure.

Long story short, I spent the weekend holed up on my couch, drinking mint tea, going through boxes of Kleenex and binge-watching Parks and Rec on Netflix (which is a totally amazing show that I had somehow forgotten about).

I was half-drunk on Dayquil, and couldn’t muster the concentration to work on my husband’s sweater for more than a half a row, so I decided to do something fun, goofy, and above all else, simple.

So, I got out my sock needles, scrounged up a box of leftover yarn bits, and pulled up the MochiMochi Land website.

MochiMochi Land is the ridiculous (and awesome) brainchild of Anna Hrachovec, who spends her time designing tiny, goofy knitting patterns and making amazingly detailed art installations.  She’s basically my hero.

She has dozens of tiny patterns available on her website.

My personal favorites include:

Snowmen!

snowmenBunnies!  (These are free!)

tinybabybunnies2[1]And gnomes!

untitledThey’re perfect sick-day knitting.  They’re small enough you can completely finish one in a single sitting.  They’re so adorable that you can’t help but smile when you see them.  And, they have no discernible purpose (other than to make you feel better).

Hopefully, I’ll feel better soon.  But if I don’t, at least I’ve got my tiny knitted minions to keep me company!

What do you work on when you don’t feel like working on anything?