Yarn used: Wool Candy Fondant Merino DK in Truffle and Robin’s Egg, left over from another project; scraps of white yarn for embroidering the eyes
Needles used: US size 3/3.25 mm
Date started: November 14, 2010
Date completed: November 18, 2010
This little owl made his first appearance melting a Dalek’s heart:
I made this owl as a gift for my cousin’s new baby–it will be a few years yet before he’s properly appreciated, but I think he’s completely adorable. Hansigurumi patterns tend to be very fiddly, with lots of grafting, but this one wasn’t bad; mostly worked in the round, mostly pretty straightforward.
- The pattern is pretty skimpy on instructions for the embellishments. I ended up cutting a piece of CC yarn, folding it in half, threading the doubled end through a yarn needle, sewing a stitch and tying a square knot, doing this across several stitches and going back and tying knots in the strands between groups, then trimming everything and running a yarn needle through the yarn ends to fluff it up and separate the plies.
- After the backwards legs on my Jackalope, I didn’t trust the “pick up stitches for left wing and work same as the right wing” instruction, so I worked the second wing separately, held it up to the owl to determine proper orientation, and sewed it on, to avoid the heartbreak of finding out one wing was backwards after knitting the whole thing.
- I love the garter stitch texture on the wings, and the wee owly claws!
- The pattern doesn’t give you required yardage! It doesn’t use much yarn, but beware if your yarn yardage is limited.
- The picked up sts under the beak came out super loose and I had to duplicate stitch over them to tighten them up a bit.
- I used small needles, and the owl came out pretty small. 6 inches high, maybe?
Pattern: EXTERMIKNIT! (rav link to project) partially using the New Paradigm Dalek mods
Yarn used: Various washable scraps left over from making other toys: the pink and white yarns are Caron Simply Soft in Soft Pink 9719 and Natural 0002, the pale blue is Cascade Sierra in some light blue color, and the brown is Vanna’s Choice in 126 Chocolate
Needles used: Forgot to write this down! Probably something like a size 5, to get a tight fabric.
Date started: August 24, 2010
Date completed: September 22, 2010
Here is my Dalek at rest. I knit most of this according to pattern, and used the New Paradigm mods for the top half, mostly, to account for having more brown yarn than blue. I switched to white yarn in the least visible areas (inside pocket, bottom of Dalek) because I was running low on both brown and blue. It’s stuffed with scraps of fabric, which gives it a good heft and density compared to polyfil.
A Kaled mutant, nude!
Knitters, there’s more.
The Dalek compartment was not knit in, but created via a couple of afterthought steeks!
These were my first steeks, believe it or not. I think it went well.
Here’s what I did:
After completing the top of the Dalek as specified, I created an opening in the front by steeking carefully along the vertical line between the knit “instrument panel” and the purled rest of the midsection–just used some sewing shears and cut straight through the middle of the rightmost line of knit stitches, along the entire height of the midsection. I then carefully unraveled the stitches from right to left on the rows above and below the desired door area, to the left end of the “instrument panel”, and placed these two horizontal pairs of exposed stitches on DPNs.
This creates a kind of door flap, hinged vertically along the left-hand side. I sewed down the outer edge of the door with one yarn tail, and used a sewn bindoff and the other two yarn tails to fasten the top and bottom of the door flap. The door flap was now bound off and would not unravel.
I picked up stitches on the other side of the steek (the stitches along the body, the rightmost edge of the “door frame”), knit along the held stitches exposed by the unraveled yarn below the door (held on DPN), picked up stitches along the “hinge” of the door, and knit across the remaining exposed stitches on the other DPN above the door.
From there, I knit in the round until I ran out of brown yarn, maybe 1/2 inch or so, then switched to white to knit the back of the panel, decreasing at the four corners by working k1, k2tog at the beginning of each needle and ssk at the end, and throwing in a plain round every now and then, until I was down to about 6 sts. I pulled the yarn tail through these last few sts to close it up. This created the inside compartment and also took care of the exposed stitches around the door frame so they would not unravel.
The Kaled mutant inside was knit as follows:
CO 3 sts in pink yarn, knit 2 inches of i-cord, cut yarn leaving a tail, slip live stitches off DPN onto waste yarn and set aside. Repeat till you have 6 tentacles, then put the live stitches all back on DPNs (2 tentacles per DPN, 3 DPNs + 1 working needle) and knit in the round for another 2 inches or so. K2tog around, knit another couple of rounds, k2tog around, cut yarn and draw through. Pull all the yarn ends but one to the inside of the Dalek’s body as stuffing. Use the last yarn end to sew up the base of the Dalek, and weave in the end.
For the eye, work back and forth:
1) CO 1 st in white
3) K1, M1 (lifted), K1
5) K1, M1, K1, M1, K1
9) K2tog, K1, K2tog
11) K2tog, K1
Cut yarn, leaving a tail, and draw through the last st.
Embroider a pupil with a scrap of dark yarn.
Applique the eye to the body, hiding the pupil yarn tails behind the eyeball.
I had originally intended to close the instrument panel with just a button, snap, or hook and eye, but I found that the door lost all shape so I had to put in a zipper–probably a 6” or 8”, normal, non-separating zipper would be good; I shortened an existing longer one I had on hand. I used a normal sewing needle and matching thread to sew the zipper to the Dalek casing with a running stitch, first the outer edge of the closed zipper around the outside edges of the door, then pulling and stretching the door to fit to the inner side of the zipper.
I gave this to my stepdad for his 60th birthday and it was a big hit! And my little sister drew him an awesome matching Dr. Who birthday card featuring a Dalek and Christopher Eccleston.
A couple of notes about the pattern:
- It makes a MUCH bigger Dalek than you might expect. Very cuddly! I think it was something like a foot high. You can see it next to some chairs at the airport in the posted photos, for scale.
- The pattern is written in sort of an odd way (it would be easier to work from a chart where you can see how the ribbing stacks up, but all the knits and purls are written out)
- I found the tuck stitch instructions confusing; when they say “the stitch 3 rows below”, that means below the turning row, not the current row.
Size made: don’t harsh my mellow, man, that’s not the way I roll
Yarn used: Elann Peru Soft in color 801 (pale gray), 5.5 skeins (539 yards). This was a limited edition yarn, so it’s long gone from the Elann website, but it was really nice–45% Acrylic, 20% Baby Alpaca, 20% Wool, 15% Kid Mohair, a singles with a nice natural feel despite the high acrylic content, next-to-skin soft, and I think I actually got this whole bag of 10 skeins/980 yds on sale for $18 + shipping. So the yarn cost for this was about $10 for a long-sleeved cardigan. Not bad!
Needles used: US 10.5/6.5 mm
Date started: June 28, 2010
Date completed: July 29, 2010
Mods/Notes: The Shalom Cardigan comes in only one size, and it’s not quite my size. My gauge was also not quite right (I didn’t swatch, either, just cast on and started knitting). I ignored all this and kept knitting. Sometimes you just really do not want to do math. I am ashamed to say that I also only tried this on after completing the yoke–the rest of the body of the cardigan was fudged, which is why it doesn’t really fit around any part of my torso except the yoke. I kept trying on half the cardigan and saying “hey, it fits” but never did the Right Thing, which would have been to put it on a piece of waste yarn and try it on around my WHOLE BODY instead of just the left half. (Or to actually take gauge measurements and compare the stitch counts and gauge to my own actual body.)
My gauge was about 13 sts/4” (the suggested stitch gauge” but 16 rows/4” (way off from the suggested 20 rows/4”). I ended up doing 6 rows in each tier of ribbing, then 5 or 6 garter rows (3 ridges) at the end of the yoke before putting the stitches on waste yarn for the sleeves.
I cast on 10 sts under each arm for gussets, but quickly realized that was probably way too much. I worked k2tog on all the gusset stitches on the next RS row, then worked ssk/k1/k2tog at the underarm seamline for the next few RS rows until I had decreased out all the extra underarm gusset stitches. I also altered the ratio of stitches to more or less reflect the ratios of my body: 25 sts each front, 34 sts each arm, 51 sts back.
Buttonholes went in once about every 6 garter ridges at first, then every 8 ridges.
I decided to do another pair of decreases at the side seams every inch, three times, to shape the waist. (I shouldn’t have, and would have realized that if I had tried the sweater on in progress!) Increased every other RS row after passing the waistline, to get it back up to hip measurements.
After casting off the body, I found that it didn’t quite fit me except in the yoke, even after a severe wet-blocking and stretching. So while I sewed on buttons to match the buttonholes all the way down, only the top three buttons can be closed without crazy gaping and stretching. Here is the embarrassing photo for proof–see how the nice straight | at the buttonband in the yoke area quickly changes to ZSZSZS in the rest of the body?
I added long sleeves to the cardigan to make it more useful–picked up the held stitches for the sleeves and picked up/decreased the underarm gusset stitches as well, knit to elbow length and then decreased in pairs every inch or so to shape the sleeves, ending in garter stitch. The sleeves are skintight–I should have left a bit more ease.
It came out cute despite the sizing issues… I really like the combination of the vintage blue glass buttons and the pale gray yarn. The buttons are from General Bead in San Francisco, and I’ve been holding onto them for a while, waiting for the right project. (I think the only buttons I’m still hoarding for the right sweater now are a set of small, adorable sushi buttons that call for a fine-gauge plain cardi.)
Though it might appear from this photo like I’ve been wired to spy on the mob, the lump on my back is actually from the waist ties on the sundress I’m wearing.
I think it will be a nice cardigan for the fall, especially if I can manage to stretch it out a bit more with wear. Or if I happen to suddenly lose about 30 pounds in the next couple of months. I’m a little nervous about the pilling potential for this yarn because it’s so softly spun, but we’ll see how it goes. (If this one ends up being unusable, I would even consider making another cardigan from this pattern, but I’d do it properly next time.)
If I decide to continue the quick-knit cardigans trend, I’m thinking of doing a short-sleeved, wide-necked Liesl with two skeins of fingering weight yarn held together. (From what I hear, it should take me only a few days to complete…) I was also eyeing a couple of Drops patterns, like this cable-yoke one or this one with a lacy yoke. Or Loppem, which has been in my queue forever.
…for knitting big gray sweaters.
Here is the first one I have to show off:
Pattern: DROPS 103-1 Jacket in Eskimo or Silke-Alpaca with A-shape –the chunky-weight version.
Here’s what DROPS has to say about it: ” – Wind, rain and falling leaves… Leave dreary days behind and dress up super elegant and classy, and still high fashion this fall !”
Size made: Small (33″)
Yarn used: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky in 550 Damp, a dark gray with blue, green, and white tweed flecks. I used a little over 5 skeins (600 yards).
Needles used: US size 11/8.0 mm
Date started: January 5, 2010
Date completed: June 23, 2010
I knit on this at a pretty good clip until I got to the sleeves and finishing–I think the sleeves took about a month each and the finishing took another two. (Real time = maybe 2 hours, but it sat in a basket waiting for buttons, blocking, and sewing for a loooong time.)
I decided to knit the sleeves from the top down, two at a time, magic loop, to make them the same length and avoid extra finishing work, but this backfired because I got really tired of dragging out this enormous pile of wool and turning it around and around in my lap every time I wanted to work on this sweater. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds by that time and it just seemed like such an unpleasant task. In the end, if I had just knit the sleeves the normal way, I think it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.
The other thing about doing the sleeves this way is that I suck at picking up stitches nicely, so I found after a few inches that there were big holes all around the armscye where I had picked up from the wrong part of the stitch or something. I had to go back and sew these shut at the end–so I didn’t even save myself the trouble of setting in sleeves! It was exactly the same amount of sewing as if I’d knit them separately and set them in afterwards.
If I find my more detailed notes, I will edit this later, but to the best of my recollection, this is what I did for the top-down sleeves: I sewed the shoulder seam and picked up 60 stitches at an even rate around the armhole, placed markers for the top 1/3 of the stitches on either shoulder, and short rowed back and forth, going past the wraps 2 stitches each time, until I had a sleeve cap. Went back to pick up all wraps and knit both sleeves in the round, two at a time, until a bit above elbow length. Decreased 2 stitches every 2″ (working the sleeve shaping backwards, in effect) until I had 50 stitches. Worked the sleeve edging in double moss stitch and bound off. You can see the sleeves are sort of saggy under the arms/balloony in shape, but it’s not too bad.
I bought some big green buttons at Jo-Ann Fabrics to match the green tweed flecks. I only put on two in the end–they looked a little crowded with the third one on there. I’m not terribly satisfied with the way the bottom of the left lapel kind of sags down in front–a product of the double-breastedness of this jacket, and no interior snap or button to hold that side up. It might be worth putting something in to keep it up. I noticed the same thing, though to a somewhat lesser extent, with the shrug I made for Casey from this same pattern (well, kinda sorta the same. Similar.).
The back looks really surprisingly nice, nicer than the front, actually, though now that I’m looking at it I wonder what I did with the “A-shape” of this sweater, as it just looks like it hugs my shape instead of flaring out properly:
When I was mournfully knitting those Sisyphean sleeves for months and months, I was thinking I wouldn’t be very happy with the end product and that I should just give it away at Christmas. Now that it’s done and blocked, though, I like it quite a bit more and might hold onto it. It has a bit more ease than many of my sweaters, so it’s surprisingly comfy, and less heavy than I thought it would be. However, I still don’t love it as much as the other ones I’ve seen that first inspired me to add this to my queue–e.g., the Flintknits olive green version–maybe I just need to try knitting yet another one? Or style it with dark skinny jeans instead of a summer sundress.
OK, folks, ready for some magic?
OK, it ain’t David Copperfield, but it’s still pretty cool, right?
My latest pattern release, Latitude and Longitude (Rav link for purchase: buy now), is a set of three accessories, meant to be knit up in two complementary colors of Noro Kureyon, Silk Garden, or another self-striping yarn: the PDF includes instructions for a scarf, cowl, and hat. All three are fully reversible and, as you saw, have vertical stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other. You only use one color per row, and there’s no real fancy business going on, stitch-wise–the basic pattern is just knits, purls, and slipped stitches. There are a few fancier things happening in the hat to keep the decreases as balanced and invisible as possible, but follow the written directions or chart and you’ll be fine.
I probably shouldn’t gush too much about the awesomeness of my own work, but seriously, I love these. (Sadly, one hat and the scarf have gone missing already. I seem to always lose my absolute favorite knitwear. At least I still know where two rainbowy cowls and a hat are.)
I first came across the stitch pattern a couple of years ago, in Jane Neighbors’s out of print Reversible Two-Color Knitting, which I found in the Cleveland Public Library system (one of Cleveland’s only redeeming points, in my humble opinion). It took a while, but one day I realized its full potential as I was contemplating another Noro striped scarf–previously my favorite renditions were the vertically striped two-color brioche rib or the horizontally striped mistake rib scarf. I realized that with this pattern, at last, there was no need to choose between the two.
The hat and cowl each take two skeins of Noro–the scarf, a more budget-busting four skeins. The cowl, like most cowls, is pretty much just a big tube, but it is a nice portable piece of knitwear to tote around in your purse (or murse, or pocket, as the case may be) in case your neck gets cold.
One of the hardest things about knitting these two-color Noro pieces is picking out colors that will work together.
Contrasting dark and light, warm and cool, dull and bright colors seems to work well. But there are always those surprising lengths of weird colors like neon yellow or muddy olive that aren’t visible from the outside of the skein, then show up with a vengeance when you’re halfway through. Liz and Other Liz, friends from my Wednesday night knitting group, were kind enough to test knit for me; Liz (or Other Liz?) had to frog a bunch of her hat because two nearly identical shades of green showed up in both skeins at the same time. I try to avoid these situations by keeping both the centerpull and outside end of each skein accessible, and switching them out as needed. But sometimes just cutting out a length of a nasty color is unavoidable.
A perfect example of careful color selection: the hat I lost was knit in an ivory colorway of Silk Garden contrasted with purple shades, which seemed to go together really well when I held up the skeins next to each other, but the contrast all washed out when it was knit up. It was attractive and subtle, but didn’t photograph well–so it was a good opportunity to choose the two most garish colors of Kureyon in my stash and knit up hat #2.
The two-sided stripes help camouflage everyone’s other least favorite thing about Noro (well, aside from twigs, breaking, uneven spin, and all the other things I see people complaining about on the Ravelry Yarn forum every few weeks like clockwork)–knots, with completely different colors tied together at the join.
So there you go. Latitude and Longitude. Please consider them for your future Noro striped accessory needs! More info, including a chart of possible yarn substitutions and links to tubular cast-on and bind-off tutorials, can be found on my main pattern page.
Size: Small (32-34)
Yarn used: 13 skeins of Queensland Collection Uruguay DK, 0.5 skeins of Peru Luxury DK, color 03 Burgundy, both bought for $2.50 a skein from Littleknits. Double-stranded. I knit this jacket earlier this year for my stepmother and used up 11.5 skeins of yarn, so I thought I was being clever by buying 13 skeins this time. I ran out of the 13th skein while finishing the second sleeve cap, and had to use the Peru Luxury DK to finish up–fortunately, the two yarns look exactly the same to me. This yarn, a many-plied merino/alpaca/silk blend, is absolutely dreamy to work with, all bouncy and squishy and shiny and and soft. I highly recommend it. It did bleed a ton when it hit water, and it turned out heavier and drapier than I would have ideally liked, but at $2.50 a skein, I’m not complaining!
Needles used: Size 11 Boye Needlemaster.
Finished: Let’s call it 10/14/07 (the date I finished seaming and weaving in ends). Still not quite complete because she’s missing two buttons–I bought all 4 they had at Jo-Ann and they’re still not back in stock yet.
Mods: The biggest mod was that I lengthened the sleeves to full length rather than 3/4 length. I used short row shoulder shaping with a three-needle bindoff on the shoulders and still am not convinced of its benefits. Added buttonholes every 14 rows (the pattern doesn’t specify) to end up with 6 buttonholes total. I also corrected the shoulder shaping–it seems to be reversed as written–and the basketweave stitch pattern, as noted in my initial post on this project/wrap-up post on Jess I.
Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this jacket–I made one for my stepmom this spring, in a sage green color of the same yarn, and liked it so much I decided to make one for myself. The jacket fits really well despite the lack of shaping–I think because it’s pretty form-fitting and the simple knit/purl basketweave stitch stretches to accommodate. The full-length sleeves are kind of bell-shaped because I didn’t make them any narrower around the wrists when I lengthened them, but I think it looks nice enough. It doesn’t look that great unbuttoned, because the fabric is kind of
floppy drapey; it’s really cozy and warm, but doesn’t offer much protection against cold wind if you are, say, riding your bike down a hill in November. I might knit with a slightly tighter gauge if I made this again in this yarn. It seems prone to stretching at this gauge; there were unseemly holes around the base of the neck where I picked up the collar, but I think I’ve mostly disguised them. See my other notes from Jess I and the project in progress here.
Verdict: I still love this jacket–what a great little pattern this is. I’m glad I made one for myself. It goes very quickly and makes excellent mindless knitting because of the size 11 needles, the knitting in pieces (each front was only 28 sts!), the lack of shaping, and the easy but interesting basketweave stitch pattern. It has so many pleasing little details–the turned hems, the slipped stitch edging, the buttonholes. You can see the slipped stitch edging, basketweave pattern, and seed stitch collar texture on this close-up.
Look at the cute buttons I found at Jo-Ann: they’re La Mode vintage triple flower buttons, circa 1941, model 1711, $2.99 per two.
Thanks for a great pattern, Anna, and thanks for a great deal on the yarn, Fulay!