Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sometimes, I am an idiot.

It’s true. I tend to be a more detail-oriented kind of person, which is very good in some ways but there are times when I kind of tend to overlook the big picture because I get too caught up in the details.

For example…

I received a new knitting book for Christmas and have been very excited to try my first pair of socks from it. The book is 2-At-A-Time Socks(affiliate link) by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and it has a lot of really fun looking sock patterns to try out. My oldest daughter is the only child left in the family for whom I have not yet knit a pair of socks, so I let her choose her favorite pattern from the new book.

She chose the Athena pattern – a really pretty cabled sock that I was looking forward to working on. This book is done with charts – so I’d be learning something new since I hadn’t worked from a pattern chart before.

The chart is fairly easy to follow – like a grid. Start at stitch 1 of row 1 and work right to left and bottom to top. Simple, right?

AbbisSocks 003

As I got further into the pattern, I noticed that my cables weren’t winding around each other the way the pattern shows. I realized that I’d gotten so wrapped up in following each stitch and step exactly as written that I’d forgotten that I knit left-handed. And since I knit left-to-right and I was following the chart right-to-left, I figured I was doing the pattern wrong and should start again, this time following the chart backward, beginning at stitch 28 of row 1 and working left to right and bottom to top.

So I frogged the entire pair of socks. And began again from the very beginning of casting on both pairs of socks.

After (re)knitting the cuffs and getting back into the pattern stitches, it didn’t take more than a few rows before I realized that the cables definitely weren’t looking better – in fact, this time they didn’t even look like cables but rather a jumbled mess.

Thankfully, this time I was able to simply ‘tink’ back those few pattern rounds that I’d already knit (a lot of fun dealing with the cable hook there), back to where I’d started cabling. I looked again at the photos I’d taken of my first attempt and decided that the cables really didn’t look that far off anyway – and if something wrapped to the back when it ‘should’ wrap to the front… As long as everything lines up in the end, it shouldn’t matter.

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So my lesson learned is that I shouldn’t try to second-guess a pattern or analyze why it works or doesn’t – but just accept the fact that the designer knew what she was doing and apparently left-handed or not, I simply need to follow the directions as written.

I may be an idiot – but I do (usually) at least learn from my mistakes!

UFOs (no, not the outer space kind)

In fiber-speak, a UFO is not something that involves little green men or anything, but rather stands for UnFinished Objects. Something that we all tend to have at least one or two (or more) of sitting around for one reason or another. Perhaps it’s because you ran out of yarn (gasp!), couldn’t figure something out in the pattern, got bored, or just got more interested in other projects… Those pesky UFOs just sit there, waiting for you to pick them back up again.

Sometimes you do. And sometimes you don’t.

Smock TopLast year I had 3 UFOs that sat in my closet and weighed on my mind. The first was the initial Smock Top that I started in 2010 but then realized that I was making the wrong size so put aside. Last year I restarted knitting the same pattern in a bigger size, but with different yarn. The first attempt sat in my knitting bag for months – until I decided to knit my mother-in-law a scarf for Christmas and needed to find a lightweight cotton yarn quickly. The yarn from the first Smock Top was perfect, so I pulled it apart and used the same yarn to knit the scarf.

SmockTopTake2 001One UFO dealt with and off the needles! Of course, there’s still the second Smock Top, which also seems to be languishing in my knitting bag for no other reason than I just simply haven’t had the interest in working on it lately. We’ll see if I can manage to finally finish this pattern at some point!

HannahsSecondSock 003The other UFO that I had last year was the pair of socks I was making for my middle daughter – this project became the unfortunate victim to ‘Second Sock Syndrome’ before I learned how to knit two socks at once. Having frogged almost an entire sock before completing the first one, I pretty much felt like I’d already knit two socks and I was tired of the pattern by summertime. I had gotten all the way to knitting the foot section and then just left it. I needed a break from that one.

And the extended break worked – last fall, after I taught myself to knit 2 socks at once Magic Loop style, I made myself finish that second sock before I started any other projects. The feeling of having it finally done was wonderful – and seeing my daughter so excited to have her pair of socks to wear (finally!) reminded me of why I love to knit for others to begin with. :)

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HannahsSocks 004HannahsSocks 001

I was rather amazed that I was able to match the striping up so closely on this pair of socks, but also glad to know how to knit 2 at a time now so that will be much easier from now on!

HannahsSocks 003

So if you were keeping track, that leaves me with only the one UFO for now – that second Smock Top. We’ll see if I can get that finished in 2012, but who knows what other UFOs I’ll manage to come up with!

Christmas gifts, last-minute style

As I’m somewhat prone to procrastination, I didn’t really think much about Christmas gifts for 2011 until the season was well underway. In my defense though, it really didn’t feel much like Christmas this year, between having almost no snow to speak of in December and my mood in general being on the rather glum side. It really wasn’t until a couple of weeks before the big day that I began to seriously shop and consider what we were going to do in the way of gifts for grandparents, etc.

I’d had in the back of my mind for a while that I wanted to knit a pair of socks for my mom. She’s 78 years old, lives alone in a house with extremely cold floors in the winter time and it had been a while since I’d made her something as a gift. Originally I’d started a pair of socks for my oldest daughter but quickly realized that I was not going to have enough time to both finish that pair and knit a whole other pair for my mom, so it made more sense to give the pair I was currently working on to my mom instead and knit my daughter a pair sometime later, since hers weren’t specifically a Christmas gift.

MomsSocks 001

I love the colors of this yarn that I used and was (slightly) tempted to hang onto it for a pair of socks for myself, but as it’s 100% acrylic yarn and my feet need to breathe, I decided it was best to use it for this particular gift. Acrylic is washer-safe for easy care for my mom and I knew she would love the colors just as much as I did. The pattern was the same Winter Sock pattern that I’d made twice before – it’s a good, easy, quick knit and I knew it would make a thick, warm pair of socks for my mom.

MomsSocks 002

Not having my mom’s feet available to judge size, I used the next-best thing – my oldest daughter’s feet. She’s in a women’s size 8 shoe now, which I knew was roughly the same size my mom wears. My feet are much wider than my mom’s, so mine aren’t a good judge of fit for her socks. I simply guessed – and hoped, that the fit would turn out right. And thankfully after my mom opened them on Christmas and tried them on – it did!

Mom'sSocks

I finished the socks three days before Christmas, but I wasn’t done knitting for the holiday yet. After deciding to make the socks for my mom, I thought about the fact that my mother-in-law would be there on Christmas morning while gifts were opened, and we didn’t have a gift picked out for her yet. Since I was hand-knitting something for my own mother, it only felt fair to make something for my mother-in-law too.

I knew I wouldn’t have enough time for another pair of socks, so I decided on something that would be a quicker project to complete, but still useful – and pretty. I found a free pattern for a Cotton Lace Scarf by using the Lion Brand iPhone app and luckily had the perfect yarn already in my stash. I began the scarf on December 22nd and worked on it every moment that I was sitting down. Which wasn’t a lot of them since we also were completing a big bedroom shuffle in the house, which necessitated painting, moving furniture and trying to get the house in somewhat decent shape for guests before Christmas Eve.

I finished the scarf in time – at 3am on Christmas morning, that is. And quickly packed it into a box I had ready and waiting, wrapped it and stuck it under the tree only hours before the kids had us awake and ready to attack the pile of gifts.

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I only have one photo of the scarf – I forgot to take any pictures of the finished item in my rush to get it done. But it turned out really pretty and I wouldn’t mind making another one someday – when I’ll have a little more time to actually enjoy the process.

For Christmas 2012, I am determined to decide on and start any holiday-related projects in plenty of time! Like maybe October.

Or July. ;)

Two socks at once – double the fun!

After I’d finished with my Halloween projects last fall, I finally had time to try something I’d been wanting to learn for a while. You see, I still had never finished the second sock of the pair that I’d started last spring for my middle daughter – yes, the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. So whether or not I did ever finally get myself to complete that pair, I wanted to learn how to knit two socks at the same time so I wouldn’t have to deal with this ever again.

It made sense to go back to a pattern that I’d already made – the basic Winter Sock from the Magic Loop book. The pattern’s already set up for Magic Loop, and it’s a quick knit since it uses worsted weight yarn. I chose a solid colored yarn so I didn’t have to worry about matching stripes or anything, and got started.

2AtATimeSocks 001

I’d been somewhat intimidated by this whole process, especially the idea of using two balls of yarn at the same time. Having seen several different ideas on how to manage them – everything from using both ends of a single skein, to putting separate balls into individual baggies or bags to keep them from tangling, I thought for a while and then finally just ended up purchasing two separate skeins and doing my best to keep them separated.

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I was actually impressed by how easy it was to keep the yarns separated – even considering that I took this project with me when traveling. I just left the skeins in a bag under the seat in front of me and pulled out enough slack to keep working as I went. Easy-peasy!

As always, YouTube was my friend on this entire process, and I got some additional help from other sites as well. Once I got the socks cast-on, the actual process was easy to pick up – my biggest hurdle came when I had to figure out in what order and how to pick up the stitches along the insteps and get everything situated from the back-and-forth of the heel flaps and turnings to circular knitting again. That part was the hardest to figure out and I didn’t quite do it right – I finally gave up as I got close to the toe decreases and simple resituated everything by using some stitch holders to move the stitches to where they were supposed to be.

TwoAtATimeSocks 004

Here are the videos and sites that I found especially helpful – one of these days I want to get back into doing videos again so that I can make left-handed versions of how to do a lot of these projects. Having to turn everything around in my head just adds a whole extra level of difficulty when learning something new!

TwoAtATimeSocks 001

It was so nice to finish the project and not have the second sock looming out in front of me! And these two are identical – even down to the row near the top of the cuff where I accidentally messed up slightly on the pattern. I didn’t have to try to remember how long I made each sock or compare to make sure they’d end up the same size – all of that worked out perfectly. And these are nice warm, cozy socks for me to wear this winter too!

I think I’m still in my sock obsession – they’re a small, portable project that’s a fairly quick knit and there’s a lot of variety in patterns. Plus they’re extremely practical. I don’t foresee knitting all of my socks from now on, but it’s fun to have three pairs that I’ve now knit for myself.

And more to come, I’m sure.

Halloween Pumpkin Hat Pattern

So yes, I know it’s been a few months since Halloween, but I’ve been meaning to post this so figured I’d go ahead anyway. I want to remember how I made this hat, and since I couldn’t find a pattern that I liked when I was looking, I want to put this out there in case it can help anyone else next Halloween or for future ones. If you have any questions about this pattern, you can e-mail me at debmomof3(at)comcast(dot)net.

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Halloween Pumpkin Hat

Size: generally fits toddler or preschooler. Hat size can be increased or decreased by adding or subtracting stitches in sets of 8 and adjusting pattern accordingly.

Gauge: approximately 6 sts per inch using worsted weight yarn on US size 8 needles.

Materials:

  • Orange-colored worsted weight yarn (should take one skein or less)
  • Green-colored worsted weight yarn (only a few ounces required)
  • US size 8 circular needle or size required to meet gauge
  • US size 8 double-pointed needles

Cast on 80 stitches on circular needle. Place marker to designate end of round. Knit 4×4 ribbing for 8 rounds.

Round 9: *Purl one stitch, knit next 6 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.

Repeat Round 9 until hat measures approximately 6-8 inches. Hat should fit around head from ears to crown.

BeccasPumpkinHat 001

Begin decrease rounds. Switch to double-pointed needles when no longer comfortable to knit on circular.

  • First decrease round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 2 stitches together, knit next 4 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Next round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 5 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Second decrease round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 2 stitches together, knit next 3 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Next round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 4 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Third decrease round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 2 stitches together, knit next 2 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Next round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 3 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Fourth decrease round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 2 stitches together, knit next stitch, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Next round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 2 stitches, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • BeccasPumpkinHat 002Fifth decrease round: *Purl one stitch, knit next 2 stitches together, knit next stitch, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Switch to green yarn. *Purl one stitch, knit one stitch, purl one stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round. Repeat round 2x.
  • Sixth decrease round: *Knit next 2 stitches together, purl next stitch. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.
  • Seventh decrease round: *Knit next 2 stitches together. Repeat from * 9 more times to end of round.

You should have 10 stitches left to form the stem. Knit as many rounds of those last 10 stitches as necessary to form stem length you want. When stem is at correct length, knit 2 stitches together 5x, then cut yarn and draw through last 5 stitches. Weave in yarn ends.

Note: If you wish the ‘green’ portion of the hat to be larger, simply switch to the green yarn earlier in the pattern, such as when beginning decrease rounds.

Happy Knitting!