Saturday, November 20, 2010

Creepy Critters

Amigurumi are cute, but are usually fairly creepy looking.  Here's an adorable hedgehog pincushion:

Pattern: Waste Yarn Hedgehog
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (now Stroll) in Black for details, Wild Fire Fibres BFL Sock from the sock club for the face, Madeline Tosh Tosh Sock in Loopy Ewe sock club for the body.
Needles: US1.5/2.5 mm, DPNs
Timeframe: October 2 - 4.
Mods: A few.  I started with the disappearing cast-on in black, CO 4 sts, Round 1: *K1, M1* around, Round 2: *K2, M1* around (12 sts), switch to brown and continue from Row 1 of pattern.
After the first set of increases (work rows 2 - 5), I made French Knot eyes, then switched to the darker color and turned my work so I was knitting on the inside, giving reverse stockinette as the outside.  I followed the directions otherwise, but didn't weave in the ends, just left them inside, and ran the final tail through the live stitches twice to close up.
Problems: None.

I used scraps of what I've already got to knit this adorable little guy.  I think he'll look better with pins in him too.  He's been sent off to a friend who should have him by now and so shouldn't be surprised by this post.

And a not-so-adorable Hedwig-esque amalgamation of patterns:

Pattern: Pocket Animals and Forest Friends (Owl and Robin)
Yarn: Jo-Ann Sensations Angel Hair for the body, Dupont Sayelle gold for the beak and feet, probably Red Heart acrylic for the eyes.
Hook: USF
Timeframe: July 2007 - September 17, 2010 with a hiatus of being in the US while I was in Japan for nearly 2 years.
Mods:  Some.  I crocheted the body as one piece instead of multiple, I crocheted the wings from the Robin pattern, and I didn't make the horns. 
Problems: None really, yarn wasn't the best though!.

For crochet and knitting, the yarn you use can have an effect on the finished product.  Knitting tends to be fairly neutral, depending on your technique, so a neutral yarn, with no inherent twist, is desired.  Crochet tends to induce at least some twist, again depending on your technique, so either a neutral yarn or a yarn with the opposite twist is desired so that you'll have a neutral outcome.  Of course, one can knit or crochet with any yarn one desires, but some yarns create better finished products for some techniques.  The yarn that I used for Hedwig had an inherent twist the same way as the twist I induced, so the wings and tail curl in a not-so-good manner.  A better crocheter may have re-jiggered the second wing to knit backwards so the twist remained the same, but I did not, so have one wing waving hello and one wing beckoning you closer.

Ah well, such is life!

Monday, November 15, 2010

FO: Hanging Towels

I realized that we don't really have hand towels by the kitchen or bathroom sinks when looking at an adorable towel on Ravelry. I then modified the cute pattern to make the towels hanging towels to rectify the lack of hand towels by my sinks:

Pattern: Bubble Up Towel (Ravelry)
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Naturals for the main color, various Lily Sugar & Creams
Needles: US6/4.0 mm US7/4.5 mm
Timeframe: October 17 and 18 - 21, 2010.  Short piece of work, waited on the blocking.
Mods: Quite a few.  CO 36, 4-st garter stitch border, when work is a square, K2, SSK, K to last 4, K2tog, K2 on RS rows, P2, P2tog, P to last 4, P2togtbl, P2 until 12 sts left, K2tog center sts, make bobble in contrasting color, make flap as long as desired with 2-st garter stitch border, make buttonhole by casting off center stitch and then casting on one stitch in the next row, K4 rows, BO.
Problems: None!
These are fairly cute and they match my washcloths.  Simple little knits to wipe your hands on instead of using your jeans!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I keep my knitting group's bag of extras.  Mostly dollar store yarn and project leftovers that are most of a skein, there was some cute #20 cotton crochet thread in there.  I've added quite a bit of my leftovers and unwanted yarns, mostly dollar store stuff, acrylic, and mohair, as I can typically find uses for wools, and don't feel bad grabbing this little 20 gram dollar store yarn for my own purposes.  Especially when those purposes are as nice and pure as a bookmark or two for Christmas and snowflakes to decorate my school's Christmas-themed robot, if in fact there are leftovers.  20g doesn't go very far.

Things were all well and good, I was about to finish the majority of the work on the first bookmark, and I realize I've messed up the directions:

The outside edges of the fans are supposed to join a lower fan.  Less than an hour of work, the first two fans are okay, and I have the pattern memorized.  Not too big a deal.


Except I scoured the directions looking for such a thing because I was sure they joined.  Somehow, I missed it, and only saw it halfway through the seventh of eight fans.  Now I get to rip back to halfway through the third fan.


I'll probably go out and pick up another skein or two of this stuff though to make another bookmark and hopefully get at least three snowflakes, preferably more like ten so the students can keep them at the end and everyone on the team gets one.

But we'll see.  Such things can only be accomplished if I can read directions correctly in the future.  I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I am an official Letterboxer.  I signed up for Atlas Quest, username Shlaci, and found my first letterbox when I was in Tokyo with my in-laws.  There are a few around Tokyo, and I printed out directions to all of them in case we went anywhere that had one.  We visited the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo, and there is one letterbox there, the Lotus letterbox:

I used my signature stamp to mark that I was there, and stamped their lotus stamp into my logbook as the first stamp.  Many people have a nice book, but I decided that since I may want to re-order mine by place and I want to be able to bring supplies with me on hikes like the Appalachian Trail (where weight is a big priority), I want a method of recording finds that doesn't take up much space.  I got a small trading card holding binder that comes in a box.  It's perfect for trips where weight isn't a problem, I put folded blank notecards into the slots and can write the name, date, and location of the box on the notecard.  The box holds a small stamp pad and my stamp easily as well.  When weight is an issue, I can take just a handful of notecards, a small stamp pad, and my stamp.  The notecards can be rearranged and I can of course always get better trading card binders or notecard filing systems to keep track of my finds.

Later this month, I'll be traveling to Tokyo for the national RoboCon competition to cheer on our team.  We have a few hours between the bus arriving in Tokyo and the start of the competition, so I'm going to see how many other letterboxes I can cross off my list while I'm there.  I know I'll get the Tokyo Disney one when my family comes to visit, but there are a few others fairly close together near interesting sites or museums that I should be able to get.

Hopefully I'll be able to hit all the ones currently in Japan before I leave!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

FO: Bookmarks

I've knit a few of these guys, and finally knit one for myself:

Yarn: Wister LaLa Baby, Japanese yarn in white
Hook: USE/3.5 mm
Timeframe: June 15 - 17, 2010
Mods: None.  Excellent pattern.
Problems: None!
I also knit up a few for a charity sale we had.  All the money collected went to a local orphanage.  I knit four, but forgot to take a picture of them before they started selling.  Whoops!

Pattern: Spider to Web Bookmark (Ravelry)
Yarn: Wister LaLa Baby, Japanese yarn in white, then off-white.
Hook: USE/3.5 mm
Timeframe: November 2, 2010
Mods: None.  Excellent pattern.
Problems: None!
All four of the bookmarks went, so I was quite pleased.  I do enjoy this pattern, it's so simple and quick and is fairly impressive, I think.

FO: Cusp

Cookie A., my favorite sock designer, is coming out with a new book.  It's called Knit.Sock.Love., and will be available in a couple of weeks.  It's up for pre-order now, and you can get a PDF version at a much lower price if you pre-order it with the book.  Highly recommended!

Okay, back to the topic at hand.  For her book, I was able to test knit one of the new socks, Cusp.  This is a great sock pattern, really simple and quick compared to many of her designs, and perfect for some gorgeous Indigo Moon I had on hand:

Pattern: Cusp, size L
Yarn: Indigo Moon West Coast Musings in West Coast Sunset.
Needles: US1.5/2.5mm DPNs.
Timeframe: July 3 - 8, 2010 for the first one, October 17 - November 1, 2010 for the second.
Mods: None!
Problems: None!

I do love Cookie A.'s patterns and can't wait to see the new book.  I've got it pre-ordered and I'm getting the PDF too.  This one was a really quick knit with interesting gusset construction.It is not particularly flattering to my ankles, but is a cool design nonetheless.  It may live on my sock blockers more often than on my feet!

Friday, November 5, 2010

FO: Amethyst Wrap

This next project also had a two year lag while waiting for more yarn.  I did in fact get more yarn, but whether it was the change in dye lot, the change in needles (I used Addis instead of my Boyes since I now have an Addi Turbo Lace in US4) or something else, there is a definite change to the pooling from one set of yarn to the next.

Pattern: Amethyst Wrap
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential/Stroll Multi in Peacock Multi, 4 skeins.
Needles: US4/3.5mm Boye Interchangeables then Addi Turbo Lace
Timeframe: August 12, 2008 - November 1, 2010.  Hibernation waiting for yarn for two years, then waiting for a block for a month.  Poor wrap.
Mods: None.
Problems: None.  The not-quite-consistency of the pooling annoyed me, but it still looks great and I'll use it.

Initially, I had two skeins of the Peacock Multi so figured I'd give it a go with those.  This was a test pattern, so I fulfilled the general requirements of making sure the pattern works and all, and was able to say how much 1/2 the recommended yarn got you.  At that point, it was a pretty cool table runner, but I'd much prefer a wrap that can double as a scarf.  I love the colors, and while my aunt may have been interested in using it as a table runner, I wanted this one for myself!

Before Lee assisted my photo efforts
I purchased some additional yarn while in the US so brought that and the hibernating wrap back to Japan.  I managed to finish nearly all of the knitting while on flights to a conference in Slovakia.  It also waited for over a month to be totally finished with those projects I swore I'd have finished soon.  One of which is still not done.  However, it will be warm and wonderful when it is finished, that darn Bramblewood Vest that is oh-so-close.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

FO: Caroline

Here's the first of a few finished object posts.  I had a blocking session the other day, so I've finished a few things that were hanging around.  First off, a cute hat that I can wear now that it's getting chilly out:

Pattern: Caroline, size L
Yarn: Peru DK Luxury in Purple, 2 skeins.
Needles: US4/3.5mm Addi Turbo Lace and DPNs.
Timeframe: October 3 - November 1, 2010.  One (long) day of knitting, one day of blocking and ribbon making, procrastination in between.
Mods: Slightly fewer rows per inch, so knit 5.5" brim instead of 6" and I love it!
Problems: None.  I think it's a tad larger than desired, but the small likely would have been too small, so no real complaints.

I've had this hat and the yarn to knit in in my queue for quite some time.  I finally took the yarn and pattern to RoboCon, a robotics competition my students were involved in, and knit it entirely during the competition and bus ride home.  It just had to wait awhile to get blocked and be-ribboned.  Mostly, I wanted to block a few things at once, and had enough projects in the "almost there!" stage of knitting where you're close but not really and it takes longer than you think but you're so optimistic you'll finish them this week that I waited until I did, in fact, finish a couple more of those items.  Which you'll see shortly.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We've recently had our school festival, so here's my arrangement:

Every so often, every student puts their weekly arrangement on display for the school.  There's always arrangements in certain areas, and here was mine this year:

And here are a few more I've had throughout the year.  I really haven't been showing them off, but there've been a few good ones:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I have stamp carving supplies, and while I don't typically have a reason to carve stamps, I've carved a couple that I haven't yet shown off.

This one is for a friend.  We'd talked about letterboxing at one point, and she has quite a few sites near her, so I made what I thought would be a pretty good signature stamp for her to letterbox with:

She's from the Northeast but lives and works in Florida, so the combination of Mickey and a snowflake seemed pretty good.  I printed out the pattern and used the tracing paper to transfer the pattern to the rubber blank, then carved it out.  It came out pretty well for my second stamp ever!

For my third stamp, I made myself a letterboxing signature stamp.  Like everyone, when I'm bored in class, I've doodled from time to time.  Since I was little, I've doodled a specific dragon, not a traditional dragon in any mythology really, but my personal doodle.  Therefore, this particular doodle, being fairly small and fairly easy to recreate and fairly unique, would become my personal signature stamp, along with the kanji for my name:

I very much enjoy carving stamps.  They really don't take much time at all.  I'm definitely going to place a stamp or two in Kanazawa, in Kenroku-en, the famous local garden, and maybe in another famous place or two, but probably just there.  I may also place stamps in a couple other places around Japan, say, at the three famous mountains or the other two of the three famous gardens.  We've already climbed Mt. Fuji, and I'm not sure if I'll get to the other two gardens again, but if I do, I'll have to plant boxes.

Anyone else have stamp ideas they need carved up?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back in Black!

Yes, they did in fact have black elastic, and I did in fact get some.

In keeping with my last-minute finishes, I finished my Blaze about five minutes before walking out the door to a Halloween dinner.  Wearing it.  I left my knitting scissors at home during an earlier train ride, so was unable to run the elastic through the tops of my knee socks before wearing them out, but since they only fall when walking and we'd be mostly sitting, I wore them anyway.  Made quite a cute Halloween outfit!

Not so good picture, but the best of the sweater and socks

Now for a major washing/blocking session, washing my well-used Rogue and blocking (read: finishing!) my Caroline hat, Amethyst Wrap, Cusp socks (from Cookie A.'s soon-to-be-released Knit.Sock.Love), and Blaze.  The Caroline hat will still need a ribbon, so will need a bit of work when it's dry before it's really done, but this brings my yearly total of projects up to 50 finishes, of course in a year that I don't set any goals for myself and assume that with two queen-sized blankets, I'll have a smaller than usual count.  Not that I'm complaining!  I should have at least a few Christmas presents (Nuno scarves, socks, and Pocket Creatures) as well as a pair of gloves and a work vest or two done by the end of the year, so the total may well in fact pass 60.