Saturday, January 29, 2011

Christmas Creatures

I made Pocket Creatures once before, a set of three creatures the summer of my third year of college.  I gave a pair to a friend, kept one for me, and somewhat recently gave my sisters the last pair.  I've also lost the second of the purple guys I kept for me, so now I have to make another one of those if I want a set again!  I still have yarn in the correct colors for it, and I'm pretty sure I have leftover buttons of that variety as well.

Of course, my sisters needed sets of their own, so I made three sets for Christmas, all from stash yarn except the purple, since I didn't have quite enough purple left in my stash for another set.  Good thing I did buy more purple, since I'll be needing it for myself as well, and I was able to use it for the Fish Hat, a good purchase all around.  On to the Creatures!


Pattern: Toasty Pocket Creatures (Rav)
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool, various colors.
Needles: US6/4.0 mm
Timeframe: December 11, 2010 - January 14, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: They took so much longer than anticipated for such little items!
These guys look like they should be in a Studio Ghibli film!

Pattern: Toasty Pocket Creatures (Rav)
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool, various colors.
Needles: US6/4.0 mm
Timeframe: December 30, 2010 - January 14, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: They took so much longer than anticipated for such little items!

Pattern: Toasty Pocket Creatures (Rav)
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool, various colors.
Needles: US6/4.0 mm
Timeframe: December 30, 2010 - January 14, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: They took so much longer than anticipated for such little items!
While I love stuffed creatures and amigurumi, they really are not my favorite things to make.  Small, fiddly, and then the comparatively huge amounts of seaming typically needed versus, say, socks (one line of Kitchener!) or a sweater, even a 100% knit flat sweater.  Oh well, they're done, and now I just have to make another one for me...eventually...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why You Should Block

Not-so-recently with a couple of my projects, I've found examples of why you should block to show off.

First up, the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan.  This was a massive undertaking that I wouldn't mind doing again, and probably will someday.  As written, it's a 3-panel throw, perfect for your couch.  I made it a queen-sized bed coverlet.  Huge.  I added two panels and lengthened all of the original parts.  Four of the five panels are mirrored pairs.  I was blocking the panels after I finished them, as blocking an entire queen-sized blanket wasn't going to happen in our apartment and it's much better to block before seaming so all of your edges are straight and all of the pieces are the correct size.

Once I had the final two panels of the original blanket done, I had one blocked and one unblocked, and there is a huge difference.  People are always sure to block lace, typically block colorwork so the stitches line up better, and don't always block cables.  You really, really should, and here's why:

The cables flatten out, lie nicer, and look better once blocked.  The center cable panel truly is the same, the only difference being the direction of the twist so they mirror each other.  There's over an inch of difference in width between the two of these, and they're only 13 inches wide to begin with.  The trinity stitch also lies flatter and looks better.  The edges play nicer when seaming, and that's why even a stockinette sweater knit flat in pieces should be blocked before seaming.

Secondly, I have a project from way back, the Amethyst Wrap.  I only had two skeins of the yarn used for this one, so knit them all and then realized it just wasn't enough.  Over the summer, I visited the States again, got more yarn, and got the project out of hibernation.  This one also has a few inches of difference between the blocked and unblocked sides, and is a combination of cables and lace:

It stretches out a bit, and becomes a lot smoother and more defined.  I do love seeing the difference blocking makes!

Again, blocking is important for most knitted items, and there are very few things, like amigurumis and socks knit from 100% acrylic, that I don't block before considering finished.

Coming soon, FO posts for the Blanket of Awesome

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I've gotten and used the books AmiAmi Dogs and AmiAmi Dogs 2.  These are all fairly old projects, all crochet, but haven't made their blog debut until now!  Mostly because I just haven't thought to show them off.  On to the dogs!

Pattern: Dalmatian from AmiAmi Dogs 2 (Rav)
Yarn: A Japanese DK-ish wool, Wister LaLa Baby.
Hook: USE/3.5mm
Timeframe: September 21 - October 12, 2009 - man this one's been around for awhile!
Mods: More needle felting instead of buying eyes and a nose.
Problems: None, except that I still don't particularly like seaming up amigurumi.

All of these are from the AmiAmi Dogs 2, with some modifications to make them personalized.  Any details, like the spots on the Dalmatians and the noses and eyes on all of them, were made using needle felting.  I bought a small bag of black fiber from a local store and had some white in my stash.  They're not all well done, but I do think the Dalmatian came out great, with an excellent expression.

Pattern: Magnet from AmiAmi Dogs 2 (Rav)
Yarn: Wister Jolly Time II in various colors.
Hook: USE/3.5mm
Timeframe: January 7 - June 11, 2010 - I really, really hate seaming little things!
Mods: More needle felting instead of buying eyes and a nose, made up the Terrier, Dalmatian, and Snoopy from other patterns in the book.
Problems: None, except that I still don't particularly like seaming up amigurumi.

These guys are all magnets.  My family owns two poodles, a gray and a black, so I made a poodle for each of my four sisters.  I also made each one a dog I think they'd like, for one reason or another.  One sister always wanted a Jack Russel Terrier named Brussels Sprouts, so I made her a magnet.  Another one loves Snoopy, and I tried to make a Beagle to look like Snoopy.  I thought the Pug and Dalmatian were cute, so made a couple of those for the other two who didn't necessarily have a specific dog they loved.  They'd both mentioned they liked those breeds before, so I wasn't too far off base.

More close-ups:



Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Nephew

I'm going to be an aunt, so of course, a lot of baby knits have been done recently.  I'm also sending off a couple that have been hanging out in the closet because they didn't get to their original intended recipients for one reason or another.  I hope my sister likes and uses everything - I'd much rather have the items thrown out after a time of hard use, irreparably stained and full of holes, than on a shelf and never touched.

Many of these items I've knit before, and the onesie was even seen before.  Things that haven't yet been blogged include the sweater that wound up going in with this package, though it won't be used until next winter:

Pattern: Child's Placket Neck Pullover (Rav)
Yarn: Three and a bit skeins of a very soft Japanese acrylic called Mamarm.
Needles: US7/4.5 mm 
Timeframe: January 24 - May 9, 2010.  Why it took so long, I'm not sure...I remember this one being quick...
Mods: None, if you don't count omitting the button.
Problems: None!

I really like this pattern and plan to knit the next size up as a Christmas or birthday gift for next year, in gray.  I already have the correct yarn, so I may as well use it!  I love this nice, simple sweater, and can't wait to cast on for the next one.  One more goal for this year is to knit at least two Christmas items per month - I've already set up my queue for the next couple of Christmases!
Everything else I knit has been something I've knit before, mostly because I still had yarn that was appropriate for the project.  I managed to use up all of that blue cotton yarn that was project-less as well as nearly all of the blue kitchen cotton.  Must knit more to use up more yarn!

Pattern: Sneaker Booties (Rav)
Yarn: Louet Gems in White and about 1/4 of a skein of Wister Color Palette in green.
Needles: US2/2.75 mm, DPNs
Timeframe: January 3 - 5, would have been only January 3 but I knit most of a pair of socks and did this blog post while procrastinating.
Mods: None.
Problems: None, except the strong desire to be working on other projects.

 Pattern: Modern Cabled Baby Bib (Rav
Yarn: Bernat Naturals Cotton - 3 colors, white, brown, and a Sugar-N-Cream blue (tidepool, I think)
Timeframe: November 20 - December 31. Each one only took a couple of hours actual knitting time.
Mods: I slipped the first stitch of every row and used a crochet cast on to start for a more uniform edge.
Problems: None!

Yarn: Thrifted DK-ish cotton from a sweater bought at Goodwill.
Timeframe: November 20 - December 12, 2010.
Mods: Few. I made the blanket square instead of rectangular, so did 10 total squares instead of 13.I also did a crochet cast-on and slipped the first stitch of every row for a nice border.
Problems: None really - a bit of annoyance that I could have used some of this yarn for the first one, as it obviously wasn't evenly divided, but not a problem.  I made a matching burp rag with three square repeats and the same garter borders out of the extra and had maybe a yard leftover.  Excellent!
I hope the wearables fit and everything else is useful!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas Socks

I knit a whole bunch of stuff for Christmas.  I knit four pairs of thick socks, mostly Thujas, this Christmas, plus one sock earlier in the year as requested.  I also tried Malabrigo Rios, and oh my, that yarn is yummy!  Must get more for me!  Also, as I've said before, I should really knit myself a pair of Thujas - I've knit everyone and their brother at least one pair (two for some people), where's mine?

Pattern: Thuja from Knitty
Yarn: All yarns are from Seria, all ふわっと彩色 (Drifting Colors), a heathery wool/acrylic blend.
Timeframe: Varied.
Mods: None, multiple foot sizes.
Problems: None. Love this pattern so, so, so much!

I did knit a non-Thuja out of the Rios, a Skeive sokker modified.


Pattern: Skeive sokker (Rav)
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios 856 Azules, 3.5 grams under 1 skein

Needles: US6/4.0mm
Timeframe: November 24 - December 12, 2010
Mods: A few. Larger needles, smaller cast on (42), typical odd-numbered heel flap pattern (*Sl1, K1* to end, Sl1, P across next row), slight changes to the body of the sock, for full info, see my Ravelry project page.
Problems: None, except of my own making.  I tried casting on 48 first, and while it was a good size and fabric, it was eating yarn way too quickly.  42 obviously also worked.

These socks were so amazingly warm, soft, and wonderful, I really was sad giving them up.  The colors are ever-so-vibrant and gorgeous too.  I must get this yarn again!  Probably will get two skeins with my next Loopy Ewe order, one for socks for me, and one for socks for Lee, and maybe another skein for socks for my FIL for next Christmas, because this yarn truly is amazing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Paper Boxes

These were all kits from our local dollar store (really 105 yen store [so really really,about $1.26 store]).  Apparently, the trick is to start it, get frustrated, put it down for awhile, then pick it back up again and it's easy to finish.  This is the second basket where that has worked for me - twice, I've gotten so frustrated that I've put away the beginnings of the basket, but they've come together easily when picking them back up again.

My New Year's Eve finish, a heart-shaped basket that I've no idea what I'm going to do with as of now.  Probably save it as a Valentine's Day decoration/candy dish.

And the little blue box with lid.  It holds an assortment of chotchkies and other items without a home in my closet.  I like this one - the lid is nice.  I have one more kit stashed away, another of the lidded boxes but in green and off-white.  There is one more style that the store had; I think I'll pick up one of those next time I'm there so I have the directions for all the types of boxes; they really are cute little gift baskets and don't take much time, once you get going.  I'm not sure I'd be able to get the materials outside of Japan though...ah well, the instructions don't take up much space!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011: Year of the WIP

This year, my goal will be to get rid of as many WIPs as possible.  I tend to have a few hangers-on every year.  Four or five from 2009, those last three from 2010, a couple from 2008, and six that are pre-Japan are hanging out in my WIP pile.  I never really considered how long they've been in there, thinking they'll eventually come out as FOs, until somewhat recently when I was telling my husband about my absurd FO count for this year.  His response was, "Oh yeah, how many of those are finished and started in 2010?"  This of course made me go back and figure out how many were in fact both started and finished this year, resulting in the new version of the WIP counter.

This year was not bad.  I ended with 15 WIPs - 110 finished projects - 96 started and finished in 2010.  For 2011, the goal is to finish all but the 4 cross stitch WIPs currently in the pile, as well as to get through as much yarn, fabric, and roving as possible.  Cross stitches take ever so long and take up so little stash space that they are not a top priority finish.  We're leaving Japan in April of 2012, so I'd like to have as little stash left at that point as possible, from a number of boxes/weight perspective.  Keeping the small, smoosh-able laceweight skeins around and the cross stitches are fine, going home with all the same fabrics and sweaters worth of bulky yarns is not.  There is no way I will finish it all, but I can at least switch the vast majority of the thicker yarns into clothing and knit up at least a few of the steadily growing pile of sock yarns.

Based on previous years' goals, however, I will in fact manage to use up nearly all of the thicker than laceweight pre-Japan yarn in my stash, as that was the goal for 2010, and in 2010 I really blew 2009's goal out of the water.  I should also be able to finish all of the pre-Japan WIPs since finishing those things was on my goals of 2010 list as well.  So really, I should be making as my stated goal for this year whatever I want to get done in 2012.  Hmmm....I suppose I'll keep my goal as-is.  In 2012, I'm planning to do a LOT of travel, but will also be packing up whatever stash is left and not seeing any of it aside from my Yubina lace for 3 - 5 months while on the Appalachian Trail.  Even longer for most of it, probably from early March through mid-August, from packing in Japan to unpacking in (hopefully) Indiana.

My 2010 goal was, specifically, "I want to finish four pairs of socks, three huge projects, two felting projects, and a couple of languishing projects before August, because they are all gifts for people in the States."  What did I accomplish?  Many more than four pairs of socks.  I do believe that while I did in fact make the letter of the goal, I did not in fact accomplish the spirit of it.  The four pairs of socks were supposed to be from stash.  Out of the eight pairs of finished socks this year, only two were from stash, though one did take double the typical amount of stash yarn and so could kinda be considered a total of three.  Not four.  Three huge projects...well, I got one done.  Two felting projects were done, and I did eight more for Christmas even.  The languishing projects are still, in fact, languishing.  I did use up a good chunk of pre-Japan yarn, but not even close to all of the non-laceweight I have.  I do have patterns picked out for all of it though!

I hope your 2010 was fulfilling, and that your 2011 is even better!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Welcome to 2011!  How'd I do?


Panhandles (x2)

Husband Hat 

One Sock

Blue Sock 

Bibs (x6)

Pocket Creatures - Wasted the time trying to fix the sewing machine

Heart Box

Knitting Tools Case - And the sewing machine starts acting up!  Last couple of lines of stitching, and it stops working on me.  If it were earlier in the day, I may have been able to pull this one off, but I can't seem to figure out why the top thread is sometimes catching on the part the bobbin sits in and knocking it out of position.  Not every single time, just often enough to really mess it up.

Small Knitting Tools Case - Needs a button sewn on and the nifty pincushion bit sewn in.  Still.  I'm gonna blame this one on the faulty sewing machine too.

Box Bag


Lady Sunshine Test - Not even touched.  Probably won't be the first FO of 2011 because I still have a couple more things that have to go to family to finish up, and I really, really want to cross stitch.

Pretty good; only four WIPs of 2010 to continue to 2011.  Fourteen of a possible eighteen.  I blame the sewing machine issues - I spent more time than I should have trying to fix it.  If only I hadn't done the frivolous projects first...oh well.  Now for next year, I'll finish those and some of those older WIPs, finish everything that is started in 2011, and expand that to all Christmas stuff too.  I still have to start eight Christmas gifts!