Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Project: Trash and Treasure yarn Tea Cozy

It's Ricardo's birthday tomorrow, and I've been at a loss for something to make. After all, he's been married to a knitter for 39 years, and has enough hats and scarves and mitts for three men. (I made him a bottle cozy for his thermos bottle, but that really was a very small thing.) Then, last night he was idly paging through a magazine and saw a tea cozy and said, "We really need one of these." We're tea drinkers, but I have a problem with tea cozies, and we've always wrapped a kitchen towel around our teapots, because tea cozies seemed vaguely unsanitary to me. I mean, people handle them, cough on them, etc., and they get food on them--not to mention dust. Then they sit on the table with the food. (Okay, I'm neurotic.) But in the Trash and Treasure bag I had a few ounces of some really pretty yarn that felt too scratchy and rough to use for a hat. And, being obviously acrylic, it can be thrown into the washer and dryer without much trouble.

Thus was born the "Shooting Star Tea Cozy." It's more or less a big hat, but I put a row of six eyelets near the top and then K five rows. When it's drawn together it makes a five pointed star (see picture). I need to make a nicer drawstring "tail" for the star, but for right now, a double strand of yarn will have to do.

I'll write down the pattern when I figure out exactly what I did. It was a trial and error project, which I had to rip a few times.

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Pattern: Farrow Rib Hat

This is my standard "cool guy" hat, because teen boys will actually wear it. If you're looking for a hat that can be pulled down to the eyebrows and worn day and night, this is for you. It looks best in two dark colors---such as brown and navy or black. Here, I made the top in beige so the pattern can be seen. The ribbing allows for very easy decreasing at the crown, with no counting.

Farrow Rib makes a thick fabric and is very stretchy. This pattern will stretch from 20 inches to about 26 inches. If you want a smaller hat, the pattern can easily be reduced by any multiple of three.

Farrow Rib Hat

Worsted weight yarn scraps (I used about 1 oz. of Woolease in two colors)

Gauge: 20 stitches to 4".

#7 circular needle, changing to #7 DPNs

CO 84 stitches, begin round 1 with a careful, untwisted, join

Round 1: *K2, P1* repeat to end of round, mark end.

Round 2:: *K1,P2* repeat to end of round.

Repeat these two rows for eight inches, changing color at four inches, or whenever you wish.

Decrease Round: *K1,P2tog* (you are changing farrow rib to a simple K1,P1 rib) to end.

Work three rounds of K1,P1 ribbing.

Decrease Round: *K2tog* (changing ribbing to stockinette)

Work three rounds.

Decrease Round: *K2 tog* to end of round.

Work three rounds.

Decrease Round: *K2tog*.

Work one additional round.

Break off yarn, leaving an 18" tail. Thread yarn and needle and through all stitches remaining. Pull tightly. Thread yarn again through stitches, pull tightly. Move yarn to inside of hat and secure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Progress in Thread Projects

These little ends of Sugar 'n Creme were in the bag I got at the Trash and Treasure market. Look at how organized this woman is! She wrapped every little bit of yarn in its original ballband, and taped the band back together. She was at the market selling dishcloths and slippers.

Gosh, I wish I had a personality like that. I'm so disorganized I probably couldn't find the band from yarn I used this morning. I have no doubt this woman could instantly produce the instruction book from any appliance in an instant.

I sure was happy to find these bits. I love the monthly dishcloth group and keep eyeing my small stash of cotton, hoping it will last until next March. Someone in our group uses cotton thread to make dishcloths, holding several strands together. I think I'll try that next.

This picture is something I'm working on with the bedspread cotton. It's going to be a coin purse, heavily embroidered with flowers. Now, I just need some little white zippers.
Hugs to all!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nun's Yarn Socks!

First, a big thanks to those who are leaving comments. For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me make comments today.
I couldn't wait to cast on some socks from the Nun's wool. Here's a pic of the first sock, photographed on the quilt my Aunt Maree made me about 30+ years ago. I've got some sort of complex stripe pattern going on, but don't know how successful it will be. I'm calling them my Finlandia Socks, since I always associate striped knitting with Finnish design. I'm using a broken rib type of pattern (k,p row followed by a k row). since the No. 2 needles are giving me a little looser fabric than I wanted.
Last year I made eight pairs of socks, but so far this year have only completed one pair, due to the yarn shortage. It's great to be doing socks again.
I don't really have any great prejudice against using yarns other than sock yarns for socks, though. I remember the days before sock yarns, when a few mills sold "sock and sweater yarns" but mostly we'd just buy the thinner yarns and use anything that worked. And I also remember when Orlon socks came on the market and we LOVED those with our loafers. They were so much softer and whiter than our cotton ankle socks. (We didn't ever wear pants to school and only wore nylons to church, so every day we wore white socks and pleated skirts or jumpers.)

So to me, the sock knitting thing has gotten a little out of hand. I just can't spend $30 on a pair of socks! (Okay, I have spent $20 on a few pair in the past, and love them. But I'm flexible.)
Here's a pair I made recently out of some Orlon baby yarn. Excuse my chubby legs! The socks are lacy and cute, though. I used #3 needles and just winged it, wanting to experiment more than anything.

Today we made a trip out to the Trash and Treasure flea market, and there was a woman selling bags of yarn for $3. It looked to me mostly acrylic, but I bought a bag that had several skeins of brown, for a teddy bear, and also bought five patterns books from her, so I spent another $3.50. I still have more than $10 left in my budget.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Does Yarn Expire?

This is really old yarn! It's wool, and one of the balls still has a little tag attached that reads, "Nun's Nomotta yarns are permanently mothproof." Honestly, this tag looks like it was printed in the '30s. I can't get a good picture of the tag, but the little logo is very art deco, and I googled the Nun's yarn company, and only came up with a 1933 pattern book from Nun's being sold on eBay.

But the colors are still really vibrant, and the yarn is tightly wound and knits up with great stitch definition. I really examined it carefully, being afraid of bugs, but it was in a plastic bag and seems in good condition. It is somewhere between sport weight and fingering weight. Socks? I'm there! even though all-wool socks are a pain to care for. The dark looking ball is sort of an eggplant color, and goes great with both the other colors.

It's a little scratchy when knit, but I went to a #2 needle and it felt better. Anyone have a better idea?

I apologize for this picture. The label reads "Reynold's Paloma 100% cotton boucle." I found seven skeins in the bottom of the thread bag. Again, the yarn is long-gone, and Reynolds now uses this name for an entirely different yarn. It's sport weight, and the boucle slubs are tiny. The ballband tells very little---no yardage. With a magnifying glass, I managed to see a very small "1 oz." stamped in blue on the back. The yarn is wrapped around a plastic core.

Any ideas what I can do with 7 oz.? It'e enough for a baby sweater, I guess. It would be a hard yarn to mix with another.
Haven't ballbands changed? Now you get the fibre content, suggested needle and gauge, yards and metres, washing instructions, country of origin, and, often, a pattern.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Pattern: Cotton Thread Neckerchief

Mattie's Cotton Neckerchief

Materials: #10 bedspread cotton and #1 straight needles (you'll need less than a ball)

CO 4 stitches

Row 1: K

Row 2: K2, YO, K to last stitch. K last stitch in the back of the stitch.

Repeat Row 2 until length from point is 10 inches.

Headband section:

Row 1: K across

Row2: K

Row 3: K2, *YO, K2T* to last two stitches, K2

Rows 4 and 5: K

Bind off.

Ties: Pick up five stitches along side edges of "headband" section and K for 12 inches or desired length. (You can taper the ends if desired by knitting two stitches together at the beginning of two rows, then binding off the last stitches.)

This looks great either tied around the hair or tied at the back of the neck to fill in a sweater or shirt's neckline.

Adventures with Cotton Thread

I'm really having a good time putzing around with the giant grab bag of cotton thread, and have some big projects planned.

Daughter #1 wears a lot of scarves in her curly hair, and also around her neck, so I was curious to see if I could knit something from the thread that would drape well. I tried the thread double, but didn't get a soft feel, so went down to single thickness of the #10 thread, and used a #1 needle.

Aren't these needles adorable? I found three different sizes of these needles in the bottom of the thread bag, and just had to use them right away. They have a medal core and a clear plastic coating. I can't help wondering how many projects they've held over the years. They're long, and slippery, though, and I must admit I much prefer using circulars or my bamboo DPNs now for everything.

The resulting fabric draped beautifully, and was gauzy, almost transparent, when knitted up. It was so much fun to make this neckerchief. I'd forgotten how absorbing it is to experiment with design. This huge bag gives me the luxury to try all kinds of new things, without the stress of wasting yarn or trying to adapt someone else's pattern. Truly an unexpected gift.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Pattern: Incredibly Simple "Buttonhole" gloves

Here's Ricardo, acting silly in his incredibly simple, worsted weight, fingerless mitts. (Project 2 from the thrift shop yarn bag.)

The story behind this pattern: First, Grandson #1 wanted camo fingerless gloves for Christmas, so I made those properly, with a lovely thumb gusset and fingers. Then, my sister Debbie wanted a pair to wear at work, but just with a band along the top, so I made those. Then, Ricardo wanted a pair, but with no thumb, and "tighter to the hand." Sigh. Thus, the buttonhole mitts were born.
They turned out to be surprisingly cute.

Simple Worsted-Weight Fingerless "Buttonhole" Mitts
Size: Your average guy.


Use any worsted weight yarn, and #5 DNPs or "magic loop"
I used a partial skein, but they take very little yarn---probably 1.5 oz.
CO 48 stitches
Rib in K2, P2 for eight inches (at this point, you could make it into a sock!)
Knit a simple buttonhole: Bind off five stitches at any point, and continue row. When you circle around to the gap, CO five stitches and continue row. When you circle around again, knit and purl those five stitches in ribbing pattern, being careful to get as tight as you can so as not to create too big a hole (any hole will even out in a few rows.)
Continue 2X2 ribbing for two inches.
Switch to K1,P1 ribbing for six rows, and bind off.
That's it! A tube with a hole.
You could add a stripe of some sort to the wrist, so it's easier to tell which way is up when they are off.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Is it Curtains for Sweater Knitting?

The other day I was cleaning my front closet and came across my old pattern book of "Irish Knits." Years ago I made three sweaters from this book, and would love to make my son-in-law one for his birthday, but unless I knit it out of baby yarn, that's out of the question.

We bought this old wreck of a house in 1977. Car was working in a laundry and I typed dissertations on the kitchen table (on a typewriter). Our daughter was in first grade, and Car and I had just enrolled in college. What better time to take on a mortgage? (Yes, we both finished college, but it took us nine years. Car in math and me in English.)

I used to ride my red bike over to Ben Franklin and buy crochet cotton, and, in 1978, finished filet curtains for the house, one ball at a time. The little one shown here is in the back hall, and I see it every day.

Make of this what you will. I guess it shows that home and family last a lot longer than most sweaters, and I'd better be thankful that I have both. (If someone had told me that some day I'd take this picture with a digital camera and post it on the internet, I would have said, "Huh?") Maybe someday, some other young person will come through that door to buy my old bags of yarn and wonder why I bought what I did.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First project--Baby Hats

Our library has a lot of TV series on DVD, and Ricardo and I discovered some gems. We just finished the MacBeth mystery series, set in Scotland (BBC), and now are watching a police procedural series called Blue Murder (also British). We watch one or two episodes a night, and I can usually get a baby hat done during that time. Since my youngest grandchild is already six, I'm making hats and booties for the teen mother shelter near our home.

This pattern, with a big floppy flower on top, is one of the cutest. It's from a library book, 100 Hats to Knit and Crochet. I don't have a convenient baby to use as a model, but the hats just fit over a little snow globe.

Last night I was going through another library book--Woman's Day Crochet Showcase--looking for thread patterns. I found this interesting adult hat pattern and made it up out of some small balls. I don't know if I can stretch enough of the lighter pink out to make matching mittens, but maybe I can make some out of white and just put in a little pink for trim. I have enough of the dark pink to make another hat, so hate to squander that yet. Decisions, decisions. I don't know why the picture came through so small. It's my second day blogging, and there is a lot to learn.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Pattern: Matinee Dishcloth

I began my yarn buying moritorium on March 7th, and this was on the needles, so it doesn't really count as my finished used yarn projects. Look! I have about half a ball left, which can go into the used yarn stash. (According to my rules, any partial ball I have on hand is fair game.)
Here's the pattern:

Needles: size 7

Yarn: Sugar 'n Cream by Lily

Note: This is a smallish cloth, since the pattern is very loose. It really needs the seed stitch border to keep the bottom from scalloping too much. I also used slip stitches along the sides, which also helps.
Slip all stitches as if to purl
CO 37 stitches.
Border: Sl1, (K1, P1) to end. Repeat for four rows.
Begin pattern rows:
Row 1. Sl, K2, (K2tog, K1, YO, K1, YO, K1, P2tbl, K1), rep to last two stitches, K2
Row 2. Sl1, K1, P to last two stitches, K2.
Repeat these two rows 19 times (20 pattern repeats)
Repeat border, Bind off.

The Beginning: $20 and a small stash of yarn

I once was a yarn snob. I once had some disposible income. Those days are gone, probably never to return. Now, medical expenses and a loss of income make it impossible to pay for even the basic necessities. But, I can't imagine life without knitting or crochet, or a life without making beautiful gifts for my friends and family. So, I set out to see how I could find enough yarn to make gifts, on a budget of $20 a year. It's turning out to be easier than I expected. It may not be the yarn I would have chosen to buy, but the challenge is a lot more fun than I expected.

This journey began at an estate sale. I was looking for a few glass pie pans. In the corner of the living room I spied a large black trash bag with a label reading simply "yarn $2.00". "Please don't open the bag," a woman in an apron snapped, as I pushed it with my foot to move it closer. "It's stuffed full." I paid her, dragged the bag to the door. and struggled to pull it down the street and load it into my car.

The anticipation was incredible. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. Then I opened it up and slowly piled the contents on my rug. Did I already say it wasn't what I would have bought? Well, if I did, it bears repeating. But it was full of possibilities. The dear departed craftswoman was clearly a maker of doilies and tablecloths, as the bag held more than 20 full or partial balls of crochet cotton, and four cones of white cotton bedspread thread, and also some tatting supplies. Under that layer, though, were some more interesting treasures. Seven skeins of a thin white 100% cotton boucle, half a large cone of yellow kitchen cotton, three skeins of Luster Sheen (the only non-cotton yarn), a book of patterns for clothespin Christmas ornaments and---the very best part--a green felt roll tied with a very tattered, wide grosgrain ribbon which opened to reveal a large collection of knitting needles and crochet hooks., including sock needles in all sizes and a set of vintage needles made out of some sort of yellow plastic topped with little red hearts stamped with the sizes. (Pictures on the way.)

I'm no stranger to thread crochet, having made filet curtains in the past. But that was about 30 years ago, when I had more patience, better eyesight, and before knitting took over as my main craft outlet. So that first night I experimented for hours wth knitting the thread single, doubled, and mixing the weights and colors. By the time I realized it was almost dawn, I had discovered that huge pile of thread had a lot of promise.

I was hooked on mystery bags of yarn, and decided to see if any more bags were sitting around waiting for someone like me.

It didn't take long for me to find another estate sale, and another stuffed bag. This bag was a dollar and the top was open. It was full of baby yarns, including two unfinished baby sweaters and a freezer bag full of little pastel squares knit in garter stitch. Most of the balls were unused, but the bottom of the bag was filled with odds and ends of various yarns. Besides the baby yarns there were several balls of novelty yarns, a ball of Woolease, and some blue and white variegated acrylic. Have I already mentioned this was not yarn I would have chosen? But I bought it.

That weekend we went to the Blind Association thrift shop, where, with my senior discount, I bought a plastic bag full of yarn ends for $2.60. Finally, something I might have bought myself. There were some rather nice wool bits, and quite a few ends of mystery yarn, all in solids and whites, a skein of Patons Evita, two of Patons Pooch, and a pair of pink wooden purse handles. The bag was about a quarter of the size of the first two, but I was satisfied.

And so the journey began with an expenditure of $5.60, yielded a lot of weird yarns, but filled me with excitement. This blog will record my progress on my projects, and detail how I spend the other $14.40.