June 5, 2016

Bovary Blues

I decided to knit the Bovary socks from General Hogbuffer on Ravelry with some purple sock yarn my sister picked up for $2 at a garage sale. I thought the plainness of the solid-colored yarn would be a nice contrast to the extreme lacy zigzag drama going on in the pattern.

I cast on 64 stitches on size 1 needles for the medium size listed in the pattern and didn't do any gauge swatching since that's a pretty standard stitch count/needle size for me. I knit all the way down past the gusset with only minor problems (missing a YO or a decrease here and there, etc.), only to discover the sock is very, very tight. I can just barely squeeze it onto my foot.

The socks will turn out too snug for most adults, so I'll have to frog the project. It's sad to figure this out after I've sunk so much time into this sock. It'll take a bit more time to mentally prepare myself to rip it all out.

The fancy gusset and extended chain pattern down the length of the foot are new styles I haven't seen before. Maybe I'll attempt it in the larger size, since it's an interesting and fun (albeit intense) pattern. It's been nice having a small project that I can bring to work and do a few rows on each day during my lunch break.

February 29, 2016

Fingerless Gloves for Finger Hands

This is baby hand. It's really a tiny man hand, but my sister and I call it baby hand. Check out her Tumblr to see what adventures baby hand is getting up to!

Anyways, I had a bunch of scrap sock yarn laying around and decided to make baby hand a fingerless glove (or seven). This is my first attempt at writing a pattern, so if anyone tries it, please me know if it's understandable! I'm pretty good at reading knitting patterns, but figuring out how to write this short, fairly simple pattern was way harder than I anticipated. For a downloadable version of the pattern, check out the Ravelry page.

Fingering/sock weight yarn, approximately 3 grams per glove
Set of 5 US size 1 (2.25mm) double pointed needles
Yarn needle
Optional: stitch marker, cable needle

This project is so tiny it's not really worth making a gauge swatch. If you still feel compelled to check, 9 stitches and 12 rows = 1” in stockinette.

k: knit
p: purl
kfb: increase by knitting in the front and back loop of the stitch before pulling it off the needle
c6f: (cable 6 front) a six stitch left-twisting cable. Instead of using a cable needle, I leave 3 stitches on the double pointed needle and pull the whole needle in front. Knit the next 3 stitches, slide the 3 reserved stitches onto the left needle, and knit them.
c6b: (cable 6 back) a six stitch right-twisting cable. Put the needle with the first 3 stitches behind the work, knit the next 3 stitches, slide the 3 reserved stitches onto the left needle, and knit them.
k2tog: decrease by knitting two stitches together

Right Glove
Cast on 24 stitches and distribute evenly on four needles (6 stitches per needle). I use the longtail cast on, but you can use any cast on you prefer. Join, being careful not to twist the stitches.
Row 1: K1, p1, repeat to end of row.
Row 2-8: Continue in k1, p1 rib.
Row 9: K1, kfb, k2, kfb, k1, repeat to end of row. (32)
Row 10: K12, p1, c6f, p1, k12.
Row 11-13: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 14: K12, p1, c6f, p1, k12.
Row 15-16: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 17: K12, p1, k6, p1, k7, slip last stitch over as if to bind off, k1, slip last stitch over as if to bind off, k1, slip stitch over as if to bind off, k3.
Row 18: K12, p1, c6f, p1, k5, cast on 3 stitches using the backwards loop cast on, k4.
Row 19-21: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 22: K12, p1, c6f, p1, k12.
Row 23: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 24: K1, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k1, repeat to end of row. (24)
Bind off and weave in ends.

Left Glove
Cast on 24 stitches and distribute evenly on four needles (6 stitches per needle). This pattern is the same as the right glove except the cable goes the other way and the thumb hole (rounds 17-18) is on the other side.
Row 1: K1, p1, repeat to end of row.
Row 2-8: Continue in k1, p1 rib.
Row 9: K1, kfb, k2, kfb, k1, repeat to end of row. (32)
Row 10: K12, p1, c6b, p1, k12.
Row 11-13: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 14: K12, p1, c6b, p1, k12.
Row 15-16: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 17: K6, slip last stitch over as if to bind off, k1, slip last stitch over as if to bind off, k1, slip last stitch over as if to bind off, k4, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 18: K4, cast on 3 stitches using the backwards loop cast on, k5, p1, c6b, p1, k12.
Row 19-21: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 22: K12, p1, c6b, p1, k12.
Row 23: K12, p1, k6, p1, k12.
Row 24:K1, k2tog, k2, k2tog, k1, repeat to end of row. (24)
Bind off and weave in ends.

January 24, 2016

Broken Seed Stitch Socks

Let me just start by saying that these are the best, most wearable socks I have made yet. I actually finished the first pair quite a while ago but writing this post has been on the back burner since I've been busy with a new-ish job and lots of Christmas knitting. January's almost over and I'm still finishing up the second pair of these socks as a (very late) Christmas present for my aunt.

The broken seed stitch pattern makes these socks go a little slower than the stockinette socks I've been making recently, but it's gorgeous. It looks like little scales! For the finished pair, I used Paton's Kroy Socks in Blue Stripe Ragg and Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Serenity Sock in soft white. I picked up metal size 1 needles from Joann and used them for the first time on this project. They're longer than my bamboo size needles and I prefer the feel of them. I used my regular number of stitches (64) and the socks turned out perfectly snug.

The second pair uses the same white yarn and the same Paton's Kroy Socks yarn in another colorway- Cascade Colors. The color variation in the yarn gets super muted in this pattern due to being mixed with the white, but the socks still look pretty.

In the first pair of socks, I had issues with getting the two colors of yarn in the right place to pick up after the heel. I had to cut the yarn and reattach it when I got back around to the right spot. Because this pattern is more of a "recipe" than a pattern, it doesn't go into detail about where to change colors.

For the second pair, I tried out the method from the Rose City Rollers where you knit the heel flap and heel like normal but pick up an extra stitch on each side when starting the gusset and start the gusset decreases half a round later than usual. This means you begin your round at the start of the instep instead of the middle of the heel. It's hard to describe over text, but it worked for me and I recommend taking a look at the gusset and gusset decreases section of the Rose City Rollers pattern to help with the Broken Seed Stitch socks if you're having issues.

The only other change I would make if I knit these again is to do a stretchier cast on. I used the long tail method for both of these pairs and it makes it a little hard to pull on your foot.

November 1, 2015

Zipper Pouch Tutorial

I love making zipper pouches like this because they're useful for a wide variety of things. I have one I use as a makeup bag when I travel and another I use to bring my lunch to work.

For this bag, I used the faux chenille fabric I made a few days ago, a pink 9" zipper, and some green scrap fabric for the lining. Cut the fabric the same width as the length of the zipper, including the ends. Make the other dimension the depth you want your bag to be plus extra for the seam allowance.

Start by pinning one piece of your outer material, zipper, and one piece of your lining material material together. The top side of the zipper should face the right side of the outer material.

Once sewn, it should look like the picture above. Pin the outer fabric and lining together, right sides out.

Topstitch along the edge near the zipper to secure the fabric and keep it from catching in the zipper.

Do the same for the other side of the bag.

Unzip the zipper about halfway and pin the outer fabrics together and the lining fabrics together, right sides in. Starting along the bottom of the lining fabric, stitch along the perimeter of the fabric. Stop sewing a few inches before you get to the starting stitches to leave a hole that the pouch can be turned through. Pink or trim the edges, cutting extra close to the corners to avoid bunching.

Flip your bag right side out and stitch the hole closed either by hand or machine.

Tada! A nice little bag for whatever you want.

October 29, 2015

Faux Chenille Tutorial

A few days ago my mom's friend gave me three big bins filled with small bits and pieces of fabric leftover from projects. Almost all of the prints are hideous, which made it a perfect opportunity to try out faux chenille. Faux chenille is a layering technique that showcases the print of the top fabric and uses the rest of the layers to create an interesting texture without being seen.

To make faux chenille, you need 4-5 pieces of natural, woven fabric in order for it to fray nicely when cut. Quilting cotton and flannel work well; I used four square layers of cotton for this piece. I'm going to use my faux chenille panel to make a lined zipper pouch, so I stacked all my layers with the right sides up since the back side of the fabric will be hidden. If you are making a blanket, the fabric that you are keeping intact (the green and white floral in this case) needs to face the opposite way as the other layers since it'll be visible.

After stacking the layers, pin them together and mark a line diagonally from corner to corner. Keeping the layers of fabric you will be cutting through on top, stitch along the line. Using the presser foot as a guide, keep sewing lines across the fabric until the entire surface is covered. Don't bother backstitching, making knots, or trimming thread ends as you go since the whole piece will be trimmed down at the end.

Every once in a while, check that everything's staying straight and that the layers aren't getting too many wrinkles in them. This technique is fairly forgiving if your lines aren't perfectly straight or if the fabric bunches a little.

Use a rotary cutter or scissors to square up the sides and trim away excess thread and fabric.

Cut between each stitch line, snipping all but the bottom layer.

At this point, the fabric doesn't look too exciting. The real magic happens after washing and drying the material a few times when the fabric starts to curl and fuzz up.

The main thing I realized sewing faux chenille is that it takes a loooong time and a lot of thread. It took me about 20 minutes to sew all the lines on a 13" square and about as long to make all the cuts. It's a neat technique that I'll probably try out a few more times, but I don't think I'd ever have the patience to make a whole blanket.

October 17, 2015

Rose City Rollers, Round 2

I liked knitting the Rose City Rollers pattern so much that I knit another pair while on a rockhounding road trip with my mom to Utah last month. They make a perfect travel project since they're so small and packable.

I used Patons Kroy Socks FX yarn in Clover Colors, a nice fall blend of greens and oranges. It has a standard mix of 75% washable wool and 25% nylon but is thicker than other sock yarns I've used. As a result, the socks lean towards slipper-like and will be nice to wear around the house in the winter.

I thought I might be able to get away with one skein, but that was not the case. I got about one and a third socks done before I ran out of yarn.

The color of each skein varies quite a bit but I picked the closest match at Jo-Ann's and the second sock is only a little brighter than the first. I made these ones for myself, but future variations might be making an appearance at Christmas.

September 20, 2015

Koi Dress (McCall's 6887)

My mom brought me this beautiful koi print fabric from Hawaii and I was excited to use if for this pattern. It's got the slightest bit of stretch to it and sews up so easily. After sewing McCall's 6887 the first time, I realized I should probably make a muslin before trying it again so I could get a better fit for the bodice. I sewed a combo of views A and B (sleeveless A-line with no back cutout) in size 20. This time, I modified the A/B cup bodice side front piece to eliminate excess fabric on the top of the bust and the fit is much better.

I didn't have any material that would work for a lining (and this fabric doesn't need it, anyway) so I used a bias facing. I could have been a little more careful about pressing it in further so the bias tape doesn't show from the front, but it's not bad for my first time.

Another skill I've recently acquired is serging! My mom found a White Speedylock 299D serger at a thrift store for $30 and I picked up four different colors of serger thread from Salvation Army for a dollar apiece. Having four colors helped a ton in figuring out tension settings. I'm using it only for inner seams so it doesn't matter that the serged edge is teal, purple, black, and white.

I got a little scared since everything I've read online about this model says it's one to avoid, but after looking through the manual and watching a lot of Youtube tutorials it's up and running with no issues. It makes finishing seams so quick and they look so much more professional than pinking them, which is what I usually did before. I want to serge everything now!

To fix the issues with the skirt panels, I redrafted the side and back pieces to match the bodice seams. It wasn't hard at all and worked way better than the original pattern. I meant to make pockets but got too excited about serging and finished the side seams before putting them in. Oops! The fit is (almost) perfect and I look forward to tweaking future versions to make it even better. I already have a fabric in mind...