Saturday, December 29, 2007

Color Me Happy


My hat and fingerless gloves are done and I couldn't be happier. I must say this alpaca yarn is a delight to wear. The hat is warm and soft, and so light you almost forget you have it on. The gloves are the same. Two skeins almost did it all, but I had to use a small bit of a third. That means the hat and gloves weighs just over 100 grams. No wonder these Alpaca critters are so popular. I did get a lot of practice picking up stitches on the hat using double points. I still have my old metal needles and this soft yarn and a lot of stitches led to the obvious result of stitches sliding off the ends. I've had enough practice ! Time to look for more of those nice bamboo circular needles.

Now the question is , would a scarf be too much? Can I stand that much luxury? I wore the hat and gloves yesterday and they are toasty. Of course here in upstate New York, January and February can be FRIGID. I think I'll risk it.

Christmas Present


One of my favorite presents at Christmas is the yarn that I get from my beautiful, very busy daughter. She visits her local yarn shop and picks out some luscious yarn that she wishes she had time to work with. It's great for me because it adds something gorgeous to my stash with absolutely no guilt . This year she gave it to me wrapped in the shop bag. I love the name of the store, "Knit and Be Happy". Those are words to live by. The yarn is Lifestyle, one of those magical sock yarns. Now let me see, where did I put that sock pattern? For now, these interesting balls of yarn will look great sitting around in a nice basket. I'm sure Martha Stewart would approve.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Boots are just the beginning


Who thought that a pair of wild raspberry boots could lead to so much? First let me say I LOVE these boots! They give winter in upstate New York a new feel like no black or brown boots ever could. I'm proud to say that I didn't go out and get a new coat to go with these Land's End Overstock boots, BUT I did order luscious Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush yarn for gloves , hat and scarf. Of course since I was ordering anyway, some more Galway in colors I needed for Undersea bags was a given. We won't discuss how much these bargain boots have cost me so far. I still LOVE them!!!

Now to start with the gloves. Let me say I knitted a pair of fingerless gloves in alpaca before and they are the best! Since I never started my knitters notebook,( You know the one we should keep with yarn , pattern , needle size etc. so we can repeat something if we want to.) [2008 Knitter's Resolution # 1] I had to find a new pattern. I'm using a pattern that I found online at Interweave Knits. It's called Progressive Gloves.

The directions are given to adjust size according to your gauge. So far I'm impressed. As it happens my hand is exactly the size of the sample. The knitting you see is the beginning of a glove." Why should I do a round with 28 stitches" I thought. "After all Elizabeth Zimmerman says to check your gauge with a hat." I have to try a needle size smaller on this piece to see if the gauge is correct. If not, I will follow the directions!

I think this pattern is a good place to try your wings at making something based on your gauge. You will hear more about this later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Grass is Greener !


I had some time to sit and wait so I grabbed the green Galway and some Foxy that I had around. I know, I know another bag, but I knit according to my moods. The bag turned out so much like grass(the lawn kind!) that I did an six stitch I cord woolly bear to hang out on it. I used Fun Fur and had to give him a haircut because he was way too woolly! I sewed him onto a pin back. After all he may want to move around the grass a bit.

It's right about now that I usually think I will stop knitting until after the holidays. Don't bet the farm on it! If I'm sittin, I'm knittin.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dragon Fire


I did the back! I often wondered why most patterns start with the back. Now I know. It’s so you can work out the kinks before you get to the front. There the dinosaur is, in all his glory. I know he’s a dinosaur, a stegosaurus, to be exact, but I refer to him as the “dragon” since we both seem to breathe fire at each other. The pattern calls for some handwork, embroidery, on the beast to fill in the feet, mouth, eye, and some design work on the body. But that comes later. It’s actually called “finishing work”.
I reached the neck shaping and realized that I didn’t have the right number of stitches. Remember, I had started out to use the other pattern with this design, due to the gauge problem. Then I switched to the original pattern during the stripes. Of course, the number of stitches to be bound off and decreased didn’t add up to what I had so I did what I think is a ratio. I put the number I had (which was smaller) over the number the pattern should have had (which was larger) and I divided. I then used this number (which was a decimal) to multiply the number of stitches the pattern wanted me to use and after much rounding off I made it come out to within one stitch! (I just added that on) It looks like the picture but now I have to remember to do all of this on the front and then on the sleeve shaping. Flames! Huge flames are coming out of his mouth!
I did learn something about intarsia though. One has to look a row ahead to see where the color dropped is going to be picked up. If it’s further along the row, it has to be carried along to there. If it is back some, it has to be carried as you are moving back. I have many too many strands in the back of the beast. One day I’ll show you a picture of that, but not now. It’s just too discouraging.
He’s sort of neat though, isn’t he?Now I have to do it all over again for the front! Only with a different number of rows and a different bind off so there will be more ratios to do (if they are ratios).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Intarsia Gauge


I owed my grandson a birthday sweater. I actually knitted one but he has moved from baby patterns to older kid patterns. Sweater patterns have directions for the smallest size and then, in parenthesis, follow the numbers for the next 3 or 4 larger sizes. I am so used to counting over three spaces because he was wearing the biggest size on the baby pattern. So, clever person I am, I automatically counted over three spaces and made him a sweater that will fit him when he graduates from high school,
Undaunted, I ordered more yarn. I chose Red-Heart super saver, a great stand-by for a kid’s sweater and when I got the yarn, I proceeded to make swatches. The yarn felt sort of like brillo. I’m sure, if I had made a sweater from it, it would have stood up by itself. So I looked around and found the company now has a yarn called Red-Heart soft and it is pretty much the same price but it comes in very few colors. I ordered it. It felt good. Swatches were great. But, they didn’t work with the pattern. Why isn’t all worsted weight yarn the same gauge?
A word about pattern books; they are usually sponsored by a yarn company and all the patterns are knitted using that company’s yarn. This one was sponsored by Rowan, a lovely yarn. One skein of the required yarn, only 100 yards per skein, cost over $8.00. One skein of 240 yards of the Red-Heart was $2.89. I love my grandsons but kids tend to finger paint in whatever they are wearing. When they eat, most of what falls off the fork, lands on the sweater. The sleeves are used as napkins. $8.00 per skein (and the pattern called for 5 colors) was really not an option.
What to do? Figure out what the stitch and row count for the yarn I had would be by using a calculator. Simple. Of course, one has to know whether to multiply or divide and what numbers to use for either of these. I found several formulas in several books. I didn’t understand any of them. Above is a picture of the notebook pages I used trying to figure out my gauge.
I had just gotten a great book by Ann Budd called the knitter's handy book of sweater patterns and, since I’ve been using only top down in the round sweaters, I picked a pattern which is called drop shouldered and everything is rectangular or triangular so even I could sew the sleeves on.
I began knitting away and discovered that, though I had worked on stitch count, I hadn’t paid much attention to the row count. The pattern had a bunch of stripes on the bottom and then an intarsia chart above. The pattern I was using started with the back of the sweater and the front had to have 14 fewer rows. I measured and saw that the way I was going, the sweater was going to reach his knees. Eventually I realized I was making just too many changes at one time. So I decided to go with the pattern from the original book using just the math for the gauge changes. That means set in sleeves. O.K. I’m up for this.
I had already knitted all the stripes and realized I had to take out three sets of them, 18 rows. Actually did it and now I’m up to the dinosaur chart. Someday I want to be a “fine” knitter. I have realized it will require much “frogging”. That’s al right with me, whatever it takes.
When I actually complete this sweater, I have to do the whole process again for his younger brother’s sweater. I think I can use the pattern from the Budd book because all I have to do is put the Superman symbol on it. Oh, and his mom would like it to have a hood. But think of all I will have learned! If you hear a scream tonight, off in the distance, it’s me, trying to knit a dragon and come out with only 92 rows including an extra 14 rows before the neck shaping.
. . . Neck shaping?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Intarsia Part 1


A few months ago, I thought intarsia was something on a menu in an Italian bistro: intarsia in red sauce. Then Knit One started making all of those felted bags with pictures and I realized that life as I knew it would never be the same. Although intarsia does come from an Italian root word, it has nothing to do with food. It’s a form of torture that makes lovely pictures on one side of a sweater while leaving all sorts of twisted and confused threads on the back side of the work.
Of course, it is impossible to do if you are knitting a sweater in the round with no seams. If you try, the color you need when you come around to the start of the image is at the other end of the row and you have to add a new strand for each row. Not a pretty picture.
So, not only was I going to have to figure out how to change colors in the middle of a row without leaving a gaping hole, I was also going to have to knit sweaters in pieces and sew them together. I have been trying to avoid this for years! Only those of you who think Barbara Walker is a true genius and who are addicted to patterns by “Knitting Pure and Simple” can understand my anxiety.
It looks so simple when Knit does it but I just get a tangled mess in the back that has to be untangled every row. I even tried bobbins, those cute little plastic thingies you wind a small amount of yarn on but they just got entangled with each other and made it almost impossible for me to tame the yarn. Kafe Fassett says to just leave a small amount of yarn, unwound, just hanging there. Of course, I think one of the people in his studio probably gets to do the untangling so I’m not so sure I’ll go with that. Knit says to use small amounts of yarn and to wind them into “butterflies” and then rewind them after they’ve been used. I tried that but with counting stitches, checking the chart, winding at a color change so the fabric will be hole free my mind forgets to remind me to make the butterflies.
The photo above is for a baby sweater and it’s a giraffe. Even from the front you can see all those evil strands of yarn. I haven’t gotten to the head yet, and, yes, I know he has no legs but they get knit separately and get sewn on later so they can swing around. It’s a grand idea for an infant but older boys would give a leg one pull and off it would come. I needed a big boy picture.
Enter charts and graphs. But that’s part two of the story and will have to wait till part two.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Learn from My Mistakes


3. White wool does not felt well. I didn't want to believe it. I read it somewhere that the bleaching process used to make wool white impedes the felting process. However, I wanted to do this Mondrian, so I asked the yarn company before I ordered the white, and they told me some people had no problem with the white felting properly. Thinking that I would be one of those people, I ordered the yarn. For my first attempt, I felted a plain white bag to use for needle felting. The white became muddied and the stitches were still visible. I blamed the jeans that I was using in the wash with the bag and thought more time was needed. (I was in denial!)

Something told me I was pushing the envelope so I charted my Mondrian and started a potholder instead of a bag. The potholder is from Knit It Felt It . I made a set of these before, and I love using them. Moisture doesn't seep through and you can throw them in the wash, just not the dryer.

The picture says it all. My potholder is crooked. The white is not felted and it is discolored. Mondrian would not be pleased , and neither am I. Well, I was warned and now you have been too!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another one hooked on felting


Remember Helen? She didn't think she wanted to try felting. Knit talked her into knitting a bag and she liked it just the way it was. As more and more felted bags started appearing, Helen decided to try the process. Shazzam! An instant felter (just add hot water) (sorry, couldn't resist). Above is the collection she appeared with at our last gathering. This stuff is dangerous.

Knit took a whole week to felt her own bag. So I guess the intervention didn't take. She broke down and she's off and running again but I'm happy to report she's doing "swimmingly".

Thanksgiving - what to do with those leftovers?


Jeanne made a larger bag with a more complicated bead design. This meant she had to get extra yarn and beads. Once the bag was done, Jeanne found herself with leftovers. At this time of the year we're all thinking of leftovers but I don't think we can be as creative with turkey as Jeanne was with her extra yarn and beads. She made a hat! She designed it and the top is very interesting. I think it's lovely and I wish I had thought of it.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and next time you are looking at those extra bits and pieces in your stash, think of Jeanne.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Under the Sea Bag #3


That's a Green Moray! Yes, I tried to quit at least for awhile. A week is a good length for a vacation isn't it? This bag really is still wet. You can see the towel in the background . I had to adjust his eye a little for the picture. I sewed it on with nylon thread so that I could put the seed bead inside the crow bead. It dropped down like a bead on a jiggly bag (I should have known this would happen.) I will redo it when the bag is dry. In case you are wondering where the salt water fish thing is coming from, I used to have a shop with lots of fish. These are better, no tank to clean, no food to buy and they don't get ick and die.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Under the Sea Bag # 2


Yellow Tang with Red Ball Sponge: This bag is flat except for the fin on the tang , and a little duplicate stitch on the sponge to give it a more round appearance. There is one more undersea bag ready to felt, but I am taking a bag vacation. If you are curious about the next bag, I'll give you a hint. That's a moray!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sharing the fun 2!

This bag is Helen's. She went for a fuzzy look and a new shape in elegant black.

Sharing the fun!








Here are some more bags from our "fence painting party."Below is Rebecca's Bag with beautiful color blending and an original bead design. On the right is Nancy's bag with knit in bobbles for a great textural effect.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Under the Sea Bag # 1


I finally got up my nerve and felted the Sebae clown fish with Anemone. I took the photo , and I have to admit the bag is still a little wet, but after all it is a fish. This is now, without a doubt until the next one, my very favorite bag. There is a beaded bag on the needles, but the next undersea bag is definitely sloshing around in my head.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Easier? Intarsia Bag


For me this bag was like reading Harry Potter. I just couldn't put it down. The photo is the bag before felting. I will screw up my courage and felt it soon, but I'm spending some time with it as it is first.

I decided to do an Intarsia bag differently. First chart a design you wish to follow. Graph paper with nice big squares works nicely . You will need 62 squares in width. Scotch tape might be needed to accomplish this . Find your crayons and get creative.

Materials and needles are the same as Knit One's Bag of Tricks.

Start with knit on cast on for 60 (62) stitches. Mark the center line , which will be the side seam of your bag. Now knit following your chart. In my case the back of the bag is just blue. When you have finished your chart, leave the stitches on your needle. Now is a good time to neatly finish all of your ends. Get out your tapestry needle and sew the bottom seam , then sew up the open side seam. Mark the beginning of the round . Now begin to knit in the round doing knit 1 row, purl one row for 8 rows. For the bind off row , Knit 2 , bind of until 2 stitches remain. End knit 2. Now work I cord for your strap to desired length. Finish the end with Purl Too's tab for sewing the strap onto the bag if you like.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where's Knit One?

I've been tagging, and counting and madly finishing all the UFOs I could for the Christmas Craft Fair that I participate in every year. I do this with a friend who crochets Christmas ornaments, incredible sheep, Canada geese , Sand Hill Cranes and swans. Forgive the shameless plug, but the show is held at the Shaker Heritage Society site in Albany, NY 10 AM to 4PM, from Oct. 27 to Dec. 20 (Closed Sundays) Phone 518-456-7890 for more information from one of those friendly machines we all love so much or email me at closeknitfriends@gmail.com. It really is a lovely show, a great place to Christmas shop, and if you are in the Albany area it would give you a chance to see my bags " in the felt" Check out the size of the wooley bear in the photo!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Give her a felted bag and she'll be thrilled, but teach her how and look out


We have been receiving such extraordinary comments on our felted bags that we were asked to give a class in felting. What a time we had. It wound up being two classes since many people were anxious to begin and so we had a small “pre” class. For this reason there were several completed bags at the teach-in.
The one pictured is by Barbara. The yarn is several shades of a Galway purple and she jazzed it up with an old costume jewelry pin she happened to have.
Speaking of yarn, we have been added to the blog at Yarnware and are returning the favor. The company has lovely yarn, much of our Galway came from there and the best part is that they are having a fantastic sale right now, as we speak. Even the Addis are on sale! Knit and I were commenting that one of the best fringe benefits of yarn is that it has no calories. A totally guiltless vice, except for the price but Yarnware is taking care of that this month.More photos of the group and the bags will follow. I know all you serious bloggers know how to put several photos on one post but we don’t. If you’d like to let us in on your secrets we’d be most appreciative.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pink Hat


A while ago I received word that a dear friend had been tapped for a club which has too many members, none of whom want to belong. She was my daughter’s best friend in high school and is now a mother of two. So without thinking, out came my favorite addi 9 circs and a very soft yarn and before I knew it, I had a chemo cap. There was a time when I was very involved in knitting for need. One year I decided to make a cap a day, or at least 7 per week. I topped 400. Strangely, at that time, I actually knew no one who was in need of this headgear and they all got dropped off at oncology centers, hospitals, American Cancer (there, I’ve said the word) collection centers.
Now the hat has a head under it, so to speak. I have learned, over the years that they are not chemo caps; they are hats for people who have delicate scalps which are cool even in a warm home. Although I automatically slipped into my “classic cap” mode, any hat will do. They should be soft and fun and whimsical and dramatic and all those things hats were meant to be. I am working on a very Scarlet O’Hara tea on the verandah one now.
This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am more aware this year than I want to be.
Please, do something. If you don’t care to knit, give time, help, or money. I am a survivor of this insidious club which likes to make members of those who are much too young. One of my fondest hopes is to someday hear someone say, “Chemo cap? What’s a Chemo cap?”

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Grab and go 2


As promised, another in the grab and go series. This one works great with denim. I especially like it because it also uses one of those wonderful mosaic designs. It’s roomier than my other bags because when I’m in denim I usually need more stuff. Like a screwdriver, a Swiss Army Knife and other feminine essentials. All sorts of things seem to come up when I'm in casual mode and I do like to feel prepared. My daughter once told me I should always carry a Swiss Army Knife. Don’t know why but being a dutiful Mom, I do and this is just the bag for it. But I digress. Of course, denim or not, it does have a matching little bag and key chain. This set is absolutely on my way fave list especially since we're now getting into jean jacket weather.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hats Off


Isn't she a sweetie? I wanted to make a felted hat but all I had to dry it on was a series of bowls, none of which matched my head shape. So, Knit told me I could refelt it if I got a hat form. One of my friends is a craftaholic and when I mentioned to her that I needed a head form and asked if she happened to have one she said, "Sure, in the garage." And she went right to it. (How many of you could find something that quickly in your garage?). So I refelted and shaped it on Betty Boop here and it turned out just the way I planned it to. It was great fun and you'll probably start to see many felted hats in the future. They are light and very warm and keep the snow from soaking through.

Grab and Go 1


Well, I like to have my socks match my undies. I like to feel coordinated from the inside to the outside. So when I started to make felt bags I realized I needed a smaller bag to hold my credit cards and license and also a key ring that matched. I always empty my purses. I know most of us just keep shoving stuff into them until nothing is findable but I like to have a different small bag for different things like make-up, money, medicine, a key to my gym locker at the Y, and all of these get unpacked and put into another bag which matches (there’s that coordination thing again) my next outfit. Here are some of the results. This one is a brown beaded bucket shaped bag. Along with it are a smaller bag and a key ring. They fit comfortably into the bag with room for a book and a bottle of water. This is just the thing to “grab and go” when you have to make a trip to the supermarket or the lys.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tom Sawyer's Fence


Well, Purl Too and I finally got together the kits for our class. (See photo above) We included the mesh bag , the directions, the circular needle, the Galway yarn. Except for a temporary needle shortage , that all went smoothly. We gave everyone a choice of carry along novelty yarn , or beads and one intrepid knitter chose to do bobbles. We had a lot of fun and although the meeting was chaotic, everyone went home with bags in progress. We meet again on Oct.15th. I'm looking forward to the results. Maybe I'll have some photos to post. My big question is, who will be able to stop at just one bag? Time will tell!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Needle felted felted bag


Needle felting is a very artistic pursuit. I have seen wonderful pieces as thrilling as any painting or sculpture. I myself am at the crayon stage. I knew one of these bags would make a great base for the technique and it does. This bag was knitted with just two strands of yarn. It is not as firm as the 3 strand bag and you can see that the garter stitch is wider than the body of the bag. This was an accident as I was knitting away and not paying attention. So now I know what happens with two strands for an entire bag.

For those who are not familiar with needle felting, there are sharp needles involved. You need to put a small piece of foam inside the bag under where you are working. NEVER work in your lap. The process itself is rather satisfying, like sticking a voodoo doll.

My defense for this bag is that I was having trouble sleeping so I got up in the middle of the night to work on it and you can see the results. I think it looks a little better in real life than in the photo. Hope it doesn't end up on You knit What 2 .

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bobble Bag Variation

You can see a picture of this bag by looking at Pandora's Bag.

Bobble:
Row 1:(RS) K1,P1,K1,P1,K1, into the same stitch, turn
Row 2 (WS)P5 turn.
Row 3 (RS) k5 turn.
Row 4 (WS) P 5 ,turn.
Row 5 (RS) Sl 2, K 3 tog, pass two slip stitches over (1 st)
Bobble complete.

Beginning at (3) add your third strand of yarn.

Knit 4 rows.

Bobble Row: K2, *make bobble, K4 **, repeat from *to ** until 2 stitches remain, K2.
K 1 row. These two rows can be done in a different color.

Repeat the last 6 rows until desired length. End with knit 4 rows. Continue pattern at (4)

September has been flying by like the birds flying south. The coming frost has us all on the move. The garden calls, but Purl Too and I are working on getting the materials together to teach our knitting group how to make a felt bag. The pile of Galway at my house right now is staggering. The crow bead count is way up too. We just have to get the kits together. I feel like Tom Sawyer painting the fence, but what good is fun, if you can't share it with your friends!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

How to leave a comment.

I was so sure that the caterpillar would get a comment or two. Nope, it didn't happen. Here's how to leave a comment on a post. Click where it says comment under the post in question. You will be asked to sign up for a Google email account. This is to prevent anonymous comments. Google email has some definite good stuff. There is unlimited storage, search capability and sending photos is a snap. (pun intended ) There are ads, but not much in this world is really free, and this is the USA where people sell advertising on their forehead. We do reserve the right to edit comments. Really how could we not?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fuzzy Caterpillar












Don't you just love a knitting project that allows you knit along and get into that repetitive motion relaxed state? I was working on a bag using Lion Brand Fun Fur in copper. It is at those times that knitting ideas pop into my head. Sometimes they are overly ambitious , sometimes silly. This time that wonderful, hairy yarn made me think of a woolly bear caterpillar. "What would you do with that?" I asked myself. The answer came "you can put it on the blog." With some black Fun Fur swapped with friend I was in business. I stuffed and felted him and attached magnetic jewelry clasps to each end. If you play with him too much, he curls up just like a real one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Papa Bear and Mama Bear




Well, now that we have established that I like small . . . I’d like to introduce you to Mama Bear and Papa Bear. Papa Bear is worked with a slip stitch mosaic pattern. I love it. It’s large enough for a weekender or a carry-on. Mamma Bear was bits and pieces of yarn I couldn’t bear to waste. The bottoms are flat so if you use them for project bags, they sit nicely on the floor and hold your work. Easy to get an afghan in the works into these babies. Don’t know what came over me. I’m back to small again. I am working on several baby bears all different heights.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Piece of Monet, Deux



This side of the bag is actually supposed to be a piece of a Monet painting. If you are a Monet fan, you might be able to tell what painting I was looking at when I was knitting this. The colors are not perfect and the shadowing on the path is missing. Anyway, j'aime ce sac.

There is a handle variation on this bag: Cast on 4 stitches. Knit 1 row, Purl 1 row, twice. (This is Purl Too's tab for sewing to the bag ) Change to I cord and make your strap the desired length. On your cast on row, cast on 28 stitches , place marker, cast on 28 stitches. Join the round. Knit 2, place marker. Now you can begin your rounds for the top band. This moves the strap to the side of the bag . Continue your bag at (3) in the Knit One's Bag of Tricks pattern.

A Piece of Monet



Look where Intarsia can take you! This side of my "Monet" is done by using 3 colors of yarn wound together to make blotches of color. It is pretty much random, not worked from a chart. Can you smell the flowers?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Slot Handle Variation



The bag can be made larger by adding more stitches, but keep the hole for the handle centered and the same size.

Cast on 60 stitches. Join round without twisting. Work in knit one round, purl one round for 6 rounds. Next round *K9, bind off 12 stitches, K8**. Repeat from * to **. Next round *P9, cast on 12 stitches, P9**. Repeat from * to **. Knit one round. Purl one round. Continue pattern at (3).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Landscape




Here it is, my first intarsia bag. I used the pattern in the round until I got to the landscape and then left the side seam open and worked back and forth , knit a row , purl a row. The back of the bag is about the same as the front although I did not follow a chart , just a rough sketch. Who has time to find the graph paper? The usual three needle bind off was used, and the side seam was closed last. I used Kaffe Fassett's hanging threads method having given up my bobbins years ago. The shape of the bag is a result of using two different yarns. The blue was from Purl Too's stash. You can see that is didn't felt the same as the Galway, so the top is wider than the bottom. I rather like the different shape. Color blending using different colors for the three strands opens up a whole new area to experiment with. (As if I need another one.) Take a tip from me and wind your 3 strands together for each color section. I did not take the photo of the bag connected to all those skeins of yarn it was TOO SCARY!!! There is some inevitable yarn tangling involved, but the results are definitely worth it. Try this, you'll like it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Small is Good Too



As you can see, Knit One knits 49 bags while I’m still casting on for one. Knit is very kind about this and points out that she has been playing with two sticks and a string for many more years than I have. I do wish I could keep up. In an effort to even the odds, I came up with a neat idea. I make them smaller! In my defense, I have to say that it’s not purely to finish them more quickly, I like small. Anyway, I use the same size needles and the same yarn but then the changes begin.

Step 1: I use the shoulder strap. When I cast on the three stitches I work in stockinet for 3 rows. This makes a nice tab to sew on to the other end when I am finished. I know that making a shoulder strap seems to lengthen the process instead of shortening it but I like shoulder straps. I do make them shorter than Knit One’s but I am a shorter person and like the feeling of the bag right under my arm so it works for me

Step 2: I only cast on 47 stitches so I have 50 stitches in the row. 10 stitches less doesn’t seem like much but it means 10 less stitches every row and it adds up. I haven’t added it up but I’m sure it must be less. I mark the beginning of the round and I also use a marker for the center of the round so I have 25 plus 25. I garter stitch for the eight rows just like the original pattern.

Step 3: I add the third strand of yarn and work for about 7 inches. At this point I start to decrease. After the starting marker, I knit one then knit two together. Two stitches before the middle marker I knit two together, slip marker, knit one and then knit two together. Knit to the two stitches before the first marker and knit two together. Next row I knit.

Step 4: I continue this manner of decreasing until I have 14 stitches left, 7 between each marker. I turn the bag inside out, and work a three needle bind off. Since I’m using circular needles, I don’t slip any stitches off to another needle, I just hold them together and use a third needle to do the knitting. I’m not sure this saves time but it saves me dropping stitches which I frequently do when transferring from one needle to another. Picking up stitches really adds to my knitting time. Then I stitch the end of the I cord to the bag at the other side. Since it has a little flat tab, it is easier to sew on than the tube the I cord makes. I’m also into simpler. Anything that makes it easier is good.

The rest is the same. Maybe one day I’ll figure out a way to shorten the felting method.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Even More Bags?


Yes, I'm still at it. More colors seem to be needed and we all know what that means... MORE YARN! Hope my friends and family hold off on the intervention that I obviously need. I'm still having too much fun. There are so many different things to try, perhaps a landscape? Purl Too has been busy too, but sadly her computer is unwell. With good luck we will hear from her soon.

Friendly Felted Flower



I just had to share my birthday present from Purl Too! What could be better than a present made by a close knit friend? I'm a lucky girl!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Results!













You really are out there. A brave soul has tried our pattern and has sent us photos of it. The first photo is the bag pre-felting and the second is post felting. The yarn was from Lion Brand and it didn’t felt quite the way the Galway from Plymouth does. In a case like this, sometimes going through the felting process once or twice more will cause it to felt more. We are so excited to have one of you participate and tell your story. We would love it if more of you shared your experiences with photos so we can post them. Just send your e-mail with photo attached to closeknitfriends@gmail.com. We’d also love to see any variations you may have made to the pattern. We’re not alone! How lovely!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Learn From My Mistakes


2. Crow beads eat seed beads! I started off my first beaded bag in the usual way. I chose my beads (turquoise crow beads and # 6 seed beads from Fire Mountain. I charted my design on graph paper for both the front and back of the bag. I strung the beads in order on one strand of my yarn and got ready to knit. Things were going swimmingly until I got to a place where I needed a seed bead and had a crow bead instead. “How stupid” I thought, “You’ve miscounted again.” I broke the yarn and added the necessary seed bead, reattached my bead string and continued. Now I had an extra seed bead. Muttering to myself, I removed the offending bead. Now I was moving along and again another seed bead is missing. I decided that a recount of my bead string was definitely necessary. AHA! Seed beads were stuck in the holes of the crow beads. In the case of the first one the hole in the crow bead was large enough to let the seed bead pass through it to the other side. Undaunted, I got a # 3 knitting needle and used it to unwedge the seed beads that were stuck when I came to them. If you scroll down to Pandora's Bag, the finished bag is in the upper left corner. I’m a gardener. I should have known that crows will eat seeds if they can.

The bag pictured above is one of Purl Too's. She has gone to a different shape, changing the bottom of the bag pattern. The beads on this bag jiggle in a wonderful way. It makes me think of going out dancing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Knit One's Bag of Tricks


Knit One's Bag of Tricks

This is my first pattern. Please use the comments to ask any questions that come up. We would love to see your bags. Send photos to closeknitfriends@gmail.com

Needles: size 13, 16" circular or double points size 13, straight needles for binding off Yarn: Three 100 gram skeins of worsted weight 100% wool, (Plymouth Galway is my favorite). You will have yarn left over, but this gives you the 3 strands you need.

Or you could use 2 skeins of 100% wool and 100 grams of a non felting novelty yarn that has been hot water tested for color fastness and appearance.

(1) Using two strands of the 100% wool yarn, and leaving a 6" tail, cast on 3 stitches. Work I cord. (Knit all stitches, slip stitches to left-hand needle, repeat.) Work for 12 inches for wrist strap. This should shrink to about 9 inches when felted. If shoulder strap is desired, work for 44". This should shrink to about 36" when felted.

(2) Using Knit cast on, (knit one stitch, insert right hand needle and pull loop through as if to knit, do not remove original stitch from needle, slip loop onto left needle, repeat) for 57 stitches, (60 stitches in row). Join and mark the beginning of round. Knit 1 row, purl 1 row for eight rows.

(3) Add the third strand of yarn and work in stockinette stitch (knit every round) for 8 inches or desired length. (Note you can overlap yarn for several stitches when joining and trim off the ends after felting.)

(4) When you are ready to bind off, you will need to decide which you prefer for the right side. Turn the bag so the wrong side is out. Slip half the stitches onto a stitch holder and then onto another needle. Knit one stitch from each needle together, repeat and bind off one stitch. Continue to bind off in this way and end off by bringing the yarn through the last loop. Weave in end. Stitch the end of the I cord to the bag. It should go at the base of the I cord for the wrist strap or directly opposite for the shoulder strap.

(5) Enclose in a mesh bag and place in washer set on lowest level, hot water and highest agitation. Include a pair of jeans or tennis balls to increase agitation. Add 1 1/2 tsp to 1 T. dish soap. Check after 10 minutes. (10 minutes works great for my washer and Galway yarn.) The times and amount of soap needed may vary depending on your water, the temperature, your machine and the yarn you are using. The ridges and stitches should be hard to see, or check the length of the strap. Spin gently and rinse by hand in warm water in the sink. You may spin gently to remove rinse water, but fast spinning can crease your felted fabric. Roll in a towel to remove excess moisture. Lay flat to dry. Trim any loose ends. Sew in a large snap as a closure.

This pattern is for personal use. Please contact me for permission for any other uses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pandora's Bag


Did you ever find a knitting project so compelling that you made one and then you had to make more? Purl Too and I are entrapped in such a project. WARNING: This may prove addictive. It's not too late to turn back ! We have fallen down the rabbit hole of felted bags. Interested? Want to join us? Scroll down to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our blog. You will then be able to print out the pattern that will follow. Page 2 will give you the photo and pattern. You will need to reduce to 70% to get it on one page because for some reason it spills over without going onto another page.


Knitting and then felting in the washing machine is fantastic fun. I started with slippers. There were a few pitfalls there. I may post those someday, but now it's all bags. You will need 100% wool yarn. Plymouth Galway is my favorite. It felts well, comes in many colors, and is affordable. My first bag is done with red and a novelty yarn that I pulled out of a sale bin some time ago. Did I mention rabbits? They multiply fast! Here are some bags!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

And the Wheel Goes Round Again


When everyone saw Knit One’s pinwheel purse, we all wanted to make one. Being a generous soul, Knit One gave an informal class for a few of us. Now, just a word about modular knitting. Once you get it, it’s fabulous. It’s amazing the freedom it gives you and the wonderful shapes you can form will delight you. But, and it’s a big BUT, it seems to fly in the face of everything you’ve always known about knitting. Knit One says, “You have to think outside of the box.” Didn’t help me since we were knitting triangles but Knit One’s such a good teacher, and she held our hands as she helped us thread our way through the pattern in Modular Knits. The photo above is my effort. It’s larger than Knit One’s because of the size of the yarn (an unknown boucle from my stash) and the size of the needles I used. After I got it going, it really was easy. That’s the thing about modular knitting. It’s very off-putting at first, but once you get the picture, it’s actually fun.
After I made the purse, Knit One helped me make the lining. We even put a zipper in. The last time I put in a zipper was in 7th grade Home Ec and I managed to sew my skirt project together four times before I got it in. I’ve avoided zippers ever since then. But Knit One has a trick for zippers too!
My point is, even if you don’t have a close knit friend who thinks outside the box, you can do this. Try it. Let us know how yours came out. Send a photo; we’d love to see it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Two Cupcakes


Well, I managed to get my second cupcake together. Looking at the first one I decided that I would like the cupcake bottom to taper like a real cupcake paper. I tried knitting the base by beginning with size 4 needles and changing to size 3 and size 2 .I went back to size 3 to do the bottom. As you can see it made very little difference. I definitely like the first one best! It's the extra frosting! When I bake cupcakes, we always eat the ugliest one first. That's not an option here.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

One Cupcake!


I decided to try doubling the yarn for my frosting. It worked! Now I just have to figure out how to use my leftover frosting that was too small. I think there will be math involved. Wish me luck! This may take awhile. In the meantime you can look at my first effort.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Learn from My mistakes!

2. Exact gauge is critical! I was enthralled by the cupcakes in One Skein by Leigh Radford. "Exact gauge is not critical for this project" she says. I am easily sucked in by a cute pattern. It was at a knitting group that I spied coconut frosting yarn in a friend 's knitting bag. Sweetheart that she is, she gave it to me. I began to "bake" my cupcake when I got home. I did the frosting first. It looked delicious! Next I did the bottom part of my cupcake. Guess what happened next. They do not fit together! Now I have to make more Frosting in a larger size to fit my cupcake paper. Perhaps we should have a pool on how many coconut cupcakes in different sizes I will end up with. I am hoping for just two. Leigh says "Be forewarned- they tend to multiply." I don't think this is what she had in mind. Gotta go now I have to knit bigger frosting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pinwheel Purse


When I saw the Pinwheel Purse in Iris Schrier's Modular Knitting, I knew I had to make it. I chose to use some hand - spun silk yarn which is made from saris. With the heavier yarn, I used larger needles and my bag came out larger. This pattern is fabulous for using singles with an over twist. You don't have any biasing problems. I'm not one to go out with my wallet and keys unzipped, so I added a lining with a zipper. It consists of 3 layers: one for the back, one for the front and one with a zipper. I also added some crochet rows to the front flap to give more overlap. I carry this bag all the time and get many comments on it. If you purchase this book, you should find Art yarns address and get the list of book updates. It might save you some grief. Sorry Iris, but the old Math teacher in me has to say it. This bag is a pentagon, not an octagon, and an equilateral triangle has to have all three sides equal. That being said I LOVE this bag!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Bliss


The Stitchin' Post is a small shop on Philadelphia Street. If you know Saratoga it is on one of the narrow, steep streets off the main shopping street. This shop has been around for awhile, certainly before knitting was "IN". I first visited this shop in the late eighties. I don't know how much longer it has been there. A lovely stained glass sign welcomes you. Inside you will find an incredible amount of yarn. Draped across the shop, hangs a row of the perfectly made, hand knit socks in many colors that the owner, Norma Gessner, has for sale. Her double points are constantly busy creating these beauties. I've always admired sock knitters. What a selection of light weight and sock yarns she has, I've never seen so many! But there is much more. There are wools and synthetics, cross stitch and needlepoint supplies, needles, patterns, buttons . . . I know I didn't see it all. Where to begin? Time to dig out my list of impossible to find yarn. The rascal is hidden in the back of my wallet reluctant to emerge. I wondered if Norma had a beige ragg wool I need to repair an old, but much loved sweater. As you can see from the photo, she did and now it's mine. I looked at the scarf yarn which she had on sale and chose two balls of Berroco Zen. I can see a little drawstring evening bag for this yarn. The Ironstone, copper, extremely fine, metallic was my impulse purchase. I love the look of it, so wispy and shiny. This was definitely a stash purchase.

I bought my yarn and was about to leave when a crashing thunderstorm started. You can't believe how much rain fell in a short time. Looking out the window of the shop you could see water like a river, running down the street, lapping up over the curb onto the sidewalk. Here I was trapped in a YARN store. Can you believe my luck?

It was then that we began to talk socks. Norma was working on a gorgeous pair. The yarn in the goblet is the yarn she was using. It is called Tofutsies. She has every color they make of this yarn. One skein will make a pair of socks with enough left over for a pair of baby socks. She showed me how much was left. It was neatly wrapped in the original label. This is a habit I must cultivate. The label is the key to finding more yarn and those important care instructions. The amazing thing about this yarn is the fiber content. It is wool, soy and Chitin. How organic is that? You know wool comes from sheep and soy comes from beans, but Chitin (?) Well, Chitin comes from shrimp and crab shells. It's only 2.5%, but still. I was intrigued. The yarn has a great feel to it. It is supposed to be naturally antibacterial. The skein in the goblet is my shrimp cocktail. Norma asked if I made socks and I had to admit that I have not done any lately. I asked her for her favorite sock pattern. It is Classic Socks for the Family by Yankee Knitter Designs. It has all sizes and yarn weights. She tells me if you just do exactly what the pattern says, and don't question it, your success is assured. If I can make socks like hers using this pattern, I will be thrilled. The rain finally let up so I left to continue exploring.

Not long after I found myself seeking shelter from the rain again, this time in Borders. I plopped myself down in the knitting book section and had a wonderful time. I'm proud to say I purchased just one book, One Skein, by Leigh Radford. All in all for a knitter, it was a fabulous vacation!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Vacation Bliss


My daughter treated me to a couple of days at the Roosevelt Baths and Spa at The Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs NY. I can't thank her enough! As soon as I get to a hotel I always start my vacation in the yellow pages. Imagine my delight that there were TWO yarn shops in Saratoga Springs. There are lots of wonderful little shops in Saratoga. You can pick up a resort map somewhere and have a ball. But I digress. Saratoga Needle Arts is a gorgeous place. It's a beautiful space with huge walls of scrumptious yarns, displays of wonderful finished items, books . . . everything. The colors are dazzling! Knitters sit around a table, with tea and cookies, work, knit and talk knitting. It is the yarn shop we all dream of owning! (Come on admit it!) I limited myself to 2 scoops of Joy and a Multifizz for a felted bag I want to try soon. It was not easy to stop there, since scarf yarn was on sale. If you can't go there at least click on the link and get a glimpse.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

We Go Modular


Iris Schrier's Zig zag Scarf is an interesting project. The pattern can be found in her book, Modular Knits. Modular knitting is a bit of a challenge. If you work on this one in the Doctor's waiting room, people might stare or even comment. Working back and forth on the zigzag makes your knitting look totally out of kilter sometimes. While you are knitting, it looks slanted and terribly wrong. (If you don't pay attention, sometimes it is terribly wrong!) After making this scarf several times with variegated yarn, I decided to try one in a solid color. This one is done with two strands knitted together. One strand is Le Fibre Nobili Merino Superfine. The other strand is Plymouth Eros in white. Done in one color, the scarf is very different because it places the emphasis on the stitch work. I find the results to be elegant and rather stunning.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Pink on Pink


I’ve always wanted a cuff bracelet. I had this wonderful cotton yarn (provenance unknown) and my bead order included these wonderful pink beads which matched so well that they just shouted to be strung and knitted. No pattern but I must admit I did do some counting so the beads would line up. The purpose of this exercise was to see if I could get the beads to stand up. They did and I was most delighted. Of course, no pattern means I don’t know if I could make the same thing again but then, why would I? Although, I do have a similar yarn in a robin’s egg blue . . . time to hit the bead stash.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Honeymoon Sweater


Purl Too suggested I post one of my favorite things that I have knitted in the past. That's a hard question. It made me think “What is the oldest knitting project that I still have?” My high school and college “sweater girl” sweaters are long gone, so I'm pretty sure that my husband's honeymoon sweater is it. We went to Niagara Falls on our honeymoon and stayed on the Canadian side. I went into a wonderful little yarn shop and bought some Sirdar yarn and a pattern. The yarn was a soft worsted weight wool tweed. I knitted the sweater in the car on the way home. It has held up beautifully. Let me see, I guess it's 43 years old in August. I still have the husband too!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"10"


This is my version of the dread locks from the book, Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting Fun by Tracey Ullman, Mel Clark and Eric Axene. Check out this book! It is funny, has some great patterns, and some great knitting tips.

I used a cotton blend yarn in a brunette color and assorted wooden beads.The beads are strung on the yarn and knitted into a one stitch I cord. The strands are attached to a brown elastic hair band. It's so cool to have beaded braids you can wear anytime you feel like it. I can't wait to see what Purl Too does with this one!