Monday, March 31, 2014

Unfortunate Circumstances

My husband's grandmother and two great aunts were always close.  The family referred to them as the "ladies in their eighties" for a long time, until they all passed the "90" mark!  Within the past year, through unfortunate circumstances, both aunts have passed on.  I only got the chance to meet one, Aunt Vi, and she loved getting to meet me, the newest addition to the family.

Well, just a month ago, when Aunt Vi passed, she left Grandma as the sole survivor of that trio.  I cannot imagine the pain she is in now, and the loneliness.

When I first met Aunt Vi and Grandma, I had a knitting project with me.  Aunt Vi was so excited to see me knitting, knowing that the tradition was being passed on.  When the family went to clean out Aunt Vi's house, they found a closet of yarn and knitting projects which we hadn't even known she'd had.

Just a few days ago, I received a box from Grandma.  It came with a note.  "Aunt Vi would have wanted this to stay in the family."  She's absolutely right.  Even though I only met her twice, I saw the outpouring of love she had for her family, and I saw her enthusiasm to welcome me in.

A friend of mine mentioned how much she loved knitting collections from estate sales.  "It's like a peak into another knitter's soul," she mused, "you get to see their notes, their colors, their plans."

As I look at Aunt Vi's projects, I know she's right.  There's the retro knitting counter, long replaced by aps, and some comically 50's patterns in to "Begin to Knit" book.  She was almost done with an open faced sweater - she just needed to attach the sleeves and finish the belt - but the pattern is nowhere to be found.  It must have been a creation of her own.

What am I to do with this?  Whatever I do, it must be meaningful.  I think I'll finish the sweater for Grandma, but there are nine other skeins.  I want to make something for the family.  That's what Aunt Vi would have wanted.

Maybe dishcloths?  Potholders?  Those seem too mundane to honor her life.  And yet, they would be used daily.  They are practical.  Aunt Vi would have wanted that.  She would want to be remembered as a helper.

Whatever I choose, I know it has to stay in the family.  There is no better way to honor her memory than by giving it to the ones she loved.

If you like this post, you might like:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Travel Blanket: Erie Canal Block (PATTERN)

About a year and a half ago, I realized that I had a problem.  I would stumble across quaint knitting shops, find a beautiful hank of yarn, and buy it, without having any plan for its use.  Needless to say, I quickly built up my stash.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Well, I also like to travel.  A lot.  And so it wasn't long before I came to this conclusion.

Any time I go to a new city or on a trip, I allow myself one hank of yarn.

Randall and I sitting on the roof of the boat.
This hank had to be related somehow to the trip, whether it was through color, texture, material, or a combination.  Then, I would use each hank to make one blanket square, where the pattern somehow related to the trip.  Eventually, I should have enough blocks to make a Travel Blanket!

And then, a few months later, I got engaged!

It was perfect!  I could start the travel blanket with places that Randall and I went together!

That summer, I accompanied him and his family on a self-toured Erie Canal House Boat Cruise aboard the "Cayuga."  It was wonderful!  We stopped at all sorts of places along the way and found tons of farmer's markets and cooked peach pie and played cards!

Working on the color sequence of my project on the boat.
One stop we made was in a quaint Pittsford, NY.  Now, having gone to college in the area, I knew the town, but it was an entirely different world seeing it from the canal at 6 miles and hour!  And in Pittsford, our first stop of the trip, we stumbled across (okay, I looked up) a lovely yarn store called The Yarne Source.

There, I managed to get my mother-in-law of inHIShandsart hooked on knitting.  Now, she carries around a project, too.  Fourteen of the hanks I got were for a separate project to work on that week (more on that later), but I did get one hank for the Travel Blanket.  It's a beautiful sort of canal color, and soft, a silk and cashmere blend.  And now, I have finally finished the square!  I based it off of Terry Morris Design's Rippling Water Square Pattern.

Here is the exact pattern I used:

Cast on 62 Stitches with size 7 needles.

  • Row 1: Purl
  • Row 2: Slip one stitch, (slip 2 to CN, hold in back, k2, k2 from CN, k4) x7, slip 2 to CN, hold in back, k2, k2 from CN, k1
  • Row 3: slip 1, purl
  • Row 4: slip 1, knit
  • Row 5: slip 1, purl
  • Row 6: slip 1, k4, (slip 2 to CN, hold in front, k2, k2 from CN, k4) x7, k1
  • Row 7: slip 1, purl
  • Row 8: slip 1, knit
  • Row 9: slip 1, purl
Repeat Rows 2-9 until the square is the desired length.
For me, this made an 8.5 inch square.  See how it makes a beautiful rippling effect?

What do you think? Has anyone else made something like this?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ben's Socks: Second time's the Charm

Those of you that have been following along know that in January, I made my husband a pair of socks that went around his heels!  Finally!  They still don't fit terribly well, so hopefully next time will be better.  Does anyone have any ideas?  Since his heels are so much wider than the rest of his legs, either they don't fit over his heels or they don't cling to his shins.  I've heard that a double forked heel might work.  Thoughts?

Well, anyway, I used that same pattern to make a pair of socks for my brother's birthday, and since he has a much more typical foot shape, they fit him perfectly.  Behold!

Ravelry Pattern | Ravelry Project

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Problem Solving: Card Holder

I live in the Bay Area now.  This is a place where public transportation is the method of transport, especially for young couples like us who don't have cars.  There's also this wonderful system in the Bay Area called the Clipper Card.

The Clipper Card is similar to other systems, such as the Charlie Card in my hometown of Boston (shout out!).  Basically, you load cash onto the card, and then when you get on a bus, train or trolley, you tap the card and your fee is automatically deducted.  Often, such as in the case of the bus or the trolley, it's a flat rate, but sometimes, such as on the BART trains, you scan again when you exit, since the price changes depending on how far you go.

I had a problem, though, which is that I always left my Clipper Card at home.  Always.  It was either in the wrong bag, or on the front table, or it had fallen out of my coat pocket.  Every system that I tried had flaws.

Then, I realized that I never forgot my keys.  I would always need them to get back in the complex.  And so I found a little scrap of sock weight yarn, did some quick double crochets with a bigger hook, and stretched it over the card and through a keychain.  Ta-da!

It looks pretty ugly, but it's functional.  I used exactly the scrap I had and whipped it up in less than ten minutes.  I'll probably make something a little more beautiful later on, but for now, this is the perfect solution!

Have you ever made anything similar? How do you suggest I keep my Clipper Card handy?  Does anyone have an reccomendations?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Soap Cozy 2

Previously, I wrote about the Soap Cozy I made for myself in lieu of a washcloth.  As promised, I have come to report.  It works very well!  Except for the part where I left it at my parents house in Boston when I moved out here.

Well, lucky for me, last summer my hubby-to-be was really upset about leaving for California by himself.   I lovingly knit him one of his own to send his way as a surprise and to help him feel more at home in this strange new land.

I picked dark blue because it matched the towels he loved and took with him, and filled it with home-made soap.

I learned from my last one, though!  I made this one bigger so the soap could fit inside more easily, though it's still a hassle.  With my first one, I have to break the soap into slivers to slide it in now that the i-cord is fastened, and so with this one I almost doubled the width.  Overall, it still works well and gets the job done.

PS: No dying in my sleep of bacteria, though I do make a point to let it dry out and to wash it between bars of soap.

Ravelry Pattern
Original Ravelry Project | New Ravelry Project

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bartering: A Scarf with Pockets for WiFi (PATTERN)

As I previously mentioned, I recently completed a hat and mittens project for a wonderful neighbor.  Now, here's the scarf that goes with it, and, as promised, here is the pattern!

Let's give credit where it's due.  This idea is based primarily on Stephanie from Yarn Harlot's "Unoriginal Hat" (Ravelry) and Darcie's Subsequent "Completely Unoriginal Unoriginal Mittens" (Ravelry).  I shall, of course, call my Scarf Pattern...

Totally Completely Unoriginal Unoriginal Scarf (with Pockets!)

If you'll notice, this scarf has pockets at the ends!  Basically, we're going to do six things:
  1. knit the first pocket
  2. knit the start of the scarf
  3. knit the bulk of the scarf
  4. knit the second pocket
  5. knit the end of the scarf
  6. attach everything
Before we get started, let me explain three unique acronyms:

C2R: Slip 1 to Cable Needle and hold in back, knit 2, purl 1 from Cable Needle
C2L: Slip 2 to Cable Needle and hold in front, purl 1, knit 2 from Cable Needle
C4: Slip 2 to Cable Needle and hold in back, knit 2, knit 2 from Cable Needle

You Will Need:

  • 320-424 yards of Super Bulky Yarn (I used Lion Brand Wool Ease Think & Quick Solids)
  • Size 10 Needles
  • Darning Needle
  • Needles for Cables and Holding Set-Aside Stitches
Step 1: The First Pocket
  • Use a provisional cast-on to cast on 18 stitches
  • knit these stitches in stockinette stitch for 28 rows
  • set aside
Step 2: The Start of the Scarf
  • Use a provisional cast-on to cast on 24 stitches
  • Work rows 1-16, either by following the chart or the written instructions below
  1. Row 1: k7, p2, C2R, C2L, p2, k7
  2. Row 2: k3, p4, k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p4, k3
  3. Row 3: k7, p1, C2R, p2, C2L, p1, k7
  4. Row 4: k3, p4, k1, p2, k4, p2, k1, p4, k3
  5. Row 5: k7, p1, k2, p4, k2, p1, k7
  6. Row 6: Same as Row 4
  7. Row 7: k3, C4, p1, k2, p4, k2, p1, C4, k3
  8. Row 8: Same as Row 4
  9. Row 9: Same as Row 5
  10. Row 10: Same as Row 4
  11. Row 11: k7, p1, C2L, p2, C2R, p1, k7
  12. Row 12: Same as Row 2
  13. Row 13: k7, p2, C2L, C2R, p2, k7
  14. Row 14: k3, p4, k3, p4, k3, p4, k3
  15. Row 15: k3, C4, p3, C4, p3, C4, k3
  16. Row 16: Same as Row 14
  • Work rows 1-15 again
  • On the next row, k3, bind off 18, k3
Step 3: The Bulk of the Scarf

Chart.  Please remember this is as viewed from the right side.
  • Turn your work as if you were going to start the next row.  Start Row 16 by knitting the three stitches still on your needle.  Then, bring your pocket square that you set aside up to your work.  You're going to line it up so the knit side of the pocket square lays against the wrong side of the scarf.  Then, continue working Row 16 across the 18 pocket square stitches and the three border stitches still on your needle
  • Repeat Rows 1-16 as many times as you choose, ending with row 14
Step 4: The Second Pocket
  • On the next row, you will set aside the three outermost stitches on each side of your work (the ones that compose the border), and simply work in stockinette stitch for 28 rows on the central 18 stitches, making the second pocket square.  Do not cast off.
Step 5: The End of the Scarf
  • Return the the six set-aside border stitches.  Between the two sides, cast on 18 stitches.
  • Work the next row with the right side facing you, starting with Row 15
  • Work Row 16
  • Work Rows 1-16
  • Work Rows 1-13
Step 6: Attach Everything
  • The pocket you just finished will have live stitches on both the pocket square and the scarf.  Graft them together.
  • Undo the provisional cast-ons at the other end of the scarf and graft the pocket sides together.
  • Starting at the pocket opening, stitch the pocket lining to the inner edge of the border on both sides of both pockets.  If you start at the bottom of the scarf, then your pockets will be lopsided.
  • Weave in all ends and enjoy!

What do you think?  Let me know how it turns out of if you catch anything in this pattern I should change!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bartering: A Hat and Mittens for WiFi

Previously, I posted about how I became an unexpected vagrant over the past year.  As part of that adventure, I lived with a good friend in a sparse, ghetto apartment for six months during our final semester of college.

Well, due to the fact that it was only six months, we were unable to get any sort of internet, which we both desperately needed during this semester.

However, we were saved by wonderful, kind neighbors, who generously gave us their wifi password.  We tried to help them with the bills, but they wouldn't hear of it, and only accepted payments in the form of cookies, and only when we initiated.

Well, just a few weeks before we were due to move out (and, for both of us, graduate, move across the country, and for me, get married), one of these lovely neighbors mentioned the fact that I knitted.  Cold as it was, we stood outside and had a quick conversation about it, which ended in a question.

"Would you make my granddaughter a hat and gloves or something?  I know she would love it."

How could I say no?

There was only one problem.  As you've been reading, I was in the process of making five Bridesmaids Shawls, three Flower Girl Cootie Catchers (and fortunes!), four Musician's Baskets, and five Groomsmen's Beerds (description to come).  I was swamped!

So, here I am, after graduating, hosting fourteen people for a week, getting married, moving, dealing with legal bureaucracies, and moving again, finally getting down to this gift!  Hopefully she'll still like it this year!

I decided to go with cables, since I wanted it to have a nice, knitted feel.  I also wanted to use chunky yarn because it's super cold in Rochester, and it's also a much faster knit!  (After a string of socks and beerds, it was a welcome change!)

First, I settled on An Unoriginal Hat for the hat.  It came out well.

Then, I went for the Completely Unoriginal Unoriginal Mittens to go with it.  For these, I decided to just do a loose bind-off after the cabling and skip the ribbing, since it was for a 9-12 year old, after all.

Then, I decided to add a scarf into the mix.  Stay tuned to see the pattern I wrote!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


As I mentioned before, I decided to make Shawls for my Bridesmaids, which led to the creation of Cootie-Catchers for my Flower Girls and Baskets for our Musicians.

The ultimate question was left...

What about the Groomsmen?

Most of them wouldn't appreciate anything that wasn't practical.  They all  had very different interests.  A prank gift would work, but it would have to be different for each person, and then you run into issues of relative-goodness-of-the-prank.

And then, my lovely hubby-to-be came up with a great idea.

L-R: Blonde, Brown, Green (he dyes his hair).
Unpictured: Black
Bearded Beer Holders.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's right, now your beer can have a beard, just like you!  And here I am, to debut the BEERD!

After much searching and no luck, I decided to make my own pattern.

For this pattern, you need:

  • US size 3 DPNs or circulars
  • "hair" yarn, fuzzy, thicker wight, of whatever color you've chosen
  • "skin" yarn, DK or Aran weight, of whatever color you've chosen
  • a bottle
NOTE: The colorwork technique here is, as far as I know, unique, so please pay close attention.*

*Edit: I have since learned that this is basic intarsia knitting, I just made it up as I went along.  Good luck!

  • Cast on 40 stitches (SKIN yarn) using whatever method you so choose
  • Join and knit 2 rows in the round
Now we begin with the beard.
  • (row 3) Knit 12 sts (SKIN), then knit 16 sts (HAIR)
Now, here's where things get tricky.  From here on out, you will not be knitting your rows all together.  Take a look at your knitting.  If you were to switch back to the skin color here, and then back to the hair on the next row, etc, imagine all of the stretches of unused yarn you'd have inside your Beerd!  It would be obnoxious and difficult to use.  Instead, here's what you do:

Go back to where your SKIN working yarn tail ends.  Slip stitches around on the needles so that you are ready to begin knitting again right where the colors change.

Slip one SKIN stitch over.  You should have hair stitches on your right hand needle, plus one skin stitch (with has the skin working yarn coming out of it).  On your left hand needle there should be the remaining skin stitches.  You should be holding the stitches with the wrong side facing you.  (See picture).

Then, begin purling the SKIN yarn back.  You will be leaving one skin stitch un-purled.  This is good.
Purl all the way until you line up with the end of your HAIR yarn.

Now, you will notice that in the "non-beard" section, half of it will be on row 4 and half will still be on row 3.  This is because your cast on is in that section.  Don't worry too much about it, but do try and keep track.

Now, what you're going to do is jump up to row 4 with your HAIR yarn, and purl all the way back to the other side of the beard.  This time, you will purl on top of one SKIN stitch when you turn, and then purl on top of the one SKIN stitch we left on the other side.  This will make your beard two stitches wider (one on each side).

Then, knit the SKIN yarn back to the start of the row to finish row 4.

Now, you can knit each section, from where the yarns are left, adding another HAIR stitch for row 5.  You will continue this knit/purl switch-off until your beard is 26 stitches wide.

Once your beard is 26 stitches wide, you're going to alternate on each row.  If we simply kept the beard 26 stitches wide, there would be a giant gap on the sides where it ended.  Instead, we alternate between 26 stitches and 24 stistches, so that the outer-most column of stitches alternates between SKIN and HAIR, keeping the entire Beerd together. (See pictures)

After five rows at 26/24 stitches, we add the mouth.

At this point, you will need one more "end" of each color.  You can either cut the yarn (leaving enough that you can knit much more before running out) or use the other end of your ball.

Wherever you are in your knit-purl switch, on the next row, the middle 6 stitches of the beard should be knit/purled with SKIN from the second end.  On the other side of that chunk of SKIN yarn (ie the mouth), continue knitting/purling with the second end of the HAIR yarn.  Continue alternating in a zig-zag formation at the edges of the beard.

On the next row, add two extra SKIN stitches on each side of the mouth (four total).  Repeat this three times (there should be 18 mouth stitches when you are done).

Hold this formation for two more rows.  Continue to zig-zag at the edge of the beard, but not at the edge of the mouth.
Cut off the SKIN yarn used for the mouth.  Knit/purl across the top of the mouth with HAIR yarn.

For the next three rows, turn one or two HAIR stitches into SKIN on each side of the beard each round, so that the beard gets smaller.  Cut off the HAIR yarn.  Knit across with SKIN.

Knit 10 more rows with SKIN.

Then, repeat the following sequence 5 times:
  • On the next row, decrease 3 stitches evenly across.
  • Knit across
After that, continue decreasing 3 stitches every round until there are 21 stitches left.  Bind off loosely and enjoy!

Ravelry Pattern
Whitsun's Ravelry Project | Luke's Ravelry Project
Rob's Ravelry Project | John's Ravelry Project | Curtis's Ravelry Project
Alec's Ravelry Project | Bret's Ravelry Project

If you liked this post, you might like some of these ideas:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Little Bitty Socks

Last summer, I found a wonderful ankle-sock pattern called Mouches and I decided to make myself a pair.  I had two skeins of Heart and Sole Toasted Almond Sock Yarn (georgeous!) on hand, so I worked away.

The first thing you need to realize about this pattern is that it is written for European sock sizes.  I did a lot of research to figure out how to adapt it.  Basically, google a chart of size conversions to find the size difference between these socks and your feet.  Then, google a size chart to find the length of the foot for these socks and your feet.  Do some math.  If the difference were "one unit," then how many units would be in the larger sock?  Seven?  Ten?  Four?  This will give you a fraction (ie 1/7) to take off your length.  Don't bother changing the width.

Play with it.  It took me a while to get it right.

Anyway, I love the socks.  The pattern isn't as pretty on the self-striping yarn, and I might do aother pair later on a plain yarn, but for now, I'm a fan.

This pattern used one skein of yarn, so I have another Toasted Almond lying around.  Should I make another pair of Mouches?   What do you think?  Suggestions?

Ravelry Pattern | Ravelry Project

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Socks for my Man

Last time, I told you about how I tried to make socks for my husband, but they didn't work.  Well, after we got married, I was in a strange predicament.

We got married December 21st, went on our honeymoon, and moved across the country December 29th.  Then, we waited until February first for the rest of our stuff to arrive in shifts.  During that time, my yarn was en route, so I skidaddled down to the local yarn store and got some super soft sock yarn to try again.  This time, I used a pattern that was specifically for men instead of trying to adapt my own.

It worked (mostly...they really don't fit across his legs...but that's okay)!  He loves them!

Here's the best part: My husband goes through socks like most people go through tissues; they wear thin almost instantly and within a month they have holes the size of quarters.  Right now, he has at least three pairs of socks with holes the size of my fist in the heel and the toe on each sock!  and he only has seven pairs total!

But he won't throw them out!  He says they still work as long as his foot doesn't fall out!  Hah!  As if!

So we made a deal.  Once he has ten pairs of socks, I can toss one pair for every pair I make.  Begin the sock-fest!

I'm hoping his feet wear through these ones slower!  We'll see!

Has anyone else dealt with this?  Do hand-made socks slow down the wear process?  Let me know!

Ravelry Pattern | Ravelry Project