Monday, August 4, 2014

CRESCENT SHAWL AND BUTTERFLIES



Crescent Hearts Shawl
Apologies for the hiatus, but some family matters required my attention.
Knitting projects, however, have not stopped. First up, I was flying to California for a conference and had thought I was more than prepared for knitting air time. I managed to complete the second of a pair of socks about midway and started on a lace shawl. I’d designed and knit one earlier and quickly given it to a departing colleague. I call it Crescent Hearts. The pattern is available on Ravelry.
Close up of lace pattern
To my dismay, I found that I’d not included stitch markers and had only 6 in my Knit Kit. Yikes!

While you can knit lace without stitch markers, I do not recommend it. It is far too easy to make errors and thus lose valuable time and energy, not to mention having to rip out lace. (Oh the horror!)

I remembered that a friend had made her own stitch markers from yarn. Seemed like a good idea to me, especially since I wanted to get this shawl moving. So, using the leftover sock yarn, I made 20 little slip knot stitch markers. (They work very well. You just need to make sure you don't knit them into your stitches.) The shawl was nearly finished by the time we returned home a few days later.

I like crescent shawls mainly because they are so-o-o much easier to design than triangle shawls and more interesting than rectangle shawls. Oh, and the yarn is made from soymilk: Pure Soysilk from South West Trading Company. It works up nicely and has a lovely luster.

By the way, the socks used a butterfly stitch. Since the yarn was already multicolored, I had looked for a stitch that would add just a touch of fun, and the butterfly was just that. The yarn was Berroco Sox. The pattern is available in my Ravelry store for free.


Until next time ... happy knitting!

Reah Janise

Butterfly Socks



Saturday, May 10, 2014

SANTA AND PEEPING HEARTS SHAWL


Santa and the Easter bunny
I love it when I have a pattern to share. My problem is that I love knitting so much that I move quickly onto new projects before I take the time to write a pattern in sizes for others to knit. Shawl patterns are a bit simpler that way. ... You want it bigger, just knit more rows -- and pray you have enough yarn!

But before we get to the shawl, we need to give appropriate homage to Santa. I knit a Mochimochi dwarf, adding a red ball on his cap, and mailed it to a friend. (She'd had a dream of me where I was Santa, so how could I resist?) Remember those "Where's Waldo" books and the traveling dwarf in the movie Amelie? Well, she's been doing that with Santa in her house (photos below).

The moral is to never doubt the value of a small knitted item. 

Peeping Hearts Shawl
And now the shawl. I call it Peeping Hearts and am delighted to share the pattern with you. It is a free download on Ravelry.

I'm forever looking for new yarn to try and new projects (as any craft addict will agree). Last year I purchased a skein of Pagewood Farm Chugiak in forest. It is 450 yards, 100 percent Merino superwash sock yarn. Of course, a sock yarn does not necessarily have to become a sock. 



Triangle shawls are tricky to design because of the middle stitch and the increases in the middle and on each side. Not every lace pattern works well and sometimes you just have to accept a bit more "white" space than you might want. 

Peeping Hearts close up
To give the shawl a bit more flair, I added a picot bind off. If you are impatient when you get to the end of a project, of which I am sometimes guilty, you won't like this edging because for every one bind off, you add a couple of stitches. (What is that saying? Two steps forward and one step backward?) But I encourage you to keep with it as it produces a marvelous finish to the shawl.



And, oh by the way, I have several more projects that I've finished while putting this pattern together: a cardigan from the North Donaldsey yarn and a shawlette, and I have two pair of socks on needles plus a sweater for a friend. 

Creatively yours,

Reah Janise


Peeping Hearts Shawl



Santa Rocks!




Ze artiste!





Lookin' for chocolate!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Beads, Dots, and Pandas

Beaded Lace Shawl
Have been having lots of fun lately. First was working with beads. Hmmm. Not really sure I'd call it fun. More of an adventure actually. If you haven't worked with beads before and someone knits something for you with beads in it, be grateful, very grateful, very, very grateful.
Beaded lace closeup


The plan was to make a crescent shawl using Wandering Wool's Udaipur fingering, which is a lovely silvery blue color. I explained my plan to another knitter who suggested that it would work really well with beads. I had used beads with one other shawl, just a few that hung on the points of lace. For that pattern, I slipped the beads on the yarn before starting the shawl. Fortunately, the lace was the first to be knit and so the beads were soon off my yarn and onto the shawl. However,
I really didn't want to do that with this shawl because there was going to be over a hundred beads and these were smaller than for the previous shawl.

So I used another technique for adding beads. I used what seemed like the smallest crochet hook ever to add the beads on while I knit. When I was ready to add the bead, I poked the crochet hook through the bead, hooked the stitch I wanted to add the bead to on the left-hand knitting needle, slid the bead down onto the stitch, and then slid the stitch back onto the left-hand needle and knit the stitch.Whew.


It took a while to get the hang of this technique, especially since the crochet hook was so teeny and I didn't always catch all of the yarn threads each time. The rows where I added beads took five times as long to complete than the rows without beads. But I like the end product. And now I'm thinking about what else I can knit with beads! Socks?

Oh, the shawl was a version of my favorite Annis shawl. But where the Annis shawl is finished off with stockinette, I used a simple 4-row lace pattern. Odd rows were purled. Row 2 was k2tog (right-slant decrease), yo. Row 4 was yo, ssk (left-slant decrease). 

Random Dots Socks

One adventure completed, I turned to another new experience. Polka dots.

I still consider myself a bit of a beginning when it comes to color work, but wanted to give it a try. So I set to work on knitting a pair of polka dotted socks. I used four stash yarns for the polka dots, all of which were multi-colored. I knit a sample dot and measured how much yarn it took, then pulled out 6 lengths per color and rolled them around a holder. 

I call the socks Random Dots because I didn't hold to a pattern for the dots.I mailed them to a friend who needed a little cheer.
Mochimochi Tiny Pandas

 

When I'm thinking of a larger project, I tend to start socks because I find them easy and relaxing to knit. So while I've been working on a pattern for a sweater for a niece, I started a pair of brown tweed cabled socks for a sweater for my niece. 

Meanwhile, I picked up the Mochimochi Tiny Panda kit that I'd purchased for $10 at VogueKnitting Live in New York in January. Just finished the third panda today. The first panda went to a friend who hasn't been feeling very well. These are absolutely adorable. Too tiny for a baby, but you can make them into pins or just have fun with them. And that's what these were. Fun. And easy. It takes only an hour to make one.

Purling off for now!

Reah Janise










Thursday, February 13, 2014

REDEEMING THE IMPERFECT

Fun and Fit V-Neck
You see it's like this; I was so fired up about Vogue Knitting Live that I rushed through knitting my sweater (see previous blog post), because I wanted to wear it there. I call this Fun and Fit V-Neck because I added a fitted waist and the yarn, Mountain Colors Twizzle in the color winter sky is a delightful hand-painted color mix.

When I was knitting the front, I realized I'd not started the neck when I should have for the type of V-neck I wanted, but rather than rip out and start over, I kept going. A shorter V is perfectly acceptable and it worked out. Besides, I thought, everything else would be great. I was focused on the finish line.

Well, I wasn't 100 percent happy with the finished product. Yes, it fit OK, but I really did want a deeper V-neck and, oh dear, I should have kept to my written instructions about length because it would look better a tad longer. Oh, well, I thought. It was done and I'd do better on the next one. But it nagged at me.

Then I was talking to my sister who had just ripped out a sweater she'd knit years ago so that she could make it into a different sweater. As Winnie-the-Pooh would say, "Think. Think. Think." And I did.

So I spent this past weekend ripping my new sweater apart down to the armholes--front, back, and sleeves--and knitting it back. By Sunday afternoon, I had front, back, and sleeves blocked and drying for the final seaming and finishing of the neckline. 


Fortunately I still had almost a full skein of yarn left. (I'd almost made felted slippers from it! Whew.) I used it and most of what was ripped out. At one point, I had tossed the yarn that had come from unraveling the sleeves. I still had a small ball of yarn left and was feeling pretty lucky.

Ah, but after I'd washed all the pieces, I realized I still had to knit the collar. Yikes! I retrieved the castoff sleeve yarn and washed it. It was going to be needed. Maybe.

The next day all was dry and I proceeded to sew the shoulder seam together and knit the collar. Unfortunately the night was over before I could finish sewing the sleeves in. By Wednesday I was wearing it to work. And much happier with sweater 2.0!


No knitter likes to rip out a sweater that they've just meticulously sewn together, but sometimes you just have to tear into it if you want a product that will not be a disappointment whenever you put it on--IF you wear it. You know the saying, "If at first you don't succeed ..."

ever trying,


Reah Janise







Sunday, February 2, 2014

VOGUE KNITTING LIVE

Felted chess set @ Vogue KnittingLive

Knit garden @ Vogue KnittingLive
Ever been surrounded by hundreds of people who all harbor the same addiction? Well that's what I did over a week ago.

The addiction? Knitting. The place? New York City. The event? Vogue Knitting Live.

Classes, teachers, and a really great marketplace of yummy yarns, kits, and more. I'm terrible at taking pictures, so I just have a couple to share from some of the artists: an amazing chess set (love the dragon!) and a garden complete with fountain, flowers and birds.

I took three classes: one on steeking, which is something you absolutely need to know how to do if you want to do a Fair Isle cardigan or any kind of color work that you want to match up. The two part class on designing lace shawls and writing the pattern provided terrific information. I started a shawl that I plan to wear at a big event for my boss's 80th birthday gala. The last class was on designing drop and saddle shoulders. I learned when these are good to use and how to design them.

The Marketplace had many, many temptations, and I was reserved, but I still came away with some lovely cashmere, a few kits, and yarn for making a shawl and a couple of scarves.

Meanwhile, I've been knitting up a few things. I finished a sweater using Mountain Colors yarn, which I wore to the event. I wanted a simple sweater that I could just toss on. The color is so rich that it needed no embellishment, so I just did a cable up the front, back, and sleeves. At the conference, one of the teachers was wearing a cowl that matched her sweater. Aha! I had extra yarn, so as soon as I got home, I worked up a pattern and knit one. I used a triangle pattern using knit/purl. The cowl has been perfect since winter has been unusually cold this year.
Pink Tiger Socks

I also knit up a pair of socks. As I've mentioned before, socks are the best thing to take on a trip because they take up so little space. I finished one sock on the train home and started the second one, finishing it the next day. I call these my pink tiger socks. I used a lace pattern even though with a multi-colored yarn they are not easily seen. But I like how it moves the color lines. The yarn is Pinnacle Fingering from Wild Hare Fiber Studio. It has the greatest colors, even neon, for socks.

After Christmas I knit a pair of fingerless mitts for myself, but gave them to a friend. I had yarn left over from the cardigan I knit for my friend, so I knit another pair for myself--and am wearing them as I type this. Ahh, warm and cozy hands.

But I'm not finished. I bought a kit to make a felted cloche hat. I was so excited about it that I knit it up really quickly and set about felting it, but something went wrong. I somehow didn't felt it right and the hat didn't shrink. Undaunted, I made some adjustments and made it into a rolled band hat. Hat, cowl, and sweater are featured in this photo.
Hat, cowl and new sweater.


And now I've made a swatch for a scarf idea with one of the new yarns.

And the knit goes on,

Reah Janise 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fun with Mitts

This Christmas I knit several pair of fingerless mitts as gifts. I even made a pair for myself!

Blue Cable Mitts for me!
Cable Mitts Fingering Weight

The mitts were all a slight variation from the blue cable mitt pattern I designed a year ago and posted in Ravelry. I had written about it in this blog last March.The variation was that I shortened the cuff to 2 inches and added ribbing at the end. These worked up quickly using DK and worsted weight yarns.

But I had some fingering yarn from
Rivers Edge Fiber Arts that I wanted to knit into mitts for another friend. She has fibromyalgia and loves to knit, but, like me, gives most of her creations away. This particular yarn is their unique Rose Yarn. Rather than give her the yarn, I decided to knit it into mitts for her. This meant modifying the cable mitts pattern a bit more.

The gauge became 9 stitches and 12 rows to the inch (stockinette). I used size 1 circular needles, but I also knit a bit big, so if you use the pattern, please gauge. You might end up using size 2 needles. The pattern is written for either double-pointed or circular needles.

The pink mitts are knit with the fingering weight yarn. The pattern is available as a free download in Ravelry.


Happy New Year!

Reah Janise



Monday, December 23, 2013

SWEATER & SCARF PATTERNS

Last year at this time, I was finishing two sweaters for my nephews, Matthew and Joshua, who were 12 and 10 at the time. They live at a distance, so sizing was tricky. Here are pictures of these two handsome young men wearing their sweaters.
Joshua in his two-color Berroco
Pure Pima Cotton sweater

Matthew in his sweater
(pattern)
Since I have more projects in mind than time to flesh out patterns, I unfortunately tend to delay writing up patterns. But I have gotten a pattern together for Matthew's sweater (on the right)--complete with sizes. I really liked how this sweater turned out. 

My sister-in-law had asked for cotton sweaters, which is not my favorite yarn to work with, but allergies required no wool.


Joshua's sweater (on the left) is made from Berroco Pure Pima (shades 2245 and 2263). I had originally thought I'd purchased enough yarn to make both sweaters from the Berroco, but realized after I got the measurements that it wasn't enough. Unfortunately I'd had the yarn for a few months and knew it would be next to impossible to get matching dye lots, so I designed Joshua's to use both colors.

Of course that meant hunting for new cotton yarn for Matthew. I found Lily's Sugar 'n Cream and chose the color denim. It's a thicker yarn than the Berroco, but is a workhorse and can be washed and thrown in the dryer, unlike the Berroco. I wanted Matthew's sweater to have some give and to yet have an interesting design. I tested several stitch patterns before finding one that seemed to work well with the yarn. It combines ribbing with a seed or basketweave stitch. Although I call it a boy's cotton pullover, it will work equally well for girls.

Double Cable Scarf pattern
SCARF
Recently I put together a pattern for a man's scarf for a friend. It was going to be her first venture into cables. About a month ago, I started a scarf from the same pattern, but using a lighter weight yarn. I think it's a lovely pattern and wanted to share it with you, too. The pattern is written so that you can adjust the width according to the type of yarn you are using. And, to me the pattern is gender-neutral.
Happy knitting!

Reah Janise