Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mother Bear Project

A few days after I heard about the Mother Bear Project, an article about it was published on Huffington Post. I'd definitely recommend reading the article--it explains the history of the project, which was started by Amy Berman in 2003. The basic idea is that knitters all around the world use one single pattern to knit stuffed bears. Hearts are sewn onto the bears' chests, a tag with the knitter's name is tied around the wrist, and the finished bears are then sent to children in Africa who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. It's a simple enough thing to do, but the pictures and stories of kids loving their bears might make you tear up.

I was looking for a stash busting project for a bunch of Caron Simply Soft I had left over from making things for my friend's baby. What could be better than using it to make a child smile?

The pattern really is very easy. The bears legs, body, and head are all knit in one piece in whatever stitch pattern you'd like (I used stockinette with a seed stitch sweater).

The arms are then picked up from stitches on the front and back of the sweater and knit flat. 

You seam and stuff the bear, then make a running stitch around the base of the neck and cinch it in. After that, all that's left is embroidering the face and attaching the signed tag.

Honestly, this project could not be easier. My face embroidering skills need some work and there were a lot of ends to weave in, but I will be making many more of these in the future.

If you're interested in joining, the pattern can be purchased for $5 from the Mother Bear Project.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Odessa

This project came about during one of my many, many Ravelry searches for stash-busting projects. I originally bought the yarn (NaturallyCaron Spa in Coral Lipstick) for a slip/dress/thing that I made. I made a mistake right in the middle front of the body and never got around to fully lining it, so it was a casualty of the frantic de-stuffing before the big move.

The yarn isn't my favorite. It's silky soft but sooo splitty. I've lost track of the number of times I'v had to drop a stitch back a few rows to catch a split stitch. It's also been frayed a little by sliding all of the beads down it (they're pre-strung on the yarn before you start knitting). Side note: this is the first time I've used beads in knitting. Why? I love sparkly things and yarny things, this is a perfect combination.

Please ignore the fact that I can't seem to get the first stitch on the traveling sections to tighten up. I'm looking into it (and by that, I mean I'm going to start yanking the yarn really hard after making that stitch).

Make sure to check out Tami Ami's blog for more WIP Wednesday posts. That's how I found these awesome beaded socks last week!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

FO: Chuck, Extended

I finished my Chuck, and I'm so, so glad that I decided to make this sweater full-length. The original cropped design looks adorable on Andi, the pattern's designer (who is amazing, in case you weren't aware. Seriously, her designs are all adorable), but I just don't wear enough dresses that it would get a lot of use as it was written. Granted, San Diego is warm enough that it's not necessary to wear a full-length sweater for most of the year, but this one is so adorable and bright and cozy that I think I'll be able to work it into my normal wardrobe.

In addition to adding a 4th diamond repeat and reversing the shaping on the body, I added an extra 30 rows of stockinette after the last decrease on the arms before beginning the ribbing. They were a little short before blocking, but Wollmeise DK blooms a lot after the first washing so they ended up being the perfect length.

Shout out to B for being my fashion photographer. Hopefully I'll be able to keep convincing him to take pictures for me so you can actually see all the awesome stuff I'm planning.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Chuck, Extended

I finally bit the bullet and ripped back my Chuck.

I wasn't too crazy, though--I ran my cable needle through the stitches first. Yanking out inches of knitting can be cathartic but dropping a cable stitch past where you want it to go is no bueno.

I originally ripped back to 5 rows after the last decrease. I talked to a Raveller who had added length to her Chuck and this is what she recommended, but I thought this was too high to start increasing. Since the decreases ended 35 rows from the underarm, I started the increases 35 rows from the start of the ribbing (row 26 of the 3rd diamond).

The shape looks super curvy, but the fit is great and makes my waist look tiny. I also love the comparison between the nice blocked sections, the wonky bit of yarn from where I ripped back, and the tighter unused yarn at the end. I'm assuming this will all even out in blocking--isn't that what we always tell ourselves?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

FO: Looking Glass Clapotis

My Looking Glass Clapotis is done, making it my first FO of 2014!

Blocking made a huge difference here. I didn't block my first Clapotis, so it's still sort of a weird parallelogram that bunches up on itself. It's a scarf, so it doesn't bother me, but I wanted this one to look nice since it's a wrap and also a present. For whom, I'm not sure, but it'll be living in my gift basket for now. Blocking didn't change the width much, but it added about 7 inches to the length. 145 grams of Knit Picks Imagination Hand Painted Sock Yarn gave me a wrap that is 18" by 56". 

Poorly modeled self-taken picture, but this gives you an idea of the size.

My odd-length red Chuck has been begging me to fix it so I can finally wear it, so adding another diamond repeat to the body and lengthening the arms will be my next project. I've been trying to figure out projects for the Ravellenics as well, but given the recent events surrounding the Games I'm not sure whether I'll be participating (I'm firmly on Team Rainbow). I guess I'll wait until closer to time to see how things pan out.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Learning Curve

The first time he visited me after I went away for college, my dad handed me an envelope that contained $200. He told me to treat myself and do something fun with it. After considering some of my options, I drove to the LYS near campus and bought my first set of DPNs, a copy of Favorite Socks, and 2 skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi. I had decided it was time to become a Knitter (For Real), and it was time to make my first pair of socks.

It took me about 2 weeks, but I finished one sock. I distinctly remember grafting the toe, trying it on, and running down the hall of my dorm to show my friend that I had made a sock. A sock. I was still mystified by how it happened, but it had happened. I've never suffered from Second Sock Syndrome, so thankfully I started my next one right away and finished within a week.

These are in no way the best socks I've ever made. The yarn is great quality, but I know now that I'm not a fan of pooling. The pattern is Cable Rib Socks, which was enough of a challenge at the time but would be normal KIP work for me now. Doesn't matter. I have an emotional attachment to these socks (and the horrible pictures) and will never get rid of them.

After about 2 years of light use, I got a hole on the toe of one of the socks. I didn't know what to do about it, so I tied knots in the loose ends of the yarn and retired them to the bottom of my drawer. It was one of those, "Oh, I'll mend that when I have a chance" kind of projects that I put off for, oh, 4 years. I finally decided this week that it was time to learn how to darn.

Good news: I can now wear my socks again. Bad news: seriously, the toe looks ridiculous. It's my first pair of socks, though, so I guess it makes sense that these are my guinea pigs for new techniques.

Here's the toe after untying the super sophisticated knots and trimming all of the loose ends. You can sort of see the D-shape of foundation stitches I made around the hole. Fun fact: did you know it's not easy to make this look pretty when you're using a variegated yarn? Lesson #1.

Okay, stop laughing. I know. I know! I should have been a lot more careful about the section of yarn I chose to fix this, since it sticks out like a thumb. Or a big toe. And yes, the craftsmanship is a bit...shoddy.

But look! All of my toes stay inside the sock now! I'd say that's a big improvement. Hopefully my next darning attempt will be a little more presentable.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

WIP: Looking Glass Clapotis

I'm actually making progress on my Clapotis! The fingering weight yarn on size 4s makes it feel like I'm making no progress, but I just joined the third and final skein of yarn and am about 15 grams away from beginning the decrease section. In other exciting news, I hit this milestone while I was actually home during daylight hours, so I managed to get a picture that showed the colors pretty accurately.

The yarn is Knit Picks Imagination Handpainted Sock Yarn in Looking Glass. The color isn't nearly as bright blue as it appears on the website, but it has great depth and I really like it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Project Planning

One of my favorite parts of knitting is planning out my projects. I'll spend hours on Ravelry looking up patterns, which is time that would be much more useful if it was put towards knitting. Since I'm planning to only knit from stash during 2014, though, I decided to allow myself to plan out all of my projects in advance. All of my stash yarns now have a project attached to them, which means that I should be able to power through a ton of knitting this year.

I'm an accountant and therefore love spreadsheets, so of course my first instinct was to create a spreadsheet for my projects. Looking at all of this organized neatly makes me very happy.

The blue table is all of the projects I made in 2013, which added up to 7,435 yards. Unfortunately, I bought 9,020 yards...hence this whole stashdown thing. I obviously won't make it through all of the projects on the left within the next year, but they're all in my Ravelry queue and every yarn in my stash is attached to one of them. It's a long list, but I'm actually really excited to finally get to some of these skeins that I've had for years.