Blocking

If you’re already familiar with the concept of blocking your knitting, feel free to scroll down to the before and after photos.  If you’re not familiar with it, blocking is a way to get all the yarn you’ve just finished looping and twisting while knitting to relax and lie in whatever shape you want.  It is particularly important if your project is lace, as the lace will open up a lot more and be much prettier after it’s been blocked, but it’s helpful for any project, as it can make your stitches appear more even and help combat curling edges.

There are different ways to block your knitting, depending on the fiber content of the yarn and the desired end result.  Today I’m going to talk about how I wet blocked a 100% wool lace ear warmer I recently finished.  Wet blocking seems to be one of the more popular blocking methods and can produce very dramatic results with wool.

Here’s the ear warmer once I’d finished knitting and weaving in the ends:

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 1Doesn’t look like much, does it?

Since I knew I wanted the sides to be straight, I wanted to do some prep work before I got the yarn wet.  Ideally, I would have had blocking wires (special rust-proof wires made for blocking), but since I didn’t, I decided to experiment with running fishing line along the edges I needed to be straight.  It ended up working for me, but I was very careful as fishing line is sharp and wet wool is delicate.

Then I soaked the whole thing in some lukewarm soapy water in my sink for about half an hour (I’d meant to get it after about fifteen minutes, but I forgot about it!).

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 2After that, I rinsed it, rolled it up in a towel and squeezed as much of the water out as I could, then laid it out in the shape I want.  I use the back of my yoga mat for blocking, and I tend to put a towel under my work as I don’t want to take any chances of the color from my mat coming off onto my damp knitting.  Because I had already put the fishing line in place, I was able to just anchor the ends of the line (which I had already tied into loops) with pins and pin out the angles and corners of my knitting.  If I hadn’t had the fishing line, I would have had to put pins every couple of inches along the long sides of the piece, which would have taken longer and might have resulted in a slight scallop instead of the perfectly straight lines I got.

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 3Once the ear warmer had completely dried, I unpinned it, removed the fishing line, and sewed on two buttons to close it.  You can see in the picture below how it lies completely flat and you can see the lace much better than you could right when I finished it.  I could definitely have stretched it tighter for a more dramatic finish, but because I really wanted it to be warm, I didn’t want to make it too lacy!

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 4It buttons closed and works like a normal headband — I particularly like how it covers my ears but not my forehead (my ears get cold long before my forehead does).

2015 05-18 Earwarmer 6

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Knit all the things!

Wow, it’s been a while.  I’ve been busy crafting, but never seemed to be able to get pictures to have anything to share (mostly because I was knitting late at night and never thought about it during the day).

Almost a year ago, I’d talked about a system of bags I’d created so I’d could only have five projects going at one time.  I’m still using the bags, and I really like how they keep my projects contained and in sight but not taking up table space.  However, I’ve got way more than five projects at the moment…  The last couple of months I’ve been in the mood to start a ton of things, and I decided to just go with it.  (And now I’m working on finishing things so I can get back down to five.)  A lot of the things I’m going to be showing today were started in that time.  (You can click on the pictures to go to my Ravelry project page for more details on any of them, or the links to see the Ravelry entry for the pattern and designer.)

First off, if you read my last post on the hanging storage, you’ll remember that I had a pair of cabled knee socks I was knitting.  Since then, I’d realized the yarn I had was terrible for cables, so I restarted them as a pair of lace socks.  Then I decided I didn’t really like the lace pattern.  So I ripped everything out and started poking around Ravelry’s pattern database for ideas.  Turns out, the yarn is perfect for a beaded lace shawl that I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first saw it — Boo Knit’s Out of Darkness.2015 4-8-15 Shawl

If you look at the top edge, you can see I’m finally past all the garter stitch and on to the lace!

I also made myself a little rat out of some of my oldest yarn.

2015 4-8 Rat

I love the realism of the pattern, by Rabbit Hole Knits.  However, after making this little fellow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate working on tiny things that need to be pieced together, so I suspect this will be my last toy.

I also started a really nifty colorwork hat by Liat Hessel — I love the way the pattern comes together at the crown of the hat!  I’m using this as a project to use up some old yarn that I have, and am planning on donating the finished hat, as bright red really isn’t my color.

2015 4-8 Hat

Speaking of using up some leftover yarn, I’m also making myself a lace earwarmer/headband out of the leftovers from another project.  I started it back when it was freezing outside, but of course I didn’t get it done in time to wear it.  I’m hoping that I can get it done before it gets to be freezing again!

2015 4-8 Earwarmer

I also ended up starting two scrap projects, one for my aran-weight acrylic and one for my fingering-weight sock yarn.  For the acrylic, I’m using Frankie Brown’s Ten Stitch Blanket (which is a brilliant design).

2015 4-8 Ten Stitch Blanket

For the sock yarn, I’m using a slight variation on the Beekeeper’s Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits.  I’m not stuffing the hexagons, and I’m planning on sewing them together rather than just tying the corners.  I haven’t made much progress, but it’s a really great project to keep in a little pouch so if I’m running out somewhere and want to grab something to do, I have all my supplies.

2015 4-8 Hexagons

Last, but certainly not least, is my rug.  You may recall when I mentioned that the knitting needle I’d bought for it broke.  The manufacturer sent me a replacement, which is showing no signs of trouble (I am being careful with it, especially as the rug gets heavier and heavier).  I’ve not made a ton of progress since then, but I have gotten several more color stripes done:

2015 4-8 Rug

For the record, I did not force my dog to lie on the rug instead of the couch (where she has been in past photos).  If I leave the rug out somewhere where she can get to it, she will lie on it (she’s currently lying on the folded up rug).

Whew!  That was a lot of knitting to get caught up on (and it really gives me more motivation to stick to my current projects instead of starting more!).  My next update will probably be a progress report on my cross stitch and blackwork, as that’s the other main category of crafting that I’ve been working on.

I’m back

Well, it ended up taking a lot longer than I’d anticipated to get back to blogging after my vacation. I’m pleased to report that I did finish knitting my brother’s gloves in time to give them to him for Christmas:

2015 01-19 B's gloves

He approves.

I also did some more work on my Morning Flight cross stitch over the break, and got as far as adding the first full crosses!
2015 01-19 Full crosses

This is what it looked like before I took it off the frame:

2015 01-19 Morning Flight

I took it off the frame to begin work on the Save the Stitches blackwork sampler (free pattern available at Blackwork Journey). It’s a sampler of 131 different blackwork stitches, with multiple variations of each stitch.  I plan on finishing it as a wall hanging, probably with a black fabric border. This is one and a half of the 24 blocks making up the pattern:

2015 Save the stitches
(Sorry for the slight fuzziness — it turns out to be quite a difficult pattern to photograph for me.)

Holiday crafting progress report

Well, I’ve made a fair bit of progress on my brother’s fingerless gloves, although I’d like to be further along:

12-8-14 B glove

Part of the issue is that, now that I’ve finished Lily’s bed, I’m not feeling like knitting as much anymore. This means I’ve gone back to my Morning Flight cross stitch and made quite a bit of progress:

I’m realizing that the blues I’ve been working on are make up a huge part of the cross stitching in that pattern, so while I’m only barely into the number of colors I need to work, I’m pretty far into the total number of stitches

12-8-14 Morning Flight.

Good news/Bad news

First the bad news.  The knitting needle I’d bought for my Ocean Currents Rug broke!  The tip just snapped off the cable while I was working with it.  It’s been sent off to the manufacturer for replacement, but until I get a new one, there’s not going to be any rug progress.

To make up for it, I’ve had a fair bit of knitting good news.  I have a couple of projects I want to complete in the next year or two that I didn’t have the yarn for, so I put in an order and got it the other day.

I got some Supersocke self-striping sock yarn in the Mali Color Golden Shades to use in a colorwork sock along with some black yarn I already had:

I’m not quite sure why I was so drawn to this yarn — it’s not a color I’d normally pick, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to use it in that pattern.

I also got some Cascade Heritage sock yarn in Como Blue for another colorwork sock with my black yarn:

All the pictures I’d seen of this yarn showed it as blue, but it’s a fairly green-leaning blue-green.  The picture here is the best I could get, but it’s not green enough.  I’m slightly disappointed it’s not the color I was envisioning, but it should work out okay.

I’ve been wanting some custom fit gloves out of a very fine yarn, so I got some Malabrigo Lace in the color Vaa, which is super soft:

And finally, I bought someFilatura Di Crosa Nirvana lace weight yarn in Dark Teal for a lace shawl I’ve been wanting to make:

It’s super squishy and the perfect color!

As if that package wasn’t good enough news, I also finished the bed I’ve been working on for Lily for the last five and a half months.  She likes it:

In fact, she likes it more than she likes sleeping on the couch next to me!

(Click on any picture for more information on Ravelry.)

Refocusing

I’ve not blogged for a couple of weeks, due to a combination of begin busy and working on non-photogenic projects.  Please accept this photo of Lily “assisting” me with cutting out a pair of pajama pants as an apology:

You weren't planning on using this any time soon, were you?
You weren’t planning on using this any time soon, were you?

This year has gone very fast for me, and now that it’s December, I’m realizing I really need to focus on my christmas projects… I have five things I’d like to get done before christmas:

1) A pair of fingerless gloves for my little brother.  I’m using the lovely Hidden Gusset pattern from Knitty and some grey Regia sock yarn.

12-1-14 B gloveThis one is probably the most important to me, although knowing my brother, he’d find a glove and a half (still on the needles) under the tree hilarious.  I’d prefer to avoid that, however.

2) A knight on horseback hand puppet from an ancient kit I’ve got.  So far I’ve finished the horse and just need to make the knight.

12-1-14 Horse12-1-14 horse headLook at that cute (or maybe slightly disturbing…) face!  This one needs to be done by Dec 15 if it’s going to get done, as I don’t want to try to finish it at my parents’ house.  It’s not critical that it get done, either.

3) A dragon hand puppet from a similar kit.  This is the one I was working on earlier, but it got put on hold for a bit due to misplacing some of the pieces.  I’ve got them, so I just need to finish it.

Dragon projectLike above, this needs to get done by Dec 15 or not for this year.

4) Chocolate truffles.  I made truffles from How to Cook That‘s chocolate truffle recipes last year, and they were amazing, so I’m going to make them again (I’m planning on making orange, raspberry, caramel, and hazelnut praline).  I can’t start them until I get to my parents’ house, but I do need to write out the ingredient lists in advance so we can get everything we need.

5) Christmas crackers.  I always make homemade crackers to pull.  Like the truffles, this will be done at my parents’ house sometime between the 15th and the 25th.  I need to make some extra crackers this year, so I’ll try to get photographs of the whole process and put up a tutorial on this blog.  While I don’t need to start the crackers themselves yet, I do need to make some extra prizes at some point, which I can do now.

My projects for this year’s holidays work out pretty well, as I have some to do in the next two weeks, and some to do the two weeks after that.  I think I can get them all done, and as long as the gloves, truffles, and crackers get done, I’ll be okay.

What (if any) holiday crafting are you doing?  Or are you more organized than I am and are already done?

Rug, week 6

This past week, I’ve taken the rug with me on a couple of days when I knew I was going to be sitting around for quite a while.  I ended up putting in about 3,000 stitches on each of those days!

Rug Wk 6It’s now big enough that I’ve been leaving it on the floor when I’m not working on it.

Also, I realized I’ve not linked to the pattern in my last couple of updates.  It’s the Ocean Currents Rug, just a little bit larger (details on my Ravelry project page if anyone else is thinking of doing similar).

Rug, week 5

I missed last week’s rug update due to being sick over the weekend, but I did manage to do some work on it that weekend and some this week (plus I wove in all the ends).

Rug Wk 5It’s finally big enough that I can really step on it and feel how it’ll be — it’s super squishy!  I was a bit worried it’d be too thin since it’s knit, but the slip stitch rib gives it a lot more bulk than I was anticipating.

Rug, week 2

I haven’t made as much progress this past week as the week before, largely due to my renewed interest in cross stitching.  However, I did finish the initial dark-to-light sequence and am about halfway through the return.

Rug Wk 2Knowing that I wanted to post a picture this week did make me finish a repeat and a half that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, so I’m planning on keeping this up until I finish the entire rug.