Monday, February 8, 2016

Ripple Baby Blanket

Having a stitch pattern dictionary in your library is a great source for creativity. Working with stitches that you are unfamiliar with and learning in many cases outside of your comfort zone. But it can be a challenge when you want to make something out of a stitch pattern because that word that we don't always want to hear comes up - gauging. To get the right size and the correct needle size with the yarn you are using could take a little time and effort.

I always go for things that don't fit like blankets because if it is a little bit bigger it is no big deal and since I am just sharing I am not taking a gauge swatch. I am giving you the gauge I got and measurements which might be an approximate size from what you get given the yarn, needle size and how you knit (tight or loose). You can measure as you go to check on what it will be. This works best if you are using circular needles so that you can lay your piece flat and easily measure as the stitches are not so bunched up as they would be on straight needles. So thinking ahead of the length of the circular needles is important so that the right size coil will be used to hold the number of stitches.

When making a baby gift have the mother in mind not your own taste. It's great that other colors are being used and not only the traditional colors of pink and blue. A fresh take on things. But it is important to try and find out what colors the mother would like or in what colors they are using for the baby room because you want your gift to be used and appreciated.

I used the stitch pattern book, "200 Ripple Stitch Patterns" by Jan Eaton and then made up the size and added a border. But what is great about this book that it has both knit and crochet stitch patterns. I call it a starter kit and you have to finish the rest. This means you have the stitch pattern but you need to figure out the size and that is how many of the initial repeat you need to do.

Sometimes my mind has so much in it and I'm rushing I don't think things out fully. With these two baby blankets one has a border and one doesn't. My brain just wasn't working on that day. I started so I did it without a border. Look at the difference without the border. It doesn't look finished but a border gives it a more finished polished look. So if you are starting a project take a few moments to think about how you want it to look if you want to dare to us a stitch pattern book.

A ripple blanket has what I call peaks and valleys. This means for the peaks there is an increase and for the valleys there is a decrease. So the increase in this blanket they use a Make 1 (M1) and for the decrease it is the knit two together (k2tog). It is an easy blanket with only a two row repeat.

(pattern for blanket) pg 62 Crisp Zigzags

Multiple: 13 + 4

Yarn: I used Red Heart Softy (worsted weight) grey and teal (the only thing is I don't remember how many I used. I would get 3 of each and be mindful of the return policy)

approximate Size:34" x 38"

(pictures: first picture is without a real border second picture is with a border.)

Needle size: US8 long if straight or 24" circulars (I used circulars since it is easy to lay flat and see if everything looks correct and easier to measure)

abbreviations:

k - knit

p - purl

pm - place marker

rep - repeat

sl - slip one

k2tog - knit 2 together

psso - pass slip stitch over

inc - increase

Make 1 increase: lift horizontal thread between stitches and knit into the back of it.

Note: Establish what will be color A and color B. I used the grey for color A and teal for color B

Using color A, co 175

Work 4 rows in garter stitch for bottom border and continue with color A.

Note: to make it easier to follow the pattern stitch, place markers starting one after the first 4 stitches the beginning of row, one after every repeat and one at the end knitting the last 4 sts for the side border.

Row 1: (RS) k4 (pm), inc(make one), k4, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k4, inc (make one) (pm); *k2, inc(make one), k4, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k4, inc (make one)(pm), rep from * to the last 4 stitches, (pm) k4.

Row 2: k4, p to last three sts, k4

Rep Rows 1 and 2 moving markers throughout as you go, changing colors every 9th row which should be starting on a right side row for each stripe pattern. Continue until blanket measures 38" or after completing a total of 10 color A strips and 9 color B strips and you will end with color A.

Continue with color A and end afghan with 4 rows of garter st for top border.

Bind off and weave in ends

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Weekend at Vogue Knitting Live

Well I finally got to volunteer again for Vogue Knitting Live. It's been 3 years which I can't believe how time flies. It was another successful event and lots of attendees.

I was busy at registration as the attendees flowed in needing info as to where to go, how to find their classrooms and other essential questions.

I did have a little time before I started my shift which I spent taking a few pictures and visiting the vendor booths. I feel I should see some sheep since last year all the festivals I attended had live stock. But there was a great amount of vendors with a variety of yarns and supplies to choose from.

I only got to see one fashion show because of my volunteer schedule but there were several going on. I like how the models were dressed in black tights so that you could really see the knitted garments.

There is a lot of rushing around with the visitors, vendors and teachers. But you know what's touching is when a teacher here and there thanks you for being there as a volunteer and helping them.

Besides the vendors and fashion shows there were the classes and lectures going on. So lots of learning. I didn't take any classes or lectures but it was just nice being a part of the event again.

Vogue Knitting Live changed locations on me and that part was wonderful. Just a few blocks from Port Authority - Hurrah! No extra subway just a couple of short blocks and right in the heart of the theater district. You know what that means for next year if I do it - half price ticket line to see a play - boy will I need to get some extra sleep for that one. So it's not just the festival but sometimes we can make it a mini vacation or a little extra fun after the event.

I was assigned to help with the breakdown at the end of the event. I love that. To see all the vendors packing their goods up and Vogue Knitting Live packing everything up just to start preparing for next year. You really can appreciate more the work that is involved in putting such an event together. Vogue Knitting Live is the first event of the year and for me a local event to attend and help out at. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Customer Service and Courtacy

In the world we live in there is less and less thought about good customer service. In the full scope of things courtesy can be looked at as a thing of the past. So when I come across good customer service and courtesy it truly makes my day. And it doesn't have to be something big that makes good customer service in my eyes.

I went to Burger King and when the person waited on me at the drive thru window she gave such a pleasant and wonderful smile and greeting. I just had to tell her thank you for your smile. Well, that made her day also. But it didn't stop there. When I was leaving the parking lot I was coming out on a street that usually no one gives you a chance to turn. It can be a challenge. But a driver gave me the signal to come in and I waved thank you because I wanted him to know that I appreciate his act of kindness.

It doesn't take much to give a smile or a nice greeting when you are dealing with people. It's all about the experience that you either want to receive or give. It is not always easy when you have to deal with people. I know I've been so fortunate to be able to look back on my teaching experience with the knitting and crochet and truly say it has been such a pleasure. My students have been a joy to teach and I have grown some lasting relationships during this time that I treasure.

Across the board, it doesn't matter if you are in that customer service job or not, it is all about treating another human with respect and care and you never know how that could impact there day and yours. Since it is becoming more and more of a rarity I find it so important that the giver of such gestures of good customer service be told and especially kindness on the road be shown with a wave of thanks. Both are still out there but I don't look for it so when it happens I am pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yarn Choices

When I learned to knit and crochet at 10 years old there was no where near the choices of yarns that there are today. And I was not shopping at a yarn store for yarn. Today it is a yarn explosion of companies, colors, textures and more. But one thing I never want to become is a yarn snob. Just like people in general come in all shapes, sizes and nationalities. People have different priorities, spending amounts, circumstances and responsibilities.

It's OK to just shop at a yarn store just like it is OK to just shop at a craft store. With everything that is happening today just to be able to have a de-stresser in our lives is a plus. As for me, I would not be respecting my students that can't afford to frequent a yarn shop if I only want to work with the yarns from there. And I don't have that kind of money either for the more pricier yarns. I'm thankful that I do work at a yarn shop so that I can try a variety of different yarns. But at the end of the day it is all good because there are some beautiful items that I've seen with a variety of yarns including acrylic. I also think of those preemie babies, children, special Olympics, seniors and ones battling cancer that I had the privilege of making items needed and donating them for ones to enjoy and to stay warm.

But my take is this, I love a lot of the acrylic yarns I've worked with from craft stores and my projects came out nice. But I think everyone should experience working with the yarns from a yarn shop as a special gift to yourself or a love one. The yarn shop I work at again is Knits Fabulous. You can click right on the name to go to the website. There are fabulous choices of yarns at a very nice range of prices and I love that.

I think that people feel all the yarns in a yarn shop are expensive and they are not. The yarn shop is really trying and I think doing a successful job at tilting the scale from high price and affordable price. So if you are one that feels I can't afford shopping at a yarn shop don't rule it out because it doesn't have to be a big project to taste some new flavors of yarn. There are store sales to consider as a time to treat yourself.

So if you are near the yarn shop or are itching for a road trip destination with yarn then come check us out and you won't be disappointed

I've been busy as usual with a couple of UFO's and new stuff.

One of my new items is this knitted slouch hat that I love. Especially since it uses buttons as an accent and I have lots of buttons. The hat is from the magazine: Make it! Knits. I picked it up while in Florida because I loved several items that I wanted to make. The name of the hat is Veronica Slouch. It fits great and I love that it has a different cable design to be worn on the side. And I just happen to have three great size charcoal color buttons that goes perfectly with the hat design.
The yarn I used was the Bergere Duvetine. It is a nice soft yarn but it is spun very loose, almost like roving with a thread wrapped around to hold it together. My needle kept lifting the string up so it got on my nerves after a while. I love how the hat worked up and I chose it because I do have to be careful of total wools on my head because it can cause my hair to break. This is 73% Acrylic, 19% Polyamid and 8% Polyester. Unfortunately, you have to make adjustments when your skin or hair has issues. For other items, I'm glad that a lot of the wools I can wear but need to test against my skin to see if it would be too itchy.
The second project is a knitted cowl from the same magazine. The name of the cowl is Ambrosia Cowl. I love the slip stitch design that flows diagonally and used also as a ribbing affect. The yarn I used is Land West Tweed. I loved how the color streamed and looks. It is 47% Wool, 47% acrylic and 6% Viscose.
I have one more to share. The name of this scarf pattern is Pearl-barred Scallop Scarf. It is a free pattern through Ravlery. The yarn for this one is the Baah Aspen - very soft and nice to work with. It is 75% Merrino, 15% Silk and 10% Cashmere. The pattern is a 12 row repeat but easy to do. I can see that this yarn is really going to block well.

I love opening up my world to new things. In this case working at the yarn shop has opened up my world to new yarn choices so I can work across the horizon of yarns. It has been really nice to sample these yarns.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

One Goal - A Continuous Struggle

I went clothes shopping which I am not a fan of. I guess it is because I am tall and I always have issues with length in pants and sleeve length for tops and sweaters. But my newest issue is weight gain. I know there are ones that can relate to this. It is a struggle especially for most of my life I had no problem.

Some say they knit or crochet or think if they start then the problem with eating or snacking will magically go away. Well, I multi-task very well. So that does't work for me. A little bit of knit and crochet and a little bit of snacking goes a long way. I just have to continue to make better choices, especially when I go out for dinner.

So as usual around the end of the year I start to work on goals for the next year. But this one goal of eating healthier and loosing a few pounds is a continuous goal. I don't want to use the word diet because eating healthier has mostly been a part of my life. I do enjoy sweets but especially things with salt. Several years ago I could eat and eat but not gain a pound. Life catches up with ya. My knitted and crochet tops I made in the past fit just a little bit too snug and don't look right so that is another reason to loose.

Let me change this subject to what I've been working on. Well, I have just finished this crochet cowl called Berry Harvest Bandana Cowl.
It is free through Ravelry. I love the pineapple design so this caught my eye. I made it out of the Lana Grossa Cool Wool Print. I do love the yarn. It is 100% Virgin Wool. I would call the spin of the yarn a coil tight spin but it is spongy with a stretch. I put a little different edging on it which I like. As you can see the yarn blocks beautifully. I wish I would have showed it before blocking. I am always amazed at what blocking does which I've said before, brings the stitches alive.
I've also made another cowl from the Crochet Noro book called Granny Triangle Cowl. This is made up of six triangles and then seamed together and finished with a top and bottom edging. The edging is one row double crochet but the next row is my favorite edging stitch - the reverse crochet. This gives such a nice finish to it. I am making this out of two different yarns - Juniper Moon Farm (Moonshine) along with Spud & Chloe (sweater worsted). They worked well together. I used the spritzing of water on just the edges and the seams to block it out then added the finished edging to it. I didn't want to stretch this anymore because the measurements were exact. If I would have used the immerse in water method then it would have stretched too much. With blocking you need to figure out which method will give you the results you want.
I have this shawl I am finishing called Blossoms by the brook using yarn I purchased from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year - The Verdant Gryphon (hand-dyed DK merino wool). It is really soft and nice to work with. The shawl I am enjoying the construction of the shape because it is different than other shawls I've made. You can follow how the design should line up clearly from the pattern. I think it will be really nice to wear.

I had fun making these and have others in the making. As is said, "You can't just eat one Layes potato chip." And I can't just have one, two or three projects at a time. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy creating and having fun doing it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Logic of Knitting and Crocheting

I have a motto - "Don't Just Knit/crochet". Yes, we would all like to just knit/crochet and not have to do anything else. But that is not going to help us to grow in our knitting/crochet or understand what we are doing. I just started this pattern Rhea Capelet (knitted) from the Knit and Crochet Now!show (nothing much to show yet). It is not often that a pattern will ask you to go from using one needle size to three sizes up. This pattern did but only for the cast on. But why? I could have just did the cast on and not even worry about it but there is a logic to doing certain things that we are told to do and we should know why because it will help in future patterns we do.

What am I working with after the cast on? Well, there is a leaf lace design and it is a wider design that needs room to stretch out. Oh, that is why the difference in needle size because you do not want it to be a tight cast on for such a stitch. And going from the lace design to the straight stockinette body would make it look awkward.

We have to remember that this has been designed and then a sample made to see how it would work. But then we also have to take into account how we knit. Are we a tight knitter or a loosy goosy knitter? That is where the gauge comes in. If we don't do a gauge and we know that we are a loosy goosy knitter then in this case with the needle size the jump or difference might make it too loose. Skipping steps even in life can cause problems. For example, I wanted this clock and I ordered the clock. But what I didn't do was to measure where the clock would go to make sure it would fit in that space. Well, when the clock arrived I went to put it up and of course the space would not fit the clock. So then I had to rearrange things so that I could use the clock which is something I didn't want to do. Not thinking it out or skipping an important step caused a problem. If we do the same in our knitting or crochet we will sometimes regret that decision of skipping an important step. Just a little food for thought.

These are the things that we have to think about before our projects are started. Yes, we would just want to knit/crochet but that could cause a disaster or the end result not to be of our liking because we wanted to skip steps or not use the method given. We can skip steps but there could be consequences to our actions. So I would think about identifying what kind of knitter/crocheter you are and how your knitting/crochet usually comes out with or without gauging to see if delving into a project is the right thing to do for what we are making. We put so much time and effort into our work we don't want the end result not to be of our liking./p>

If you are new at knitting/crochet then you still have some things to learn and mistakes to make. With all that we do we want to keep on learning and changing our habits to what will bring an end result that we are pleased with.

We also want to make life easier with knitting/crochet. So with a larger number to cast on or chain I will mark every fiftieth stitch/chain with a pin so that I would not have to count again and again. You could do it on any number. I just chose fifty because I didn't want to count any higher than that - personal preference comes into the picture.

So what else am I working on? Well I finished two items.

Knitted Ameeta Scarf - yarn: Loops and Thread Impeccable

I enjoyed this scarf and it is an easy and fun pattern to make. But keeping track of the rows is important if you want the design to flow correctly.

Quick Crochet Cable Beret - yarn: Red Heart Soft

This was a very quick beret to make. Once I got use to the pattern I didn't need it. I say this is a good in the middle project between a couple that need more attention as you are making them.

Crochet Short Ruana - yarn: Red Heart Soft

The way this is constructed is in one piece. The back is worked and then one side of the front is worked and then the other side. The sides of the piece is not seemed but left open and a belt is used to hold it in place. I am not sure yet if I will come up with some other closure or not since the belts don't look the best with the extra weight I have - LOL.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Florida Vacation Over

Well you know it will end but you wish time could just stop when you are having such a great time and I did. It has already been a week that I've been back. It was so much what I needed and at the right time. My girlfriend wanted me to see as much as I could and we ran for it. We went to The Big Cat Rescue. If you love cats this is a place to visit and support if you could. Wonderful place and a lot to learn. I loved it because they are mostly big cats so they need a lot of space and their enclosures gave them enough to run and a couple of them were so active playing with their toys. I had to remember that these cats were pets so they would love to play more with balls and other things. But no matter they were respected as wild animals.

But it is sad also that people are still seeing nothing wrong with bringing a wild animal from the wild into their home and thinking that it is going to stay sweet and cute. This world of hurt and pain. Reality of it all stuck its ugly head up fully. Also, it was sad to hear the small numbers left in the wild of some of these cats. Human destruction is a live and well unfortunately. We did meet the founder and heard of her dedication to helping these poor defenseless creatures. If you know anyone that would love to give to a great cause this is one place to tell them about.

But anyway, back to what else I saw, we went to Sea World and experienced some great shows, USF Botanical Gardens, Dali Salvador Museum, Disney's Animal Kingdom which the bird show was great and there was a message behind it regarding our beautiful birds of the wild. We also went to a beach when I arrived and saw a beautiful sunset and went to a beach on the day I was leaving and I walked the beach and just enjoyed the last day.

I also enjoyed sitting on her screened in seating area. She has it fixed up so beautifully with all of her plants surrounding, seating and pictures. It was so comfortable. And the lizards that I enjoyed watching. Yes I am a reptile person. In the past posts I stated that I volunteered at Turtleback Zoo in West Orange, NJ for six years and the snakes were my favorite. Saying that, I was so excited when the alligator stuck his massive head out of the pond and I was talking to him - of course from sitting inside. It would get light at 7:15am and I was out there doing my knitting and crochet, drinking coffee and enjoying the view. But the different birds I saw - I love bird watching. It was a wonderful trip that brought some peace to my mind as I had time to unwind.

Sea World>
USF Botanical Gardens - Tampa>
Sea World - Orlando>
Walt Disney Animal Kingdom - Orlando>
At Animal Kingdom there was a display of a tree, which I want to do research on, that there were carving all over and it was simply beautiful to look at and go around the tree and see what other animals you can find.

My girlfriend loved the crochet pineapple shawl I made for her. I used the yarn Cascade - Longwood. She is so funny because I came in the house and asked for a couple of big plastic bags and two large towels and that I needed to use the bed to block a shawl. I was using the full immersion in water blocking method. She said, "OK" and didn't ask any questions. I then held it up and asked her how she liked it and she said, "Oh that is beautiful." I then said, "It is yours." She was so surprised and happy. I wish I would have taken a picture of it after blocking because the yarn blocks great.

I did get some knitting done because my friend was doing all the driving. I finished this shawlette in the picture and I blocked it last week. This is a free pattern called Multnomah. When I pinned it down I used a yard stick to lay across the top to make sure it was even and that works for me. And a crochet accent scarf called Fisherman's Fan which was fast. I used Juniper Moon Findly DK yarn. I found both patterns through Ravelry. I love accent scarves but don't get a chance to make too many because I always see something else I want to make.