Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Manly Quilt

Every year for Christmas, I'm stumped with what to get for my husband. He's a dear man, and I love him very much, but he's almost impossible to buy for. He always ends up returning what I buy. One year, I got him the EXACT saw he wanted, and he STILL took it back!

We each have flannel lap quilts -- they are nice to snuggle up with when watching TV. He's often commented on his quilt, wishing it was long enough to go over his head when he's napping. Since his current quilt is showing signs of wear, I decided to make him a new one....

The block is a simple Monkey Wrench block, done in scrappy many colored fabrics, from the book Hooked on Triangles: 19 Quilts for Foundation Piecing by Kristin Bergljot Johannessen and Turid Margaret Uren.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bonnie Belle Mitts

I have a new pattern! Bonnie Belle is available for free download on Ravelry. It uses sport weight yarn, which makes for a quick knit. I do like fingering weight yarn, -- the finished mitts feel so nice! But occasionally, you need to crank out something quickly and these fit the bill.

I designed them for my friend, Bonnie. Her birthday was coming up, and I had no idea what to get her. I'd given mitts to some of my other friends for their birthdays, so I thought that would be a good plan. I had some nice yarn that I dyed -- Surino from Wool 2 Dye 4, kettle dyed in one of Bonnie's favorite colors. I tried a few different patterns, but nothing was working, and I had to frog a couple of times. Phooey!

I was about to give up, but then saw a stitch pattern that I thought would work. Open Twisted Rib from Super Stitches Knitting by Karen Hemingway looked like a strong possibility. It looks like a cable stitch, only it's not, which makes the knitting speed along.

It came out better that I expected. There's always a gap from imagination to reality -- sometimes things work, and sometimes they don't. This time it did.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No-Fail Slip-Stitch Heel for Toe-up Socks

I love knitting toe-up socks! Top down is fine, too, but I think toe-up is my favorite. I like being able to knit to the end of a 50 gram skein, and not worry if I'm going to run out of yarn. Invariably, I seem to need to make adjustments to the heel -- my heels need a little more room than patterns seem to allow for....

It made me crazy having to figure out how to adjust the pattern to fit my heels. Every time I would knit a pair of socks, I'd have to do it all over again. It would be just a little bit different than the last time. There should be a formula somewhere to make the calculations easier. After a fruitless search, I decided it would take less time if I did it myself....

So, here's my no-fail formula for constructing a slip-stitch heel on toe-up socks...

So far, you've knit the foot, and done the gusset increases. You've also completed the short rows for the shaping on the bottom of the sole. I usually do magic loop, so I'm only working with needle 1 (instep stitches) and needle #2 (sole + gusset stitches), and this discussion will be discussed from that point of view. If you use DPNs, you would have the instep stitches on needles 1 & 2, and the sole/gusset stitches on needles 3 & 4. You will have a certain number of stitches on needle 2, and will need to reduce these stitches down to the number on needle #1 when you beging the leg portion of the sock.

So, the given values you'll need for the formula are:
  • The number of stitches initially on needle #2, call this A
  • the number of stitches you want to end up with, call this number B
The instructions for the slip stitch heel read as follows:

Row 1: Knit C stitches, ssk, turn.

Row 2: Slip 1, Purl D stitches, P2tog, turn.

Row 3: (Sl1, K1) E times, ssk, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 & 3 until all stitches have been worked.

You need to calculate the values of C, D and E, using the values of A and B which you know:

C = [(A+B)/2] - 1
D = B - 2
E = (B-1)/2

Let me give you an example. We can look at the Slip Stitch Heel Basic Sock from Wendy Johnson's book Socks From the Toe Up. After the gusset increases and the short rows to set up turning the heel, you will have 63 stitches on needle #2. So A = 63. You need to reduce this number down to 33 stitches. So B = 33. We can calculate the other values we need for the heel flap using the formulas above.

C= [(63 + 33)/2] -1 = [96/2] -1 = 48-1 = 47
D = 33 - 2 = 31
E = (33 - 1)/2 = 32/2 = 16

Plug these values back into the instructions, and you'll get:

Row 1: Knit 47 stitches, ssk, turn.

Row 2: Slip 1, Purl 31 stitches, P2tog, turn.

Row 3: (Sl1, K1) 16 times, ssk, turn.

And that's exactly how Wendy Johnson wrote the instructions in her book!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Graduation Quilts

If we are lucky, our lives are touched by special young people, and we take great joy in their accomplishments and achievements. There are also special landmarks in their lives -- one such being graduation from high school. It's the end of childhood, and the almost-beginning of their adulthood. Since I am a quilter, it's inevitable that I choose to commemorate these occasions with a quilt.

This year marks the end of my youngest daughter's high school experience. So of course she gets a quilt! Then there are two very good friends of hers that I love dearly -- they each need a quilt, too. And a very special young lady who lives across the street deserves one as well. And huzzah! I did it! Four quilts all ready for their recipients! Well, almost.....

The first one was for Becca. The color choice was extremely easy. Purple. Period. I came across a pattern for a flower design -- perfect for a scrappy purple quilt. Considering the fact that her family runs a greenhouse, this was a no brainer!

It was more of a challenge picking one for Chrissy. Chrissy is a bit of a tomboy, and is an artist and a science-brain, which is quite an interesting combination. I consulted my daughter Betsy (Chrissy is her friend, after all!) and we decided Blue was the color of choice. Betsy helped me pick out some fabric for the border, and we decided to keep it blue and white, also scrappy. I used a pattern from the book by Karla Alexander, ''New Cuts for New Quilts''. Her ''Stack the Deck'' method is a really fun technique to use, and makes an interesting scrap quilt. Here's Chrissy's quilt:

Elizabeth, the girl across the street was the third quilt, mainly because I couldn't settle on a pattern. I've know her since she was three years old! I had some pretty blue batik in a butterfly print, and opted for a simple star design...

And last, but certainly not least, my daughter Betsy's quilt! I asked her what color she wanted, and she chose a scrappy quilt, too. I asked her to pick the background color, and she chose a mustard-gold. I found the most perfect fabric -- it was a print that looked like a map. Just right for someone leaving home for college in the fall! I had help with this quilt -- it's a tradition in my quilt group to help each other when our kids graduate from high school. So everybody made some blocks and I put it all together. I just love the way it came out, and I hope she likes it, too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another New Pattern? That-a-Way...

Well, maybe not exactly -- I had the pattern done in November. I had made it to submit to Cherry Tree Hill Yarn's design contest. Sadly it didn't win, but it's good for my fellow Ravelers, since the pattern is now up on Ravelry. I got two pair knitted from one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy, with a bunch to spare.

I'm calling them That-a-Way Mitts since the lace pattern is called "Arrow Lace". Appropriate, I thought! I used 2.50 mm needles for one pair, and 2.75 for the second. The first was a little snug for my hands, but fit my daughter's nicely. Since she absconded with them, I was down a pair, and dang it! I really liked the color of the yarn! So the 2.75 mm needle pair fit me perfectly.

The pattern hasn't been test knit, but I did knit up the second pair and had a chance to review it. So if you find any more mistakes, let me know!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Pattern!

I've finally had time to work up one of the designs that have been bouncing around in my head. I was inspired by the Cable & Moss Stitch pattern form Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks, and worked this up into a pair of fingerless gloves. I used some Claudia's Handpainted fingering weight yarn that I got for X-mas. The colorway is called Tea Cup -- a pretty white with bits of blue.

I'm trying to decide on a name. I was going to call them Blue Willow Mitts, but there is a pattern of that name already on Ravelry. My Ravelry friends have suggested quite a few, here are the ones I like best:
  • Willow Dream
  • Willow Wear
  • Wedgewood Mitts
  • Cuppa Tea
I Have to decide in a few days -- the testers are wrapping things up, and the pattern will be ready to be posted in a day or so!