"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief, huh?

We are having unseasonably cold weather up in here in the north. I woke up on Friday morning to 1° F and it is still November. Brrr! What this cold weather makes me want to do above all else is curl up in front of the fire with some yarn and knitting needles. Of course there are many other things - and people - needing attention but I have gotten quite a few Christmas presents finished, others needing some sort of finishing - but near finished - and a few fun things finished as well.

This post is about the pattern I got in a class at our local yarn shop. The pattern is called The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief. Not sure why it would be called a name like that but it is a delightful pattern. I had admired the instructor's "shawlette" made with it so I was happy when it was offered as a class. The class was titled, "The Garter Tab," which is how the shawl begins. I had already done a garter tab on the shawl in this post but really wanted the pattern for the one featured in the class.

If you go to the Ravelry link and get to the page that offers the pattern as a free download, you will see lovely photographs of several good-sized shawlettes. And then there's mine:

As you can see, it is smaller than intended. I really like the colors but I had a very frustrating yarn experience. I bought Noro Kureyon and to meet the requirements of the pattern, I bought 3 skeins of the same color and dye lot. But that's just the thing about Noro - the same dyelot and color could actually look completely different from another of the same. I just assumed that what was all balled up in the center would make up for the outsides looking different. But, no. Two of the skeins were close enough that when I cut out a patch that was completely different from every other color in those two skeins, I was able to continue in the color pattern. BUT the 3rd skein was as though it was a completely different colorway. Soooo I "ended up ending up" sooner than the pattern called for and having more of a bandanna. :^) It does look fine tied in the back of my neck with the triangle in the front but it was not what I was planning.

Another thing about the Noro yarn is that it is only one ply and in some places it is so lightly spun that you get more pilling and escaped fuzzy, if you "take my meanin'." So I guess I'm giving Noro Kureyon a thumbs down. And the pattern a thumbs up.

I really like the effect of the evenly-spaced, intermittent rows of purl with yarn overs. In fact, that is one thing I learned how to do pretty well in this pattern - doing a yarn over in a purl row. I had thought that was not doable. But, in fact, it is. In case you don't know how, the way to do it is this: with your needle and yarn at the ready for your next purl stitch (and at the location the pattern says to YO), you do a 360° around your needle with the yarn, making sure to create just one new loop on your needle (it's easy to go around too far and make 2 loops, thus making too many increases in that row) and then do the next purl stitch. It took me entirely too long to figure out why I was coming up with too many stitches! But alas, I conquered!

The other thing of importance I learned in this class is from a handout found here at Laylock.org. The page to which I linked  includes a downloadable sheet with the 5 basic shawl shapes and how the shapes are accomplished. This is very informative and I think with its help, I am going to be able to make this Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief again but instead of being the "heart-shaped" shawlette that the pattern calls for, I will be able to make it a "triangular" shaped shawl. Nice to know.

Because of the yarn troubles, I had to end the kerchief before the 3rd and last purl/YO section and go straight away to the garter and cast off section. Therefore my kerchief is assymetrical from top to bottom AAACCCKKK!  So now that I've told ALL, if you ever see me wearing it, you can look for the flaws. Or if you're really nice, you might just say, "Did you make that? It's so pretty." 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Whimsical Tassel Hat Pattern

I've just finished the last pre-planned Christmas gift. That is not to say that I won't come up with something last minute that I "simply must make" for this or that person. But I may just be finished with Christmas knitting. And the last gift on my list to be completed is...(drum roll here) Ta-Da!

Isn't it adorable? It makes me think of a propeller hat. I had the pattern in my "pattern stash" and it appears it was copied from a book at some point. I'm sorry that I do not even know what book but when I ran across this pattern, I knew just for whom I should make it. It is for a little nine year old girl in our life, a pink-loving little girl. The pattern is written for an adult so I had to decide how to change it for a small nine year old. We will see at Christmas time if I was successful.

I searched on Ravelry and couldn't find anything like it. So, I think I will just type up the pattern here, in case any one else wants to make one. I think lots of ladies, young & old, would love to wear it, maybe in different colors. Of course, some would not be caught dead in it. :^)

Worsted yarn (3½ oz/100 g balls, each ~ 223 yd/205 m (wool)
  • 1 ball for "underneath color" (color A)
  • 1 ball for brim and tassels (color B)
Size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle, 16"/40 cm long (or size to obtain gauge.
One set of 4 double-pointed needles, size 7 (4.5 mm)
Stitch Marker

[NOTE: for the little girl's size, I used size 6 needle, 16" circular needles and size 6 DPN's]

Sizes Medium (Large)

Finished Circumference 19½ (22)"/49.5 (56) cm

20 sts and 24 rounds to 4"/10 cm over St st using size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle. 
22 sts and 26 rounds to 4"/10cm over k3, p3 rib (slightly stretch) using size 7 (4.5mm) circular needle

inc = Knit into front and back of stitch to increase

Note: Hat is worked from the crown downward 

With dpn and color A, cast on 12 sts, leaving a long tail for sewing up top "hole." Divide sts over 3 needles. Join, taking care not to twist sts on needles, pm for beg of rnds.

Rnd 1 and all odd rnds Knit.
Rnd 2   *K1, inc in next st; rep from * around - 18 sts.
Rnd 4   *K2, inc in next st; rep from * around - 24 sts.
Rnd 6   *K3, inc in next st; rep from * around - 30 sts.
Rnd 8   *K4, inc in next st; rep from * around - 36 sts.
Rnd 10 *K5, inc in next st; rep from * around - 42 sts.
Rnd 12 *K6, inc in next st; rep from * around - 46 sts.
Rnd 14 *K7, inc in next st; rep from * around - 54 sts.

Continue in same sequence, by working one more k st before inc every other round 9 (11) times more 108 (120) sts. [NOTE: For little girl's hat, I stopped at 96 stitches.] Change to circular needles. Work even for 3"/7.5 cm. Change to color B, Knit next round.

Next round, begin ribbing by: k3, p3 for 4 (4½)"/10 (11.5)cm. Turn hat WS out.

Next (Bind off) round Sl 1, k2, *bind off next 3 purl sts, k2; rep from * around sing the first st of the next rnd to complete the last 3 st bind off.

First I-cord
Place first 3 sts on circular needle on a single dpn. Work in I-cord as follows: (The inside of the brim will be the RS of your work for the I-cords, so that when the brim is folded correctly, the right side of the I-cord will be outward.)
*Next row With 2nd dpn, k3, do not turn. Slide sts back to beg of needle to work next row; rep from * until I-cord measures 11-12"/28-30.5 cm from beginning of I-cord. Cut yarn leaving a 6:/15.5 cm tail. Thread tail in tapestry needle, then thread through rem sts. Pull tog tightly and secure end.

Second I-cord
Place next 3 sts on circular needle on a dpn. Join B and cont to work as for first I-cord. Cont in this manner until 16 (18) rem I-cords are completed. (Total: 18 (20) I-cords) Weave in all ends of the I-cords. [NOTE: Total I-cords for little girl's hat will be 16.]

Finish by threading beg tail into tapestry needle. Weave tail around opening at top of crown. Pull tog tightly and secure end. Cut a 24"/61 cm strand of B. Thread into tapestry needle and use doubled. 
Working 4½/11.5 cm from end of I-cords and from right to left, insert needle through each I-cord. Pull tog tightly, secure end but do not cut yarn. wrap yarn twice around bundle and secure end. [NOTE: For little girl's hat, I had to figure out where I wanted the fold in the brim to be and then what length of the I-cord was needed to cover the hat. For my I-cords, it was about 5" from the END of the I-cords.]

So, that is the pattern for this whimsical hat. If any of you make one, I'd love to hear from you and maybe see a picture of it.


P.S. I continually hear from my Facebook friends and from my local friends that they try to leave a comment on my blog posts but are not able to. One of them recently said that she has a gmail account so she used her information to log in so she could leave a comment, but it all disappeared. Comments are a real encouragement for a blogger - we blog on-line partly to interact with people interested in our interests. If any of you have any ideas on what I can tell my friends, please let me know here. Thank you very much.

Whimsical Tassel Hat being blocked
Almost dry hat on the "blocking balloon

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fair Isle Hat Patterns - Plus Color Charts

Not too long before I began this blog, I was learning fair isle knitting or two color knitting. I've only done it on circular needles so far and want to learn it on two needles for sweaters and such. But in various posts, I have shown a few pictures of the designs I have used - just two so far. And I did put a color chart on for the little baby hats in this post, Baby Love #2. But I have yet to share the color chart for my adult hats. So, because I have been asked so much, here goes. I have written this out in pencil on a piece of graph paper. I'm sure there are computer programs on which I could have done it much simpler. But I don't know how. So my scratchings are what I have to offer you.

I have used two different color designs. These first 2 pictures show the difference. I will call the first photo the large "V's". The second photo will be called the small "v's". Clear??
Large "V's"
Small "v's"

What I'm going to do is give you directions for the braid and then both color charts and then the crown decrease directions (same for both hats). If you look over my pictures, you will see that I have done a variety of designs above the primary design, but all of them are a part of the color chart somewhere. The primary designs (the series of "v's") are both 11 rows long. The large "V" is in multiples of 12; the small "v" design is in multiples of 6. (This seems so hard to explain without using my hands and facial expressions - and to see your facial expressions for a little affirmation.) :^)

Supplies: 1 Skein worsted weight yarn: Main Color (MC)
                1 skein worsted weight yarn in black or white:Contrast Color (CC)
                                         (note: I have used a variety of yarns for contrast, variegated, cream, tan,
                                          whatever you want. Just be sure that the color in your contrast is not in  
                                          your variegated yarn, if used - the design will get lost.)
                16" circular needle, size US #6
                16" circular needle, size US #8
                 Set of double pointed needles, size US #8
                 One stitch marker

Before you cast on, let me say that for adults, I have always cast on the larger number of stitches. I don't like tight hats, as most women don't. So the size is good for adult women. And it is good for adult men, too. I have cast on fewer stitches for children. I will note those numbers under pictures below.

So here we go. First, the Latvian Braid:

For these hats, cast on 84 (96, 108) stitches in your two colors but using the long tail method. Do not count your slip knots and remove those when finished. I have found that it helps to have the same color on the thumb for every stitch (I prefer having the contrast color on my thumb). That way, if you have to sit it down, you can remain consistent when you resume. (If it helps you to see it, try searching on You Tube for "Latvian Braid." There are many videos, all with slight variations in technique.)

After you have the correct number of stitches - double check - take off your slip knots and begin the braid as such:

3 Row Latvian Braid

Using 2 strands of yarn, different colors, cast on with Long Tail method, any even numbered stitches, on circular needles. (for these hats, cast on 84 [small adult,] 96 [medium,] 108 [large - I always use 108 because I like hats loose])

Round 1: Knit, starting with Main Color, and alternate yarns
         (K1 with main color, K1 with contrast color)

Next 2 rounds will be purled so move yarns to the front:

Round 2: P1 MC, and move yarn just worked to the left. Bring contrast color up on the right and P1 CC. Repeat for entire round. (Yarns will twist up as you work but will untwist during round 3. Or, if it becomes very annoying, you can invert your work, hold the yarns and let the needles untwist.)

Round 3: P1 MC, P1 CC, move yarn just worked up and to the right and bring the next yarn under.

When you have that finished, you are ready for the color chart. BE SURE TO CHANGE TO THE LARGER NEEDLES as you do the first row of the color chart.

(If you never used a color chart, be sure to read it from right to left.)

The color chart for the large V's is below:               The color chart for the small v's is below:


I hope these show up well enough to make copies if you need to.

I don't always do more design above the 3rd section of the chart. In that case, I continue in the main color, marking off the rows, to make sure I have enough rows. If you want a "slouch hat," add a few more rows.

The crown directions for the adult hats are as follows:

Using MC only and changing to double pointed needles as crown becomes too small for circulars:
Round 1: Knit 10, K2T, repeat around.
Round 2 and all even numbered rows: Knit around
Round 3: Knit 9, K2T, repeat around.
Round 5: Knit 8, K2T, repeat around.
Round 7: Knit 7, K2T, repeat around.
Round 9: Knit 6, K2T, repeat around.
Round 11: Knit 5, K2T, repeat around.
Round 13: Knit 4, K2T, repeat around.
Round 15: Knit 3, K2T, repeat around.
Round 17: Knit 2, K2T, repeat around.
Round 19: Knit 1, K2T, repeat around.
Round 21: K2T, repeat around.

Then cut yarn leaving a generous tail. Thread tail into a darning needle and run the tail through remaining stitches. Pull tight. I usually go through a few more times, keeping the tail tight. Weave in the tail and all remaining ends. And don't neglect blocking. You won't be sorry.

TIP: Blocking hats on balloons work well. Just make sure the balloon isn't big enough to stretch the hat OR the braid.

If any of these directions are confusing, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE TO ASK QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENT SECTION. I'll try to help.

For directions, number of stitches, and the type of yarn I used on the little baby hats, I'll give you the link again to Baby Love #2

Look at my pictures below for ideas and numbers of stitches for kids' and toddler hats.

Chicago Bear colors-for my brother-in-law.
I almost gagged the whole time I worked on it.
(I'm a die-hard Packer Fan.)

Tennessee Volunteer colors - for my dad.

St. Louis Blue's hockey team's colors
for my oldest. He's a huge fan.
This was one of the first hats I made
and have since
learned how to do a consistent braid.
This is my youngest's and he selected the yarn colors.
He wanted the variegated to be the contrast color.
Again, I used Gina by Plymouth in this one. I 

used a 6 stitch I-cord for the "ribbing."

This variegated yard is Gina, by Plymouth Yarns.

Here, I used a heather gray for the CC.
Love the effect.

I did two of these for young boys. I featured them in
a fun post: here at Birthday Hats.
But for the 1 year old, I cast on 72 stitches, size 4
and 6 needles, 12 " circulars.
For the 3 year old, 84 stitches, size 5 & 7 needles,
16 inch circulars.
I made 3 of this size for close-in-age grandsons.
(10-12 years old)
I cast on 96 stitches and used size 5 & 7 needles,
16 inch circulars.

Blocking on a balloon

Preparing to block on a balloon
Baby hats featured at Baby Love #2


Oh, yes, I want to close this out with 2 more adorable pictures. The hats I posted about in Baby Love 2 were given to newborns but were intended for this fall and winter. So, here they are modeling their hats.

Oops, another irresistible picture snuck in -
my adorable little friend in the hat about which I
posted in Birthday Hat - and A Bit of Confusion

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spinning With the Sheep, Sort of

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of having a group of homeschoolers into my home for a spinning demonstration. In previous years, I have done demonstrations at libraries, living museums, churches, schools, and at sheep farms. Or rather, farms that have sheep. I've even done demonstrations in hallways of schools, where a farmer friend of mine would bring a couple of sheep, shear them right there in the school (on a large piece of plywood) and then I would take some of the unwashed, freshly sheared wool and spin it up. I especially like spinning right there with the sheep so that the children can associate their clothing with the fiber used to make it. And their sweaters with sheep.

But I don't remember ever doing a demonstration in my house. So I had to try to figure out how to make the sheep/yarn/garments connection for them. I have often read the book A New Coat for Anna to children, and even adults, but what I really wanted was to have sheep - IN MY LIVING ROOM!

My very "tech-y" son helped me use our large flat screen T.V. to do just that. He got the needed cables hooked up to the television and I found a couple of You Tube videos that highlighted sheep and sheep shearing. I accessed my You Tube "play list" from my Nexus tablet and...voila, sheep in my living room, sort of.  Here are the videos we watched. This one and this one. (There was some redundancy in the second one, so we didn't watch the entire thing.) One of the children said, "I didn't know sheep were so noisy."  Loved that - at least they were getting a feel for sheep farming.

After the video I read from a book called Bible Friends by Etta B. Degering, in which is describes the process that Jacob, Joseph and Benjamin likely went through to make "Joseph's coat of many colors." (Spinning in both Old and New Testament times was done by drop spindle.) Then I tried my hand at showing the drop spindle - except it kept dropping. I didn't get the wool ends separated enough for it to "hook up." But maybe they got the idea.

The gray yarn is what the children spun

I then demonstrated carding and spinning and let 3 brave little ones try their hand at spinning while I treadled the foot pedal. All three were able to get some yarn spun and the little boy was quite adapt at it. And the 9 year old girl seemed to really like carding, feeling the fiber.

I finished by reading A New Coat for Anna (if you haven't read it, you really ought to) and with pumpkin bars and cider. Oh how I love demonstrating spinning, especially when I get to "play dress-up."

Showing some Kool-Aid dyed


One of the youngest spectators
getting to know the "token sheep."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Little Pine Cupboard

This post is not about spinning. It is not about knitting. Nor is it about any memories. But what it is about is absolute cuteness.

Except that my engineer husband doesn't exactly agree with me about that. It is rather a builder's nightmare. But it is soooo cute.

Recently we were on a vacation and while visiting with a high school friend and her husband, we drove to a small town to do some antiquing. Franklin, Indiana it was. There are many nice antique and "whimsy" shops in Franklin. We had lots of fun oooo-ing and ahhhhh-ing and resisting buying every neat thing we saw. Our guys would walk through the shops, scan for tools and other "men things," which, in some of the shops, were difficult to find. Then they would go outside to chat and wait. Both are very patient men.

While in one of the shops I spotted a little pine cupboard. When I say little, that is what I mean. It was (well, is) so tiny, 56" inches tall, 17 inches wide and 3.5" deep on the top, 8.5" deep on the bottom. It was an ugly green color and not really very symmetrical. There is trim on one side that isn't on the other and even the "feet", or braces for support, are not cut or positioned the same. It appears that someone took various pieces of wood from a variety of places and cobbled them together to make this little cupboard. It might have been made for a little girl to play with, except it seems too tall for that. Whatever the story is on this cupboard, it is soooo cute. AND it had been $45.00 USD and was marked down to $30.00. "What a deal," I said. My husband didn't say that, especially after he looked at the construction. But, with that said, it fit quite nicely in the back of our vehicle, with other things packed all around it.

Here are the before pictures.

Because it is so compact it would fit into many little spaces in a home. I bought it for our second bathroom but the only place it would fit in there is right in front of the light switches. However, not to worry, there were many other options. I considered the master bathroom, which would necessitate blue or white paint, but most of the other options would have it against a tan wall. After I crossed the master bath off the list, I decided to go with a coppery burnt orange so it would contrast nicely with the walls. It is Behr Paints, Maple Glaze, and I was able to get it covered with their sample size - because the cupboard is so small.

Here it is while I was waiting for it to dry.
My husband & I thought I'd need a second coat but after it dried, I saw how great it was with some of the green pigment showing through. So it was finished after 1 coat.

I have it sitting in a narrow hallway, probably not the most practical place for it, but it can be seen from the living room - it's soooo cute sitting there. And, wouldn't you agree, cute is the most important feature of this cabinet?