Friday, November 26, 2010

Personal Footprints - A step in the right direction!

I got a new book!  It's "Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters" by Cat Bordhi.
I went to the Yarn Shop to get a book on knitting socks on 2 circulars, but saw this.  It's a very intriguing thought - making a footprint of your knitting subjects and making a sock.  I put off trying this new option in sock making until I had enough 'focus' time to read the book.  It actually is quite interesting, as Cat usually is.  I decided as each of my adult children came over for a weekend here and there to make a footprint on the inside of an empty cereal box (well some weren't empty yet and had to settle for a tupperware container).  So I also made one of my 9 year old grandson's foot and decided to start with his. 
I started on that, then quickly realized to get the fit perfect, you actually need the foot of the subject to start with.  With some guessing by using my foot, I started anyway.  They turned out to fit him well and I was so happy.  With the clear explanation in the book, they were a pleasure to knit.  I did both feet before I did the legs to make sure that they were exactly the same and recorded on my template as suggested in the book all that I did.  Here are the results: 

They fit him great!  I think there is a bit of room for some growth, but for not having him with me, I think the book 'stepped' me in the right direction!
So I decided to make a pair for my husband, one that wasn't so vanilla.  I picked the "Inlaid Pennants" from page 45 in the book.  Having his foot readily at my disposal, it was so much easier.  Again I found it better to make both 'feet', then open it up and start on the 'leg'.  That is such a handy way to make sure you get both socks finished and your feel for the leg pattern is still imprinted on the brain and is easier to use.  His turned out pretty good, too, don't you think?

He really likes them and wears them often on Sunday.  I think if you try this book, you will like it too.

I took some ideas from this book and tried out another new pattern and I will share that with you next week!  Don't miss it, you will really like the blending!

Until then, keep on your pegs and needles!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Progress comes slow but sure with 15 minutes at a time.

Yes, 15 minutes at a time.  Things are being finished and without real stress - I like it.  I was looking in my bookcase and came across Nancy Ziemans book "10, 20, 30 Minutes to Sew" and realized my organization lessons were right there.  Nancy breaks down sewing a garment into 10, 20, and 30 minute blocks just as I have been trying to do.  What a great system this is proving to be!


Simplicity #2427;  one down, one to go!  Wow, I haven't gathered for a long time and I'm seeing how my eyes and my hands have aged while trying to grab those little threads to pull.  After moaning that my old gathering foot won't fit my newer Bernina sewing machine, and impulsively ordering a ruffling foot to fit off ebay, I went in for one more try and low and behold, a gathering foot appeared!!  There was that beautiful foot #16 just hanging there saying 'why didn't you know I was here'.  Apparently the woman who I bought the machine from had it included in the purchase, and I never noticed.  Now, cheerfully, I can make ruffles to my hearts content. 

The settings:  Stitch length 5, Tension 6  

I'm listing these because I had a hard time finding directions to using this foot and had to find settings by trial and error.  Those worked for me and I think will work for most machines with similar numbers. (oh and by the way, I still have a ruffling foot coming - at least I will be able to make beautiful pleats :-)

Slades Sweater;  I ripped out the ribbed neck and, using a bigger needle and 20 more stitches, redid the neckline and it looks and fits so much better!
After nearly completing one sleeve and frogging it back because it became too big (I am winging my modifications for this pattern) I cut from newspaper a pattern of the sleeve, did calculations from my pre-frogged sleeve/guage swatch, had Pop double check my figures, and started again.  This really is being worked in 15 minute swatches of time.  I am leaving it on the table and when I sit to chat with Pop, or just relax a minute, I pick it up and knit on it.  It's going well and I think will work with the crocheted pattern on the body.  It'll be a patchwork sweater of sorts.

My Knitting Group:

I've started joining some friends who are knitting and crocheting together so I thought I'd share some pictures of how hard we all concentrate and work on our projects.  A couple are just learning to knit, their instructor is knitting a sock, and another is making a beautiful crocheted Lacy Top Cardigan.  I'm working on my Miley Tee and it is seen next to the white Lacy Top Cardigan crocheter. 
  We've all had our tummys filled with Alta's special recipe of 'stir fry' yummy stuff and we are focused!

Here's Alta with her nearly finished Lacy Top Cardigan, and Joanna with her first project - a scarf made from a beautiful spool of ribbony goodness!

And I can't leave out the instructor of 'the girls', Marilyn, working on her yummy sock:

That's it for now!  By next week I should be done with the 2nd gathery/ruffley dress and they should be gifted.  I hope I get a picture of those cute little cousins in their new dresses to show you all.  Look for a new post in 2 weeks with fun new completed UFO's that I'll do in 15 minutes at a time!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

15 Minutes a Day!

Who knew - It works!  So the plan:  Check out your projects that you want to finish, but tend to put off.  Break it down into chunks that can reasonably done in 15 minutes.  I wrote my chunks down on paper, it helps.  I'm thinking 3 x 5 cards would work good with room for checking off.  I plan to do that next (I have a lot of projects to perfect this plan on).  So last week I 'announced' I would be working on Lindsey's quilt and Slade's sweater. 

The progress:

Lindsey's quilt:  All the blocks are quilted and the first border is 'Stitch in the Ditch' quilted.  I've started on the outer borders and have one side completed, but I can't do one full side a day as originally thought.  When I went to quilt them, the chalk marking that I finished last fall had worn off enough to need to be remarked.  So, I decided, since I had done so much free motion on the inner blocks, I could free motion quilt around the leaves and grapes.  It's good but it takes more time so I can only do about 1/2 a side per day.  That puts the quilting to be finished around the end of next week.  So far so good!

Slade's sweater:  I hit a block wall.  I stitched the shoulders together as planned.  Cast on the neckline and knitted a ribbing, that I thought was looking great - then after about an inch, I bound off.  I put it over my head to see how it felt and I couldn't get it on!  Yikes.  So I need a looser ribbing and a stretchy bind off.  I saved a video podcast from "Let's Knit Together"  on "Binding off toe-up socks" that gave stretchy bind off instructions for socks so I think I'll have to review that and try again on this neck.  I told my husband, who everyone affectionately calls Pop, that it was going back in the box, I'm done!  And Pop said that's not allowed in the 15 minute/day plan.  Sooo, back to the drawing board and I'll just give it another 15 minutes, or '2'.  Where's my 3 x 5 card ...

I've been able, in between all this to work on a sweater I had recently started.  It's so cute!  It' called "Miley Tee" from c2knits.  I'm making it in a Celery colored 100% cotton by Universal Yarns that I got at our local yarn shop, The Yarn Shoppe.  I'm knitting it after I do my other 15 minutes a day projects. 

Oh, and another sewing project - A friend and I are  making 2 cute little dresses for two friends's girls.  Size 3 and 4. Briana has been taking Fashion and Sewing in High School for a couple of years so she and I are putting her knowledge to use this afternoon and making up Simplicity #2427 with some variations.  Hopefully I'll have pictures to put up in next week's blog.

So, remember, 15 Minutes a Day, you can do anything in 15 minutes a day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finished is Better than Perfect!

So that's my new saying - Finished is Better than Perfect! I've been putting off finishing a few projects because I'm a bit insecure about how they'll look when finished. Hearing on my favorite podcasts that this is the year for them to finish - I am announcing to myself, my family and cyberspace that by December 31, I will have finished my UFO's. Ok, so now that that's said, I am going through my box (es) of UFO's (un finished objects) and deciding what is worth finishing. Some are so dated, I am considering my work and trying of things as a class I took and I have samples. Like my Crazy Patchwork 'Quilt as you go' Vest from the late 90's. I think it was dated to begin with but I learned to do Crazy Quilting and thoroughly enjoyed playing with it. So there's one box taken care of.

15 Minutes a Day:

Lindsey's quilt: I love the fabric that she chose for this quilt, I loved designing and putting it together. I was determined to machine quilt this quilt. There is where the postponing came. So now I've set it up, and am giving it 15 minutes a day. I can quilt a block in 15 minutes, so with 8 blocks to go, I can be done in 8 days with that part. Then I'll try to do one side of the border a day, so that adds 4 more days. Now, theoretically I can be done quilting by May 2. Next will be making and applying the binding, which I can devote 1 afternoon to. Next is the part I like. The sitting in the evening doing the hand sewing finish to the binding. So by breaking this project up in pieces, I can comfortably and pleasantly finish this quilt within a month. So that's another box! I'll keep you posted on the progress - hopefully weekly. So this is where I'll be for a few minutes every day:

Crocheted Sweater for Slade: Ok, so last fall I started this Crocheted Mock Cable Sweater from the book Fiber Gathering. I loved the picture and wanted to make it for one of my sons. Slade's the winner (the patient winner). I made the front and the fit was way off, and I had to pull it all out. Then I tried to make the largest size (yes my guage was right) and it was still too short in the arms and too too wide in the neck. So, loving the look of the stitch itself, I started again with my own idea. Now I'm stuck on the sleeves. I've given it a lot of guilty thought, and finally decided it's okay to vary the stitch on the sleeves. I do love the look of the stitch, but I don't like doing the stitch. My wrists start to hurt after a short time of it so I want to make plain sleeves. So now that's my other '15 minutes a day' project. The plan: It'll take 15 minutes to connect the front to the back. I think I'll knit the ribbing on the neck then and I think that will take me 2 sessions, maybe I'll be in the groove and just do it in one. Okay, then the sleeves. I need to plan out the decreases and length - one more 15 min. - then start. I'm thinking I can do the 2 sleeves in a week and put them on. Seeming up the sides, doing the cuffs, adding bottom ribbing should be another 4 or 5 days. That means this will be finished by 3 weeks. It seems the quilt and the sweater should be done about the same time. Looks like a gift day is coming up!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I can knit socks and so can you!

Wow, it has been so much fun making socks. I've talked about this before, but making socks has become my 'go to ' project'. When I had to wait in the hospital with my Dad (he had a stroke and is recovering well), or taking my turn at waiting at physical therapy, I got really comfortable to take my current sock out of my purse and work away on it. I met one man I had formerly met waiting for Dad and he said, "You're the one that knits, right?" and yes, that was me! The sock knitter. It was fun sharing about how his wife is now taking knitting lessons at our LYS (local yarn shop).

Anyway, I want to share how easy it is to make socks- for those that were timid like me to try it. I will tell you what it took for me to do it, but you can find your own way, too.
I've said before that I've tried to learn to knit, but despite 2 excellent teachers, felt I couldn't relax and just knit. The yarn I had bought apparently was a '2nd'. It kept breaking and I now know that it was the yarn and not me. So get some good quality yarn.
My Yarn: I started with a good quality, DK weight yarn. It was self striping, Crofter's I believe, and easy to use. Since I have used good fingering weight, but my favorite is the DK weight. But the important part is that it is a GOOD yarn. For your first pair of socks, be a yarn snob!

My Tools: I used a Size 4, 9" circular made by HiyaHiya. Yes, it is small. I watched it being used and decided it looked easy so I tried it. DPN's always look scary to me. I think I could use them now, but why, when I have my fun little circular. It is stainless steel, so it slides along nicely.
My Pattern: I don't really have a pattern. I know, that's amazing since I hadn't done this before. I just filed what the gal from The Fiber Factory at Stitch and Pitch said; Just do some knit 2 pearl 2 ribbing for an inch or 2, then just knit. So that's what I do. I cast on, knit 2 pearl 2 in circles (yes I mark my first stitch so I can make sure I didn't mess up in my count), then I knit in circles till the sock is about 6". Then the heel. Heel flaps scare me. I watched several YouTube videos and decided I could do a short row heel without using a 2nd needle (at first I only had one so that was why I did it this way). After the heel, I continue knitting in circles till it's about 2" before the length of my foot (or whoever's foot I'm doing) then do the toe just like the heel and sew it off with the Kitchener Stitch.

The Videos: I'll try and link the videos I used. First I watched several 'cast-on' videos. I had been shown and tried it, but each time I tried it on my own I got stuck. These are the 2 that I look back at when I need to. Long Tail Cast on is what I use most often:

When I decided I wanted to try from the toe up, I used this cast on by Cat Bordhi. This one is done when you use 2 circulars, then go back to one when you've increased to the number of stitches you need:

It's a bit corny, but it gets into your brain. To decide how many to start with, divide the number of stitches you need by 2, then that number by 3 (eg. for my husbands socks with fingering weight yarn, I needed 72 stitches to work with. I started with this toe up method at 12 stitches on size 2, 32" circular).

Cat Bordhi has also been my go to helper for the heel. I like a short row heel. It looks a bit funny, but is very comfortable and if you follow her advice, you'll like the way it turns out. Don't worry, your first one will look funny and maybe have a few holes, but it's inside a shoe, who'll see it!

She shows this 'heel' with 12 stitches, but you will use the number of stitches that is half the stitches you are using, then follow her numbers till you get down to 1/3 of your stitches. (eg. for socks for me, I start with 44, so I hold back 22 and start the short row heel with 22 and stop when I have 8 unwrapped and start 'unwrapping' my way back). I would suggest watching a few short row heel videos. The Lifestyle Sock is another great video:

For closing up the toe in my traditional cuff down socks I use the Kitchener stitch. I actually like doing this, I get into a rhythm and it's a very rewarding finish to a sock project:

Whew, that's a lot of videos! But think of it as taking a class. I think you, too, will love to make socks. I've discovered I like doing the magic loop method, too. But I don't really like size 1 needles. I feel like I'm knitting with toothpicks, but that's just my opinion. Maybe I'll change my mind on that, too, as I get more experienced.

Ok, now I'll try to give you a my pattern:

Basic Socks Recipe


350 yards DK weight yarn (approximate yardage)
Size 4, 9" circular needle
2 Stitch markers
Tapestry needle for closing toe

Cast 44 stitches on your circular size 4 needle. Make sure the stitches aren't twisted and join together. Mark your first stitch.

K2 P2 around and around until you have between 1 and 2 inches. Do what looks right to you and just make sure the 2nd sock matches.

Now, start knitting. Just knit around and around, moving your marker over at the start of each round. Knit until the sock measures 6".

Short Row Heel: Knit 22 stitches (that's half) Place Marker. Start your short row heel as in the Lifestyle socks video, decreasing by wrapping and turning one each knit row and one each purl row, as in Cat Bordhi's You Tube video the next 22 stitches (just keep the other 22 on the needle, you'll come back to these. Continue decreasing in this way until you have 8 un wrapped stitches. Now start your increasing by unwrapping one each row, unwrapping as in the cat's video.

When you have finished unwrapping all, go back to knitting in the round all 44 stitches. I like to leave both markers so I do the short row toe at the same spot.

Keep knitting in the round until the sock is 2 inches shorter than your foot.

Now start the toe exactly the same as you did the heel. When you have 'unwrapped' all the stitches and have 22 stitches on hold and 22 that you just finished working with, slide them so 22 are at each needle end, with the marker dividing the two on the circular. Cut the end with a long tail for weaving back and forth and begin the Kitchener stitch.

When finished, weave in the ends and start on the 2nd sock. As you are knitting the 2nd sock, make sure it matches the first in the cuff and heel and toe placement and you'll have a perfect match!

This 'recipe' fits most women. For men, using DK weight, I'm told 48 stitches is good, and for a larger size (like my size 13 footed husband), 52. Just stay with something divisible by 4. I used this 'recipe' for my 4 yr. old grandson and started with 32 stitches. It was good but a bit of a stretch on the 9" circular so I switched to the magic loop method and used my size 4 32" circular. Look up magic loop on YouTube and you should be fine.

I love my little 9" circulars and I think you will too!