Category Archives: motifs

Customized Wrist Warmers

When I asked my sister, Lisa, what she wanted for her birthday this year, she said she wanted me to make a pair of  fingerless gloves for her. Only she didn’t want the kind with a thumb hole, and she wanted them long enough to go clear up to her elbows.

I scoured Ravelry.com for patterns. Most had thumb holes. Most went only to mid-wrist. So I needed a pattern I could tailor to Lisa’s wishes. (For my part, I wanted a pattern that didn’t use tiny needles.) The easy part was choosing the yarn – Patons’ Classic Wool in “pumpkin” – since she loves orange. This is what I came up with:

I couldn’t figure out how to program the timer on my camera, so you’re stuck with separate shots for the right and left arms.

Raverly members can find the pattern I used here. It’s Kim Sandborn’s Winter Wrist Warmers. Here’s a side-by-side showing where the original pattern would have ended vs. the extra-long version:

See how the sections to the right are slightly narrower than the end with the needles? That’s because the non-cabled part of the first few inches is a Knit 2 Purl 1 ribbed stitch, which gives it a bit of stretch.

I love the way Kim wrote her pattern. Patterns requiring double pointed needles usually say to place the same number of stitches on each needle, but Kim had the entire cabled section all on one needle, leaving different numbers of stitches on each needle.

Speaking of cables, if you’re a knitter who’s been intimidated by cables, don’t be. All you do is slip a couple of stitches onto a separate needle and knit them a few stitches later. If you hold the stitches in front of the work your cable twists to the left, if you hold them to the back it twists to the right. Here’s how I made the cable twist to the left:

This is a 3-stitch cable, so I slipped three stitches (as if to purl) onto another DPN and left them in front of the work as I knitted the next three stitches…

Then, I knitted the three stitches I’d held to the front of the work…

Finally, I knitted the next three stitches of the cable and purled two to finish the twist.

The thing I love about knitting cables is they’re so much easier than they look. The twists only come once every so many rows (depending on the exact pattern). The only trick is counting your rows so your cables are even. It’s super-low tech, but this is how I keep track of my twists:

This pattern has an 8-row repeat, with a front (left) twist on every 3rd row and a back (right) twist on every 7th row. I highlighted the twist rows in orange.

Lisa’s birthday is still a couple days away, but the surprise isn’t spoiled. Not only did she pretty much custom order her wrist warmers, she also had a preview of them last weekend, when I was mid-way through the second one.

Happy birthday, Lisa!

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Who crochets when it’s 100 degrees?

Call me crazy, but I started a major crochet project in the middle of a heatwave.

Yes, I still have the pool table pocket nets to work on, but they’re wool. Wool is hot to work with, so the pocket nets are reserved for slightly cooler days. When the mercury soars into the triple digits I want to work with cooler things like cotton or bamboo yarns.

In the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to make a cotton bedspread. I knew I didn’t want a traditional “granny square” motif, so I dug through an old stitchery book and found a versatile hexagonal motif that had a bit of motion to it – it was labeled “Paddle Wheel” but I call it a Spinning Hex, since it sort of looks like it’s turning.

Aside from using cotton, another cool thing (pun intended) about crocheted motifs is that you can usually make them as large or small as you like. Mine are small but not tiny at 5″ from point to point or 4.25″ from edge to edge. That means no bulky fabric piling up on your lap while you work.

Right now this project is all about using up scrap yarn. I haven’t figured out how many individual blocks I’ll need for the bedspread yet, but I’ll probably need to throw in some additional colors before I’m ready to start piecing things together.

To give you an idea of how the hexagons will fit together, I set some out:

That’s okay, but I want a lighter, airier look for summer, so the plan is to alternate the random colored blocks with white blocks. I don’t have any white blocks made yet, and am still toying with different arrangements. Ideally, I’d like a little more white space between the colors, but this might help show the feel I’m going for:

Now it’s getting hard to look at the hexagon tiles on the bathroom floor without mentally plotting out where I want the colors to go.

Perhaps the best thing about this bedspread is that cotton yarn is cheap. You can usually find in on sale for $1.25 or less per 120-yard skein, and each skein probably makes 5-10 blocks. (I haven’t yet used a full skein of any one color, so that’s a guess.)

What are some of your favorite ways to turn leftover materials into something new?

How I Celebrated National Craft Month

I previously alluded to a knitting project I started before learning this was National Crochet Month. Luckily March was also National Craft Month. With no further ado, here it is:

It might look familiar to family, friends and anyone who’s visited my Ravelry page (not sure if the link will work for non-members or not). In the past four years I’ve made about six different versions of my Super Long & Funky Stocking Cap. This one is the longest yet, coming in at 73″ (including tassel). The colors? Peacock, Winter White, Lemongrass and Royal Purple. (In the photos, the Lemongrass looks more lemony than it does in person.)

Each hat is unique, not just in terms of color but by design. Call it my version of Fair Isle Knitting. I’ve never done any official Fair Isle knitting, so any classic Fair Isle patterns you may spot in this hat are purely coincidental.

The truth is I get bored using the same motifs over and over so I pretty much improvise my way through each hat, knowing how many decreases it takes to taper down to the point, and roughly where they need to be to reach the desired length. Sometimes I play with stitch patterns as well as color, but for this hat I used a simple knit stitch (because the hat is worked in the round the result is a smooth stockinette). One friend asked me to work some fun fur into a hat, and it looked pretty cool.

Also cool? The inside:

Even non-knitters might guess from the photo above that this technique is called stranding, where two or more colors of yarn are worked continuously throughout the project. Stranding is often confused with intarsia, where each color is worked from its own bobbin, like your favorite Argyle sweater. Easiest way to tell the difference is to look on the reverse side. Intarsia won’t have lots of strands.

I’d never designed anything more than a scarf before I made my first Super Long & Funky Hats. I used special knitter’s graph paper to chart different motifs and even did math (gasp!) to figure out the decreases for those first two hats. Now I just figure it out as I go along. That’s the fun of making these hats. The only thing I know when I cast on is what colors that particular hat will be.

This was my big Craft Month project. What did you make?

When good crafts go wrong

We’ve all had them: projects that just don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to. Sometimes that can be a good thing, like when something turns out better than you expected.

And then there’s this:

A really big mess with extra long sleeves.

A really big mess with extra long sleeves.

It’s so big that it practically fell off when I tried it on. I nearly cried. All of that crocheting (and several skeins of expensive mohair blend yarn!) for what? The bottom of the sleeves were down by my knees – which may have had to do with the fact that the opening for the collar fell over both shoulders. (The photo shows it inside out. Thankfully I didn’t weave all the ends in – that might make disassembling it a little easier.)

I did everything right. I checked the gauge. Twice. Crocheted the pattern exactly as written. Carefully assembled it precisely as directed. Front. Back. Then sleeves. The first time I saw the sleeves next to the body I thought something was wrong, but I trusted the pattern.

It still turned out over-sized and out of proportion.

This would-be sweater is composed of floral motif squares in two sizes — one being 7.5″ square, the other slightly larger. The pattern doesn’t mention an exact size for the larger squares (which are used for the sleeves), but they weren’t much larger than the smaller squares. I blocked the main squares to the exact size. So what went wrong?

I’m still not sure. But if I can separate the squares I think the sweater might be spared. Mohair likes to cling to itself, so disassembling the monstrosity might be a challenge. If I am able to free the individual blocks I should be able to re-assemble it as a smaller size. Who knows, I might have enough blocks left for a second sweater. Maybe a third.

Have you ever had a good project that somehow went utterly wrong? Were  you able to salvage it? Did you turn it into something different? Or did you scrap the whole thing?

What have you leaned from some of your crafting mistakes?

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