A Few Things About Me…

We moved this past Sunday, to a cute little cottage in a small town near the “Quad-State Region” of Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia/Pennsylvania. It was not an easy move, but with the greatly-appreciated help of some ultra-kind friends, we’ve got our stuff in our new home and are settling in to country life (Chris has to commute to D.C. for work, though).

So now I’m recovering from exhaustion and getting my creative mojo back! Meanwhile, here’s something to pass a cloudy, chilly day (aside from unpacking boxes), which I got from Lynne

Puttin’ my feet up

A FEW THINGS ABOUT ME

Are you a yarn snob? Kind of…but not too much. I just love QUALITY, and sometimes that includes a bit of man-made something or other. Like most knitters these days, I’ll pass on the novelty yarns.

Do you spin? Crochet? Yes, I do spin. I have a Kromski Sonata, which I LOVE! Now that we’ve moved out of the city, I want to spend more time on spinning so I can sell my handspun. Crochet? I’m not a very sophisticated crocheter, but I’m handy enough with a hook :-)

How long have you been knitting? Seven years.

What other crafts do you like to do? Sketching, painting, sewing, making stitch markers and jewelry, and I want to learn how to make paper and bind books

What are your favorite yarns to knit with? Alpaca, Pear Tree Merino (soft as cashmere!), Socks That Rock (the original kind…I love the springy feel), basically anything soft and pretty

What are your favorite needles to knit with? KnitPicks traditional 32″ circulars for socks, Addi Turbos for anything else…

What’s your favorite knitting gadget? My Royal ball winder and Swedish umbrella swift

What fibers do you absolutely NOT like? Cheap acrylic that squeaks and feels like it’s leaving microscopic cuts in my fingers; those good old fuzzy novelty yarns; and linen (I tried Euroflax Sport, but it was not a fun experience…maybe I did something wrong?)

What are your favorite items to knit? Fingerless gloves; socks; interesting scarves; and I’m looking forward to making tops and sweaters when I can afford to buy that much yarn at one time!

What are you knitting right now? Two pairs of socks I’m designing, one hat I’m designing, a tea cozy, Leigh Radford’s Tube Scarf, a hand-spun shawl, and I’m almost done with a pair of “Fetching” gloves made of Pear Tree Merino

What do you think about ponchos? I don’t know if I’d wear one outside the house, but I think they’d be comfy for lounging around knitting in front of the telly!

Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Definitely circular

Are you a sock knitter? Oh, yes! I really enjoy knitting cuff down, but I’m pushing myself to add other sock-knitting techniques to my arsenal ;-)

How did you learn to knit? Wish I had a cozy story about my grandma teaching me, but honestly, I’m entirely self-taught (I originally learned with a Leisure Arts booklet, a pair of US#10 aluminum straight needles, and a skein of Pepto-Bismol pink Red Heart acrylic yarn from JoAnn Fabrics

What is–and how old is–your oldest UFO (unfinished Object)? It’s that damn Tube Scarf from AlterKnits…I mean, really! Six feet of stockinette in the round with lace-weight yarn? Yawn. But I’m determined to finish it. I keep wondering if I should put all other projects aside and just push through it, since I love the finished scarf (and so do other knitters who’ve finished theirs!)

Well…unpacking, laundry, and other fun awaits me.

Happy Knitting!

Advertisements

Sweet Pea Pod Cozy (free pattern)

Remember me?
I’m the iPod Cozy, whose pattern Hannah promised you!

Many knitters tell me they design projects as they knit, but don’t keep notes while they do it. So it’s a pain for them to write up their patterns once the projects are done.

I honestly can’t claim that excuse.

You see, I’m one of the obsessive-compulsive types who actually keeps great notes WHILE I’m knitting. But, for some reason, that doesn’t seem to make it easier to type them up, test them, fine tune the details, etc.

However, a few people have asked for this design, so I decided to get off my duff and actually give it to you as I promised all those months ago. How many months? Check out the photos…you’ll see how gorgeous the weather was. Yep. I designed this pattern last spring!

So, here you go. A little taste of spring, just for you, in the midst of a damp, chilly winter. I hope you enjoy it.

SWEET PEA POD COZY

Yarn: I used Manos del Uruguay (in Mulberry, I think), but any other heavy worsted-weight yarn will do. Use 100 percent wool for easy fulling (“felting” is what one does to unspun fibers; either way, the end result is the same: dense, strong fabric). And remember, plant and man-made fibers will not felt. You will also need some DK-weight cotton yarn for the flower. I used Jeager Aqua Cotton (discontinued).

Needles: Sets of DPNs in US#10 and US#6, and a size G crochet hook.

Gauge: 14 sts x 24 rows = 4″ in stockinette (approximate…if you’re a little off you can adjust for that during the felting process)

Size: 8″ x 3.5″ before felting. Approx. 2.75″ x 5.25″ after felting. Final size can be customized when felting. See notes on size in body of pattern.

PATTERN:
Cast on 30 stitches and divide among DPNs. Join for working in the round.

Knit every round until piece measures 8 inches from CO edge. Do not remove from needles.

CAREFULLY turn piece inside out (put the stitches on waste yarn if you find doing this on the needles to be too difficult), and work a 3-needle bind off. Turn right-side out again.

I-cord closure:

Using two US#6 DPNs, cast on 3 stitches.

Row 1: Knit across. Do not turn the work.

Row 2: Slide the three stitches to the other end of the needle and knit across. You will be using the yarn attached to the stitch farthest from the point of the left-hand needle to knit the stitch closest to the point. Tug on the working yarn at the end of the row to draw stitches together.

Continue working Row 2, tugging on working yarn to close the “tube” of the I-cord, until the cord measures about 12 inches.

NOTE: Obviously you can attach the I-cord to the cozy as you’re knitting it. Just CO six extra stitches and leave them unworked on a scrap of yarn. Once you’ve finished binding off, you can come back, work the i-cord on three stitches, and graft the other end of the cord to the remaining three unworked stitches. To be honest, though, this may be more trouble than it’s worth…I wrote this pattern with absolute beginners in mind, but I understand the desire to make things all of a piece. I may do just that next time I make one. So, decide what works best for you and do what makes you a happy knitter :-)

Felting

NOTE: You will need rubber dish-washing gloves to protect your hands from the hot water.

Fill a large mixing bowl with iced water. Turn your hot water tap to the hottest setting. If you prefer, you can fill a second bowl with the hot water. Or you can just use the water coming from the tap, which is what I did.

Wet the case with hot water and apply a little dish-washing liquid. Using your (glove-protected!) hands, rub, knead, scrub, and generally apply as much friction as you can to the piece. Periodically, dunk it in the iced water, as radical temperature changes help speed the felting process. Continue working the piece, alternating hot and cold water, until the case is the size you want it to be.

NOTE: It’s great to leave some room at the top of the cozy so you can stuff your ear buds and cord inside!

Now, do the same thing for the i-cord. Hot, cold, hot, cold, roll between palms, rub it, knead it. Really work it. When it’s about 8 inches long, you can stop.

Shape the case and i-cord, working out any crinkled spots and kneading out any uneven areas, and set out to dry away from direct sunlight. You can stuff a paper towel in the case to help it dry faster.

Crocheted Flower Closure:

Ch 5, slip stitch to first chain to form a ring. Change color, if desired.
Ch 3, DC 3 in first SC in ring. * Ch 3, DC three in next SC. Repeat from * 4 times.
Ch 3, DC twice in same ring as first Ch3 of this round. You should now have 5 “petals.”
Cut and knot. Weave in ends.
Using a third color (if desired), thread a tapestry needle and create an X in the middle of the flower. Pull the two ends of this yarn to the back of the flower, and use them to attach it to the iPod cozy.

NOTE: You could also use a cute button for the flower’s center, and attach it to the cozy by sewing through the button’s holes.

Finishing:

Fold I-cord in half; using both strands, tie a half-hitch knot about 1.5 – 2 inches from ends, thus forming the loop that will hook over the flower closure.

With strong thread (I used the clear thread you can buy at sewing stores) or matching embroidery floss, sew the I-cord closure to the inside of the cozy’s back, positioning the knot so that it appears exactly on top of the opening edge.

Insert your Pod, stuff in your ear buds and cord, hook the loop over the flower, and you’re ready to go!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s an error in the pattern. Especially as I’m not much of a crocheter! If there’s a problem, I’ll address it for you ASAP.

Oh, just one more thing:
Since I’m not the world’s greatest crocheter, I’m aware of the fact that my crochet instructions might leave something to be desired. If you wish, then, you might check here or here for crocheted flower inspiration OR here for knitted flower inspiration.

Crochet: Inspiring Option or Distracting Dream?

Oh, the siren call of the Ripple Blanket…

OK, let me first state for the record that I am not One of Those Knitters. You know who I’m talking about…the nearly-militant anti-crochet zealots. Not large in number, but they’re out there.

Nope, that’s not me. In fact, the “problem” I’m dealing with lately feels like a sort of fiber-arts-related ADD–You’ll note, I’m sure, the complete absence of “H,” or hyperactivity ;-)

I adore knitting. And spinning. I’ve always liked to sew, and can spend hours in fabric stores. But lately, I’ve been finding myself attracted to crochet…Odd, since I’ve never been “a crocheter” in my life. Or maybe that’s the point.

Who, after all, doesn’t like a challenge. And with so many mouth-watering crochet books coming out, how can anyone resist? Books like this one, my new favorite (it has an adorable “breakfast set” pattern, complete with a retro tea cozy chocolate/robin’s egg blue):

And this lovely collection of delights:

And this–complete with intriguing designer interviews:


See what I mean? Oh, what’s a person to do with only 24 hours in a day?

To be honest, I count myself as fortunate, having a bit more “unscheduled” time than most people I know. So the solution to my little quandry is the ever-so-simple-and-yet-so-difficult task of moving beyond the dreaming and planning stage to the learning, practicing, and executing stage. I might find I love crocheting, or—horrors!—I might find I’m not very good at it.

Oh, well. I guess that’s why it’s so much fun to just page through books like these and dream of all the things you could make. Don’t you agree?


Until next time…Think warm thoughts, and happy knitting (or crocheting)!

Eye Candy Friday (and ripples, and socks…)

Can you believe our temperatures dropped 40 degrees in less than 12 hours? It’s freezing outside…but it’s still spring. These lovely little bluebells (Is that correct? I’m not a gardener.) cheered me up, though I’m feeling a bit uninspired in terms of writing.

During the past week, I’ve been reading a lot about ripples, at Nona’s,
Alicia’s, and on the No-End-In-Sight Ripple Along site.

Now, honestly, isn’t Alicia’s blanket delicious? Those colors–YUM! And her photos are so inviting and cozy…it makes me want to crawl into that bed with a good book, and take a long nap. (Don’t worry, Alicia…I promise not to stalk your blanket.)

Well, I’m not much of a crocheter, but all that fabulocity finally got to me…
And, of course, I enjoyed every minute…maybe a little TOO much. I think a ripple blanket (or throw) may be moving up toward the top of my project list…

Finally, I just wanted to say that Ted and I are hard at work on the Orchid socks.
It’s a fun pattern, nearly mindless but not uninteresting. I’ll be sure to post the details when I’m done.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!