Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simply Grey

I am a trained teacher, and worked long enough in education. Almost every teacher will agree: even though you have a secret favorite, and maybe aren’t on very good terms with some of the students, but in the end, you love them all. Just differently. And the same applies to colors. When asked about my favorite color, I’m always at a loss – I don’t love ALL of them, but I have hard time to pick only one. If I say ‘royal blue’, them immediately yellow comes to mind. If I say ‘green’, I feel I’m betraying deep red. And so on. Take grey: it has always been on my list, just the last 6-8 years due to various life circumstances it was … well… not very present. So now, I guess, it’s compensating for all those years in exile. Namely, it has taken over. I’ve realized it when taking photos of my recent craft projects for this post. Just look for yourself:
  • grey hats for my men, big and small
  • dark grey table runner
I have a elaborate here a bit: the Christmas tree on the right (yes, it’s a Christmas tree) was built by my DB from our son’s Lego pieces. Big boys like to play, too :)
  • dark grey pillow cover with a grey linen back. I’ve mastered zipper installation with this one, thanks to a marvelous tutorial from Design Sponge! I’ve made 3 pillow cases already, and it worked like a charm!
DSCN0172 Zipper view :)
  • grey and white checkered cloth napkins
On New Year’s Eve we are hosting a small party. Guess, which color scheme I’ve chosen for that one? In case you are having a hard time, I tell you: silver. Now, I’m wondering: is it a reaction to the red and green Christmas? Or just to the red and orange colors of my son’s pram?
And what color is YOUR Christmas?
This one more time I link to My Creative Space.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

As You Like It_Neckwarmer pattern

DSCN0141-00119.12.2012:  I've updated the pattern, adding the US needle numbers throughout, and measurements in inches, too. Sorry for confusion!

I needed a neckwarmer that will fit easily under jacket, something in the turtleneck style. The first attempt became too sloppy and too long, and simply didn’t want to lie as I wanted. As it turned out, the answer was changing to bulkier yarn and bigger needles. What I could never imagine in my wildest dreams, is that I would finish the neckwarmer in half a day!
It is knitted topdown, starting with thinner needles. After ribbing the simple knit and purl pattern is knitted with bigger needles. Several rows of ribbing finish the neckwarmer, and increases make it flare a bit. To make it lie better, I’ve used even larger needles to bind off. The stitch pattern is completely reversible, you can easily turn the collar down if necessary, and it’s long enough to pull over the nose if polar temperature arrives. If you prefer a straight neckwarmer, use the same needles throughout and omit the increases in the end.

Finished size: 30 cm/12" upper circunference, unstretched, 20 cm/8" length
Suggested yarn: Lang Yarns Merino 70, 2 skeins, gauge 14 st x 4"
Needles 5/US 8 and 6/US 10, 7/US 10 3/4 (optional )
Stitch marker
Abbreviations:k- knit
p - purl
kfb - knit forth and back
pfb - purl forth and back
CO - cast on
BO - bind off
R - round
Stitch pattern (multiple of 10):
R 1: k5, p5
R 2: k5, p5
R3: k4, p1, k1, p4
R 4:  k4, p1, k1, p4
R 5:  k4, p1, k1, p4
R 6: k4, p1, k1, p4
R 7: k3, p2, k2, p3
R 8: k3, p2, k2, p3
R 9: k2, p3, k3, p2
R 10: k2, p3, k3, p2
R 11: k1, p4, k4, p1
R 12: k1, p4, k4, p1
R 13: p5, k5
R 14: p5, k5
R 15: p5, k5
R16: p5, k5
R 17: p4, k1, p1, k4
R 18: p4, k1, p1, k4
R 19: p3, k2, p2, k3
R 20: p3, k2, p2, k3
R 21: p2, k3, p3, k2
R 22: p2, k3, p3, k2
R 23: p1, k3, p3, k1
R 24: p1, k3, p3, k1
Instructions:(I’ve divided the pattern into 3 sections only for convenience of explanation)
Section 1: With needles nr 5/US 8, CO 90 st, join to knit in the round, put a marker for beginning of round. Repeat rounds 1-2 of the stitch pattern, until work measures 5 cm/2".
Section 2:Change to needles 6/US 10 and  knit one pattern repeat.
Section 3: Knit rounds 1-4 once. Note: Before increases my cowl measured about 15 cm/6", hope this helps since I give no row gauge!
R 5:  K 2, kfb, k 2, p 2, pfb, p 2. Continue in k 6, p 6 rib for another 10 rounds, or until the neckwarmer measures 21 cm/8". BO loosely, alternatively with needles 7/US 10 3/4.
Wash and block if desired, pat the wet neckwarmer somewhat together to keep the three-dimensional look.
Sorry, the coat hanger models, since I’m not in a good shape yet after surgery. The neckwarmer on picture hasn't been blocked yet!
DSCN0139 DSCN0138
Please note that this is a free pattern, use it for gifts and charity, but please don’t sell items made with this pattern.
Don't hesitate to contact me if something is unclear or you find mistakes!
Ravelry link

Friday, December 14, 2012

On Motherhood

I am what the older generation would call “old mother” – I was 33 when my son was born. People often think that getting children later in life is better, you are more mature, sick and tired of going around the bars and long for spending evenings at home. Well, sort of. In other words, you are READY. But what no one tells the wish-to-be parents is that from the moment your bundle of joy utters her first cry you will be deprived of the most everyday thing: privacy and time for yourself. Yes, undisturbed nocturnal sleep is also on the list. Ah, sleep… the whole point of my writing this post is my own one-night insomnia. This night of all nights, when my boy is safely tucked in bed by his grandmother. Go to sleep! But it’s TOO QUIET. Even the cat is not making her pointless noises she has perfected over the years. So often, being a SAHM, I long for the moments when my boy will be dispatched to his grandmother (he doesn’t go to the kindergarten, yet) and I can try to squeeze one thousand and one tasks like thorough spring cleaning whatever the season plus basement reorganization in one day. And take a stress-free shower. And read a newspaper. And do things that are far too private to mention that publicly but which every toddler mom will kill for to do alone. And what happens? The moment I kiss him goodbye I miss him, so terribly as if he were miles away. I go to his room to hug his pillow when I make his bed, breathing his sweet little boy scent. When I go out, I feel suddenly so empty-handed without the pram. I almost envy the women who sport one!
These rare times I get for myself are indeed very productive, whatever I choose to do then. But it’s oh so  bittersweet.
Tomorrow I will go downtown, with my handbag hanging on my arm instead of the pram for a change. But I will look forward to Sunday, when I will hear the door lock click and a cheery little voice shout “Hallo!” (his favourite word right now). I will look forward to the day my normal life starts again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Red Riding Hood and Co Knitting Patterns

When it comes to knitting for children, there are some items that have been along for longer than my own childhood and are still going strong. Take hats, for example. For a kid, it’s not enough that it covers the top of the head. If it covers the ears well, we are already getting somewhere. If it stays put with all the squirming and running and jumping the little people are so prone to, it’s a WINNER. At least in my universe. I can still remember a bonnet-like hat my Mum knit for me when I was a child (I have a strong suspicion that the one I remember is one of the many) – it was indeed practical, keeping toasty everything it should, and not getting of too easily :) Rewind years ahead, and here I sit, making a similar hat for my own son, a well-pronounced hat-hater, but he still has to wear them. It’s a vintage pattern, and versions of it are numerous, I’ve decided to share my take at it, may be other Mums will find it just as useful.  And since there is a hat, there has to be a scarf. Or at least a neckwarmer. My Mum had it covered, too – she simply knit the hat on, creating a collar to cover the chest. But I wanted JUST A HAT and JUST A NECKWARMER, separately. Here I was stalled for a while, as I wanted to knit it top down, flare a bit but not be bulky on the shoulders. Finally, I managed to squeeze something out that even proved to be wearable! The neckwarmer pattern follows after the hat. Word of warning: I’ve needed JUST a smidge over 2 balls, and, in fact, ran out of yarn, so consider having some similar weight yarn at hand unless you want to invest in one extra skein.
The hat’s construction is extremely simple and very easy to adjust to any size possible – even for an adult! (at the end of the post I will share a simple formula for this kind of hat).  The hat starts in a straight strip that goes around the head, ear to ear, and the back part is, basically, turning a heel of the sock, though without any wraps and picking them up later, so it’s a good beginner pattern. In the end two… ehem… fake I-cords are added to tie under the chin. The skills you have to possess are knitting and purling, and picking up stitches – there’s a little bit of it at the end. And that’s all! My hat was designed to fit my 1,5 year old son, with a head circumference of 49 cm (I have no idea, if it’s a typical size or he’s a bit ahead, no pun intended), this should be a good reference, anyway.
K- knit
P – purl
k2tog/p2tog – knit 2 stitches together/purl 2 stitches together
CO – cast on
BO – bind off
st- stitch(es)
RS – right side
WS – wrong side
PM – place marker
kfb – knit forth and back (stitch increased)
Size: 1,5 –2 years, or 49 cm head circumference
Material: Cool Wool from Lana Grossa, I’ve used slightly more than 1 skein,  with the gauge 24 st per 4”/10 cm
Needles 3 and 3,5
3 markers (optional)
Directions: With the smaller needles, CO 94 st.
RS: *k2, p2* , repeat between ** until 2 st remain, k2.
WS: *p2, k2*  , repeat between ** until 2 st remain, p2.
Repeat these 2 rows until your work measures 3 cm, ending on the WS row.
Next row, RS: change to the bigger needles, knit all stitches.
WS: purl all stitches.
Continue in stockinet stitch, until the strip measures 13 cm.
The last WS row is a setup for the back of the hat:
P 31 st, PM, p 31 st, PM, p 29 st, k2tog, p the last st – 93 st. Now you have three equal sections. What you are going to do next, is to knit the last stitch of the central section together with the first stitch of one of the side sections – decreases are done both on RS and WS, alternating the sides. The main idea is that the central section keeps the initial 31 st, while the sides are being consumed. If you see that your central section is losing stitches, you are doing something wrong. I put the markers only for the first row, later on you will get a hole, or the stitches that have to be knit or purled together will be somewhat apart, which eliminates the need for a marker. But! The hole will disappear!
Now starts the fun:
RS: Knit across 65 st (1 st before the 2nd marker), remove the marker, knit the next 2 st together, TURN WORK.
WS: Purl till one stitch before the remaining marker, remove marker, purl the next two stitches together, TURN WORK. 
These two rows are decrease rows, that you have to repeat until you have only the central 31 stitches. You will see the back of the hat now, shaped, indeed, like the heel of the sock.
Now, put the live stitches on a holder and break the yarn. With smaller needles and the RS facing you, join a new yarn, pick up and knit 22 st, on the live stitches work like this: P2tog, P2, *K2, P2*, repeat between ** until the end of the live stitches, pick up and knit 22 st.
WS: *p2, k2* until the last 2 st, p2.
Repeat these 2 rows, until work measures 2,5 cm. CO, apart the last 6 st – they will become the fake I-cord.The reason I resigned to faking an I-cord is that I failed in my precious attempt to make one, and wanted to finish this hat sooner than later. If you are good at I-cord, please, make a real one. I just give instructions for what I did in case I’m not the only one :) Work in stockinet on these 6 st, turning the work as usual, until the strip measures about 46 cm. Next RS row: kn2tog across, turn work, k 3 remaining st together. On the opposite edge of the hat, pick up and knit 6 stitches and make another strip. Sew in the ends, wash and block. And now go and try to put it on the most adored head in the world of your own!
As I’ve promised, here is a formula for this bonnet: you have to measure the recipient’s head from one side of the jaw to another, around the head, that is, not in the usual direction you would measure for a classical hat (is that clear enough? I simply don’t know how else to explain it!). This is the length of the beginning strip. It is usually about 12 cm-14 cm. Here you can measure too: it should be able to cover the part of the head from the brow up to the point it starts to… slope.Then divide your stitches in 3 and proceed according to the pattern. As you see, as long you can get the measures, you can knit such a hat in any size you want!
The neckwarmer is knit in the round first, and then split into 2 pieces that are finished separately, with some increases providing a slight flaring. Due to its seamless construction, it’s reversible.
DSCN0025 DSCN0026
Cool Wool from Lana Grossa, 1 skein
Circular needles nr 3
Stitch marker
CO 78 st, join, being careful not to twist stitches, and put a marker for the beginning of the round. K1, p1 across, until the collar measures 11 cm.
Increase row: kfb, p1 – 117 st
Next row: k1, p2 across (I know, this is not the best way, but I was utterly unwilling to make a purl increase  in the round; and it’s not even noticeable!)
On the split row, I’ve tweaked a bit to get clean edges on both halves: I’ve started on the purl st instead, making it into an edge st. So, p1, k1, p2 across 57 st, finishing with p2, k2. Work in pattern as established, until the piece measures about 20 cm from the CO edge. BO loosely. Finish the other half in the same way, with the only difference that you have 60 st there.
Weave in ends, wash and block. Done!
If something is unclear or if you find mistakes, I will be happy to help/correct! I really hope I’ve made everything clear enough, but it was kinda tricky to try to explain something after having knitted it!
Ravelry links to the hat and neckwarmer (there you can also see some modelled pics).
And, since I’m shameless and after self-promotion, I connect to Our Creative Spaces today (it’s a great source of inspiration, anyway)
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