Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Japanese Knot Bag

Cloth project bags are all the rage in the knitting world.  I usually use those clear plastic zippered bags that linens come in:  They're very practical, but let's face it, they're not cute.  Plus, they don't have handles.

There's a great tutorial with template on the Better Homes and Gardens website.   The bag is the perfect size for a small project.  In this case, I'm making Judy Marples' Knit Night Hat (yes, it's free) with a special ball of Malabrigo Rios that I bought in San Francisco in the Spring.

The downloaded pattern prints in five pieces and you tape it together.  I cut out the bag and lining at the same time with a rotary cutter.

There are handy pockets inside for small tools.

The bag is fully reversible, and I got to use a fun novelty print. 

I also finished my crocheted t-shirt rug.  In all it took 13 men's large t-shirts.  The last few did have seams, but they posed no problem: the overlocked seams were sturdy and held up to the cutting and stretching process.

Gratuitous dog picture with the rug.

Happy Holidays to all, and best wishes for a creative 2016!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Rug from T-Shirt Yarn and More Pot Holders

This is a low-text post since I'm in the middle of end-of-the-semester grading.

I got my son to give me his old t-shirts, and I'm crocheting a kitchen rug for him.  I'm doing single crochet: 30 stitches wide with a size Q/19 hook, which gives me about an 18" wide rug.  I got about 3/4 of the desired length with 10 shirts, and I just picked up a few more from the thrift store.

You can google instructions for making t-shirt yarn, but here are a few pictures in lieu of directions.

For this project, I cut the strips 1: wide.  If you want to knit with this yarn, cut it narrower.

Make a continuous  strip by cutting at an angle vs straight across.

Give the strips a good pull every yard or so and it will curl up on itself nicely.

More potholders!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Scrappy Sail

Awhile ago I made the free shawl pattern Sail by Elen Brandt and I wear it a lot.  It was a super easy (the same 2-row repeat throughout) and relaxing knit.  I decided to make another one, but this time with leftover odds and ends.


Some of this was thrift store yarn, and as you can see, I'm not above knitting with tapestry wool that I pick up in thrift stores.

I'm really happy with the results.  I haven't even blocked this shawl, and I've been wearing it regularly since I took it off the needles.  If you have even basic knitting skills and a few leftovers, it's an extremely wearable shawl and a fun project.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Altering a Turtleneck Sweater

I had this beautiful but unwearable sweater.  It's nice and warm, but the wool turtleneck was a bit to hot and claustrophobic for me.

I marked a line down the middle of the collar to the point where I wanted my v-neck to end.  I stitched a straight line down the mark, and a zig-zag on either side, and across the bottom.

Then I took a small sharp scissors and cut the collar open along the straight sewn line.

I hand sewed a piece of ribbon to either side of the cut edge.

At the "v" I mitred the ribbon so that it made a smooth edge.

Now I have a wearable warm sweater!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Free Pattern Friday: A Linen Stitch Scarf

There are many free patterns available for making a Linen Stitch Scarf.  Cheyl Marie's pattern Linen Stitch Scarf From Leftover Yarn is very similar to the technique I use.

You get to use up all kinds of odds and ends of yarn, and you can mix in yarns of differing weights as long as you mostly stick to one weight overall.

The most critical thing is to cast on very loosely, so that the cast on edge isn't tighter than the bind off, but other than that, once you master the stitch, it's all about playing with color.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pot Holders

Making pot holders and hot pads has to be one of the more satisfying projects there is.  First you get to use up fun fabrics and odd blocks you've been saving up.  You also get to use up the odd bits of batting and flannel that you've been saving in case you needed them someday.  Someday arrived at my house.

These pot holders were made with some circa 1980s cheater blocks.  With a slightly mis-matched binding they look pretty cool I think.

I also cut into some larger scraps of one of my favorite Alexander Henry fabric and made these retro potholders. All these go into my box for holiday gifts. This was a fun afternoon of sewing.

Mimi kept me company and helped pick out the bindings.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Free Pattern Friday: A Special Hat

I don't get to make many things for my son Alex.  He's a minimalist, doesn't like a lot of clutter, and frou-frou.  But I know he likes alpaca, which is warm and lightweight, and our weather has gotten colder lately.  I scanned Ravelry, looking for the most simple beanie pattern to go with some Mirasol Tuhu yarn I have in stash.  It's a cloud-like blend of baby llama, merino wool, and angora--as light and warm as alpaca and softer.  I used the Benefaction Knit Hat pattern by Stacey Winklepleck for Knit Picks.  It was a pleasure to knit this simple hat with such luxurious yarn. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Chevron Cowl

I love cowls, especially those knit from gradient yarns.  For this project I knit Lisa Bruce's free pattern  Favorite Scarf Ever,  with one ball of Lion Amazing, alternating with a ball of solid violet cotton and acrylic.  When the solid violent ran out, I threw in a bit of grey wool.

The contrast is most dramatic with the grey, but still noticeable throughout.

I got a brainstorm when I realized that the zig-zags on each end would fit together like puzzle pieces.  I stitched the ends together through the back loop of the last row of stitches, and alacazam! I have a cowl.

This knit up fast on size 10 needles and worsted-aran weight yarns, and I love the results.  This goes into my stockpile of holiday gifts.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Free Pattern Friday: Diagonal Pinstripe Scarf

The Diagonal Pinstripe Scarf by Purl Soho is a lovely classic pattern.  I made mine from inexpensive sock yarn: 3 balls of  Premier's Serenity Sock, part of the Deborah Norville collection, in the Harlequin colorway.  I didn't have to change yarns for the stripes, but just enjoyed the self-striping yarn.

I would classify this pattern as zen knitting.  It takes few brain cells to keep track of the 2-row pattern repeat.  Just keep knitting until the scarf is long enough for you.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015


I'm surfacing from a busy work schedule to post some recently completed socks.  Thank goodness for knitting, which keeps me feeling creative even when I'm really vegging in front of the tv.  The pattern is a variation of Roza's Socks, but I substitute 3 x 3 ribbing for the pattern stitch.  This sock fits perfectly every time.  The yarn is Patons Kroy in Rusty Stripes.  Lining up the stripes perfectly so that the socks match is a personal obsession.

I recently ran across this DIY tutorial for sock blockers.  They're cut from a dollar store place mat.  You can't get thriftier than that, it it does the job nicely.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Free Pattern Friday: Velvet Morning

I'm working on the cardigan Velvet Morning by Knitted Bliss JC, a free patten from Knitty, the on-line magazine.  The stranded cardigan is knitted from Aran weight yarn, so I'm using Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool for the background, and some fairly random balls of contrasting stash yarns for the rest.  It's a very satisfying, non-fussy knit for a stranded project, and I'm looking forward to having a heavy sweater jacket for the winter.

I got this good photo of my progress so far, because even though I got gauge in stockinette with the background color, the stranded work was looking a little small.  I put the project on a strand of waste yarn, soaked and blocked it, and was relieved to find that the size is coming out perfectly.  I would've hated to have had to find a skinnier person to give this sweater to.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


A friend of mine just became a grandmother, so I decided to knit a little sweater for the new baby.  The pattern, The Garter Yoke Baby Cardi by Jennifer Hoel, is available free on Ravelry.  It's a great, straightforward pattern, made fancy by some lady bug buttons that I think came from Debra. 

But then I started think, don't I have some lady bug fabric?

Sure enough, I did.

This adorable Reversible Sundress, pattern by Sew Baby, which I bought at JoAnn Fabrics,  sews up really easily.  The dress and lining are each one pattern piece, and the bloomers are made from 2 pieces.  It sews up in an hour or so.

The sweater is now an outfit.  Sometimes projects develop a life of their own and snowball into something a bit bigger than expected.  But I knew I was saving that lady bug fabric for a reason.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

X and Plus quilt

I've gone back to work for the new school year, so I'll be returning to my spotty pattern of posting.  In the meantime, I've started a fun quilt using the popular X and Plus block.  I've gone through my scraps and stash and I'm using some bright clear colors and black and white.  I'm also incorporating some text prints I've recently collected.  I look forward to sitting down and fussy cutting and sewing a couple of blocks when I have a bit of free time.

The dimensions I'm using:  The center piece is 2" x 5", and the small squares are all 2", including the squares that are halved for form triangles.  The black and white corner squares are 3.5".

Here's a few of my favorite blocks so far:

I finished my Diamonds quilt, and it's bound and waiting for cooler weather.

I used every inch of the fleece remnant I picked for the back.  I had to add a small strip of coordinating cotton to cover the printed selvage edge.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...