Donation: Knitted Baby Blanket

img_2970 zvcAt long last, I finished my practice knitted baby blanket! By the time I completed it, including giving it a gentle wash, I realized it would make a terrific donation to a local charity or hospital.

I bought two skeins of this sweet yarn that knits up into stripes with little flowers when you do stockinette stitch. For my practice blanket, I did a border of seed stitch. The colorway is Buttercup but if you follow that link above, you’ll see there are tons of different colors! (So hard not to buy more…) I even have some leftover that I think I’ll try a hat with down the road.

The blanket took me a while to complete, since I started it when I was brand new to knitting, and I would pick it up and put it down. Although it could be tedious at times, it really did help me practice my tension with knitting and just becoming overall comfortable with the pastime. There are plenty of mistakes in this blanket but no holes, and it is just the cuddliest blanket, perfect for a baby’s skin to snuggle up with.

I’ve chosen Project Linus to start and if I don’t get anywhere there, I will try Knots of Love next. It feels good to give back and know someone will benefit from the hours of toil I put into this piece.

Have you ever knitted or crocheted for a charity? If so, what have you made and given away?

The Two-Year Knit Hat Project

By now, all seven of you who read this blog know that I started my journey into learning to knit in 2017. I practiced and practiced and practiced. And then I practiced a whole bunch more. I knitted and frogged, knitted and practiced binding off (horribly), and swatched until I couldn’t swatch anymore.

Since knitting hasn’t come as naturally to me like crochet did, I had to work even harder to get a comfortable muscle memory going to where I could knit without wanting to throw something.

I got into making washcloths, then a knit scarf for my husband, a small baby blanket (which I still need to post about!), and even a cowl, which turned out really well. I made so much more progress in the first 18 months of knitting than I thought I could or would.

However.

HOWEVER.

I have watched other people new to knitting start whipping out hats immediately and I’m wondering, what am I not getting? Why can’t that be me? What’s the secret? I basically took up knitting in order to make hats and two years in, nothing.

Part of the frustration for me has been that I don’t want to work with double-pointed needles. I wanted to learn the technique that would allow me to decrease without using a whole bunch of extra sticks. In addition to watching several YouTube videos on Magic Loop, I bought a comprehensive class on Craftsy (now Bluprint) with Lorilee Beltman, one of my favorite teachers I’ve found there, and I proceeded to watch the lessons on getting a hat completed a couple dozen times.

There are so many elements to knitting in the round that present tricky situations: which type of circular needle you use, joining, decreasing, which tools you’ll use to decrease, and finishing your hat so there aren’t any holes, to say nothing of keeping an even tension. A friend pointed out I could have tried knitting flat and then seaming, but I have tried my hand at that with other crafts (Tunisian crochet, for one) and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. Completing a knitted hat in the round was the goal.

At last, something clicked after I finished some of my other projects, and I felt I was ready to try the half-loop method, followed by decreasing with Magic Loop. I swatched and made sure my gauge would be similar, if not exact, prepared my needles, and got started.

I swear, I almost stopped before I’d even finished round 2, because I had messed up something with the join. It didn’t click until round 2 or 3 but once I was under way, I kept on going and didn’t look back. I was nervous to try decreasing and moving into Magic Loop but I plowed onward.

Somehow, some way, a hat came together. I watched a separate video on Craftsy (a free one for Chemo Caps) on properly binding off the last 8 stitches and sewing the hole shut. Once I did that, I was finished. And then I couldn’t actually believe I was finished.

One final thought is that I found it odd that even though I used a smaller needle for the brim (k2, p2 all the way around for 2.5″), it’s looser and looks bigger than the knitting in the round for the remainder of the hat with a larger needle. That stumps me.

Something else to figure out, I’m sure! (If you’re experienced and can speak to that, please leave a comment!)

For now, I’m reveling in the fact that I accomplished a MAJOR goal of mine with knitting in the first month of the year, so I hope to continue the streak of challenging myself for 2019. Ultimately, I want to do some color work and a fair isle hat someday, but…one thing at a time. I mean, I still haven’t made that wreath I blogged about in 2017, either! (Whoops.)

If you are a hat knitter and can share any favorite patterns, please do!

Luminosa Cowl and Happy New Year!

Earlier in the year (2018), I ventured to a nearby city and visited two independent yarn shops. At the second one, I found a cowl made with some gorgeously soft and also shiny yarn. The shop owner told me it was Luminosa by Cascade. She also pointed me in the direction of the free pattern, which is this one here, if you’d like to try it yourself!

Her cowl was done in pink and a brighter teal. They were out of the teal but I picked up the pink and a darker black and blue, which I thought would let the pink shine but still give a nice balance of color.

Still very new to knitting, as I only began to learn in 2017, I was nervous about the pattern and the fact that I dropped $40 on two hanks of yarn. It helped that the kind shop owner caked the hanks for me, so I could pick them up and start the project more easily.

Determined, I did pick up those cakes of yarn and got started not too long after this shopping trip, since I wanted to try something that would allow me to practice knitting in the round without worrying about decreasing (a hat I have YET to complete!). While it took me a while to completely finish the cowl, since I let it sit finished except for bind-off for about two months, I was extremely pleased when all was said and done. There were definitely some challenges along the way, as the purl-2-together was tricky for me, but I plowed through.

You guys…it is SO pretty and it is incredibly soft! Due to its size, it has some versatility with how it can be worn, but simply draped around one’s neck and shoulders looks lovely.

I’m still deciding whether to keep it for myself or list it in the shop. I put the Etsy shop on vacation over the holidays and now that I’m coming up on FIVE years of being an Etsy seller, which is nuts, I have started to think about where I want to take things with my craft and if I want to do occasional restocks versus having mostly made-to-order listings. More to come on that front.

If you are newer to knitting as I am, or if you are a yarn addict and need some inspiration for a project, grab some of this delicious yarn and maybe give this pattern a try. I would absolutely make another of these — but now I’m working on all the practicing of hats. 2019 is going to be The Year of the Knitted Hat!

❤ P.S. I also tried a technique I saw on Facebook from Petals to Picot about binding off with a crochet hook and once I tried that, it cleared the path for me to more easily and quickly finish knitted projects from here on out. It’s so comforting to know I don’t have to let things sit, lest they be ruined with terribly done bind-offs!

Finished Knitted Objects! Whee!

Friends, I am so happy to post that I have a few more finished projects and this time they’re from needles and not hooks!

I feel as if I’m the world’s slowest knitter, even having learned to knit continental style, but even so, I can actually pick up knitting needles and knock out something that resembles a real thing. I just need a few…months….longer than most people might.

Since around this time last year when I first completed a pretty raggedy rendition of a dishcloth, I’ve gone on to attempt numerous swatches and other projects that have either been frogged or relatively unsuccessful.

It took the better part of six months, but I finally completed a knitted wool scarf for my husband to replace the previous one I’d made for him. Pictures to follow. In addition, I whipped up a few more wash/dish cloths.

Here are the cloths, all made with Knit Picks Shine Sport. Because this a mixture of Pima cotton and bamboo, I prefer using this yarn for wash cloths (facial cloths). Dishie or another mercerized cotton yarn, is sturdier for dish cloths. The Hydrangea and Cream colors are knitted in the same pattern, a “fancy stitch combination” called sugar cubes stitch. I got the tutorial from Very Pink Knits. The bright teal colored cloth is actually done in Tunisian crochet but it has a lot of Tunisian knit stitch in it. It also makes for a gorgeous and sturdy facial cloth.

The photo of the cream cloth shows the difference between the finished cloth without blocking and the cloth after a light wash, some time in the dryer, and some steam blocking with an iron. Side note: still getting the hang of binding off, a loathsome process.

Now, onto the scarf! This thing is 8.5 feet long. Yes, that’s right. My husband really wanted a long scarf and while this seems excessively long, it’s actually an appropriate length. It took four balls of Capra DK from Knit Picks, which is a merino wool and cashmere blend. Particularly as I’m a beginner knitter, I had to be careful with this yarn, because it could be splitty and too much handling meant it would start to felt. By no means is this scarf executed perfectly, but the stitches and the wool helped hide any glaring flaws.

The pattern is easy peasy for beginners (knits and purls only) from B.Hooked Knitting. One side is only knit stitches and the other side switches between knit and purl stitches. It creates a gorgeous textured scarf on both sides. No matter how this scarf is wound around the neck, it will be pretty to look at.

Blocking really helped the wool relax and get it fully shaped. My husband is very much looking forward to wearing his scarf come winter. It’s soft and cuddly and very handsome in the navy.

Tada! I think I’ll go rest my hands for a while.

Folded with the front facing out

Squishy and thick!

Shows both the back (on the left) and the front) on the right, draped

Folded with the back of the work facing out

Folded with the back facing out from above

 

Knitting Update: We Have Dishcloths

When I last wrote on learning how to knit, I was swatching like mad.

Eventually, you wear yourself out on swatching, and you have to dive in and make an actual thing.

The month of July witnessed me making three dishcloths. I didn’t think they’d all been this month, but when you diligently record your projects in Ravelry, the details don’t lie.

This bright orange item that resembles a square now sits in my kitchen sink, and was my first official knitted project:

I didn’t block it, and because it’s done on the diagonal, one has to be careful about how one decreases, which is more difficult than increasing, which is a simple yarnover. I have higher hopes that the next time I tackle this design, it will look a bit more polished.

Then of course you have the hole in the middle, which I didn’t know how to fix. Still don’t. I don’t know what to do with dropped stitches and, so far, any mistakes I made either live in the project or I have to frog all the way or most of the way back; this is completely unlike crochet, where mistakes are easier to fix when you catch them right away. (+1 crochet)

After the orange thing, I graduated to attempting a chevron washcloth from Very Pink Knits. It’s quite pretty and I love that it’s reversible. In fact, I’m not really sure which side is supposed to be the front.

I don’t actually have a photo of it, just a video from Instagram, which you can see here.

That one ALSO had a mistake in the middle (what’s with me and doing that?) and I didn’t know how to fix it. Trust me when I say that I had to frog along the way, but only when I was catching the mistakes mid-row.

My most recently completed dishcloth is this ZickZack design from KnitPicks:

What I like about it is that it’s easy, with just knits and purls, and a simple row counter app on my phone helped me stay on track. I didn’t have to frog nearly as much mid-row, and lo and behold, I don’t have any holes in it! The toughest part for me was binding off, which I still need to perfect. This one got blocked and looks terrific. I’m thinking of making more to do bundles for the Etsy shop.

Little aside: I was encouraged by my cloth-making when a friend of mine tagged me on Facebook, who said she loved her (crochet) spa cloth that I made for her, as it was done up with KnitPicks Shine Sport, which is made from Pima cotton and bamboo. I can attest that they do make for seriously luxurious washcloths.

Last but certainly not least, what has contributed to my success in knitting has been investing in some better needles, specifically circular ones. My ultimate goal is to be able to make things in the round, namely hats and mitts and things, and I have hit some hard potholes going down that road so far. I am currently working on my Magic Loop skills, which I hope will be the key to my success in finally whipping up a hat. Stay tuned.

In sum, I have gone from ultimate frustration with loads of epithets and claiming I would never be able to “DO this,” to swatching, to attempting a dishcloth, to actually making a dishcloth that is attractive and doesn’t have any holes or other unsightly mistakes.

This crocheter is on the knitting path. If any of you readers are also experienced knitters, or just learning like me, I’d love to hear any stories, tips, or anecdotes you may have.

Cheers!