Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zippers in Socks

Z is for Zippers that are knit into socks (both for decoration and for functionality!)  A few years back I was participating in Sock Madness and the pattern called for zippers!!  Who would have thought such a crazy thing!  They turned out nicely!!  My technique was not perfect but I actually managed to knit functional zippers into a pair of socks!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yarn!

Y is for Yarn!!  I love yarn!!  Over the years I have accumulated a lot of yarn!! I have also knit my way through a LOT of yarn, but if I was honest with myself there is no need for me to buy new yarn for some time - I have plenty of yarn and likely should work at using what I have.  But yarn is so nice and so tempting to buy!

Here is a picture of some of my sock yarn stash (never mind all the no sock yarn stash I have!!  I need to haul ALL my stash out and need to organize it all again! I did that several years ago and it is time to do it again...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X-stitch square

X is for X-stitch square (or cross stitch square or Criss Cross square).  A favorite square of mine to crochet is a simple little crossed stitch square.  I am not sure who and where the pattern originates with (I doubt that I am the first one to make this square) but here is the way I make mine:

6 inch Criss Cross Square

Using a 5mm crochet hook and a worsted weight yarn Chain 26 (or an even number)

Row 1: dc (US terminology) in 4th chain, dc in each chain to the end (you will 24 dc now), chain 3, turn.
Row 2: dc in the second stitch then cross back to do a dc in the first stitch, skip one dc dc in the next stitch, then cross back and dc in the skipped stitch, continue until one dc remains, dc in that stitch. Chain 3, turn.
Row 3: dc in each stitch, chain 3, turn.
Repeat Rows 2 and 3 until your piece is square (for me this is a total of 11 rows - the foundation row plus rows 2 and 3 repeated five times).

This square can be easily adapted to any size simply by adjusting the beginning chain and number of row repeats.  I like this square for a filler square to go with others in making afghans.

Here are some pictures of the square in progress:

Beginning chain base

Double crochet foundation row

The first half of the cross stitch

The second half of the cross stitch

Row two complete

Close up of the stitches

Completed 6 inch square

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for WIP (Work-in-Progress)

W is for WIP (Work-in-Progress).  I tend to not be able to knit or crochet on only one pattern exclusively but have several things on the go all at one time.  I currently have two WIPs and I find myself wanting to get something else going.  I think two might be too few projects to work on.  I find that I am getting a bit bored with only those and I am very eager to start something else!  On the flip side I tend to get over whelmed if I have too many projects on the go all at once.  Once I have too many projects all at once I find that several will be ignored and not worked on at all.

Getting closer to done!!

Long way to go here!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vintage Patterns

V is for vintage patterns.  Over the years I have got a hold of quite a few vintage knit and crochet patterns.  Some of them belonged to each of my grandmothers and many are ones I came across in thrift stores.  Here are a sample of some of the vintage pattern books I have.  I need to sort through all my books as I know I have some that are older than these ones are.

1940.  Price was 10 cents.  Love the cigarette!

1943.  25 cents.

1954. 25 cents.

1945. 30 cents.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Undecided

U is for Undecided.  This is the first letter that I had trouble thinking of a word to focus on!!  I blame it on being overly tired at the end of the academic year. I have grading coming out my ears and am tired.  I am looking forward to a break and some time to relax.  Sorry for the boring post today!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Top-down or Toe-up

T is for Top-down or Toe-up.  So when it comes to knitting socks there seems to be a fairly strong preference among knitter about top-down versus toe-up.  I will admit I prefer top-down.  I suspect that this has to do with the fact that the very first pair of socks I knit were top-down.  I have now knit so many top-down socks that I can quite easily knit a pair of basic socks without the need for a pattern.  I know how to make them fit my feet just right.  I have knit several pair of toe-up socks but they do not come as easily to me.  I have to pay careful attention to how I start and for how to do the heel.  I like the fit when I do get them finished but I am always afraid that I start the heel too soon and that it won't fit.

So, if you are a sock knitter, which do you prefer - top-down or tor-up??

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Socks (Hand Knit Socks)

S is for Socks - hand knit socks!  In case you have not noticed yet I have a thing for knitting socks!!  They are likely my favorite thing to knit.  To date I have knit 71 pair of socks plus 15 individual socks.  Most of the time when I design socks I only knit one sock.  I keep these socks aside and they do not get worn. I keep them in perfect shape in case I want to take new pictures of them or something like that.  Of the 71 other pair I have knit I have given a total of 7 away.  You read that right - I have given away 7 of the 71 pair I have knit!!  I am clearly a very selfish sock knitter!!  Of the ones I have given away one pair was to my Mom, one pair to my sister, one pair to a good friend, and the rest to my husband.  My first pair of socks were finished in October 2010 and since then there has been no stopping me when it comes to knitting socks!!  Several pair are in need of mending and that is something I need to learn how to do!  I have a few pair that came to unfortunate ends while being washed (can you say felting?). Over the years I have improved my tension, and have learned to make socks better fitting for my feet.  The majority of my socks are knit top-down as this seems to be my preferred method although I have knit several toe-up socks and they fit very nicely.

My very first socks!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for my Ravelry Shop

R is for my Ravelry Shop.  Other than my Around the World Quilt-ghan which was published in December 2008, I put my first pattern up for sale on Ravelry in September 2013.  I have not released anything since December 2015 - this must be remedied!!  I have four designs that are nearly ready to go - I just need to do some editing on the patterns and publish them - they have already been test knit!  So, I have published a total of 47 patterns so far - 3 hat patterns, 15 sock patterns, 24 cowl designs, 1 stole, 2 afghans, and two headbands.  Three of the designs are crochet and the rest are all knit design!  I am no where near being able to quit my day job, but this does earn me a few dollars a month that allows me to buy more yarn to knit or crochet with - a win-win situation!!  I have found that the more patterns I have available, the more regular my sales are.  I have not done any paid promotions on Ravelry yet, but I am thinking about it - maybe once my Four Seasons Sock e-book is ready to go or maybe once I have finished all my Herding Cats designs and have that -book ready.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quilt-ghans

Q is for (Crochet) Quilt-ghans.  I love making these!!  The basic idea is to crochet little mini two round granny squares and join the squares together in quilt patterns.  My two favorites (or actually the only two I have made - each multiple times) are Around the World and the Baby Nine Block.  These each involve a LOT of little squares!  To date I have made 5 Around the World quilt-ghans (two double size, two queen size, and one king size). one queen size Nine Block, and 6 or 7 Baby Nine Blocks.  I won't count how many squares that creates - but it would be well into the thousands!  I made my first one in 2008 and have not made one in a few years now.  I think it may be time to make a few baby blankets to have on hand for gifts!!

Here are some examples:

My first one - Queen size and all mine!!!

Double sized for my niece

King size for a family friend

Baby quilt-ghan

Baby quilt-ghan

Baby quilt-ghan

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Painting

And now for something completely different (from my usual knitting or crochet related blog posts).  P is for Painting!  In the past year or so I have tried painting for fun.  I have no formal training of any sort and have just experimented.  It has been a lot of fun!!  I ran out of watercolour paper and the canvases for acrylics so I have stopped painting for the time being.  I think I need to order or buy some more supplies so that I can use painting as a reward for finishing up this semester!!  I also need to decide what to do with what I have painted.  I listed some on Etsy and sold a few of the greeting cards I painted, but I need to decide what to do with the rest.

Here are some samples:

Watercolour Greeting Card

Watercolour Greeting Card

8x10 Watercolour

Abstract Acrylic

Abstract Acrylic Flowers

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Organization

O is for organization (or lack thereof!)  This is something I need to seriously work on!!  I will admit that my organizational skills are lacking and that I need to spend some time getting things of mine all tidy and organized (hmmm it might make things easier to find!!).  A case in point - here is a picture of the contents of my little case that holds most of my knitting needles and extra notions - it is sadly in need of a tidy-up!!

I have quite a few circular needles in several sizes and lengths and I have lots of double point needles in multiple sizes - all of these need to be organized somehow so that they are easy to access and use!  Then there are oodles of stitch markers that I should get all organized so that I can use more of them.  I have a few regulars that I use all the time and the others are neglected and not used - that is a bit of a shame!!  I hope to work out an organization plan this summer and plan to get this little box all put to rights!!  Wish me luck!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

February and March 2016 Finished Objects

I plan to continue the numbering from the previous month so that I have a total number of FOs at the end of 2016 without having to go back and count from each month.  Here is what I finished in January.  I meant to post this each month, but got behind...  Let's see if I can keep up the trend now and until 2016 is done!

February 2016 Finished Objects:
5) Hitchhiker - finished knitting February 9th 2016
6) Herding Cats Double Knit Mittens - finished knitting February 16th 2016 (I will link to the pattern page as soon as it is available - this is to my project page)
7) Herding Cats Stranded Mittens - finished knitting February 23rd 2016 (I will link to the pattern page as soon as it is available - this is to my project page)

March 2016 Finished Objects:
8) Sock Madness Round 1 Socks - finished knitting March 12th 2016
9) Into the Forest Socks - finished knitting March 18th 2016
10) Sock Madness Round 2 Socks - finished knitting March 26th 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Notions

N is for notions - all those little extra things that are needed for knitting (or crocheting).  Here is what I feel are my essential knitting notions:

This includes a six inch wood ruler that doubles as a row marker, a retractable tape measure, stitch markers (both closed and ones that open - all stored in an ald Altoids type tin), scissors (mine happen to be bandage scissors that my husband bought when he was in nursing school many, many years ago), darning needles (happily in their needle nest - a little magnetic case), a pen and a pencil, and last lip balm (granted I may have a problem with lip balm - I have them everywhere!! I have at least five on the go at any given time - one my my computer, one on my bedside table, one in my purse, one on my desk at work, and one in my car).

What are your most needed notions??

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Madness (Sock Madness)

M is for Madness (Sock Madness).  Sock Madness is a speed sock knitting competition hosted on Ravelry.  With this competition you are placed into teams of people who are of similar skill and speed levels.  In each round there are a specific number of people that will advance to the next round.  For example in Round 2 the fastest 40 people on each team advanced to Round 3,  In round 3 the fastest 30 people advance.  This continues until there is one person on each team left and then in the final round the last person on each team competes with the fastest on each of the other teams.  The first one of all of the teams wins the whole competition.  Confused??  I have entered four times now (four years in a row) and have done OK but come nowhere near winning.

My first year was Sock Madness 7 in 2013 and I was eliminated in Round 5.  I was amazed I lasted that long!!

Completed socks in Sock Madness 7

My second year (Sock Madness 8) I was also eliminated in Round 5...  There were also some bonus rounds (non-competition) for us to knit as well.

Completed socks in Sock Madness 8

My third year (Sock Madness 9) I submitted a design that was selected to be used in the competition!!  I was eliminated in that round that year (haha).  I spent more time focusing on following the threads and helping out that I did not knit my own pair fast enough!  LOL

Completed socks in Sock Madness 9

And now we are mid way through Sock Madness 10!!  Round 3 is underway now and I have made it safely through this round and am ready for Round 4.  Here's hoping I make it into Round 5 again!  Maybe I will make it to Round 6 one year!  I doubt it, there are some lightening fast knitters in this competition. The final round each year frequently has someone finishing knitting an entire pair of socks is less than 24 hours (I don't think they sleep and I imagine there is smoke coming from their needles!)

Completed socks in Sock Madness 10

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Lace

L is for knit lace.  At it's simplest, lace is nothing more than adding intentional holes in your knitting.  Creating lace pieces is such a delight!!  Initially the knit piece looks like a crumply mess, but once it is blocked - magic!!  The lace opens up and becomes a beautiful thing!!

Here is an example of before and after blocking lace.  This is Haruni and was my first "fancy" lace shawl that I knit for myself.  I love it!!!

Before blocking

After blocking

And a close up because I love this design!!