Hot off the Needles

Well, I’ve gone and done it! I’ve actually got some finished projects!

First, I started and finished an adorable layette for a customer. At the suggestion of a co-worker, I chose a sweet garter stitch cardigan and bonnet and then found an adorable pair of baby booties that match perfectly! I hope that our customer loves the outfit as much as I do. I used Universal Yarns “Adore” DK weight yarn (two skeins with a lot of left-overs!) I love the peachy-pink color which is not quite a baby pink and not quite a peach. I think the lacy leaves pattern is wonderful around the neckline and it’s also on the back of the little bonnet. I found the perfect buttons for the cardigan before I knew I would need any for the shoes. Lucky for me, I’d already bought the package which contained 5 buttons. The perfect number with none left over!

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The shoes may be my favorite part! They were a simple knit and they’re so stinking cute!

IMG_7867I have also finished a cowl that I wanted to try. This was a free pattern at our shop that used a Galway worsted wool and a Gina, both by Plymouth Yarns. I had a charcoal gray Cascade 220 Worsted in my stash and a skein of Gina left over from my favorite mittens ever. I hadn’t ever “really” knitted anything in Brioche stitch so this was a learning experience which was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. If you know how to knit and purl, try Brioche! Another of my co-workers knitted the same pattern for a store sample and hers came out similar but stretched a LOT more than mine did when blocked. She used a different main color yarn that had some silk in it – and hers is significantly less scratchy than my wool one. But I learned something. By the way, I didn’t make mine like the pattern directed. I used less than one skein of Cascade 220 and one skein only of the Gina … I am not sure I’m going to love it and wear it.

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I also finished another commission for a returning customer. She wanted a bulky/chunky lacy slouch hat/tam exactly like I have made for her before and a cowl to match. The hat pattern is a free pattern from Revelry called Quick Lacy Slouch Hat. The cowl pattern that she found is in a little Leisure Arts book and it’s called Berry Twist Cowl. Each used one skein of Cascade 128 Superwash yarn. Knitting with large needles and with chunky yarn, these were a relatively quick knit and I got them done in a weekend. I hope our customer is happy with these as she was with the other things that I’ve knitted for her. IMG_7883

I will be looking for “sparkly” buttons for the cowl at work tomorrow and then the set will be ready to go to their new owner!

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With all the finished objects, that leaves a few projects still on the needles …

I still haven’t seamed my Aran Cardigan. (It’s easy to keep putting it off!)

I haven’t finished my wool Vail Island Vest because it’s boring!

I am working on a store sample for Yardgoods Center in a bee-utiful Manos Silky Blend.

I still have that linen top in the project bag – when I frog it, it will truly be “dead” to me.

I started a new felted bag yesterday. I’m using all of the stashed Paton’s wool … well, I’ll use some of it, anyway.

I have one sock of a pair done. Second sock will get cast on this week – I like to take my socks in my purse just in case I find some knitting time.

My KAL shawl is in process … middle of clue 3, if memory serves!

So, there you have it. I think. Three projects finished and seven on the needles. I wish I didn’t need to sleep! You can find more information on any of these projects by visiting “lindar” on Ravelry.

Gone knitting!

Teaching and Technology

Choices!

Choices!

Last week I sent some yarn to a customer who lives far away. She wanted to make socks out of Encore Worsted yarn. I sent her a picture of a few choices and we got it mailed to her. On Wednesday I got a phone call and she was stuck. She had gotten her leg and heel flap done, had turned the heel and picked up the gusset stitches. But despite having done all the “hard” work she was stuck on the directions to knit the next part – mostly on having the right number of stitches on each needle so she could decrease in the right spot!

Now, any of you who have ever tried to explain something over the phone understand how difficult it is, right? I think every teacher, at one time or another, assigns students to give directions in writing for someone who has never done something. Dialing a phone, making tuna salad? It’s not easy to fully describe any task where you are unable to see the person to whom you are giving directions.

So, I’m on the phone with a customer who is stuck on her sock. First I have to figure out where she is exactly. Next, I have to explain to her what to do next. Well, on Wednesday I didn’t do a good job. We couldn’t find a place where we could communicate with each other well enough to solve the problem. I was feeling like a failure and she was frustrated.

And then she suggested that she might send me a picture! It was a genius idea!

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This was the picture I got via email

This is the picture that I got. You can see where the working yarn is (at the bottom left-hand corner of the needles) and, if you’ve knit many (MANY) pairs of socks, you know exactly what you would do next. Right? But can you describe to someone over the phone what to do? Well, after spending fifteen minutes on the phone without making any real progress, we finally had a new starting place and new hope!

Once I saw exactly where she was, I could then explain to her what she needed to do next.

She knitted down the left-hand needle and then knitted half of the heel (top) stitches. This becomes needle number three. We are now at the new beginning of the round. Now she can begin her first round with gusset decreases – Needle one will be the second half of the heel stitches and the right-hand needle stitches, the bottom needle is the top of the foot and will be needle two. We already know where needle three is!

Working together with our photograph and the use of our wonderful new technology …

Success!

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Now she’s ready to complete her foot.

I am so grateful for the challenges that I am given as a teacher.  I love the brain work that it takes to figure out how to solve a challenge for the student and for me. And I have made some wonderful connections and created wonderful friendships, too. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love teaching knitting!

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Pouches Rock!

My second Wonderful Wallaby is off the needles. This one for my sister-in-law to give to a friend who is expecting a new baby in April. She requested it in pink … and since I was at the Black Sheep (teaching), I ran right back to the yarn room to see what was available in a baby-friendly pink that’s not too pink. (Because as much as I love pink for little girls, I also know that they get a lot … a LOT … of pink gifts.) And voila! I loved this one …

Ta-daaa! My yarn choice!

Ta-daaa! My yarn choice! Plymouth Yarn “Encore Tweed”

Knitting for babies and children really requires washable yarn. I sometimes break this rule … especially when I’m knitting for people who I know well. But when I am knitting for people I don’t know, I assume that they’ll want garments that are easy to care for. Thus, acrylic or blends are essential. The yarn I chose is Encore Tweed by Plymouth Yarn. It’s a worsted weight blend of 75% acrylic, 22% wool and 3% rayon. Stretchy, soft, washable … and a great price point at $7.50 a ball (I needed three. Color W464, Lot 67839.)

I decided to make the smallest size possible which is a 2T because if the baby is born in April, she will be 8 months old in December and with rolled up sleeves, this size will likely fit well with a little room for growth. I always put my children in sweaters that grew a little bit with them. Because I was knitting a gift, I did knit a swatch for gauge. If it was for me I might not have done that but I wanted it to be sized accurately. And away I went.

Bottom's UP!

Bottom’s UP!

This sweater is constructed from the bottom up and knit in the round. (Hear this, NO seams!) The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Two needle sizes needed. Sleeves can be knit one- or two-at-a-time which is my preference so that they are sure to be the same size. I’m sorry that I didn’t take a photograph of my sleeves in process. On this particular pattern, I like using scraps of yarn to hold the few stitches for the underarms both on the body of the sweater and the sleeves. (Makes the “pits” very flexible.)

Here’s a great tip! If you start with the sleeves, you can consider them your swatch. For those who don’t like to swatch, you can start your project right off and if your gauge is off you have a lot fewer stitches to pull out.

Splitting up for the neckline

Splitting the stitches for the neckline … and then on to the collar and hood!

The sleeves are attached very simply by stitching them onto your needles along with the sweater body. Decreases all around for the shoulders and we’re getting closer and closer to a finished garment.

At the neckline, the stitches split and you knit back and forth for the neckline and hood (if you choose to add one … and I love children’s hats with hoods!) Again, very simple. The only “glitch” that I can see in the pattern is that there is a repeat of a few knitted stitches on the edge of the hood, which I am too much of a perfectionist to accept. So, I chose to knit all of the edge stitches on one side and purl all edge stitches on the other side. That way, I get a “perfect” edge. You’ll see what I mean when you knit this cutie!

At the end of the hood, you’ll graft all the stitches together with a Kitchener stitch and ta-daa!!! I added a tassel to the hood because I really liked the hassle that I added to the first WW that I knitted for my niece. All you have to do is graft the underarm stitches and all the seaming is done. Don’t you love that!? I sure do! Use a long piece of your seaming yarn to tighten up the “holes” at each side of the underarm. This is a trick you can use in lots of patterns.

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Just a few underarm stitches to graft … that’s it for seaming!

Underarm "holes" are easily tightened up!

Underarm “holes” are easily tightened up!

So, there you have it once again. The Wonderful Wallaby. I love this pattern so much that I am knitting one for myself in oatmeal-colored wool. You can be sure you’ll be seeing it when it’s on the needles!

Wonderful Wallaby in pink!

Wonderful Wallaby in pink!

Queen Bee Knits label is placed on the inside of the bottom … don't want it rubbing baby's neck!

Queen Bee Knits label is placed on the inside of the bottom … don’t want it rubbing baby’s neck!

Tassel … my addition

Tassel … my addition

Gone knitting.

Block Broken

My first Wonderful Wallaby on my beautiful niece!

My first Wonderful Wallaby on my beautiful niece!

I taught a class ten days ago and, now, I do believe that my knitters block is broken. Woo! Hoo! I’m knitting again!

Zipping through the Wonderful Wallaby that I’m knitting for my sister-in-law to give to a friend for a new baby due in April. (I’ve blogged about this pattern that I’ve knitted before … here and here.) I’m knitting it in the acrylic/wool/rayon blend Plymouth Yarn Encore Tweed (100g./200 yards) in a pink tweed (color W464/ lot 67839). I love this pattern and I love this sweater. It’s such a simple knit and there are no seams! (Well, only a couple of short seams.)

And next? A wedding shawl for my daughter … I sure hope she doesn’t read this blog! 😉

I can’t believe that MY daughter is getting married (in September)! It’s beyond my comprehension that she is old enough for this … or maybe it’s that I am old enough for this … monumental, life-changing event! How did all those years pass so quickly? And now it’s time for her little family to become “official”. We all love the wonderful man that she is marrying and I love that they are authentically themselves even as they’ve become a couple. I remember her telling me (years ago) that he was her “tour affair” and the relationship wouldn’t go beyond the boundaries of her tour. Love got in the way … and it didn’t hurt that he loved her dog!

I’m planning to knit her a Romi lace shawl, Fiori di Sole. It just looks like her. I bought the yarn in Bangor, Maine last summer. It’s a beautiful shade of blue/green (Glacial Pace is the color way) baby alpaca and silk blend by One Lupine and called “Spinnaker” (4oz./ approx. 745 yards). I am excited to get started which is, perhaps, why I am whipping through the Wallaby in pink.

Let me mention, too, that I’ve begun a Wonderful Wallaby for me! I’m knitting in Lion Brand’s Fisherman’s Wool, an inexpensive yarn purchased at Joann, in the oatmeal color way … there will be no contrasting pocket for this girl! 🙂

Gone knitting!