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4! Oz! Challenge

A Ravelry group was started two months ago called 4! Ounce! Challenge! The challenge was to spin up 4 oz. of handpainted roving from one of three participating merchants (Spunky Eclectic, Hello Yarn and Southern Cross Fibre), write an original pattern, knit and publish the pattern, and submit it to the Challenge to win, what else, some roving! And to complete the task before September 30th.

I’m not an expert spinner by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, much of what I’ve spun over the years would fall under the tongue-in-cheek moniker “designer yarn” (wink, wink). But I thought, “Well, why not? Sounds fun.”
My 4 ounces of roving …


… spun up to around 240 yards of thick-and-thin singles. As you can see, I spin a little on the tight side.


To release some of the spin and get a softer, warmer, more neutral single, I sent it back through the wheel in a Z-twist, sort of massaging it into a nice soft thick-and thin yarn.


I don’t have a “real” gauge to measure wraps/inch, and even if I did, I’m not sure how to get a meaningful estimate on a thick-and-thin yarn. I had a couple people give me their counts, and they came up with different numbers. So I tried to find a sort of uniformly spun bit, and going off that I’d say it’s about 10 wpi. You can judge for yourself.


Also, to be able to suggest a commercial equivalent, I knitted the stitch pattern of the poncho in Noro Aya. I used the same needles for both. I’m not sure that tells us anything terribly useful, but in picking a commercial yarn, something like the Noro Aya should be pretty close. Aya is given a weight of worsted with 9 wpi, and knits 20 stitches/4 inches on US No. 8 needles, according to the ball band.
Side-by-side of handspun and Noro Aya
I just love the long color runs in the Noro yarn which also happens to pool in a way similar to the handspun I made, which is another reason to like the Noro as a commercial option.
Well, there you have it. Yes, I know all these photos are over-kill but I couldn’t decide on just one … she’s so c-u-t-e!

If you’re a Ravelry member, check out all the cool patterns and yarn people did in response to this challenge by searching Projects for the tag 4ozchallenge.

Can Christmas be far away?

Now that the air has taken on the chill of Fall, I’m thinking about Christmas again. I get an email now and then from someone who recognizes the vintage Holiday Stocking I re-created for a friend and posted as a free pattern. Here are some suggestions for the stocking from a lady I heard from recently:

The pattern came as a kit nearly 30 years ago. I don’t remember where I ordered it from, though. Over the years I’ve made more than a dozen stockings from that pattern for friends, and family.
My pattern calls for sequins around the box that Santa is jumping from and for the tree on the back of the stocking. Santa’s hat also has a pom-pom on the end and his beard is of mohair. I have, on a couple of stockings, put the recipient’s initials in the box that Santa is jumping out of. I’ve used two strands of fun fur for Santa’s beard and trimmed it short to resemble a furry beard, added white seed beads for snow, made the box different colors, put “patches” on Santa’s suit, and one Santa’s suit and hat were “smudged” with “soot.” (I used just a touch of black paint and rubbed it to create a smudge.) For my granddaughter’s stocking I went all out with beads, sequins, ribbons, furry beard, smudging – and I lined it. I think you would agree it is quit gaudy.

I’m really hoping she sends me a photo of that “gaudy” stocking (or any others, for that matter). I’d love to post any photos of people’s versions of this stocking here, and with the pattern on Ravelry.
(Thank you, Brenda, for letting me share your ideas here.)

A salvaged project

Over a year ago I dyed a hank of sock weight yarn using gel frosting dye. I didn’t really have anything in mind when I dyed the yarn. It was just experimental, I hadn’t used frosting dyes so it was just fun to play around. I posted about the experience and said I’d write up how we did it but I never actually got around to it and in fact didn’t do any more dying with frosting dye, in spite of the fact that I was pleased with the brightness of the color
My yarn:
My dyed yarn, dry and twisted in hank
My wrist warmers (do you call them wristers or wrist warmers?) with this yarn looked sort of … well, frankly, like 60s tie-dye. (I should have taken a photo of them before dying but I didn’t … you’d really see what I mean!)
Swatch of dyed yarn
So anyway, I decided to bring out my notes from the initial gel dying and over-dye the wristers.
Quick explanation of dying process:
Gather up:
The item(s) you want to dye
Bowl or bucket in which to presoak the item(s) you want to dye
White vinegar
Water (room temp is fine)
Gel frosting dye (Wiltons, available at Michael’s)
Plastic wrap
Rubber gloves
Microwave safe dish or bowl
Hanger or rack on which to hang item to dry
Soak the item you want to dye in a mixture of water and vinegar. Thoroughly mix the gel dye in plain ole the water. I made just a tiny batch because this was just a tiny project. I put the wrist warmers in the dye water, swished them around to make sure they got thoroughly and evenly saturated. I probably left them in the dye bath 5-10 minutes. Then I squeezed out the excess water, laid each on a piece of plastic wrap, folded the wrap around it to seal, rolled each up like a cinnamon roll, put them on a dish and microwaved (microwave for 2 minutes on high, leave in microwave for 2 minutes, then microwave on high for another two minutes, remove, let cool until you can handle them, then unwrap, and hang to dry).
For this, I used only about a quart of water and ¼ cup of white vinegar in a plastic ice cream bucket to soak the wrist warmers. Soaked them for a couple of hours. Then I used 12 ounces of tap water to which I added 1 tsp each of red and burgundy gel.
And here’s the final product:
Over-dyed wristers
I am actually okay with the result. I have a purple suede jacket that I love, and the purple on the wristers (which doesn’t actually show up very well in the photo) is a nice match.
So … see? There’s hope for some of those “really, I thought that was a good idea????” projects.

Aw, fer cute!

(That’s a touch of local dialect … and a very cute baby.)

This Whirligig Shrug is so cute. If you make it, you can very easily use the basics of the pattern to improvise a little matching hat.

Whirligig Shrug Hat based on Whirligig Shrug

I made the shrug using Merino 5 Superwash by Crystal Palace Yarns. I bought three 50-gram skeins (110 yds/skein) and had most of one left over so I was able to just use that. I used the same size needles I used for the shrug. And I chose to approach it as a top-down construction so the U-cable for the hatband wouldn’t be upside-down compared to the waistband of the shrug.

I started by casting on 7 stitches in a circle. (Tip: After a round or two you’ll want to place stitch markers to divide the piece into 7 sections. Then make your increases in the stitch before (or after) each stitch marker. Just be consistent in where you add them.) Working in stockinette stitch, I added 7 stitches per round until I had 28 stitches. Then I added 7 stitches every other round until I had 77 stitches. I worked those 77 in stockinette stitch to the length I wanted (about 3-1/2 to 4″). (I cook that way, too: “Oh, I don’t know … you just wanna add ‘some’.”)

Just before starting the U-cable section, I added 3 additional stitches to bring the count to 80. You bring the stitch count to 80 because you need multiples of 8 to duplicate in the hatband the U-cable stitch pattern of the shrug.

After finishing the U-cable “band”, I made a ruffly brim by adding stitches in the same manner as they were added to form the ruffle of the shrug. The brim is maybe 8 rows of seed stitch.
Voila! That’s all there is to it.

Whirligig Shrug and Hat set for Eva

Finally making some progress on knitting projects … yea!

If you haven’t bought it already, you probably NEED the Interweave Knits Weekend Special Edition. There are some really cute patterns in it. I’ve fallen in love with Whirligig Shrug (pattern by Stafanie Japel) and bought some Merino 5 Super Wash (Crystal Palace Yarns) in a dark brown from Kelly at Double Ewe. (If you haven’t seen her new store and it’s at all convenient, you should stop in … nice job, Kelly.)


This little shrug is a quick knit. Two sittings and it’s almost finished (if I were an organized person, it would probably already be finished.*) and it is going to be really, really cute. This is supposed to be a Christmas gift for Eva, but I know already that I won’t be able to wait that long to hand it over to Andrea.
I also bought some Claudia Hand Painted fingering weight. My thought is to make a reversible ear-flap cap – again, for Eva. This will be an “improv” project I think.

Claudia Hand Painted Yarn

And lastly, I am at the finishing stages of a fuzzy white bear** … for … guess who? Eva!
*I had a few things I wanted to accomplish this morning. I stopped by my son’s house to do some touch-up spray painting on his ceiling, and then made the drive over to St. Paul (paint-speckles and all) to meet up with the Always Fantastic Saturday Morning Knitting Group. My Goal for the session: Finish the above-mentioned shrug for Eva. Off I hustle with my big, jam-packed bag of knitting stuff. Partially completed item, yes. Pattern, yes. Needles, yes. Yarn … no. Sigh.
(Amanda was there today, Andrea, so I was finally able to return her brown bear and pattern. Everyone says “hi.”)
Oh, and these lovely peppers are from my itty-bitty lame little garden. We take pride in what little accomplishments we can!


Free Pattern

Well, I finally got the pattern for Eva’s Hat posted in our DIY section… and it’s also available through Ravelry. Here’s Andrea, taking Eva for a walk, and baby’s wearing the hat! (Don’t you just love it when you make things and they actually get used?)
Eva and Andrea
And just as exciting … I have a Bella Lana gift certificate and used it to score some blocking wires. (How exciting is THAT?) I’m just finishing the circular shawl and am so excited to use for-real blocking wires to block it. I hear they’re the real deal. I’ve always just used a b-jillion pins and patience, patience, patience, so this should be a real treat.
I’ll report back on how the blocking goes!

Okay, this is really lame …

I have the hats finished but no babe. So here they are, being modeled by a balloon, balanced on top of a ceramic vase.

Eva's Hat Eva's Hat

Sometimes you just have to make due with found objects! Stay tuned. Andrea is knitting the hat in size large, I’m knitting it in size small, and if all is well with the pattern, you will be able to download it from our DIY section or through Ravelry.

Holiday Stocking pattern

Well, I’ve finally finished the pattern for the vintage holiday stocking I first worked on back in March, then declared as a project for the Ravelympics and failed to complete at that time.
Holiday Stocking
I said I’d share the pattern when I was finished, so here it is! There’s a nip in the air, not too early to think about those Christmas projects.
When I’m sitting at the hospital over the next few days, I’ll be working on the Leo …

Who knows? Maybe it will be done by Christmas … maybe not.

Just a quick post to share a pattern

It’s funny how something as insignificant as wrist warmers can affect your life. (Well, that might be an overstatement … your life.) Some areas of our office can feel chilly so I’ve been knitting wrist warmers to keep around for anyone who’s feeling the need for a little something cozy. They’re pretty quick and easy to do once you get the hang of entrelac, and they’re a great way to use up scraps of odds and ends of yarn. They’ve become quite the rage around the office! (Well, that might be an overstatement, too!)

Saturday, February 16

It was a great day for just hanging out with Andrea, balmy almost. We’ve had a pretty cold winter here (it was -5 degrees this morning, brrrr). But Saturday it actually got above freezing!! We (and I hardly dare whisper it) left our coats in the car while we shopped!
First, we went yarn shopping at Double Ewe, a yarn store near where Andrea lives that I had never been to. The owner, Kelly is very sweet and helpful. It’s a smaller shop but nice – go there if you get a chance.
Stow-Away Shopping Bag
This is the yarn I bought from Kelly. Today we have our after-work sit n’ knit, and I’m going to work on this. I love the colors, and the cleverness of the stow-away pocket design.
After Double Ewe, we headed for Mall of America – the 2008 Knit-Out was there last weekend. We watched a round of the speed knitting competition. The fastest person there did (I hope I’m remembering this correctly) 170 (stockinette??) stitches in 3 minutes. Andrea said the winner is someone famous …?? Andrea (or someone), help me out here, please, who is she?
2008 Knit-Out
On the subject of speed knitting competitions, I saw in the August 2007 issue of Knit ‘n Style (given away at the Event) that Lisa Gentry completed 209 stockinette stitches in some competition, and does 2 stitches a second in garter stitch. That’s 120 stitches a minute … 360 stitches in 3 minutes! That’s flyin’! I see she also broke the Guinness World Record “Fastest Crocheter” in 2005 … now, that’s being an over-achiever! She was apparently at the Knit-Out event but I didn’t see her.
And while at MOA we bought a little something for Steph … I can’t talk about that, though, in case she reads this post. So even though she’s way out in Boston, we were hanging out with her, too, in spirit if not in fact!
Finally, we ended up over at my house cooking Andrea’s vegetarian chili, which has now become my favorite chili recipe.
It was a really fine, fine day.