It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherknitters!

Pumpkins have long been one of my favorite things to recreate in fabric, fiber, floss, paper, wood, crayon, papier maché, goo, interpretive dance… whatever. And every year I have plans to knit up a bunch of pumpkins to display at this time of year. But the closest I’ve ever come is making pumpkin hats for my nieces and the babies of some of my friends:

You’ll have to take my word for it that the Jack o’ Lantern hat is a lot less creepy in real life.  Jinkies!

Anyway… in the meantime, here are five pumpkin patterns on my wish list of knitting  patterns (and the first three on the list are free!). Someday, I will knit these up and they will be mine. Oh yes, they will.

Pumpkins by Jordana Paige

  • I also really like this variation on the standard pumpkin pattern. “Fall Pumpkin” by Sarah Hawkins of Lavenderlime Knits calls for variegated, chenille,  and novelty yarns, and then you add actual cut-off stick as the stem. Finally a way to combine gardening and knitting–I know we’ve all been waiting for that! Lots of possibilities here, and a great way to use up that oddball yarn (or odd ball of yarn) you can’t figure out what to do with.

Pumpkins Fall

Pumpkin Pie Amigurumi

  • This “Pumpkins on a Vine” stranded colorwork cowl by Thea Eschliman is gorgeous and I love the variegated orange yarn. The pattern calls for an inside sleeve which you can do in any contrasting color you want, which is like having a reversible cowl. For sale on Ravelry.Pumpkin Cowl
  • And, finally, a twofer from Erin Black: Chevron Pumpkins and Cable Knit Pumpkins (for sale on Ravelry and Etsy). These are my absolute favorites.

Tomorrow, I will bring you part II of my two-part series: It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherstitchers!

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch: Part the Ninth

From far and wide, from across the Interwebs (a.k.a. the Electronic Cat Database) and beyond, I bring you all the news from the worlds of knitting and stitching that I could gather this week:

  • Professor Fonz has done it again! You may remember her designs, like the “Deduction Game Chullo,” from my obsessive posts on the knits featured in BBC Sherlock series (the first one in the series is here). To go with her cardigan based on the popular “The Wallpaper Had it Coming Again” fair isle pattern, the “#SherlockLives Cardi,” she has added a boatneck-style sweater entitled, “Let’s Play Murder.” According to the Ravelry pattern site, it’s “crime-solving at its most luxurious.” I’ve been working on ampersand design’s “The Wallpaper Had it Coming (Again)” mittens which, although based on the same fair isle pattern, is obviously a much smaller design, and I have to agree with Professor Fonz’s assessment that this fair isle patterned sweater is probably not a project to be entered into lightly by someone who is just beginning to work with the fair isle technique. The results speak for themselves, of course:
Let's Play Murder by Professor Fonz
“Let’s Play Murder” by Professor Fonz

Valentine’s Day Wrap-up

While I don’t currently have a significant other in my life, I do have two cute-as-a-button nieces who will always be my Valentines. I live in southern California and they live in northern California, so I decided to send them some candy and little gifties for Valentine’s Day. My sister-in-law’s birthday is on the 17th, so I can conveniently send everything in the same (only slightly late) package.

Below are some pics of the two coffee cup cozies I made for my sister-in-law to accompany her Starbucks gift certificate. As the mother of two kids under four, she appreciates a good cup o’ joe. To quote Dave Foley’s character in NewsRadio: “I don’t know what caffeine is, but I’m pretty sure that without it, your head explodes.”

The one on the left is the “Reusable Hot Coffee-Cup Sleeve from Joelle Hoverson’s More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and the one on the right is the “Boxy Cozy,” a free Ravelry download pattern from Leah Michelle Designs.

For my niece Lauren, who is currently sporting an adorable “Cindy Lou Who” topknot, I crocheted a bunch of little ponytail holders in a variety of colors, some with flower buttons attached. Basically, you just take a regular elastic ponytail holder and crochet around it in a shell stitch, ruffle, loops, or even a simple single or double crochet (click here for a video tutorial). If you string the buttons (I used ones with shanks) on the yarn before you start crocheting, you just slide them up to the ponytail holder when you want to attach them. Easy. The finished holders were super cute, but, sadly, you’ll have to take my word for it since I forgot to take photos of them before I put the package in the mail.

For the family, I made this (very badly photographed) crocheted heart garland they can hang over their fireplace or the entryway to the living room, or wherever. I used three different heart patterns and multiple yarn scraps either from my “remnants bag” (I can never bring myself to throw out yarn until there’s only a microscopic bit left) or from several years ago when I subscribed to the Yarn of the Month Club for awhile. Details below. (Again, pardon the photography — I was running out the door to make the post office cutoff time and I underexposed the photos.)

Crocheted Heart Garland
This is the Heart Garland, gathered and tied together in loops. Peeking out on the left, you can see one of the small white hearts at the ends of the garland.

[Note: the following paragraph is only for the hard-core crochet geek. Welcome, kindred spirits!] If you’re at all interested, here are the details on each heart, from left to right (all the patterns are free on Ravelry):

  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: one strand of Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream (color: hot pink) and one strand Conjoined Creations Pastimes (color: “Clue”), size H hook
  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: two strands Tahki Cotton Classic (color 3447) and one strand Suss Perle Cotton (sugar pink), size J hook
  • “Crocheted Hearts Motif” by Luba Davies: one strand Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky (color 16002), size J hook
  • “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots, size large: one strand of Rowan Cashsoft Chunky (unknown color, deep red), size J hook
  • “Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots: Rowan Cotton Rope (color 063, lavender), size J hook
  • “Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots: two strands of Exceed Wool L Print by Hamanaka (color 402, variegated light pink/white, red, purple, self-striping), size I hook
  • “Crocheted Hearts Motif” by Luba Davies: two strands Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (color 340042, raspberry) and one strand Conjoined Creations Pastimes (color: “Clue”), size I hook
  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: two strands of Lion Brand Wool Ease (color 139, “Dark Rose Heather”) and one strand of Suss Shine (color: “rose quartz”), size I hook
  • “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots, size large: one strand of Crystal Palace Puffin Print (color: 0204, “Dotty Grapes”), size H hook
  • “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots, size large: two strands of Tahki Cotton Classic (unknown number, deep red), size I hook
  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: two strands of Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille (unknown color of coral pink), size J hook

The mini-hearts at the beginning and end of the garland were the “small” version of the “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots. The rope was chained using two strands of Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream in ecru with a size J hook; there were 42 chains in between each heart. Phew! Over and out.

And wishing you all a belated Happy Valentine’s Day!

MYOKB: Clothespin Bag nears the finish line!

hespin Bag Almost Finished
Clothespin Bag with lining pinned to knitting

At last the knitting is finished, and the finishing begins!

The original pattern calls for the knitted part to be machine-sewn together when the lining is attached, but machine-sewing the lining to the knitted piece and then crocheting the knitted sides together seemed so much easier. Crocheting is so much easier and faster, and allows me to really control the seaming. The navy blue cotton tie you see at the top of the fold marks the center where the hook of the hanger will go through.

My friend Deborah, who is something of an expert seamstress, helped me with the lining and the machine sewing. I must admit, sewing machines still intimidate me a little bit. The fabric is some old calico-style print I bought on sale years ago — so long ago, in fact, that I can’t remember where or when. It matches well with the sage color of the yarn though.

Clothespin Bag Fabric Lining Close-up
Close-up of the fabric lining of the Clothespin Bag

Here’s the bag folded into the proper shape (note the fancy camera angle I learned in my recent “how to photograph knitting” class at Wildfiber in Santa Monica):

Clothspin Bag Almost Finished
Clothespin Bag, folded into proper shape, photographed at a rakish angle

And here’s the same bag photograph straight-on (as I would have done it before I took this class):

Clothspin Bag Almost Finished
Clothespin Bag, folded into proper shape, photographed straight-on

As soon as the lining is sewn on, I can begin using single crochet (size H hook) to bind the sides together. I have chosen a short, padded wooden hanger to hang the Clothespin Bag from. It should look quite sweet when done.

MYOKB: Clothespin bag in progress

Clothespin Bag in progress
Clothespin Bag in progress

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Here we have the “Clothespin Bag” in progress, from p. 48 of Debbie Bliss’s book The Knitter’s Year. The yarn I’ve chosen is Knit One Crochet Too Cotonade, color 832, “light moss.” It’s a sturdy, worsted-weight 100% cotton with a second, much thinner cotton thread intertwined with the main strand; this intertwining creates a kind of nubby “zig zag” effect that looks great with a simply textured stitch like this one.

By the way — just between you, me and the lamppost — Cotonade is exactly the same yarn as Cascade Luna and Suss Cotton. The latter is absolutely interchangeable with Cotonade; they even use some of the same color names. Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush…

The knitted pattern basically alternates between one row of seed stitch and one row of stockinette, so this is great, mindless zen knitting. There’s some minor shaping at the beginning and end of the piece to create the concave edges.

And here’s a close-up:

Clothespin Bag in progress, Close-up
Clothespin Bag in progress, Close-up

I’m making great progress and I expect to have this one done with time to spare.

Li’l Monkey Blanket WIP, Part II: Monkey Faces

Li'l Monkey Blanket
Li’l Monkey Blanket in all its glory

Here’s the Li’l Monkey in its completed state, all seamed up and featuring three monkey faces (one boy, one girl, and one unisex/transgender, a.k.a. “Sock Monkey Classic”).

Here’s a close-up of the girl monkey face (note the badly executed black and white “ribbon” near her right ear — because she’s fancy):

Li'l Monkey Blanket Close-up of Girl Monkey Face

Here’s a close-up of the boy monkey face (note the bow tie). Apparently, he’s dressed for the Sock Monkey Ball (or about to get beaten up at Sock Monkey Elementary):

Li'l Monkey Blanket Close-up Boy Monkey FaceAnd here’s my unisex monkey face (a.k.a. “Sock Monkey Classic”):

Li'l Monkey Blanket Close-up Unisex Monkey FaceBelieve me, these faces are not as creepy in person as they are in these photos. You’ll just have to take my word for it since the photography gods are not working in my favor today. This is actually quite a cute blanket.

For this project, I used Rowan Cashsoft Chunky (red, color 709), two strands of Suss Love (ivory) and two strands of Schachenmayr Punto (marled gray, color 90). Unfortunately, the Suss Love, although usually a wonderful yarn, does not work very well in granny squares; it unravelled when I laundered it and I had to recreate the white centers of a couple of the granny squares. An interesting experiment in crochet repair, especially given my limited crochet experience. But I think I made it work — fingers crossed!

March 2008 goals, four weeks later

And four weeks later:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)
13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)
14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)
15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

Only one finish this week, although I have made considerable progress on the Everything Bag (#1) and I anticipate finishing it by the end of the month. The Ewe and Eye Needlecase, as Anna of Stitch Bitch so wisely predicted, is more than a one-month project, even with the bit of a head-start I had going into the month.

But let’s concentrate on the small victory for now–here, making it’s professional debut, give a Lyf So Short welcome to the Jord handbag:

Jord Handbag

March 2008 Goals, One Week Later

These were my monthly goals as of March 1st:

1. “Everything Bag” from Suss Cousins, Hollywood Knits Style (k)
2. “Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf,” my design (k)
3. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, navy (k & c)
4. “Granny Square Scarf” by Suss Cousins, claret (k & c)
5. “Cardigan for Arwen” by Kate Gilbert in Interweave Knits, Winter 2006 (k)
6. Aran Sweater for SIL, from Ann Budd’s amazing Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (k)
7. “Ewe & Eye Needlecase” by Heart’s Content (xs)
8. “Corinthian Ribbed Blanket,” my “design” (a simple ribbed blanket) (k)
9. “Drizzle” by Anna Tillman for Rowan 38 (k)
10. “Ballerina Top” from Zoe Mellor, Adorable Knits for Tots (k)
11. “Aran Wrap,” my design (k)
12. “Felted Sashiko Chessboard Cover,” my design (k)

It’s a week later and here’s what I’ve finished:

Brown Crocheted Scarf
Brown Crocheted Scarf with fringe

No, this wasn’t on the list. Frankly, I forgot about it until it was time for SnB today and I needed a crochet project. Did you know that it’s National Crochet Month? The fabulous Ellen Bloom was there giving out crochet tips and tricks. She is definitely the expert!  I learned, among other things, the “half-hitch double crochet” (OK, I may not have gotten the name right but it’s basically a technique to avoid that little gap/hole in between double crochet stitches).

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered other projects to add to my list. Here goes:

13. Jord (that’s the name of the yarn) handbag, my design (k)

14. Chair cushion cover, from Suss Home Knits (k)

15. Blue Basketweave scarf from Vogue Scarves book (k)

If they weren’t all so close to being done, I’d really despair.

Woven Stitch Table Runner Pattern is up!

Woven Stitch Table Runner
Woven Stitch Table Runner

The crocheted Woven Stitch Table Runner pattern is up! Check out the “Free Patterns” link above. I actually finished the table runner a few months ago, but it sat around in my FUFO pile waiting for the pattern to be written up. This is a really simple pattern but I love the way it turned out so much that I wanted to share it with everyone. The yarn has a really beautiful sheen and the shells and wooden beads in the trim makes the runner, in my humble opinion, both elegant and casual. I could imagine this runner with a fancy table setting or out on a picnic table near the beach.

Obviously, you can make the runner any size you wish depending on the size of your table and the surface area you’re trying to cover. You can figure out how much yarn you’ll need by multiplying the width by the length and comparing that result with the surface area (width X length–in this case, 9″ X 60″ = 540 square inches) covered by my pattern. If the surface area of the runner you want to make is, for example, 432 square inches or 80% of my pattern, then you will need approximately 80% of the yarn I have called for in my pattern.

Woven Stitch Table Runner
Woven Stitch Table Runner with back of fringe showing

The trim is sewn on with needle and thread after the runner is crocheted, and instructions are provided in the pattern here. To the right, you can see a photo with the back of the runner showing so you can see how the trim is attached. Obviously, there are a lot of different trims out there so the possibilities for your decor choices should be endless.