starburst blanket

While the political world is burning, I need to do some non-political stuff, lest I rage-stroke out while calling every goddamn one of the congresspeople--and I mean every. damn. one.

finished blanket!

And so, I present the granny square blanket.  I'm not normally a big crocheter, but after a holiday season where I crocheted three mermaid blankets and one shark blanket for various children (it's way faster than knitting, and I needed to knock those babies out), I was left with a bunch of leftover yarn.  Combine that with the need for distraction, and the fact that the crochet hook was downstairs and my knitting needles were upstairs . . . Voila! A granny square starburst blanket was born.

The white, aqua, and grass green were left over from the littlest little's mermaid blanket, the dark blue and mint green were left over from my niece's mermaid blanket, and the grey was left over from the biggest little's shark blanket. 

Of course, because I didn't have enough of several colors, it also required me heading back to the store no less than three times.  Planning ahead! One day I will do so.

stacks of squares

I'd originally thought the blanket would be all the blue squares, but after finishing 24 squares, I realized that not only was I was out of the aqua, so were the stores.  Luckily, I had the grass green, and so switched to that for another 24 squares. 

The pattern is a pretty straightforward starburst granny square.

I used a magic loop beginning, chained 3 into that for the first double crochet, then double crocheted 11 into the chain (for a total of 12 dcs), slip stitch to attach and finished off, pulling the magic loop tight. 

center circle, 12 dc into a circle

beginning round 2, clusters of 2 dcs

Second round was the mint green.

In one of the spaces between the double crochets of the white round, I chained 3 for the first dc, then another dc into the same space, then 2 dc into each space around (a total of 24 dcs), slip stitch to attach, and cut yarn.  

final round 2

Third round, dark blue.  

Chain 3 for the first dc into one of the spaces between the 2dc clusters of the round before, then 2 more dc into the same space, then 3 dc into each space between the clusters of the previous round. Slip stitch to attach, cut yarn.

round 3 in progress, clusters of 3 dcs

round 3, finished

Fourth round, either aqua or grass green.  Now you make the rounds into squares:,

round 4.  Corners!

  • ch 3 into a space between the clusters, then 2 dc into the same space
  • 3 dc into the next space to make a regular cluster 
  • 2 dc, chain 2, 2 dc into the next (3rd) space to make a corner 
  • 3 dc into the next (4th) space; 3 dc into the next (5th space) 
  • Another corner into the next space (6th) 
  • Regular clusters into each of the next 2 spaces (7th and 8th spaces) 
  • Another corner (9th space) 
  • 2 more regular clusters (10th and 11th spaces) 
  • Last corner (12th), slip stitch to your beginning and fasten off

round 4, finished.  Note wonky square.  

The last round of clusters is grey, and it helps square off your somewhat wombly square by using half double crochet clusters on the sides, and double crochet for the corners. 

round 5, even out the wonkiness of the square with hdc and dcs.

  • ch 2, 2hdc  into first space; 3 hdc into each of the next 2 spaces (this is one flat side)
  • 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc into the corner space
  • 3 hdc into each of the next 3 spaces
  • another dc corner
  • another hdc side
  • another dc corner
  • last hdc side
  • last dc corner
  • slip stitch and then...

round 6, the sc round

At this point, I could have done another round around of dc clusters, but I worried that would be too much grey, so I ch 1. I decided to single crochet around each square (using 3 sc into each corner space to turn the corners), slip stitched to join and fastened off. 

finished square, not blocked

I wove in the ends as I went, because I hate nothing more that 1) weaving in ends in crochet and 2) doing it all at the end.  By weaving them in as I made the squares, I was able to secure them a bit by also working the next round over the ends as well as weaving them into the work.  I've had a granny square blanket come apart because ends worked themselves out and never again. 

For ease of use and maximum mindless distraction, I did all the centers first, then all the first rounds, etc.  Except for when I ran out of aqua--I finished all the aqua ones with the grey, and took stock of where I was.

Layout is always tricky and where I am no good.  So I asked the internet whether they preferred rows/columns of the two color or alternating.  Unfortunately the internet was split, so I made my husband decide.  He went with columns.  Thus, columns.

alternating squares (also, clearly I was not yet done with the green ones)

columns

I joined the squares together by flat slip stitching through the back loop of the edging.  I held the squares to be joined together, wrong sides together, and then put the hook through the back half of each of their edge loops.  I'm not explaining it well, naturally. Luckily Craft Passion has a great tutorial.  

halfway joined.  the squares are all slip stitched together in vertical columns, and are halfway attached by rows (from the bottom up)

If I hadn't done the sc around the edge, I probably would have used dc clusters to join the squares, as that's my preferred look.  But I was running short on grey, and was not about to rip out that last line of sc around the squares at this point. 

Finally, I did a border around the whole thing of hdc, then a round of sc.  

And done!

Back to yelling as loud as I can, as often as I can, at my elected reps.

 

 

 

 

One project wraps...

upload.jpg

and another begins.

  I've just finished up my Uniform sweater, and it's blocked, drying, and just needs the buttons (which, shockingly, I have!). More to come on that once I've got the buttons on it.

And so I'm on to the next project, Clouds in my Coffee by Elizabeth Smith, aka The Brown Stitch

I am doing this one in Shepard's Wool, from Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan. This wool is amazingly soft and wooly, very light despite being worsted spun. And the milk chocolate (no really, that's the name of the color) color is perfect. (Though I normally take my coffee much lighter than this.)

  I've done my usual pattern prep, where I write out the pattern for the size I'm doing in my own shorthand on a piece of my circa notebook paper to carry along with me. This way I can use tick marks, additional notations, tweaks I'm planning on making, etc. It's like a paper version of the notes section of ravelry. Plus this way I've read through the pattern already, knitted it a bit in my head, made any adjustments I think might be necessary for the way I like things to fit, and theoretically should have no surprises coming my way.

One project wraps...

upload.jpg

and another begins.

  I've just finished up my Uniform sweater, and it's blocked, drying, and just needs the buttons (which, shockingly, I have!). More to come on that once I've got the buttons on it.

And so I'm on to the next project, Clouds in my Coffee by Elizabeth Smith, aka The Brown Stitch

I am doing this one in Shepard's Wool, from Stonehedge Fiber Mill in Michigan. This wool is amazingly soft and wooly, very light despite being worsted spun. And the milk chocolate (no really, that's the name of the color) color is perfect. (Though I normally take my coffee much lighter than this.)

  I've done my usual pattern prep, where I write out the pattern for the size I'm doing in my own shorthand on a piece of my circa notebook paper to carry along with me. This way I can use tick marks, additional notations, tweaks I'm planning on making, etc. It's like a paper version of the notes section of ravelry. Plus this way I've read through the pattern already, knitted it a bit in my head, made any adjustments I think might be necessary for the way I like things to fit, and theoretically should have no surprises coming my way.

Escape from sleeve island

 Yoke inlet. 

Yoke inlet. 

at last, I am off sleeve island. That cuff took forever, compared to the rest of the sleeve, which I busted out last night. I wound up doing both sleeves using magic loop, where you knit a small circumfrence using a very long circular needle and pulling out the excess cable. It's handy, but I find it slows me down considerably compared to double points. But I was too lazy to get up and go upstairs to find my double points so magic loop it was.

And now onto the yoke, c which because it's a seamless raglan sweater will go quickly as I'm decreasing 8 stitches ever right side row, plus v neck decreases. Thank GOD. 

 

Stuck on sleeve island

 pain in the ass. A pretty pain in the ass, but a pain in the ass nonetheless. 

pain in the ass. A pretty pain in the ass, but a pain in the ass nonetheless. 

I really don't like garter stitch in the round. Interestingly, i hate it more than regular old stockinette done flat (which is also knit one row, purl one row).  

But clearly I don't hate it more than I hate seams. 

Second sleeve of Uniform under way. . . . soon, the yoke and collar. Soon. 

 

Socks!

 wee toddler socks for giant chubby toddler feets.

wee toddler socks for giant chubby toddler feets.

These are the little one's socks, but the basics are the same for nearly all the socks I make.  Since the littlest little has giant chubby toddler feet and yelled "NO LIKE IT! TOO TIGHT! NOT COZY!" on my first attempt of a sock, I bumped up the stitch count and did the cuff in 2x2 ribbing and carried it down the foot at well.  

I prefer fingering weight yarn for socks that are meant to be worn with actual shoes, as anything thicker is too chunky.  That said, I've made socks in bulky weight yarn that works out fine. 

For these toddler size socks, I cast on 44 st,, divided them over three needles and worked 2x2 rib for a few inches (in this case 5 stripes worth).  Adult sizes I usually cast on about 64 stitches, depending on the foot.  I work my socks on size 0s or 1s, because I am a loose knitter and you want a firm sock fabric. Loose fabric shoes wear and holes and feels icky on the feet.  Go for tight, and go down a needle size or three if you need to.

For adult socks, I'd generally do an inch or so of ribbing and then switch to stockinette or another stitch pattern. I kept the toddler ones in ribbing in case I was off on the sizing and needed the ribbing to suck in any excess. 

Once the cuff is as long as you'd like it, take half the stitches (22) onto one needle, arranging the rib columns the way I liked them and worked the heel flap back and forth over those.

Now, over the years I've become picky about heel flaps.  You work the heel flap back and forth across one needle, no longer in the round. The heel flap gets a good amount of wear, so I want them reinforced with a slip stitch pattern, but I hate the ridges that come with the standard K1, sl1 on the right side rows (plain ole purl the wrong sides) heel stitch pattern.  And so I nearly always do eye of partridge instead, which is k1, sl1 on one right side row, then sl1, k1 on the next right side row. I find it makes for a slightly flatter fabric with all the cush as the regular heel stitch, and it also breaks up any pattern in self-striping/self-patterning yarn very attractively.

I also always keep 3 stitches in garter at the edges, as it helps me keep track of how many rows I've done so I can match the second sock, and it makes an attractive detail line on the finished sock.  And of course, I slip the first stitch of every row as if to purl with the yarn in front so I have a neat, tight chained edge to pick up stitches after I turn my heel.

I work the heel flap until it's a little more than square--for grown ups about 2 1/4 ish inches, for the toddler sock about 1 1/4 inch--stopping after a right side row.  Then I turn the heel.  There are about a billion different ways to shape the heels, but my favorite is a round heel. 

Pop a stitch marker in the middle of the stitches, marking the center of the heel flap. Purl across the heel flap stitches, until 2 stitches past the center, p2tog, p1, turn the work in the middle of the row. Slip the first stitch, knit until you are 2 stitches past the marker, SSK, k 1 and turn.  Repeat the purl row, slipping the first stitch and purling to 1 stitch before the gap, p2tog across the gap, p1 and turn; knit across to 1 st before the gap, SSK across the gap, k1, turn.  Keep doing this til all your heel flap stitches have been used up and worked.  Voila, a heel!

Then I use a new needle to pick up one stitch per ridge along the side of the heel flap (see where that chained edge comes in handy?), plus 1 more stitch at the corner of the heel flap and instep stitches.  Knit across the instep stitches in whatever stitch pattern you're doing--I like to knit all the instep stitches onto one needle.  Then take another needle and pick up the same number of stitches along the other side of the heel flap, including that one extra in the corner.  Use this same needle and knit across half the heel stitches.  This is the new beginning of your round. Slip the other half of the heel stitches onto that needle holding the first side of the picked up heel flap stitches.  

You should have three needles: Needle 1 holding half of the heel stitches plus your picked up gusset stitches, Needle 2 holding your instep stitches, and needle 3 holding the other side picked up gusset stitches and the other half of the heel stitches. 

Then you start your gusset.  Work one round even. On the second round, work the gusset stitches on needle 1 until you have 3 left: k2tog, k1.  Work your instep stitches on needle 2.  Then at needle 3, K1, SSK and work the rest of the gusset stitches.  Work this decrease round every other round until you've decreased away the extra stitches you picked up from the heel flap and are back down to your original cast on number.  

When I do socks for myself, I usually work the decrease round every round for a few times, then switch to every other round, just because of the shape of my foot.  See what works for you.

Work the foot until it's about 2 1/2 inches shy of the total length of the foot (in the toddler's case: 1" shy).  Then start the toe decreases to shape the toes.  If you're doing adult socks, you'll wind up with about 20 stitches total for the toe.  For the toddler ones, I decreased until there were 12 total stitches. Here's how to do 'em.  Needle 1: k to the last 3 st, k2tog, k1.  Needle 2: k1, ssk, k to the last three stitches, k2tog, k1.  Needle 3: k1, ssk, k to the end.  Repeat this decrease round every other round until you've decreased about half of the stitches you need to get rid of away.  Then I like to switch to decreasing every round because I hate a too pointy toe.

Finally, you've gotten down to 5 stitches on each bottom-of-the-foot needle (1 and 3), and 10 on the instep needle.  Work across those last 5 stitches on needle 1 using needle 3, so you now have 2 needles, each with 10 stitches on them and the working yarn is at one end.  Now, break the yarn leaving a longish tail and kitchner stitch those toes together. It's not hard, it's just fiddly.  Follow one of the zillion tutorials online and you will be fine.  Don't over think your way into a problem.  When you're done, admire your new sock and go make another one now before you forget.

Whenever I've taught folks how to knit socks, I've always told them not to think too hard about how to turn the heel or what you're doing until you've done it.  This of course is the reverse of my normal knitting advice, but for socks, if you've never knit them, you'll read through the directions in the pattern and be like, THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS THIS MAKES NO SENSE.  Just trust in the pattern and you shall see!

The specifics of the toddler socks, written in my lazy girl shorthand:

co 44, 2x2 rib for 5 stripes.

heel flap 22 stitches, eye of partridge, 3 st in garter at each edge. Work for 18 ridges.  Turn heel, (2 past center), pick up 20 st.  Shift gusset decreases in to keep 2 st in purl at gusset edges to continue the 2x2 rib over instep.  Dec e/o round til 44 st, work 45 rows from flap. Toe dec, e/o round until 16 st on instep, then every round til 8 on instep.  Slip edge stitches over their neighbor (eliminates dog ears--I'm fussy), kitchner and weave in ends.

 

I'm back! and knitting socks!

 2nd little sock started.  Yarn is Knit Picks Felici, I think. Years old.  Needles are Carbonz dpns size 0 (EFFING LOVE THESE THINGS).  

2nd little sock started.  Yarn is Knit Picks Felici, I think. Years old.  Needles are Carbonz dpns size 0 (EFFING LOVE THESE THINGS).  

I am finally out from under the hangover of the holidays.  Not a literal hangover (much), but entering back into the real world a bit more.

For whatever reason the holidays came on fast and strong this year for me and totally wound up swamping me.  I did, however, finish up the advent calendar! Did I ever share pictures of the finished product?  I have them, but they are dim and somewhat shitty looking. 

Eh, when has that ever stopped me before? I promise I get that up shortly once I find them. (or retake them in better light...)

Meanwhile, since winter has finally decided to show up in my parts of the world, I am knitting the shit out of things.  I am 3/4 of the way through Uniform, still, and have taken a pause on that for the moment to knock out a few additional little things. I made thrummed slippers for JBB (that need slipper soles on them so he doesn't slip and crack his head open), spun about 16 oz of fiber into yarn, and a bunch of other random stuff.

In a somewhat vain attempt use up my stash of sock yarn, I'm knitting the littlest little some socks.  I know many folks love the toe-up method of sock knitting, or two-at-a-time-on-circulars, but I am not a fan.  I learned old-school, top-down, heel flap, double pointed needles from the ancient internet and from the amazing and glorious book  Folk Socks, by Nancy Bush (recently updated!), and that's the way I like 'em.

It helps that a traditional heel-flap construction heel truly fits my foot better than every single short row style heel does.  They're always too shallow or weirdly scoopy on my feet.  I haven't yet tried Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato heel, which looks promising to me, but I've been burned before, yo. 

The one issue with top-down socks that I'd not yet solved was the lack of a decent looking super stretchy cast-on.  Normally I'm a fan of a tubular cast on for ribbing (the Ysolda tutorial is my favorite, because no need for scrap yarn!), because it's so pretty.  But while it's stretchy, it's not nearly stretchy enough for sock ribbing.  And there's nothing worse than a tight cuff, ow. Long tail cast on done on needles bigger than the working needle can sometimes work, but looks sloppy and still might not be stretchy enough.

I've recently converted to Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for some sweaters, and I have no idea why it never occurred to me to search for the corresponding stretchy cast on  . . . until this week.  

Because of course there's a Stretchy cast on.  And it's essentially just slip knots, in a row, on the needle.  And don't get me wrong, I had my doubts until I tried it. Holy shit is this cast on perfect for socks! It hinges at the ribbing columns, it essentially disappears into the knitting after the first row, and while it's a bit fiddly and slow to work, I'm also just impatient and will suck it up.

More on socks, and my recipe for them, to come. 

secret sweaters

Not really secret secret, at least not now, because they are now in the hands of the recipients, but behold the last minute matching-but-not-matching-at-all fraternal sister sweaters...

So last week I realized that there were two little girls in my sphere who were sorely lacking in handknits.  And I had 4 skeins of Cascade 220 wool--a dark orangey pink and a lighter pink--that were just the right weight, yardage, and colors for two matching but not fully matching sweaters. Oh and I had under a week to make them because the little girls are not local, and I'd be seeing them around Thanksgiving. 

I'm awfully prone to this last minute OH SHIT LET ME MAKE SOMETHING gifting/crafting.  I very nearly decided last week to attempt to bust out a handmade felt advent calendar for the littlest little, but then after a few delirious hours of sketching 24 small Christmassy items, I finally gave up on it. 

But anyway. Because I am not crazy, I started with the baby version.  And because I am crazy, I decided to draft my own pattern.  So voila, the tiny sister of the duo, with a seven spoke yoke (in retrospect, a round yoke would have been better), and twisted 1x1 rib edging tipped in the contrasting color. 

please ignore the shadow of me taking the picture in the lower left corner. 

That was two nights work, if that.  God love baby sweaters in worsted weight yarn. And busting out the two sleeves at the same time on two circulars.   And so while that one sat on my heating vent drying after being washed, I started on her big sister.

This one is because I'm crazy.  I drafted my own pattern again, but this one was round yoke, colorwork (cribbed the chart for the yoke from the lovely Iðunn and tweaked the decreases a bit to suit the yoke depth)

And because it's colorwork, after the ribbing, I cast on a few stitches for a steek and worked in the round. For the non-knitters, steeking is where you knit the sweater in the round, then cut down the front and pick up bands afterwards.  All very easy to write.  A bit harder to man up for when you actually have scissors to fabric. 

pre cutting.  

I asked JBB to take a picture of me cutting, and instead he took a video. So now you can see me cutting the steek stitches from the inside of the sweater with the super sharp embroidery scissors while watching House Hunters on HGTV in my messy messy living room with super messy hair. 

I wound up tacking down the steek stitches/facing after picking up and working the buttonbands.  If it had been for a grown up, I probably would have just left them to felt into the body a bit, but since it's for a little kid, safer to tack that down.

tacked and just waiting on the buttons. 

All the numbers and other nerdy knitting details here, at Ravelry.