My Bottle is Cozy!

I knit another bottle cozy.

knitted bottle cozy with long shoulder strap
knitted bottle cozy with long shoulder strap

This one was from the ZigBagZ Mini Collection pattern from ColorJoy! This is the paid upgrade pattern from the free “Sipp-a-Roo” pattern she has available on Ravelry. Even if you are not on Ravelry you can download the pdf file here.

knitted bottle cozy before felting
knitted bottle cozy before felting

Before felting it looks a bit loosey goosey. The yarns are Shepherd’s Wool worsted in dark eggplant (they call it Plum), Noro Kureyon in color # 207 (basically purples and oranges). If it looks familiar, it’s the same yarn as the last cozy I knit from the free Sipp-a-Roo pattern. I actually got 3 bottle cozies from one skein of Shepherd’s Wool and two skeins of Noro.

bottle cozy with shoulder strap, after felting
bottle cozy with shoulder strap, after felting

I always say that no knitting project is worthwhile unless you

a) enjoyed working on it

b) learned somthing new

My leasson I learned is that not all wool yarns felt the same. I actually knew that but it was driven home to me with this cozy. My first two were done with the dark plum as the main color and the Noro as the contrast color. For this cozy I reversed the yarns and did not change anything about the knitting pattern. Expecting it to felt exactly the same as the last two I was a bit surprised when the cozy base (bottom of bottle) ended up a bit bigger and the  strap (both from Noro this time) ended up a lot longer than their counterparts from Shepherd’s Wool. After felting it about 800 times (no, I never exaggerate. Why do you ask?) the cozy base finally shrank to fit but the strap was still about 12″ longer than I had planned. Not wanting to just cut it off, I got creative about how to make it work.

the One Eyed Snake
the One Eyed Snake

Hence, the One Eyed Snake bottle cozy.

fused glass button for an eye
fused glass button for an eye

I had to finishe it off with a fused glass button by DH.

I’m not sure if it was the name or the beautiful knitting, but it sold right off my bottle. I’ve replaced the cozy bottom with a round (think round sock toe) version and on the top I’m using an i-cord bind-off instead of Lynn’s rolled version. I’m now looking at the body of the cozy and thinking what a great “canvas” it can be for all kinds of fun knitting and embellishment. Hmmmm…  you may see one or two pop up in my Etsy shop by Christmas  😉

yarns for my Baby Zig bag
yarns for my Baby Zig bag

My next felted project is from the same ZigBagZ pattern, I’m going to do the “Baby Zig” purse next with some teal Shepherd’s Wool (love that stuff!) and some Cascade 220 that I dyed about 2 years ago. I just hope the pattern shows up as the values are very similar. Oh well, it will still be stunning!

Deb H

PS – Happy Autumn!

My Bottle is Cozy!

Reusing or Re-purposing Yarns

kinky to straight
kinky to straight

There are many reasons why someone might want to reuse yarn they have already knit into something (or even a sweater from the thrift store that has good yarn). It may not fit right (gee, it fit when I started it), the design was ugly or boring, he’s a jerk and we broke up, the yarn manufacturer included stealth knots that you did not find (because you were machine knitting and going like a bat-out-of-hell) until it was being blocked for seaming, that stripe across the bust was a bad idea…. you get the picture.

Ugh!
Ugh!

Knitting with very kinky yarn (just rescued from that abandoned sweater, all done except for seaming three years ago, when you decided the design was boring) is usually a disaster. The kinks cause it to tangle more easily; the annoying factor increases at an exponential rate in relation to how much closer to the end you get. And it will probably alter your gauge after blocking/steaming. Possibly, a lot. It is always (with one exception) best to straighten your yarn before reusing it. The one exception is when knitting with fine (fingering weight) yarn in a tight  (7 to 9 sts/inch) gauge. That is why you can knit socks from a painted blank without straightening the yarn and winding it into a ball first. But trust me, this is really the only time you want to short cut this step. It’s easy and fast with a few simple tools, don’t panic!

How to straighten your yarn

Winding onto niddy noddy
Winding onto niddy noddy

Wind it from the knitting (as you rip it out) directly into a skein, under tension. This is easiest if you have a Niddy Noddy or a warping board or clamp-down warping pegs, but a straight chair back will do. Tie some figure 8 knots through the skein at about four places around it to keep the yarn from tangling when you release the tension.

Steaming out the kinks
Steaming out the kinks

Fill the tea kettle and turn it on high. When it is steaming away at full boil, hold the yarn under tension between your hands and steam it over the spout until the kinks relax. I use a clamp to keep my spout open and not whistling. Don’t get your hands near the steam!! It will burn worse than boiling water. Rotate the skein in your hands and steam out the kinks until you have worked your way all the way around the yarn. Hang the skein on a door knob to cool.

Hanging on a warping board
Hanging on a warping board

No tea kettle? You can soak the skein in a sink of hot water (120 deg F) for 10 to 20 minutes. Even if it’s wool, as long as the yarn is put in the water dry and not agitated in anyway (just let it soak), it will not felt. When you see all the kinks relax, drain the sink and let the yarn cool to room temperature. Gently squeeze out the excess water. I put mine in the washing machine on spin only and get it pretty well spun dry. Finally, hang it to dry on a door knob with a weight at the bottom; a 25 oz. can of organic black beans works well  ;o)

Once your yarn is dry it can be wound into cakes (or balls) and knit with. It’s not hard or that time consuming. I had this yarn ready to re-knit with in less than an hour and it was a wise investment of time!

Take a look at some of your UFO’s. Is it time to think about re-purposing that yarn? I’ll post this on it’s own page under Hints, Tips and Techniques (on side bar) so it’s easy to find for future reference.

Deb H

Reusing or Re-purposing Yarns

More Cables!

It seems I go for long periods without accomplishing much and then – boom! I finish several things in quick succession. That must apply to Blogging as well, three posts in one week – whoa!

Cashmere hand warmers
Cashmere hand warmers

Here are a pair of cabled hand warmers I knit for my DD. She needed something to keep her hands warm while she types (she is a writer and types a lot) and they had to be fine enough to not impede her speed. She can get those fingers flying even on that old antique she loves so much!

Writer Girl with her new mitts
Writer Girl with her new mitts

These were also a dream to knit on because the yarn is cashmere and silk; Richesse et Soie by Knit One, Crochet Too (which does not appear to be available anymore – oh, waily, waily, waily*)! Yes, she is spoiled. I am allowed to spoil her; my only kid, as she is a good one.

Long, warm and elegant
Long, warm and elegant

She is also moving 2500 miles away next week so I’m being a bit on the doting side at the moment.

Cable details
Cable details

It’s a “Mom” thing, I’m allowed  😉

Deb H

* Just for you Terry Pratchett fans (I’m a huge one) who have read the Wee Free Men books.

More Cables!

The Cushy Sweater!

The Cushy Sweater
The Cushy Sweater

Yes, it’s finished! I moaned about ripping it out, but Azapa by Araucania is such a lovely yarn to knit with; so soft and cushy, that I didn’t even mind. The finished product is based on a pattern called Emma from the book Araucania Collection Book #1 by Jenny Watson.

A Finished Object
A Finished Object

I confess I cannot follow directions. I always think I have a better idea. I placed a cable down the outside of the sleeves (plain sleeves on a cabled sweater? Come on!) and I added the picot edge (they had on the hem and sleeves) to the neckline as well.

The Details
The Details

My version has narrower cables, a bit of stockinette stitch in between the purl rows defining the cable to reduce the vast amounts of reverse stockinette which is not my favorite thing to look at.

The Flip Side
The Flip Side

I also did the cable patterning on the back as well as the front (my absolute pet peeve is a plain back with a patterned front)!  I think the finished sweater is worth the re-knitting.

It fits!
It fits!

I am very pleased with the results and how well it fits – it’s shaped and that makes such a difference. I’m wearing it here with a skirt but it looks even better with my jeans as it is a longer, almost tunic length.

Cushy Sweater Sass!
Cushy Sweater Sass!

All done just in time for warm weather, oh well!

And yes, I cut off all my hair – I’m still a bit in shock and getting used to it. My neck feels a little exposed, like the Ax Man is looking at me speculatively.

Deb H

The Cushy Sweater!

Shealyn’s Vest

More catch-up; the rest of my Christmas knitting.

Shealyn's Vest
Shealyn's Vest

As well as knitting a vest for our Grandson, I knit a vest for our Granddaughter. After all, you cannot knit for one without knitting for their sibling too. Note to all prospective parents – go easy on the knitters in your family and stick to two kids. It will make the knitter’s lives easier (I know that is an important consideration in your family planning). Besides, population control is a good thing, I don’t care what the Pope says.

Ahem.

Detail of yarn and neckline
Detail of yarn and neckline

Shealyn’s vest was hand knit in a fingering weight, 100% superwash merino (probably Gems) by Claudia Hand Painted Yarns in the colorway “Poppy”. First, the yarn was bought with no clue as to what it would be when it grew up, just that it would be for Shea as tangerine orange is her favorite.  The colors in this yarn are stunning! All the oranges from yellowish to rosy with tangerine dominating.  It just jumped off the shelf and demanded (literally demanded) to be knit for her. I bought all we (the shop where I work) had.

Detail of body
Detail of body

There was enough for a vest for an eight year old but the pattern had to be something special, the search began. Then we had a Knitting Matters trunk show at the yarn shop where I work and her Tiny Dancer pattern was knit up in real life, in the same colorway of Claudia yarn (but their cotton version) that I had purchased. Never mind the pattern was a dress for a one year old, I was in love. This pattern by Kim Smith was the perfect solution with only a few modifications; I eliminated the buttons at the shoulder – after all, an eight year old’s head is in proper proportion to the rest of their body and the buttons were too “toddler” looking for an older kid. I redid all the size calculations for her measurements. The three things that made this possible were her Mom providing the measurements (thanks, Penny), Ann Budd’s book The Handy Book of Knitting Patterns and Kim’s pattern itself with the dimensional schematic that let me know where I had to make changes (Bless you , Kim, I love it when this info is included).

Lace detail
Lace detail

I also replaced the ruffle at the bottom with a band of lace “Waterfall” from the 365 Knitting Stitches a Year perpetual calendar (January 12th).

Finished Object
Finished Object

The knitting was a breeze and a joy. The yarn was so yummy in color and feel that I did not want to finish it. It was just buttery (soft, not greasy) in my hands.

Turtle Neck T-shirt after dyieng
Turtle Neck T-shirt after dyieng

Of course, the fashion Dictators had decreed that this year, no tangerine orange turtle neck T-shirts would be manufactured – oh well, that is what dye is for!

shealyn-in-vest
Shealyn Models

Sigh, but finish it I did. And here is Shealyn, also delighted with the vest.

Grandma is happy.

Deb H

Shealyn’s Vest

Connor’s Vest

Connor's Vest
Connor's Vest

This is a catch-up post on some of my Christmas knitting.

I made a vest for our grandson. He is ten (I think! Penny, how old is Connor, I can’t keep up!). Boys tend to like things to be manly – if they are expected to wear them – and especially if they are ten (ish). This seriously restrains the creative spirit but I rose to the challenge. I chose a yarn that was easy for his Mom to care for; machine wash, dry flat; Berroco Comfort in worsted weight. I chose a nice, manly colorway of variegated greens and browns for a camouflage look. I resisted the erg to embellish or decorate and stuck to a plain, basic vest pattern from “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns” by Ann Budd.

My favorite knitting pattern reference, BTW.

Link to Book on Amazon.com
Link to Book on Amazon.com

To give myself a challenge, I opted to knit it on my new (old?) knitting machine on which I have only knit blank squares (for dyeing) at this point (and since). It was a great learning experience. What did I learn, you ask?

How to shape a garment on a knitting machine.

Vest Shaping
Vest Shaping

Turns out it’s not really any different than when you hand knit. Cool! How to seam side seams – Ack! This was more of a challenge as I always knit in the round to avoid seaming, but I did it and it looked great.

And the two most important things I learned; first, a gauge swatch knit on a knitting machine that is 30 sts wide and 4″ long will give you an entirely different gauge than a full garment that is 80 some sts wide by 16″ long.

This causes re-knitting.

Second, stealth knots are evil (see rant).

This causes re-knitting.

Vest detail
Vest detail

Once these two issues were successfully dealt with, the vest turned out extremely well and I was very pleased. I had definitely risen to my challenge. It wasn’t quite finished on time but he had it by mid January, close enough for a Grandmas with no time sense what-so-ever.  o)

Connor and his vest
Connor and his vest

The best part? Connor loved it and it fits just like I intended, a little roomy so he can wear it next year too. Isn’t he dapper in his new vest?

Deb H

Connor’s Vest

A Scarlet Rant – Stealth Knots!

Stealth Knot
Stealth Knot

Scarlet; as in flame red. As in a flaming rant.

Dear Yarn Manufacturers,

Does the phrase Quality Control have a meaning, or even a role, in your business? My particular concern at the moment are knots in yarn skeins. I completely understand that when winding skeins for sales to the consumer, occasionally the huge cones you wind off of do come to an end and a knot is needed to continue on. I understand that in these lean economic times, watching the bottom line and allowing a knot in a skein is a large money saver and allows you to keep the costs of your product in a reasonable range. I truly do understand this and even can live with it.

Explain to me then, how when a skein containing only 210 yards (or even just 80 yards) can have a knot in every skein purchased. I know for a fact that the cones you wind off of have thousands of yards on them. I went to school. I even have 92 college credits. I passed most of my math with flying colors – OK, calculus was a disaster but it’s not needed to figure this one out; a several thousand yard cone should be able to produce several skeins of yarn with no knots.

Furthermore, please explain how a single skein of high quality yarn, that cost a minor fortune, can have FIVE knots in a single, 210 yard skein. Does this not strike you as excessive? Am I just being a whiner?

To top it all off, the offending ball of yarn by you (Ber….)  had Stealth Knots in it. OK, this was not the most expensive yarn I ever bought. It wasn’t even a natural fiber. But you  (the yarn company) assured my LYS, where it was being sold that it was a superior quality yarn for afghans and children’s wear and far better than any yarns sold at the big box discount chain stores. Harrumph! Even Red Heart can keep their knots to a minimum, what’s your excuse?

The point of this letter is to ask you to keep your knots (1) a maximum of one per skein (better yet, one per several skeins) (2) and to leave at least one-inch tails on every knot so they can be easily spotted before they cause a knitting (or weaving) disaster.

Sincerely pleading,
Disgruntled

Pure Evil
Pure Evil

I’m sooooooo glad to get that off my chest. It’s been weighing on my mind for months now.

What is a Stealth Knot you ask? As illustrated by the two photos, a stealth knot is a knot that is tied as cunningly as possible to hide it’s existence. It is tied very tight to minimize it’s size and the tails are clipped so short they are right at the knot, rendering it nearly invisible. This is an unacceptable knotting process that is used by the most sinister of yarn manufacturers and should even be classified as evil. Why?

By it’s very nature, it is hard to notice. Hence, you are knitting along in a very complicated pattern or lace stitch and behold; a knot on your needle, before you can even notice it. The result is time spent (and very foul words) unknitting so you have several inches of yarn tail available before the knot so you can clip it out and splice in the new yarn. In the case of the lace pattern, unknit to the beginning of the row (for a shawl that has 430 stitches this causes very foul words). In the case of a machine knit garment, in a variegated, dark color this means the knot can go undetected until the garment is blocked. Meaning the entire section must be ripped out and re-knit. Very foul words, indeed. In the case of a wound warp, an undetected knot, once on the loom, is a serious breech of yarn manufacturer etiquette; an unacceptable low-blow.

Why would a yarn manufacturer use knots that they have gone to great lengths to hide? They have an evil, gleeful goal to cause pain, frustration and irritation to the yarn users of the world. They are evil. But we are their customers and we are on the Internet. And Ravelry. And their days of spiteful glee are numbered.

He, he (gleeful, spiteful chuckle).

Deb H

A Scarlet Rant – Stealth Knots!