Weaving Wonderment

I knew it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to yet another fiber art adventure. Mae and I bought a Zoom Loom today to give it a go. We both found it fun, quick and easy… And sure to become a new addiction. Mae’s planning to make a blanket for her Pixie doll:



And I wonder what I should do with my first handspun square?



The possibilities are endless…

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Christmas : Part Three : The Finale

We celebrated our final Christmas last weekend, and I’m happy to report that, despite my kids and I being wiped out with the Flu this month, I was able to complete my knitting project presents for my nephews. One of them requested an “Elephant Man.” I’m sure the images that entered my mind upon hearing this request were quite different from his 7-year old one, so after doing some research, this was the winning pattern from Emily Ivey. It looked so cuddly, I had to knit it in baby alpaca to make it even cuddlier.

e-is-for-elephant-knitted

I think my nephew was satisfied with his elephant “man”. He jumped up and down with joy upon opening it and quickly commenced wrestling with it on the floor. Ah sigh… boys. I always try to doubly reinforce ALL the seams on their toys.

knitted-elephant

My other nephew’s present was quite an adventure. A few months ago, I tried to get him to give me a hint about what he’d like me to make for him, and the only thing I could get out of him was that he really liked a hand-spun shawl I had made for my Mom. I thought that might be a bit too womanly for a little boy, but something like a sweater he would quickly grow out of, so I thought a good compromise might be a throw blanket. I used all of the rest of the brown lamb’s fleece I was given, plus another black fleece the same family sent to me already cleaned and carded, with the goal of creating the softest, warmest throw blanket possible. First, I used my hand cards to make rolags from the fleece. I needed about 1 per yard since I spun them very thickly… so I made about 600 of these babies (I tried not to count as I was making them… too overwhelming.)

rolags-hand-carded

I then spun these woolen (long-draw). Here’s a nice instructional video I found for both of these carding and spinning techniques. But I spun mine into much bigger singles than the video shows. I tried very hard to resist smoothing out the “fuzzy” parts, as Mae calls them. I then plied the 2 colors together to get a super-bulky weight yarn. I ended up with 12 50-yard skeins.

hands-spun-super-bulky-yarn-hand

After washing, thwacking, and drying:

handspun-super-bulky-yarn-hanging

My Christmas presents from my husband and sister-in-law came in quite handy: an umbrella swift and ball winder!

swift-ball-winder

Together they make perfect center-pull “cakes” so much more quickly and expertly than I could by hand. These looked like chocolate… almost good enough to eat!

hand-spun-super-bulky-yarn

I then used this free pattern from Drops for the knitted blanket, and on Size 19 (!) needles, the knitting was definitely the quickest part of the whole process.

size-19-knitting-needles

Can’t get enough of those cables! I should also mention that Mae had fun helping me with some of the carding and knitting. She’s becoming almost as obsessed with fiber arts as I am! Here’s the finished blanket:

super-bulky-hand-spun-knit-blanket

I wasn’t able to make it quite as long as the pattern specified due to running out of wool (which I can hardly believe happened), but I think the length turned out perfectly for him to wrap up in and walk around. He wondered if he could use a clip to hold it in place. I guess he really did want a shawl! I also washed it with a naturally scented lavender-lime dish soap using the same method that I used to wash the fleece originally (soaking it in hot water in my top-loading washing machine) and then I added a tsp of lavender oil to the rinse water, and one of his first comments was that it smelled very good. Such a cutie!

hand-spun-knitted-throw

It’s so lofty and thick that it creates almost instant warmth, and feels like cuddling with a lamb (or two!). My kids and my cats (and I) can’t wait for the spring shearing so I can make another one for them. I continue to feel so blessed to know this sweet family and their generosity with their gorgeous wool!

Christmas : Part Two : Little toys and a Pillow cover pattern

Happy New Year!!!

Since 2/3 of my Christmas celebrations are over and these gifts have been given, I can now share them with the world. I will go in order from smallest to biggest, with a pattern to share at the end.

First, these tiny needle-felted sheep were sent with Lupo the Lamb to the generous givers of my lamb fleeces. I thought they would make cute Christmas ornaments. I meant to post them earlier, but time flies when you’re knitting against the clock:

tiny needle felted sheep ornaments

My kids think they look more like puppies… I guess I need more needle-felting practice. 😦

Next, a tiny record player for my daughter… at her request:

tiny-mochi-mochi-record-player

I made it so the record can be placed on and off the turn-table, and I got the pattern from this fabulous book by Anna Hrachovec.

Next, a little knitted baby penguin for my nephew. He wanted a baby to go with this one I made for him, so I modified the original pattern by Amy Gaines a bit, and used smaller yarn and needles:

knitted-baby-penguin-hat-scarf

knitted-baby-penguin-scarf

knitted-baby-penguin

And finally, I knitted 2 pillow covers for my Sister-in-law and Mother-in-law. I used 4-skeins each of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky yarn, and 20″ down-alternative pillow inserts and they are super soft and squishy and cozy.

knitted-pillow-cover-pink-front

knitted-pillow-cover-pink-back

I think Mae wants one too. 😉

knitted-cabled-pillow-cover-blue

I saw a similar pattern online, but I thought it looked pretty simple, and I wanted to use a chunky weight yarn for a faster knit, so I wrote my own. Here it is, if anyone is interested. They are a pretty quick knit, and you can take the covers off for washing:

Cabled knitted pillow cover pattern : 20” x 20”

Materials:
4 skeins (108 yards each) Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky (Hot Rod pink and Monterey Bay blue)
Size 10 (US) knitting needles (straight or long-cabled circular)
1 cable needle (or double point) of similar size as your knitting needles
Size G (4.0mm) Crochet hook
20″ x 20″ pillow insert of your choice (I chose a down alternative filling for squishy coziness)

Gauge:
Mine matched that listed on the yarn (4 stitches = 1″) so you can swatch and use different needles if you want, but I think it shouldn’t matter too much as it will stretch to fit the pillow.

Back panel bottom:
CO 70 stitches
knit 10” stockinette (about 46 rows) then knit 8 rows in 1×1 rib for the overlap.

Back panel top:
CO 70 stitches
knit 10” stockinette (about 46 rows) then knit 12 rows in 1×1 rib for the overlap.

Front:
Basics (Since I like a big picture overview): You will have 3 cable columns of 8 stitches each, 4 purl stitches in between each, 15 stitches stockinette on each side, and you will cable by holding the 1st 4 stitches of each cable section to the front of your work, then knitting 4 stitches, then knitting the stitches held to the front every 12 rows, starting on 11th row. You will also slip the first stitch of every row for a smoother, easier to crochet edge.

Now the details of the cable pattern:

row 1: sl 1, k14, p4, k8, p4, k8, p4, k8, p4, k15
row 2: sl 1, p14, k4, p8, k4, p8, k4, p8, k4, p15
(5x)

row 11: sl 1, k14, p4, * slip 4 st on cable needle and hold to front, k4, knit 4 st from cable needle (3x from *), p4, k15

row 12: sl 1, p14, k4, p8, k4, p8, k4, p8, k4, p15
row 13: sl 1, k14, p4, k8, p4, k8, p4, k8, p4, k15
(5x)

row 22: sl 1, p14, k4, p8, k4, p8, k4, p8, k4, p15
row 23: sl 1, k14, p4, * slip 4 st on cable needle and hold to front, k4, knit 4 st from cable needle (3x from *), p4, k15

Repeat row 12-23 5 more times, then row 12-13 5 times, then row 12 1 time, then bind off loosely.

Finished size should be about 20″ tall and wide.

Finish by pinning the back panels together with the ribbed stitched rows overlapping, then pin the back to the front so all the edges line up.

Single crochet (or sew if you prefer) around all of the edges and fasten off.

Stuff your pillow insert inside and let the cuddling begin!

Let me know if you find any errors in this pattern (I am definitely an amateur and this hasn’t been tested) and I will correct this post.

🙂

Now I shall return to spinning, spinning, and more spinning for Christmas Part 3 at the end of the month!

 

Lupo the Lamb

My first ever “straight-from-the-lamb” project is done! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out:

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

Seems a little silly that I did all that wool processing only to turn it back into a lamb. 😉 I ran out of white yarn toward the end, and had to make some more… learning from that process that I overplied the first batch. The second was much softer and lighter. The brown wool seemed easier and more consistent to spin over all. Not quite as fine, but still very soft, and I adore the color variations, with bits of red and grey highlights. And since my hand-spinning is nowhere near as consistent in weight as commercial yarn, he’s not completely symmetrical, ie. the arms and feet are slightly different sizes. But I think that lends him a bit of extra hand-made charm (I think). I also stuffed him with the wool (each color matching) which helped with show-through issues, and he’s delightfully huggable as a result.

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

lalylala lupo the lamb crochet doll handspun

I’m definitely in love with Lalylala designs even more now. It took longer than other crochet animals I’ve made, with its smaller, tighter gauge, but that also gives it a smoother look, and there are little subtle touches that made the pattern very special, especially the shaping of the hands and feet.

He also turned out a little bigger than the pattern’s specified 10″. He’s around 14″, since my yarn was a little heavier than sock weight. I also used a bigger hook (2.5mm), and bigger eyes (9mm instead of 6mm).

The kids and I really want to keep him, but I’m going to send him back “home” as a thank you to the people who gave me the fleeces. I’ll probably have to make another one to live with us eventually. Lord knows I have enough wool left over. 🙂 But first I need to take a break from crochet. I’m dying to knit something, and also to see how this wool spins up woolen, and into something wearable. Stay tuned…

A Surprise, A Sleepover and A Separation

The Surprise:

My finished secret project: A crochet Gromit for my Sweet Prince as an Anniversary gift (15 years married last Thursday!).

crochet gromit

He said he wanted it life-size (still not sure if he was joking) so I used super-bulky yarn and I think it turned out pretty close (used almost a full bag of stuffing!). He’s definitely bigger than our cats.

I got the free pattern here: http://amiamour.com/2010/05/gromit-amigurumi-pattern/ but I followed this Ravelry project notes to make the spherical eyes and longer nose and ears: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Clelixedda/gromit-amigurumi

The Sleepover:

Our Chicken Integration Project is officially a success! Gloria wanted to go into the coop with Alberta and Frances the other night, and they didn’t seem too freaked out about it (they’ve been hanging out in very close proximity all week, and the rainy nights have been leaking into her little coop), so I thought we’d give it another try. Of course, once she realized she was locked in, she tried her best to get out, and paced around until almost dark, but I thought, hey, she is a chicken, let’s see if those roosting instincts kick in. And lo and behold, just before complete nightfall, she went up into the house and settled into the largest nesting box (the same size as her current one). Hooray! Then, the next day, I left her old coop closed up, hoping that she’d follow her habit she developed after Cleo’s passing (however annoying) of laying her egg where she’s been sleeping. And she did! Yay!

first-egg-new-coop

The next night, while the girls were all slightly mystified that this sleepover thing is turning into a permanent roommate situation, there were no serious complaints, and Gloria went right up into the house when it started to get dark.

all-chickens-in-coop

Life is going to be so much simpler for all of us now, and so much better for Gloria. 🙂

all-chickens2

The Separation:

Don’t worry, it’s a good one, if a little bitter sweet. While the chickens were moving in together, my kids were officially moving into their own bedrooms. They’ve been using the same room since Mae was born, and 7 years later, even though they are closer than ever, they have finally decided they would like their own spaces. So, our house has been in upheaval moving furniture around, building new furniture, reorganizing closets, etc… I’m very happy for them, and proud of their little independent spirits, but also a little sad that they are growing up so fast! The question now is… what are we going to do with all their door/hall decorations we’ve accumulated over the years?

jonah-mae-door-hall

Star Flower Mystery Revealed

The Bad News: I haven’t made significant progress on my mystery Star Flower pattern, due to the distraction of a different secret project that needs to be finished sooner (to be revealed later).

The Good News: I’ve made enough progress (sewing the two finished stars together) to end the suspense for all of you who can’t wait any longer for the riddle to be solved… and for those who might want to embark on this project for Christmas gifting.

And the answer is…

 

drum roll please…

 

Fingerless Gloves!

vogue-fingerless-gloves-top

vogue-fingerless-gloves-bottom

My sister commissioned me for this project because she fell in love with this pattern she found online: Vogue Fingerless Gloves. Aren’t they so very fancy?

vogue-fingerless-gloves-had

The yarn I used is Madelinetosh Pashmina (the color is Baltic), a gorgeous sport-weight hand-dyed blend of superwash merino, silk & cashmere. It looks like one skein should be way more than enough to finish.

Most of the projects on Ravelry found that the finished size was a little on the snug side, and recommended that you go up a needle size (which I did). I would say otherwise (depending on your gauge of course) that the finished size is a women’s small. Mine fit me just right (and hopefully my sister as well) and I would guess they are women’s size Medium.

I also used the magic loop method instead of 5 double points, and I found it less fiddly and much easier to keep track of where I was in the pattern than some others mentioned. And a cable cast on gave me a more precise flower in the center the second time around.

Overall, I would highly recommend this pattern, if you are not afraid of lace knitting. (Or even if you are, you will learn a lot!)  And just think of all the other possibilities for these lovely star flowers that you all came up with in your guesses! 🙂