Thursday, March 27, 2008

The story of the three knitted pigs

In the last entry I mentioned that I had a stuffed pig on my list of things to knit and that it would be pig number three. This is because I had this small bought of craziness back in December when clearly I did not have enough gift knitting for christmas knitting planned. You see, I knew that I had three friends having babies in April (or thereabouts) and I knew two of them should get baby quilts. The third I knew should get baby socks (this is what she gets for telling me the latest)! For all three of them this was their third baby and this means that older siblings should get something, right? Well what better thing than to knit some stuffed animals! (Clearly, I should have been knitting more things for Christmas--I had too much time on my hands). Hence the idea to make two snakes and two pigs was born.

When I finished the first snake, both my kids became insanely jealous. They wanted one too! And really how could you not--he's cute:

I should probably look back at Ravelry to see if I made the second snake before I made any pigs or not, but I'm guessing I made both snakes then started on the pigs. I told both girls, I would knit them something after I knit these toys for the future big sibs.

Then I checked Knitted Toys out of the library, because I just was not getting inspired by The World of Knitted Toys (which I own). I should really buy Knitted Toys because I want to make about 3/4 of the book. I fell in instant love with the pig and knew I needed to make it. So I did:
Then I made another. The girls at this point were really vocal--they wanted their own toys. One of them really really really wanted the pig. So I bought some additional pink yarn and I'll be casting on pig number 3 as soon as I finish either the hoodie or the ice queen. My other daughter leafed through the book and discovered a pattern for a panda. Since she is a panda nut, I'll be making a panda too.
I'm worried about the panda though because you switch colors mid row. I've done this before, but I felted both pieces which did wonders for the holes I couldn't seem to get rid of. I'll be brave though and probably start it after I've knitted the pig up (but haven't stuffed him--because jealousy is rampant at my house). I'd start it first if it weren't for the color changes. I'd probably have them both done by now if I wasn't so sick of knitting for other people.
I've already sent a pig and snake winging to their destination (along with a quilt). I'll write about the quilt next time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I knew long ago that if I ever started a knitting blog, I could not use it to exclusively show off finished objects. Well not if I wanted to update more than a few times a month. It isn't really that I knit slow--although I suppose I do (I'm a thrower--although if I do have a simple garter stitch thing, I can pick. I can't pick the purl--HA!). I like to think it is because I knit big. It of course might have a little to do with how much I knit, but since I try to knit at least a little almost every day, I'll say this isn't it.

What I always thought this space might be for would be a little bit of dreaming, a little bit of queing (as well as finished objects and whatever "big" lessons I learned with any project.

Like any knitter (most knitters I know anyway) I usually have more than one project going. I like to have one easy or portable (sometimes not the same thing) and one that's a little more challenging. I don't always manage to pull off this balance. And sometimes I force myself to finish one project before starting another. right now, I have only two projects on the needles--Knitting pure and simple's neck down hooded tunic, and knitty's Ice Queen.
The tunic is progressing--I have one arm and the hood yet to do--I finished the first arm last night, but didn't pick up the stitches for the second arm yet. Ice queen just got started today and already, I'm thinking that I need sharper needles for the mohair, because the K2tog (for any non-knitters out there this is where you knit two stitches together) is really hard with my dull tipped circs.
But, I also have a lot of projects that I dream about doing--or even plan to do. Just for fun, I thought I'd list as many of the plan to dos that I can think of:
A panda (from Knitted toys
a Pig (same place--although this would be my third pig--more on that some other day)
Monkey socks
Lacey waves socks
I guess that isn't too bad, but those are just the things I've wanted to cast on and probably will in the next few months. This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of things I have yarn for, or things I saw on ravelry I'd like to make, or things I'll make someday but who knows when.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tale of two gauges

I can't resist showing off my latest Finished object:

hat and booties
Baby booties for my third friend who is also pregnant and due in April. Now I feel like I should have made her a quilt, but I didn't. Instead she gets cute socks and a hat.

The sock pattern is Meg from Fraternal twins except I didn't do the ribbing because I didn't see it on the pattern until I was starting the second sock! The hat is figured from Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy book of patterns which is indeed very handy. The yarn is Mondial Cotton Soft Speciale Baby Fleck. US size one needles.

What I really want to write about this though is the importance of gauge. Not so much the "are you getting gauge for your pattern", although that is very important if you want the thing to fit, but rather what the gauge looks like in the yarn you've picked. And the story of this yarn illustrates that nicely.

See I bought this yarn to make a sweater--well two actually) for my girls. Right after I learned to knit--yes I went from dishcloths to sweaters, and actually I recommend it. The problem was that I was trying to sub this yarn for Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. If you've ever felt that yarn, you'd know that no way was this cotton fingering weight yarn going to do it. But! I got gauge! I knit a whole sweater on US size 3 needles, and for a first effort, it isn't bad:
The problem is that I'm not sure that I'm happy with the gauge on that project. It feels so airy. And I suppose if that was the fabric I set out to create, it isn't bad. But when I look at the same yarn done with smaller needles, I really like the resulting fabric a lot more.
Not that either is a right gauge or a wrong gauge in itself, but either might be wrong for any given project.
But if I had it to do over again, I'd probably make the sweater on smaller needles--and be even crazier in it. Imagine, I've been knitting for about a month, I've only done dishcloths and then I move right to a child's sweater on sock yarn and US size 1.5 needles. Crazy is what that is.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

baby quilts

It seems weird that I should start this "knitting" blog talking about quilting. But there you go. I'll talk about knitting next time.
I've actually been quilting about 10 years (which is longer than I've been knitting). Because I learned from my mother in law, who keeps my whole family supplied in the most beautiful quilts and wall hangings, and because there are only so many quilts any one person needs, early on I had to decide what my quilting niche would be. I thought it might be hand quilted items and that some day I would make a whole cloth quilt all by hand. Then I thought maybe quilted clothing, but how many patchwork vests and denim shirts do I need?

I stumbled into the baby quilt niche quite by accident. I was looking for a way to celebrate occasions that left me less than celebratory. After I made the first one, I discovered that they were quick and fun and really did help me sort out my feelings. Even now, that I'm not instantly sad when a friend tells me she's pregnant, I find baby quilts fun to make (and give away) and find quilting in general very relaxing. Something about the rat-tat-tat of the machine.

I suppose that's a really long way of saying somehow I got myself into a bit of a pickle on the baby quilts.

You see, I also come from a line of "crafty" women, most of whom invented the "UFO" (unfinished object) and when I started sewing, I told myself that I'd only ever have one project going at a time. And really, I did until last month.

I suppose it started innocently enough, my college roommate announcing her third baby, and I'd made quilts for the other two, I couldn't leave this one out. Then a co-worker announcing she was pregnant, again with her third baby, and though I hadn't made the other two babies quilts that was only because we've only worked together a year. And they were due 3 weeks apart.

Anyway, The quilt I wanted to talk about today is the one I'm making for the co-worker. It isn't done yet, but I'm well underway.
Initially, I was going to do a very simple 4 inch solid block because I had a number of 4 inch squares already cut and given to me. But that seemed boring, Then I got this idea to alternate the solid blocks with a four patch block--all done in scraps. Since figuring out the fourpatch (2.25 inch strips, sewn together, cut into 2.25 inch squares, sewn together again) I've had a blast digging through my scraps to make blocks.
The plan is to do 10 blocks by 12 rows. So far I have eight sewn together and enough four patch blocks done for another three.
I think it is coming together pretty well, and it has been fun to do.

But just when I think to myself "almost done!" I remember the pinning, quilting and binding that still need to be done.