Showing posts with label knitting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knitting. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mattress seaming is magical

About a month ago, I started making this dress. I thought about trying to knit it in the round so that I wouldn't have to do any seaming. In hindsight I probably could have figured it out, but I haven't made a ton of garments, so it made me nervous and I just knit it in pieces as it had been written. When it came to putting together the front to the back, I tried a couple of different things (while at knitting group so I didn't take pictures because that would make me look ridiculous). 

First I tried crocheting the edges together. This was nice and sturdy, but I'd run out of the turquoise yarn, and I didn't like that you could see peeks of gray coming through on the right side. I tried a bunch of non-specific ways of sewing , but again, I could still see the gray coming through the turquoise, so I just put it in my bag and gave up.

The next day, I looked up tutorials for mattress seaming because they always say it's invisible. If you do it right. Which I'm usually too lazy to do, but I would just turn a blind eye to the imperfections of my made up mattress seaming because it's in the same solid color as the rest of the work. So if it popped through to the front, no big deal as it wasn't super noticeable. This time though, I turned to youtube. Nothing specific, I just did a search and watched the first couple that came up. I followed along with my gray cotton yarn, and it was working! It was magical! I'd pull it taught and it disappeared! And then it snapped!

 

Swear words. I had a vague memory of hearing about sock yarn being really strong on a podcast, which makes sense given it's intended home. I had some in my bag, so I thought, well, if this is REALLY invisible, it shouldn't matter what color I use, right? And it was! Magical! Here it is from the wrong side:


And the right side.


Give it a tug to tighten it up.....


And it's gone! Ta dah!


Oh you old basics. I don't know why I bother trying to reinvent the wheel when we already have a perfectly good one.

I'm all finished now, but I haven't gotten around to taking a fully assembled picture. I've been mostly busy working on the basement - it will be SO nice someday to think, ok, I've got a finished object I'd like to document, and a nicely set up space to do that! Right now if I want anything more than an iPhone snap, it would involve clearing off a space, trying to do it in daylight, hanging it up or something. Surely it's much easier to build an entire room than clear off a surface....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Garter stitch cowl pattern (sort of)



*scroll down to end if you're more interested in the pattern than the rambling*

I've mentioned before, it's cold out this winter. Colder than usual, and it's only mid-February. Here in the midwest, we know that it will be many, many weeks before it's actually spring out there, despite what lies the calendar may tell. So because I was cold, and on a little break from Etsy orders while I wait for a yarn shipment to arrive, I found myself in the lately unusual position of having a little time on my hands with which I could knit something....for myself!!?!

I saw a simple shawlette/short poncho sort of thing at a friend's house, and knew I wanted something similar, but a little different. Like a cowl, but something I could pull over my shoulders. Like an infinity scarf, but not quite. I also knew that I didn't really want to buy anything new, so it would be cool to use up what I already had. I'd purchased a few different colors of Lion Brand Homespun for a custom order of a newborn cocoon for a photography prop. I like a lot of the Lion Brand yarns, but homespun isn't my favorite. While it's quite soft, it's not plied very tightly so it can get fuzzy and splitty. It's acrylic and polyester, which in addition to the softness makes it quite nice for a baby prop because it's machine washable - for when babies inevitably do what they do - it's just not what I gravitate toward. But anyway, I bought a few different colors because I wasn't sure what the buyer wanted. She chose the lovely gray/white color, and I was too lazy to return the rest. So in a cold daze, I grabbed the unused cream/off-white skein and blindly cast on.

I had poked around on Ravelry, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. Which is funny, because it's so simple that it's not even really a pattern. Maybe that's why no one has written it yet? Because it's just THAT simple? I wasn't going to either, but the ladies at knitting group said that I should, so here we are. :)

I decided that I'd rather cast on the width and join up the ends to make the loop for the infinity scarf because I didn't actually know how long I'd like it to be. That told me that this might be the time to experiment with a provisional cast on and grafting rather than just doing a mattress stitch. I knew from experimenting on the newborn cocoon that a very simple stitch pattern works best with homespun. I used stockinette for that, but since this was 2 sided, I decided garter would be the way to go. So in the end, I basically mashed these 3 patterns together (1, 2, 3), and made some executive decisions along the way when it became clear that a single skein wasn't going to be long enough.

When I started running out of the cream color, I noticed that the nature of the homespun dying made these wide color bands. I chose to grab the leftover 2/3(ish) skein of the gray colorway and alternate 2 stripes of each color for several rows before switching over to all gray. Initially, I determined this number by guessing about how much of the cream to leave so that I could do the 2x2 striping at the other end of the gray. Then I would have cream section, striped section, gray section, striped section, and it would all look like it was done intentionally. Even though it wasn't and was based on laziness and not really wanting to buy more yarn, since it isn't my favorite and I was using up what I had. Shhhhh. Then I knit the gray section until I had about the same amount left as I had of cream, at which point I started striping again. I ended on a cream stripe, because then I would use the gray to join between the last cream stripe and the beginning cream section. I could have done the grafting with cream as well, but my visual judgement of "equal" amounts left leaned slightly heavy toward gray, so that's what I used. Very scientific.




My initial thought was to put a twist in the scarf before joining to give it a little more interest than a long string of garter stitch. I ended up testing it both twisted and straight as a friend said that it could get a little tight if I chose to double up the scarf with the twist in it. If I was working this from 2 complete skeins, I think I would have done a straight join and worn it doubled. However since I had one partial skein, it's juuuust slightly tight when doubled even when straight, so I opted to twist it and will mainly wear it either looped just once or pulled down to warm my shoulders. And there you have it. A super simple striped cowl, so simple it's a little embarrassing to write a "pattern" for.





Garter Stitch Infinity Cowl

One size
Materials - 2 skeins Lion Brand Homespun, 1 of each color
size 8 needles (I used a circular, knit flat)

Using provisional cast on, cast on 40 stitches in color A

Knit every row in color A until work measures about 24"

Knit 2 rows in color B, then knit 2 rows in color A. Carry strands up one side. Repeat for about 4-5", ending with color A. Cut color A at this point, leaving a long tail to weave in end.

Using color B, knit every row until color B section is about 24"

Knit 2 rows in color A, then knit 2 rows in color B. Carry strands up one side. Repeat for about 4-5", ending with color A. (This is the point where I knit until I was just about out of yarn, while being mindful that I had enough left over to graft the ends together)

You can choose to either twist the scarf once at this point, or simply line the ends up straight. Use kitchener stitch to join the working end back to your provisional cast-on end using color B.

Weave in ends.

Wear. Be warm!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Knit season




So strange that I was in a tank top earlier this week and yet today's casual Friday outfit of a sweater dress and leggings was totally appropriate. I wore flats without socks as I can't quite bear to break out the boots just yet because once you do there's just no going back. Yet it either didn't warm up much today or it had gotten cool again because I was SO COLD when I got home. I'm not ready to turn the heat on just yet, but I AM ready to pull out my knit cottage slipper socks. I made these probably 4? 5 years ago? And I just love them. They are so warm and cozy (and fit in rather nicely with the debris of a child who loves reading and stuffed animals lol) that I keep coming back to them every year. These are basically my test version. I've improved the way I handle the ribbing in such a chunky yarn, and subsequent pairs I've made about an inch shorter in the foot for an average (7-8) size because mine are ever slightly too large. But I never make myself a new pair. Must be nostalgic or something. I've given a few pairs as gifts that have been quite well received, and I put them up in my shop last year on a whim. And wouldn't you know, they've become one of my most popular and inquired about items. As the knitwear season rolls around again, I have to say, I can see why!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trials in product photography and new listing in the shop!



Right off the bat, I am not a good photographer. In fact, I'd just go ahead and say I'm a downright BAD photographer. It's just one of those things that I can't get to click (oh lord, no pun intended) for me. For years I decided it was just my point and shoot, as everything I took came out blurry and dark, and my solution was just to not take pictures. Win! However, on the rare occasion when I could get over my awkwardness about even taking out the camera to begin with, I'd go to download them to the computer, and realize that the Christmas pictures I was saving were the first pictures there since the Christmas before. Now I'm not saying I want to photograph every waking moment of my life, but I'd like to be able to look back on more than one day a year!

So 2 years ago, I decided, well maybe it's not all me! Maybe it's the camera! I mean, what problem can't you improve by throwing money at it?! However my thrifty side said that there was no way I was dropping $4 or 500 at a DSLR for something that realistically probably wasn't going to improve my pictures, so I went to Craigslist. I managed to find a 10 year old Canon Rebel XT. Definitely not a top of the line model, but I figured it was something that I could try to learn on. So I got my camera for about $200 I think, and I proceeded to put it in auto and use it just like my point and shoot! Yeah...that didn't help a ton! I mean, things got less blurry, and I had the courage to actually use it more, but still, there are so many buttons and modes that I just didn't know anything about.

For my birthday last year, I decided to go ahead and learn this darn thing. I tried looking at a lot of tutorials online, and actually reading my manual, but it still just felt like Greek to me. I decided that the best thing would be to take a class, so that's what I asked for as my present - one of those extended learning seminars for beginners through my alma mater. This...kind of worked. I mean, at least I now kind of know what a lot of the modes do, and in certain circumstances I feel ok putting it into manual for low light situations, which seem to be all of my situations inside my house. But I'm still bad. I can't seem to get a grip on white balancing, and I end up doing a lot of adjusting after the fact in Photoshop. I think what I probably need to do, apart from practice, is sign up for an intermediate class. Maybe I'll ask for that for my birthday this year!

In the meantime, I want to try to make sure my Etsy listings don't look like total garbage. #1, I want people to look at them. But #2, I can't say in the description, "hey, this totally looks better in person! Trust me! Just buy it, then you'll see!" So I need to try to make my items look realistic and try to convey the cuteness through the screen on a plain, non-distracting background. I was reading a book that talked about a super simple construction of a light box. Just clip smooth white paper onto cardboard and set it up like a box with 3 sides, aim a lamp into it, and shoot away!



Fail.

I mean, I guess it's a little better than just putting my little hats on my white desk and shooting from above. But not much. I think maybe my biggest problem was scale. Even for the baby hats I'm mainly working on, an 11x17 sheet of paper wasn't big enough so that I wasn't catching the edges of the cardboard in the shot, which just seemed to throw off the colors even with my feeble attempts at editing the photos after the fact. Also, I even went ahead and started writing up a listing for this cute little pumpkin head hat, and that little leaf just seemed so feeble! It was late, and I decided that it really needed more work before it was ready for sale, so I knew I'd have to retake the pictures anyway, so I might as well try to make them better.

I poked around a bit on Etsy to see what other people were doing. Of course the cutest and most common photo set up was the hat on an adorable baby's head. Duh! And I even have one of those lying around. However, I've taken a stance of not wanting to splash my baby all over the internet. We've not posted a single picture of her on line, even on Facebook. (We do all our family photo sharing via emails and texts.) So....it really didn't seem like a good idea to bend my rules to sell something! Then I saw some pretty attractive shots set up either outside, or in a little vignette somewhere in the house. I opted against an outdoor option because I work for a living and most of my spare time - when I do this stuff - is in the dark. So somewhere in the house it is!

We have espresso colored dining chairs and off-white curtains, so I thought that might be a nice and somewhat consistent background I could use for most of my items.


Except, well, reflection. No matter where I aimed my lamp I just got this hot spot on the not-leather leather-ish fabric of the chair. And then I thought....wait....couldn't I just take that curtain and use it like a photo backdrop?


I think....win?!



Yeah, it's still way less good than a professional would do. I think ultimately if I keep this up with any level of success, my best bet would be to swap props for photos and have a pro shoot my knits. But this is not that time, and if we're going to go, we're going to go grass roots.

Does anyone have any other tips for product photography that a total photography neophyte like me could try to pick up?

And also, what do you think of the new hat? I added a second, larger leaf that I think balances it out a little. I can't wait to see my little one sporting it all next month!!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Classic Halloween

It is my personal opinion that the most classic first Halloween costume is....the pumpkin head! So maybe it's not technically the first around here, but last year some of us were too tiny and too sleepy to even bother with an actual costume. So now that we have a little walker (!!!) on our hands, it's officially time for the first real costume!

I have great memories of my mom making the most unique and special Halloween costumes for us when we were growing up. I mean, I think I was the only kid in town with a pink and purple unicorn costume. Yeah, she let us pick out our own costumes, lol. So of course I'm pretty pumped to carry on the tradition!

I'm thinking I'm going to get this pattern and make this sweet little hat instead of the beanie that comes in the pattern. Then she can wear it all month long! (and plus how cute would a little duck or ladybug be next year?!)




And of course, I was so darn impatient that I couldn't help but cast on for the hat already! Which is pretty silly because there is no way I'm going to have enough yarn to finish. We'll see how this goes...


(seriously...if anyone knows how to rotate these phone photos....)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yarn?





I haz some.

Hopefully, one day, it will look like this.  You know, right after about 14 other projects.  Or concurrently, because I seem to like to spread myself thin.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

cute or weird?

Maybe it's because I'm freakin freezing all the time lately, but I have knitting and warm and soft textures on the brain.  I posed this question to my husband the other day - would one of these be cute or weird?


And just so we're all on the same page people - I'm talking about the pouf, not the kid!

He responded that he thought it was kind of weird.  To this, I sent about 4,000 images showing him why he is wrong.














I took a leap and found a great deal (well, hopefully great - I'll let you know my source once I get my order to ensure that it's good quality) on yarn....so I ordered it.  Yep, I'm going to attempt to DIY.  Because it's not like I don't already have eleventy-five other projects going on at the moment.  Oh wait, yes I do.  Well, maybe I'll make a pouf.  Maybe I'll make a mess.  And yes, I'm a little afraid I'll end up like this:


So, what's your vote?  Cute, or weird?

(I did my best to link to all my photo sources, but because I collected most of them all at once to photobomb my husband, I didn't do a great job with that.  If you find a source that I didn't link to, let me know and I'll be happy to add it!)