Friday, June 24, 2022

Pippen Shawl and All the Love

The first part of this post was written when I finished Pippen, back in the summer of 2020. I started again in Feb of this year, and am finally posting it in June of 2022. Sorry to say there won't be any deeper insights acquired over the two years since it was bound off. There's also the fact that this has become mostly a knitting and craft related blog with ever lighter topics. More on that later. And by "later" I mean in two years. Sigh. 

This is Pippen, my beautiful, earthy shawl from 2020. I test knit it for Tamy Gore, of Narrow Path Designs, who is one of my favorite...everythings! She's an incredibly talented designer, has a sweet, beautiful presence online, and is a friend. Meeting people like Tamy is one of the reasons I still use social media. All the fuss of ads and endless scrolling are worth it to find kindred spirits. 

I did talk about my Pippen in my Episode 49: What Would Normal People Do?  That was right before the LoveYour Neighbor MAL began. I let Pippen be my entry into that instagram event. I was going to knit it anyway, but it was a tangible thing I could post in photos as we talked about loving people around us and what that can look like. It was a small make-along but meaningful for me. I, along with the other participants, felt encouraged to keep loving. Tamy completely surprised me by reaching out and asking if she could donate patterns as a giveaway prize. Her offer was generous and unexpected, but her desire to extend the love God has shown her to other people didn't surprise me at all. Like I said, she's a beautiful person. 

I was enamored with the way Tamy's sample used two lower contrast gradient skeins from Knit Circus Yarn (the Silly Old Bear and A Rose by Any Other Name colorways) to create stripes that moved from light to dark, while alternating between the two gradient colorways. It was a lovely double ombré effect in soft gold and orange- colors that seem to be among Tamy's favorites. I decided to use stash I already had, which is what I need to be doing right now. 

I had a green gradient mini set from Blueberry ChickYarn on Etsy, but finding a contrast color was a challenge. Part of what I loved about Tamy's shawl was the lower contrast of her color choices. I wanted to mimic that with yarn I owned, in some of my favorite colors. So I dug around in my stash until I found some skeins in brownish greys that I loved the idea of using with green. This homemade gradient started with KnitPicks Hawthorne Silverton, a color that can go grey, brown, or slightly plum depending on what you pair it with. Then I moved into a one-of-a-kind Madelinetosh BFL Light brown/ grey that vacillates between the darker and lighter Hawthorne yarn colors. This gradient would finish with Hawthorne's Grants Pass, which is a rich brown/ grey tonal that has hints of darker plum that can be seen when it's next to the other two colors. I not only achieved the low contrast look I wanted in gradients, but I was able to use one of my favorite color pairings: Silverton and Grants Pass. And I used stash!

I don't remember making a magic cake of yarn with the gradient mini set, but these photos tell me I did. I'm sure that made dealing with all the loose ends and little balls of yarn in my bag much easier. Making a magic cake means you can't control where one gradient color ends and the next begins in the pattern. I like that randomness. Due to the overall slow color progression in this shawl, it isn't even visible. I wouldn't have minded if it was. I do remember using a magic cake for Tamy's Color Craze. That's another striped, beautifully graphic shawl that works so well with scrap yarn.

Here's a tutorial on making a magic cake using the magic knot method of joining the yarns. I have recently learned another join from Dawn Barker to use on her Jawbreaker sweater (It is included in the pattern.) and it is pretty much seamless. I will be trying it on future scrap projects like this. 

Back to my Pippen. I knew the gradient set that I'd wound into a magic cake would be changing colors more often than the other because there were 5 colorways in it and only 3 in my neutral set. I thought I would just eye the shawl and switched the grey yarns when it seemed best. After a false start, I decided to start the pattern with the darkest colors of each set first, since they were my favorites, to ensure I would get to use plenty of them before the pattern's end. I don't even think I dipped into the last of the green gradient colors- maybe just a bit. I am so pleased with the result. 

Details: I used US size 3 needles and a gradient mini skein set from Blueberry Chick Yarn in 5 shades of avocado paired with a homemade gradient of Knit Picks Hawthorne colors and a skein of OOAK Madelinetosh BFL Light in a light grey- brown.

I started with the darker colors of each gradient and worked through to the lightest. I don't remember having any problems or questions about the pattern. It seems like I was a little worried that the edge would curl because the shawl is knit in stockinette, but that was never an issue. And those woodsy colors were the soothing thing I needed at the time.

My next knit from Tamy? I'm torn between the graphic elements of Kiely Swoncho and her Cedar Brook pullover. I think her graphic use of color in designs like these and Milu are what first drew me to her projects. The first one I remember finding was Winter Rye and I still think about that one. It's a biggie, but it is knit in worsted so it would not take all that long to make if I had yarn ready for it. The fact that I keep thinking about it is probably a sign that I need to find the right yarn and cast on.

What I do have yarn to make, right this second, is Blue Willow. I wanted to get a little out of my comfort zone with color and knit it in yellow stash. Warm golds and oranges are the norm for Tamy's samples, though this one is in a pale blue, and she inspires me. Also, that fringe is kind of irresistible. I also have some Berroco Remix Light for her Speckles and Spice short sleeved sweater tee (another sample in bright, warm colors). I love all of the wool versions of this, but I will never put wool over my head in the Texas heat, so Remix is a great option. 

Have you considered making a magic cake of your gradients or scraps and letting the colors change where and when they will? It's a good exercise for the perfectionist, to practice acceptance- not that I am a perfectionist.

More on My Ravelry, Instagram, Flickr, and in Youtube Episode 49: What Would Normal People Do?
Also my blog post on the Color Craze Shawl with links to everywhere I talked about Color Craze.

Monday, June 20, 2022

The Cutest Little Half Moon Crossbody Bag

I'm especially proud of this entry for my #RecycleReknitRemake make-along. It is entirely made of recycled or leftover materials. It is upping my crochet game while simultaneously clearing a bit of space out of the dreaded closet,"The Closet" being the working title of the autobiographical account of collecting craft supplies to fill the void in my soul. 

So, yes, a bright, fun summer bag. Miriam Masendu's Half Moon Crossbody Bag is an excellent beginning crochet project. I say this because I am a beginner and I made it with little difficulty. I have so little experience with crochet but I can honestly say I feel much more capable after making this. 

Details: I think I used a US G crochet hook (I think) and a couple of old red t-shirts cut into t-shirt yarn. You can find a bazillion tutorials on how to do this online: some use every bit of the shirt, some make it easy with just the body, and there are even picture tutorials for those of you who may be impatient to get started and don't want to sit thru a whole video. I made this t-shirt yarn many years ago out of my family's old event and club t-shirts and put it in a giant bag in the garage, where it stayed until we moved. 

Flash forward to the new house and my desire to use some of this stuff and that's why I chose this as the super bulky weight yarn for the pattern. You can see the sample bag is knit in actual yarn, which is probably lighter to wear on your shoulder. But I like the idea of fabric yarn in summer, plus the bright red didn't go with the rest of the t-shirt yarn that I'd been hoarding for a future crochet rug. See, below. 

Miriam's pattern is beyond affordable on Ravelry and comes with video support. This was so helpful to me as I always forget how to make a magic circle in crochet. With her help, I could make one of these bags in an evening. 

My one mistake, and it was big, was to misplace one of the balls of t-shirt yarn. As I neared the halfway point on the first side of the bag, I was mystified as to how I'd used so much of my yarn already. I couldn't find the rest, so I assumed I'd already used it and abbreviated the directions for each side, in order to have enough to finish. After finishing the entire bag, I found the missing ballOf course. It turns out that two t-shirts would have been enough for a full size bag, especially with the method I chose for seaming. 

The seams could have been made with the same yarn, but I wanted to try recycling some other leftovers. I dug up a cone of suede lacing that I'd used to make a purse strap (not super successful) and as shoe laces (very successful.) I had plenty to crochet my seams and to make little loops at the ends, for the strap, if I wanted. 

I didn't want. I pulled out some leftover keyrings in a tarnished bronze color that looked nice with the brown lacing and slid the top of each suede lace seam into one, just like you'd slide a key onto a key ring. You really can't see the opening for the keys once it is on. It looks like purse hardware. 

For the actual strap I decided to reuse the faux leather Lion Brand crossbody strap I bought to use on my Crossbody Canteen Bag, which I STILL have not supported with a mesh inner lining. Ugh! Anyway, the hardware on the strap doesn't clash too much with the keyring/ fastenings so that's what I'm using. At the time of my writing this, it is like $3 on the Lion Brand site. 

The last little recycled touch is a leftover wooden toggle. I attached it using the t-shirt yarn. Now Miriam's pattern includes directions to make a strap and attach it differently, if you want to go with uniformity. I was very pleased to use some of these things. And now that I know how much I can get from a few balls of t-shirt yarn, I'd like to try another, bigger bag. 

What I love about this: This bag is tiny, but still big enough for my phone, card wallet, or keys and is lighter weight on my shoulder if I want to wear it to walk around downtown or for getting a quick coffee. I like having bags like this. Also, look at the puffy canteen shape the t-shirt fabric naturally makes when crocheted. I love that it holds it's shape and doesn't require any kind of lining to keep my keys from falling out.

I can't say enough good things about the design and Miriam's instagram (@mirrymascrafts) and Youtube channel. Her Youtube has even more patterns than her Ravelry. But I do recommend that if you use her videos, you also purchase the pattern from her shop. They are incredibly affordable and in this day where so much information is hidden behind a paywall, I love that Miriam generously offers things for free. 

Another one of Miriam's patterns I'd like to try is The Blue Knot Handbag, a variation of which is the Japanese Knot Bag. Much like the mini crossbody bag I made here, Miriam's Exotic Crossbody Bag is perfect when you want hands free and don't want to lug a giant purse (or knitting bag.) I'd like to make this in an interesting twine-like yarn one day. 

Windsor Headband from Scraps

The Windsor Headband (or Turban) is an older Good Night Day pattern from Tara-Lynn Morrison. I had just a bit of leftover recycled yarn from my High Cliff hat project and thought I might could eke out one of these with the remainder. I have enjoyed my other headband from Good Night Day and thought this would be equally useful on winter hikes or dog walks. 

I've never made a twist style turban like this and I actually had to pause at the directions and think a minute before continuing. That doesn't happen often, after so many years of knitting, but I love when it does! There's a mini high when that feeling of "Huh?" is followed by an "Oh, I get it!" 

Honestly, it really doesn't take that much to baffle me. I can go straight from knitting intricate Fair Isle to twisting the join of a sweater knit in the round.... and continuing to knit for a an inch. That's not a technique I recommend.

As for good techniques that might be new to you, smaller projects like this are a good way to try them out. Stuff like provisional cast on, cables, a three needle bind off, or Kitchener stitch are easy enough to add to the pattern directions, if it isn't already included. If you can't figure it out, the project is small enough that you won't be ripping out hours and hours of work. You can just start over, knitting as directed, with no real time loss.

Details: I used size, US 10 needles and leftovers from my High Cliff leftovers that are just recycled yarn from a mall scarf or something.

Windsor was in the second Good Night Day knitting booklet along with 5 other patterns, of which a few are discontinued. The rest of the patterns are available as singe digital patterns or as part of Tara's more recent larger Good Night Day book

Windsor is discontinued, but Tara's Simcoe headband may be a good substitute for you, though you will need to double your bulky yarn or just use a super-bulky. For the twist turban look, there are a few free versions on Ravelry by other designers. I like Two of Wands' Thermal Twist Headwrap, which is free on her blog and Ysolda's Northwind Headband

But if you're feeling like branching out and trying something off-pattern, you could try figuring out a similar headband on your own. Incorporate the Cast on and Bind off of your choice, with a cable or not. There could be bobbles or embroidery, lace or textural stitches. Just an idea. I knit plenty from patterns but once in a while I want to set aside screens or books and just use my head. Yes, the very one that lets me knit a twisted sweater join. It is just soothing to escape from info and advertisement overload. (Using books and magazines helps with this, too.) 

My few examples would be one of my first projects the Plain Jane bag on one end of the winging it spectrum then my two Mrs. Darcy sweaters, here and here that are all the way on the other end. Then there's the cowl I made up and posted as My First Pattern! that was also my last pattern: the Stripe Ed Cowl. I guess the latest would be the Plaid Monster I made a couple of years ago, but isn't like the vertical stripes and have yet to fix them. The point is, every once in a while it's therapeutic to just figure something you want out on your own. It restructures something in my soul.

My most recent self-made project is a vest of more #RecycleReknitRemake leftovers that I am working whenever I have time. I'll post about it soon. It will probably not be as smooth and professional looking as if I used a pattern, but for this kind of thing, I don't care. It is a treat for my brain. So, more posts about the plaid sweater and the vest will be coming.

Have you filled a need in your wardrobe all on your own, off-pattern? Did it work out for you?

I also plan and discuss this headband on the My So-Called Handmade Life youtube channel: Episodes 54: My Pets Run the Show and 55: Ms. Fixit.

More awkward knit selfies on Instagram, ravelry, and flickr

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

High Cliff Hat and Knitter's Waste

I guess this High Cliff hat is my third project for the #RecycleReknitRemake Make-along. It is one of the yarns I'd balled up a few years ago when I bought some bargain hats and scarves at the mall to reclaim the yarn. 

I originally thought it was super bulky, like the green yarn in my Durand Cowl, but as I handled it, I saw it was just bulky. This led me back to my Ravelry favorites tagged under: "bulky" and "hats." I was so happy to to see this favorite was in Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary's Plum Dandi book, which I owned and had yet to knit from. So, now I'm recycling yarn and using an older pattern book rather than buying new. Two points! Not that anyone is keeping score. 

Well, I sort of am. Unused pattern books is another kind of knitter's waste that I've been trying to deal with. In general, I think that you can't have too many books or records or photos or creative tools, pattern books ticking three of the four boxes. I've justified my collections by reminding myself they are art, self expression, creative exploration, keeping my mind sharp, self care, enlightening, etc. They're also obtained on a budget. I trade of one thing to have another. More etc.'s. But the reality is that I had to pick my way around all of these tools and dig through double stacked book shelves that sagged beneath the "creative" weight. Not to mention the expense of print revival pattern books and magazines. I have no idea what I will do as Pom Pom Quarterly, Laine, and Amirisu continue through the years. They're so nice and I love flipping through them. But Dang! They own a lot of shelf space now. While I feel much less remorse for having full bookshelves than I would an overstuffed closet, the truth is I've had both and I needed a change. Getting a bigger bookshelf wasn't really that change. The knitter's waste is on my mind. So, yeah, at least using all of these books seems the right thing to do. It will be an ongoing goal. 

High Clif, by Melissa,  is nice and roomy. Nothing shows off chunky yarn like a big, fat cable. The yarn used in the book sample is Madtosh Home, which has a little twist to it. My yarn was more like roving, but I felt like the cabled texture would remain visible with wear because it's just such a big, dramatic cable. 

Details: I used size US 10 needles and knit the whole hat via magic loop. I rarely bother with double points these days. Once in a while I pull out the imperfect little double points I made and use them just for funzies. I got stitch gauge, but had trouble meeting the correct row gauge, so I just knit one extra repeat of the cable stitch pattern and it was the perfect length before crown decreases. I topped the hat off with a faux fur pom pom I got a few years ago when I was searching for the best pom pom. It's from Fffabuknits on Etsy. I don't really remember how the pom pom quest ended, but this must have been my favorite because I see that I bought 4 in my Etsy history. Those that I've used previously have held up well. They don't have that toddler's matted teddy bear look that some of my lion brand poms have. It is almost as soft as my cat, Hazel's fur. Almost.

I have quite a few knitting goals I want to finish, so I'm not sure when I'll get back to the other Plum Dandi designs. But I have some favorites. Bretton Woods has a simple vibe. I love the gentle ombre effect. I can see using two sport weight yarns held together to do an ombre/ marl in similar colors. I'd probably want to keep something like that, but it would also be a good Christmas gift too. As would Harrington. And I have a box of Ye Olde Joann super bulky yarns I could crack open for that one.

The thing I'd like to knit the most from Plum Dandi is probably Keene- a bulky sweater pattern with a ribbed turtleneck. The fit is so classic and understated. It could be a staple.

P.S. If you're reading this the day I post it or a few days after, Alicia Plummer is having a 50% off pattern sale in her shop. Check out her instagram to see details. This won't include the patterns from Plum Dandi, but she has a slew of patterns from the last few years, like the Wyeth Pullover I knit a while back. I picked up Down East while I was browsing this morning. E-patterns don't take up shelf space :)

More on Ravelry, my instagram here and here, and images on flickr.

Podcast posts discussing this are Episode 54: My Pets Run the Show and Episode 55: Ms. Fixit.