Monday, December 15, 2008

Knitted Guest Towel

I've completed another guest towel. I chose a different edging for this one. The edging on the first one is nice enough, but the dots of contrasting color are formed with bobbles that tend to pop in and out of the slip-stitches surrounding them, making a less-than-ideal fabric for hand drying. Cute to look at, but not totally practical.

This second version has a variation of a dot slip-stitch edging, slightly modified to make it lie flatter. I also had to use a different main color, since I didn't have any of the white Pakucho cotton left from the first towel. This color is "avocado", really more gray than green.
The Pakucho and the Blue Sky organic cotton both produce an exceptionally soft towel. I'm not sure that knitted hand towels are as good as the standard terrycloth ones. However, they work well as a guest towel, if a unique look is wanted.

The Blue Sky cotton is very loosely spun, and thus is exceptionally soft. This may mean that it won't wear well--another reason to use it for guest towels. The colors are pretty and may last longer without fading or pilling if they are washed less often than hand towels are usually.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smilla neckwrap to knit

I was going to name this First Snow, but then I realized Smilla is better. After all, I fumbled my way through the concept when I joined the "Smidge Along" group on Ravelry last year. Combining Smidge with the thought of the first snow of the fall, that light, crusty layer of wet white that coats everything, Smilla (as in Smilla's Sense of Snow) immediately came to mind.

The pattern below produces a neckwrap that is knit in the round, laid flat, and buttoned at the bottom. The stitch I used is the first half of the stitch pattern Stacey used for her "My So-Called Scarf." There's an excellent tutorial for this stitch pattern on the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog. However, I hope that you will find my version of the stitch fairly simple and won't need the tutorial.

Smilla Neckwrap
Materials: Karabella Margrite Bulky, (80% Extrafine Merino Wool, 20% Cashmere) 50 g. (1.75 0z.), 71 meters (77 yards), about 1.5 balls per neckwrap.
Circular needle, size 15 (10 mm), 16" long. Substitutes: dpns, two circulars, a long circular for magic loop or any other means of knitting in the round. A smaller size needle can be substituted, but you might need to cast on more stitches. (I used size 15 because that is what I had in a short circular.)
Finished measurements: 4.5" wide x 24" long
Stitch Glossary
SKYOP - Slip one stitch knitwise, knit the next stitch, pass the yarn over the top of the needle and, using the left needle, pass the slipped stitch over both the knitted stitch and the yarn over.
Gauge: 7 SKYOP, 16 rows, in pattern/4 inches (or 14 stitches, 16 rows if you prefer to count a plain knit row)
Instructions: Cast on an odd number of stitches, using a provisional cast on. I cast on 31 stitches for the gray Smilla, and 29 for the brown one. Both worked well. For a provisional cast on, I use a crochet cast on and pick up stitches through the bumps on the back of the crochet chain, but any cast on that can be removed to leave you with loose stitches for a 3-needle bind-off will do.
Round 1: K1, SKYOP around.
Round 2: Knit all stitches.
Round 3: SKYOP until one stitch remains, K1.
Round 4: Knit all stitches.
Note: It is important that you start round 3 with a K1 and that you keep the same stitch count. The pair of stitches that you passed a stitch over on round 1 should be split in round 3. This is what makes the stitches spiral around. If you lose a stitch (which is easy to do if you forget a yarn over) or start every round with a knit stitch, the SKYOP stitches will stack on top of each other, leaving gaps between them.
Repeat Rounds 1-4 until neckwrap is desired length. I suggest 23 to 26", depending on the size neck you'd like to wrap. Add buttonholes as desired when the wrap is two inches shorter than desired length. See buttonhole note below. After making buttonholes (or not), continue in pattern until the piece is the desired length, ending with Round 1 or 3. Divide the stitches equally on two needles and, using a third needle, bind off with a three needle bind off. (You will have one extra stitch; just bind it off by knitting it together with another stitch.) Remove the provisional cast on, place the stitches on two needles and bind off with a three needle bind off.
Buttonholes: For this gray version, I made buttonholes by binding off one stitch and casting on one in the same place on the following row, placing four of these bound-off stitches evenly around the neckwarmer. I then matched up two of the stitches on the front and back to make two buttonholes. However, since the stitch gauge is very large, these buttonholes were too big. I crocheted around them to tighten them up--hand sewing around them in buttonhole stitch would work as well.
The smaller buttons I have for the brown version will button through the stitches, since they are knit at such a loose gauge. No buttonhole is needed. Check your buttons before you get within 2" of the end to see if you need buttonholes.
(Edited to clarify the alternating stitches and needle requirements.)
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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Knitting socks for tender feet

I was so proud of one of my early pair of socks that I brought them with me while visiting friends this summer. Our host was very interested in them, so much so that I told him he could try them on. It was quite funny, seeing him put them on, pink toes and heels, brown and green yarn and all. He explained that he has very short feet for a man and that his socks always wrinkle up under his feet, making them quite uncomfortable. I didn't really believe him, but we compared, and his foot is the same size as mine. (I wear a women's size 7 1/2 shoe.)

Naturally, I immediately jumped on the idea of knitting him a pair of socks. Then, he commented that he found my hand-knit socks unconfortable because he could "feel the bumps on the bottom." He admitted he has very sensitive soles. I was more than a little concerned then than I would not be able to knit a pair of wool socks that he would find totally comfortable. Nonetheless, I have taken on the challenge.

First, I consulted Ravelry, and was rewarded with helpful advice, offered in this thread on the Sock Knitters Anonymous discussion board. I planned at the outset to purl the soles of the socks, putting the smoother stockinette side against his sensitive soles. Commonly known as a "Princess Sole", this technique is a bit more troublesome, but makes a more comfortable sock.
I knit this sock from the top down, and planned to use a slip-stitch pattern to make it similar to the socks my friend had tried and liked. However, the Wildfoote yarn I chose is too splitty to work well with any stitch more complicated than plain knits and purls. The pattern I originally selected began with a k3, p1 cuff. When I decided against doing the slipstitch, I simply continued the cuff pattern on down the leg. About halfway through the leg, I realized that although the k3, p1 ribbing was smooth on the outside but produced a "bumpy" inside. I was afraid that the single k1 rib would rub against my friend's leg and irritate his sensitive skin.
After all, a person with tiny little feet and such sensitive soles must have tender skin on his leg, too.
When I began the heel flap, I turned the sock inside out, placing the smoother k3 side of the knitting to the inside. Now I can't decide if I should call these Socks for the Tenderfoot or Inside-out Socks.
About a half-inch before the heel, I added an additional purl stitch to the pattern, making a k1, p1 section across the instep to allow more stretch there. Once I knit the heel, I continued this k1, p1 for another half-inch before switching to plain stockinette for the foot.
You can get a better view of the pattern I used for the heel and the Princess Sole here. It continues the slip stitches for the heel under the arch of the foot, then purls the sole. I'm sorry I can't model this sock for you. It is a bit too short to fit properly. I was so eager to see if the Wildfoote yarn softened up after washing that I knit the toe too soon. The Wildfoote does soften a bit, but it doesn't grow much after washing and blocking. Once I get a better fitting second sock knit, I will rip out the toe of this one and reknit it to match. You'll see modeled photos then.
Of course, such a plain knit sock is not that interesting or inventive. I've provided these details here in case you have a tenderfoot that needs socks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

knit Gridded Towel pattern

Note:  This pattern was made available as a pdf download through Ravelry in May of 2017.  I have added the link to the pattern pdf below but temporarily retained the casual pattern instructions here.

I've finished the second Gridded Towel, using Pakucho cotton in Vicuna (beige) as the main color with a variegated kitchen cotton (Peaches & Creme, potpourri) as the contrasting color. I'll explain how I did it so you can make your own.

This is a very simple towel pattern that requires at a minimum two colors of yarn. I use primarily kitchen-grade cotton yarn, such as Peaches & Creme, Sugar 'n Cream, or Pakucho cotton. You'll need 2 balls of about 85 yards each for the main color and almost two balls of the contrast color. You can mix different brands of yarn as long as they are the same weight. These yarns all knit to about 20 stitches/4" in stockinette. I use a size 7 needle. I prefer either Bryspun, Balene, or wooden needles--anything that is more flexible than metal will be easier on your hands.

Cast on 87 stitches. This will produce a towel about 16" wide if your gauge is similar. It will shrink with use, especially if you machine wash and tumble dry your towel as I do, and will soon be only 15" wide.

Click here to view and download this pattern in or use the link below for an immediate download.

download Gridded Towel Pattern

The original pattern instructions:

Using a long-tail cast-on and the main color, knit three rows so that the beginning has two garter ridges. You're going to alternate garter and stockinette, changing colors every two rows so that you have three stockinette panels for the border. Here it is in pattern speak:

A=main color
B=contrast color

Border Pattern:

Rows 1-3: knit all stitches with A

Row 4: knit all stitches with B

Row 5: purl all stitches with B

Rows 6-7: knit all stitches with A

Repeat Rows 4-7 twice more. Begin gridded stitch, maintaining 10 stitches on either side in the border pattern.

Gridded Stitch:

Row 1: *slip 1, knit 2*, repeat to border, ending with slip 1, using B

Row 2: *slip 1, purl 2*, repeat to border, ending with slip 1, using B

Row 3 & 4: knit all stitches with A

Confused? Here it is, the same pattern, less speak, more numbers:

Gridded Stitch:

Row 1: With B, k10, *sl1, k2* 22 times, sl1, k10.

Row 2: p10, *sl1, p2* 22 times, sl1, p10.

Row 3 & 4: With A, k across.

Knit the center section until the towel is about 20 inches long, then work the border pattern again for three stockinette panels, ending with three rows of knit stitches in A and binding off on the wrong side so that it looks like the beginning border. This will give you a towel about 22" long. (Mine took 38 gridded stockinette panels, plus the 3 beginning stockinette panels and the 3 ending ones to reach 22".)

That's all you need to do to have a simple and effective, soft and nubbly kitchen towel for hand-drying, plate-wiping or waving around. (Ever have a smoky kitchen because you burned the toast? Just wave a damp towel around to dispel the smoke quickly.) This towel does the trick, and it looks good as well. It even looks ok on the back side.

For variation, try substituting any slip-stitch pattern in the middle section, as long as you can change colors every two rows. If you want a less colorful towel, use a solid color yarn for the contrast color, or change the contrast colors in a repeating pattern, as I did in the first version.

For the first towel, I changed colors in the stockinette panels as follows:

4 white panels

5 cream panels

6 yellow panels

7 caramel panels

6 white panels

5 cream panels

4 yellow panels

3 caramel panels

4 white panels

Using this sequence of colors will guarantee that you end with three stockinette panels for the border and the ends of your towel will match. It also gives you the 38 gridded panels you need to produce a 22" long towel.

Done! Yay! Wave your towel around to clear the air as you imagine more variations.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First gridded towel

Our Labor Day weekend trip across Independence Pass to Aspen was blessed by perfect weather. We stopped briefly at Twin Lakes, just west of Granite on Hwy 82. This was our first drive across the pass this summer. We thought we'd better fit one in before the pass closes with the first snows of the fall.
Of course, I fit in a trip to The Yarn Gallery, which was having a bit of a sale. I indulged in Blue Sky Alpacas yarn, both alpaca (just a couple of hanks that were on sale) and cotton (more on that in a bit). The lady there treated me to a demonstration of an excellent ball winder by Nancy's Knit Knacks. I had seen it on line, but now that I've seen it in operation, I want one.

My gridded kitchen towel is complete, with a satisfying stripe sequence that begins with the lightest color, progresses with ever wider bands of darkening colors, then reverses the sequence and ends with the lightest color. This project did make the trip to Aspen, when it was finished and the ends were woven in. You see it here resting appropriately on a rack of clean dishes, as well as overturned to show its vunerable underbelly. I'll cut those ends off after I wash and block it. The back looks nice enough, and is much softer than the nubbly front.

With this off my needles, I finally started the yoke for my Sideways Cardigan. I hope to have both it and the shawl finished soon.
Once it is done, I'll cast on another gridded towel, and plan out more. I've gotten a request for kitchen towels and hand towels for Christmas gifts. That's what prompted my visit to The Yarn Gallery. I knew the shop had Blue Sky cotton and thought their soft cotton in gorgeous colors would make more luxurious towels, more appropriate for guests. You'll be seeing them sometime between now and December.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gathered Hat

Both the Gathered Scarf and the matching hat are complete. I will probably block the scarf, since I wouldn't mind if it was a bit wider. A bit shorter wouldn't be a bad thing--I had enough yarn (over three balls) to knit 50 stockinette panels, making the scarf over 70" long. I hesitate to block the hat, as it fits perfectly now. I've written out some instructions below, in case anyone wants to knit one. I'll apologize in advance for the amateur pattern-writing. Just let me know in the comments or in an e-mail if anything needs clarification.

Gathered Hat

To loosely fit head sizes 21" - 22"

Materials: Cascade Indulgence, dk weight yarn, 70% alpaca/30% angora; 123 yds/50 g., 2 balls Needles: size 7 24" circular, size 4 24" circular, size 7 and 4 dpns
Gauge: 4 stitches/inch in garter, lightly stretched (Note: The recommended yarn has little elasticity, so the gauge is quite loose even on size 4 needles.)
To start: Cast on 176 stitches with size 7 needles, join to work in the round. Place marker for end of round.
kfb--knit into the front and back of the same stitch (an increase)
k2tog--knit two stitches together (a decrease)
Knit 6 rows, **with smaller needles, k2tog around. 88 stitches remain.
Round 2: Purl
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: Purl
Round 5: Knit
Round 6: Purl--3 garter ribs

With larger needles, kfb around, increasing to 176 stitches.

Knit 5 rounds.**

Repeat from ** to ** for 4 repeats, changing the first rowof the 4th repeat of stockinette to kfb twice, k1 around, reducing the number of stitches to 144. The next round of k2tog reduces this to 72.

After the next garter repeat, reduce to the stitch count again on first row of the next stockinette repeat by *kfb 8 times, k1* repeating around. After 5 more rows of stockinette, you will k2tog around to start a garter repeat which will have 64 stitches.

After this garter repeat, you are ready to start decreasing for the crown. Place markers every 8 stitches; you will k2tog before each marker for a decrease round. Continue pattern, alternating decrease rounds with plain rounds, but you will alter the pattern by not increasing and decreasing when you change from stockinette to garter and back.
You should end with stockinette, knitting only 3 rows, the last being a decrease row which reduces the stitch count to 8. Tie off and weave in ends. It's a hat!