November 24, 2017

Cozy Snowflake Hat

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holiday frenzy just starting up, what better time than to share a holiday gift from last year?! Please excuse how late I'm finally sharing this pattern--senior year is a busy time. Also, I knitted up a storm last fall and worked up quite the backlog. 

Anyway, after knitting up a dozen SITW hats, I had perfected the process. While everything was fresh in my brain, it only seemed fair to offer the custom-made hat service to my mother for her Christmas gift. (My sister had the same offer, stay tuned. My father has already received a custom hat.) Mom's not the most eager hat designer, often preferring that I surprise her. But remember that the reason why I liked the SITW hat project is because someone else's creativity was at work to come up with the design! She eventually made a vague request for a snowflake motif, but left me to come up with the specifics. Well, though not the most helpful, it worked. 


Mom's favorite colors to wear are red, white, and blue. I capitalized on these preferences with the snowflake design. When drawing up this design, I also tried to keep it subtle and to not grab everyone's attention, per her general style.

I was late to order the yarn color my mother requested (same color as the main color in my Afmæli sweater), so I ended up wrapping the recently-arrived yarn to be opened on Christmas, to function as a coupon with a quick turnaround. I knitted the hat from December 27, 2016 - January 2, 2017. Yarn is Drops Lima in Dark Blue, Pearl Grey, and Red. Needle sizes used are US 2 and US 6. Photos are from the backyard, featuring the same bit of fence that frequently shows up on this blog (e.g. 1/2/3/4/5). 


Cozy Snowflake Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate. Recommended for knitters who have done fair isle techniques before.
Yarn: Drops Lima. 1 skein Dark Blue 4305 (A), 0.2 skeins Pearl Grey 9020 (B), 0.05 skein Red 3609 (C)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 (4 mm) in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult head, 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) 9 in (23 cm) circular and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

With A and US 2 dp needles, CO 120 sts. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (3 cm).

Switch to US 6 circulars and decrease 20 sts evenly around round (repeat *k4, k2tog* across round) = 100 sts.

K two more rounds with A, then work Color Chart 1. Repeat each chart row ten (10) times per round.

Color Chart 1
Blue = Color A; Grey = Color B; Red = Color C
After completing color chart, work St st with A until piece measures 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) or desired length. 

Next, work decreases. Switch to dp needles as needed.
Round 1: *K3, k2tog* repeat * to * across round = 80 sts.
Round 2 and all even rounds: K across round.
Round 3: *K2, k2tog* repeat * to * across round = 60 sts.
Round 5: *K1, k2tog* repeat * to * across round = 40 sts.
Round 7: K2tog across round = 20 sts.
Round 9: K2tog across round = 10 sts.


Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!
Abbreviations:
dp – double-pointed needles
CO – cast on
pm – place marker
k – knit
p – purl
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
St st – stockinette stitch
st(s) – stich(es)
You can download this pattern as a free PDF or find it on Ravelry.

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

October 28, 2017

Sarah's Hat | SITW Hat Series

This post is the final installation of the Semester in the West Hat Series. Catch up on the other hats and free patterns below.


I am currently over halfway through my senior fall, but I still have one more Semester in the West hat to share. With a whole year to reflect on my experience on SITW, I am increasingly sure that it was an experience I'll cherish for the rest of my life--from the sunsets and stars to the friends I made and people I met. Exactly one year ago, October 28, 2016, we awoke at sunrise ("sparrow's fart") outside of Deming, New Mexico (center photo), and drove much of the day to reach Carlsbad, featuring a wonderful swimming hole (right). 



When I started this hat project, I told the other Westies that I couldn't promise that everyone would get a hat, as I didn't know how much time or motivation I would have to knit on the trip. As it turned out, I managed to knit twelve hats, the last being for Sarah. I started the hat while back at Johnston Wilderness Campus and finished it over winter break. 


Sarah requested a hat with trees and moose, and a little diamond motif just above the brim. With this hat pattern, I ended up doing three-stranded color work for almost the entirety of the hat, which is so much harder than two-color fair isle color work. Three-color stranding can limit the hat's elasticity for fitting, so it was a careful endeavor, and I was very glad to see that the hat fit on the first try!


The yarn is Drops Karisma in Petrol and Brown, and Drops Lima in Green. I used US 2 and US 6 to knit the hat; see pattern below and attached PDF! These photos are taken on top of a frozen Bennington Lake from January.


Sarah's hat was a high note to end on. Since SITW, we've become quite close friends. We prance around the outdoors together, study on Saturday nights, motivate each other to go running, and get ourselves engrossed in any and all shenanigans. While some friendships form from directed intentions, Sarah and I became friends through repeated exposure. We found ourselves in a bunch of environmental studies classes together, and we both signed up for the same Spring Break Service Trip our first year and the spring break backpacking trip in Utah our sophomore year, and then finally Semester in the West. By this point, Sarah is one my most precious friends, as you can see from this photo collage from the last six months.




So much has happened since in the last year, some good, some not. But my life today would not be the same without Sarah, and while this reality does not relate to the hat I knitted her, may this just be a good excuse to highlight such a special person.


Sarah’s Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate. Recommended experience with three-color stranding color work. 
Yarn: 1 skein Drops Karisma Petrol 73 (A), 0.3 skein Drops Lima Green 705 (B), 0.3 skein Drops Karisma Brown 1054 (C)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 (4 mm) in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult head, 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) 9 in (23 cm) circular and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

With A and US 2, CO 120 sts. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (3 cm).

Switch to US 6 and decrease 16 sts evenly around round (*K5, k2tog, k6, k2tog*) = 104 sts.

With colors A and B, work Color Chart 1, repeating chart pattern 13 times per round.

After completing chart, k 2 rounds with color A.

With colors A, B, and C, work Color Chart 2, repeating chart pattern 4 times per round.

After completing chart, k with color A until piece measures 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) or desired length.

Then work decreases, all with color A, as illustrated in Color Chart 3 and as written below:

Row 1: *K6, k2tog* across round = 98 sts.
Row 2 and all even rows: K across round.
Row 3: *K5, k2tog* across round = 84 sts.
Row 5: *K4, k2tog* across round = 70 sts.
Row 7: *K3, k2tog* across round = 56 sts.
Row 9: *K2, k2tog* across round = 42 sts.
Row 11: *K1, k2tog* across round = 28 sts.
Row 13: K2tog across round = 14 sts.
Row 15: K2tog across round = 7 sts.
Color Chart 1

Color Chart 2

Color Chart 3

Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!

Abbreviations:
CO – cast on
pm – place marker
k – knit
p – purl
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
st(s) – stich(es)

You can download this pattern as a free PDF here. Find this pattern on Ravelry here.

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

September 27, 2017

A Green Shirt

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this is not just a knitting blog. Knitting may be my craft of highest expertise but I love working in other media, too. Today I am proud to share a very recent project, a green top I sewed over the first few weekends of this fall semester. 

Photo by Katy Laliotis
When it comes to sewing garments, I have lofty goals but lack the skills, practice, and confidence to make the enterprise feel worthwhile. Of course, that really means I need to attack the learning curve head on until I feel more comfortable sewing my own clothes! Since childhood I have romanticized the self-sufficient domesticity of sewing and knitting all my clothes, baking all my bread, growing my own vegetables, cooking and eating delicious slow-food California cuisine meals, and having chickens roam the yard. I credit this fantasy partly to my childhood love for book series like Little House on the Prairie, but also because local production is a more sustainable way of living, by cutting down on shipping and packaging, support of questionable labor practices, etc. 


I am stoked how well my current off-campus house and housemates fit in to my idealized domestic DIY aesthetic: we bake all our bread, have some veggies growing in the backyard (and get a CSA share from a local farm and on occasion, raid the student organic garden), co-op the dinner cooking, and my housemate Kiana is a crocheter, sewer, and knitter, and brought her sewing machine to college!! Kiana has quite a bit more experience sewing clothes than me and generously let me use her sewing machine and offered her expertise when I was confused or stuck. Much of my non-quilting sewing knowledge comes from my grandmother, who was always so involved in the sewing process that I never learned enough to sew on my own. Before this project, I had never followed a commercial pattern, added interfacing, or even cut out a pattern without Grandma's watchful (but sometimes overbearing) eye. 


So Kiana's sewing machine and expertise were available to me, I had a wee bit of spare time at the beginning of the school year that was sure to disappear, I wanted more sewing experience, and I also had a practical need for more professional solid tops to pair with my patterned skirts. Of course, in theory I could procure said type of shirt from a store, but present trends of pastels and wonky cuts (crop-tops, open backs, etc.) do not vibe with my style. So DIY we go! I selected a pattern online, and then went to JoAnn Fabrics to retrieve said pattern (Simplicity 8061, if you're really curious) and pick out some fabric, which always takes so much time. I was looking for a bold, solid, emerald green cotton-poly blend, but kept getting distracted by fun patterned fabric and couldn't find what I envisioned in the garment fabric section. I was just about to give up when I resorted to pass through the entire fabric inventory when I finally stumbled into the wall of cotton-acrylic blend solids. All the supplies for the shirt checked out at less that $15! These days, handmade clothing often costs more than something factory-made, but not this time :)


I mostly stuck with the pattern but deepened the neck and back. The neck cut is traced from a shirt of mine from H&M, and the back is traced from a dress I bought at Macy's. While of course, sewing a shirt from a pattern was a new skill for me, I reveled in the fact that I could modify it further to my tastes!


The sewing process took more hours than I'd like to admit. My seam ripper didn't assume a starring role until I got to the sleeves, but my cautious approach slowed things down. Also somehow cutting out the pattern pieces takes a really long time? Time passes so quickly when sewing! I learned how to slip-stitch hems by hand to render the seams invisible, how to attach a sleeve, and re-learned how to sew darts in the bust line. Kiana's assistance was invaluable. The fit is a little tight in the chest region, restricting mobility of my arms a little, but several other shirts I own are the same way. And that's partly due to choosing fabric that isn't stretchy.


So here it is! The Whitman Student Engagement Center recently had a free LinkedIn professional head shot event, and I showed up for the photo shoot wearing this shirt, partly to get some solid photos that didn't involve a derpy iPhone self-timer bedroom selfie like the one above. Good thing the shirt also works for professional purposes!

Photo by Katy Laliotis

All in all, I could not be more stoked on the outcome of my first big garment sewing project. My goal is to also sew an article of clothing next semester, and of course many, many more items to come in life! I can't wait to get better at sewing my own clothes.


Until next time, happy fall and happy crafting!
--Elizabeth

August 24, 2017

Scandinavian Summer Trivet

You may have forgotten, but "The Craft Lizard" is not a knitting blog, or even a hat pattern blog. It's a craft blog. So I am happy to share something more unique from me -- a crocheted item!


I first learned to knit, teaching myself how to single and/or double crochet a couple years later. But crocheting never took -- with every attempt to whip up some crocheted fabric, I could never keep the number of stitches in each row constant. Following a few more sporadic attempts, I quit crocheting and focused on knitting. In middle school, when I organized a group of local retirement home folks to make hats for preemies at the local hospital, several of the ladies crocheted their baby hats (thank goodness they could figure it out themselves because there's no way I could help them). After the group disbanded, a couple ladies gave me their crochet hooks, figuring they were done with the project, and these hooks proceeded to collect dust in my knitting needle caddie for years.


Ever since my SITW hat project ended in January, I've been feeling fairly uninspired in the knitting realm. It's total first-world problem; I'm not fishing for any pity. Over the last few years, I've knitted a lot: seven sweaters, about 20 hats, a couple scarves, socks, and more. My personal stash of knitwear is at capacity--I literally can't store/regularly wear another sweater--and almost all of my close friends have something in their closet that I made them. I'd poured over Ravelry's selection of free patterns so many times that I could no longer find projects that were both challenging and aesthetically interesting. I needed to restructure my knitting by focusing on bigger and more challenging projects to reduce my overall output, or just continue making quick-ish projects for charity.


I thought learning to crochet could rejuvenate my excitement for the tactile productivity of crafting. So, one spring afternoon when I had plenty of other things to do, my fingers were itching for some needlework and I whipped out some scrap yarn, a hook, and pulled up the wonderful black hole that is the YouTube craft tutorial section. Only an hour into a stream of stitch tutorials, it took--ten years prior, I had struggled profoundly, this time around it was easy peasy. I made a few granny square swatches, but didn't start any formal projects.


This summer, I was lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. While generally engrossed in my urban sustainability coursework and travel, I didn't want to miss out on the inspiring and prolific knitting world of Scandinavia. I insisted on visiting a yarn store when in Bergen, Norway to see all of Drops' yarn in full glory, and finally visited a Copenhagen yarn store to see Ístex yarn and purchase some Danish yarn as a gift to myself. It turns out summer is the off-season (shocker!) and knitting fades to obscurity when it is nice enough to go outside and soak in some rays.



Nevertheless, I can't go a whole summer without yarn! I stopped in Søstrene Grene, a household goods store on Strøget, the famous walking street in Copenhagen, and picked out some teensy skeins of cotton yarn. I was originally thinking of making some softies, and nearly finished crocheting up a pumpkin, but ehh, I wasn't feeling it. It turns out I can go most of a summer without making anything...


A few weeks later, as I was bored, procrastinating, and subsequently, browsing through Ravelry as you do, I stumbled across this crocheted Drops doily/potholder/coaster/trivet thing. I hoped it could be a housewarming souvenir for my parents if I could make the whole thing on the plane--surely a 10 hour flight is sufficient to whip it all up?!


Almost. Between getting distracted by my first clear, day-time view of Greenland (above) and not wanting to crochet for six hours straight, I managed to complete the orange top layer and over half of the teal backing. The rest was completed in the backseat of the car on the way to a family camping trip a few days later (classic). 


All told, the pattern was a perfect skill-builder for my beginner crochet level, more more advanced crafting level considering my knitting background. I do have a critique for the pattern though: the teal backing did not sufficiently increase at the end, and by maintaining the same number of stitches for too long, it puckers a bit when connected to the top orange layer. Definitely annoying for aesthetic reasons, but doesn't deter functionality.

A pleasure to crochet! Find this project entry on Ravelry.

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

July 23, 2017

Nina's Hat | SITW Hat Series

This post is part of the Semester in the West Hat Series. Catch up on the latest hats and free patterns below. 

Kenzie | Collin | Amanda | Thomas | Maggie | Signe | Griffin | Willa | Elizabeth | Ysabel


The story behind Nina's Hat is deeper than just the hat. It is a tale of sincere friendship between two intensely curious and unapologetically true-to-self individuals, if I do say so myself. In other words, a seastar-loving, birder extraordinaire, almost-dairy science major finds a tree-hugging, sustainable urban planning-obsessed, knitwear nerd walk in a bar. When they find each other, they run out immediately, because one thing they agree on is that almost every other place is more interesting than a bar. Okay, bad joke, but let me continue...



Nina is one of those overwhelmingly inspirational humans that one can only expect to run into a few times over a lifetime. Though I happened to be directly behind Nina when we were in line to get our Whitman ID cards on the first day of first year orientation waaayyy back in August 2014, we didn't actually interact enough for her to remember my name until we were in the same WFR course last January. And while I knew a little about her, our friendship didn't begin until she took Willa and me birding at Bennington Lake on our day off during the WFR course after all three of us found out we would be in Semester in the West together. While I continue to struggle to be interested in birding, I was mesmerized by her patience, ability to teach the bare-bones basics, and unapologetic enthusiasm for the muddy, rainy trudge around an oversized puddle in the dead of winter with few birds in sight. 


I could write and write and edit and rewrite many pages about Nina's awesomeness, but I'm afraid even that would fail to accurately portray her incessant curiosity for the natural world and unwavering embodiment of her true self 24/7 and highly impressive accomplishments. During our mini-photoshoot, I figured it would fit Nina's character if she pretended to be interested in the moss on the tree, but--what was I thinking--she didn't have feign interest in one of nature's underrated wonders! Last week, she embarked on her Watson year exploring the world under a lens of disease ecology, and I can't wait to keep up with all her adventures on her blog, Natural Selections.

Nina teaching me to spin with wool from her 4-H sheep last December!

Nina's creativity in her hat design rivals Thomas's Hat. Nina was quite active in 4-H in her youth and has a more developed appreciation for woolly fiber than I--that is, from raising the sheep to shearing, skirting, and spinning--but her interest stops when it's time for the knitting and design process. So, even considering a background of sorts in fiber arts, she requested "gills" on her hat--like the underside of a mushroom #duh--instead of knowing it's called ribbing, and proposed design ideas completely outside of the typical knitwear approach. But that is why I love this project so much! Fresh ideas, like combining sheep with lightning, have been energizing for me as a knitter to mix up techniques and keep things interesting. It also pushes me to experiment, such as adding mock-bobble (baaahble?) texture to the sheep, which I think adds quite a bit of pizzazz to the already-zany hat design. 

The specs: Yarn is Drops Karisma in Dark Olive, Dark Grey, Light Grey, Navy, and White. I used US 2 and US 7 needles. I started knitting the hat during our week in Mexico and finished it when we were in the Death Valley area.


And it appears the hat is getting some use--the easiest way to make my day! The pictures below are from her blog post, "Humans Who Love Birds Who Love Cacti," documenting some her ecology adventures in the Tuscon, Arizona area. 

   

Well, Nina, your life is just one adventure on top of another. I'm glad the hat I made you gets to join in the fun sometimes, too! 💖

Nina’s Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate. Recommended experience with three-color stranding color work.
Yarn: Drops Karisma in the following colorways: 0.3 skeins Dark Olive 47 (A), 0.1 skeins Dark Grey 53 (B), 0.3 skeins Light Grey 44 (C), 1 skein Navy 17 (D), 0.2 skeins White 19 (E)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult-sized head, approx. 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 7 (4.5 mm) circular (9 in/23 cm) and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

CO 120 sts with US 2 in A. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (4 cm).
Still with A, switch to US 7 and reduce to 90 sts (*k2, k2tog* across round).
Begin working Color Chart 1, repeating each row three time per round.

To work a mock-bobble (baaahble): knit five stitches into a single stitch. Knit the first stitch without slipping the loop on the left needle off, then slip needle into the back of the same stitch and knit a stitch, again without slipping left loop off. Then knit the third stitch into the front of the stitch, the fourth in the back, and the fifth in the front, finally slipping stitch off the left needle. 
During the next row, the five stitches created from the mock-bobble will be consolidated into a single stitch via knit five together (k5tog).


Once piece measures 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) or desired length or when you reach Row 35, continue onto to decreases as written in the chart and elaborated below. All decreases are worked with Navy (D).
Round 35: *k3, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 72 sts.
Rounds 36, 38, 40, & 42: k across round.
Round 37: *k2, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 54 sts.
Round 39: *k1, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 36 sts.
Round 41: k2tog across round = 18 sts.
Round 43: k2tog across round = 9 sts.

Color Chart 1

Text Box:   - Color A (Dark Olive)
  - Color B (Dark Grey)
  - Color C (Light Grey)
  - Color D (Navy)
  - Color E (White)
  - Bobble (k 5 sts into 1 st)
  - k5tog (combine 5 sts in 1 st)
  - k2tog (k 2 sts into 1 st)
***Note: Complete all mock-bobbles with Light Grey (C). Complete each k5tog with Light Grey (C), except for the first k5tog of each repetition of the color chart in Row 12 and every k5tog in Row 13, which are to be knitted in Navy (D). Complete each k2tog (the hat decreases) with Navy (D). 

Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!

Abbreviations:
CO – cast on
pm – place stitch marker
k – knit
p – purl
yo – yarn over
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
st(s) – stich(es)

You can get this pattern as a free PDF here. Find this pattern listed on Ravelry here.

Until next time,
Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth