April 11, 2017

Golden California Wall Hanging

When my grandmother died a couple summers ago, I inherited a lot of her sewing stuff. That's why my bedroom sometimes looks more like a sewing studio than a bedroom. Among the lovely fabrics, threads, buttons, beads, quilting accessories, sewing machine, and cabinet that was passed down, I also got a serger and an embroidery attachment to her Bernina sewing machine. I did not know how to use either, and so I resolved to learn how to use at least one of these tools over each of the subsequent summers until I knew how to use everything. And I was successful! In the summer of 2015, I took a three-day class to learn how to use the serger, and last summer, I pored over the embroidery attachment user manual to try to make sense of the contraption. 

Learning how to use the embroidery attachment was not the most intuitive thing. It doesn't help when the model is from 1999, depends on miniature floppy disks for embroidery pattern storage, and predates most relevant information about machine embroidery available on the internet. But I have literally thousands of spools of fancy embroidery thread in my room that won't be usable forever, so dammit, I need to learn to use these resources while they are available to me!

This wall hanging is my first substantial machine embroidery project. As such, it was a Christmas gift for my parents (thus "M & J") who tend to look past novice efforts of "loving hands at home" and enjoy homemade gifts. While these three pieces are not the very first things I embroidered, one peek at any of these close-ups conveys to any experienced embroiderer that I am still getting my bearings. While it seems machine embroidery should be fairly uncomplicated--just select the pattern, locate the thread colors, load up the fabric with a stabilizer, and #gaspedal until it's time to change threads--the degree of mechanization in this machine is still daunting. I feel like I am overseeing a power plant where I can't intervene until it's too late. Which means preventing fabric puckering is an art I have not yet figured out. 

Embroidery in action!

Another struggle is in the limitation of design options. There are about sixty designs that come into the machine, and I have about five mini floppy disks of designs my grandmother purchased, with the themes of "fruit still life," "magical kingdom," "furry monsters," "pets," "bugs," and "creatures of the rain forest and ocean." I recognize several of the patterns from embroidered bath towels, pillows, and skirts she made for my sister and me, but many of these are not super applicable to the designs I as a young adult might yearn for. I think there's also some software that I can use to design my own patterns (I even brought back my grandmother's computer loaded with Windows 1997 to use), but I haven't figured that out. I guess that's next summer's project.

After I made the first design, I struggled to find other nature-inspired designs that would fit thematically with a three-part wall hanging, but decided that a monarch butterfly and bluebirds could do the part. The wall hanging presents well as one piece because of the predominant use of complimentary shades of blue and orange in the embroidery and surrounding sashing and border.

For the back, I used one of Grandma's old stash fabrics of fireworks. The fabric has the texture and stiffness of cardboard, but it serves well for this function! I quilted in the ditches of the panels for pure functionality, no decorative quilting this time. 

Unlike the first wall hanging I gave to my parents for their 20th anniversary a few years ago, this wall hanging isn't folded and stored in a closet! It's hanging in my parents' bathroom :) So that's cool.

Until next time,

Happy Crafting!!

March 30, 2017

Afmæli Sweater | 4th Annual Summer Sweater

Now that spring is in the air and winter is finally over, I've got a sweater to share! I am quite stoked to share one of my favorite projects ever. Introducing Afmæli, my fourth annual summer sweater!

Just like last year, I've had to wait quite a while to share the knitterly focus of last summer. Perhaps the tradition has turned into knitting sweaters in the summer and waiting for the spring equinox to share them! I hope not. 

I'll spare loquacious details and excuses, but yes, I did actually knit this sweater last July and August. Ever since I saw the free pattern on Ravelry by Ístex, an Icelandic lopi yarn company, I dreamed of knitting this sweater as my magnum opus of my teen knitting career. While not technically challenging, the indulgent color work shattered my $40 per sweater budget. I also had a hard time justifying so much wasted yarn and half-used skeins from this project.

Luckily, by the time I was ready to purchase materials for the project, I was also preparing for my colorful Semester in the West hat project. I decided to kill purchase two birds with one stone by buying the same yarn for the hats and this sweater. In a way it was really three birds, because all the yarn was on sale, too! I bought DROPS Lima yarn for Afmæli, a wool-alpaca blend, and DROPS Karisma Superwash, a superwash wool, for the SITW hats. While the two yarns aren't identical by fiber, they are still the same color intensity and gauge; I can vouch that my fellow Westies couldn't tell the difference! Needles used are US 4 and US 7.

I knitted everything but the yoke while inhabiting the backseat of a car during a family road trip to the northern Rockies. I'm still keeping up my backcountry and seat-of-a-moving-vehicle niche knitting! This sweater was knitted in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, and California--four American states and two Canadian provinces! Of course, the pattern designed is from Iceland, I bought the yarn from a Norwegian company, and the actual yarn was made in Peru. A global sweater indeed!

As far as modifications, I changed the neckline because I am not a fan of turtlenecks (also I didn't have enough yarn). I decided to try a new technique and do an i-cord bind-off. As a result, the neck hole is barely sufficient to get my head through. And that was after reknitting the i-cord as loosely as I could! If I ever knit this sweater again, I'll probably cut out one or two of the last rows to limit possibilities of choking or having the sweater stuck on me for eternity.

All in all, I love everything about this sweater--knitting it up, wearing it proudly, and the rainbow color scheme, however abstract. It's also scrumptiously warm.

Now to plan for the 5th annual summer sweater...

Happy Crafting!!

Find this project on Ravelry

February 10, 2017

Willa'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

It's time for another Semester in the West hat pattern! And perfect timing too--this winter has been one for the books. Class was cancelled yesterday due to a freezing rain storm that coated everything with an inch of ice. Walla Walla has also faced sub-zero temperatures and two straight months of snow on the ground; meanwhile, California has had drought-shattering rains and a bursting snowpack in the mountains. These photos were taken on top of Bennington Lake in Walla Walla, the first time I've seen it completely frozen over!! Brrrr.

Cold and wintry as it might be right now, I knitted Willa's hat in the dry sunshine of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. While I was normally able to whip out a Westie hat within a week after it was designed, Willa's hat took me a lot longer, sucking up nearly the entirety of October, from Comb Ridge, Utah to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM. It wasn't the design as much as the timing -- we had transitioned from the frigid skies of Montana and South Dakota to the arid Colorado Plateau desert, and suddenly my inclination to work with wool was gone. Additionally, during our time in Arizona, I suffered a rough ankle sprain that drained my creative energy to do more than I had to for a few weeks -- four whole months later, I'm finally starting to return to running, (that is, once the snow finally melts).

Fortunately, Willa was very understanding of the longer-than-usual timeline and was plenty excited when her adorable "not crazy" squirrels and acorns design was finished and ready to wear. Though it's hard to tell from the photos, I ran out of purple yarn halfway through the decreases on the top of the hat and, left with no other option, I finished the decreases with a bit of yellow and then a bit of black, creating a bullseye motif on the top that Willa wants me to say is "totally intentional." Why not add a bit of pizzazz when you can get away with it?! 

I used US 2 and US 6 needles, and the yarn is Drops Karisma in Dark Purple, Light Grey, and Dark Grey, and Drops Lima in Goldenrod. Next time, I would replace the dark grey with a color with more contrast against the purple, or use a lighter shade of purple. My backcountry yarn stash wasn't perfectly accoutered for this task, but at least it gets the idea across!

Willa’s Hat Pattern
Difficulty: Intermediate, recommend experience in stranded colorwork
Yarn: 1 skein/50 g Drops Karisma in Dark Purple 76 (A) 0.25 skeins Drops Karisma in Light Grey 44 (B), 0.1 skeins Drops Karisma in Dark Mustard 52 (C), 0.1 skein Drops Karisma in Dark Grey 53* (D)
Alternative with Drops Lima (same yardage): A - Dark Purple 4377, B - Light Grey 9010, C - Goldenrod 2923, D - Brown 5610
*Black on dark purple doesn't show up well, as depicted in the sample photo. For better contrast, substitute black with a chestnut/acorn brown. 
Gauge: 21 sts and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in St st
Finished Size: Fits most adult-sized heads, 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) length
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) dp and 9 in (23 cm) circular needles
Other Materials Needed: ruler, yarn needle, stitch marker

CO 112 sts with US 2 and A. Connect in the round and pm to mark start and end of round. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (4 cm).

Switch to US 6, still with A, and decrease 14 sts evenly around round (*k6, k2tog* across) = 98 sts. This is row 1 of color chart. Continue working color chart, repeating chart seven time for each round.

Purple = Color A; Grey = Color B; Yellow = Color C, Black = Color D
[ / ] = K2tog; [X] = No Stitch
Continue with decreases, starting with round 33. Switch to dp needles when desired. Decreases are elaborated in written form below: 

Round 33: *k2tog A, k5D,* repeat * to * across round = 84 sts.
Round 34: k2A, *k3D, k3A,* repeat * to *, ending with k3D, k1A.
Round 35: *k2tog A, k1A, k1D, k2A,* repeat * to * = 70 sts.
Rounds 36, 38, 40, 42, & 44: K across round with A.
Round 37: *k2tog A, k3A,* repeat * to * across round = 58 sts.
Round 39: *k2tog A, k2A,* repeat * to * across round = 42 sts.
Round 41: *k2tog A, k1A* repeat * to * across round = 28 sts.
Round 43: k2tog A across round = 14 sts.
Round 45: k2tog A across round = 7 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!

k - knit
p - purl
CO - cast on
pm - place marker
k2tog - k two sts together in the back loops
k1A - k one st with color A
dp - douple-pointed needles
st(s) - stitch(es)
St st - stockinette stitch

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

Stay warm,
Happy Crafting!!

January 29, 2017

Women's March Pussy Hat

Last Saturday was the Women's March in Washington, D.C., as well as hundreds of accompanying sister marches marches around the nation and world. I attended the march in Walla Walla, WA. Though a small town of 31,000 in a conservative area, 2,500 people came to march, which is the largest protest in Walla Walla's history

One of the most exciting parts of this  event was the associated "craftivism" by the Pussyhat Project to hand knit pink pussy hats to wear in solidarity. (Later, patterns to crochet and sew hats also came out.) I would never miss out on such a knitterly opportunity, and I happened to have a skein of pink yarn leftover from my Semester in the West hat project. So the night before, I knitted one up real quick. 

During the march, I was blown away by the number of pink hats in the crowd. Different yarns, gauges, and types of fabric abounded, nearly as diverse as the people who participated. It was awesome.

I knitted the hat in the round instead of following the official pattern. I used DROPS Karisma Superwash in Dark Pink 13 with size 4 needles for the brim, size 6 for the body. It felt weird to not shape the hat at the top, but the little ears are very cute. I grafted the top together, which was slow but it worked! Also, one skein/50 g is not quiiiite enough yarn for a full hat, but that was all I had, so it's just a little short. 

This post is all about the selfies and phone-typed post. I'm computer-less for the moment but I'll have lots of posts to share once that status changes in a little bit! 

In the time being, stay warm, dry, and keep up the craftivism. The world needs it. 

Happy Crafting!!

December 16, 2016

Griffin'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

My semester in the West has ended, but the hats keep coming! I managed to finish 11 hats during the semester (which I am still typing up, hence sharing only hat #7 right now), and I have a few more IOU's still to make. 

My seventh hat of the trip is for Griffin! Griffin, also known as Griffdawg, Gryffindor, Trackstar, and a plethora of other nicknames, was my fellow trash queen and was also on my cook crew, Goodner and the Vegetarians. We didn't know each other at all at the beginning of this program, and now we have a solid collection of inside jokes. #friendship 😊

And now, about the hat-- Griffin decided to opt for the more abundant design options on Ravelry instead of the 16-page booklet of color pattern ideas I brought. He chose The Easy Ombre Slouch Hat by Paul S Neary, which I modified a bit to add a pompom and adjust the fitting (see mods below for specifics). I used Drops Lima in Petrol 701 and Drops Karisma in Light Grey 44, needles were US 2 and US 6.

I knitted the hat as we drove from Castle Valley, Utah to Kane Ranch, Arizona, near Kaibab National Forest. This marked the part of the trip where we were mostly in deserts, with accompanying warm temperatures that lowered my enthusiasm for working with wool and knitting hats, thus slowing down my pace. 

Pictures are from northern New Mexico's Carson National Forest. 

  • With US 2 and main color (petrol), CO 120 sts and work *K2, P2* ribbing for 1.5 inches (3.5 cm).
  • Switch to US 6 and decrease down to 100 sts (*K4, k2tog* across) for St st and following color pattern.
  • Work decreases once piece measures 7-7.5 inches (17.5-19 cm):
    • Row 1: *K4, k2tog* across row = 80 sts.
    • Row 2 and all even rows: K across, no change in st count.
    • Row 3: *K3, k2tog* across row = 64 sts.
    • Row 5: *K2, k2tog* across row = 48 sts.
    • Row 7: *K1, k2tog* across row = 32 sts.
    • Row 9: K2tog across row = 16 sts.
    • Row 11: K2tog across row = 8 sts.
  • After weaving in yarn ends, work pompom: With a strand of both yarns at the same time, wrap around outstretched fingers until a sizable amount of yarn is wrapped, then break off yarn. Cut a piece of yarn and tie a tight double knot around the middle of the yarn bundle. With scissors, cut the loops on either end, fluff up into a circular pompom, and trim to size. Then attach pompom to hat via the strand tied around the middle of pompom. Consult this YouTube video for more assistance. 
You can view my project on Ravelry here.

More Semester in the West hats, holiday projects, and others to come!

Good luck with finals to everyone still in misery school, season's greetings, stay warm, and good luck to all still scrambling on their holiday gift projects (I have yet to start mine...eep)!

Happy Crafting!!

November 13, 2016

Signe'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

It's time to share another hat! My sixth hat is for Signe. Signe is a fellow environmental sociology major, great running partner, and a fun goofy person that makes every day on this program an adventure.

Signe is also an aspiring elf and certified Christmas lover, so it's fitting that she requested the most Christmas-like design yet. This snowflake is a modern spin on the traditional Nordic snowflake. "Christmas in July" is a common saying in crafting circles; "Christmas in September"--when this hat was designed and completed--isn't even questionable. And now in November, it's expected--stores are already offering free gift-wrapping and the candy now has Christmas trees on the packaging. 

I knitted Signe's hat as we drove through Wyoming to Utah. I started it in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, outside of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, continued working on it  around various places in the Fishlake National Forest of south-central Utah, and finished the hat while in Castle Valley, Utah, where these photos were taken. 

The yarn is Drops Karisma in Red and White, and Drops Lima in Goldenrod. I used US 2 and US 6 needles. 

A word to knitters about color work technique: For Signe's hat, I tried something new. Instead of the traditional stranding with yellow by dragging the yarn behind, I cut four different strands and kept them locally sourced to the yellow accessory by the snowflakes. I'm still unsure as to whether this technique is a better alternative, given that the yellow parts aren't interwoven as seamlessly this way, but it certainly is an option and a great way to avoid juggling three-color stranding rows.

Enjoy the free hat pattern below!

Signe’s Hat Pattern
Difficulty: Intermediate
Yarn: 1 skein Drops Karisma Red 48 (A), 0.5 skein Drops Karisma White 19 (B), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Goldenrod 2923 (C)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 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 (3.5 cm).

Switch to US 6 and work first round of color chart with B, while simultaneously decreasing 24 sts evenly around round (*K4, k2tog*) = 105 sts. Continue working color chart, repeating chart four times for each round.

Continue with decreases, starting with round 38. Switch to dp needles when desired. 

Decreases are elaborated in written form below:
Round 38: *k2A, k1B, k1A, k2tog* across round = 80 sts.
Rounds 39, 41, 43, 45, & 47: K across round with A.
Round 40: *k3A, k2tog* across round = 64 sts.
Round 42: *k2A, k2tog* across round = 48 sts.
Round 44: *k1A, k2tog* across round = 32 sts.
Round 46: k2tog across round with A = 16 sts.
Round 48: k2tog across round with A = 8 sts.

Red = Color A; Grey = Color B; Yellow = Color C
[ / ] = K2tog; [X] = No Stitch
After completing color chart, eight sts remain. Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle, pass through remaining sts, and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!

k – knit
p – purl
CO – cast on
pm – place marker
st(s) – stitch(es)

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

Until next time,
Happy Crafting!!

November 4, 2016

Maggie'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.

Though it has been a few weeks since I've updated the SITW hat project, I am keeping a much better pace in real life. But this is my favorite hat so far, a fair-isle gnomes hat for Maggie! I knitted this hat whilst driving across Wyoming from our time at the Pine Ridge Reservation and a stop in Gillette, energy capital of the country and the heart of the coal mining in the Powder River Basin.  

Maggie's hat was an absolute pleasure to design and knit, and it was done in a mere two days. Instead of a brim, there's a braid that can be rolled up just like Amanda's Hat. Photos are taken from our glorious camp at Whiskey Basin Wildlife Habitat Management Area, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The yarn is Drops Karisma in Dark Grey, Red, Light Grey, and White, and Drops Lima in Grey Blue and Green. I used US 4 and 6 needles, as well as a size G crochet hook (read: single US 6 double-pointed knitting needle). 

It's always great to see this hat being worn around camp. To me, the colors and design is very cheerful and happy, perfectly fitting Maggie's smiley persona.

Maggie’s Hat Pattern
Difficulty: Intermediate
Yarn: 1 skein Drops Karisma Dark Grey 53 (A), 0.3 skein Drops Karisma Red 48 (B), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Grey Blue 6235 (C), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Green 205m (D), 0.1 skein Drops Karisma Light Grey 44 (E), 0.1 skein Drops Karisma White 19 (F)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult head, 7 in (18 cm) length
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) dp or 9 in (23 cm) circular needles, US 6 (4 mm) dp and 9 in (23 cm) circular needles
Other Materials Needed: ruler, darning needle, stitch marker, size G crochet hook

With US 4 and A, CO 96 sts using provisional cast on. Connect in the round and pm to mark end of round. K all for 5 rounds.

Switch to US 6 and work color chart, repeating chart four times per round.

Dark Grey = Color A; Red = Color B; Grey Blue = Color C;
Green = Color D; Grey = Color E; White = Color F

When color chart is complete, continue knitting with A until piece measures 7 in (18 cm) or desired length. Then work decreases:

Row 1: *K4, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 80 sts.
Row 2 and all even rows: K across.
Row 3: *K3, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 64 sts.
Row 5: *K2, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 48 sts.
Row 7: *K1, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 32 sts.
Row 9: K2tog across round = 16 sts.
Row 11: K2tog across round = 8 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.

Work bottom braid. Using the crochet hook and A, undo provisional cast on and work one round of single crochet around hat base. Then work "braid stitch" with a strand of A and B, treating them as if there were only one strand. Slide hook through work, wrap yarn, and pass bottom two loops over top loop. Work "braid stitch" around the base for one round, then tuck in yarn ends. 

Block if desired and enjoy!

k – knit
CO – cast on
pm – place marker
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
dp – double-pointed needles
st(s) – stich(es)

You can access a free PDF of this pattern here. You can access this pattern on Ravelry here.


Happy Crafting!!