October 18, 2012

Can't... resist... cheap... yarn...!

Today I went after class to Value Village Thrift Store in Hyattsville. You know.... to pick up a few things. Halloween things. Necessary things. Instead I came back with yarn.

On the bright side: it's yarn, and it was a steal.
On the other hand: I already have sooo much yarn!

Nonetheless, photo op time!

my shopping loot!

they're ginormous skeins

These two skeins were $3.99 a piece, each has about 642 yards. That's roughly the size of six-and-a-half regularly-sized skeins. Need I say more?

A lot of the time when I go thrift shopping I end up with a bunch of anonymous yarns without tags or other proper identification, so it's a real treat when they have actual attached labels! These came in some bags with a few anons, I just grouped them together on my Ravelry profile. 

couldn't even find this particular one on Ravelry for some reason

Orange for Halloween (in theory)

I only spent a total of $22.17, including two sewing patterns, a beanie baby, some pumpkin candles, cat slippers, three (and a half) sets of straight acrylic needles, and seven skeins of yarn. 

So, all around a pretty successful day! 

In fact, I got so excited by my yarn photo-op that I took new Ravelry pics of many of my other yarns :)

September 27, 2012

Come on, grab your friends!

Today (or what is now technically yesterday) was my step-brother's twelfth birthday. I had been searching through Ravelry patterns with him on the couch and I found some Adventure Time patterns, he expressed interest in them and asked me to make him one for his birthday. I stored it away in my thought bank, but didn't want to tell him right then whether or not I was going to do it. I do this in part because my output of products is unreliable, and in part for the sake of the surprise. 

This show is just literally too much, but in a good way. 

Well, it was a good thing I got started early on this little Jake doll! For some reason I thought his birthday was on the 29th but in fact it was the 26th (my dad referred to it as "birthday dyslexia"). I realized this on the 25th and was glad I had finished it the day before! Christopher seemed to love it, and I made sure to get the look on his face right when he opened it.

so worth all the effort!

Some of my struggles with this project:

i-cord: I have very little experience with i-cords, and the few I have had have been shotty. Years ago I attempted a few micro-softies and failed as I got lost between the slew of needles and relative dearth of stitches, and about a year ago I successfully made an i-cord bind-off to a bikini top, and used the two-needle method to make the straps. Since then I have just made obscene amounts of hats. So, I went about this project with my Knitting Answer Book by my side. The problem I found with the two-needle method was that the very back row of stitches, where you must loop over and pull it tight as you begin to transfer it from one needle to the other, is rather loose and can change the shape of the cord (that's why Jake's arms are a bit wonky). So, I learned that "pull tight" means to pull tight!

the beginning stages Jake's legs

Also, when it was time to pull the yarn through the remaining stitches, I found the edge was unsatisfyingly loose-looking on both ends. I fixed this through some weaving in of ends, but later on I'll have to look into the ins-and-outs of i-cords and see if it was just me.

The ears: The body was easy, though joining the legs to the work and then adding the stitches between them took a bit of fandangling, it worked out just fine. But when it came to the ears, I couldn't figure out which way they were supposed to go! I wasn't sure if I had knitted the wrong side and purled the right side, because when they stood up the purl side was facing outwards. I decided, instead, to tack the ears down with some thread after I seamed the top shut, and call it a day. Looking back on it, I would probably add the ears on rather than knit them with the work and having to work my way around them.

looks like he has cauliflower ears
finished Jake before the ears were tacked

The eyes: I couldn't find any black and white felt for the life of me! I told myself I wasn't going to buy any more craft stuff as our basement is full of it, but we had every color but black and white! I decided that cloth was going to fray unless I sewed the seams shut, and all together the work would be too small to be worth it, and though I could find black buttons, nothing that resembled Jake's eyes per se, only general dog-eyes. So I began to embroider them on with some thread I found in the basement (score one for the cheap people!). Although they didn't quite turn out rounded and puppy-dog-like like Jake's , it looked better with the white pupils rather than the dark black holes staring into your soul that buttons would've given him.

I've sewn worse-looking things
Stuffing: Ok, here comes the fun part! Of course, it has a mini-backstory. You see, one of the things I love most about knitting (and generally about DIY projects) is that you save resources by not shipping and making things in masse, you can find uses for just about everything! As such, I had kept every scrap of yarn (yes, even the little end-pieces) in bags according to material type: acrylic/wool or cotton. My reasoning was, at some point I would gather enough to stuff some teddy bear or something (and then who will be laughing? My roommates who mocked me and called me a hoarder, who said I'd never find a use for such things?! No, indeed, I will be the one laughing maniacally!) Since this is the first softie project I had done in a while (like I said, i-cord, pretty annoying, yadayada) I thought it was as good a time as any to put my plan into action! So, I sorted through my wool/acrylic baggie and pulled out all of the yellow/orange scraps I could find and piled them up nicely on my bed. I then pulled the fibers apart to form single strands (wish I had taken a picture of that, it looked kinda like ramen noodles). It was during this that I realized that the longer strands were more onerous to take apart, so I cut some of the tougher yarns into smaller pieces before I shredded 'em. I then attempted to pull the fibers apart with my fingers, and it went very slowly, so I did like the monkeys and went searching for tools.

this packing tape dispenser did wonders!
I pulled and pulled like loving, yet tough, mother on her daughter's untamed mane until it suited my needs

empty Jake and the re-purposed scraps
the filling of Jake
and then I sewed him up real nice!

Final seam: for some reason I was having trouble with this, I tried out several types of stitches until I decided to go with the simple whip-stitch. I might have looked into stitches that laid flatter, but I was tired from all that fluffing! Maybe it gives him a more homemade look? As long as Christopher is happy, I'm good. 

the final product. 

Thanks so much to Rebecca Olson for making this pattern available! 

September 19, 2012

Not a Cold Head in the House!

So, I've gotten really into knitting hats. I've found that thin stripes are a great way to break up a plain stockinette beanie, and a nice way to use up the last of a yarn. I think my friends/family members have begun to suspect my gifts in advance, I've either got to get new friends or start knitting new things!

Here are a few of my favorite hats that have come off my needles since my last posting:

This is a bulky-weight yarn on about size 10.5 needles, the idea was to make it warm and quick! It's a basic 1x1 rib with a stockinette body.
I gave this one to my brother Esteban for his birthday on the 9th of September. His response was something along the lines of: "Thanks, I'll add it to the other hats you gave me."

This one is a sport weight hat, the purple-ish color is wool (Knit Picks Stroll Sport in Clematis Heather) and the blue is a cotton blend (Knit Picks' unbelievably soft Comfy Sport in Planetarium). I used size 5 needles and the stranded color technique, which happens to the only one I have really mastered. I wanted to use up the rest of the Clematis from my Hermione Hearts Ron hat, and I had a relatively limited option of sport yarns to go along with, as you can tell I ran out of purple towards the top and finished it off with the blue. I rather wish now I had given it a blue base with purple stripes, especially considering how soft the Comfy Sport is, but you live and learn!

This one is made of a yarn I got last Halloween from my friend Zach. He used it as "hair" in his Blake Henderson from Workaholics costume, and I noticed he had quite a bit left; I kindly offered to take it off of his hands, and he obliged. It is acrylic, Red Heart yarn (in Cafe Latte and Dark Brown) and was knitted with US8 circular needles. The great thing about acrylic is that it is very durable, cheap, warm, and washes well; the bad thing about acrylic is that it is rough on the hands when knitting. While as a finished piece it isn't intolerably rough, rubbing the yarn across the fingers repeatedly can verily cause some sort of sore (mine is always on the top knuckle of my right ring finger, because of the way I wrap the yarn). 
I gave this hat to my friend Richard for his birthday, on the 30th of August. It was his first hat from me and he seemed very excited. In fact, in spite of the sauna-like temperature of his house filled with party people, he wore it around for a good ten minutes before I convinced him to save it for the fall! 

I'm in the middle of knitting up another version of this hat, with even tan and brown stripes, and plan to give it to Zach as a thank you for the donation to the Carmen's-Yarn-Stock Fund. I should start making cards of some sort to further encourage this behavior. Hopefully he'll spread the word and before I know it I will be bathing in yarn!! Really, these things should be tax-deductible. 

March 8, 2012

Oh, the Knits You'll Knit!

I haven't been doing quite as much knitting as I did the past few semesters; I blame video games. But I have been able to make some nice hats to give my friends, and was able to finish my very first pair of socks (luckily, it's not the size of the sock, but the motion of the needles!). Now I have some baby stuff and no one to give it to! I'll most likely donate them to charity. The question is, which one?