23 August 2012

A Breakthrough in Blocking

I have no problems admitting i almost exclusively knit and crochet with acrylic yarn. Some of us just don't have the funds to be yarn snobs.

Besides, there are some pretty great acrylic yarns out there.

When i was still new to knitting, i tried blocking. I did. I tried it. A lot. And it never worked. It never made any sort of a difference in anything.

So i gave up.

I mean, all those strangers on the internet saying 'there's no way to block acrylic' couldn't be wrong, right?

Wrong. You were wrong, random strangers on the internet.

I decided to knit a Casu Cowl recently. I had another skein of Bernat Mosaic (in Ninja, this time), and i thought it would be great for the cowl. As i was knitting, i noticed the eyelet part of the cowl was curling a bit on the edges, but i didn't bother worrying about it. However, when i was all done knitting, i decided i should give blocking one last shot.

My sister, the doof model.

I googled blocking acrylic, and guess what. It CAN be done, and SHOULD be done. (Thank you, Bead Knitter Gallery)

I set about pulling out the iron and ironing board, some towels, and my pins. I pinned it all down while the iron heated up and when everything was ready, i steamed the crap out of the cowl. Let it sit for a while. And after i'd waited long enough, unpinned the bad boy and was amazed by what a little steam had done. It's not like the cowl had been curling in on itself and bunched up and a big, jumbled mess... but just seeing that the steam had helped that little, tiny curling problem was such a huge relief.

I set about blocking other things. Like a practice Soho Scarf i'd made some time ago from some leftover Red Heart Super Saver. While Super Saver is great for some things, it just does not have the drape that other natural fibers do. Which is why i used it for the practice scarf.

I mostly wanted to get the hang of blocking because at the time, i was working on a shawlette called Seven and Zero. I knit it with Bamboo Ewe in Sprout and Mermaid. (I cannot get enough of these two colors together right now, by the way. I find myself wearing this color combination about three out of every five days...) It's so soft, has a lovely drape, and it's affordable. Especially when you've got 40% off coupons at Jo-Ann. :)

While the shawlette looked adorable pre-blocking, all ruffly and whatnot, i was on a blocking high and had a go at it, anyway. This time, i did not steam it. Instead, i found out the best way to block Bamboo Ewe is to pin it down and spray it with tepid water.

So, i pinned it out, sprayed it, and waited. It was worth it. Again!

Colors get so washed out late at night with no natural light and a camera phone...
I've had a breakthrough, y'all.

The happy turtle was happy to model for me.

If you've been discouraged by blocking before, i encourage you to give it another shot. It's worth it. It's worth the failure because when you finally get it, it feels so. good.

11 August 2012

Gifts for Jack

My sister was here a few weeks ago, visiting one last time before flying is no longer safe for her and Jack-fetus. While she was here, we had a couple baby showers for her.

I made her some gifts because... well, i just figured she would be getting enough stuff from their registries. And, yes, okay, because i don't have money.

First, i asked anybody in the immediate family who knows how to knit if they would like to help make a baby blanket. So, my mom knit several squares, my sister-in-law knit a square, and my brother started a square but didn't have time to finish it before leaving on a trip.

At first, i decided to do mustard yellow and dark grey, and then added light yellow and light grey. Because i love how mustard and grey look together. And i thought my sister would like it, too.

But as more and more squares were being knit, i realized she probably would not like the color combo.

We nixed the greys and changed to blues.

The front.

You might notice that some squares are maybe a little larger than others. Well. That's what happens. Move on.

The back.

I was kind of surprised we finished it in time.

Oh, but wait. I needed something for the second shower. Luckily i'd already started on them... before finishing the blanket.

I already knew what the first one was going to be. I call my future nephew Jack, and he's due in October. So. I'm sure you can kind of guess where i'm going with this...

I'll give you a second. Go ahead.

Did you guess something to do with jack-o'-lantern? Good. You're right.

I crocheted baby Jack a jack-o'-lantern shirt and a pumpkin hat! Are you dying? I'm dying. I can't wait to see them on him. I just hope they fit...

But wait! There's more! Since i also sometimes call him Bowtie, and they live in Texas, and it's always hot there, i crocheted him a cotton shirt and booties and knit a hat and mittens. And the bow tie. So dapper.

Again, i am just crossing my fingers and praying all of these things fit him.

The mom with the booties.
I made the booties at a softball game. That's just how i do!

So. That's what i've made for Jack/Bowtie so far.

P.S. Here is a picture of my sister and me at the farmers market with Poopy and WeeWee. Please note that i am knitting. I am knitting Jack's mittens. Right in front of her. HA! LOKI'D! Not really. I just... really wanted to say that.

06 August 2012

My Thor Hat

First, allow me to direct you to my last post, where i have added instructions (i won't call it a pattern) for the Ninja Turtle Infinity Scarf. Because i want more people to make them so we can be ninja turtles together.

Onto Thor!

Back in May, my mom, little brother, and i were planning on seeing The Avengers together before i left to visit my sister in Texas. But i hadn't seen Thor yet, and i needed to see all of the other Avenger movies before seeing The Avengers. Because those types of things are important to me.

And if Tumblr had taught me anything at that point, it was that i was already in love with Thor and Loki and my life would not be complete until i saw Thor. For weeks beforehand, we had checked out every Red Box we could find trying to get our hands on the movie. We finally found it the night before our Avengers date.

I didn't have anything Avengers to wear to the movie, so we wore stickers from Target on our forearms like sweet, sweet tattoos. Cody's is still stuck to the dash in his car, and mine is on my journal.

After that, i told myself i was going to make something for the next time i saw the movie. And although i really wanted to make Loki's helmet... i decided i would knit something inspired by Thor's helmet instead.

Did i do that? No.

After church yesterday, my mom, sister, and i were trying to decide what to do. I looked up movie times and found out The Avengers was still playing at one of our usual theatres.


But i didn't have my Thor helmet hat. While brainstorming what to do in the next hour or so before time to go, i remembered the first hat i ever knit was grey. I decided to crochet some wings and attach them to the hat. I was sure i knew exactly where the hat was.

Wrong. When i finally gave up hope of ever finding it again, I remembered i had a couple slouches that had grey on them. One of them would have to do.

I couldn't find a wing pattern i liked, and at this point definitely did not have time to crochet anything. But i have drawers full of felt, so i settled on felt wings. Lots of settling.

I had 5 minutes before we had to leave, so i quickly cut out a couple of wings, grabbed a needle and some embroidery floss, and ran out the door. I had them mostly sewn on by the time we got to the theatre but had to finish the second one during the previews.

I look a bit Bride of Frankenstein here, don't i?

What can i say? I'm a master procrastinator.

After all the mad dashing and settling, i like how it turned out. A bit understated, super cute (let be real).

Later in the afternoon, i jokingly asked my brother if he would ever wear it. He usually answers, "Probably not." Imagine my surprise when he replied, "Yeah, probably." Well, then. Success.

Notice how my hair is a bit wet? That's because it was hot yesterday and i'd just finished a water war with my family.

I ramble a lot, don't i? If you only looked at the pictures, i'm okay with that. I probably wouldn't have read this whole long thing, either, if i were you.

03 August 2012

Ninja Turtle Infinity Scarf -- Instructions Added!

I've been avoiding blogger lately because i couldn't get my pictures to work. And it was frustrating. And i'm the kind of person who backs away from annoying things. I'd rather ignore it, clear my head, and come back to it when i'm ready.

Otherwise i get terribly frustrated and end up swearing. And crying.

Who needs that?

But it looks like the ol' puter is working with me today. Huzzah! So i will show you my Ninja Turtle Infinity Scarf -- or long cowl, or whatever you would like to call it.

I used 1 skein of Bernat Mosaic in the colorway "Optimistic". But... look at the colors. Green. Turtle. Blue, red, purple, orange. Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo.

Am i right? Or am i right?

I'm obsessed with seed stitch lately. Yes, sometimes it's annoying switching from knit to purl to knit to purl to knit to purl... but i love the way it looks, and it's enough to keep me coming back.

So. Enjoy.

I'm back. Since posting this, i have written up some instructions for making your own scarf over on Craftster... which i will now share here.

You'll need:
1 skein Bernat Mosaic in colorway Optimistic
Size US 9 29" circs

Cast on 187 stitches
K1, p1 until you are ready to bind off
Bind off in pattern

Just a note: Since this "pattern" is meant for using up one skein, with no yarn left over but a couple ends to weave in, i didn't bother with rounds. Just knit in seed stitch until you only have enough yarn left over to bind off and then bind off.

One more note: You can definitely cast on an even number of stitches, if that's your kind of thing. But when you're knitting seed stitch in the round, if you have an even number of stitches, there will be an obvious "seam" of sorts where each round ends and begins. I hope that makes sense...

Weave in ends. Wrap around your neck. Be a ninja... turtle.

If you end up making your own, please leave me a comment. I would love to see it!