Knitting, crafting, cooking, and motherhood… trying to do it all!

Posts tagged ‘addi needles’

Adding a Pocket to the Twisted Trails Sweater

The Child for All Seasons MKAL is in full swing on Ravelry! It’s never too late to join, and you can even preview the Autumn Collection before buying. Purchasing the year gets you 12 children’s patterns for one low price, released seasonally throughout the year.

This season, I have designed two of the patterns: the Trail Mix Fingerless Mitts and the Twisted Trails Hooded Sweater. Both are perfect fall knits for the little ones in your life!

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Having already knit 4 versions of the Twisted Trails, I decided to make a version with a kangaroo pocket for my godson Michael. I had never knit a kangaroo pocket, so it was a bit of a learning experience. My whole goal was to have the cables travel uninterrupted up the front of the sweater. I achieved that goal and I’m so happy with the results! Although this is not a pattern or an addition to the pattern, any adventurous knitter can use my notes to modify the pattern on their own. If you have questions, jump in on the MKAL forums and I’d be happy to answer them!

1. I began by knitting a rectangle the size that I wanted the inner pocket to be. I used a hoodie belonging to my older son as a guideline and chose to make mine approximately 8″ x 6″. I began with a provisional cast on (onto a spare needle). I also added the bright orange yarn as a lifeline since this was a technique I had not yet tried.

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2. Next I began the ribbing according to the pattern. On the first row of the main color, I knit all the stitches without beginning the cable chart set-up. Instead, when I came to the stitches that would center my pocket along the front, I lined up the needles WS together and worked k2tog with one stitch from each needle.

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3. After attaching the pocket to the ribbing, I worked the pattern as stated for approximately 1 inch to create some bottom depth for the pattern. At that point, I began working each section flat– the section that was the width of my pocket (including the cable chart) and the section that did not include the pocket. When I reached the length of the pocket, I was ready to join them together. I joined them the same way as before, lining up the needles and working k2tog or p2tog as needed. The difference was that this time I also had to cable as I was working the stitches!

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4. Once the sweater was finished, I used mattress stitch to seam the side of the sweater with the pocket rectangle, leaving the opening for the hands.

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5. Using the contrasting color (gray) and smaller needles, I picked up and knit 24 sts (a multiple of 4). I worked the same ribbing pattern as indicated for the hood ribbing. Using mattress stitch, I attached the sides to the sweater.

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6. The result was a beautiful new hoodie for my nephew’s birthday, shown here modeled by my son Adrian. I am sure this will get plenty of use all season long!

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I hope this is helpful to anyone wanting to add kangaroo pockets to their handknits. And if you haven’t already, join us as we knit our way through the year in the Child for All Seasons MKAL!

Favorite Stretchy Bind Off

In the pattern I just created, I called for the knitter to use “your favorite stretchy bind off.”  In the course of making four coordinating sweater vests, I tried a number of stretchy bind offs.  I looked through books, searched the internet, and watched YouTube videos to see what others recommended.  I tried a number of them, some of which made it only a few stitches before I ripped it out and started again.  Somewhere along the way, I found one that suited my needs quite nicely for this design.  It’s stretchier than a regular bind off, but not so much that it gets stretched out.  It has a nice even line with no extra flare (or flair!).  I have since gone back and tried to find the bind off online to find the name and give credit, but I have not had any luck.  So, I’m going to name this the Twisted Stitch Stretchy bind off, as each stitch is twisted by being worked through the back loop.  Here it is!

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Twisted Stitch Stretchy Bind Off

1. Knit the first stitch.

 

2. If the next stitch is a KNIT stitch, knit the second stitch through the back look (k tbl).  If the next stitch is a PURL stitch, purl the next stitch through the back loop (p tbl).

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3. Slip the first stitch on the right hand needle over the second stitch (like you would with a regular bind off), so you are left with a single stitch on the needle.

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4.  Continue steps 2 and 3 until you are left with one stitch.  Break yarn and pull through the last stitch.

 

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Designing a Pattern

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I had a baby in April and I finished the adult sweater for myself soon after.  It’s been almost two months since my last post, but it has been a BUSY two months.  I have a new baby who needs constant attention during the day, three additional boys (all finished with school for the summer), and a husband who was out of the country for part of the time.  To top it all off, I had surgery and spent some time recovering while family helped with the kids.

Nevertheless, hardly a day has gone by that I haven’t picked up my knitting.  In fact, I’ve been working on my largest knitting project to date… designing a pattern that will be tested, edited, and ultimately sold through ravelry.  If all goes well, it should be up by the beginning of August!  This post is to tell a little about my process.

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Before I finished my Right as Rainbow Sweater, I started looking for my next project.  As any mom of young boys knows, sweater vests are one of the most popular dress items.  Hardly a Christmas or Easter goes by that I don’t spend money on sweater vests for my boys.  This seemed like a relatively easy thing to knit, so I started searching the patterns on ravelry.  Unfortunately, the selection I found was somewhat lacking, particularly when I narrowed the fields to children’s sizes and unisex/boys.  There was a selection of vests that came from a publication but were not available for purchase online.  There were a few sloppy looking vests with uneven proportions and armhole ribbing that stuck out from the sweater.  There were girly looking vests.  There were a couple of halfway decent patterns, but there was only one I would even consider buying, and it wasn’t even sized to fit all my boys.  (I’m a sucker for matching/coordinating outfits!)

I was shocked.  How could a clothing item that is so popular in the stores and so (seemingly) easy to knit be so lacking in patterns?  Searches for “socks” or “hats” or “cardigans” give hundreds, if not thousands of results when the field is narrowed to children. My mission became clear– to knit a sweater vest that would look good and allow me to create coordinated looks for all my boys.

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I thought a lot about how to knit exactly what I wanted.  I knew I wanted to incorporate stripes and I knew I wanted it knit in the round with worsted weight yarn.  Some of the patterns I found knit the vest in several pieces and then seamed them together.  Seaming is my LEAST favorite part of knitting, so I wanted to figure out a way to seam the sweater only at the shoulders.  I scoured the internet for similar patterns and checked out books from the local library.  I made notes about elements I liked in various patterns and thought carefully about how to turn those elements into a vest.  Then I began to knit.

Having purchased a variety of colors of the Cascade Sierra yarn, I knew I wanted to incorporate lots of colors.  While the sweater for myself included various shades of blue and gray, I wanted to use different colors for the boys.  I settled on five colors: Tangerine, Deep Turquoise, Aqua, Moth, and Forest Green.  I used Excel to help visualize the pattern I wanted to create.

I began with Jonathan’s sweater, knitting a size 3T guided by a size chart I found online.  The sweater worked up quickly, but I soon realized that my original pattern was not going to look good as a final product.  I tore the rows apart and went to a more basic ABCDE pattern.

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I finished the vest (minus the ribbing) in about a week and tried it on Jonathan.  It fit, but just barely.  I became nervous that it would not fit once I completed the neck ribbing.  I wish this instinct was wrong, but unfortunately it was right.  The vest would not go over his head once the neck ribbing was complete.  Luckily I had not yet started the arm hole ribbing.  I decided to keep the top half intact so I could refer back to it and I cut the vest nearly in half along the thin green line of stitches underneath the neck opening. *sigh*

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This is what goes into designing: lots of trial and error!  I tried again, adding length, more decreases, and using a stretchy bind off.  I was holding my breath as I tried the finished product on my toddler.  It fit!  Not only that, it looked GOOD.  And I had created it.  Completely from scratch and without a pattern.  This was a HUGE moment for me!

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When it comes to crafting, I am a *bit* of a perfectionist.  Okay, I’m just a perfectionist.  And when it comes to putting out a pattern that I’ve created, I want it to be perfect.  Even though I was going to have my pattern tested, I wanted to test it myself and work out all the kinks.  So I made two more versions.  I made a size 6 for my son Adrian and a size 8 for my son Roman.  With each vest, I made little changes to help improve the quality of the pattern.  I used the same colors for all the sweaters, but used them in different band widths and different sequences.  I was surprised and pleased at how different (yet similar) they all turned out.

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After writing up the pattern, my friend Stephanie helped me photograph the boys in their vests.  We got some great shots and I spent a lot of time editing them and putting together a visually appealing pattern to send out for testing.  I sent the pattern to three different people for proofreading and feedback.  Last night I posted the pattern on ravelry to get testers.  I have two testers that have already started and I’m hoping to get 5 more.  I’m so proud of this pattern and proud that I was able to knit such stylish looks for my boys.  It is frustrating to me that so many of the adorable knitting patterns available are only for girls, so I am excited to contribute one for the boys.  Of course, this pattern would also look adorable on a girl.  I will list it as a unisex pattern, but I’m keeping my title: Band of Brothers Sweater Vest.

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Knitting Socks for a Giant

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Okay, I didn’t actually knit socks for a giant, but with the size of my feet, I might as well have.  I wear a women’s size 11 shoe… a size that’s hard to find in most stores.  Needless to say, the “one size fits all” socks they sell do not fit me very well at all.  Even if they go on my foot, they tend to get holes in the toes before the end of the season due to being stretched too thin.  These reasons of course played into my decision to knit myself a pair of socks, but the main reason was that I felt it would be a tremendous achievement if I could actually do it.  I would use tiny knitting needles (size 1.5) and sock weight yarn, which is very thin.  If I could complete an entire project with these materials and have a pair of socks that actually fit my feet, I would consider that quite the accomplishment.

I scoured the patterns on ravelry, and finally found one that listed an XL women’s pattern along with a lovely design.  Click here to see Sarah Ronchetti’s Basket Weave Rib Socks pattern.  After I had decided upon a pattern, I went to the yarn store in town to pick up some specialty sock yarn.  If I was going to devote the time to this project, I wanted to invest in quality yarn.  I found a great wool/silk blend that combined varying shades of blue and green.  I debated whether or not this would make the socks too “busy” (since they already used the basket weave pattern), but after consulting with the lady at the yarn store, I decided it would work fine.  I also invested in a pair of high-quality circular knitting needles, the addi lace knitting needles (size 1.5), so I could make the socks by using the Magic Loop method.  Once again, I felt it was worth the investment in the project to buy something that would be easy to use for a challenging project.

I began creating the first sock and realized immediately this was no small task.  The first inch of ribbing used about a thousand stitches, and that was only the beginning!  Once I got into the pattern, I was frequently confused about where I was and what row I was doing.  It’s not a very complicated pattern, but I was so new to knitting and the stitches were so small that I found it to be quite a challenge.  Here is a close up of the pattern as it began to unfold:

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Because I had created the worsted weight newborn socks, I had some experience with knitting the parts of the sock, which proved to be very helpful.  I did not experience any difficulties while creating the heel, turning the heel, or knitting the gusset.  I grew to have a love/hate relationship with the socks.  While I absolutely HATED how long it seemed to take, I absolutely LOVED the pattern that emerged from the tiny little stitches.  While in the process of knitting the first sock, I took several breaks to work on other projects.  Thus, the entire sock probably took about 10 days-2 weeks.  When I finished it, I seriously considered alternatives to finishing the pair (could I start a one sock trend? match it with another sock I already owned? cut off my other foot?).  I took a week off and then decided I actually missed using those tiny needles and experiencing the beauty that unfolded from the creation of those little stitches.  I decided to power through and finish the pair.

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The second sock I created had a slightly different pattern due to the variegated yarn.  I enjoyed watching the new pattern emerge and I found that things went more quickly with the second sock as I had a better handle on the pattern.  Certainly not quick, but at least faster than before!  These are, without a doubt, the most expensive, time-intensive socks I have ever owned.  They fit nicely, though, and they’re both soft and warm.  I love to look at them and friends who have knit socks promise that they will last a long time.  And, after the exhausting (but rewarding) experience, I’m actually considering making another pair!