I like to make things. I especially like to make unique things when it involves a certain amount of math. At some point, I decided that a nice gift for my Steven Universe-loving boyfriend would be a stuffed toy of the main character. So, I bought a pink button and some flesh-colored cotton yarn (I had all the other colors already) and set to work. Steven Universe is a short chubby child with a rose quartz in his belly button. Unfortunately, due to my lack of planning and/or knowing what I was really doing, the toy ended up looking more creepy than cute, partially because it was too tall and thin.
Because I wanted my stuffed Steven to have a 3-D belly gem (hence the button purchase) I knew that his shirt would have to be able to be lifted. Of course, that would be weird if his legs were just pants colored (or so I thought) so I ended up doing more work than necessary, crocheting a sort of naked doll then adding clothes in a way that they cannot actually be removed.
I started with a foot, which I decreased into a leg then made a second, identical one. On each foot, I sewed a red flip-flop, which was not as easy as I thought it would be, so that came out kind of weird looking – the first of many weirdnesses I would have on this project. Also, this was the start of my shape problem, I made the legs too long and tried to do everything else to scale. Then, I stuffed both legs, joined them together, and crocheted around the belly for a bit. This made Steven’s lower half almost complete.
In order to make the pants in a way that would never fall down, I started them at the waist by chain stitching around with blue yarn then working downward off of that waistband. Until I got to the point where the legs split, it looked like a pair of legs in a miniskirt, which I admit was pretty odd. Anyway, it was pretty much the opposite of the process I used to make the legs. A little before the feet, I switched to lighter color blue in order to represent cuffs. Also, I sewed the pink button onto the midsection to act as Steven’s gem.
I continued crocheting around to make the torso, turning the work to go back and forth in order to leave holes at each arm socket, then I picked up stitches around each armhole and worked from there to create limbs which ended in little balls for hands – I was not going to even try fingers!
I made the shirt separately using a similar process as for the torso but a little bigger so that it would fit over what I had already made. Then, I stitched a yellow star freehand and filled it in with an awkwardly executed satin stitch. The shirt had to be put on the doll before the head was crocheted because I did not allow for stretch in the neckline. I forced the arms and neck stub through the shirt holes then started work on the head.
The head was another place I went wrong, I think. I did the ears and nose as part of the same piece as the head then embroidered on the eyes and mouth. I tried to make the pupils stars, like Steven gets when he is excited. I was not able to execute that particularly well. It was the hair, though, which was the hardest thing to tackle.
Like with the pants, I attached the black yarn for hair by using a chain stitch along the edges of the head then I did some varying cluster stitches for Steven’s curls. That was the real problem with the hair. There are a couple of big lumps and some other parts that sort of dip in. At the end of the exercise though, the head was totally covered in hair, which was the main goal. So, in the end, my crocheted Steven Universe may have turned out more creepy than cute, but I am still reasonable pleased – I think I learned something from the whole process.
When I was shopping for Halloween costume material, I decided on a whim to make trick or treat bags for my niece and nephew. A quick google search resulted in a plethora of options from which I could choose. After reading through a few of them, I decided to try the tutorial by Sweet Bee Buzzings for a simple one yard tote. I bought some Halloween-themed fabric (jack-o-lanterns for the toddler to be dressed as one and bats for the little boy who requested a bat costume when I was unsure I could make a kangaroo) and went to work. The bags were cheap and easy to make and turned out reasonably well. What I did not consider is the relative size of the bags to the children. Both of them would find the strap length ridiculous and the little one would definitely drag hers on the ground; she might even be able to fit in it if she tried – she is pretty small! The kangaroo costume I made also ended up being too big (and itchy somehow even though I lined it with cotton) so I did not do too well this Halloween. Still – one bag got used (cleverly knotted up to fix the long strap problem and I fell in love with the idea of the one yard tote bag. (A note on the pictures – the bags are the same size, I just folded the pumpkin one in a funny manner.)
I decided to make a bag with this pattern for my great aunt and found that when I cut a chunk off of the straps, that portion could be used to make a cute little pocket (the tutorial creator suggests making a coin purse). Also, for this bag, I got some hook and loop fastener (generic Velcro) and sewed it along the top. I think it turned out pretty well although apparently, I neglected to take a photo of it. After that success, I thought it would be a good craft to make in bulk. I have six employees plus two co-workers in the department and it seems like an easy thing to make as a nice little holiday gift, especially if I bake some cookies to go inside (well, not directly inside). It remains to be seen whether I will feel up to baking cookies that I cannot eat but I did buy a star shaped cookie cutter in case I decide to go through with it.
Also, to be honest, I needed a project after I finished the quilt for my cousin-nephew. This is easy enough to do while watching TV so I used my Brother sewing machine which is less loud (although also less good when it comes to stitch quality). I bought a yard each of nine fabrics (one extra, just in case – I am sure I will find a recipient). The fabric is all from Jo-Ann’s Quilter’s Showcase collection, which is pretty cheap – especially when on sale. The fabric quality varies some. It is not actually a very nice quilting cotton although some is soft enough, other prints feel stiff even after being washed, which is fine for a bag but less desirable for a garment or a quilt.
I also used the quantity I am making as an excuse to buy new iron-on labels. This is partially because I know I am running low on the ones I bought the past and partially because I cannot find those anyway. I ordered a set from It’s Mine Labels, a company with which I have been pleased before. I like that they make iron-on labels because it is way less of a pain in the proverbial butt to do that than to sew them on by hand and bury the threads. On the other hand, iron-ons do not work well for knitwear so I guess I have to keep getting both kinds. In the past, I have ordered labels with an icon (yarn or thread or something) but that takes up space I need for my full name so I went with text only this time. Yes – the font is Comic Sans, I know it is overused but I am okay with it. The labels arrived after only a few days and I was about to iron one onto my aunt’s bag when I noticed the typo.
My first assumption (stereotypical female that I am) was that I had made an error when ordering the labels. After finding my confirmation and verifying that I had not, I contacted the company to report the problem. They fixed it and got me new labels with the right spelling in another couple of days. I was pretty impressed with both their speed and their customer service. I should have thrown away the typo set but a part of me thought “hey, maybe I will be able to use these someday”. It was not a bright idea. I guess I could theoretically cut them all in half and discard the misspelling but that seems like a lot of work and I don’t know what I would do with labels with just my name – iron them into my underwear like I am going to sleepaway camp? Of course, inevitably, I accidentally ironed the bad labels into my first few bags and had to work to get them off so I could replace them with the good ones. I should not admit this but I still have not thrown out the bad labels (with the exception of the ones I inadvertently used). I am such a hoarder – it is a real problem with an apartment the size of mine.
I am now going to document my bag creation process step-by-step. Like I said, I used the tutorial from Sweet Bee Buzzings, which is great (all credit goes to the blogger) but I made a few changes – some for better some for worse. I used a lot of zigzag stitching as a sort of simple decorative stitch. Also, I totally eliminated hand sewing the hole partially due to laziness and partially due to a probably misguided desire for stability. The bags are theoretically reversible, so the pocket can be on the inside or outside although the zigzag along the bottom doesn’t quite line up with the seam on the non-pocket side. Also, I did not pay attention to directionality as well as I should have when cutting the fabric, so a couple of them have upside-down insides. The pockets made with directional fabric are more up and down, like they are supposed to hold a phone than the other kind. The pictures were taken of various bags in process so it is a mish-mash of colors. Anyway, now that I have talked (typed) excessively, here is my step-by-step process. Not every step has a picture but some steps have many – I took too many pictures. Some of this stuff can be done in a slightly different order but this is how I accomplished it, using batch processing. FYI, my seam allowances are all about 1/2″ or whatever the distance is from my needle to the edge of my presser foot.
Buy fabric (one yard for each bag) and thread if you need to (I decided to use white for everything and only selected fabrics that contained white for matching purposes). This is, of course, the most fun step because it involves going to the fabric store but I guess you could shop in your stash instead.
Wash fabric. I don’t use detergent when pre-washing my fabric unless I am just throwing it in with my laundry, which I do often but this time, I ran a load of just cotton fabric on hot with no detergent.
Iron fabric. I never iron my clothes – they are consistently wrinkled and terrible looking but I iron a lot when I sew because it is important to have things lie flat.
Fold fabric. Fold each yard of fabric in half lengthwise then in half widthwise (or the in the other order – it doesn’t really matter). Make sure the selvage edges line up although the corners and cut edges may not, depending on how well the person at the fabric store cut in a straight line.
Cut fabric. This is where sub-steps start to come in because there are multiple cuts to be made.
Trim bag pieces, removing all frayed and/or uneven edges by cutting a straight line perpendicular to the adjacent edge. You can leave selvages (unless they are frayed) and folds for now.
Cut a straight line 5 inches away from the selvages.
Unfold handles. There will still be 2 layers because there are 2 handles.
Cut pocket. Cut 6″ from one end of the handles.
Trim folds perpendicular to cut edges.
Rearrange fabric if necessary. Because of the way you folded the fabric, two of the panels will be upside down if you have directional fabric. If the design has 180° rotational symmetry (or a reasonable facsimile of it) you do not have to do this step.
Cut corners. These will be the BOTTOM corners after you have aligned the fabric as needed above. You can mark 2″ squares and cut them with scissors but I like to use my rotary cutter to get up close to 2″ then just finish them off by snipping with scissors.
Fold in half lengthwise.
Iron to make a crease.
Open, then fold each side in to meet the crease. It is better to be a little shy of the center crease than to go over it. Theoretically, you would match it up exactly but I never manage to do that.
Iron new creases.
Fold along first crease.
Sew handle along edges with a zigzag stitch.
Sew handle along fold with a zigzag stitch.
Repeat for second handle piece.
Pin pocket pieces with right sides together.
Sew along 3 sides only. The side left open may be any one EXCEPT the top. The bottom or either side is acceptable. Note the direction of the fabric when determining which edge will be the top.
Trim corners of pocket.
Turn pocket and poke out corners as much as possible.
Fold unsewn edges inside of pocket.
Pin pocket to one panel of the bag. If the fabric is directional, make sure it faces the right way. Center the pocket side to side. The height of the pocket does not matter so much, I made all of mine the same but that is just because I was being a one lady sweatshop.
Sew around 3 sides of the pocket using a zigzag stitch centered at the edge of the fabric. Do NOT sew across the top – that would close the pocket off and make it pointless!
Iron in a label (if you have such things) – at least that is what I did at this point. I figured inside the pocket was a reasonable place to put my name so that it doesn’t stand out too much.
Pin bag panels with right sides together and (obviously) corner cutouts matching up. Do this 2 times (for the outside and for the lining).
Outside of bag
NOTE: I put the pocket on the outside. For an inner pocket, just use the non-pocketed panels for this step.
Sew along 2 sides which have a single cut corner each.
Sew part of the way along the bottom side, leave a gap (3 – 6 inches, depending on how hard you want to work to turn the finished product inside out.
Do NOT sew along the intact side – that will be the top of the bag.
Lining of bag
Sew along 3 sides which have cut corners.
Do NOT sew along the intact side – that will be the top of the bag.
Both Outside & Lining
Iron seams open. I used a little ironing board designed for sleeves. That is just as well because I don’t know if I have ever actually ironed a sleeve.
Open up the bag and pin the corners together with the right sides together, matching the seams.
Sew the corners (2 per side – 4 total).
Iron the corner seams down. They can’t be pressed flat without cutting so I like to press them toward the bottom on the outside of the bag and toward the sides on the lining of the bag.
Turn the outside (or the lining if you are doing an inner pocket) right side out.
Pin a handle to the outside, equidistant from the pocket, which is convenient centering tool. I like to do it one handle width away, mostly because it is a consistent relative measurement for which I have a tool on hand – the handle for the other side! (Okay, I used a different handle to be able to see better but that is not really necessary.
Verify, when pinning the second end of the handle that it is not twisted.
Turn the outside over and make sure it is lying flat and folded at the seams.
Pin the second handle to the back of the bag, matching it up with the front handle and making sure it is not twisted.
Sew the handles to the bag in four places, using a seam allowance slightly smaller than you are using everywhere else on the bag (mine was about 3/8″). Be careful not to sew the tops together – there are four individual seams here!
Place the outside of the bag INSIDE the lining so that the right sides are facing each other and the handles are fully contained between the layers.
Pin the outside to the lining all around the top of the bag, making sure that no parts of the handles are caught except in the four locations where they were sewn on.
Sew around the top of the bag, again making sure that nothing is being sewn together that should not be (not that I made that mistake at some point and learned the hard way about this by having to use a seam ripper to free one handle).
Turn bag right side out by reaching through the hole left in the outside of the bag and pulling out what seems like the innards. I think it is easiest to grab the handles and pull them out first, the rest of the bag just sort of follows then.
Tuck the lining of the bag into the outside.
Iron the new seam along the top so it is nice and flat.
Sew a zigzag stitch around the top edge.
Pin the bottom so that the gap is closed and lines up with the seam on the inside.
Sew a zigzag stitch along the bottom seams. This is why I put the gap on the outside, so I can line up the stitching with the gap – I never get it looking quite right on the other side.
I find the most fun part of quilting to be the planning stage. My mother refers to it as “projecting” (like project, the noun, plus -ing, not projecting like to display something to speak loudly when on stage).
Anyway, I like figuring out how a quilt can go together; what measurements to make each piece in order to create a finished product that will fit with the batting that I probably already bought. I do way more math than is necessary but that is part of the fun – apparently I miss doing basic geometry. It’s kind of ridiculous that despite all this preparation and calculation, I inevitably end up with a quilt with mismatched corners. The reason for that, however, is not a lack of planning, but a lack of care when it comes to execution.
I use a mat and rotary cutter to slice up the fabric and while I do my best to hold everything steady and cut neatly, I cannot honestly say that my strips or squares (or whatever) always come out right. Also, I tend to sew fast and while watching TV so I do not always keep my seams even and consistent. Still, I consider my finished products to generally be close enough for jazz (so to speak) and even my mother who makes excellent quilts slowly says it is better to be done than perfect, so I’ll take it.
Anyway, my cousin had a baby (well, his wife did) in April and I decided to make him a quilt. I like the concept of the Attic Windows design and decided to go with that, putting characters in the windows by fussy-cutting novelty fabrics. In retrospect, I should have narrowed the sashing because the windows don’t look quite right although I am still pleased with the result overall. The character content should be bigger compared to the more plain elements. I went with 2 1/2″ strips (and 2 7/8″ squares cut diagonally) for all of the border-type fabrics and 4 1/2″ squares for the mostly licensed character fabrics. This allowed me a pretty standard 1/4″ seam allowance all around.
One of my problems with keeping a nice 1/4″ seam is the fact that I used my sub-par sewing machine. I inherited an extremely heavy sewing machine from my mother (when she upgraded decades ago, she is still alive and sewing) which is more furniture than crafting supply, really. It is a Sears Kenmore from the early seventies and while it is, of course, electric, it is not computerized. The bobbin winder does not work well anymore (it actually works fine but then the machine doesn’t want to sew anymore after it is used – something about the clutch, I am told) but that is really its only problem other than its bulk. In the past year, however, I purchased a secondhand (but very lightly used) Brother CS6000i. This machine has a drop in bobbin, is super easy to thread, and is very light. On the other hand, the stitch quality is not as good and the markings for seam allowance are harder to follow. Anyway, my nice (if old) machine was folded up in its cabinet and had stuff on top of it, so I decided to use the other machine. I don’t know that I regret it, exactly, but it may not have been the best idea.
Yes, based on these photographs, it is obvious that my apartment is a giant mess but every photo I take shows that, so it is hardly news. Anyway, I pieced the quilt over the course of a few months, stopping periodically to buy more fabric then having to wait until I went to my grandmother’s house on Friday in order to wash said fabric before I could cut it. Late in the summer, I bought a panel that had postage stamps for eight Texas cities; something I would normally never purchase but the baby this is meant for lives in Texas so I decided to go for it. Anyway, I finally finished piecing the quilt, made a sandwich with the batting and flannel back (I like flannel backing especially for baby quilts, it is soft and fuzzy) and then got sad that I actually had to quilt it.
A baby quilt is not very big, this one was around 42″ x 58″, narrow enough to use regular width fabric on the back, but I am not good at quilting; worse even than I am at piecing. I think my Brother may have come with a walking foot but I don’t know where it is (or whether I actually even own it) so I just went with the one foot I keep installed and picked a decorative stitch. It did not go very well. The problem is that I do not keep even movement through the machine. If I let the feed dogs do all the work, the stitches are way too close together because of the material thickness but if I pull it through, the stitches are way too far apart. A decorative stitch really shows off the variation far more than a straight stitch; a lesson I learned too late (although it is obvious in retrospect). I might have mitigated this affect by doing a free-motion type of thing where the stitching meandered around the quilt but I decided to go in straight lines. Additionally, I picked a different decorative stitch to go length-wise than I did width-wise so the whole thing is a little bit of a clusterfuck.
Finally, I was done quilting (although I had to stop partway through to buy more thread, unfortunately a poor match for the original which I got from my mother but that is a whole separate issue). I went to JoAnn to purchase bias tape with which to bind the quilt. I had decided on orange to pick up the accent in the most prevalent border fabric but did not like the shade choices available to me. Also, I decided that I should go with 100% cotton instead of the blend available for purchase so I decided to make my own bias tape. I consulted the internet regarding how much fabric to buy (I decided on one yard) and instructions on how to proceed. Most tutorials instructed me to use a bias tape maker. A smarter person would have purchased a basic one – they are not too expensive but no, I thought “I don’t need that, I have an iron” or something equally cocky and just bought the fabric.
I cut 2 1/2″ strips (for 5/8″ double fold bias tape) at a 45° angle from my fabric. It is hard to say for sure, since I stuffed the extra into my scrap bin instead of measuring it, but I think I used about half of the yard I bought. I sewed the strips together using a 1/4″ seam (approximately), which I then trimmed and pressed open. I folded the now long strip in half and pressed that seam. It took [what felt like] forever to press all six yards or so of fabric which I now had connected. I tried to make sure that the seams stayed flat when ironing to prevent lumps but I cannot be really sure about that due to laziness and boredom. The now 1 1/4″ wide strip piled up on the floor next to my ironing board as I worked. The next step, of course, was to flip the right side down and bring in the edges so that they would be hidden on the final product. This is where a bias tape maker would have been very helpful. I had to go inch by inch and line up the edges with the center line without going over it at all. This was not hard but was time-consuming. Eventually, I finished that and folded the bias tape in half along the original line, ironing it again to make the crease obvious and sharp.
With my bias tape made, it was time to start binding my quilt. I pinned it all along one edge, lining up the edge of the tape with the edge of the (trimmed) quilt sandwich. If I had thought this through better, I would have left a section unsewn at the beginning so that I could overlap it with a folded edge but I rarely think things through so I just started sewing and had to improvise later. I sewed along the first fold, about 5/8″ from the edge and stopped 5/8″ away from the corner. I am actually glad that I did not prepare the corners in advance because I did not do the best job of pinning the bias tape in place and had a little ripple that I was able to get rid of when I worked the corner, starting over with pinning along the next edge. I backstitched where I stopped and cut the threads, pulling my work off of the machine to fold up the corner. Basically, I created a right angle and folded the excess fabric over the line of stitching I had already made then I pinned the rest of the side in place and started sewing 5/8″ from the edge, being careful not to sew over that folded bit. I treated the other corners in the same way and trimmed the excess bias tape when I got to the end, leaving a couple of inches to overlap and fold the edge under before sewing.
Then, I did something stupid. Well, not right then, first I folded the corners over neatly and pressed them into place, that looked pretty good but then I decided that I wanted to machine stitch the binding in place in order to hold it more firmly so that it can stand up to machine washing. Plus, I remembered that I am lazy and hand stitching invisibly is hard. Of course, I saved no time because I decided to baste the binding in place before sewing it in order to make sure I captured the back edge – I totally failed to achieve this goal. I tacked it in place which did take less time than careful invisible stitches would have but then, I went to sew the binding on, planning to “stitch in the ditch” on the front and just sew the edge of the bias tape in the back. In several places, I missed the tape on the back altogether and, being lazy / sloppy as I am, I sometimes missed the ditch in the front. For the former, I had to rip out the non-helpful line of stitching and re-make it in a way that would actually hold everything together. This took long enough that it made me realize I had saved no time whatsoever. Next time, I will hand stitch the binding as I have been taught to do. Eventually, I did finish and found my work to be satisfactory if not ideal. I briefly considered doing something like a zig-zag stitch all along the place where the quilt and binding meet in an attempt to hid my sins (so to speak) but that seemed excessive, plus it would really show how poorly my orange thread matches my orange fabric, so I decided to let it go. Finally, I decided I was done. I ironed on my tag (I know I have more but they have gone missing somewhere) and decided to take a photo and pack it up.
In the meantime (after I finished the top but before I got around to buying and washing the fabric for the bias tape) I decided to make a matching pillowcase. My reasons for this were twofold: I had extra blocks that did not make it into the quilt and the Texas fabric had come with a large central panel that I was never going to use for anything else. I actually still have blocks left over but they are the ones that I consider sub-par and do not mind not using. Anyway, I measured a pillowcase I already had and started putting the thing together. The pillowcase is not ideal – it is sort of a mish-mash of ideas held together with what scraps of fabric I had that matched the quilt. Still, I think it turned out (mostly) okay if not great and I sent it along with the quilt when I mailed it to Texas last week.
So, as a conclusion, I think I will make my own bias tape again but first I will invest in an inexpensive bias tape maker to do the folding for me! Also, I will make my next quilt on my Sears Kenmore and see how much that improves my ability to keep to a particular seam allowance.
Okay, two months later, I guess it is time for another blog post that nobody will read . . .
Earlier this year, I found myself between knitting projects and decided to use some of my stash to knit a sweater for my baby niece. She looks super-cute in pink so I started with that and picked out a turquoise-y green for contrast. Like I usually do, I made up a pattern based on theoretical sweater construction and math then made notes about what I actually did. Initially, this sweater had no theme, it was just a tiny sweater with a placket in the back to make it easier to put on a squirming toddler.
About halfway through the sweater, I thought about how plain it would look, even in the awesome hot pink color, so I decided to do something with the contrasting green on the front. It occurred to me that the colors were reminiscent of a strawberry, so I decided to go with that. Also, that made me think of how my nephew used to say the word when he was a toddler, “straw-BABY” and it seemed especially appropriate as a motif!
I experimented a bit with embroidery and duplicate stitching but in the end, I decided the best way was to use a crochet hook and chain stitch the outline of a strawberry then duplicate stitch in some seeds. This turned out to be harder than I initially expected and after trying and failing more than once, I decided to use waste yarn to make a rough strawberry using a running stitch then follow that shape with my chain stitching. In my (totally not biased) opinion, it turned out pretty well.
The real challenge was finding buttons that worked with the theme. I started out by going to JoAnn where I looked at pretty much every pink, green, strawberry, and leaf button I could find but nothing worked.
The pink buttons were too boring and none of the greens were the right color. The closest I came to matching my self-inflicted theme were still totally wrong. I went to every store in town that I thought might carry buttons but had no luck at all.
Eventually, I decided to try the internet. I generally don’t like shopping online for supplies that need to match but by this point, I had become desperate for strawberry-shaped buttons that would do the job. I found a promising set on Amazon that was inexpensive although would take a long time to arrive since they were shipping from China. They did not arrive when expected so I went to visit my niece without the buttons and made her try the sweater on before taking it away for future finishing. Eventually, my buttons came and while they were mostly as advertised, I have to wonder who the hell wants turquoise or blue strawberries? Of course, I got more of the silly colors than anything else. Also, some of the buttons were mis-printed but fortunately, mostly the aforementioned useless colors.
At least I got enough red ones to finish my project. Well, they are supposed to be red and appear as such in the listing but they turned out to be dark pink instead, which is actually better because they ended up matching my pink yarn almost perfectly! The green was totally off but you can’t have everything. I think that these wooden buttons are a great match for the sweater, assuming they hold up over time.
I used the long green yarn end that I had left hanging to sew on the buttons and I think that the end result was worth the wait. I’m pretty sure my niece would think so too if she wasn’t too little to comprehend my weird strawberry-button obsession. I am going to see her again in about a month and even though it will be the height of summer, I am totally going to give her this sweater and make her model it for me again. That’s what she gets for being so darn cute and lovable!
Okay, the pattern: I have not done the math to write this up for various sizes so it is really only suitable for toddlers who are about one and a half to two years old. My model was 16 months when this photo was taken and as you can probably tell, it is way too big for her but babies can always be counted on to grow, so that doesn’t worry me! I think that this pattern could be adapted for any sort of motif. When you are choosing one though, be sure to think about the difficulty of finding matching buttons! This sweater is worked from the top down and has NO seams. I abbreviate a lot of things, check the end of the pattern for definitions (and links)
NOTE(*): I like to cast on and off with larger needles even when using smaller ones to work the ribbing, this is mostly because I tend to cast on tightly and this keeps me from doing so. Cast on and off with the smaller needles if this is not a problem for you.
With CC, cast on 45 stitches using long-tail method on larger* needles
Switch to smaller needles
Row 1 (ws): k4, *k1, p1, repeat from * to last st, k1
Row 2 (rs): s1, *k1, p1, repeat from * to last 4 sts, k4
Row 1 (rs): s1, k2, yo, k2tog, *k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 1x, k2, w&t [bh made]
Row 2 (ws): p to last st, k1, turn
Row 3 (rs): s1,*k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 1x, k5, w&t
Row 4 (ws): p to last st, k1, turn
Row 5 / 1 (rs) : s1, *k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 3x, k to end
Row 2 (ws): k4, p19, w&t
Row 3 (rs): *k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 1x, k to end
Row 4 (ws): k4, p26, w&t
Row 5 (rs): as row 3
Row 6 (ws): k4, p to last st, k1
Row 1 (rs): s1, *k to 2 st bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, repeat from * 3x, k to end [8 sts inc]
Row 2 & all ws rows through 24: k4, p to last st, k1
Row 3 (rs): s1, k2, yo, k2tog, *k to 2 st bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, repeat from * 3x, k to end [8 sts inc & bh made]
Row 4 (ws): as row 2
Repeat rows 1 & 2 3x
Row 11 (rs): as row 3
Repeat rows 4 – 11 [bh made on row 19]
Row 20 (ws): as row 2
Repeat rows 1 & 2 1x
Row 23 (rs): s1, *k to 2 bef m, kfb, k1, sm, k to m, sm, kfb, repeat from *, k to end [161 sts]
Row 24 (ws): as row 2
Row 25 (rs): s1, k to last 5 sts, slip 5 sts to cable needle, do NOT turn
Join in round (rs): hold cn behind work, *k 1 st from cn tog with st from beg of last round, repeat from * 4x more, k to end of round, pm
Divide for Sleeves & Body:
Round 1 (rs): s1, *k to m, sm, place 36 sts on holder, co 8 sts, sm, repeat from * 1x, k to beg of round [100 sts]
Round 2: k around
Round 3: *k to m, ssk, k to 2 bef m, k2tog, repeat from * 1x, k to end
Repeat round 2 3 x
Repeat rounds 3 – 6 3x
Round 19: k around [84 sts]
Repeat round 19 until body measures 6” from co sts at armpit
Switch to CC & smaller needles
Round 1: k around, sm
Round 2: *k1, p1, repeat from * to end, sm
Repeat round 2 7x more
Bind off with larger* needle
Arms (with MC & largerneedles):
From the armpit sts on the body, pu & k 4 sts, k 32 sts from holder, pu & k 4 sts, pm
Round 1: k around, sm [40 sts]
Round 2: k3, k2tog, k to 5 sts bef m, ssk, k3, sm [38 sts]
Repeat round 1 2x
Round 5: k2, k2tog, k to 4 sts bef m, ssk, k2, sm [36 sts]
Repeat round 1 2x
Round 8: k1, k2tog, k to 3 sts bef m, ssk, k1, sm [34 sts]
Repeat round 1 2x
Round 11: k2tog, k to 2 sts bef m, ssk, sm [32 sts]
Repeat round 1 4x
Round 16: ssk, k to 2 sts bef m, k2tog, sm
Repeat rounds 12- 16 until sleeve measures 6” from armpit [sts mayvary]
Switch to CC & smaller needles
Round 1: k around, sm
Round 2: *k1, p1, repeat from * to end, sm
Repeat round 2 7x more
Bind off with larger* needle
Repeat for 2nd arm
Strawberry Motif & Finishing:
Holding yarn inside sweater use crochet hook to chain stitch the outline of a strawberry on the front. Cut a long tail and duplicate stitch “seeds” inside the outline. (It may help to use a long running stitch made of waste yarn to vaguely outline the shape before you begin chain stitching. Each chain should be no more than 1 ½ stitches long.)
Sew 4 buttons to garter stitch band opposite buttonholes
I have not been keeping up well with this blog although honestly, I’m doing better than I thought I would, by which I mean I haven’t totally forgotten about it. I am calling this a pattern but even as I type this, I am not sure I can actually come up with coherent instructions. I did not keep good notes while making this hat. I do think that my original plan worked out pretty well although I probably should have knitted a few more rounds before decreasing. It fits me but I won’t know for sure if it is actually too short until I give it to its intended recipient.
I don’t actually like hats. Despite knitting them fairly regularly, I almost never wear them. They tend to look weird on me, although I do have a hat with a hole for my ponytail that I wore occasionally until I lost it. What I liked about that hat is that my ponytail going through the back held it in place so that it didn’t come down in the front and cover my eyes. I decided to try a different route to the same end and add some earflaps for good measure. I spent kind of a while pondering the whole idea before I decided to just grab some yarn and have at it! I did have a couple of false starts but eventually I decided on double knitting because I figured that earflaps should be extra warm. When I got to the hat itself, I kept on with the double knitting because I decided it would look weird otherwise – and if you’re double knitting, you might as well make it reversible and different on each side. Of course, double knitting provides the additional challenge of finding subtle ways to weave in yarn ends since there is no wrong side, but I like to let issues like that be problems for “future me”.
What I did not count on was the difference between my tension when knitting and purling. Like many people, I purl more loosely than I knit. At the beginning, I did not realize this was a problem because I worked the earflaps and the start of the back of the hat in rows, back and forth. When I added the front, however, I joined it in a round, although it still took a few inches for me to catch on to the problem and even when I did, I persevered. In the end, I decided that the white was definitely the inside and I put a label on it although that could easily be removed if a mostly white hat was desired. Anyway, let’s see if I can remember how I made it. By the way, a “Yooper” is someone from the U.P., or upper peninsula of Michigan. It is notoriously cold there, so it seemed like a good name for a doubly thick wool hat with earflaps.
Materials: Patons Classic Wool (worsted, 220 yd/100g) 1 ball each, Color A & Color B.
Needles: Size 8 circular and / or DPNs
Gauge: 4 sts/inch (double knit)
NOTE: When working the first and last stitch of a row, hold both strands together and treat as one stitch. For all other pairs, treat each strand as its own stitch.
Earflap (make 2)
Holding a strand of A & a strand of B together, cast on 5 stitches
Row 1: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, k1 (A & B)
Row 2: s1 (A & B), wyb pick up & k1 A, wyf pick up & p1 A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb pick up & k1 A, wyf pick up & p1 A, k1 (A & B)
Row 3: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
Row 4: s1 (A & B), wyb pick up & k1 A, wyf pick up & p1 A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
Repeat last 2 rows 5 x more until there are 17 pairs of stitches between the edge stitches
Row 15: as row 3
Row 16: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
Repeat last 2 rows 1 x more
Cut yarn (leaving enough to weave in) on 1st earflap only. Do NOT cut yarn on 2nd earflap.
With 2nd earflap still on needle, s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
Use attached yarn to cast on 19 stitches (holding a strand of A & a strand of B together)
Join second earflap, s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
NOTE: From this point forward, the former edge stitches of each earflap which abut the cast on stitches will be treated as two stitches and only the first and last stitch of the whole row will be treated as a single stitch.
Row 1: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
Row 2: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)
Repeat last 2 rows 2x more, after row 6, DO NOT TURN!
Main Hat Portion (or whatever you want to call it)
NOTE: From this point forward, the hat will be worked in the round. You can use double pointed needles or a circular needle to do this. (All of my circular needles are too long for hats so I work with an extra loop sticking out between stitches, whatever works for you!) Also, with the exception of the first stitch of round 1 which helps to close a gap, no more pairs of stitches will be treated as a single stitch.
Cast on 21 stitches (holding a strand of A & a strand of B together)
Place marker for beg / end of round
Join the work by positioning the beginning of the last row on the left needle, being careful not to twist stitches
Round 1: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker, sm
Round 2: *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to end marker, sm
Round 3: *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker, sm
Repeat last 2 rounds 1 x more
Round 6: *wyb k1A, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker, sm
Repeat last round 11 x more (in the photo, I only did it 9 x more but the hat is a little short)
Round 19: as round 2
Round 20: as round 3
Repeat last 2 rounds 1 x more
Round 23: *[wyb k1A, wyf p1B] 13 x, pm, repeat from * to end marker
Round 1: *wyb k1A, wyf p2togB, wyb k2togA, wyf p1B, [wyb k1A, wyf p1B] to marker, repeat from * to end marker (6 x total)
Round 2: *wyb k1A, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker (slipping all other markers), sm
Repeat last 2 rounds 5 x more
Round 13: as round 1 (36 sts remain)
Round 14: *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker (slipping all other markers), sm
My twelve-year-old cousin sent me a friendship bracelet for Christmas. It was different than the kind I used to make but still took me back to look at!
I guess I thought of friendship bracelets as a nineties thing but maybe they are an adolescent girl thing and it’s just that I was that age in the nineties. The bracelet my cousin made was more round and thick than I remember being popular but fashions do change – even those made of string. I did not see her working on it but our grandmother told me that she had some sort of tool which she uses to weave the strands in and out. My first thought was “kids, today!” I guess that is one of the things that marks me as getting old. In my day, we used our fingers and a safety pin to hold the strands in place.
I decided to make a bracelet for my young cousin and send it in response. After several days of not going to the craft store, I decided to just see what I had lying around. Once upon a time (the nineties) I had so many colors of embroidery floss that I had a box just to hold and organize it. I remember thinking how very decadent it was to have storage like that just for a craft item. Ha! If only adolescent me could see the yarn and fabric storage I have now. Of course, the shelves, drawers, and totes I have are nothing compared to my mother’s studio and its walk-in closet. My mother bought the DMC branded floss box for me when some local craft store was going out of business and I thought it was the best thing ever; I obviously had not yet discovered Alpaca. It turns out that I did have a couple of skeins of floss mixed in with my yarn stash (with the 100% cotton of course) so I set about making a bracelet for my cousin.
Just like nineties-me, I totally guessed how much floss to cut for the project then carefully made sure all of the colors were the same length. I tied a loop in the top (the better to fasten it with) and safety-pinned it to my knee. The first thing I learned is that jeans are way better for this sort of thing than yoga pants but I wasn’t about to get up out of my recliner and change my pants just for this purpose. I found that pulling the pants taut and bending my knee to an acute angle did a decent job of holding the bracelet in place as I got to work.
I’ve never been able to keep my rows neat and pretty but I think I did the trick overall and as I always did, I finished it off with two tails to make fastening through the loop as easy as possible. I learned this from a book [what feels like] a very long time ago but there are lots of tutorials on the internet now, even videos to show how to make bracelets. A cursory googling turned up this tutorial for the style of bracelet I made although I used six strands and my diagonal goes the opposite way. I actually have never been able to do the very simple knot used for this bracelet in the other direction. I don’t know if it feels too left-handed or if I just got too used to the way I do it or what. Maybe I do need one of those boards like the kids get now. Anyway, because of this deficiency, I was never able to make the chevron bracelets which were so popular in my youth. A part of me wants to go buy more floss and try again. Another part of me wonders what the heck I would do with bracelets once I made them. I only have so many teenage cousins!
I finished the Christmas sweaters for my niece and nephew last weekend. I count this as a win because I am not even a whole month late yet. The idea of these sweaters is that while they are Christmassy together, they can be worn at any time, really. I just hope that they fit. I used basic sizing from the internet and sort of made up the pattern as I went. This method, which I use so often, does not always turn out as I hope. I honestly have no idea whether these sweaters will fit – I can only hope at this point!
I made the red baby sweater first, from the top down, and added little pockets because it seemed cute. I don’t know what a baby would actually put in pockets. My niece is one year old and just learned to walk so she isn’t exactly used to strolling about with her hands in her pockets. I was not quite halfway through the green kid sweater when I stumbled upon some tiny dinosaurs at the Chicago Field Museum. I came up with the [brilliant] idea to put little presents in the pockets, so I bought a few dinosaurs for my nephew (he knows more about dinosaurs than anybody – except paleontologists, or so he tells me) and set out to find something to stuff into his little sister’s pockets.
The problem I encountered was that while the pockets of the baby sweater are smaller, the toys required for a baby are bigger. By this I mean that any items small enough to fit into her little pockets would inevitably be a choking hazard. Although I don’t think she is old enough to start keeping score, I didn’t want to do the pocket gift thing for only one kid. Fortunately, I came up with a solution – socks. I know that socks are a lame Christmas present but baby socks are so darn cute, they have to count as a gift. I looked at pink and purple and ruffly socks but I ended up buying her socks with dinosaurs on them. While I don’t want to inflict stereotypical gender roles upon small children, I don’t think “girly” things are actually bad for girls as long as they don’t make up all of the options. I figured though that she probably has ruffly socks and ones with dinosaurs might make her brother jealous. If she’s anything like I was as a little kid, she thinks her big brother hung the moon (proverbially speaking of course, even as I child I had a basic understanding of astronomy) and will want to like whatever he does.
All of the tiny dinosaurs fit easily into one pocket of the green sweater though, so I decided to put something else in the other one. I decided upon a squirrel made of felt, which I had made at the five-year-old’s request but had yet to mail across the country. I think it turned out pretty well although I have never been particularly good at hand sewing.
I made several little animals from Nuno Runo although the lighting in my room isn’t good and my execution is a bit lacking. I printed the patterns as large as I could on a standard letter size sheet of paper. My fingers are way too fat to deal with anything as small as the designer made! If you like tiny sewing projects and / or felt is on sale at your local craft store, you should check out her patterns. I did a few with my 11 & 12 year old cousins over Thanksgiving. Although there were a few small stabbings, the craft went over pretty well.
Anyway, the box is all packed and taped up, so I hope I didn’t forget anything, and I plan to send it at the Post Office on my way to the gym (which I am actually going to today after work). I know the USPS has been through some hard times but I like them. Jon Stewart did a thing on The Daily Show years ago where he pointed out that the Post Office is amazing. For less than fifty cents, they will take a letter from your house (actually, not my house, I don’t have an outgoing mail box) to someone else’s house anywhere in the country in just a couple of days. It is pretty cool when you think about it. Of course, a box with two sweaters costs more than fifty cents to send but it’s still great. I can feel a little bit closer to my family all the way on the west coast by mailing them sweaters that they may not actually need due to the difference in climate.
I decided in late November to make Christmas sweaters for my niece (almost 1 year old) and nephew (5 years old). My logic was that they are small, it should not take too long. Somehow I never learn. I had what I thought to be an adorable idea too; I would make one sweater red & white and the other green & white so that they would not be too Christmassy on their own, therefore extending their usefulness, while still being obviously holiday-themed when worn at the same time. I decided to add pockets (which I now realize was a time-sucking mistake) and put little presents inside them. Finding small dinosaurs for my nephew was no problem but his sister presented a bit of a challenge. The pockets on her sweater are obviously smaller but the small toys she can play with have to be bigger since I obviously don’t want to give her choking hazards for Christmas. After much contemplation and some shopping, I decided upon adorable baby socks for her. I had ruffled pink ones in my hand when I changed my mind and went with the dinosaur-themed set instead. I am pretty sure that they are meant for little boys but I don’t see why. Girls can like dinosaurs too and since her brother is a big fan, I am pretty sure she will follow suit!
I kept doing other things when I should have been working on the sweaters. Playing Candy Crush, doing crossword puzzles, it didn’t matter really, my instinct is to put off anything that has a deadline and apparently it is too deeply ingrained after years of completing my homework just under the proverbial gun. The second problem was actually something I can mostly blame on someone else – I had a car accident. While returning home one afternoon, my car was struck by a county salt truck, sending me spinning off of the freeway and causing a hole in the side of my vehicle. I was unhurt but [not surprisingly] flustered and when the tow truck dropped me off, I neglected to retrieve the partially finished sweaters from my car. I did go to the body shop and get my knitting bag a couple of days later, but by that point I had unwisely begun another project which I had to finish in an even more timely fashion (a scarf for a Secret Santa exchange at work). Also, the kids were were on their way to Asia to spend the holidays with their grandparents, so I had kind of missed my window.
I brought the finished baby sweater and not nearly finished kid sweater with me to my parents’ house for my week of [sort of] vacation. My plan was to finish up the second sweater then leave them here for my parents to transport when they go to visit the little ones next month. Of course, everything takes longer than I think it will (“Thirty Minute Meals” take me like an hour and a half) and here I am, leaving tomorrow and the second sweater still has half sleeves and holes where the pockets should be. Part of the problem is the tangles I keep getting in my yarn.
As previously mentioned, I never learn. I don’t like to weave in ends, so I try to make garments as seamless as possible. This means carrying yarn up when making stripes and trying to remember to weave it in every few rows. It also means a lot of raglan sweaters because you can’t avoid sewing set-in sleeves and drop sleeves just tend to look frumpy. I also knit in the round a lot. None of these are problems in and of themselves but an issue I often end up with because of my habits is tangled yarn. I do not like to cut my yarn until I have to, afraid both that I will have to weave in extra ends and that I might run out. This is not such a large concern when knitting a single object, two balls or skeins can be un-twisted without too many problems as long as I keep up with it. The danger is when I am knitting from both ends of two different balls of yarn.
Why would I do such a thing? Because I want to make both sleeves at once. I find that when I am making up a pattern as I go (which happens more often than I should admit) I work decreases or pattern stitches differently on each sleeve because I am bad at paying close attention. Working both sleeves at once makes me much more likely to make them even and similar if not actually identical. When I am using a single color, this can be annoying, as the yarn twists around itself and has to be dealt with every few rows. When I am using two colors – for stripes, fair isle, or some other reason I cannot think of now – it becomes an unmitigated disaster. The two ends of each ball wrap around themselves and each other and cause such snarls as cannot be removed without tools and magnification. I have had to untangle my green and white yarn several times now. I have even had to cut it to do so, creating more ends to weave in than I would have if I had done something less stupid like cut the yarn in half to begin with and worked from two balls. Still, hope springs eternal. Either that or I am just punishing myself for something. I keep thinking that it will save time to do it this way, I won’t have to join more yarn later and nonsense like that. It doesn’t actually save time. I have spent at least three hours of possible knitting time untangling yarn in the last week; probably more!
Maybe now that I have admitted my idiocy, I can begin to move forward. Perhaps next time I think to knit stripes from both ends of two balls I will remember this post and the frustration which precluded it. I would like to believe that is the case. However, it’s more likely that I will think “this time, I’ll do it right” and end up right back here again. As for this project, I will likely take the sweaters back home with me and mail them to the kiddies sometime in mid-January. At least they don’t have Santa on them or anything.