posts tagged: knitting

entrelac bolster

I’m an experienced knitter, not afraid of any technique, from steeking to intarsia. But I’d never entrelaced. Which is weird, because I’m friends with Rosemary Drysdale, the expert on the subject. And her newest book features a round swatch of entrelac that was, I thought, crying out to be made into a nice round pillow. Back at TNNA in June, I was given a few skeins of the new yarn Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag, and I decided it was just the thing for my round pillow, so I cast on and got going.

I found that entrelac is super easy, but to get it to look really nice you have to be just a touch fussy, picking up sometimes more stitches than you need to ensure all holes are closed. I learned when you work in the round if you accidentally miss one segment you are screwed and have to frog days and days of work. And I also discovered that you can’t just keep sizing up, or you’ll end up with a rippling mess.

entrelac fail

This shouldn’t have surprised me: you can’t make a circle by doubling each round and expect it to stay flat. But I for some reason didn’t anticipate quite this much rippling—I figured I could wrestle it into a pillow with enough stuffing. But this was untenable, and it had to be abandoned.

Instead, I went with a basic entrelac, only I wasn’t satisfied with the successive rows of color that is standard. If the point, I figured, of entrelac was to make it look as if the bands were woven together, then the color should stay with the band, not the row. So I devised a color plan that would actually show the colors interlacing.

planning entrelac

I had a really hard time trying to draw this, also I wanted to be able to test different sequences, so I actually cut strips of paper and wove them together!

Just a few rows of entrelac high—I was excited for a low, wide pillow. I changed the color scheme for the second side slightly. Seaming them together posed a stumbling block, as joining the bias edges didn’t look neat no matter what I tried. In the end I did a round of hdc on each piece and the joined them with a flat crochet join. I don’t mind the gray “seam” that runs around the whole thing.

pepperknit | entrelac bolster

 

pepperknit | entrelac bolster

 

pepperknit | entrelac bolster

Then I started stuffing it. And stuffing it. And stuffing it. The yarn, a merino-silk blend, is soo lustrous and soft, but it is supple and took to a lot of stretching, and I was definitely not feeling up to sewing a small inner pillow out of fabric to contain it. So I just stuffed until it was nice and full, and in the end I got a significantly sized bolster! (I think it’s at least 2 feet long.) It lives on the couch and is so delightfully squishy and nice to curl up with. Sometimes I use it as an actual bolster, using it as a prop for some gentle yoga on the floor while watching TV. I love it!

2014 in review

How is it that two years in a row I declared it the “year of garment sewing,” but I have only one measly finished garment from 2014 to show? Oh well—maybe 2015 is the year? But even if I didn’t make much clothing (in fact, I had an epic failure of a Moss Mini Skirt), I have plenty of finished handmade goodness to show off! Much of it of course is still not blogged—how is it I resolve every year to blog more and then utterly neglect this space by the end of the year? Anyway, I scrolled through my Lightroom and mentally assessed my whole apartment and discovered I’d made a load of things this year!

pepperknit | finished knits in 2014

Let’s talk knitting. Not much, it’s true, given the continued pain I have in my hands. My first magazine cover, though, which was a particular thrill! I wholeheartedly enjoyed knitting Stonecutter, but the more I think about it the more likely I am to give it to my mother, who will wear it proudly when I am likely to ignore it in my sweater drawer. Those squishy monsters are hopefully making some cute babies happy, and though I really didn’t like my Follow Your Arrow upon completion, I wear it regularly! That pillow needs blogging…

pepperknit | finished sewing in 2014

Boy did I sew more quilts than I thought I did. Three full-sized quilts: two for wedding presents, one for us. Two baby quilts (one yet to be blogged, that I’d like to make into a pattern if I could get my act together to do so). Three minis, a set of coasters, and I threw that one garment in here because it’s made of fabric. I’ve been spending the end of the year slashing through my stash, trying to make a dent in the bins that are full to bursting! I am looking forward to making lots more in the coming year, as I think i’ve really got the hang of this quilting thing now. A year ago I was feeling confident but still like a novice; at this point, I think I know my stuff. My technique for basting still needs some work, and as a result I need lots more practice quilting items, but I do think my entry-level sewing machine is at least partly to blame here. It’s time to start saving up for something bigger and better.

pepperknit | finished embroidery in 2014

But what I hadn’t anticipated upon starting this look-back is just how much embroidery I did in 2014. I love how satisfying it is to complete a project; plus it’s so comparatively fast (not like knitting or quilting!). Some of these are the elaborate quilt labels I made, others were just to be framed on their own, and others were part of a group project—they’ll be incorporated into a quilt or wall hanging. My embroidery supplies are in a completely terrible jumble in a Ziploc bag because it seemed like a lark of a craft, but it seems I do it a lot more than I thought, so I ought to get that organized. Tucked in the corner there are two of the onesies I made for the baby shower of my friend; these are complete no-sew projects that are great activities for a shower!

I don’t think I can express more strongly how surprised I was at my turnout this year when I gathered all the photos together today. Before I figured out how much I’d knit, I started to write my paragraph about it and I could think of only two things off the top of my head. Then I started actually looking, and I found that I finished 9 things!? One of them a highly complex cabled sweater? Yeah, I knit quite a bit. How did I not crochet anything, though?

Here’s to more making in 2015! It’ll be a #yearofmaking!

mitten garland

Looking for a cute decoration to make for winter? Thinking about your gift knitting? Might I suggest a perfectly lovely pattern designed by yours truly a few years ago, that I somehow never blogged about?

pepperknit | knit mini mitten garland

Little intarsia argyle mittens, all strung up. Mix and match colors for the hand, the diamond, and the criss-cross, or do it all uniform. They can teach you a bunch of different techniques if you haven’t tried them before, from ribbing, increases/decreases, intarsia, and duplicate stitch! Each one comes together fast, and they are so stinkin’ cute. I think they’d be adorable strung on a mantel, around a door, or if you celebrate with a Christmas tree, strung around that. Because they are actual complete mittens, you could make 24 of them and turn them into an advent calendar by tucking little treats or messages inside to open each day.

The originals were knit with Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted Tweed, which comes in a range of really rich colors. The pattern is in 50 Knits for Year-Round Giving, and there are plenty of other projects in there that you might want to make in the coming months!

knit mama + baby monsters

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

Pardon me while I gush over the cuteness I have brought into the world. Yeah yeah yeah someone had an adorable baby and it’s a miracle, new life, perfect boy—LOOK AT THE CUTENESS HERE. Rebecca Danger‘s adorable pattern for Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster is so simple, so mindless, and yet pays off such rewards!

I used Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (full disclosure: I, ahem, took this yarn home with me after we shot it for the Yarn Market News cover with the owls. So yeah, I got it free but it’s not like they expected me to knit with it), which I am currently obsessed with for baby toys. It is SO squishy and soft, and being bulky it knits up fast and makes things satisfyingly large. I used it for the hedgehogs, but have so much remaining that I also used it with this pair. I don’t really know how  big this was supposed to be, but Mama came in at 12 inches tall and her baby is 5.5 inches tall. I embellished the pocket just a touch, with a little free-hand surface crocheted heart out of Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag yarn. I love its luster and shine.

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

I crocheted the little black eye discs out of Universal Yarns’ crochet thread, and on Mama I added some white to simulate button eyes. I know baby toys shouldn’t have buttons for risk of choking but I’m telling you, a baby who puts this alpaca in his mouth is going to be in for a rude surprise! Best to hug it and squish it and use it as a pillow, I think.

It’s going to be hard to pack these two up in a box and ship them out, but the baby is here early so I need to get on this! Expect to see more monsters from me—I’ve got a copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, and I’m not afraid to use it!

everything I’m knitting is gray

After a childhood spent wanting to blend into the background as much as was humanly possible—plain, solid non-eye-catching clothing only, please—I’ve come to love color. I wear a lot of different colors, in defiance of the “New Yorkers only wear black” dictum (and heck, I’m not an orignal NYer anyway; I’ve “only” lived here 8 years!). Nearly all of my coats are a bold color. (Though all my clothing is generally still solid. Some things never change.)

But sometimes, goddammit, you just want a gray cardigan. Or a sweater that isn’t such a “statement.” So you start to opt for grays when you’re amassing yarn, whether in a sweater’s quantity or a single skein to contrast with a fun color (in all those two-color shawls, for example). You request a gray cardigan for Christmas (and get two). And then suddenly the next thing you know, all you seem to have is gray yarn on the needles.

surface crochet heart

There’s this, which got a teeny tiny pop of color as an embellishment the other day (and will be photographed in full soon).

gray wip

There’s this, a sweater I started back in March but haven’t worked on since I changed back to knitting English to help my hand pain. This one was started Continental, and I feel as though I should only do it that way lest I have a visible tension change. I’m about 3 inches from done (THREE INCHES) but can’t seem to get back to it (also it hurts too much to work on). It’s going to be cute but kind of dressy, and I so rarely put on actual clothing these days that there’s no real impetus to get it done.

gray wip

And there’s this one, which I’m knitting English specifically in response to the one above, and which I had knit a ton of before taking a hard look and realizing that I was knitting far tighter than I had on the swatch, and it was coming out super small. So I frogged and started over (while at the beach) and have been slowly slogging away at the stockinette ever since. I like having this one on hand, though, because it doesn’t require any thought at all.

colors

But then I’ve got this sitting waiting to be seamed up—I should really take a break from all the gray and play with this loveliness!