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  • Knooked Dishcloths

    It's been a while since I talked about my seemingly endless quest to make every dishcloth in the book Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  When I started the project, I had just learned to use a Knook and I thought working on a smaller project like a dishcloth would help me learn how to Knook different stitches and get a few gifts in the process.

    I was right.

    I'm a little more than halfway through the book's ten dishcloths, and dishcloth #6 was the Mini Blocks pattern.

    I used the H/8 Knook and 2/3ds of skein of Sugarn' Cream in the Red colorway.  Yes, just red.  It was part of a set of three for a little stocking stuffer gift for my mom so the color wound up being very festive.  I also made these two dishcloths.

    The Textured pattern.  I should have used a solid color.

    See? Texture!

    The Sunny pattern.

    I folded up the three Christmasy-colored dishcloths, stacked them, and tied them up with a ribbon.  My mom was enthusiastically thrilled with them, and I rested on my laurels for a while and took a week-long break from any kind of gift knitting.  I don't think I have any dishcloth gift events or holidays coming up any time soon, but I'd like to have a stash set aside.  I'm not sure which pattern I'm going to pick, but I do have the yarn ready.  See?

    Back to the Mini Blocks dishcloth. 

    I liked this pattern a lot, and now that all of the Knook tutorial video posts are up on the blog, I thought it would be nice to link you to the posts addressing the stitches you would use if you were Knooking the dishcloth.

    If you bought the book.  Which I think you should, especially if you want to practice lots of stitches on the Knook.  Which I think you should.


    The techniques in the Mini Blocks dishcloth pattern:
    Foundation rows
    Knit stitch
    Purl stitch

    The left-handed techniques in the Mini Blocks dishcloth pattern:
    Foundation rows
    Knit stitch
    Purl stitch

    Six down.

    And four to go!

  • Husband Houseshoes

    It's cold out there, you guys.  That probably goes without saying.  But after a pretty mild winter last year, we are a little surprised to be freezing this year.  Literally.  This is a cold and frosty morning and it's only going to get colder (This is Arkansas!  We've already had snow once!  Why would there be more?!).  So I thought it would be a good time to share a houseshoe pattern to keep you warm and cozy.

    I should say that by "pattern," I mean "this thing I wrote down while making stuff up."  I'm mostly sure that counts as designing.  And I remember mentioning a while ago that if you liked rib stitch, you could make some killer bootees.

    I'm wearing mine now.  They're essentially just some tubes that my grandma knit for me with double stranded magenta Red Heart.  I've had them for maybe 15 years or so, and they're holding on just great.  I stared at them for a while in December to help me make a larger pair for my husband.

    Now might be a good time to mention that I am a bit smaller than my husband.

    My husband has a wide foot and wears a size 12 or 13, so I made these pretty large.  If you know a Hobbit, or if you just really enjoy a comfy pair of slippers yourself, then you'll probably enjoy these.

    I used Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool and Size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) knitting needles.  This probably uses a full skein, give or take a little bit. I bought another skein to use with my scraps just in case, but I probably didn’t need it.  But I didn't know that at the time, and then at least saved me from trying to knit from both ends of the skein and tangling myself up.

    There's really no trick to doubling up your yarn--just set the balls or skeins close together and make sure you always have both strands in your hand while knitting.  With such large needles, you shouldn't have too much trouble with the stitches being tight.  But if you do, move up to a larger size--especially if you're using a thicker yarn.  I only used the Fishermen's Wool because I wanted to use wool, and because the brown seemed like a good choice for my husband (most of the things I knit for him are brown).  Use any ol' yarn you want, though!

    Okay, let's set things out in a more orderly fashion. 

    600-800 yards of yarn, preferably in two skeins
    Size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) knitting needles or corresponding Knook
    Tapestry needle for finishing off and weaving in ends

    Cast on 46 stitches
    Knit in K1P1 ribbing for 16"

    After your knitted fabric is long enough to suit you (lay it against the foot that's going to wear it to get the best idea), decrease by knitting two stitches together for a row.  On the next row, purl two stitches together for a row.  K2TOG for another row.

    Cut an extra long tail on your yarn pieces, and thread the tapestry needle.   Thread the yarn through the remaining stitches and pull it up tightly.  The seam goes on the top of the foot, and tends to make the houseshoe curve a bit, and I think it helps it stay on your foot a bit better. 

    If you want your houseshoes to be smaller, just cast on fewer stitches.  As long as you have an even number, you should be fine.

    Reading back over this reminds me of trying to get a recipe from a friend when neither of you have a pen and paper.  Sorry about that.  I just blog over here, man.

    Still, if you want some warm feet--and who doesn't right now?--and are in the mood for tons and tons of rib stitch, I think you'll like these simple houseshoes.  Or maybe someone else will. 

    I'm kind of in the mood for a new pair now....

    Stay warm and safe!

    Oh, and one other thing!  I just re-read this and thought I should mention that my husband likes these.  They're a very warm and squishy knit!

  • Granny Square Appreciation Post

    Have you ever wished this blog was just a bunch of pictures of granny square-related crafts?

    No?  Because you know how photosets in flickr work?  As well as boards on Pinterest?

    Well, then.  I'm very about today's post because I took pictures of some of my granny square things over the weekend because I feel like the granny square deserves its own post every now and then.

    It's no secret that I love granny squares.  They're just so versatile!  It's like building blocks!  But with yarn!

    Here are a few of my granny square possessions.

    This is an afghan from my Mamaw.

    The lady can do just about anything with scrap yarn and the evening news to entertain her while she works.  When I was younger, she let me pull out a bunch of her granny squares for counting.  It was awesome.  I didn't know you could mix so many colors.

    I know now!

    This is an afghan I made for my husband when we were dating.  He was moving off-campus, and I thought it would be nice of me to make him a housewarming afghan.  He had always wanted a quilt, but I had no plans to make one a few months into a relationship.  Somehow an afghan didn't seem like it would be as much work.

    Yesterday, I spread the afghan across our king size bed and realized that with all of the trips I made to Wal-Mart for Red Heart solids that summer, all of the time I spent on it, and the sheer freaking size of this thing that I probably shouldn't have bothered telling him he'd have to give it back to me if we broke up.  We are obviously going to be together a really long time if I love him this much.

    Sure enough, the next thing I crocheted for him was a stocking.  Out of granny squares, of course!  I think it was our second married Christmas and I wanted us to have somewhat matching stockings.  We really do use them for our little stocking stuffers and you can fit a surprising amount of candy in them. 

    Two years after that, I made a stocking with the same brand of yarn (Reggia?) for our still-in-the-belly daughter.  I made some odd little things while I was nesting, but it still makes me smile when I pull it out and decorate with it anyway.

    This one was a little tricky to take pictures of, but I had to show it to you.  My Mamaw (the one who made the afghan up there) made this for me when I was 9 or so and I loved it.

    And yes, it's all granny squares.

    I have no idea if I can get my daughter to wear this when she's older, but I've been saving it for this long and I plan to keep doing so.  I love it.  It's beautiful, and I wish I knew where to find the pattern.

    My Mamaw taught me to make granny squares, which in turn is why this afghan was one of the first things I made my daughter.  I started it a few months before she was born, and I finished it a few months after she came along.

    I used the brightest, most cheerful, and most washable yarn I could find--Vanna's Choice Solids.  It was a good call for a vibrant and messy girl.  We snuggle under it to read books and watch cartoons now, and when she was smaller she loved it as a pallet.


    My baby, back when she was an actual baby.

    The afghan should be large enough to last her for a while, and I hope she loves it long after that.  I'll say it again.  I LOVE GRANNY SQUARES!  I love seeing what colors people use, and I love the things you can make with them, and I love how they use up leftover yarn.  I love that you can make one and set it aside for future use.  I love that they're my best chance at making afghans.  I love that I have about 180, just ready for.... something.  Anything.

    (I pulled them out this weekend and a friend and I went through them just for fun.  Because that's what we think is fun.)

    I love them so much a small, crazy part of me wants to try to crochet every granny square in the book 99 Squares to Crochet.  I know better than to make it one of my resolutions for the year, but I still kind of want to do it anyway.  Because, you know.   I love granny squares.

  • Organizing Crafting Supplies

    Consider this New Year's Resolution Update #1.

    I'm not the biggest resolution-maker.  I've given up on the ones like "eat better" or "try more yoga."  I may attempt both of those things, but they're not going to be items on a list because I can't check them off until the end of the year.  And even then, I'd have to think--really think and examine my practices--about whether or not I've improved my efforts.  Thoughtful self-awareness has its place and all, but I like checking things off of lists and seeing immediate results.

    Ten days later and I have some results!  At least a little bit.

    If you remember, my plans were to bring some order to my craft corner (and some mostly un-mentioned and definitely un-photographed areas that I'll try to get to later) and knit through at least half of my stash. 

    So.  My craft area:

    I really dislike this picture.  It looks gross and a little trashy.  The worst part is that is disorganized.  I could give a pretty good guess as to where most things were, and I could see my pattern books, but that's about the nicest thing I can say about that.  And even then, I couldn't find what I needed and there was a good chance that stack of books (on the right side of the photo) would slide out of order if I needed to pull out one from the middle.  It was a out of control.
    And now, it looks like this!

    It's not perfect, but it's a definite improvement.  Pulling everything out into the open was a little scary.  I'd stashed so many things into a too-small space.  I found a lot of yarn labels to used-up yarn, quite a few receipts and empty bags from craft stores, some items that had been accidentally washed and felted that I'd saved for ...... something, "stitch markers" (baby pony tail holders make excellent stitch markers. Tell your friends!), books my husband would throw behind The Wall to hide from our daughter when he was tired of reading them, TWO Size 15 16" circular needles, and The Art of War.


    There were also some stray bits and bobs of yarn.  Or maybe whole skeins.

    This bit of housekeeping was very needed.

    The bags went under the kitchen sink, the receipts and felted items went in the trash, the pony-tail-holder stitch holders were safely corralled, and all the books went on all the shelves.  I felt one moment of guilt for have 2 sets of the same needle, but then it passed because sometimes I have a hard time finding larger needles and I might need a second set if I was already working on a bulky yarn project.  I like bulky yarn, so it's a possibility.

    A half-opened bag of stuffing went to the back of my closet because I don't have many pillow-type projects, but it's right where I can find it.  A lot of my stuff is still stashed into bags, but I feel better the more of my yarn and supplies I have out in the open.  I thought I'd be happier with everything tucked away in its own hidden container, but that's not the case.  Being able to find something makes me more likely to use it, and being more likely to use my needles and yarn makes more likely to be happy.

    Throwing out the things that were cluttering up the space helped, but the shelf is what really makes the difference.  I had this shelf out at my parents' house because I thought we didn't need it in our new apartment.  It's a lightweight metal shelf that I dragged home from a neighbor's curb (don't judge), and I was afraid that  someday my daughter would pull it onto herself.  But we still have The Wall in front of it, so she should be safe.

    My favorite part of the whole thing is that I have all of my needles where I can see them. I just saved myself hours of hunting in the new year.  I had previously kept my needles in a bag.  It kept them safe and relatively in one place, but finding a new pair was a ridiculous ordeal sometimes.  Now all of the straight needles are in a Mason jar so I can get a good look at them.

    My DPNS went in some garage sale pottery.

    My circular needles can be reached from my spot on the couch (cue the angel choir).

    Crochet hooks and cable needles go in a jelly jar, and I decided to stick my Knook in a new ball of yarn so that I can just get straight to work on my next dishcloth whenever I'm ready.

    Several of the books and magazines are too tall to be arranged standing up, but I can still read the titles and the two smaller stacks make searching much easier before.  Another bonus was that I had enough space to pull my larger books off of a regular bookcase and arrange them over in my corner.  It saves time, and it gives me a little thrill to see all of my crafting books all together in one place because this is apparently the sort of thing that gives me a thrill.

    A few folders, books, and project bags go on the lowest shelf, along with some yarn.  That part of the shelf isn't as organized as it will be when I'm completely finished, but I'm incredibly excited with how it looks so far.  There are a few boxes with supplies I don't use often, but don't want to put away completely that are stored underneath the shelf and I can get to them easily enough.
    But where is the yarn, you may ask?
    Oh, you know.

    And here.

    And also there.

    Which brings me to my other resolution: knit through half of my stash.  This was my yarn collection a few months ago, but I've used up some of it.  I've also bought more, though, and discovered some stowaways when I was cleaning up everything.

    Thus far, my valiant stashdown efforts have resulted in......two-thirds of a hat.

    Baby steps, okay?  One of the few pieces of resolution advice I actually follow is to turn a goal into some sort of challenge.  So I joined a group on Ravelry challenging people to knit 13 items in 2013 from their stash.  Actually, there are a lot of groups on Ravelry doing this.  I'm just participating in the group challenge "Use it or Lose it" that's run by the podcasters of Stash and Burn.  It's fun because there's a chance to win prizes, and because I get to see what other people are working on.  I have a really good feeling that I'm going to be able to stick with some gift knitting throughout the year this way.

    That blue hat is my January project.  I'm knitting the Starter Cable Hat from Expand Your Knitting Skills.  I knitted the brim longer than the pattern called for because I like to be able to roll my hat brims and/or pull them down way past my ears, and because that uses so much yarn.  I'm also using a yarn that's not quite as bulky as what the pattern calls for, so the extra-long brim will keep me covered if it's not quite long enough. 

    I have nearly 2 skeins of it, and I'm currently going through so much of it you'd think I was crocheting.  Score! I couldn't be more thrilled to start using some of my beloved yarn, and I'm also really excited to get a hat!  Best New Year's resolution ever! 

    Bonus: I think the hat for myself will take just a full skein.  I have about 70% of another skein that I probably won't need, which means I'll probably have more than enough for a baby version of the pattern.  Yes, the pattern comes in baby, child, and adult sizes.  And yes, I am one of those mother-daughter matching outfits people.    

    How are your resolutions going?  How do you organize your stash?  How do you keep all your supplies from dying in between the couch cushions? 

    I like to ask the important questions.

  • Free Knook Pattern: Ridges Baby Hat



    Unfortunately, the baby does not come with the book.  Sorry.


  • Learn to Knook: s1, k1, psso

    Time for one of the last Knook tutorials I'm going to post in a while!  It's crazy for me to think about, but I've written about nearly all of the Knook tutorial videos on the Leisure Arts website.  What happens next?  Come back next week to find out.

    For now, though, we're going to talk about one of my favorite decrease methods.  I'm not joking.  I really like this decrease method.  The act of slipping one stitch, knitting one stitch, and then passing the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch leaves a clean-looking decrease, and takes me less time to do it than it just did to type it out. 

    This is how simple it is:

     Video can also be found here.

    Wasn't that simple and not-intimidating?  Because all of the warnings and wailings in books and on websites about how hard it is to correct accidentally dropped or slipped stitches, it can be difficult to make yourself slip a stitch at first.  To just pass that stitch from one place to the next without doing anything just seems a little wrong. 

    But once you're doing it mindfully, you know you won't forget.  As always, I'd like to offer the helpful advice of muttering the order of steps under your breath.  People will know to leave you alone when you're so focused on such important work, and saying the words as you do the work will help ingrain the process in your memory.  If nothing else, you'll learn how to say the long-winded-sounding process correctly.  Such a long-sounding name for such a simple process.

    This dishcloth that I Knooked uses slipped stitches. 

    But the slips are less obvious when they're passed over a knitted stitch and they pull the fabric a little tighter.  I love this method so much more than SSK (slip 2 stitches knitwise, then pass them back to your first needle to untwist them--or twist them, I never remember--and then knit the two together. ) because I'm really bad at that.  You don't have to worry about that, though, because I don't know if it's even physically possible to do with a Knook and you'd probably be just fine with it anyway.

    Like I said, this is one of my favorite decrease methods.  It pulls the stitches in a different direction than knitting them together, which is why some patterns will tell you to use both methods throughout a project.  I hope you're also the kind of person who gets excited and has opinions about decreasing.  It's always great to find a technique that you like, so that's it's your go-to method for patterns instead of just plodding along and doing whatever.  I bet you're not a plodder, though.  So good for you!

    Happy Knooking!

  • What a Difference a Space Makes

    I normally post every weekday morning, but that didn't happen today.  The hour between 6 A.M. and 7 A.M. is always set aside for writing, but I was otherwise occupied today.  I'll tell you all about it very soon.

    Of course, that's assuming you're really interested in reading about my reorganization endeavors.  I hope you are, though, because I'm going to write all about it some time very soon.

  • Learn to Knook: Back Cables Left-Handed

    See those cabled gift card holders up there?  I made 'em.  I feel good about it.  They looked even better with the cards in them, and they probably would have looked fantastic if I was better at button placement and had some appropriately colored thread for the buttons.  But it was a nice little project and a more personal touch for a gift card.  The pattern can be found here, and it features front and back cables.

    I'm not sure why I thought back cables would be very different from front cables, but there you go. I read the pattern and panicked a little because I'd only practiced with front cables, but then I tried it and was almost disappointed because, oh, your held stitches are in the back.  The right side has front cables and the left side has back cables.  It's just another way to make a cable, and to make your stitches move in a different direction.  If you've already figured out front cables, then you can probably manage back cables.

    But since there's no need to struggle, here's a video to show you! 

    Video can also be watched here.

    I tell you what, any task seems so much more manageable after you watch someone else do something a few times.  The first time around, I always go between "I think I understand" and "I don't think I'll ever be able to do that."  The second time, I'm able to pay closer attention.  The third time, it mostly makes sense.  Some time after the fourth viewing, I feel like the demonstration might be something I could actually try out myself.  This applies to knitting, baby wearing, crocheting, Knooking, yoga, baby swaddling, sink repair, and anything else that isn't a hair tutorial (certain up-dos are never going to happen for me).

    I don't know that back cables will require that much preparation and video-viewing from you.  I'm assuming you'll have an easier time with it than I do, and I wouldn't call it difficult.  It's a fun little technique that makes the prettiest design.  I'm blatantly biased, but I think you should try it out after watching the video.  Maybe watch it twice.

    Happy Knooking!

    Postscript: I realize this post is full of really country-sounding expressions.  I can't think of a better way to phrase things when I'm tired.  Or, as it sounds when I'm saying, "tahred."  It's just a day for Arkansas blogging.  Sorry about that.

  • Learn to Knook: Back Cables

    More cables!  The only difference between front cables and back cables is that your held stitches are held in the front of your work for front cables, and guess where those held stitches go for back cables?  Yep.

    Simply scooting your cord to the back of your work isn't that tricky (unless you're not paying attention and just finished working a front cable.  Ahem), but it's worth going over in a video.  And so some nice person at Leisure Arts did!

    Ta da!

    Video can also be found here.

    As you can see, carefully removing the cord after a cable row probably takes more time than figuring out the cable itself!  And even that's not so bad.  It's a relatively small amount of work to have such a nice pattern in your knitting.  Knooking.  Whatever.  Since Knooking results in a knitted fabric, I think it counts as knitting.

    And cabled fabric is the prettiest fabric, I think.  I know this is probably due to the fact that I just learned how to work cables, but it really is pretty!  I like to read a blog called Knitting Confessions, and no one has ever said anything unkind about cables.  In fact, I also used to read a blog called something like Unpopular Knitting Opinions (I'm pretty sure the administrator just quit posting after people kept getting up in arms over all the unpopular knitting opinions. It's sad that people would get so weird about loom knitting), and no one had anything bad to say about cables there, either!  I know that's not proof that the whole world likes cables, but it's got to mean something when people have a chance to anonymously snark about something on the Internet and don't.

    And how could you?  You can't.  For Pete's sake, remember when that scary knitted full body suit picture was floating around the Internet a few weeks ago?  Just in case your eyeballs haven't been cursed with this horrifying work of art, here you go:


    Everyone had to admit it was really well made.  Some of the people I know who shared this on Facebook even said they wished someone would make this for them.  They inevitably tried to drop hints around crocheters, so it didn't work, but hey. 

    Side note: I love when people ask for knitted items with no offer of compensation or undying gratitude--from crocheters!  Or vice versa.  I just laugh and laugh, probably because I'm mean.

    But I don't have a single snarky thing to say about cables.

    Because they're the best.

    Try them out. Come on.

    You'll love them.

    Just not on a full body suit for a giant adult.


  • Resolutions for 2013

    Happy New Year!

    Do you have any resolutions for 2013?  I know I said I wasn't going to, but I just love lists too much. I was thinking through my plans for Year 30, and decided the list was lacking just a bit.

    My goals for Year 30 are:
    -make mittens
    -knit a sweater for myself
    -make a quilt
    -make something to enter in the Arkansas State Fair
    -learn to read charts
    -knit a shawl from a pattern
    -make socks

    Those are fun goals and I'm looking forward to them.  Working from a chart makes me nervous, but I've tried it a few times and being bad at it is getting old.  But there's always room for improvement, and isn't that what resolutions are meant to be?  My birthday goals are goals--mostly skills I want to learn and means to ends I want (I want a sweater!  Badly!).  But my resolutions are attempts at self-improvement.  My list for that is short.  Not because I think I'm clearly awesome (I do, though, because I am), but because I can only stand so much change.

    Big 2013 Resolution #1
    Knit through at least half of my stash.

    This was what it looked like in October.  It's grown since then.

     I had some impulse buys in 2012, and I had some projects that just didn't work out.  Some of it is small amounts that need to go into granny squares, and some of it could really be something fantastic.  I have some great yarn!  I'd really like to do something with it before I go out buying anything else.  Sometimes, though, it's just easier to go out and buy a new skein or two for a pattern than to hope I have enough stash yarn left, or to even find the stash yarn.  Speaking of which....

    Big 2013 Resolution #2:
    Get organized.

    Specifically, get organized with crafting supplies.  Because this is what my craft corner looks like now.

    Realest blog post ever.  This is what things looked like this morning.

    When my daughter was learning to crawl, we took a playpen and unfolded it across one wall of our living room.  It was a pretty genius move, but it also led to me just dropping things behind The Wall and losing them forever.  There's also a basket of fabric and a little hutch with scrapbooking supplies that I just can't bring myself to show you.  Anyway, if I can bring order to even a portion of that chaos, I'd be a much happier camper.  My little girl is older now, and understands that she can't touch certain things of mine (or she seems to, anyway.  Fingers crossed!) and so it's probably safer now to have things out in the open.  And if I use up half of my yarn, it will certainly be easier to contain it!

    So those are my big resolutions for 2013.  They can be summed up with "Don't get drowned in yarn."  I should be fine, and even if I'm not, there are worse problems to have than too much yarn. 

    Still, I'd like to have a much less embarrassing picture to show you of my corner.

    What are your resolutions?  Any big projects you want to tackle?  New techniques you want to learn?  Horrible trashy craft corners you need to whip into shape?  Let me know in the comments!

    And have a happy 2013!

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