Thursday, February 23, 2012

Knitting Gifts

I've recently discovered the anxiety that is knitting a gift for someone. It first struck the day after I started making the Cardinal dishcloth for my boyfriend's mom. I was so gung ho and searching for a pattern that was more complex that I latched on to the first good looking thing I saw within(and at the top of) my skill level. This magnified when I was bolstered by the success of the cardinal, though it did have a few stitches that weren't quite in the pattern.

I went looking for a pattern my own mother would like, and found the perfect flower. It was complicated, but I wasn't afraid. I'd never adapted a pattern before, but it was from a glove and had a chart, so I didn't think it'd be difficult to turn into a flat knit dishcloth. Unfortunately, I didn't take into account the complexity when considering the needle size and went with my straight sevens since my interchangeable needle set hadn't arrived yet. I set off on this new adventure, and it didn't turn out exactly as planned.

It turned out to be more of a dishtowel than a dishcloth, and the pattern was more stretched than I'd envisioned it. It was 120 rows. It took a ball and a quarter of Peaches n Creme, the most I've had to use on a single project so far. It was difficult to get a picture, but here is the finished project:
Flower chart here.
I actually took it off my needles and made several other projects before finishing the last 30 rows just in time to get it to my mom for her birthday. Even though I just threw this in as an additional present beyond what I was planning on getting her anyway, I feel bad because it isn't perfect. I never want someone to feel obligated to use something I made (enthusiastic as I might've been at the start!) if they don't like it, and I also feel bad for spending so much time on something that had problems I could've fixed at the time if I'd only known what I was doing a little more.

One of the projects I did while this was in the wings is part of a wedding present. I am attending one of my high school friends weddings in May, and will at least be sending a present to the wedding of my cousin (not technically related since she's the stepdaughter of my aunt, but it's not so much not blood relation as the fact that we're not close and I'm not sure I can manage travelling home twice in May). For both, I'd like to give them a bottle of wine, a couple of nicely (home)made dishcloths, and one small thing from their registry. This allows me to flesh out my gifts for them without spending more than what's in my limited budget.

I picked out a wine cozy pattern that looked nice and made it. I'm a teensy bit unhappy with it because the pattern says that the maker didn't knit it in a round because she didn't like doing so and I was pretty sure I'd like it better and was capable of doing it round, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt and knit it flat. The seam is rather obvious despite my being careful, and I had to go over the ribbing at the top more because it didn't hold together as well. If I do this pattern again, I'm definitely knitting in the round, and I might add a little more to the ribbing to avoid crocheting, which hurts my wrists.
Pattern found here.

Bottom view
I'm happy with the way the yarn looks otherwise, given that it's Red Heart Shimmer yarn. I'm planning on embroidering (or something, haven't decided what will work best yet) their monogram onto the front to complete it and personalize it.

On my needles right now is a double knit pot holder. I decided to try this before I made the double knit bookmark because it's easier to see if I make a mistake and the yarn isn't so expensive as to make me feel guilty if I mess up!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Opening Up Blog

I haven't been writing here because I haven't been writing in my life. I know that my goal for the year is not something I'm going to make. I set it because I was coming down from the high that is NaNoWriMo, and I would still like to incorporate writing into my life more often. On the other hand, there are other creative endeavors I embark upon that I don't feel like I can write about here. SO. I'm going to open up my blog to all the different things I've made and do that are creative. And maybe sometimes non creative things will sneak in here. I make no promises!

I'm still searching for a job, so after I've perused all of the job boards I am looking through and given up on finding any more, I've been knitting. I started with dishcloths. The learning curve for them was rather wonky, since I just picked the patterns I wanted to do instead of based on how difficult they were to do. The local Wal Mart has super cheap Peaches n Creme yarn, so it was easy on the wallet too (to start with, I've since ordered a mind boggling amount of yarn...)

I also picked up a Mason Dixon knitting book because I liked the style, and they featured this dishcloth:
Pattern can be found on the Peaches and Creme website for free
After having that under my belt, I decided to go for something a little more difficult. I was going to design my own pattern, and decided to make something for someone else since I only need so many dishcloths. I settled on a thank you gift for my boyfriend's mother, who let me stay with them for Christmas and New Years. I searched for a cardinal to use as my reference, but I ended up finding the perfect pattern. So I got to work knitting it right away instead.
Pattern found here. Lots to see there, $2 a piece
I was feeling a little fatigued after the difficulty of having to be directly in front of the pattern to knit, and fondly remembered a dishcloth my Grandma used to make. She taught me how, once, but I'd forgotten. Back to the internet I went, and discovered a lot of people have written up the pattern and it's quite well known. I usually saw it as "Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth" or something similar, though sometimes it was the less nice, "Idiot's Washcloth". In any case, Here's the one I made with a nice variegated yarn.

Pattern found here.
 My last finished dishcloth (whose ends have been sewn in since this picture was taken!) is this lovely number. It was rather similar to the first one I made, slipping stitches to create a pattern. In this case, the slipped stitches are knit after only one row, but it leaves a very pretty pattern behind. I don't have a picture of the back right now, but it's also pretty nice looking on the other side too! After several other things, I made another one in blue and white.

Pattern found here.
Next, I decided to make something for my boyfriend. He'd been sitting next to me patiently on the couch as I elbowed him in the side while knitting long enough without reward, after all. My next project would involve cabling, so I first practiced with this napkin ring (unblocked for the picture!) as a short, sweet little project.

Pattern found here. Mine is right slanting.
Feeling ready for the real deal, I got some Red Heart yarn (also cheap at Wal Mart) as called for in the pattern, took measurements of my boyfriend's Kindle (a Nov. birthday present from his parents) and made him a case. I think it turned out rather well. This picture doesn't do it justice, and I might have to upload a new one next time he's around with his Kindle for me to photograph. This was my first attempt to knit in the round with dpns, and I can barely tell where the joins were!

Pattern found here.
Deciding to celebrate success with another easy project, I picked out another Mason Dixon pattern. I have wanted to make a reusable Swiffer cover since I bought the thing and found out how much the refills cost. Now I have one! I made this with leftover purple from the other cloths, and ran out a little bit before I thought I would. It still looks fine, and it's just going onto a Swiffer, so I don't mind.

Pattern in Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.
In the process of searching for more patterns, I found something that would be perfect for one of my best friends. She once asked another friend of ours what the chemical formula for popcorn was while studying in high school, and has has to bear many jokes since. This isn't popcorn, it's caffeine, but considering how often she goes to Starbucks it's still appropriate.

Pattern found here.
My latest project was for myself, the third in the round project. I don't have any dice, though I love looking at them in stores, and I don't do anything that requires me to carry around dice, but I couldn't pass this pattern up. Mini Cthulhus! It turned out better than I'd imagined. I used yarn leftover from my boyfriend's Kindle case, and he told me as soon as I was done with it that he was pretty sure it was supposed to be for him too. Haha, no! But I will probably make him one too someday soon, perhaps in slightly different colors to prevent confusion. =)

Pattern found here.
So that's what I've been up to. This post is crazy long. Next time I'll check in sooner. I am most of the way done with a wine cozy for a wedding in May, and I think I'm going to make a few cute little things with more of the Red Heart yarn. I also have some nicer yarn for a few market bags (including one intended as a gift if I can get the pattern to work out better than the first one I started and ripped out!) and even nicer sock yarn for a double knitted bookmark.

This is the most intimidating thing I've decided to try yet, and I actually cast this project on twice. Unfortunately, the first time the yarn slipped off while I was trying to move it to a different room. For the second time, I decided to be more careful and covered the ends when I wasn't working on it, but they came off and so did the yarn! Argh! I had no hope of being able to sort out and pick up all of those stitches, and since I was only a few rows into it I decided to just rip it all out and put it in the bag for another day. A few projects later and I'm beginning to feel up to the challenge again.

Until next time, dear readers!