Favorite Thing Friday: So Many Dishcloths!

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My knitting needles have been very busy this summer! Not only am I working on a beautiful pair of socks and super cute pleated top, but I’m also casting on smaller projects for birthday gifts.

One of the easiest things to make for someone is a set of dishcloths or what I like to call Spa Cloths. Pair them with a beautiful bar of soap and you’ve got a thoughtful gift that is also practical.

I’ve made a total of nine Spa Cloths in the last two weeks, all of which have taught me new lace stitches. Part of the reason I love knitting spa cloths is the fact that I can learn new knitting techniques on a small project. If I make a mistake it’s not a big deal to start over again!

First up is the Baby Fern Stitch, a free pattern I found on Ravelry. It looks really difficult, but it only involves a few simple stitches. This is one I’ll have to eventually make for myself! I love the ridges that define a pattern that is both botanical and geometric.

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Baby Fern Stitch

Next up is the Leaf Lace Washcloth, which is another free pattern I found on Ravelry. Initially, I intended it as a gift, but I loved it so much I ended up keeping it for myself. What can I say, I’m a sucker for leaves.

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Leaf Lace Washcloth

After another search through Ravelry (the array of free patterns is truly astonishing), I found a pattern called Christmas Tree Lot Cloth. This is another one I really wanted to keep for myself, but it’s so perfect for the person receiving it I had to let it go!

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Christmas Tree Lot Cloth

I saved the best for last. When I saw the Elvish Leaf Dishcloth pattern, I was instantly in love. While the stitches are relatively easy, keeping track of the pattern from row to row is difficult. I have no shame in admitting I ripped this project out three times before I finally got the pattern right. The end result, however, was worth all the frustration as it is just gorgeous.

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Elvish Leaf Dishcloth

While I usually don’t wet block spa cloths, I did block both the Christmas Tree Lot and Elvish Leaf cloths to get them to lay flat for gift presentation. Lace patterns in a thick gauge tend to pucker and that doesn’t look very nice in a gift box!

The other spa cloths I made were shipped before I could get a picture (I was running a little late for early July birthdays!). If I make them again, I’ll be sure to post pics!

The simplistic nature of spa cloths is a big reason why I love them so much. When in the middle of large or difficult project, they are nice break that offers a satisfying end result. Aside from that, I love giving handmade gifts.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Raindrops

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I love that it rained multiple times during my stay in Indiana, but that’s not the sole inspiration for favoring raindrops this week. After more than three months of work, I finally finished knitting the Adeline Camisole, which features a raindrop pattern.

This is the first large project where I didn’t have to start over again because of a mistake. I’m pretty proud of that fact considering the difficulty of this pattern! The only really scary part came at the end, when I tried the garment on for the first time. It was about a size too big! As with most lace patterns, it stretched after blocking.

To fix this problem, I did what would probably give most wool-lovers a heart attack. I threw it in the dryer. I know, I know, this is blasphemy in the knitting world! Just know I was very careful and had a specific plan of attack.

First, I soaked the garment in water and squeezed out as much water as possible. Second, I put the garment in a pillow case and sealed it with a tie. Third, I put it in the dryer on high heat for twenty minute intervals. After each twenty minute cycle, I checked to see how much it had shrunk. Once it was the right size I laid it flat to dry.

After that harrowing process, I slipped on the camisole and it fit perfectly!

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Adeline Camisole

The raindrop pattern is a little hard to see, so here it is up close:

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Raindrops in yarn!

The yarn for this project totally sold me on KnitPicks as awesome place to buy yarn. Great quality, beautiful colors, and fantastic prices. I made this camisole for $16 using Stroll Hand Painted Sock Yarn in Coffee Shop (what a great name for a color!).

I’ve got a number of other projects going – too many, actually – so stay tuned for more pictures of my knitting adventures! :-)

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Summer Knitting

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My first summer knitting project is complete, thanks to a head start in April and fantastic chunky cotton yarn. The Organic Sprout Tank is a quick and relatively easy top to knit given its simple design design and thick (yet, lightweight) yarn. I found the pattern in Knitting Green by Ann Budd and instantly fell in love with it’s natural aesthetic. Plus, any project with no sleeves is very appealing for someone who lives in a desert!

In only three weeks, I had a super cute tank top that goes great with both jeans and shorts!

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Minty green goodness!

While the pattern is beautiful, I did run into a few problems during the process. First, the diagonal ribs are a bit of a pain to maintain once the front and back are split. The pattern does not clearly explain how to continue the pattern in the midst of constant stitch decreases and increases. Let’s just say I kept my crochet hook handy so I could reverse stitches in previous rows. Second, the bottom edge of the tank top would not stop rolling. However, I solved the problem by adding a crochet chain through the bottom cast on edge. I learned that little trick when making my Derry Raglan sweater and it worked like a charm. No more rolled edge and the crochet chain actually creates a very nice finished edge.

The yarn is Classic Elite Sprout in Mint. This is seriously among my favorite yarns. The strand is super soft and uneven to create a unique texture. Despite being “super chunky” it is lightweight and breathes easily. I love it so much, I’m going to use the left overs to make a little blanket for my dog. It’s perfect yarn for a little dog that loves to snuggle!

Up next, I’m getting ready to cast on my next project: Box Pleat Scoopneck. I went nuts for this pattern the first time I saw it and I can’t wait to get started!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Weird Socks

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Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when it comes to certain skeins of yarn in my stash basket. A while back I bought some sock yarn because I was fascinated by the weird combination of colors, (plus it was on sale). I’d never seen anything like it and I was tired of making socks in the same old shades of blue and purple.

The weird yarn sat untouched until I bought a shirt that actually matched one of the shades in the color way. Taking that as a sign, I picked up my needles (yes, needles and not the loom) and pulled a sock pattern I’ve been wanting to make for a while.

The great thing about Ravelry other than knitting camaraderie is the availability of free patterns. I found a pattern called Vanilla Latte socks and I loved it from the start. It combines two different rib patterns and includes three different heel variations so you can truly customize your sock.

Here are my Vanilla Latte socks in Patons Kroy Socks Stripes in Rusty Stripes (yup, that’s the weird color).

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Vanilla Latte Socks in a not-so-vanilla colorway!

I love how they turned out, but I’m still ambivalent about the color. Some days I love it and others I can’t figure out what made me buy it! Either way, I have a very cute top that matches the green stripe perfectly. At least I know they’ll be worn. And who knows, I might find these weird colors match other things in my wardrobe, too.

Aside from trying out a new color, I did realize something rather important with this project. While it’s nice to have more freedom with needle socks (there are so many more patterns available), my sock loom still makes the best sock. The fit is just better, especially when it comes to the heel and toe. I have yet to make a pair of needle socks that fit as snugly (without being too small) as sock loom socks. So, my next pair of socks will be loom socks!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Derry Raglan

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It’s official! I finished knitting my first raglan sweater! After receiving the book, New England Knits by Cecily Glowik Macdonald and Melissa LaBarre, I fell in love with the pattern for the Derry Raglan and Cowl. This didn’t surprise me in the least as MacDonald was the designer of the pattern for the first sweater I ever made, (See Knit, Purl, Knit …). I just love her designs! They highlight simplicity with just the right touch of intricate detail.

The Derry Raglan has a plain front, but a beautiful lace pattern runs down the sleeve. Seeing as I live in a mild climate, the idea of ventilated sleeves on a sweater made this the perfect project for me. Plus, it had the added bonus of learning the raglan technique for the yoke and shoulders of a garment. I’m always ready to try something new.

Before doing anything I had to learn how to do a Right-lifted Increase and a Left-lifed increase. Luckily, I found two great videos on youtube for both stitches. It’s rare to find a knitting video that clearly explains every step and takes the time to visually go through those steps slowly and repeatedly. If you need to learn these stitches, follow the links!

Pyrrha Designs: Right Lifted Increase

Pyrrha Designs: Left Lifted Increase

Aside from lifted stitch increases, the hardest part of this sweater was the first round. After casting on, the pattern stipulated lifted increases with only the cast on stitches to pick up.  I had to start over at least four times before I found the right tension!  Once I got that first round, everything fell into place.

The finished project turned out great!

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A little magic math on the gauge lead to a perfect fit!

The yarn is Berroco Remix in Red. Made from recycled fibers and cotton, this yarn is not only soft, but also earth friendly!

When I bound off the final stitch, it was 80 degrees outside. There’s nothing worse than finishing a beautiful sweater and knowing you’ll have to wait more than six months to wear it. However, as luck would have it, a cold front swept through my area for one day this week. I got to wear my new sweater after all!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014