Archive for the “gloves” Category

Moorefield Mittens (take two) – now with a cuff of a more appropriate length. I’m getting pretty good at the alternating cable cast-on, which is still a little fiddly but no longer frustrating to do. I like how the cuff looks with red as the consistent colour – it’s a different ‘feel’ than on the hat, but still nice looking. The wonky stitch tension will even out with blocking; for some reason I have more difficulty with stranding on DPNs than on circular needles.

The thumb stitches are being held aside, and I’m up to the part where I’m going to create the opening that will make these flip-top mittens. This is accomplished by knitting a row of waste yarn across the palm, then continuing on in pattern. This technique allows the colourwork to progress uninterrupted up the back of the hand.

When I made the Fleeps I knit the glove with fingers part first, and then picked up stitches across the back of the hand to make the mitten top. This time, the mitten top is knit first, and then the waste yarn across the palm will be pulled out to give me two rows of live stitches from which I can knit the glove fingers.

I made the stitches across the inside of the thumb in pattern, though it’s probable that they won’t even show in the finished object. The thumb hole seems a little large, but that might be necessary for a range of motion. When I go to knit the thumb, I could decrease by picking up just one stitch into both “corner” stitches – where the stitches on waste yarn meet the stitches I cast on to bridge the gap. That would bring the total from 26 down to 24, which might fit my skinny fingers a little better. Conveniently, it might also help to prevent holes in the thumb!

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The hat has been finished for a while now. The ends woven in, the yarn put away (sort of – more on that in a moment) and the styrofoam head located. The hat, finished but unblocked, has been sitting on the styrofoam head in my living room, where I’ve been admiring it on a nightly basis. “But,” I said to myself, “I can’t finish writing up the pattern without pictures, and I can’t take pictures without blocking the hat.”

So it had a good warm bath, luxuriating in the Eucalan suds for half an hour or so…

…and now it’s back on the styrofoam head, its stitches far more even (especially around the decreases) and looking good. The head is actually too small for the hat, so it doesn’t look as good as it might. I’d love to have a proper-sized blocking head. One day!

It has a name now, too: I’ve decided to call it Moorefield.

As for the yarn, which has been sort of put away (it’s in a cubby of the coffee table), I might be making some matching mittens. I got started but then had to rip back; the cuff on these isn’t nearly long enough. But they’re pretty, so I’m sharing anyway.

There might not be enough brown yarn left to make two full mittens, so I’ve changed the colours around in the chart to have the main stripiness be red instead of brown for the second attempt. I’m also going to do these as flip-tops, because flip-top mittens are the best thing ever. If I really focus on them, I might be able to get them done and written up in time to release along with the hat. That’s ambitious, but not impossible.

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Michael had mentioned that his Fleeps were starting to get thin in places again, and after Thanksgiving I took them home with me for their third repair job… which was really just a sneaky excuse to take some measurements and observations so I could knit him new ones. I worked from my notes from his first gloves, combined with the constructive feedback that he’d provided and checking to see where the old ones had worn out.

The new ones have longer thumbs to prevent a gap, seed stitch flaps rather than ribbed so they won’t pull in quite as much over time, and duplicate stitch reinforcements at all the corners where the flaps attach to the body of the gloves. It looks as if the mitten-top is crooked, but they’re lined up with the hands rather than the wrists, so they fall straight when the gloves are actually on.

michaels_second_fleeps

They’re also a grayer kind of gray; his first pair was a darker gray with red tweedy flecks, but I couldn’t find the darker colourway. The yarn is Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed, which wasn’t available in the US for a while but now WEBS is carrying it again. I used Peppercorn for Michael’s Fleeps, and bought two balls of Serpentine for another future pair.

I used a combination of the Cigar and Gnomittens patterns, adjusted for the shape and size of his wrists and hands. Both patterns are free, but I found that they needed quite a bit of customization to make them fit perfectly. The cuffs would have been too large around as the patterns are written, so I took some stitches out of them, and then had to add width back in for the hands. I was very glad to have taken such careful notes on the first pair; it made it much easier to make the second set fit to perfection as well.

The gloves were done enough for me to wrap them up and give them to him on Christmas Eve, but I hadn’t had the chance to sew on the snap-magnets (which is the most annoying, fiddly part of the whole project). I’ll do that today, and then they’ll be the last project on the books for 2015!

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Last weekend, Michael and I went to Ottawa to visit our sister the Ninja for Winterlude! We had a wonderful time – cooking, going to pubs (haggis nachos!) and yarn shops, skating on the Rideau Canal, checking out the ice sculptures, watching the Superb Owl with friends… I wish we could have stayed longer.

pirate_and_ninja

I finished my Fleeps just in time for skating on Saturday, and a good thing too, as they kept my hands wonderfully warm. (More about them in another post, though.) Michael and I were able to skate the whole canal from start to finish and back again, 7.8 km each way, plus a few side excursions. All in all, that’s about 10 miles of skating! Here we are at Le Fin du Glace:

fin_du_glace

Of course, I bought souvenir yarn. Quite a bit of it, actually. On Friday, we went to Knit-Knackers in Smiths Falls, where I may have gone overboard. Michael bought me some Patons Kroy in Rainbow Stripes, a colourway that I haven’t seen in my local stores, and a coordinating skein of navy for the toes/heels/cuffs. I picked up a ball of ONline Supersocke 100 in a tonal pink for a textured or cabled sock that I haven’t yet designed, and another ball of Supersocke 100 in a colourway that looks exactly like skiing in 1988. Awesome, eh? I can’t wait to knit this one up!

online_supersocke_paradise-1444

Before the Superb Owl on Sunday, we stopped by Yarn Forward in Ottawa where I couldn’t resist this ball of Berocco Sox. If they hadn’t had a partially-knit sample sock in the colourway, I might have passed it by. It wasn’t until later that I realized with some amusement it has that same mustard-yellow colour that’s in the yarn for my planned long johns!

berocco_sox_1493

Ottawa is one of my favourite cities, and already I’m looking forward to going to Winterlude next year – though I’d like to visit again in warmer weather. It would be nice to travel with a little suitcase, instead of a big one stuffed with wool sweaters and ice skates!

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There was no work yesterday due to “the most snow that Washington has seen in years.” This seems to me like a bit of exaggeration as I only saw about four inches of fluffy dry snow up at my house. That’s is nothing compared to the 18 inches of heavy wet snow I got last March (when it only rained in DC). But hey, a snow day is a snow day, right?

So, with nothing else to do, I finished knitting the hand of one Fleep and got started on the next. I’m only a few rounds from the base of the thumb now, and am on schedule to have them completely finished, mitten-tops and all, by the end of the coming weekend. It seemed like a good idea to do both hands first, and then both mitten-tops, so I can be sure that they’re attached at the same place on each glove.

This morning it was so cold that my poor fingers got frostnip just clearing the snow off the car. I know it will be cold in Ottawa next week, and I’ve no desire to repeat this painful experience. The idea of lining the mitten-tops with polar fleece is getting more and more attractive, but whether it gets done will depend on how quickly I can finish the actual knitting and weave in all the ends.

I’ve been asked, semi-seriously, how much I’d charge to make a custom pair of Fleeps for someone. It’s a good question, and I spent some time thinking about it as I knit. I generally only knit for people as a labour of love, but if the price was right I’d consider taking a small commission like this one. My time is valuable and knitting to a deadline tends to make me grumpy, so the “right” price would be astoundingly high, probably $300 at a minimum.

Do you take commission work? How much do you charge? Is it something you enjoy doing?

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Way back in 2009, I knit what was to become my most-worn project: a pair of convertible mittens with two full fingers and a few exposed fingertips, using a combination of the Cigar and Gnomittens patterns. They were made specifically for Winterlude in Ottawa, so that I could have my hands mostly covered and still be able to hold my spoon at the outdoor stew cookoff. One only really needs three fingertips in the winter, right? What can’t you do with just three fingertips?

My usual snow gloves are incredibly warm, but too thick to let my fingers be useful for anything more than making snowballs. I called these knit gloves Fleep-Tops, and wore them through several winters. They fit perfectly. They were, in fact, the best thing ever. (So great that Michael asked me to make a pair for him, too!)

fleeptop3

But I knew that one day, my Fleeps would become thin and need replacement. And I knew that the yarn (Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed, which is 85% wool/10% silk/5% cashmere) was getting harder and harder to find. So a year later when I was in Ottawa for Winterlude again, I bought two more balls of it, this time in a deep green colourway with red and yellow tweedy flecks, called “Cedar”.

Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed

I’ve missed going to Winterlude for a few years, but this year I’m going back, and so in the beginning of the month I cast on for the next pair of Fleeps. The first one is nearly done, with just a few more fingers and a mitten top to go. I may be frantically knitting on the train again, but I swear, these will be done by the end of the month so I can wear them around one of my favourite cities!

fleep_redux1

Unfortunately, the yarn isn’t as great as I remember from the first pair. It seems weak. There are some very thin spots, and in one place one of the plies had frayed and broken so that I had to rejoin the yarn. The knitted fabric is a good weight, though; I’m not worried about these wearing out in just one season. Because it’s so hard to find and because I’m annoyed at the yarn, I’m going to be looking for a replacement DK-weight tweed for my inevitable next pair. I think I’ll always want a pair of Fleeps around!

I’m following my notes from the first Fleeps very closely. The only changes I’m making are to shorten the index and middle fingers, which are the half-length fingers, so that the finger covering ends before my first knuckle instead of after it. More cover seemed like a good idea when I made the first pair, but the fabric bunched up oddly when I bent my fingers. I’m definitely going to sew magnetic snaps onto these to hold the top to my wrist and keep it from flopping about, and I’m also considering sewing a polar fleece lining into the mitten for extra warmth.

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“Do you think, if we blockade her bag, she won’t be able to leave?”

“I don’t know, man.”

“It’s worth a shot. Come on, I’ll take this side, you stretch out over there. She’ll never be able to get through us.”

“This has never worked before… but okay.”

I am heading off for a two week vacation! The hardest part of packing was choosing what knitting projects to bring. I’m just about up to the heel turn on the second of my traveling socks, so I decided to bring another skein of sock yarn with me. I chose the Periwinkle Sheep that I got at Rhinebeck last year, and I’m finally going to make Cakewalk socks for myself.

Then I thought, maybe that’s not enough. Maybe I should bring yarn for the fancy cabled kneesocks that I’ve been wanting to knit for years. Should it be Clessidra? Or Rhiannon?

Then I realized that as tempting as it may be to say that I’d have two weeks of pure knitting time, the truth is that I’m not going to work on something fancy or complicated at Pennsic. It takes too much concentration. I need something simple that I can do whilst holding a conversation, something I can put down and pick up without losing my place.

The yarn for my new dark green Fleeps is in the bag.

I don’t have any posts queued up for while I’m gone, but I’ll see you all in two weeks!

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This, my friends, is what is known as a Very Silly Picture. This is me, dancing like a fool, at Winterlude this past February. Friend Patrick, who is a very good photographer indeed, took the shot while I was being ridiculous in the park for the amusement of those around me. Fortunately, more people were looking at the ice sculptures than at me, or I might have been photographed whilst blushing bright red.

The great part about this picture, at least for the purposes of this blog, is that I am covered in handknits. The Winterlude Hat(tm), the Stripey Striped Scarf, the Fleeps… and, though you can’t see them, I believe I was wearing handknit socks at the time. And the picture wasn’t taken to show off any of those things. No, it’s just a candid shot of me, wearing lots of things I knit myself. And one thing I spun and then knit, which shows up surprisingly well in pictures even if the contrast is a little dim in person.

I’d like to have enough handknit (or crocheted) stuff that all my friends’ photo albums have pictures of me wearing stuff I made myself. It would also count if I learned to sew and was photographed wearing clothing I’d sewn. That’s next on the list – once the craft room is set up, I’ll have a place for the sewing machine and can re-familiarize myself with its ways. I have a simple skirt in my wardrobe that I’d love to be able to duplicate. After that, who knows where my skills might branch out?

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Wildcard – Embellish the story
Embellishments come in all types and forms. Some are more than purely decorative and form a practical function – pretty buttons are as much part of holding a garment together as mere decoration, and some are just there to give a piece an extra ‘something’. Blog about an embellishment, be it a zipper, amigurumi eyes or applique patch which you are either saving to use or have in the past used to decorate a project with. Write about whether you are a very minimalist kind of knitter with classic lines and timeless plain knits or whether you love all the bells and whistles or sticking sewing and otherwise attaching decoration to your pieces.

Although Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011 is technically over, I thought it would be fun to do the wildcard post anyway!

The best embellishment work I’ve done to date was attaching little snappish magnets to the tops and cuffs of the Fleep-Tops I made for Michael. My own Fleeps flap; he requested that his could button or snap back out of the way. It took several tries to get the snaps just right, as does most of the embellishment work I attempt. For example, it took several tries before I successfully crocheted buttons onto a sweater, not to mention the one where Pirate-Husband had to help me seam a pair of Blu babypants after I’d tried and failed multiple times to get the orange seam-yarn to show up properly.

Once I’d gotten the basic idea, though, it wasn’t terribly difficult to sew on the felt and then sew on the little snaps. (Who am I kidding? It was a pain in the butt. I had to do it over and over again to get it right.) They look really, really good subtly embedded into the cuffs… and they work really, really well, because they’re incredibly strong little magnets. They work *so* well, in fact, that I’m almost afraid of them pulling out the fabric even with the felt reinforcements. My next pair of Fleeps will have snaps of their own, and then I will no longer have flapping Fleeps.

I’m not really much of one for actually *doing* the embellishing or accessorizing, but I do appreciate the finished look of a project with trim or an edging, and I can really appreciate it when an embellishment is both beautiful and functional, like a crocheted button or a perfectly set snap.

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Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while.

How has one of your past knits lived up to wear. Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which he then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the was in which you hope that item is still doing good for its owner or the cause it was made to support.

People often ask me if I wear out my handknit socks. “You must have put so much work into them,” they say, a concerned look creeping into their eyes, “and then you walk on them. I wear out my socks so fast. Is it even worth it to knit socks?” The funny thing is that I have not yet worn out a pair of my socks, not even the first pair that I finished in 2006. Admittedly, I don’t wear those often as they don’t fit perfectly. But still. Even the socks I wear more often are still going strong. One pair has perhaps felted more than the others, but the fabric itself is still solid.

The Fleeps, on the other hand, I finished in January of 2009 and they are the knitted items I wear most often. (ETA: The Fleeps, or Fleep-Tops, are actually flip-top glove/mittens. The tips of my thumbs, forefingers, and middle fingers are exposed for things like tying shoes and signing receipts, and the other two fingers are fully closed. They are the best glove/mittens in the world, probably because I took the time to completely custom-fit them. You can see the Ravelry project page here.) They’ve seen three winters now (and I do wear them into early spring) and just before going to Winterlude in February I noticed that the tops of some of the half-fingers had started to wear out to the point of unraveling. Fortunately, the thin spots were easy enough to fix with duplicate stitching, but I’m thinking that it might be almost time to knit a new pair of Fleeps for myself. As a side note, wow, my hair was short in that picture! It’s now well past my shoulders and back into “long hair” territory.

What would be the use of knitting something like socks or gloves, only to have them sit on a shelf looking pretty? I make my knitwear to be worn, to be used, and I know that eventually it will wear out past the point of repair.

Anyway, the Fleeps are without a doubt my favourite thing I’ve ever knitted. I like my hats, and scarves, and socks. But I love my Fleeps, and I can’t imagine ever not having a pair. This is why knitting is great – a storebought item may be discontinued, but as long as there’s yarn, I can always make more Fleeps! I already have the yarn for the next pair in my stash, in a deep dark green tweed colourway. (I also need a new winter coat, so I hope to find one that goes with deep dark green gloves.)

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