A Lot of Fun

It’s summer, and my knitting mojo has waned a bit since I knit my cousin her summer top. I’ve knit a bunch of knitted knockers, but that’s just placeholder knitting.

I’ve not been especially into knitted toys because I haven’t had a lot of children in my life, plus, well, knitted toys are what I make for my cats.

Then I learned that Franklin Habit and WEBS Yarn Store has teamed up to make a kit to knit his cartoon character, Dolores Van Hoofen, a very badly behaved sheep. So much fun!

I pre-ordered the kit, and it arrived on time. It even came with hilarious sun-glasses!

Now, there’s always a risk that when you are the first to knit some new pattern, that you will discover issues in it. Alas, such was the case with this project. I have it on very good authority that the WEBS tech editor dropped a bunch of the directions; and my own experience was that a few of us knitting to the first issued pattern could clearly tell that no one had test-knitted this version of the pattern. This is when it’s nice to have knitting partners: a few of us gathered into the Franklin Habit Ravelry group and helped each other out as far as we could get (which was not all the pieces). Franklin was contacted, and was more than apologetic about the problems (not of his making, imo), and great improvements have been made.

See?

Dolores has proved that she earns her reputation – she plopped herself into Izzie’s favorite chair yesterday morning to sun herself, and Izzie was not at all happy!

The plus of knitting this toy is that there will be outfits. Yes, just like your Barbie, Dolores is having her very own knitted-couture outfits designed by the knitterati. Amazing! Amy Herzog is having the first go with a Rhinebeck-inspired sweater set, complete with a parasol.

Franklin Habit is starting a KAL on August 1 – so head on over to WEBS and pick up a kit, you won’t regret it!

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Why I Knit for Afghanistan

A couple of weeks ago this article was published in the New York Times, about internal refugee camps within Afghanistan, and how children, including a young infant, died in the cold.  It’s enough to break any person’s heart to think about. The follow-up article tells the story about hapzarard efforts to respond to these people, while not perfect, at least people are making the effort.

Ten years on from the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, it’s hard to realize that for most people in Afghanistan, things are either the same or worse.  I don’t have any real solutions to the whole war and the sides there, given the complexiities of the balance of powers, the so-called American partners, Pakistan, etc.  These are frankly beyond my time and understanding.

Therefore, I knit.  Over the years, I’ve probably knit over 100 items for Afghans for Afghans.  There’ve been a couple of blankets, lot’s of sweaters, and a few hats thrown in.  The ones I’ve documented are included in my Ravelry A4A project page.  I knit because at least I can assure some children and youth (and a few adults) that someone in America cares enough to provide them something I would be proud to have anyone in my family wear.  At least I can do something for the poor and the ones who are in need, even though there’s no New York Times article being written about their particular situation.

So far, for the Afghans for Afghans campaign that is coming to a close, I’ve completed less this time (starting a new job cut into the knitting time), but tried out some new things.  First up, a bunch of pretty standard toe-up socks:

Regia a4a socks

And then I decided to do a standard sweater a la Ann Budd, but with a shawl collar in a pullover:

shawl collar pullover a4a-4
shawl collar pullover a4a-1
And Brandy did her usual inspection of the knitwear:
shawl collar pullover a4a-3

With the leftovers, I also did a vest with simple two rows of striping:
striped a4a vest1b
And Brandy did another “inspection”!
striped a4a vest1a

And now I’m taking those leftovers, along with a skein of worsted wool in taupe, and doing a steeked vest with stripes.
Here’s the vest done with the knitting complete:

Striped Steeked Vest for a4a1c
and with the steeks crocheted (I used Eunny Jang’s quick and dirty tutorial for doing them)
Striped Steeked Vest for a4a1a
and with the steeks cut:
Striped Steeked Vest for a4a1e
Since then I’ve sewn the shoulders, and now I’m blocking everything before doing the armholes and ribbing.

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Homestretch

I’m getting there on the sweater – the sleeves are done, joined to the body, and I’ve finished (i.e. designed on the fly and knit) the first color pattern for the yoke, done the first decreases, and beginning on the second color pattern (to match the sleeve).

I’m pretty happy with it:
A4A Ravelympics Sweater1k.JPG

and so is Izzie:
A4A Ravelympics Sweater1i.JPG

The goal is to finish the knitting today, and do the blocking today and tomorrow.

Yesterday, I went to the intermediate spindling class, it was awesome, and I’ll more after Stitches West. Just too much happening this week!

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How a Spinner is Born

First, a casual glance at spinning fiber and goodness as one walks by
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Entranced by the fiber goodness, a closer inspection is required
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Decide that further tactile investigation and play is the order of the day, one engages the spindle
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And learns to draft the fiber with the correct paw
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Realize that park and draft is more complicated than it looks when somebody experienced does it, it’s hard to know where to look
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Then takes a break because learning new stuff is tiring
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When do I get to ply?
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Twist, for sure

The addiction continues. Twist has cast a spell over me, and I am helpless to resist. These popped over the weekend:

Quick Mitts1a.JPG

And I caught this photo, and I didn’t even know that Izzie was there – kinda cool.
Quick Mitts1f.JPG

The improvised pattern uses a tubular cast-on for 36 stitches, then do a mini-cable to go into 2×2 ribbing. I did another mini-twist at the beginning of the thumb gusset, which is done most in 1×1 ribbing.

Quick Mitts1b.JPG

The cast-off for the hand is my switch out to a tubular cast-off, while the thumb gusset was done conventionally in pattern.

Quick Mitts1c.JPG

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Malabrigo with a Twist

I am not a yarnie – that is, I don’t look for all the cool and new yarns, and have to hunt them down on Etsy or other sites. I am pretty happy with what’s available at my local LYS – this one and this one too.

So, when the new Malabrigo Twist became available, it was pretty unusual for me to leap on the bandwagon so quickly. But the favorite colorway was available, so I scooped up two skeins – one for a cowl, and the other will be for a hat.

My feelings about this yarn: it has all the wonderful squishiness and softness of the Malabrigo brand. It is advertised as a subtle thick and thin buiky yarn. I beg to differ, based on the skein that I knitting. It seems more like an Aran-weight yarn, and there wasn’t much thick-and-thin in my skein.

The cowl pattern (Birthday Cowl – a free pattern) worked quite well with the yarn, although I adjusted the stitch count for my gauge.

BirthdayCowl1a.JPG
I will definitely be knitting with this yarn again. Brandy seems to approve as well!
BirthdayCowl1b.JPG

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Back on the Afghans for Afghans Train

The September announcement of a campaign for Afghans for Afghans was for blankets. I organized a big blanket effort as you might remember, in the spring, which was followed by another campaign here, so let’s just say I’ve blanketed things pretty well this year.

The blanket making I was doing? Not so good. I made three more squares to finish a baby blanket, but they sat on my bed like this.
a4ablanket9

Izzie and Brandy began to think the squares were just for them. So I put them away so the poor baby who will get the eventual blanket won’t be covered in cat hair.

This week, we learned there’s a quick-quick campaign for youths 7-14 years old, for sweaters mittens, socks, vests (and hats, but they don’t need that many hats). And it’s with Church World Service (which is way better to donate to than the American Red Cross, don’t get me started). And lookie what is flying off the needles:

Youth Sweater IV b

It’s the Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan sweater. I made in a cardigan version for the Ravelympics 2008. I’m using a closeout yarn I got from WEBS – Misty Merino at less than 20 microns. OMG! It is SO soft and squishy. And not a blanket.

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Happy Kitties

I participated in another kitty toy swap. This one included an “assmat” (say that three times quickly, I dare you), and a kitty toy.  But our Ravelry crowd is a generous lot, so we give and get more than that.  This time, the kitties and I all enjoyed our package from Jenny in Kent, WA:

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I love the mug and the tea. The cards have those sheep with the wiggly eyes.  Brandy really likes the mice:

Kittymouse1b.JPG

and Izzie has completely adopted the assmat – it’s double size, so all of her fits on it nicely:
Izzie on Assmat

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