8-Bit Wine Bottle Cozy Bag

While working on this project, Hubby asked “What’s with the 8-bit pattern?”  8-bit?  Oh, man.  Like those greeting cards we used to print on dot-matrix printers from a Commodore-64 in the ‘80s.  Fine – he’s not wrong.

BTW, I’ll add my thoughts on the pattern and yarns up front and keep the actual instructions short and sweet.  Who loves a verbose, stream-of-consciousness knitting pattern that prints across a dozen pages?  Nobody.  Definitely not me.

Traveling through the US on The Great Wander, Hubby and I came across a stylish and dog-friendly yarn shop in Charlottesville, VA.  Ewe Fine Fiber Goods welcomed us for knit night, and I found Green Mountain Spinnery Mewesic, Diamonds and Rust, on their sale table.  What a yummy auburn color with flecks of gold.  We were looking forward to living in a sticks and bricks with a top-loading washer, and I really wanted to felt something, since I’d only had front loaders since learning to knit.  This was an experiment, not exactly well planned, but the resulting bag seems nice enough to share.  Part of the lesson learned is that stranded knitting felts tighter than plain stockinette.  Duh.  Several inches of stockinette below the heavier stranded design could have sent this to the trash, but the piece arranged itself into little rings that give it a footing, almost an architectural touch.  Widening at the top with a tie to hold the fold flat balances the piece, rather like an artistic vase.  With a bow.

Download the pattern 8-Bit Wine Bottle Cozy Bag for free if you want to make your own.  Please do not sell this pattern or anything you make with it unless you get express, written permission from me, the pattern author.  (Send a message to Susan via the contact form or email in the PDF.)  Feel free to make bags for your friends, and give them a lovely chilled bottle.  The cozy will keep it cool along the way, and you’ll look extra cool presenting it.

Fruity Barrel Cactus

Traveling through Arizona in the spring, I fell in love with cacti bearing fruit and flower.  The squatty barrel cactus felt friendly, like a waggy dog you meet on a trail.  It’s medium sized, companionable, not one to loom threateningly overhead or to hold you at arm’s length.  It says, “Sit by me and gaze at the mountain range.”

Wanting to take the cactus home but knowing I couldn’t, I designed a replica to ride on the dash of our motor coach.  You can make one too, and enjoy the Southwest wherever you are.  The pattern is on Ravelry.

Teen Delinquents Foiled by Midnight Curfew

…and you won’t mind telling us everything, unless you have something to hide. Straight from the 1950s, when high school kids learned how to go along to get along.

Bears, bears, bears

Oh no! Did the Cracker Jack bears eat the little sailor boy?
Cracker Jack Bears (1)

It turns out the bears came first, so the sailor boy and his dog Bingo must have had bear stew before their Cracker Jacks.  Whew!

Don’t look now, but I think the bears’ friends are preparing for revenge.

“Dressed and ready for hours of fun,
With cavalry horse or battery gun.”

Watch out little sailor boy — they’re coming for ya!

scans006

 

Let’s do the Automat for lunch!

You’re in New York City feeling peckish.  Do you dine in a quirky deli or a fancy restaurant?  How about that nifty new Automat?  Sure, since it’s 1941, and who could pass up the chance to walk inside a giant vending machine?

Automat postcard (1) Automat postcard (2)

Get Your MRS. Degree Now

In 1963 the North Texas State University’s newspaper Campus Chat published an editorial covering a Parade article about why coeds go to college.  Seriously?  No really, I wasn’t around in 1963, and I can’t tell whether this was supposed to be biting satire or icky pablum.  This girl is crossing her beautifully manicured fingers for satire, before dashing off to don her apron and prepare a splendid meal for her successful and manly husband.

NTSU Campus Chat Oct 25 1963 editorial on MRS degree

Whaa? Oh, that’s all right then.

Meridian Star 9-21-1961 Radioactive Fallout Normal 1From the front page of The Meridian Star, Sept. 21, 1961 — the Russians are testing nukes again, but not to worry. Miss Hasty is keeping watch. She even has three radiation-testing machines, from No Biggie to Uh Oh to Here Come the Mutants!Meridian Star 9-21-1961 Russians test nukes

Keep reading for a surprise recipe at the end.

Meridian Star 9-21-1961 Radioactive Fallout Normal 2Meridian Star 9-21-1961 Radioactive Fallout Normal 3

Cabled Cuff Cuss

Some people blog lofty philosophical musings; others share cutting political satire.  I’m out to help fellow knitters with useful tidbits.  Really, I just want to make time spent learning things the hard-headed way more meaningful!  So here’s what I learned about cabling a loop and sewing it together so it looks continuous, and you don’t have to hide an ugly seam.  (Oh no!)

The pattern said to provisionally CO 20 stitches with scrap yarn, then commence to cabling, so I blithely did just that. After working the full cuff, I thought I could simply pick out the scrap yarn, move the stitches to a needle, and be ready to go. No so fast, Ms. Cocky Knitter! Cables twist (duh), and I quickly had no idea what order my blankety-blank stitches should be in. Frak! OK, deep breaths, surely all is not lost. Surely I can sort this out, pick up a few dropped stitches, rearrange… it’s bulky yarn after all… %$#^%&+**! Forget it, sunshine. Better yet, frog it. Yes, all of it. Lesson learned? When provisionally casting on for cables and planning to connect to another end of cables, do it with a spare circular needle. Don’t know how? Figure it out, or better yet, get a more experienced knitter to show you. (Thanks, Carol!)

Take 2. The cuff is redone, and now the directions say to graft the two live ends together. Really? Knits and purls? How’s that?  I found instructions for doing this with a pattern for a gorgeous hooded sweater called Rogue, but they never showed the chart (being a for-pay pattern), so knowing to slip p-wise on stitch 5 or whatever didn’t help. Wise Hilda to the rescue. A million thanks!  For anyone else reaching this point in the Knit Picks Cabled Cuff Mittens, here is how I got my cables to match up.  (Given that I paid for this pattern as part of a kit, wouldn’t you think they would have saved me the grief of working this out?  Enough whinging.)

The above chart shows only the join, with yellow marking the first transition from knits to purls in stitch 3 and the blue marking the reverse.  You have to know how to Kitchener stitch / graft, but then you can follow the steps below.  Each stitch is listed twice because first you slip the sewing needle through it one way, then later you slip it through and take that stitch off the knitting needle.

St Front Back
1 P K
1 K-off P-off
2 P K
2 K-off P-off
3 P P transition from knits to purls
3 K-off K-off
4 P P
4 K-off K-off
5 P K transition from purls to knits
5 K-off P-off
6 P K
6 K-off P-off
7 P K
7 K-off P-off
8 P P transition from knits to purls
8 K-off K-off
9 P P
9 K-off K-off
10 P K transition from purls to knits
10 K-off P-off
11 P K
11 K-off P-off
12 P K
12 K-off P-off
13 P K
13 K-off P-off
14 P K
14 K-off P-off
15 P K
15 K-off P-off
16 P P transition from knits to purls
16 K-off K-off
17 P P
17 K-off K-off
18 P P
18 K-off K-off
19 P K transition from purls to knits
19 K-off P-off
20 P K
20 K-off P-off

BTW, if more experienced knitters find errors in the above, by all means let me know.  It seemed to work out properly for my cuffs, but as you can see I only RTFM as a last resort!

 

Double Knitting Teeth Gnashing

When one of my knitting group’s organizers suggested the heart hot pad as a knit along for February, I thought “how adorable” and “that looks quick and easy.”  For an insane moment I thought I could knock one out in a day for a Valentine’s Day present.  Proud of my one-and-only past accomplishment of double knitting the Rectangly Hat, I thought this would by a cinch.  Hubris pie, anyone?

Cutting to the chase, here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. The pattern looks simple, but the directions have confused better knitters than I.
  2. Double knitting in the round means never having to flip a chart in your head.  This ain’t that.
  3. Holding red and white yarn together for a long-tail cast on makes a pepperminty jumble.  It’s easier, and it’s a valid design choice but not my preference.  After some false starts, the Happy Seamstress’ directions made a nice single color cast on edge.
  4. The side edges in the original pattern match the crushed peppermint look of the two-strands-at-once cast on.  Being persnickety, I followed lissaplus3’s video instead.
    • On the final 2 stitches (1 of each color), hold both colors of working yarn in back, and slip the penultimate stitch purlwise.  Move the working yarn of the same color as the last stitch to the front, then slip that last stitch purlwise.  (Call this color B.)  Turn the work.  Knit the now-first stitch (color B) with its matching color, which is already in back.  Move that working yarn to the front, where the other color (A) of working yarn has been  hanging out, then use color A to purl this stitch.
  5. I double knit really loosely and should have gone down two more needle sizes.
  6. The original chart had an error on row 25 (extra red square, removed from charts below), and it showed 29 stitches across, even though the written instructions said to CO 30.  Make it 31, and you’ll have a 2-stitch border on either side.

Here’s the best part — a corrected chart showing 31 stitches across plus row / column numbers and a second chart with the colors flipped.  Hats off to clear-headed knitters who can invert colors in their heads, but I needed a second chart.  I’m using the white background one for the odd rows and the red background for the even.  I hope these help other knitters.  Now, as someone else mentioned about double knitting, take a deep yoga breath and get busy!

white background Double knit heart hotpad 01

Feb. 23, 2012 update:  Finished, unless I decide to add a crochet border as reinforcement.  The side edges came out cleanly in color, although the slipped stitches look loose and wonky.  I bound off by grafting / kitchenering the ends together, which avoids the crushed peppermint look but doesn’t provide structure. Maybe a normal bind off, doing a k2tog on each pair of stitches, would have been the better choice.  Anyhoo, this has been a learning experience, and I hope my thrashings help you avoid similar convolutions!