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.

Activities for a rainy day

It’s a chilly, soft day perfect for sitting about the house with my sweetie, casting some Pandora through the 60+ year old Klipsch speaker sitting behind me, playing Mexican Train Dominoes,

Dominoes

playing with the camera (hence the pictures), doing a bit of knitting

Knitting

and attempting to convince the dogs that they don’t really want to go for a walk in the rain.

ChipSophie

Preparing for a cold day

Got the espresso machine fired up and drinks warming our insides.

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Susan’s started making Irish soda bread.

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And the comfy chairs are ready for a knitting session.

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With Sophie ready to bark at anyone who comes too close.

An afternoon of slothfulness ready to begin.

Later… The soda bread is ready.
Irish soda bread on a Welsh bread board.
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R2D2 Knitted Hat

So, many months ago (OK, more than a year ago) Susan cornered me in the hospital and made me pick up knitting. She claims that she didn’t have anything to do with my ending up in the hospital but she’s a woman and I know she has the ability to put me in the hospital using just her mind.

Anyway…

I haven’t yet found that knitting is as relaxing as Susan finds it but I have managed to make a cup cozy, a few balls, a regular hat and..

an R2D2 knitted hat based on the pattern by Carissa Browning

Susan helped a great deal in making me tink when needed and getting through my “test hat” before moving on using the real yarn.  It took several months for me to complete and I’m still working on the final wiring but the hat is largely complete!

I give you the R2D2 knitted hat!

The sound effects are part of the hat. I’m activating them by pressing a button with my left hand.

Susan Will Be So Proud

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I slipped the stitch onto the next needle and knitted a row all by myself. The tension doesn’t suck too much either

Look Susan, I’m Trying to Knit

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Only I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to do next. Guess I’ll finish watching Megamind until you get here

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!

 

OCD Cable Knitting

So I’m not exactly a dedicated blogger. My commentaries tend to be told to the air or to my patient hubby, occasionally broadcast on Facebook, and for knitting-specific thoughts, I post on Ravelry. Ought one to share every synapse firing with the planet? Surely not, but perhaps one ought to share a tiny bit more, especially useful bits. Being a geeky sort — only a small serving of Asperger’s Aspic, thanks — I believe thoughts that might benefit someone else need sharing with the world directly, not merely transmitted to the air via ESP. One other thing. I’ve decided to write this post however it comes to me, using the written language formed by reading too many British authors at a young age, plus old Pogo cartoons and Ogden Nash. Enough exposition, on to the knitting.

I was looking forward to the Humanity Mitts project as comfort knitting. Cabling and 2-at-a-time mittens may not sound comforting, but after fiddley projects involving I-cording, sewing in a purse lining, my first lace weight scarf (in progress), and of course the dreaded Mantis, it was time for something familiar. Love the yarn, Sublime Cashmerino Silk Aran, and having completed three of Jared Flood’s Habitat hats, this derivative pattern was one to look forward to. I swatched, cast on, happily knit to round 5, and came to a full stop. Continue in p1, k2 ribbing. Purl, knit knit, purl…wait. You want me to knit a stitch that was previously a purl? What have I done wrong? …searching for errata…none… People say what a wonderfully written pattern. Yes, fine, but what about knitting a purl? ‘T’aint fittin’. Is it? Finally I found a Raveler who posted a reaffirming comment along the same lines, so at least I wasn’t crazy. After closer examination at maximum zoom on others’ project photos, I determined that this k-over-p technique produces angular cables that at least don’t look broken. Maybe a tad jaggy. Still, I couldn’t bear it, so I decided to add a simple cable switch on round 5, spent entirely too much time in Excel charting it, and have the result to share. (Finally, we get to the “something worth saying” portion of this post.) Here’s the chart.

I hope the cable symbols make sense to you, dear reader, as I could find nothing on the ‘net representing a 5-stitch cable with a purl. My text notation was made up too, and I don’t care for the number of characters, but it does tell me exactly what to do. 2b:p1-k4 means, cabling without a cable needle as I now prefer, take 5 stitches to the right needle, grab the rightmost 2 in back, swap with the other 3, and put back on the left needle. Then purl 1, knit 4, and done. The color coding derives from my usual highlighter-on-paper markups, so I figured I’d save myself that step. The pic of red cables shows how it works in yarn.

Finally, I do realize others who have knitted these mitts have made this change too, so what exactly did I bring to the party? Specificity. (Mrs. “Be Spe-cific” Nelson from McLean Middle School would be proud.) Should one find oneself knitting under the influence of a crisp white zin while watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, by wild happenstance, one can rely on this chart rather than on lightly pickled gray matter.

Technorati : knitting chart cable

Jaywalker Socks – Toe Up Rewrite

Jaywalker socks in Lornas Laces 02smFor knitters who want a more consolidated toe-up rewrite of the Jaywalker socks pattern, originally by Grumperina, here ya go. Someone else adapted the pattern for knitting from the toe up, but it involved more flipping back and forth than I cared to do, hence this copy/paste/reformatting job. If you use this and like your results, I’d love to hear about it! If you see something that could be written more clearly, let me know that too.

Since making these socks, I’ve received Wendy Johnson’s wonderful Socks from the Toe Up book, which has become my sock construction bible. Check it out!