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.


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.

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!


Margarita Cactus Tree Skirt

design by Susan L. HarrisonMargarita in a skirt

Ahh, Friday night.  It’s my favorite time of the week, when hubby and I unwind with our favorite beverage.  As designated bartender, I squeeze the limes and mix top shelf tequila with Paula’s Texas Orange to create those smooth margaritas that kick off the weekend.  The ubiquitous cactus-stemmed glasses work best – not too sloshy, not too big, just right.  In this achingly hot summer of 2011, ‘ritas and rocks cause cactus condensation that fills our thirsty stone coasters.  What’s a margarita lover to do?  Crochet an extra coaster layer, of course.  How to make something that will resist the naughty glass’ efforts to tip over when the second round is poured?  How about a tree skirt for the cactus?  In the fiesta spirit, it doubles as a mini sombrero.  ¡Que te diviertas!

Notes & Abbreviations

Ch 1 at the beginning of a row counts as one single crochet stitch.

CC:  contrasting color (yellow in photo)
Ch:  chain
MC:  main color (red in photo)
Sc:  single crochet
Sl st:  slip stitch
Tbl:  through back loops


Approx. 10 yards worsted weight cotton yarn in 2 colors, about 6 yds MC to 4 yds CC.
Size G crochet hook, tapestry needle


Rather than a normal gauge, I’m adding tips so you can check the fit on your favorite margarita glass as you work and adjust hook size if needed.


•    Leaving a 6” yarn tail, ch 13 in MC.Margarita skirt in progress
•    Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next 11 sts, switching to CC in loop pulled through final sc.  (12 sc)  Turn.

Tip: Hold your work around the stem of a margarita glass.  It should fit gently around with the initial chain about ½” – ¾” above the glass base, not overlapping but not stretched.

•    Ch 1. Sc in next 11 sts across.  (12 sts)  Turn.
•    Ch 1. Sc tbl in next 11 sts across, changing back to MC in final sc.  (12 sts)  Turn.
•    Ch 1. 1 sc in same st, 2 sc in next 11 sts across.  (24 sts)  Turn.
•    Ch 1. 1 sc in same st.  *1 sc in next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st.  Repeat from * until 4 sts remain unworked.  1 sc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 sc in final st (turning chain).  Change to CC in final sc.  (31 sts)  Turn.

Tip: Hold your work around the stem again.  The row worked tbl should form a turning point around the bottom of the stem so the two rows below flare out onto the glass base.  All rows should meet around the glass without stretching or overlapping.

•    Ch 1. 1 sc in the same st and in the next 30 sts.  (32 sts)  Cut CC yarn and pull through final loop.
•    Move to the other end of the piece, which has the working MC yarn tail emerging through the front side.  Move the MC yarn to the back around the edge of the piece, and pull up a loop through the turning chain of CC.
•    Ch 1. 1 sl st in the next 31 sts.  Work loosely to avoid tightening the edge.  (32 sts)
•    Cut yarn to leave a 6” tail.  Ch 1, and draw yarn tail through final loop.


Weave in CC yarn ends.
Thread each MC tail onto a tapestry needle, weave to the edge of the row worked through back loops, and tie a knot in the end of each to prevent unraveling.  Wrap the sombrero / tree skirt around your glass stem, tie the MC yarn tails together, fill the glass with your favorite margarita, and shout “¡Vamos a rumbear!”

Would you like a nice, printer-friendly PDF of this pattern that fits on one page?  Here ya go.

© Copyright Susan L. Harrison.For private, non-commercial use only.Created August 2011.

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

Field Trip to Fancy Fibers Farm

FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_009Today my local knitting group In Stitches in McKinney took a field trip to Fancy Fibers Farm near, fittingly, Farmersville, TX. Mary Berry, a fiber enthusiast gone wild, gave our group of kids and adults a guided tour of the pastures and their fuzzy inhabitants, a collection of sheep, goats, alpaca, guard dogs, and (token non-fuzzies) chickens.

FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_039 FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_015FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_013FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_005 FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_020

Mary must have deep stores of patience, as her talk was punctuated by correcting errant quadruped and little-kid behavior. It’s a pity kids don’t come with horn handles like the goats do, hee hee.  FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_010

On the other hand kids don’t leap as high, hooves flying.

If only we had touch cameras, I could share the soft cuddlyness of this baby Nigora named Han Solo. Only five weeks old…aww.FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_017

Somehow the alpaca hFancyFibersFarmJuly2010_019ad been a major draw for me, never having met an alpaca, but the goats and sheep were friendlier and more pettable. These guys were skittish and reputed to spit – no thanks! They sure are interesting to look at, though.



Hmm, does this shot remind anyone else of the final scene in Close Encounters?



After the field tour, the humans and other animals moseyed back toward the fiber FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_036FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_044FancyFibersFarmJuly2010_042processing building, where we saw angora rabbits, English bunnies, some German ones I think, plus two mouser cats and oh yes, wool, roving, devices for getting pasture pieces out of wool, a spinning wheel, dyes, a weaving loom, and more. Mary does it all, from lanolin-greasy wool to gorgeous yarns. Once a month she invites people in to dye yarn or roving too, with her instruction. The experience gave us knitters a new appreciation for expensive, hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn. Wow, so much work, but it’s surely Mary’s passion. Thanks to Mary for the tour and to Sarah Dedman for organizing this fun day!

P.S. I even bought farm fresh eggs! Who wants a blue/green omelette? FancyFibersFarmEggsJuly2010_002

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Puffy Coffee Cozy

I was working with some knit/crochet ladies on making coffee cup cozies for charity and Puffy coffee cozy2could not find a crochet pattern that was fun but not too tough, so I made one up. The nice thing about this cozy is that the rows of puffs or baubles fit comfortably between the fingers. Let me know if you have any trouble or questions. Happy crocheting!


G hook

worsted weight yarn


ch hdc puff rsc

Puff = [Yarn over (yo), insert hook through desired stitch, yo and pull up a loop] 4 times in same stitch. Yo once more and draw through all 9 loops on hook. Puff complete.


Work in the round, joining at the end of each round.

Chains at the beginning of a round count as one stitch, i.e. Ch2 + 31 hdc counts as 32 hdc.

Work reverse single crochet loosely in final round to avoid adding too much tension.


1. Ch 32.

2. Sl st in 1st ch to join.

3. Rotate around end instead of turning to work in far loops of beginning ch.

4. Ch 2, 1 hdc in 1st st after join and in each st around. Join in top of ch 2. (32 hdc)

5. Repeat step 4.  (Check the fit on a coffee cup. You can undo and add or remove multiples of 2 sts to adjust the size.)

6. Ch 2, 1 hdc in same st as join and in next 15 stitches. 2 hdc in next st. 1 hdc in next 15 sts. Join in top of ch 2. (34 hdc)

7. Ch 3, 1 puff next st. [Dc 1, puff 1] around. Join in top of ch 3.

8. Repeat step 4. (34 hdc)

9. Ch 2, 1 hdc in same stitch as join and in next 16 sts. 2 hdc in next st. 1 hdc in next 16 sts. Join in top of ch 2. (36 hdc)

10. Repeat step 7.

11. Repeat step 4. (36 hdc)

12. Rsc in each stitch around. Slip under a loop inside and down a bit from top edge to hide the join.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

(Updated 12-20-2009.)