Thursday, March 23, 2017

Little Cotton Rabbit from Willow Hill Yarn Company — Day 1

The looming danger of non-cutenes...

I find it daunting to knit a stuffed animal. 

Those of you who remember the legendary “Sheepmantis" know I haven't had the best luck with such projects. 

I believe it’s because while you can follow directions perfectly and produce the exact casing required, stuffing it wrong can still land you with lumpy and disfigured results.  Let’s face it:  nobody wants to hug a lumpy sheep.  Or teddy bear.  Or, in this case, Little Cotton Rabbit.

The looming danger of non-cuteness starts you second-guessing your work, knowing your competency can fall flat at the hands of a handful of plush filling.  It’s not like I can take my bunny to Build a Bear and have them bail me out.

I decided, therefore, to start with a piece of this project that most closely resembles regular knitting. In this case, it’s the dress the bunny would wear.  I was also traveling at the time, and as such couldn’t really pack stuffing, nor would I be in many situations where I could pay the close attention that the bunny’s individual body pieces would require. 

This turned out to be an excellent strategy. I got a nice surge of accomplishment at creating a cute little polkadot bunny dress. This gave me confidence to start next on the piece requiring the most art talent in my opinion, that being the head. 


We’ll see if my choice was a good one. A cute dress won't do much for a homely bunny.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Done!

Fili Finish! 

And finally, the thumbs!

Why don’t my provisional crochet cast-on stitches ever zip right off like they’re supposed to?  They almost NEVER do for me, and I’m stuck tediously dismantling each stitch to get at the live loop I need to slip on my needle. Seriously, a strand of scrap yarn or a stitch holder always seems to be a better choice for me than any kind of provisional cast on I’ve ever attempted.  Maybe I need to take a class or something.

Ah, but now the fabulous Fili mitts are done!  I found a nice, flat pewter button that doesn’t get in the way but still complements the blue color of the yarn. My husband, being the engineer that he is, remarked “How do you undo the button with your fingers inside the mitten?”  It’s a fair question of functionality, but I actually found it quite easy.  Texting, of course, isn’t really possible since your thumb is encased, but I would seriously consider tacking a few strands of that specially conductive thread into the thumbs so that you could.

Sewing the buttons on proved a bit of a challenge for an age-old reason:  Any needle big enough to hold the yarn was too big for the holes in the button.  I tried my usual fix: folding a paper clip—but even that was too big.  Eventually I had to dig out my collection of itty-bitty crochet hooks and pull the yarn through that way.  I could have defaulted to some thread, but I wanted to keep with the yarn if possible.


All in all, a very well designed and engaging project.  Thanks, Unraveled Sheep. Next up, we dive into bunny construction just in time for Easter.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March Reader Who Crochets: Cindy Regnier

DestiKNITters, you know what the third Wednesday of each month brings: a reader! Meet Cindy Regnier, a fellow lover of books and yarn.

Cindy, ware you crocheting right now? 
A cardigan sweater. I am so excited to see it finished.


What feels like your favorite crochet accomplishment? 

The year I made crochet projects for my three kids at Christmas.
What feels like the worst crochet mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made? 
My son asked for a slouchy beanie hat. I found a great pattern, but was in a hurry to get started so I used a hook that was too big. Result: weird looking hat, but he loved it. Said it was something no one else had. 

Do you have a favorite stitch? 
Not really. What I enjoy is a project that uses a variety of stitches.  A textured afghan I made for my DIL used some new stitches I’d never done before. 

Metal or wood needles? 
I have always used metal hooks (and knitting needles), but I'm not opposed to trying new materials.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
I’m a dark chocolate girl.

Coffee or tea? 
Um that’s hard. I guess I’d say tea since I drink iced tea all day. I do like a good cup of coffee in the morning.

What’'s your favorite Allie novel? 
That’s a tough one because they’re all great! I would choose The Texas Rancher’s Return as my favorite because I absolutely fell in love with Gunner.  I love the entire Blue Thorn Ranch Series.

What are you reading now? 

Do you have a favorite crochet/knitting character from a book, movie, or television show? 
That would be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love all the Little House books and the mention of Laura knitting lace for a petticoat during The Long Winter is what comes to mind. I believe Laura gave that lace to her sister Mary as a gift.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store.
I stole this one from my sister-in-law as I usually order yarn online, but it is close by and a great store: 
The Shivering Sheep
308 N. Buckeye
Abilene, Kansas 


For being a Reader Who Crochets, Cindy receives ten hanks of Cascade 220 in "Cotton Candy" and a copy of The Lawman's Oklahoma Sweetheart for herself, and a copy of Coming Home to Texas for a friend.  If you'd like more information on how to be featured on Readers Who Knit/Crochet, email me at allie@alliepleiter.com for details.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 6

Clever Cuffs

I like that the ribbed cuffs that finish off these mitts have a tiny cable accent in them—it’s just another of the clever details that make these mitts such a good design.  

They feel remarkably comfortable on, thanks to the fiber.  The smoothness of the silk combines with the warmth of wool. They’re casually elegant—substantial without being bulky  The top cuff folds back nicely.  I thought I’d want a button to hold it back, but it folds over neatly because of the smart construction.  This really is an exceptional piece of design.


Now I just have the thumbs to finish.  These should be ready in no time!  And that’s good, because Chicago is about to get another round of snow.  The path to spring is never linear in this part of the world.  Snow, after a bout of 70 degree weather?  Yep, that’s spring in Chicago.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 5

Imperfection…

The hands are complete.  The thumb gusset is formed, and the narrowing of the mittens to form the wrist cuff has begun. The cable part is over, and only the ribbing and thumbs remain.


These mitts are intricate and beautiful.  The are cleverly designed and they will be useful.  But they are not perfect.  My long and stormy history with cables keeps its troublesome nature, for these have a mistake or two. In fact, every cable project I’ve ever attempted has mistakes—some large, some small.

No one has ever noticed.

No one has ever stopped me to say, “Look at those wrist warmers.  That cable’s off right there.” Or “That pillow has the cable twist going the wrong way twice in that final part.”  Me and cables have yet to meet with perfection.  Ever.

And yet, I still try them.  I still give another go at the intricacies, still smile at the fancy final results.  For the simple truth that I yet to ever make a mistake so grave that I cannot wear, use, and enjoy something I’ve knitted.  An imperfectly knit hat is still as warm.  An imperfectly knit shawl still can drape dramatically over my shoulders.  People still admire my imperfect knitting.


No, it’s not perfect.  But it is my handiwork.  And I like that.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 4

Being all thumbs…

There must be a dozen ways to do a mitten thumb, with a dozen degrees of difficulty.  

Some thumbs need to have designated lefts and rights (like these), others just poke off the side so you can switch them up on either hand. Some grow from making stitches, others from picking up live stitches parked on waste yarn.  Knitters have their favorites, based on technique, comfort, style, etc.

Simply put, thumbs take thought.  And thumbs done in “left” and “right” versions simultaneously on one circular require concentration.  Deep concentration.  This is not knitting you attempt anywhere but in peaceful silence with a calming beverage at your side.

Making the crochet chains was not difficult.  Installing them in halves proved a bit more complex.  I used the old trick of different color stitch markers to ensure I knew where I was at all times.   There were points where it looked as if I was merely holding a tangle of needles, cords, yarn, and knots.  I’m certain lots of squinting and frowning was involved.  Thumbs are often one of those techniques—like entrelac—where I find myself staring at the knitting and going “Huh?  Is this right?”

But then, the desired form begins to emerge, the perfect little pocket for your opposable digit comes to life, and you can only smile.


And give, of course, a “thumbs up.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 3

The bind off that doesn't (bind off, that is...)

Now we get to the ingenious part of these mitts!  

The top cuffs are finished, and it’s time to start the mitt section.  The trick here is to remember that while you use a three needle bind off technique, you’re not actually binding off.  You’re binding—one part of the mitt to the other.  I had to read through the directions a few times before that sunk in.  Once I pictured the finished mitts in my head, it was easier to see how the pieces fit together.  It feels a bit odd to be knitting the mitts from the top down—I think almost every other set of mittens or mitts I’ve done have started from the wrist up.

It was just after the ribbing was firmly attached and I was on my way that I discovered my next hurdle:  not enough yarn.  Now, were I doing these one at a time, I could use the clever tactic of weighing my first completed mitt and ensuring I had the same (or more) grams of yarn left for the second.  

Since I’m doing these two at a time, however, I don’t have that option.  I have to eyeball it.  And it’s looking like I might not have enough.  Especially since the pattern says the larger sizes require as much as 300 yards, and a skein only has 192 yards.  This isn’t the kind of thing you want to get wrong.

So I did what any smart knitter would do:  call the shop.  Order up another skein so that my push to the finish line on these mitts is a happy experience, not a stressed-out measuring nightmare.  Verla is happily mailing me out a second skein so I can knit with confidence.


...Provided my Silky Wool doesn’t get lost in the mail.