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15,000 hits…

23 Jun

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog. I just wanted to post that one of my tutorials, The Sakura Brothers – Amigurumi Tutorial #1 for Knitters, has now reached more than 15,000 hits! Amazing that so many people have read and linked to this post.

Promise that when I have time I’ll update my post on how to make amigurumi shapes and post a pattern or two.


More FOs

12 Feb

Here are a couple of more FOs — the baby blanket and an amigurumi…


Alex’s ‘Bouncin’ Baby Blanket

resting turtle 

turtle profile 

Nemui (Sleepy) The Turquoise Turtle 

Cool All-Knitted Animated Music Video

6 Feb

Check out this amazing animated video for the group Tricot Machine from Quebec called Les peaux de lievres. Everything in it is knitted — over 700 frames!  

Snow and a few FOs

7 Jan

Woke up this morning to snow on the mountains outside our window…


And a few holiday FOs from 2007… (For some reason, on December 8, I decided to knit for a few of my family members — what was I thinking???)

Fingerless gloves

Fingerless Gloves (made one other pair in plain blue as well)


Mittens for my niece

I didn’t really have a pattern for any of these. The mittens were done seriously at the last minute and didn’t turn out as I really wanted them to — have no idea what was going on with the right mitten, but oh well — that’s what happens when I decide to make things at the last minute, I guess! Also made a hat for Doug, will post that when he’s ready to model it for me.

There’s Been Some Knittin’

6 Dec

I know I haven’t posted a lot recently. It just seems like everything takes just a little bit longer to get to these days. But, there has been a lot of knitting happening (mostly when I work at my new job grading oral tests online. Since I’m a visual and kinesthetic person, knitting keeps me from getting frustrated at just having to listen to things…)

Here’s the first FO. A calorimetry done in my handspun from Fleece Artist. I call it ‘Spumoni Calorimetry‘.


Spumoni Handspun (Fleece Artist Roving, spindle spun)


Spumoni Calorimetry

I also finally finished up a sweater I have had waiting to be seamed. It’s the first long sleeved sweater I’ve knitted with a commercial pattern from The Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits and with set-in sleeves. I have to say that even though I got stitch gauge and for row gauge measured it against myself as I went along and blocked it out when I was done, I still don’t like the way the arms turned out. It was a good experience to try something like this to learn a few new design techniques (never had done set-in sleeves before) but I prefer to stick to my own devices and knit/design as I go. I used Knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky.


Coat Sweater

The other FO I completed recently was a basic pair of toe-up socks with Plymouth Sockotta. Because we watch and go to a lot of films, I find that even though I love working with fun surface design on my socks, I actually get more done if I have something that is just straight stockinette. So, because these are super basic, they are done. (My other socks, however, are still languishing in my WIP pile.)


Sockotta Socks

And a few WIP pictures…

Some Hurry Up Spring Armwarmers from Stitch and Bitch Nation.

Fingerless gloves

Fingerless Gloves

And the kitty and I working on the third side of our our baby blanket border (before I frogged it for the third time…)

Katie and Machan Knitting

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More on Sweaters…

30 Oct

So, in a previous post I put up some of my earlier attempts at making a sweater. Even though I used to make sweaters and make up my own patterns, something has shifted within recent years since I once again picked up knitting (I took a 6-7 year hiatus from crochet and knitting at one point in time)…

I bought a pattern book, The Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits.

Maybe it was the allure of the lavender-colored bulky yarn on the cover or the wide range of sweater types they have patterns for, but I thought about, lusted and saved for this book for a couple of months a few years ago.

I have been unable to think up my own sweater patterns since.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas, it’s just that I realized that in terms of technique I had gone as far as I could go. Straight lines and whipstitched seams are fine for a while, but I knew I had to tackle raglan and set-in sleeves as well as invisible seaming at some point. I also knew that I had to learn about the different shapes and styles out there to expand my understanding of sweater construction. Even so…

Almost every sweater I have made from a pattern since then hasn’t really turned out as well as I would have hoped. There is just something about trial and error and going with the flow that appeals to my sense of sweater-making. The good thing, though, is that because I am inherently lazy, I am finding new ways to seam, make things in the round, pick up stitches, and work raglans top-down.

So that maybe some day my sweater-making mojo will come back with some fun and innovative ways of doing things.

On another note, I notice that a lot of people I know are afraid to make sweaters. It might be the fact that it’s such a large project or that the seaming is daunting. I say start making sweaters as soon as you can. You can always knit them straight and seam using whip stitch for your first attempt or, if the sweater is bulky, use embroidery thread and crochet the seams together.

Another way to learn about sweaters, design and construction, is to make baby sweaters. Most of us have little ones we want to knit for, and a baby sweater is a small investment in terms of time, yarn, and energy. It’s really motivating to have a completed project in hand without worrying about being completely perfect. (I mean, is the baby or his/her parents really going to care that you haven’t seamed perfectly?)

With this in mind, I decided to tackle my ultimate least favorite aspect of sweater-making these days — mattress stitch seaming, (How I truly pine for those days of whipstitch ignorance!) and decided to make a sweater for my little one-to-be, Alex.

It’s a basic pattern from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies. (A book which I have to say has a bit of an unrealistic view of babies — most of the patterns call for cashmere blend yarn — can you imagine handwashing sweaters all the time what with the ever-present mishaps kids have???) It was a great way for me to practice seaming and other things that I have avoided mastering.

Baby sweater
Alex’s First Sweater

So, for all you sweater-phobes out there, I totally recommend that you start off simple (cardigans are really fun, but also a basic drop sleeve pullover can be a great way to start.) If you don’t have a baby to knit for, there are so many charities that accept baby sweaters to give to preemies and underprivileged kids in hospitals such as Stitches from the Heart.

Oh, and as an aside, when I was sewing in ends for this at SnB the other night, everyone was commenting on how tiny this sweater was (newborn size). But my thought was, “Wow, something with shoulders that big has to somehow get out from inside of me!”

As with most things, I guess, size is relative.

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Too hot for… Sweaters! (A gallery of early projects)

23 Oct

While the temps are pushing 100 and the fires are raging here in SoCal, I thought I would regale you all with my very first ever knitted projects — sweaters.

Yes, I know that most of us start off with something simple like a scarf (I think I might have knitted something that resembled one in high school, but it was more like a long series of really ugly acrylic yarn swatches sewn together that never ever made it out of the house. In fact, it was one of the reasons why I really hated knitting and took up crochet instead). But for my first real ‘project’ several years later, I just jumped in head first. I had a knitting book by my side to tell me how to knit, purl, increase and decrease and some yarn.

It began when I was living in Kosice, a town in eastern Slovakia teaching English. For some reason I had thought to bring my crochet hooks (had, by then made 3 or 4 sweaters, so I knew how to construct one and some really basic design principles). I also brought a book about knitting which my next-door neighbor, Brian, eventually put to good use, following the basics of knitting enough to make his own sweater.

When I first got to Kosice I noticed that every single woman was decked out in handmade sweaters with really rich colors in absolutely beautiful yarns. Even back then (1990) in the States, yarn was pricey, so I was curious to find out the source of these gorgeous yarns. Turns out, they were everywhere — yarn shops, textile stores, department stores. Knitting was a basic part of life for all the women I met, and the latest issue of ‘Rebecca’ was a prize that was passed around circles of friends like a treasured heirloom (because, being a foreign magazine, it cost a lot to purchase it).

Being a crocheter, I immediately headed out to the yarn store, picked up some light green acrylic/wool and started in on a sweater. It took a while, but within a couple of months, I had a new light green sweater that has seen a lot of use throughout the years. (And, having stretched a bit, still accommodates my changing shape..)

The next project I wanted to do was a crocheted sweater with a lot of color work. I found a snowflake pattern somewhere, adapted it, and started in on the sweater. I hated it. It was bulky and so very 1970’s I wanted to scream. There was no other course of action except…

To knit.

So, using my yarn from the snowflake disaster, I drafted up a simple pattern of stick figure boys and girls, adapted a colorwork pattern from the knitting book I had and came up with this…

First sweater
First Sweater

First detail
First Sweater Detail

A fair-isle sweater of sorts with drop sleeves. I had somehow managed to figure out some very basic neck-shaping and arm increases as well. Needless to say, this sweater has gotten a lot of use and love over the years (hence the odd shape, but 16 years of use will do that to anything.)

After this project, I was totally into knitting sweaters (seeing as I was then living in a place where it was cold enough to wear them). My next project was a cotton sweater in moss stitch with slightly kimono-like sleeve shaping (a whim that works out okay when it’s being worn) and easter-like pastel colors.

Easter Sweater
Easter Sweater

Easter Sweater detail
Easter Sweater Detail

The desire to knit sweaters waned for a year or so once I moved to Florida, but in grad school I figured knitting would help to keep me sane, so, after discovering larger needles (I worked mostly on 6 and 9) I made up these two sweaters really quickly…

Nordic Sweater
Nordic Sweater

Nordic Sweater detail
Nordic Sweater Detail


Greek Tile Sweater
Greek Tile Sweater

Greek Tile Sweater Detail
Greek Tile Sweater Detail

Nowadays these sweaters tend to live in my cedar chest, it being too hot in LA except for a few months in winter to pull them out. The first two sweaters come out about once a year, and the Nordic sweater sees a few days each year since it is fairly meshy having been made on larger needles. The Greek Tile sweater accidentally found its way into my dark laundry 10 years ago, got slightly felted and I have yet to find a way to reuse it or bring myself to cut into it.

All of the sweaters were made before I knew anything about seaming — it was the joy of knitting and putting something together that inspired me. Even though I am excited to be learning real finishing techniques, part of me longs for the days when I was able to just slap a few pieces together and have something to wear. Now most of the sweaters I have knitted are sitting in the bottom of my knitting basket waiting to be ‘properly seamed’.

Maybe one day I’ll find joy in that part of the process too!

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