Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Twinkle Toes Tutu

Twinkle Toes Tutu
by HelenHue

Our little girl has been dancing up a storm. So much so that I am beginning to wonder if my womb came complete with a DDR. I really hope she is this spry and energetic when she’s finally out in the real world. This skirt was knit in less than an evening and is perfect for all that novelty yarn that’s sitting in our Stashes. Berroco’s Tutu is a triple stranded novelty yarn containing one tulle material eyelash type strand, one colorful paper material eyelash strand, and one strand of thick and thin boucle. If you can’t find Tutu in a nearby sale bin, I think this pattern will work with three strands of novelty yarn pulled together. Experiment and see what interesting combinations you can make. One yarn I’d like to try is Ironstone’s Pizzazz.

The construction is simple (it’s a tube) and great for beginners who want to break out of the novelty scarf rut. In terms of fit, there is a LOT of give in the waistband. A ribbon belt is woven through the eyelets to cinch the waist for fit. The size of the waistband can be easily changed by adding or subtracting sts in multiples of 2. If you want this to grow with your girl, consider lengthening the skirt; it could potentially start at her ankles and eventually come to her knees as she grows taller. Master Blackhead did provide a little practical (and future looking) caution… she might love this skirt so much she’ll wear it as a tube top in her teen years. A definite no-no in our house, but hey… you might not feel the way we do.

Waist: 14-26 inches
Length: 7 inches in the sample, but whatever you want (you’ll just need more yarn)

MC: Plymouth Yarns Platinum [50% Rayon, 30% Nylon, 20% Angora; 99 yards per 50 gram ball]; color: White; half a ball

CC: Berroco Tutu [80% Nylon, 10% Wool, 7% Acrylic, 3% Cotton; 36 yards per 50 gram ball]; color: White Multi; 2 balls

2 yards 1.5 inch wide satin ribbon

1 20-inch US 8/5mm circular needle
1 20-inch US 15/10mm circular needle
1 removable marker
darning needle
1 crochet hook for pulling tulle strands through to RS (optional)

18 sts = 4 inches in stockinette stitch with smaller needle

With MC, CO 90 sts and join in the rnd, being careful not to twist the sts. Place a marker to denote the beginning of the rnd.
Rnds 1-5: [K1,P1] repeat until end of rnd.
Rnd 6: [K1,P1] repeat until 1 st remains. DO NOT WORK the last st. It will be knitted together with the first st of the next rnd
Rnd 7: Knit together the last st of rnd 6 and the first st of rnd 7. Place marker to the right of this k2tog. [YO, K2tog] until the end of the rnd. YO.
Rnd 8-13: Knit all sts. Break MC and join CC.

Using larger needle and CC, continue working stockinette stitch in the round for 5 inches or until skirt reaches desired length. BO off very loosely.

Weave in ends. Using crochet hook (or your fingers, mine worked pretty well), pull the tulle strands on the WS through to the RS. Please be patient with this step (and yes, it does feel like it takes forever). The skirt will look fuller if you do this. Take the length of ribbon and weave it through the eyelets in whatever pattern you think looks cute. I skipped over three eyelets at a time. Slip on your little ballerina, tie a pretty bow, and send her on her merry way.

Here's a picture of the WS once the tulle strands have been pulled through to the RS.

Advice from Mama Blackhead: dress her in all the bows and frilly things you can possibly get before she develops her own fashion sense and knows better.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Successful Knitting Marathon

Last weekend, Master Blackhead and I had 5 whole days to ourselves. I figured it gave me plenty of time to start and finish the Linus Project Security Blanket from Knitting for Peace. I paced myself at one ball of Comfort per day (about 200 yds), yielding an estimated time to completion of four days. After 3.5 days, Linus was done and the ends were woven. I love this blanket. It's wonderfully squishy and bouncy. The pattern was simple to remember: a three row repeat consisting of one row of all knit, one of all purl, and ONLY one of lace stitches. You can find the pattern free at Project Linus.

Name: A Linus for a Lucy, 30" x 30", easily stretches to 36" x 36"
Yarn: Berroco Comfort, Peach
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN
Needles: US 9 32" Addi Turbos
Pattern: Project Linus Security Blanket from Knitting from Peace, free online

I also finished another baby sweater. Initially, there wasn't enough Hacho to finish the raglan sleeves, which was quite serendipitous. I went back to LYS and got some sublime merino to finish it. I really like the results and will be posting the pattern here at some point.

Name: Daisy-ed and Confused, 18 month
Yarn: Mirasol Hacho Fuschia, Sublime Merino dk Navy Blue, spare sock yarn in hot pink
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN
Needles: US 5 32" Addi Turbos
Pattern: My own

Two nights ago, I started the Debbie Bliss Ribbed Baby Jacket. I'm almost done. All that's left is the collar and seams. Here's a mid-project progress picture.

With this next upcoming long weekend, the Hemlock Ring Throw (free at the Rainey Sisters' blog) is at the front of the queue. I ordered some yarn from Webs and hope it arrives in time. I picked a closeout merino, di.Ve's Zenith.

Despite all my "no-pink" talk, I really like this soft pink. I'm not opposed to soft pink, it's the cotton candy pink that drives me bonkers. Cross your fingers. Let's hope slow shipping doesn't get in the way of my knitting marathon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy 2009

Yes... the best presents still come under the tree.

If all goes well, this will be the last Christmas where it will be just Master Blackhead, Hex, Jynx, and me. To honor the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another, we're staying home this year and just enjoying the moment. The only real noise will be the sound of Starcraft gurgling on the computer. We've both long since learned to tune out the clicking of knitting needles. There's no hectic Christmas dinner rush, getting the place cleaned before everyone comes over, cleaning the place again once everyone leaves, loud family members sqwaking away about where to buy the cheapest item in bulk (you'd have to be Chinese to fully understand how loud that really is), and best of all no airports crowded with angry people. Of course, we miss our family, but one year to ourselves before all Hell breaks loose in a fit of diapered cacophony is surely a true treasure.

Speaking of Chaos in Diapers... the legwarmies are done. They are super cute. Hopefully they will also be very useful; especially, since I plan to make several more pairs. I really liked the TajMahal for this project. Usually variegated yarns pool in the ugliest ways and even more so when knit in the round. This yarn was subtle enough that the pooling gave interest without that "ugh... that's awful" look.

Name: Legwarmies, one size
Yarn: Filatura TajMahal
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN via MamaSara's Stash
Needles: US 3 9" Hiya Hiya

Next up is the Upside Down Daisy Hat from Itty Bitty Hats. This will be the third one of these that I make. I made the hat part about a year ago and put it away after making the petals got tedious. Hopefully, I'll get to finish it this weekend.

What I am really going to be concentrating on is the Project Linus Security Blanket from Knitting for Peace. The modified feather and fan pattern is pretty easy and relaxing to work. I'm using Berroco's Comfort, which has been a surprise and a half. I expected going into this that I'd absolutely hate the yarn: It's totally synthetic after all. Surprise surprise... it's been great. It has really nice elastic bounce, which almost mimics a nice wool. It's soft and non-itchy too. It does have a tendency to split. I can see how a fast or tight or both knitter would hate this. This hasn't been too big of an issue for me seeing as how I'm just an average knitter (both speed and tension) ... just call me Joe the Knitter.

I have this entire lovely long weekend to work on this. Hopefully, it's enough time to finish, but not too much time. If I finish too soon, then I'll be itching to get to my LYS, which might not be open. I've been eyeing the presents under the tree and hoping with all my heart that there's yarn in one of those packages. Not that I need more, it's just nice to know it's there. To all of you who are wishing the same thing, Merry Christmas and may your tree be pregnant with balls and balls of yarn.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

First, this is why no one, not even the Little Blackheads should ever EVER over-indulge on Thanksgiving. Even if it is just some "harmless" catnip.

You never know who might have a camera while you're drowsy with food-coma and sitting on the couch with your pants undone. Hex is OK now. It did take a little while to come down from the high, but he's back to his weird, bathtub-obsessed, normal self.

I love the holidays. Master Blackhead and I haven't reached the point in our adult lives where the holidays are a time of stress and frustration... yet. We still like the decorating, eating, and gift-receiving... and I still LOVE the gift-buying/making. I fully recognize that in about 5 years, when I'm standing outside of ToysRUs at 4:00AM on Black Friday, trying to score an elusive "toy of the season" (e.g. Tickle Me Elmo or Furby), and crammed in line with other obsessed parents that I will undoubtedly hate gift-buying. I just hope at that time, while I'm busy cursing Mattel or whomever, that I just remember one thing: that this freakish holiday rush is a blessing because Huellen's here and the biggest crisis in my life is getting her a toy.

This year we've been busy eventhough we're pulling a Crichtonesuqe Christmas-Skip: no presents will be exchanged between Master Blackhead and me. We did however still manage five key tasks:
1. send out hundreds of holiday cards
2. get / make presents for our most beloved friends and family
3. hang up lights outside
4. decorate inside
5. host a knitting party

It's been fun so far, well until yesterday afternoon. I head to my LYS for a few hours of jolly knitting with my friends and what do I hear? This.

Seriously, this woman has no sense of what it means to knit something for someone. It takes careful planning, pattern selecting/designing, finding the perfect yarn, sizing (sometimes), and most of all KNITTING the gift. Ultimately what I find most disturbing about this article is its flagrant demonstration of what most people have known for years: journalistic integrity is on the decline. If she had done her research (which I thought journalists were supposed to do), she'd realize that crafting is a pretty nonsensical way to try and save money. Take for example a seemingly simple pair of socks. At the low end of the price range are socks in Target's One Spot section for $1 a pair... at Neiman's a pair of cashmere socks will cost you $33. At the low end, sock yarn for a pair of socks at JoAnn is going for $4.49... cashmere sock yarn at Webs runs at around $36 or Koigu's silk Mori at just under $55/pair. These don't even factor in the cost for needles (from $5 for dpns to $30 for two Addi circs) or time (16 hours x $6.55/hr = $104.80). Yes, crafting is a great way to make gifts on the cheap. Yeah right!

Moving on, here are two handknit sweaters I designed and knitted just for the baby. The pictures suck, I know. When I post the patterns, I'll have better ones.

Name: Prima Donna, size 12 month
Yarn: Shepherd's Wool in Pink Heather and Cascade 220 in Khaki
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN
Needles: US 5 32" Addi Turbo, Size H crochet hook
Pattern: My own.
Comments: Shepherd's Wool is fabulous. I love the elasticity and it is so soft. If feels more like a merino yarn. The price was fabulous too: $7.50 for 260 yards. I can see why this has been a bestseller.

Name: Creamsicle, size 6-12 month
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 in Peach and White
Yarn Source: Amazing Threads, Maple Grove, MN
Needles: US 7 32" Addi Turbo, Size H crochet hook
Pattern: My own.
Comments: This is awesome yarn and I'm sorry that Bobbi doesn't carry it anymore; however, I think Berroco Pure Merino would make for a nice substitute.

Anyway here are some pictures of what's been happening lately.
Party favors for the knitting group.

A really cool sunrise.

Another baby sweater has started and stalled. I ran out of yarn! Ahhhh! Must go back for more.

Here are it's fronts and backs. I think I'll get some navy blue for the sleeves and side gussets.

Starting some legwarmers in the meantime. This is Filatura MajMahal, which is discontinued. That's a real shame because this is truly luxe yarn.