Friday, January 21, 2011

Growly Prowly Bear

Using one lonely (and ancient) skein of Bernat Velour in chocolate brown I set out to try to use the same general pattern I used for the elephant to make a puppy dog. About the time I started on the second set of legs, however, I realized that what I was making looked much more like a bearskin rug for a Barbie doll (she didn’t fool me for a second claiming that all of those babies were her “little sisters”). So, I decided to use the wrong side of the knitting (the purl side of the stockinette stitch) to make a bear instead.

Using size 10.5 straight needles:

CO 1 stitch
Row 1: K front & back (2sts)
Row 2: P across
Row 3: K f/b, K f/b (4sts)
Row 4: P across
Row 5: K f/b, K2, K f/b (6sts)
Row 6: P across
Row 7: CO 15 sts, K across (21sts)
Row 8: CO 15 sts P across (36sts)
Row 9: K17, K f/b, K f/b, K17 (38sts)
Row 10: P across
Row 11: K across
Row 12: P across
Row 13: BO 10 sts, K across (28sts)
Row 14: BO 10 sts, P across (18sts)
Rows 15-20: Work in Stockinette stitch
Row 21: CO 10 sts, K across (28sts)
Row 22: CO 15 sts P across (38sts)
Rows 23-26: Work in Stockinette stitch
Row 27: BO 12 sts, K across (26sts)
Row 28: BO 12 sts, P across (14sts)
Row 29: BO 2 sts, K across (12sts)
Row 30: BO 2 sts, P across (10sts)
Rows 31-33: Work in Stockinette stitch
Row 34: P2tog, P6, P2tog (8sts)
Row 35: K2tog, K4, K2tog (6sts)
Row 36: P across
Row 37: BO all sts. Leave at least a 24” tail on the yarn.
Fold the piece in half, with the surfaces you want to be the “right-side” together. Starting at the nose where you bound off, stitch the sides together down to the front legs. Fold each leg in half so that they meet at the bottom of the chest. Stitch down each leg, stitch “bottoms” the leg pieces together where the meet, and stitch down the side of each leg. Close belly and hind legs in the same manner leaving rear flap open for turning and stuffing. Turn right-side out. Using a 4 inch strand of yard, tie a double knot on each side of the head for ears, so that the knots stick up on the outside and the tails remain on the inside. Stuff. To close up rear attach the point of the rear flap (first stitch) to the point where the hind legs meet. Stitch up one side of the triangle, then the other.

Blue Cotton Elephant

Not every New Years Resolution project, I realize, can use up a heap of yarn that has been menacing me for years. I have a whole bin of single skeins left over from sweaters and sales, too. These single skeins always seem like the hardest for me to use up. This month, I pulled out a few that struck inspiration for toys.

This little blue elephant came from an extra skein of cotton from my first attempt at a sweater (it has long since gone to the rag-bag, so I don't need to worry about ever matching the toy). I used this pattern, but made the trunk a little shorter because I ran out of yarn at an inopportune moment. The big fuzzy ears ended up that way because I had a little blue mohair leftover from a pair of mittens and I ran out of the blue yarn before I got to the details.

New Years Resolutions

In summer of 2010 I moved across town and realized what an undertaking it can be to pack up all of the bins of fabric, yarn, and kitchen gadgets that I have accumulated over the last few years. Since I know that another move is not far off (thats right Inland Empire, by 2013 I'm running away and never coming back) I made my resolution for 2012 to do something about the stash. This year I intend to keep my cool when JoAnns sends me a 50 percent off coupon and use what is already in the house, and since goal setting works best when it is specific, measurable, and set in terms of "dos" not "don'ts" (thanks nerd, I know) I resolved to make at least one project out of the stash every month.
The first one, I decided, should be impressive, since this will no doubt fall apart by March like every New Years Resolution. There has been a huge bag of red Lion Brand Chenille yarn that has been traveling with me for the last 2 years since I saw a beautiful cable knit blanket for sale at Pottery Barn in 2007. 

I have started and given up more than once with three different sized needles. I've tried using two strands instead of one, tried cables, checkerboard, and even stockinette stitch all without liking the result.
This time I decided to aim low and just get the darn thing done. Surprisingly, I'm sort of in love with the result. But, I know that it defeats the purpose of using the yarn if I keep it, so I'm packing it away with my Christmas boxes and look, I already have a Chirstmas gift for 2011 taken care of! Here is the pattern I settled on.

Size 15 needles
10 skeins Lion Brand Chenille

CO 125 Sts
All odd rows: K5, P5, repeat to last 5 sts, K5
All even rows: P5, K5, repeat to last 5 sts, P5
Work until about 4 yards of yarn remain. Bind off in pattern.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Hat Projects

It wasn’t until after Christmas, when I came back to southern California with stories of all of the projects I worked on over my break that someone called me out on having a weird fixation on silly hats. I think it all started in middle school when Kendra and Maayan made me a cowboy hat covered in plastic fruit, but I guess you never know. I can’t take all the credit (or blame) for these little gems, though. Both came as special requests. Back in November, when the Giants won the world series and I was sporting my panda hat I got a lot of suggestions for other silly knit beanies. With Christmas around the corner, I couldn't resist. 
My brother requested his own Giants shwag hat: a “Fear the Beard” beanie to celebrate the victory of Giants pitcher Brian Wilson who grew out a thick black beard for the end of the season.
I knit a basic orange beanie with a 2x2 rib around the bottom, then pulled out a some left over black yard and did a little creative crocheting until I made what looked like a beard. I started at the chin and made a “chin length” chain, attaching it to each side of the hat. Then, I worked about 2 inches in single crochet and decreased a few stitches as I made my way up towards the mouth (still attaching each row to the hat on both sides, and trying it on every 2 rows). For the mouth I made 3 short rows from one side, tied off my yarn, did 3 short rows on the other side, and crocheted across, chaining the same number of stitches I’d skipped for the mouth hole and picking back up on the other side. Three more rows and I was finished with the most intimidating hat I’ve ever seen. Someone told my brother he looked like a convict, and I have to say my dad (who begrudgingly modeled it so I could take a picture) doesn’t look like anyone I would want to run into a dark alley when he has it on. Needless to say, our family basset hound didn’t care much for people wearing the beanie, but everyone else got a good laugh.

When my sister’s nieces saw the panda beanie they had their own idea for a take on this little project: Froggy Hats. Using the same pattern I did for my panda hat, only scaled down somewhat and with smaller needles and worsted weight yarn, I whipped up two little green hats with earflaps for a pair of toddlers. For the eyes I knit two 2 inch by 3 inch ovals and folded them in half then attached them to the tops of the beanies. I just free-handed the embroidery for the eyeballs and mouth with dark brown yarn, and braided the green tails from my cast-on with two strands of brown to make the chin ties. I couldn’t be there to see the girls in them myself, but their mom sent me this adorable picture on New Years.

Christmas Catch Up

Now that all of my homemade gifts have made it out from under the tree, it’s time to get caught up on some of my more recent messes! While many of them managed to make it out the door before I remembered to photograph them, I did make note of some of the particularly messy ones like this “snowball” glitter ornament. 

Using clear glass ornaments from Michaels (plastic would have worked too). I coated each ornament with white glue using a 2” paintbrush. Then covered thoroughly with white glitter. While it dried I rigged a makeshift drying rack from a plastic fork, a ball of yarn, and a cup. 
After half an hour, when the glue was dry I sealed the glitter with hairspray (yes, just like make-up on prom night) and allowed it to dry 2 hours longer before reattaching the ornament hanger and wrapping it up for Mom.