Friday, October 31, 2014

Nothing to See...

I'm busy crocheting bear hoodies, and kitty hoodies, and stuffed bears....while I do have some finished projects to show you, right now I need to get caught up on the "Yarn In" totals.  Ugh.  I hate this type of post.  However, ALL the yarn I've bought is for orders, not for the stash.  Unfortunately, there usually ends up being some left overs that do go in the stash.  Sometimes it gets balanced by yarn coming out of the stash, but lately...not so much!

3 balls of Loops & Threads "Impeccable" in black, for more Toothless orders.  128gr x 3 = 384gr; $12.40
6 balls of Loops & Threads "Cozy Wool" in Mushroom, 127gr x 6 = 762gr; $33.83
2 balls Loops & Threads "Cozy Wool" in Brown and Mushroom, 127gr x 3 = 381gr; $16.92

Totals:  1527gr, $63.15.

Wowza.

Yarn In:  1527 + 7547yd = 9074gr
Yarn Out:  4002gr
Balance:  5072gr MORE brought IN then out
Costs: $63.15 + $394.48 =457.63 /298 days = $1.54/day 

A year ago, this was my post:
Yarn In:   12 957gr
Yarn Out:  10 431gr 
Balance:  2 526gr more brought IN than out
Costs:  $9 + $249.29 = $258.29/305 days = $0.85/day

My out totals were a little inflated, because I had given away quite a bit of yarn, after getting a large donation.  I think my balance would be about the same once I complete my current set of orders using all this yarn I bought.  If I use most of it--say, 1350gr, that will improve my balance to 3722gr, plus the projects I haven't shown yet.  My costs were much less last year because I was doing more knitting from my stash and from thrifted yarns.  This year, many of my orders need yarn purchased.  I might go back and create subtotals, for yarn given to me, and given away/sold, vs the amount actually used.

Two years ago, this was my post:
Yarn In:   18 141gr
Yarn Out:  14 640gr
Balance:  3501gr more brought IN than used up
Costs:  $16.88 + $420.20= $437.08/311 days = $1.41

Wow, look at that yarn in/out!  I must have gotten a big donation!!  The rest is pretty comparable.  How interesting!




Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Tale of Two Teddy Hoodies

I've written already about creating a Teddy hoodie and not having enough yarn.  Getting more yarn and getting it done, and the client saying she wants a different colour.  And crochet instead of knit.  Got going again, had the "not enough yarn" issue again.  So, what should have been a quick project ended up with, I think, FOUR trips to Michaels'.  And two hoodies.  In the end, she did love the one she got, so that's what matters!

First, the first knit version, with two toned ears, like she asked for:
This took 132gr of LionBrand Thick n Quick in Fisherman (and a bit of random dark brown).  The pattern had sizes 6-9 months, and 12-18 months, but the client wanted 10-15 months.  A little fudging of the numbers and voila!  This one is available to purchase, $25Cdn, + shipping.

Then I made her the crochet version, in a different yarn, with solid coloured ears.  Sigh.
 It's hard to get a nice picture of a slouchy hood!
Neither of these really show the colour.  It's "Cozy Wool" in Mushroom.
This is a better shot, though I used a filter to soften it a bit.  Oh, and what's that?  Yes, one of my new tags from Apple Melon Designs!  This crochet version of the hoodie took 176gr. That's 124.7yds, compared to the knitted one at 82.3yds.

I got another order for this colour, went and got the yarn (and yarn for more Toothless stuffies), and then the next day got orders for FIVE more little hoodies in Mushroom.  I went back to Michaels, and luckily it's on sale now, and cleaned out the shelf of Mushroom.  BTW, did you know I don't like mushrooms?  LOL!

Yarn In:  7547yd
Yarn Out:  132gr + 176gr + 3694gr = 4002gr
Balance:  3545gr MORE brought IN then out
Costs:  $394.48/293 days = $1.35/day 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kelly Sweater Techniques Tutorial

So, just HOW did I do the beige sections on the Kelly sweater?

When I first started, I was using worsted weight yarn on the SK155.  Or maybe I was using the LK150.  I have no problem with worsted yarn on that, though many people say not to use it.  I only had a single bed, so there was lots of reforming stitches.  The swatch I got was slightly different than what I ended up with on the Singer 327, but still close.  But, I still had to re-swatch on the 327.

I started with examining the picture of the inside of the sweater.

I know that's not a great picture--it looked better on my iPad.  I examined how the lines of knit stitches moved, and where the eyelets were.  Although it was the inside, I figured if I could get the inside to match then the outside would.  Also, the inside is what was facing me on the machine--or what I thought would be the easiest side to have facing me.
 Just another shot of the whole sweater.
 Once the fabric is stretched out a little, you can see the undulating columns inside.  I think I matched it pretty well!
This is one of the swatches, trying different ways to get the eyelets.  I actually liked this side better, LOL, but Kelly did not.  You can see places where the stitches did not form above the eyelets.  Then it becomes drop lace, and Diana Sullivan did a video on this while I was actually working on this sweater.  WAY easier than what I was doing, but it looked too different, especially on the public side.  It would have been an alternative if I wasn't trying to copy the sweater so precisely.  Anyway, more about those dropped stitches later.
 This is the "public" side of the above swatch.  Still pretty messy!!  I still wasn't 100% sure how I was going to form the stitches over the eyelets when I casted on for the back.  But I wanted to move ahead.
Not sure why I took this picture.
This was my first run at doing the back.  I wasn't happy with the proportions of the light and dark. It also seemed a bit long, and once stretched, a bit wide.  I recalculated my gauge after letting this sit for a month and indeed, I needed to re-work the math.  I later found out that the KnitLeader was malfunctioning partway up the pattern.  And it was kind of sloppy knitting.  I hadn't "warmed up" enough.

I started out with 2x2 ribbing, using the cast on in the book for "heavier" yarns.  I started with a tight tension and after the circular cast on, gradually increased.  This kept the bottom from flaring out and helps eliminate stretching.  
 First step of the pattern is to move all the ribber stitches.  Of each pair, the left ones got moved one stitch to the left, the right ones, moved to the right.  At first, I was doing this with the single prong tool, because I was looking just at each group of two stitches.  Then I realized I could use my adjustable 7 prong tool, and move two stitches over at a time.  Sometimes, if I lost focus, I got confused, but in general, this really sped things up (I think I knit almost the entire back the first time using the single tool!).
 These two pictures are just to show the steps needed.  Pull needles all the way up, place transfer tool in hooks, push needles back down so stitches go onto tool, lift off tool, pull up needles being transferred to, put tool on needles, and push back down so the stitches go into the hooks and in working position.
 Once the stitches are all moved, they now line up directly with the mainbed stitches.  Of course, this is a no-no with double bed knitting!
 Then, I pushed all the mainbed stitches forward to hold position.
 Using two two prong tools, I transferred all the mainbed stitches to the ribber bed stitches that were now directly below the mainbed stitches.
 I think there's three steps to transferring.  Slid the MB stitches onto transfer tool, slide another tool into those stitches from the top,
 use the top tool to hook them onto the ribber stitches
 I wondered if the little P carriage could have transferred these stitches, but I didn't want to try mid-sweater!
 Mmmm, not sure why it's sideways.  After all the MB stitches were moved down, the empty needles went back to A position, and the alternate needles (that fit into the spaces on the ribber bed), came into work position.
 Take one pass of the carriage over.  Now, here's where the big issue lays.  You can't have essentially what is a double yarn over.  In hand knitting, you would knit and purl into a double yarn over to form two stitches.  On the machine, I tried doing a single YO  then knitting a row and  then trying to make the YO bigger.  I tried bringing up the heel of the stitch from the ribber.  I could maybe have done one of the needles on the ribber and one on the MB and then moved the RB stitch back up?  What I ended up doing what taking my single prong tool and inserting it from the top into the loop,

 Twisting it 180 degrees to the left (because that way just felt easier)
 And placing it back on the needle.  At the bottom of the back piece, I had all 200 needles in work, so this was done to all 100 mainbed stitches.  Every six rows in the cream section.
Then I would knit the row.

Here came the biggest game changer I figured out part way through.  When I would knit the first row after twisting the eyelets, not all the eyelets would knit.  I was finding myself having to re-work many of them.  Some groups would have just the twisted stitch that didn't knit, some had both stitches that didn't knit, and the twisted stitch would have come untwisted, so I essentially had to re-do that row.  I realized it was because there was no weight on the mainbed, after moving all the stitches to the ribber bed.  So I tried hanging the ribber comb back on, and that helped, but not 100% and was awkward. I was in the last beige stripe on the second run of the back, when I had the idea to use ravel cord (or, thin waste yarn).  I figured this was sort of like casting on--forming new stitches where there were none.

It worked!  Almost every stitch knit!  This idea, shown in that last picture above, truly saved my sanity, and combine with switching to the 7 prong tool for the ribber stitches, really shaved time off.  
I still ended up with mistakes.  Some of the mainbed stitches were fond of tucking instead of knitting, and even though I tried to check them every row, some still slipped by, so I'd have to decide if I wanted to unravel that stitch and re-work it, or let it go.  Then, once while checking for tucked stitches, I noticed that I had a row of eyelets where quite a few hadn't formed right and the stitches above laddered.  So I took it off the machine and when I laid it out to rip back, found that I had forgot two rows in between the first and second rows of eyelets (in the top beige section above, see how the lower two rows of eyelets are closer together?).  Ugh.  What a pain in the butt to get back on the machine.

After knitting the back and most of a front, I decided to do a run through of the other pieces, without patterning but with changing colours, to see how the yarn was going to last.  It appeared I would just squeak by, so when I re-did the front, I went a bit smaller.  
 Finally, I had all the pieces.  And a lot of ends, loops at edges, and other tidbits to clean up.  The sewing didn't go too badly, everything fit pretty well together!  After sewing the shoulder seams, I made the collar.  I used the cast on edge as the outer edge, knit half the collar, until I had used up half the yarn I had left.  Took it off on waste yarn.  Hung the body edge, right side facing me, onto the needles, spacing evenly (I found the middle first).  Then hung the collar, right side facing the body.  Knit a row, then casted off. Repeated for the other half of the collar.  I was glad I had shortened the sweater, otherwise I would have had to do three sections, and would not have had enough yarn at all.
 The biggest problem with sewing and blocking was the dog kept laying down on the pieces I had spread out on the floor.
I washed it up and laid it out to steam it so it would open up.  When I looked at it, and then at the picture of the original, I was mighty pleased!
I didn't have it stretched out for the length enough for this picture, it was just a quickie.
So hard to get a good picture!  I really needed a model, but there's no one here this size except me LOL.  I was quite pleased in the end.  It's really cozy, she can wear it as a shawl collar, or let it just fall open.  The sleeves aren't too long for a normal sized lady, LOL.  The only thing I wish was different was a bit more width on the collar (that half ball I found, without a label...I wonder...).  And I wished I had swatched a bit more, to learn the two tips that really made a difference in my speed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Sweater

Some projects are epic because they're creative.  Or because they're pushing your boundaries.  Or because they're just SO darned adorable, like my pocket bunnies.  Sometimes a project becomes epic just because it's been finished LOL.

Last spring, I was browsing my FB newsfeed and someone posted a picture of a sweater with the request to find someone who could make it.
 The first few comments were typical "Find the pattern and I/my grandma/my sister can make it".  I KNEW there'd be no pattern available for it, just going by the photo that was posted.  So, I said I could probably do it.
Much googling revealed that it was made by Aeropostle.  So, no pattern would be available.  I also really felt that a handknitter would not be able to replicate the sweater.  

Doesn't it look cosy?  I spent some time finding a yarn that had both colours and wasn't "too heavy".  Now, "heavy" is obviously a relative term.  Most cozy, oversized sweaters seem to be made out of thicker yarns.  I chose a worsted and made up a swatch, and went to meet Kelly and get her measurements.  I was all set to get going, using the SK155 bulky machine.  Still a lot of hand manipulation, but faster than hand knitting, right?

Then Kelly emailed me, wondering if I had started....and would it be too much trouble to change to a lighter yarn?  Well....you're the client; I'm not going to knit a custom sweater only to have you say you don't like it!  I did a lot more research, trying to find an easy care yarn, no thicker than DK, in both colours, that was affordable and available.  That took a lot of time.  I finally suggested Snuggly DK by Sirdar, and luckily, Soper Creek Yarn in her town had it.  We met up in her town at the LYS and took a look.  Kelly chose a cream that was a little different, cooler, than what I imagined, but it grew on me.  They had only 7 balls of the cream (Rice Pudding), and lots of the chocolate, so I got three of it.  I really had no idea how much would be needed.  How do you estimate something like this?!  At least with the Snuggly DK I could use the Singer 327 with ribber.  Which  meant even more complicated swatching.

 I got started on swatching again.  I liked the reverse side, LOL, but Kelly liked the original front side.
Although I had spent a lot of time with swatching, and a tape measure and calculator and scrap paper, I wasn't happy with the back.  It was too long, too messy, and the brown stripes were too wide.
It took a lot of work to recalculate the design.  The gauges of the beige and the brown were different.  I was making custom adjustments to the Knit Leader pattern.  It took a lot of figuring out.  A lot.

Eventually, I got the math all worked out and re-knit the back.  It looked so much better!!  I was so much happier.  I sort of think I re-knit it a third time, but I can't quite remember LOL.
I kept having the typical machine knitting troubles.  I'll get into them in the next post, which will go into detail about how I actually did the design.
 I got skeptical that I would have enough yarn, particularly the cream.  Soper Creek didn't have anymore in that dyelot.  No one did.  I did buy a few balls in another dyelot but I wasn't happy.  They seemed stringy and I could see a colour difference. I thought I could do the ribbed band in it, but I really didn't want to.  In the end, I pretty much used every inch of the cream of the first dyelot.  I would have like the ribbed band to be a smidge wider, but....and then a few days after getting it to her, I found a part ball which had gotten lost, looks very much like the original...ugh.
 Very hard to get a nice sweater picture.  I tried using the self-timer, and modelling it myself...but I'm a knitter, not a model.
This dragon fly liked it though!


Before I delivered it Kelly, I had to stop at Apple Melon Designs to pick up some samples of tag possibilities.  I've searched for fabric tags, and haven't found any local, then another crocheter posted that she was working with another metal tag maker, and I thought--I know someone who does that!  I love being able to support someone local!  Sorry the picture is not the best, I couldn't get a picture in the dark, I sewed it on while sitting in the truck under a streetlamp :)
Did you know if you press backspace while doing the spellcheck, Blogger closes your post and goes to your blog and your heart will stop for a minute?  :)

Yarn In:   7547gr
Yarn Out: 533gr + 3161gr = 3694gr
Balance: 3853gr more brought IN than out
Cost:  $394.48/287 days = $1.37/day

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bunny Buddies

After Jenna received her second white mini bear, she requested two more for her nieces.  Or, little bunnies would be cute too, she though.  Similar, but not quite identical.  At first, I was considering pink and peach, but I didn't have two yarns similar enough.  Digging through my stash, I came up with these two balls of Patons Lace.  Single strand was too flimsy, so I tried one strand of each.  I started with the belly, and I was picturing this long legged bear that Megan has.  The belly has a cute bulge and I tried to replicate that, while switching to two strands of the same colour for the front.  It wasn't as successful as I had hoped, but still cute.  I noticed that the two strands of beige did not stand out as well as the two strands of white.  Interesting how that works.
"Did you see what Miffy wore to the dance?  Always, the same dress!"

 Then I moved on to the legs.  Starting at the bottom, I wanted a long, narrow foot.  I sort of got what I wanted, and did one with each colour combo.  Then, for some reason, I moved on to the head.
Maybe if we hide here, no one will see us!

 When I came back to do the 3rd and 4th leg, I couldn't get them to match the first two.  So, I came up with the "design element" of one leg of each combo!  That way the foot shape would match on each bunny and by having one element that matched the other bunny, it really tied them together.
 Uh Oh!  Busted!  Faces to the wall, hands up!

The faces have the solid colours at the noses, and again, the tan didn't show as well as the white.  The facial features were done a little darker on the tan bunny to help them stand out a bit.
"You're my hero!"

The arms were easy, just doubled the colour for the tips. 

The ears were a bit of a challenge, but not difficult.  I pictured a long floppy ear, rounding out at the bottom, with a patch of the solid colour on the inside of each.  To keep them flat and hide the ends, I knit them in the round.  They weren't quite as floppy as I imagined, but still adorable!  The tails were mini pompoms made using the fork technique.  First time I've done that.  Don't double wrap the centre!  Then, like I always do, I steamed the pompom to fluff it up.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these bunnies.  They're perfect size to sit in your hand or go in a purse.  The sequins are cute, the tails are adorable, and the different facial expressions make them each unique.  One bunny, on it's own, is adorable, but put the two together?  Awwww!!  Totally adorabubs!

Yarn In:   7547gr
Yarn Out: 53gr + 3161gr = 3214gr
Balance: 4333gr more brought IN than out
Cost:  $394.48/285 days = $1.38/day

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Romper Room

Probably only Canadians will know about Romper Room.  A fun children's show with an odd main character--an adult in a costume--and a "human" host.  That seems to be the model for many childrens' shows LOL.

I wasn't happy with the sizing of the first romper I made.  I immediately got started on a second, smaller one.  Of course, I didn't have great notes from the first one, LOL, and it was no longer in my possession...I was hoping for narrower, and just a bit shorter at the front, so the bib wouldn't be right up to the chin, since babies dont' have necks.  I'm not sure which of these rompers is closest to a newborn size, but hopefully, she now has some options for different sized babies.

Yes, that's the only picture I have.  Can't wait to see one of them on a baby!

Yarn In:   7547gr
Yarn Out: 26gr + 3161gr
Balance: 4386gr more brought IN than out
Cost:  $394.48/282 days = $1.40/day

Monday, October 13, 2014

Yarn In, Again....and Again....

I was working on the teddy hoodie in the darker colour. I got to the point where I thought "I'm not going to have enough yarn, am I?".  I really thought one ball would be enough, 90yds, since I didn't use the whole ball of Thick n Quick...but being crochet, it took more.  So, hen the dilemma was, do I keep going, hoping I can get another ball of the same dye lot, or just stop, I case I have to rip it back to blend in another dye lot.  And....I felt the fabric was a bit stiff.

I was able to get another ball of the same dye lot, and I bought a larger crochet hook.  The one I had, didn't have a size on it, and I couldn't figure it out!  The new one is obviously larger, the new fabric is more pliable.  Still a little stiff, but it seems in the larger sizes, the sizes jump up quite a bit between each size.  The hoodie is a quick piece, but then I made the two tone ears and sewed them on.  Then I reread her message and realized she wanted single coloured ears.  Oops.

The yarn was Loops & Threads "Cozy Wool".  50% wool!

Yarn In:   127gr + 7420gr = 7547gr
Yarn Out: 3135gr
Balance:4412 gr more brought IN than out
Cost: $9.03 + $385.45= $394.48/280 days = $1.41/day