Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloweenie!



A dozen little fake jack-o-lanterns with holiday lights stuck inside. The in-between lights in the string were blacked-out with little plastic caps for that purpose.

Preventing Uneven Ribs

Have you ever noticed that ribbing can have an uneven look, especially when knitting in the round? This happened to me, and I figured out that my problem was when I did the yarn-over to switch from knit to purl, it wasn’t tight enough, making the last knit stitch in the rib look too big. So I solved it by giving an extra little tug before the purl, to tighten up the yarn-over.

This can also happen during moss (seed) stitch, checkerboard stitch, and linen stitch. An extra tug after each yarn-over solves the problem every time.

For more knitting tips that will help with the Witchy Tube Top pattern, see:
Big Magic Loop
Swatch Wars
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Adding a Color in the Round
Preventing Ladders
Quick and Dirty Striping
Exquisite Striping
Closing the Bind-Off Gap

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Magic Loop

Modified Magic Loop with round worked about 3/4 through.

Magic Loop is a technique for knitting in the round with a circular needle that has a long cable. The trick is that you leave a loop of empty cable to the left and also to the right of the work. It's a great technique, which works for big and also very small knitting in the round. You can find more about basic Magic Loop here Magic Loop Rocks!.

Modified Magic Loop is for larger work, which doesn't need two loops but is too small for the whole cable to be in use. Just leave a loop of cable between the first and last stitches in the round as you work.

Modified Magic Loop a few stitches into beginning of round.

For more knitting tips that will help with the Witchy Tube Top, see:
Preventing Uneven Ribs
Swatch Wars
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Adding a Color in the Round
Preventing Ladders
Quick and Dirty Striping
Exquisite Striping
Closing the Bind-Off Gap

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sneak Peek... Witch Warmers in Crochet


I've got a new pattern that's ready to be tested, and it will be offered for sale here and on Ravelry after the test. It is a set of witchy armwarmers, legwarmers, and a neckwarmer. This is a crochet re-design of my knitted Witch Warmers pattern.

If you'd like to be a tester, please let me know and I'll email you the pattern for free. When I've got enough testers, the freebies will no longer be available. It's a fun project, and it takes up to 800 yds / 730 meters of sportweight yarn for the full set. If you prefer, you can test just one of the items. I used Wool-Ease sportweight and Plymouth Encore DK in the pictures.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Witchy Tube Top



This witchy-striped tube top is easy to knit: no seaming, grafting, or blocking. It’s great for Halloween, and it can be made in other holiday, piratey, or school colors. The tube top was designed to go with my pattern, Witch Warmers, which includes striped armwarmers, legwarmers, and a neckwarmer.

Materials
US 4/3.5 mm circular needle with 30” - 40” / 76.5-102cm cable
yarn needle
54" / 138cm narrow 1/8" or 3mm satin ribbon

Yarn
approx. 400 yds / 370 meters sportweight wool or wool-blend. The pictures show Wool-Ease Sportweight, which has been discontinued. Plymouth Encore DK is a fine substitute.

Gauge
20 st x 16 rows = 2.5" x 2.5" / 6.5cm x 6.5cm (flat swatch) in K1P1 rib

Difficulty: easy

For a free .pdf of this pattern click here:

download now

For knitting tips that will help with this pattern, see:
Preventing Uneven Ribs
Big Magic Loop
Swatch Wars
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Adding a Color in the Round
Preventing Ladders
Quick and Dirty Striping
Exquisite Striping
Closing the Bind-Off Gap

Shown with Witch Warmers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Praise of the Humble Carrot!


Looking for an inexpensive and healthy veggie that tastes great? Cooked carrots often get a bad rap because they turn out sort of sweet and mushy. But if you use salt, savory spices, and garlic in a brief sauté, they are a super veggie dish.

SPICED CARROTS

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3”strips
2 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. Ayurvedic spice mix or a pinch of black pepper
1/16 tsp. salt

-----------

Sauté carrots in olive oil on med-low heat. Sprinkle with salt and cover, stirring every few minutes. When carrots are crisp-tender, add garlic and ayurvedic spices or black pepper. Cover and turn off heat. After a minute or two, stir and serve.

Serves 2

Note: the Ayurvedic spice mix isn't necessary, you can use a small amount of ground black pepper... but it adds a wonderful flavor to the carrots.

This recipe appears on
Savory Spiced Carrots on Foodista

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Scrappy Gypsy Turban


Of the many gypsy turbans I have made so far, this is definitely my favorite. It uses the Gypsy Turban in Crochet pattern, and the best part is that it's made from scrap yarn: 2 strands of sportweight held together. One is a continuous color and the other is tied-together scraps. Using a single color along with the scraps gives a pleasing continuity and has the added benefit of disguising the "teeth" that appear when consecutive rows are worked in different colors.

Here's how to modify the Gypsy Turban in Crochet pattern for this variation:

1. Crochet a new flat gauge swatch--it is different. I got 13 st x 12 rows = 4"/10cm x 4"/10cm.

2. The yardage is about the same, but for 2 strands of sportweight yarn held together. I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease sportweight for the turban pictured here, but Plymouth Encore DK is a fine substitute. For the scrap skein, you can use the "Magic Ball" technique, in which you tie varying lengths of scrap yarn together to make a long strand, and crochet or knit it like one continuous ball of yarn. For the knotting, I used a square knot, but I've read about an overhand knot made holding the 2 ends together.

3. With the 2 strands held together, make your beginning chain a bit loose, using the same size hook specified in the pattern. The number of chains should be 6 less than what the pattern lists for the various sizes. The pictures show a size small on a size medium head. It barely fits, and I will make a size medium for myself next time in the scrappy technique.

4. Work according to the pattern, crocheting the ends in as you go.

5. When finished, tie off and work in ends. There will be yarn ends showing throughout the work--to make them less visible, tug and trim each to about 1/4" or .5mm.


For crochet tips and variations on the Gypsy Turban in Crochet, see:
Novelty Yarn-Trimmed Turban
Tying Off After Joining
Slip-Stitch Join
Avoiding Stiff Crochet
Swatch Wars

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sagefrost Gypsy Turban


This variation of the Gypsy Turban in Crochet uses acrylic worsted weight yarn and a fuzzy, white boucle yarn called "Snow White," a vintage yarn that I got from a lady in Canada. Any fuzzy or shiny or bouclé yarn in a contrasting color would work fine too. Here's how I made this turban:

1. Make the starting chain in the "frost" or white yarn.

2. Continue for 2 rounds with the main color, sage in this case, carrying the white yarn up the wrong side of the work.

3. Add a slip-stitch round of white.

4. Switch back to the main color and work a few more rounds.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 until you have finished the turban rounds.

6. End with a slip-stitch round of white.


For crochet tips on this pattern see the following posts:
Scrappy Gypsy Turban
Tying Off After Joining
Slip-Stitch Join
Avoiding Stiff Crochet
Swatch Wars

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sneak Peek... Witchy Tube Top


I've just finished a new pattern for Halloween, which will be offered here and on Ravelry after it's been tested. It is a striped, ribbed tube top, designed to go with the Witch Warmers pattern (armwarmers, legwarmers, and a neckwarmer).

If you'd like to be a tester, please let me know and I'll email you the pattern for free. It's an easy project, and it takes about 400 yds / 370 meters of sportweight yarn. I used Wool-Ease sportweight, but I checked the gauge on Plymouth Encore DK, which is a fine substitute.


For knitting tips that will help with this pattern, see
Preventing Uneven Ribs
Big Magic Loop
Swatch Wars
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Adding a Color in the Round
Preventing Ladders
Quick and Dirty Striping
Exquisite Striping
Closing the Bind-Off Gap

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tying Off After Joining

When you join 2 crocheted or knitted edges, sometimes the last joined stitch can become too loose as the item is used, even though you tied off through the final stitch’s loop. Here’s how to securely tie-off, using the Gypsy Turban in Crochet as an example:

1. After joining, cut the working yarn and tie off the last stitch.

2. Split the end yarn into 2 strands.


3. With a crochet hook or yarn needle, thread one strand of the end yarn through the next-to-last joined stitch.


4. Tie the 2 strands of end yarn together tightly in a knot.



5. Work in ends.

For crochet tips and variations on the Gypsy Turban in Crochet, see:
Scrappy Gypsy Turban
Novelty Yarn-Trimmed Turban
Slip-Stitch Join
Avoiding Stiff Crochet

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slip-Stitch Join


Here’s how to join the top of the Gypsy Turban in Crochet, without sewing. It works great for other things, like afghan pieces, too.

1. Place the two pieces to be joined with their right sides facing each other on the inside and the edges to be joined lined up together. This will produce an invisible seam on the right side.

2. As in the Gypsy Turban, if the working yarn is already attached at the beginning of the join, chain 1. If not, then insert your crochet hook through the first stitches at the end of each of the two pieces to be joined. Draw the end of the working yarn all the way through and tie a knot to secure.

3. Slip-stitch the upper edges together, pairing-up the edge stitches on each piece. When you slip-stitch, draw the working yarn through the back loop of the front-edge stitch and the front loop of the back-edge stitch (the inner loops of the front and back edges).

4. For a secure end, when you come to the last stitch of the join, slip-stitch through the front and back loops of the 2 edge stitches, and then tie off.

For crochet tips and variations on the Gypsy Turban in Crochet, see:
Scrappy Gypsy Turban
Novelty Yarn-Trimmed Turban
Tying Off After Joining
Avoiding Stiff Crochet

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Avoiding Stiff Crochet

Working in front loop only.

Many folks feel that crocheting produces a very stiff fabric, which can be uncomfortable to wear and gives a less-than-desirable drape. If you’re in this camp, then read on!

I discovered that working in only the front loop or the back loop of the base stitch increases the flexibility and drape of a finished item. My grandmother used this approach, but she never explained it to me--I just noticed that we were doing the same thing. Also it helps to use a hook that is larger than the yarn label recommends, for making a flexible crocheted fabric. This is very important for the Gypsy Turban in Crochet pattern, to provide the right amount of drape.

Of course, the first row usually has a length of chains as the base, so there’s no front or back loop. But subsequent rows of single-crochet, double, etc. will present two top loops, which are usually both worked through. Using just the front or back loops for a row helps the stitches move easier as the finished item is worn or draped. It also produces a nice-looking ridged texture in the work.

Working in back loop only.

For crochet tips and variations on the Gypsy Turban in Crochet, see:
Scrappy Gypsy Turban
Novelty Yarn-Trimmed Turban
Tying Off After Joining
Slip-Stitch Join

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gypsy Turban in Crochet


This is a crocheted version of the knitted Gypsy Turban pattern. It's easy to make and easy to wear--no sewing, grafting, or blocking. It is crocheted in a simple, unusual technique that makes it flexible and drapey. The design was inspired by paintings of gypsy fortune-tellers from the Middle Ages.

The Gypsy Turban can easily be arranged to cover the hairline or cover the ears, as you wish. Make one in cotton for warm weather and another in wool for winter.

U.S. crochet terms

Materials: uses US I / 5.5 mm crochet hook; 1 moveable stitch marker (optional).

Yarn: 200-250 yds / 183-230 meters worsted weight cotton, wool, wool blend, or acrylic yarn. The pictures show Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton worsted weight yarn. Other American brands of cotton, Wool-Ease wool blend, and acrylic yarn work fine in worsted weight, as well.

Gauge: 16 st x 15 rows = 5"/13cm x 5"/13cm in cotton worsted weight yarn; 16 st x 13 rows = 4.5"/11.5cm x 4.5"/11.5cm in wool, blend, or acrylic worsted weight yarn

Skill Level: easy



You can find crochet tips and variations on this pattern in the following posts:
Scrappy Gypsy Turban
Novelty Yarn-Trimmed Turban
Tying Off After Joining
Slip-Stitch Join
Avoiding Stiff Crochet
Swatch Wars

The Gypsy Turban in Crochet pattern is available for purchase as a download here and on Ravelry. $2.00 USD

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Closing the Bind-Off Gap


Here’s how to close the gap between the first and last bound-off stitches when knitting in the round:

1. After binding off, cut the yarn and tie off. *

2. Split the end yarn into 2 strands.

3. With a crochet hook or yarn needle, thread one strand of the end yarn through the first bound-off stitch.

4. Tie the 2 strands of end yarn together tightly. This joins the final round of your knitting.

5. Work in ends.

* Note: For narrow-striped knitting, you don’t have to divide the end yarn into 2 strands. Just tie off, thread the end yarn (from the final stripe) through the first bound-off stitch, and tie it to the other color’s yarn end (from the next-to-last stripe).



For more knitting tips that will help with Witch Warmers see
Preventing Uneven Ribs
Big Magic Loop
Preventing Ladders
Exquisite Striping
Quick and Dirty Striping
Adding a Color in the Round
Straightening and Joining in the Round
Magic Loop Rocks!
Short Witch Warmers
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
I Love Cable Cast-On
Swatch Wars

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Preventing Ladders

Here are a few ways to prevent the dreaded ladders when knitting in the round. (Ladders are those too-loose stitches that happen when you change needles.)

- After the needle changeover, pull the working yarn really tight during the 2nd stitch on the new needle. That tightens up the first stitch’s connection to the previous needle.

- When switching to a new needle, before taking the first stitch, give a downward tug on the already-knitted rows, to remove any bunching that might be happening between the old needle and the new needle.

- As you knit the last few stitches on a needle, grasp the already-knitted rows below the left needle, with your left thumb and middle finger (pinch tightly). This prevents stretching while you knit those last stitches.

For more knitting tips that will help with Witch Warmers see
Preventing Uneven Ribs
Big Magic Loop
Closing the Bind-Off Gap
Exquisite Striping
Quick and Dirty Striping
Adding a Color in the Round
Straightening and Joining in the Round
Magic Loop Rocks!
Short Witch Warmers
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
I Love Cable Cast-On
Swatch Wars

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Exquisite Striping in the Round


I have found that the best way to make nice stripes in the round is to twist the strands (and change colors when called for) on the third stitch of each round. This allows you to start the round and pull the stitches tight normally, without adding with a twist or color change at the same time. Then on the third stitch, the round is well-established, and you can change colors more gracefully. This is a good technique for making exquisite stripes or a gift for the Queen.

Here it is, step by step. Do this for every round, whether or not you change colors:

1. Work the first 2 stitches in the round using the same color as the previous round.

2. Twist the working yarn of both colors together—2 twists.

3. Place the color not in use between the 2nd and 3rd fingers of your left hand. Hold it like a cigarette in the old movies, pull the slack with your right hand, and slide up to the back of your knitting to tighten the twists.

4. With your right hand, pull on the working color yarn that you will use for this round to finish tightening the twists.

5. Insert the right needle into the next (third) stitch. Give one more tug on each color yarn with your right hand before working the stitch.

6. Work the stitch.

7. Drop the non-used color from your left fingers and tug gently on each color yarn.

8. Proceed with finishing the round.

Note: some knitters like to slip the first stitch before changing colors, to reduce the stair-step effect.

For more knitting tips that will help with Witch Warmers see
Preventing Uneven Ribs
Big Magic Loop
Closing the Bind-Off Gap
Preventing Ladders
Quick and Dirty Striping
Adding a Color in the Round
Straightening and Joining in the Round
Magic Loop Rocks!
Short Witch Warmers
Black Attack: Working with Dark Yarn
Cast-Ons: Keeping Count
I Love Cable Cast-On
Swatch Wars