Monday, June 27, 2011

High Tech Handwarmers

Okay, so these handwarmers don't actually look all that high-tech. In fact, they look like pretty basic little mitts, the kind I made six years ago when I was just getting into knitting. But, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Depending on how much of a hardcore knitter you are, this secret might potentially make you lose respect for me, but here goes.....

These handwarmers were knit on a MACHINE.

That's right. My knitting has gone robot style these days. I've been taking a Machine Knitting class over at Portland Sewing and, I have to say, these machines have surprised me. I thought using one would feel all factory-ish and industrial and totally separate and alienated from the cozy feeling you get from something handmade. But really, using one feels kind of like using a sewing machine. Sure, there's a big crazy machine helping you out, but it's still ultimately all about craft - about your hands, your materials and your desire to make something. Just like a sewing machine, the knitting machines can't knit all on their own, and even if there are big, fancy ones out there that can, they still need someone to tell them what to knit.

Still, what really amazes me is just how big and complicated these basic machines are. There are all these elaborate tools and needles and carriages just for some plain old stockinette. When I sit down to knit, I hardly ever think about what my hands are doing. It's like breathing. They just lift and lower and follow the rhythm. Spending time with these machines has made me appreciate just how brilliant and amazing my hands are. When I'm struggling with all the strange tools you need to use - needle pushers and transfer tools and claw weights - my hands get all annoyed and haughty. They sigh and say, "I could do this soooo much better....." And they're probably right. I'm biased, but I do still think knitting by hand is better. It is certainly SIMPLER. However, machine knitting is easier and FASTER, two things which, unfortunately, are the most valued in these modern times.

These handwarmers are what came off the machine. Basic stockinette, seamed up with a hole for the thumb. They were INSANELY fast to make. And they are functional. They work. But still, there was something missing, some kind of specialness.  So I let my hands take over. I gave them some yarn, a crochet hook, a sewing needle and thread, and stood back in awe watching them do what they do best. They are HANDwarmers after all.....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Knit Outta the Box!

It's official! Two lovely ladies from Knit Outta the Box contacted me awhile back and very sweetly told me how much they loved my Necklace Cowl pattern. So, we've decided to collaborate! 

If you haven't heard of Knit Outta the Box, they are a new company that sells awesome knitting kits as well as their own line of exclusive yarns.  The blue necklace cowl above is knit with their KB Cotton Tweed. Lovely, eh? A match made in heaven.

They are going to help me distribute the pattern to new and fun places. To start off though, a  jazzed up version of the pattern is available on their website or over at Ravelry.

In more fun news, I will also be receiving my very own stash of KB Cotton Tweed, as well as their mohair yarn. Why, you ask? To invent some brand new patterns for them! Yay! It's a total dream come true. Normally with patterns, I come up with the things I want to knit and the yarn is an afterthought. So, I'm really excited to get my hands on some lovely new yarn and see what sweet things it whispers in my ear.......Ah, yarn, so flirtatious. 

I'll keep you updated on my progress, so stay tuned for more! And Thanks again to Knit Outta the Box for your support!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yarn Bombs - Part 2!

Yesterday was International Yarn Bombing Day! And boy oh boy was it fun! I think I'm on a fast route towards becoming a yarnie delinquent. After decorating the tree in my front yard, I decided to take my yarn with me on our usual weekend dog walk.  Our chosen yarn bomb sites:





I probably should be more "anonymous" about this, but it's Portland and I seriously doubt anyone is after me. In fact, while we were yarn bombing plenty of people came by to talk to us and not one of them asked a single question about what we were doing with the yarn and the scissors and the camera. Nope. All they were interested in was our dog, Annie. Oh Dog-loving Portlanders. I think yarn bombing is pretty darn cool, but I suppose Annie can be cooler. Especially when she decides to drink bomb water fountains.....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy International Yarn Bombing Day!

Finally, some motivation to do guerilla style knitting!
I woke up this morning and read that today is officially International Yarn Bombing Day.
So, I decided that it was my DUTY to grab some needles and go throw yarn at something.
Since I was still in my pajamas, I started with the tree in my front yard.....

These are just some quick pics I took. I'm hoping to get some better ones this evening, plus some pictures of whatever else me and my yarn decide to deface today.

Oh my, it's a happy day indeed!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Scrap Yarn "Necklace" Tutorial

Remember last week?  Huh. Neither do I. Summer sunshine makes me spacey.

Anyway, I believe I told you I was going to share a fun tutorial involving scraps of yarn. Now to be honest,  I've been hemming and hawing about whether or not to follow through on my promise because my original idea for this tutorial didn't quite work out. And I'm not totally in love with the compromise I ended up with. But given the beauty that is never-ending internet space, I'm going to share it with you anyway. So start collecting up some yarn scraps and read along for a free little tutorial on how to make this necklace!


Materials You'll Need:

Some scissors and....
A whole bunch of yarn scraps, the more the better.
They can be any length from 2 inches to 2 feet, but I think it's best, if possible, to use scraps that are all the same gauge. See that one straggly red piece hanging out in the picture above? That's a piece of dk I tied in by accident and it really does stick out. Of course, I'm realizing now that I could just snip it out and replace it with another scrap.  So, you know, just dig in to your scrap bag. No worries.

 Well, that's it for the materials list. (It is just a necklace made from yarn after all...You've probably guessed by now this will not be rocket science).

STEP 1: Tie your scraps together to create a ball or skein of "scrap yarn."  You'll want to tie them together using a square knot. Find instructions here. Basically, you'll cross the end of your new scrap over the tail of your last scrap. The new scrap is on your right, the old scrap on your left. Then it's "right over left, left over right." So essentially, pay attention to the color of your new scrap to add on. You'll only be moving that color yarn. You'll end up with a strong knot like this...

STEP 2: When you've gotten through all your scraps or have had enough of tying knots, wrap your "yarn" around the back of a big chair to create a skein.  Use some extra scraps and tie around all the strands in a few spots to keep them together when you remove it from the chair.

OPTIONAL STEP : Once you remove your skein from the chair you might want to give it a good soak and let it hang out to dry to straighten any wonky strands.

STEP 3:  You'll have the beginning and end of your yarn hanging out from your yarn circle. Adjust them so that you have one strand hanging at opposite ends of your circle. Like this....
STEP 4: Now, wrap the loose strands around till there's a little tail left and then tuck that tail back under the wrapped yarn and pull. Trim the end.

 STEP 5: Trim off any unruly bits and pieces and then grab your necklace by either end where the wraps are. Take a longish piece of yarn and thread it through the ends like this....Adjust the length, then tie it on!! 

You can also twist it a few times before you thread the yarn through for an effect like this...

Admittedly, I feel a little silly wearing yarn scraps around my neck. But, I am still terrified by that horrific mound of yarn leftover from industrial factories, and all of the fiber waste that must exist in the world (just check out the sale racks at chain stores). 

So I'll wear my necklace proudly, and if anyone tries to give me crap about it, I'll tell them my neck is a rather lovely place to hang out.

It's way better than the garbage.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What to do with little baby scraps...

While we're on the subject of scraps, I will confess that yarn wrapping hasn't solved all my scrap woes. I still have plenty of tiny little baby scraps leftover from not always following that "leaving a 6 inch tail" rule. I'm talking a few inches here, the kind of yarn scraps that fall on the floor and look like little fiber worms. I've been puzzled for a long time about what to do with those, since felting isn't really my thang.

But, aha! I think I might have stumbled on a solution. It all started when I came upon this yarn in PatysLoveys etsy shop.

No weave Mesh aka scraps -handspun- 4.8 oz

I think this kind of yarn is gorgeous. It reminds me of a woven rug, the kind of yarn that I'd rather look at than knit with. What's amazing about this yarn is that it's spun with scraps! And they look all grown up.

I started thinking about how I could make my own yarn out of scraps, and surprise, surprise I am not the first person to think of this. Behold the yarn scrap balls from Crochet Bug below:

I've since been diligently square knotting my baby scraps into a nice little ball of yarn. The ball is almost grown up enough for the project I have in mind. Tune in on Saturday and I'll be sharing my yarn scrap project, complete with tutorial and free pattern! Woo hoo! Yay for scrap busting!

In the meantime, I probably should stop whining about my piddly little scrap collection. It's just a few bags worth, drowned out in the sea that is my yarn stash. It's not like it fills my backyard or house or anything.

It's not like GIANT HAY BALES made from yarn...

I'm still kind of in shock that these things exist.
 I'll stick with the baby worm scraps, thank you very much.