Mini messenger bag ornament

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A quick, cute stockinette project that features one-piece construction, provisional cast-on, picot bind-off, and a felt decoration. Bag is about 3″ square, excluding the strap.

This mini messenger bag is another in a long line of ornaments and miniatures – some by original patterns and some by published patterns – that are populating our main Christmas tree at home as well as my dedicated little tree just for knitted ornaments:

The pink messenger bag with tan felt heart and picot bind-off at upper edge turned out pretty much perfect on the trial run. It’s for special friends with two young children in the family. Five or six years ago, I established the habit of giving the brother and sister each their own knitted ornament at Christmas. For 2018, hers will be the pink bag featured here. His will be blue with a bright yellow star on the front. And maybe without the picot bind-off.

Materials:

  • Size 3 straight needles
  • Remnant of small, smooth type of yarn
  • Felt shape approximately 2” square
  • Plastic needle
  • Sewing needle with large eye
  • Small square of plastic or cardboard, optional, for shaping
  • Scrap yarn
  • Crochet hook for provisional cast-on
BEGIN
Using scrap yarn, provisionally cast on 20 stitches. Join project yarn and work in stockinette for 46 rows or 5 3/4”, ending with a WS row.Next row: Knit 2, then move remaining 18 stitches to scrap yarn and secure.

Purl the 2 stitches remaining, then continue working those 2 stitches in stockinette for the bag’s shoulder strap until it measures length of entire bag piece plus 1/2” (approximately 6 1/4” long). Bind strap stitches off and leave enough of a yarn tail to attach strap to bag later.

Fold bag with wrong sides together and top edges matching (provisional cast-on and held stitches lined up together at the top edge). Center a felt shape such as heart, star, or cross on bag’s front panel. Hand-drawn and not perfectly symmetrical is a nice touch. I found clip art guides online.

At this point, either side of the bag can be the front. In the picture below, I am using the held stitches end as the front as I attach the heart with a cross-stitch needle. I untwisted my pink yarn and removed a strand or two before threading the needle. Using project yarn, stitch around felt piece to attach it, making even, visible stitches. #somuchfun

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SEAM ONE SIDE IN PREPARATION FOR UPPER EDGE BIND-OFF
Now, fold the bag with right sides together and seam one side only (the side without the strap), undoing one end stitch of the provisional cast-on and using one end stitch from scrap yarn holder, securing those two stitches in the seam.

PREPARE TO BIND OFF

With right side of top edge facing you, undo rest of provisional cast-on and scrap yarn and place all stitches on the needle again —including one picked-up loop in the very center, where your side seam is already worked. Knitting needle tip should be at the right. (37 sts)

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Attach yarn and bind all stitches off. You may use a standard bind-off for a plain edge, or you may work a “2/4” picot bind-off*. Secure last stitch and cut a yarn tail long enough for seaming.

*Standard picot bind-off is to bind off 2 stitches, (return right needle loop to left needle, cast on 3 new loops using cable cast-on, then bind off 5). Repeat ( ) to end. Pink model with tan heart was done casting on 2 instead of 3, and binding off 4 instead of 5, and I didn’t cast on with cable method. I used knitted cast-on.

FINISHING
Seam other side of bag, attach strap, and weave all ends in.

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Completed messenger bag temporarily booted my measuring spoons from where they live, inside a kitchen cabinet door, for this photo.

SUGGESTIONS
Block or steam press top edge so it doesn’t curl down over upper edge of felt shape.Option: to keep the bag shaped nicely, insert a piece of semi-rigid plastic or lightweight cardboard cut to size.

Optional gift presentation or to use as a tree ornament: place one or two small candies inside bag. Suggestion: one Ghirardelli square.

Bag can be a doll’s accessory, too.

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Dress up that plain diagonal dishcloth!

Another fun stashbuster or summer boredom project!

 

 

How many of the classic diagonal “yarnover” dishcloths/washcloths have you knitted or been given? There must be a dozen of them at my house. The rule for laundry sorting is that the smaller ones go in the kitchen and the larger ones go in the hall linen closet.

INSPIRED BY CROCHET
The other day I was using a beautiful crocheted washcloth (NOT MY WORK!). It is worked in straight rows, and it’s a generous size. The yarn colors of light aqua and other shades of green and yellow are just beautiful! Ridges occur on six of the rows:

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Not my work. At craft shows I like to buy things that I can’t make. I don’t “get” crochet as a skill and I admire those who do!

Using that cloth inspired me to employ the “pick up stitches” technique (a skill I love and use whenever there’s a need, but can always use more practice on) to add a little pizzazz to an old and – let’s face it – kind of boring washcloth of faded yellow cotton with tiny flecks of color (also faded).
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I didn’t knit this dishcloth and I don’t know who did, but I must mention the two holes you can see in this picture (at top center and near lower left). Were these holes stitching mistakes, or were they part of some mysterious purpose now gone – you know, had ribbon through them to tie up the square in some cute way to look like a ruffled “granny” nightcap or a rabbit with ears? #whoknows

 

Not that my dark taupe embellishment of the circus-peanut-orange cotton dishcloth you see from here down is the most astonishingly attractive or clever project, but here’s how you can do what I did, if you’re so inclined:

MATERIALS NEEDED
Garter-stitched washcloth or dishcloth, made on the diagonal or made with straight rows;
Crochet hook if you use one to pick up stitches;
Remant yarn(s) of your choice;
Size 6 straight needles, or a size or two smaller or larger (whatever works best);
Scrap yarn, safety pins, or split-ring markers (same number as the number of embellishment rows you decide to work);
Plastic needle for sewing yarn ends in.

LET’S GET STARTED
Select several equidistant garter ridges and mark each. You can use a little piece of yarn, a split-ring marker, or a safety pin. In the picture below, I’ve identified my four target ridges by setting a little strand of scrap yarn on top of each. Then, I marked them in a more lasting (but temporary) way. The lower three are identified with a safety pin, a tied loop of yarn, and a split-ring marker, respectively.

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At one end of the first ridge, pick up one stitch through every loop of either the top or the bottom of the garter ridge with a yarn of your color choice. It can be the same kind of yarn as in the dishcloth or a novelty yarn with a different texture – to give the cloth a more “scrubby” surface, for example. You can work all of the embellishment ridges in the same color, or you can use a different color of yarn on each, for a multicolor effect. I just used what I had on hand, so my choices were rather limited. #stashbuster  And note: I used size 6 knitting needles. You may find you can use a larger needle, but the loops on this orange dishcloth were pretty tight. In theory, you’d want to use the same size needle that was used to knit the dishcloth.
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I used size 6 needles. There are 12 loops on my needle after I picked up straight across one side of one garter ridge. The sixth one from the right is a bit loose; gently tighten up any extra slack all the way to one end or the other after getting all your loops on! Below left, you see how I am pulling the taupe cotton through the next orange loop. Below right, I am using the crochet hook to move the new loop onto the knitting needle.

Picking up stitches is a nifty construction skill.

Picking up stitches is a very clever way of building onto an edge of a project without having to seam pieces together. I’m no expert at it, but I’ve been moderately successful. I made a “log cabin washcloth” for my aunt a few years ago, from a published pattern by someone else, that involved this method of beginning the next strip along the side edge of the last one:
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And here’s a really handy pencil or knickknack cup I made up as I went along, picking up stitches to start new panels. I wish I’d kept “how to” notes on this one!
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Crafting is sometimes a case of “find your own way that works”

Two things about picking up stitches:

1. I use a crochet hook to draw the new yarn through the appropriate loops of my existing project. It’s the easiest way I’ve found. I understand that really skilled folks can do this merely using the knitting needle’s tip. #kudostotheexperts

2. Knitting pattern instructions often say to “pick up and knit” stitches along a finished edge. Even though I didn’t do that on this dishcloth embellishment, I do know how. Not only do you draw new yarn through old loops and onto the knitting needle, you actually knit each new loop as you go. When I pick up and knit, I still use the crochet hook and it serves as a left knitting needle as I work. In case my technique worries you, we won’t go any further down that road right now.

For this dish cloth dress-up, it really makes no difference whether you simply pick up loops or pick them up and knit them. If you do the latter, each ridge will be a tiny bit wider.

HERE WE GO!

Now that you have a row of stitches on your knitting needle, you’ll fly though the rest of this!
Row 1: Purl across.
Row 2: Knit, increasing after every stitch (but the last one) by the “make 1” method. As I work this, I say “stitch, ditch, stitch, ditch…” to help me remember the increases. This increase row essentially doubles the number of stitches to create a slight ruffle effect.
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I’ve just inserted the left needle tip into the horizontal bar before the next stitch, from front to back. Now, I’ll insert the right needle tip into that loop and knit it. One stitch added in the “make 1” method (without twisting the new loop before knitting it).

Normally, the “make 1” increase instructs you to twist the new loop before you knit into it, to avoid creating a hole in your work. There is no need to twist each picked-up bar in this project, however. The hole simply adds a lacy/decorative appearance (if it is noticeable at all). I suspect, though I’m not sure, that the holes you see in the image below aren’t from making increases without twisting, but from picking up stitches without knitting them.
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Bind off.

Weave ends in.

Repeat the process for each embellishment ridge you make. You can always add more ridges, not just 4 or 5! The beauty of a plain old garter stitch dishcloth or washcloth is that it is a veritable “blank chalkboard” just waiting for your creative touch.

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One ridge done; next one picked up and ready to go!

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Just like changing yarn colors in garter stitch, picking up stitches in a new color of yarn creates a “seam line” on one side of the work. It’s not the most ideal situation, but I choose not to focus on that as I’m using a handmade “pretty” for bathing or for washing dishes.

Bold Lightning & Fast Forward cup cozies: FREE pattern duo

I recently posted an article showcasing original cup cozy patterns “Woozie Coozie” and “Wave Pool” (two variations of the same design). Please enjoy the article here and give that free pattern a try, as well as this one (scroll down to the bottom to find two PDF files).

Bold Lightning is pictured above in red with the Serda’s Kenya AA Top coffee Jeff brought me from a business trip to Mobile. Fast Forward is shown in aqua blue. This duo is constructed essentially the same way as Woozie Coozie/Wave Pool, but it features a texture adapted from a 12-row knit-purl motif called Double Lightning.

Learn by Doing

The first time out, I discovered that one 12-row pattern section produced only a sideways V. You need to work the first half of the pattern again in order for the motif to reverse direction and look like a bolt of lightning!

Also, the pair of skinny lines made by purl stitches in Double Lightning really didn’t “pop” off the stockinette background as much as I’d hoped. So… #BackToTheDrawingBoard

If I took out the two knits between each pair of zigzag lines and worked one purl instead, not only would the purled motif be wider to show up better, but four occurrences – not just three – would fit into my stitch count. “Eureka” and “Shazam” – that’s what I call improvement! So, I named the taller model Bold Lightning and the shorter one Fast Forward (because the sideways V suggests the Play or Fast Forward symbol on a remote control or on a YouTube video control bar).

I found Double Lightning in the excellent little Field Guide to Knitting stitch pattern book my friend Lynn Stewart gave me years ago. Great little book! I return to it quite often.

This one-color cozy is a fun, fast knit that makes a day-brightening accessory or a happy gift for any occasion. Below, I’ve pictured a cozy by my Wave Pool pattern, just waiting to be to be given as a gift, with a reusable cup and a coffee gift card!

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And here are the two patterns! Enjoy.

Bold Lightning Tall Cup Cozy

Fast Forward Medium Cup Cozy

Wave Pool & Woozie Coozie: FREE pattern duo

Which do I enjoy more: coffee with lots of flavoring & whipped cream, or a drink cup that sports a decorative, handmade cover? #ToughQuestion

I’m not sure what has triggered my latest knitting craze, but it’s all about cup cozies. Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild will soon begin receiving members’ items for the annual exhibit at Homewood Public Library (open all September long!), and I’ve decided to offer a small collection of my prettiest/cutest/funnest-to-stitch cozies, including these:

 

After making a new owl cozy in the round and getting my Fair Isle back on as I had it during 2016’s Christmas gift-giving frenzy (headbands), I saw an Instagram post that got me focused on one-color options with texture. I experimented with a design called Double Lightning, found in the excellent little Field Guide to Knitting stitch pattern reference book my friend Lynn Stewart gave me years ago. Finally, I landed on a wavy “zigzag” inspired by Double Lightning. All I could think of to call my version was “motion sickness,” but my daughters texted me some helpful feedback that fed into the final name of Woozie Coozie!

Whether Woozie Coozie in one color of yarn, or the more visually-striking two-color version I’ve named Wave Pool, this cozy is a fun, fast knit that makes a day-brightening accessory or a happy gift for any occasion.

If you’re as “hooked on” cute cozies as I am (a weak attempt at some crochet humor there), why not give the PDF pattern a try? Or, comment and ask me where I found the owl and the other patterns shown at the top of this post.

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures of all my recent cozies as you scroll down to the bottom for the PDF free pattern.

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I’m showing off the new rainbow wood size 6 needles I’ve been enjoying so much, but also you can see the “helpful tip” of a row counter note attached to the beginning yarn tail. I’ve circled rows 7, 12, and 17 to remind me to increase!

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Wave Pool reverse side

The yarn “carries” on the underside look neatest if the main color always goes above and the contrasting color always goes below (or vice versa).

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This mustard-yellow beanie “wip” is the Instagram picture that inspired my search for a new one-color stitch pattern! @elbycrochet @sallyravels

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Fair Isle motif I charted after seeing it in a photograph online.

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The color design used here is from a free Ravelry download by Sarah Alderson called “Caffeic.” In place of her “purl when you can” technique, I’ve used ribbing at top and bottom.

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I charted this design based on a photo I saw online.

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A rose motif I charted from a photo I found online.

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At top left is one of the “Caffeic” cozies I made by the Sarah Alderson pattern referenced in an earlier photo caption. This mauve and teal model is made with her “purl when you can” technique at top and bottom. I should have chosen colors with more light/dark contrast. Find me @hiyabets on Instagram for regular stuff (which sometimes includes knitting) or @theknittinghour.

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And here’s the pattern! Enjoy.

Woozie_Coozie_and_Wave_Pool_by_Betsy_Lowery

Long, dramatic “lace insert” scarf

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My mother gave me a pale pink scarf with flecks of gray in the yarn. It still gets lots of compliments when I wear it. It’s even been to Europe & back, with my daughter! A few years ago, I used the “lace insert” motif from that scarf and knitted a solid black one that I still wear every so often. I also knitted a solid purple one that’s wider and much longer, made still longer and more dramatic 🙂 by fringe of 8-10″ on each end.

Now, for some reason, teal is the color I have on my radar this spring, so this Loops & Threads “Barcelona” color-change yarn caught my attention at Michael’s. It’s about the same weight and texture as Lion “Jiffy”, which I’ve used for a lot of projects. The Barcelona has 328 yards in a skein.

I tend to choose a lot of solid colors, so this one (we used to call these yarns “variegated”) was a lot of fun to work with. The scarf with fringe required just over one skein, but a scarf a little less wide and a little less long is easily doable from just one skein. My scarf is 28 stitches across and about 84″ long, net of fringe.

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I drove all the way to Bessemer for these 4 skeins of Barcelona “Leafy” in dye lot 6237 after deciding to knit a “whole ‘nother” garment from the same yarn. That one’s a seamless, long-sleeved sweater on size 9 needles. #WIP #staytuned

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Knitting in the car! It passes the miles…ahem, while someone else is driving, of course; and it keeps you warm.

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The finished product

The pattern: What’s Lace Insert?

There are many kinds of openwork panels you can insert to break up sections of another stitch such as garter or stockinette. Just Google “lace insert” and you’ll see what I mean. The lace panel my mother used was a series of two yarnover, knit 2 together rows and then two yarnover, purl 2 together rows between sets of garter stitch rows. For example:

Cast on an even number of stitches that will give you the scarf width you want. Needle size depends on the yarn you’re using and how tightly- or loosely-woven a garment you have in mind. I used size 15 needles to knit my teal/green/gray scarf.

Knit all stitches for 12 rows.
Next row: (yo, k2tog). Repeat ( ) to end of row.
Next row: as previous row
*Next row: (yo, p2tog). Repeat ( ) to end of row.
*Next row: as previous row

*At the start of each yo/p2tog row, remember to bring yarn forward first, AND THEN ALSO wrap the needle for the first yarnover ! If you forget to do both of these steps, you’ll be missing the first stitch on these rows.

It’s also a very good idea to stop and check every so often to be sure you, indeed, have your original number of stitches. I goofed a few times on this scarf, ending up with an odd number of stitches at the end of a row. All but one of those goofs I had the patience to go back and correct. The other one I worked around, adding the stitch back. #veryunprofessional

Now, resume with garter stitch for another 12 rows, and then repeat the openwork sequence again, repeating these sections over and over, in turn, until the scarf is the desired length, ending with a set of 12 garter stitch rows.

Tips & variations

You can vary this pattern by working more rows, or fewer rows, of garter stitch (always 8 rows, or always 10 rows, or 12, or 14… just make sure it’s an even number of rows). You can also vary by making the lace insert (openwork) section longer. I did this in the teal/variegated model. I worked 6 rows, not 4, of the lace pattern each time by repeating 2 rows of yarnover/k2tog in every set: y/o, k2tog for two rows, y/o, p2tog for two rows, y/o, k2tog for two rows.

HINT: I also counted the cast-on row and the bind-off row as part of my sets of 12 garter stitch rows, just so each set of 12 rows would look to be the same length throughout the scarf.

METHODS of CAST-ON and BIND-OFF:
Looser – I used “knitted cast-on” and I bound off in the stretchy “knit 2 together” method explained below.
Tighter – If you use backward loop or long tail cast-on, you may want to bind off in the common method of taking each previous loop off the needle over the stitch you just made.

A Stretchy Bind-Off Method: To bind off leaving a more relaxed or stretchy edge, knit the first 2 stitches. Then, *insert left needle tip into the front of BOTH stitches and knit them together off the right needle. Knit another stitch, then repeat from *, working to the end of the row in this manner. You may be surprised how much more stretch will be in the bound-off edge compared to an edge bound off in the usual way (see “Tighter”, just above this paragraph).

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About to trim the fringe strands straight, after anchoring the cast-on and bind-off edges with pins.

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If you wear one end of the scarf down your back, just be sure you grab it up if you happen to stop by the restroom! Nothing ruins that “good outfit day” feeling more quickly than dipping part of your attire into the toilet bowl by accident. (And, if you’ve never done that, then “Amen, sister!” and “You go, girl!!”)

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Our hotel room at Battle House in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Which was more fun…knitting while stretched out on the comfy hotel bed, or catching beads, Moon Pies, and the pink kitty you see in the photo below, at the Mardi Gras parade right out in front of the hotel? #toughquestion

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We’re a petless household, so I staged these “cats” getting into my yarn as I knit! #LOL

A most educational miniature

This “Italian Harlequin Costume” sweater from Fashion Knitwear for Children by Claire LaCoste Kapstein (1983) was a great challenge to make in miniature. Here are illustrations from the book:

 

If you’ve seen my Instagram posts @hiyabets or @theknittinghour (the latter account is new), you know I hovered over the topic of picking up stitches while making the first attempt. This project was also a “knitting math” wake-up call, as I didn’t double-check my calculations… hence the grossly over-long first sleeve shown with an elbow bend in the left photo at the top of this page!

I knew I was picking up too many stitches around the neck (based on having cut most stitch counts of the original instructions in half), yet I went right ahead. Foolish me! Or, rather, no expert me at picking up stitches. I use a crochet hook and I’m pretty slow at it. The neckline ribbing should have drawn the garment’s width in about as much as the lower band did.

Here’s my first effort, duly tagged with all of the conclusions and corrections that went into the second model:

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The only thing I reconsidered after making these instructional reminders is mentioned in the top left tag. I did go with both stockinette and garter stitch in the “white” band of the sleeve on try #2.

 

Picking up stitches for sleeve ribbing vs. provisional or alternate cable cast-on

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Each half of this sweater begins at the lower sleeve edge. Whereas the instructions for the original project say to start with the first color band and then go back later and pick up stitches for the ribbing, I’d like to speed that process up. While picking up stitches is the only real option for adding ribbing at the neck and lower edges, because they are pieced, the sleeve doesn’t have that constraint. Before I landed finally on beginning the sleeve with its ribbing, on model #1 I chose provisional cast-on in order to avoid picking up stitches.

You can see below that I didn’t bother to finish the way-too-long sleeve. I left the pink yarn of the provisional cast-on in place. This is called “quitting while you’re behind” or “cutting bait” or, more formally, “spending no more energy on a losing situation.” :0-)

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My better alternative to adding the sleeve ribbing at the end was to start with the ribbing, using a cast-on that’s great for ribbing: the alternate cable cast-on. Then, I worked 2 rows of ribbing and forged ahead.

SPECIAL NOTE
One important rule for picking up stitches:
When you insert your crochet hook or knitting needle tip between loops to pick up stitches to build on a project from a bound-off or side edge, be sure the right side of the project is facing you. On the lower edge of model #1, I tried being really clever in order to have the work facing the correct way for my final bind-off, because the “pretty” side of miraculous elastic bind-off is facing away from you as you work. Yes, my number of rows of ribbing would have worked out to match the neck edge. But, NO…my logic did not stand me in good stead, because the right side of the sweater would have had this hideous seam! Boo! #doover

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And here’s a washcloth I just ran across that demonstrates what the right side and wrong side of picked-up stitches will look like. This is not actually that type of seam; it’s just a routine color change on a RS row. But, you get the idea. You don’t want that seam showing on your finished product!IMG_4851

Here’s a nice example of how useful picking up stitches can be for building on different edges of a project:

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This “Carolina blue” basket stands about 4.5″ high. It can hold miscellaneous necessities like a thimble, a lip balm, an emery board, a pencil. Or, knitting essentials like stitch markers or sets of DPNs. Or, hair elastics. Or, tea bags, sugar packets, and stirring sticks. I’m pretty sure I made this project up as I went. I should have documented my work! [[anguished-face emoticon]]

Just for fun using Mixoo app: “I’m a little teapot” pose x3

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“Tip me over and pour me out!”

 

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Is it the mathematical challenge I love? Or the fact that miniatures take little time and little yarn? Or that they make great Christmas tree ornaments/gifts? #alloftheabove [[hands-clapping emoticon]]

 

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What a difference a trial model makes! I flew through the blue, green, and cream sweater on a Saturday night and Sunday based on amended instructions.

 

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Top left: sleeve-and-body halves. Middle left: center insert sections lined up for seaming. Bottom left: neck edge ready for picking up stitches using DPNs. Top right: “Goin’ to town” on size 2 DPNs to work neck edge ribbing! Bottom right: Showing off the finished project. Yay!

2nd mini for 2017! Two-toned dress

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Mini Garter & Stockinette Dress: a miniature for a small doll or your Christmas tree

This adorable, two-toned miniature dress is quick to whip up, and it has the added attraction of incorporating several “beginner basics” – garter stitch, stockinette stitch, and ribbing. It’s a great opp to teach yourself (or a mentee) the three-needle bind-off, as well.

After having so much fun developing, knitting, and publishing the miniature kimono sweater a few weeks ago, I had miniature on the brain. So, when I ran across a toddler dress pattern by Dorian Kershner published in a 2010 “project a day” calendar given to me by my sweet sister, Jane –and, having no toddlers on my radar who needed a knitted dress– I got my knitting needles and pen and paper out again and started figuring. This one took me three tries. The ruffled skirt hem didn’t lie down very well. The stockinette shoulder straps curled under and looked narrower than they really were. As they say, third time’s the charm. Here’s a small pic of the early version I didn’t like:

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I just wasn’t happy with the huge ruffle or with the squirrely shoulder straps, even though these two colors of Vanna’s “Glamour” (a sparkly little yarn) were very nice together.

Let’s get started
References to CC and MC are for optional 2-tone with dress lower edge and bodice in one color and skirt in another. If you prefer to use the same yarn throughout, just follow the stitching instructions.

Dress front
With size 2 or 3 straight needles, use CC to cast on 20 sts in alternate cable method, leaving about 16″ tail end on starting slipknot, to be used for seaming dress later, at sides. So long a tail is recommended here especially if your dress is being knit all in one yarn, because you’ll need that yarn to stitch up the side from hem to underarm.

Skirt
Rows 1-2: k1-p1 rib
Row 3: purl all sts

Continue in stockinette stitch and decrease width at sides
Row 4: Join MC, leaving a 16″ tail. K2tog, knit to end (19)
Row 5: p2tog, purl to end (18)
Rows 6-9: work even
Row 10: k2tog, knit to end (17)
Row 11: p2tog, purl to end (16)
Rows 12-15: work even
Row 16: (right side) Change back to CC or continue in same yarn if not making the two–tone version. K2tog, knit to end (15)
Row 17: k2tog, knit to end (14) Not a typo – this begins the garter stitch bodice section, placing garter ridges on both the right side and the wrong side of work.

Continue bodice in garter stitch
Rows 18-24: knit

Shape armholes
(Continue in garter stitch for remainder of bodice and shoulders.)
Row 25: Bind off 2 sts at start of row. (12)
Row 26: As row 25. (10)
Row 27: knit

Shape neck
On next row (RS), bind off center 2 sts (stitches 5 and 6). (8)
On next row (WS), attach new yarn source at start of the second shoulder strap as you knit across. (8)

On next 2 rows, working both shoulders at the same time, bind off center 2 stitches (1 on each shoulder). To do this, knit all 4 of the first strap, then bind off first stitch of the second strap. (7 sts remain) Then, coming back across on the next row, knit all 3 stitches of the first strap and bind off first stitch of the second strap. (6 sts total remain)

Work 4 rows even on both shoulders, ending with a WS row.

Cut working yarn with about a 12″ tail. Slip all sts to scrap yarn and hold for 3-needle bind-off after dress back has been made to this same point. If you don’t have scrap yarn handy and want to keep the project together and in view, simply slide completed dress front to the far end of one knitting needle and keep it hanging there while you knit the dress back:

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Dress back
Make dress back identical to dress front. Set pieces with right sides facing and join at shoulders in three-needle bind-off. Otherwise, bind off all stitches and then seam together. Here’s my work all ready for the three-needle bind-off:

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Finishing
TIP: You might find it easier to weave in the several yarn ends of bodice and shoulder sections before you seam the sides of the dress.
Seam sides, weave all yarn ends in.
Turn dress right side out.

Optional: Try using partial strands of same yarn or contrast to make a tiny flower ornament to attach to front of dress near one shoulder. After one unsuccessful try, I made my Very Quick Knitted Flower into a micro-mini, using 20 stitches to start with, and binding off 2 stitches, not 5, for each of 5 scallops:

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Forgive all the little “fuzzies” of these great wool yarns!

Use ornament hook or tiny clothing hanger to place dress on Christmas tree, or use dress for a doll of appropriate size. I found some little hangers at Michael’s craft store, but the black one I fashioned from a nicer “twisty tie” was a better size for this black and white dress made on size 3 needles. I plan to make the next dress on size 2 needles to see if it will fit the Michael’s hanger better.

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These two wools were a pleasure to work with. I did the skirt sections (blue) on size 3 needles, then switched to size 2 for the bodice. I’d hoped the end product would fit OK on one of the little wooden coathangers from Michael’s, but it didn’t.

 

 

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This blue and off-white dress overpowers the little hanger, but it’s a pretty piece! #iloveminiatures

 

 

 

Smaller’s not always better, but it can be funner

 

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It’s another fun miniature project – taking a regular knitting pattern sized for child or adult and making it …roughly… the same proportions by gnawing off a math challenge with no fear. Well, maybe a little fear.

My starting point was a cute pattern with clear, excellent instructions: 

http://www.gina-michele.com/2016/02/toddler-kimono-sweater-knitting-pattern.html?m=1

Somewhere in the essence of my math-oriented brain, I must have realized that to use size 4 needles instead of the prescribed size 13 would render a finished length in proportion if I also kept to the number of stitches in the original pattern but reduced the length in rows to about one-third. This assumption was either intuition/experience or sheer dumb luck. 

I made the pink trial model accordingly, but it turned out pretty large for a Christmas ornament. (Unless you live in Texas, maybe.)

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Besides wanting to get the miniature a little smaller, I saw that the rate of slant on the front neck edges was too shallow. Instead of the less-than-45-degree angle you see above, I needed something closer to 45. Tweaking for these corrections, and going for buttonholes instead of crocheted ties, I got the result shown below. BTW, I absolutely stink at crochet. Even a simple chain stitch comes out pretty awful, as you can see on the pink sweater.

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HOW TO MAKE your Miniature Kimono Sweater

Approx. finished size 5.5” tall, 3.75” across at lower hem

First off, gauge is not highly important for this project. (Hooray!)

Second off, send a comment if you need any of my instructions clarified. I’ve used a number of abbreviations without explanation, such as “work a stitch f/b.”

BACK
With size 4 needles, c/o 24 sts. The alternate cable cast-on is recommended. It gives a nice, loopy/scalloped lower edge that is ideal when you’re starting off in ribbing. Work 3 or 4 rows single ribbing — IN CONTRASTING COLOR, optionally, then 1 row in stockinette stitch in CC then change to MC and work 17 rows in st st — or simply work 18 rows in st st if knitting the entire sweater in one color. Work should measure approximately 2 and 2/3″ from cast-on edge. End with a WS row.

 

BEGIN SLEEVES
RS: Using knitted c/o method, cast on 8 sts for sleeve, then knit entire row. (32)

WS: Using knitted c/o method, cast on 8 for other sleeve and work purl row. (40)

Continue in stockinette stitch until work measures 4.5″ from cast-on edge, ending with a WS row.

 

DIVIDE FOR FRONT SECTIONS
RS: Knit 14 and move these sts to scrap yarn or a stitch holder for right front. Attach a new yarn ball and bind off 12 sts for back neck; complete row in pattern. Illustration below shows right front stitches held on gray scrap yarn, back neck bound off (in center of photo), and left front continued as described in upcoming instructions.

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### – return to this point to complete right front, later
Work 3 rows on left front stitches, then begin increasing at front edge on a RS row. Important note: at this point, you have a choice between two methods of increasing at the front neck edge. Method I includes yarnover holes as a decorative detail. Method II does not.

Method I
Row A: Inc row (work a stitch f/b at edge, plus a yo next to that)
Row B: Inc row, as row A
Row C: Work 1 row with a yo within 2 sts of front edge, but DO NOT INCREASE the total # of sts:
For RS rows: k2, yo, k1 [into the previous row’s yo], k2tog, knit to end.
For WS rows: purl to last 5 sts; sl 1, p1, psso, p1, yo, p2. I went this route to avoid p2tog. Purling 2 together is a bit challenging, but it is required for Method II, and I actually prefer Method II for how it looks when completed. Sometimes, we just have to make ourselves do those difficult maneuvers.
Method II
Alternate (and simpler) neck edge increase without yarnover holes:
Row A: Increase by the f/b method in each of the 2 stitches closest to neck edge. If a RS row, knit f/b in each; if a WS row, purl f/b in each. For some rows, the increases will be at the start of the row; for others, they will be at the end of the row.
Row B: As row A
Row C: Work even

For either Method I or Method II, repeat rows A,B, and C until there are 28 sts, ending with a row A (a WS row). Then, work 1 row even.

Here’s a photo of my Instagram post (Method I neck edge) at this point. I was so tickled to have come up with a strategy to correct that slant after the pink attempt came out too shallow because I had increased on every row:

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Now, here is a photo of my current work in progress that shows Method II. After making several sweaters with yarnovers in the manner of the original toddler pattern I was mimicking, I decided the yarnover holes don’t show up decoratively on this miniature as much as I had expected them to.

later add to blog post of kimono miniature

 

BINDING OFF SLEEVE EDGE
On next row (WS), bind off 8 sts, then purl to end of row. (20)
Work in pat until piece measures approximately 9.25″** from cast-on edge OR until the front in progress lines up with sweater back (above ribbing) when sleeve seam edges are held together. OPTIONAL BUTTONHOLES: If working small buttonholes into the left front (for a “man’s” sweater closure), refer to instructions below while completing this section. However, buttonholes may be made in RIGHT FRONT instead, for a “woman’s” sweater.

When left front is long enough to match up with sweater back at the same point, begin single rib on a RS row, working same number of rows of ribbing as for sweater back. OR, having worked to needed length minus one row if using a contrasting color for ribbing, work 1 ROW st st in CC, plus the ribbing rows. Why the one row of stockinette in CC? I explain that a little farther down, under TIP.

**For me, in my gauge, completing the front after sleeve edge bind-off was approximately 15 more rows from this point, before changing color and starting the ribbing.

 

BUTTONHOLES
Work several small buttonholes, evenly spaced, on RS rows by binding off the 3rd stitch from the front edge and then casting it back on when purling the next row. In practical terms, this means: k4, lift 2nd loop over end stitch and off needle tip, knit to end. On next row, cast 1 stitch back on before purling the second-to-last stitch. Backward loop method may be the easiest way to do this.

Here’s how I suggest spacing either 5 or 3 buttonholes:

Row 1 is considered the first knit row after you complete the neck edge increases. Work buttonhole bind-off on rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 for 5 buttonholes (replacing the bound-off stitch on rows 2, 6, 10, 14, and 18, with 18 likely being in your first row of ribbing at the bottom). Or, work buttonhole bind-off on rows 3, 9, and 15 for 3 buttonholes, replacing each bound-off stitch on the following rows. For all other rows in this section, work even, in pattern.

On my blue and white sweater, my last “add back” row was a purl row worked with CC just before I changed to ribbing. It’s fine if the lowest buttonhole extends just into the ribbing.

TIP: when changing colors, I’ve found it looks better to do so NOT on the same row that you switch from ribbing to some other stitch or vice versa. The purl bumps tend to stand out awkwardly if there is a yarn color change at the same time.

After completing 3-4 rows of ribbing, ending with a RS row, bind off in Miraculous Elastic Bind-off with WS facing you. The pretty side of this bind-off is the side that faces away from you as you work.

I got so excited about figuring out where to place the buttonholes that I went ahead and did them in the left front, which supposedly makes this a male’s sweater (buttons on the right), but that’s perfectly fine, because this miniature is a Christmas ornament for a special family that includes a dad and a son.

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The buttonholes are pretty small (but that’s the fun of miniatures!), just one stitch bound off and then put back on the following row. In retrospect, I see there could have been a fifth buttonhole above these four. As I compose this post, I can’t wait to go button shopping! ;0-)

 

RIGHT FRONT
Slip stitches for right front from holder back onto needle, with yarn source on same end as needle tip. See point marked ### above and begin right front starting with a WS row: work 3 rows even, then begin increasing at neck edge in the same manner as for left front, reversing the shaping and omitting the “work 1 row even.” Note that sleeve edge will be bound off at the start of a RS row.

 

FINISHING

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Seam the sides, weave yarn ends in, and attach a button under each buttonhole. Or, work a chain stitch or narrow i-cord and attach to both sides of front for tie closure.

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Your completed mini kimono sweater will add a handmade touch to someone’s Christmas tree, and it just might dress up a doll or a small stuffed animal, too!

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This mini with edging in gold-colored Paton’s Classic Wool is one of my favorites so far!

 

Free knitting pattern: Lightning-Fast Roll-Brim Hat

bulky roll-brim hat original pattern

I wanted to call this project “7-11 Roll-Brim Hat,” but the trial run told me it would need to be “11-7” instead. Somehow, that just didn’t have the same punch.

This project was inspired by recent Instagram posts of knitted baby hats. I commented on one, asking what size needle was used. (The hat looked to be made with some hefty size, like 15 upwards.) The answer was “made with knitting loom.” Ah.

I don’t use a loom, so I pulled out my size 19 straight needles and some thick yarn, and I put my thinking cap on. My first effort suggested the name “Chunky sideways roll-brim hat.” It was 24 stitches, worked entirely in stockinette. The resulting tube was quite tall, requiring a REALLY BIG & FAT brim….roll, roll, and roll it up some more! (and expect your family to laugh when you model it) Too, the crown was wrong side out – too messy with all the color-change wrong-side rows. That’s why 7-11 didn’t work. I had started from the wrong end.

Back to the drawing board! #ifatfirstyoudontsucceed

The second version was much better. If you want a fast project for a Saturday afternoon or a sleepless night, try this:

Lightning-Fast Roll-Brim Hat (adult size)

Description
Hat is worked flat, side edge to side edge, on size 19 straight needles using 18 stitches (11 worked in garter stitch and the other 7 in stockinette stitch). Ending yarn tail can be used for seaming; or, work PROVISIONAL CAST-ON at the start and use THREE-NEEDLE BIND-OFF at the end. Note: if you’ve ever knitted a simple Christmas bell ornament flat, this is the same general construction approach:

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MATERIALS FOR HAT IN ADULT SIZE:

  • Size 19 straight needles
  • Optional: Extra needle size 19 or 17 for three-needle bind-off
  • Two different colors of thicker yarn like Lion brand Wool Ease “thick&quick” or 2 strands held together of Lion brand Jiffy or similar-weight novelty yarn like Deborah Norville Serenity Chunky Sprinkles. But hat can be made in one solid color if you prefer.
  • Yarn needle with large eye

BEGIN:
For standard cast-on, cast 18 stitches on size 19 needle, leaving a yarn tail of at least 18″ (for drawing up top of hat later).
For provisional cast-on, use scrap yarn and crochet hook to work 19 or 20 loops around size 19 knitting needle, plus an extra chain of several stitches off the needle. Secure chain loosely and cut scrap yarn away.

With color 1, knit 11 then purl 7 (into 18 of the the provisional cast-on loops if using that method; drop extra provisional loops off needle).

Next row: Knit all sts. Do not cut working yarn.

Row 3: Introduce color 2, knitting 11, purling 7.
Row 4: Knit all sts with color 2. Do not cut yarn.

Repeat first two rows, picking up and using color 1.

Repeat rows 3 and 4, picking up and using color 2.

Continue in this manner, alternating colors every two rows, keeping in garter stitch and stockinette stitch as established, until you have nine stripes of both colors (36 rows).

Work next row in pattern with color 1. Turn needle. Right side of stockinette section and wrong side of garter section should be facing you.

If standard cast-on was used, bind off with color 1. Secure and keep a yarn tail long enough for seaming. Note: by starting and ending with a stripe of the same color, the idea is that seaming will “use up and hide” half of each color 1 stripe, resulting in the look of one stripe uniform with the rest of the hat. Use large-eyed needle to seam hat. Secure and weave ends in. Now, thread yarn needle with starting tail and weave needle tip in and out of upper edge of hat (upper edge is garter stitch end) every 5/8″ to 3/4″. Pull up snugly. Secure. Weave all ends in and turn hat right side out. Roll stockinette brim up on outside.

If provisional cast-on was used: undo provisional cast-on and carefully place row of starting stitches on your spare needle from left to right, so both needles are facing the same direction. Remember that the first stitch may not be a full loop yet, depending on how you introduced color 1 into the scrap yarn at the start of row 1. If necessary, use a crochet hook to pull starting tail of color 1 through another loop of your work. Both needles now in your work should be facing the same direction and each should have 18 stitches on it. With the needle you just loaded held in back, use empty size 19 needle to work three-needle bind-off, continuing with color 1 as working yarn. Ending loop should be at garter stitch end (top of hat). Secure last stitch and keep a long enough yarn tail to thread through needle and draw up top of hat. See above paragraph for particulars. Weave yarn ends in and turn hat right side out. Roll stockinette brim up on outside.

Size Adjustments
My example hat fits me snugly. Add 2 more stripes if you want more width. Start with a few stitches more than 18 if you want more height. Sized as is, this would be a great pattern for someone without thick hair… a good gift for someone getting over temporary hair loss, perhaps.

Enjoy.

Murder, She Wrote; Growing Pains; and this needlecraft book

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In today’s title we have overwhelming proof that 1986 was a good year, and that’s without even adding that Jeff and I were married on April 19. Happy 31st anniversary, sweetie! 😘

I chose this 1986 sewing/knitting/crochet/needlecraft book at the home of a very, very nice friend when she was reassigning the ownership of sewing supplies that had belonged to her mother, a trained and talented seamstress. In short order, the pattern for “Loose and bulky jacket,” a garment made of 12 identical knitted squares, caught my interest.

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Here’s the photojournal of my effort, completed on April 15 – a day I’m surely glad I was finishing a knitting project instead of finishing my tax returns.

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Size 10 needles 🙂

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Ah, the pleasure of marking off the final row!

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12 wiggly squares worked on the diagonal. Can they be blocked into shape?

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Blocking isn’t my forte, but I did try.

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6 narrow strips of garter stitch trim required for finishing

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Above, the model photo. Below, mine. I didn’t choose a “bulky” yarn as recommended, but at least the color was very close. I started off with something I had on hand, but of course I had to buy more along the way – Lion brand Heartland, color name Grand Canyon. I like the color nuances, but the yarn’s limp texture and (lack of) durability seem, I’m sorry to say, too much like Simply Soft by Caron.

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Photo credit Jeff Lowery on the day before Easter, while we were running errands. If you don’t look too closely, you may miss how difficult I found it to

1. Block the pieces into true squares when increased and decreased edges didn’t have the same “give”

2. Seam squares together without creating the appearance of holes where stitches made on the diagonal had to be stretched in blocking (revisit item 1 & check my left shoulder in the photo)

3. Remember to seam the trim to the front edges on the other side in the areas where the front edges fold back 😩

Nevertheless…

It was a stimulating project; the jacket is warm (against the onslaught of the air-conditioning season); and I now have a size model to guide me if I decide to try a similar jacket made of squares or rectangles not knitted on the diagonal. NOTE TO SELF: the more pieces you start with, the more yarn ends you have to weave in at the end.