Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Mittens to the rescue

Butter mittens

After the disappointment that was my first attempt at challenge 3 for Iron Craft, I pulled out some needles and yarn to see if it's possible to knit a pair of mittens in two evenings.

And, it's a qualified yes.

First up, you want a pattern for mittens that uses DK or worsted. Second, you need it to be interesting, but not too complicated.This is no time to be mucking about with fingering weight yarn, intarsia or complicated lace.. Knitty to the rescue!

cable cuffs

Then, of course, you need to actually have yarn to hand, and fortunately I had some of this lovely Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Butter left over from a beret. It's slightly light for the pattern (really should be a worsted weight yarn), but they've come out beautifully.

They will look fabulous with the beret and my red wool coat. When winter finally gets here. Like in about June.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Not so hot - or misadventures with felting

Challenge number 3 for Iron Craft was "warm up", which is what Kat wanted to do, given it's February, and she's in Minneapolis.

Of course, down here in the Great Southern Land, it's summer - so warm is what we already are. And, although we've just had our wettest January in a decade, and it hardly seems like we've had a summer at all (not many hot, dry days), the January average of 26.1C is above the historical average - and it's the 12th consecutive January of above average temperatures.

Still, winter is a comin', albeit slowly, and not packing the kind of punch she does in Minnesota. And I shall require slippers when she gets here.

So, via Pinterest, I found these:

Crochet version from
which had a link through to a knitted version:

Knitted version from craftzine
I went with the knitted version because I knit faster than I crochet and I wasn't sure how much of what was left of the two weeks it would take to make them. In retrospect, I could have done either version in the time.

I was surprised at how little of the yarn in my disturbingly large stash looked likely to felt. Who knew that all that soft, yummy Zara was machine washable? (I never machine wash anything hand knitted. I grew up with hand-washed hand-knits and it feels wrong to do otherwise.)

Anyway, I discovered some Cascade 220 which I thought would fit the bill, and knitted and felted a small sample square to give me a rough idea of how to adjust the pattern.

For what it's worth, I went with 15 sts and 24 rows on 6.5mm needles. I have a fairly average sized foot - a 38 in European sized shoes.

They aren't felted nearly enough - way too much stitch definition still showing. But, if I keep felting till I'm happy with how they look, I'm going to have to find a six year old to give them to.
Rosa does not approve

So I kind of wish I'd either:
  • gone with the crochet, because I think it might have felted better - the stitches would create a more uniform surface than garter stitch so less felting might have been OK
  • made it in stocking stitch, for the same reason. To do this, you'd need to make a paper version of the L-shaped pattern to work out which bits needed to be right sides.
  • or just made the damned things bigger :).
From memory, and this yarn has been in the stash for awhile and adrift from any ball bands, the colours are:
  • green 8903
  • blue 8905
  • cream 8505

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Hearts and flowers (and spots!)

Red and aqua tote bag
Happy confluence with challenge 2 for iron craft, as the theme - hearts and flowers - matched some fabric I'd bought with the intention of making a tote-ish bag.

I'd been procrastinating over just what I wanted the bag to be (how big, how deep, handles, pockets ...), so the two week time limit for the challenge forced some decisions.

See, hearts as well as flowers
The bag is largely based on the Summer Madras Tote by Anna from Noodlehead. My main modifications were to divide the exterior pocket into three, rather than two; to put a pocket on the inside as well; and using quilt batting to give the bag some body (the original uses cotton canvas).

Red and aqua tote bag

After using the bag for a couple of days, I think the batting might have added a bit too much body. If I make another, and I probably will, I'll opt for canvas or similar as the interfacing and make it slightly longer and wider. Which isn't a criticism or the original pattern, or of my version. It's a reverse-engineering of the amount of stuff I take with me to and from work.

I know we're all supposed to be over red and aqua because it's been everywhere for the last year or so, but hey, who cares.

The fabrics are all from Michael Miller's Aqua and Red - Lil Plain Jane in Aqua, Quarter Dot in Red and Sweet Hearts in Red.