Knitting a Living Room Rug

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I just recently moved into a new house and I’m in the process of unpacking and decorating. I actually picked the colors of my living room based on a Knitpicks.com Swish kit which was recently on sale – plum (blackberry), silver and grey were the colors of the kit in a superwash wool, bulky weight. I figured I’d make an afghan for myself, since the GroovyGhan (see the header of the blog) is going downstairs to the living room down there. I ordered plum paint for an accent wall (it is currently brown) and I put tons of plum and silver decorations in my Amazon wish list, hoping I might get some of them for Christmas.

Then I started shopping for rugs. I saw rugs near the size I want – 7 ft by 5 ft – on Pottery Barn’s web site for almost $1000! Sure they are wool and I’m sure they are great quality, but I started thinking – couldn’t I knit a rug a lot less expensively? AND have it match my walls and afghan perfectly? Plus, since the rug is going on a carpeted floor, I won’t have to worry about it sliding around as it would on hard wood.

So I did some research online trying to determine how much yarn I would need to make a rug that was the size I want. I found a site which showed the average amount of yarn needed per square inch of each yarn weight. I have no idea how accurate that is, but I needed a place to start. Next I created a spreadsheet to help me do the math and I plugged in my desired size – 7 ft by 5 ft – and converted it to the number of yards of yarn I needed. It should be 2100 yards if my math is correct. I found that I could get a 100% wool yarn (not superwash) from Knit Picks (Wool of the Andes) and the whole price of the project would be less than $100. So, I ordered the yarn and I’m going to give it a try.

I plan to knit the rug in strips of stockinette and then graft the strips together. This is mostly because I don’t have any 5 foot long knitting needles. I’ll knit it to 6 ft x 4 ft and graft it together, then I’ll knit or crochet a border around the entire thing which will be first light grey and then purple. Hopefully it will look great and wear well. I guess if it doesn’t I can always use it as another afghan!

One concern which my Mom broached – what if someone walks on it in high heels? That’s not something that happens often in my house but I’m hoping if it does it won’t be a problem. I guess it will depend on the heels! I had thought that if I felt the yarn it won’t be an issue. But then the rug will have to be even bigger to allow for shrinkage so… no.

I have a few other projects to finish up before I get started on the rug, but I just received the yarn today (16 skeins of blackberry and 3 of silver). I’ll let you all know how it goes. I may even post a pattern at some point in the future.

What do you think? Will it work?

100 yard ngora Fingerless Mittsw

Angora Fingerless Mitts

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100 yard Angora Fingerless MittsA while ago, I went to a fiber show and picked up 100 yards of hand spun fingering weight angora. I asked the seller what I could reasonably make with such a small quantity and she said fingerless mitts. But when I went online, all the patterns called for more than 100 yards. Plus, I really wanted to use up as much of the yarn as possible. So, I wrote my own pattern and shared it with a friend.

Then, in September, I went to another fiber show and got some more angora. I had several people ask me what I planned to make with it and express an interest in the pattern when I told them. So I have written the pattern and its on Ravelry. The pattern is very simple because Angora really blooms after you wear it a few times (gets fuzzier), so any really complex pattern would be lost.

What do you think of my fingerless mitts?

Gauge Swatch: When Can You Skip It?

I have noticed a few things about gauge swatches which I find interesting:

  1. It seems like the newer and more inexperienced a knitter/crocheter is, the less they want to make gauge swatches.
  2. Pretty much every “how to” resource you read really stresses the importance of gauge swatches.

And yet, I still hate to do them myself. You should swatch every time. And yet, there are circumstances under which I will just just skip the swatch. Every time I do I take a risk that the finished product won’t be the correct size and that I’ll run out of yarn. However, sometimes choosing not to make a swatch is a calculated risk I’m willing to take. If all three of these criteria are met, I will sometimes skip a gauge swatch:

  1. If I making something that doesn’t have a “fit”: blankets, shawls, curtains, etc.
  2. If the pattern is by an established publisher
  3. If the yarn is made of fibers I’ve worked with before

Items that don’t have to fit

If an item has a size, you need to do a gauge swatch every time. There really isn’t any getting around this. If you don’t, you will probably end up doing a lot more work in the long run than you would have just doing the darn swatch.  So, if you are going to put it on someone’s body, swatch.

Established Publishers

I have come to find that if I am making something with a pattern by an established publisher – something from a book or a magazine or a really well established designer on Ravelry – I can count on the gauge being pretty reasonable most of the time. There have been exceptions – like a sweater I made once that I had great difficulty even getting the gauge no matter how small of needles I used – but usually established designers seem to have a pretty consistent gauge. On the other hand, the person who has a free pattern up on Ravelry or a web site whom you’ve never heard of before is more likely to have a messed up gauge.

Yarn Fibers

When the fibers are those I’ve worked with before I generally know how they will behave. If its something new or rare to me, I gauge to take out the uncertainty.

When do you skip the gauge swatch? Do you hate to swatch?

tardis-scarf

TARDIS Scarf Pattern Now Available!

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TARDIS scarf made with fingering (sock) weight yarn.

TARDIS scarf made with fingering (sock) weight yarn.

I was inspired to design this, my first for-sale pattern, when I found a really nice, free shawl pattern with TARDIS motifs. I was going to make that pattern because I had the perfect color yarn, but I didn’t have quite enough. I thought about making it 2 colors but ultimately decided I really wanted only one color. So I set about modifying that shawl pattern to make it just a scarf.

That’s when I decided that I really wanted to make the TARDIS very differently than what the shawl had. And the next thing you know I was searching for TARDIS pictures online and starting to piece together my own version. Because I hate color work and weaving in ends, I decided to use beads for the white touches. For a while I couldn’t get it exactly the way I wanted it – I think I unraveled that first TARDIS about 16 times. But eventually I realized this was intended to be my representation of the TARDIS, not an exact picture and that took a lot of the pressure off.

I’m really happy with the end result and looking forward to wearing it. The yarn is a wool/silk blend so it is super soft. It will be a pleasure to have this around my neck.

To purchase the pattern for yourself, go here.

How to Make the Perfect Sock Knitting Kit

A stitch counter & a variety of markers. Note how some of the markers open and some do not.

A stitch counter & a variety of markers. Note how some of the markers open and some do not.

As I mentioned in my last post, I really enjoy knitting socks. As I know you will, too, I thought I’d share with you the contents of my sock knitting kit. This is something that has evolved over the last year of knitting socks and now it has everything I need to knit socks most of the time.

First off, start with a bag which is made of cloth. I know, you’d think you want a knit or crocheted bag but the needles for socks are so small they will constantly stick out of anything that has holes. So I have a cloth drawstring bag (I got mine from Knit Picks) to hold all my sock materials. It’s big enough to hold 2 balls of sock yarn and 2 pairs of socks, but that’s only about 6″ x 10″ or so.

Obviously your kit then stats with the yarn, pattern and needles for your socks. After you have that, add:

  1. A tape measure
  2. A few colors of sock weight yarn in small amounts. This comes in handy whenever your pattern calls for scrap yarn (like for an afterthought heel).
  3. A small crochet hook. You can use this to help you pick up tiny dropped stitches. I like a C size, personally.
  4. At least one stitch marker. Almost every pair of socks wants you to mark the beginning of the row with a stitch marker. If you have a few (5 or so) you’ll be prepared for most patterns.
  5. A pencil to mark your pattern as needed.
  6. A pair of scissors which won’t stab you. You can do a pair of folding scissors, a pair with a sheath or a pair with rounded tips. Mine are on a cord so I can wear them around my neck.
  7. A row counter of some kind. I have a small one attached to the cord for my folding scissors. You can also use your phone to count stiches, in which case you can skip this.
  8. If you are knitting on DPNs, you may want a holder so that your stitches don’t come off the needles.

That’s it! If you build a kit with all those things, you’ll be prepared for almost any sock making contingency.

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments what you keep in your sock making kit.

Toe-up socks with self-striping yarn

6 Reasons You Should Try Knitting Socks

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Toe-Up Socks with Self-Striping Yarn

Knitting socks will make you a better knitter!

Ever since I knit my first pair of socks, I’ve almost constantly had a pair of socks on my needles. I resisted sock knitting for a really long time, partly because they look hard but mostly because I figured that was a lot of work for something that would only be on my feet and not seen very much. But now that I’ve knit a few pairs, I love to knit socks!

Reasons Socks are Great to Knit

  1. Knitting socks will make you a better knitter! Knitting socks is a great way to learn a variety of intermediate & advanced knitting techniques fairly easily. Sure you could knit a sweater, but that’s a big investment in time AND yarn if  it doesn’t turn out well. With socks, you can learn to do short rows, increases, decreases, cables, ribbing, lace knitting… pretty much any technique. And its a lot less investment than a sweater.
  2. They are very portable. I can stick a pair of socks in my purse and take them with me anywhere. Most people I knit with have a small project as their “purse knitting” and socks make a great choice.
  3. They don’t take very long. I can usually finish a pair of socks in a few weeks if I work on them as my main project.
  4. Hand made socks are soooo comfortable.
  5. You can make them exactly like you want them – plain, fancy, lacy, striped, fuzzy, multicolored… whatever makes your perfect sock you can knit for yourself.
  6. They aren’t as hard as they look. And there are TONS of resources online to help you get started.

Please share your sock knitting experiences in the comments. Do you have a favorite yarn? Favorite sock designer? I’d love to hear about it.

10 Extremely Useful Knitting Resources

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Below are 10 of the most useful knitting resources I’ve found lately. I thought you all might get some benefit from there:

  1. How to Weave in Ends
  2. How to Hide Your Ends AS YOU KNIT
  3. Video: How to Block a Sweater
  4. Counting rows when knitting cables
  5. Video: How to Knit 2 Socks at a Time On Circular Needles
  6. Double knitting tutorial
  7. How to Mend Holes in Woolens
  8. How to Darn Socks
  9. How to Bind Off When Your Out of Yarn
  10. How to Add an Afterthought Thumb to Mitts

What are your favorite resources online?

The Continuum Between Help and Hurt

It’s tricky finding a balance between helping the people in your life and hurting them. You don’t think of it as trying to hurting them, of course. You think of it as striving for a better life: helping. But there is a continuum between help and hurt and its circular with hurt leading to helping and helping leading back to hurt. The two are inextricably linked because often, its been my experience, hurt is helpful. Captain Kirk was right about pain: he needed it. We all do. Even with physical pain there is often help underneath it (surgery, exercise). I’m not sure if all pain teaches. Maybe sometimes it just hurts. But I think the greatest lessons in my life have come from the greatest pains.

Anyway, now I think that we all make the happiness we feel we deserve. All of us. Sure, our circumstances matter to how easy it is to be happy, but they are obviously not the only factor. We’ve all heard examples of the person with some horrible physical limitation or illness who has found great happiness. Or the person who is poor who isn’t miserable. Likewise, we all know of people who seem to have it all from a physical sense but are miserable. We may not understand why but we aren’t really meant to. A person’s happiness seems to me to be an intensely personal thing.

No one can make another happy. We can help, but that’s not always an active thing. Or a quick one. Sometimes the best thing we can do to help is just to keep being ourselves. That’s because we all have parts of life figured out. I am blessed to know so many people who are so wise about so many things. Each has lessons to teach me that I try to learn. And I hope I have lessons for others as well. But I don’t think its my fate to know which parts of life I have figured out. I’m not sure anyone can really see that about themselves clearly. I suspect we can only see it in others. In fact I would argue that often, when I think I have something figured out, that’s when I am the most danger to those around me.  I have to remember that I can’t force my “wisdom” (if it even is wisdom) onto anyone else.

Ironic topic for a post.

Bottom line: my belief is that there is not one “true” path for everyone on this earth. We all have to find our own path to our best selves and the divine for ourselves.

What do you think?

All the yarn I selected for my temperature scarf laid out in order (except Delta - the darkest blue).

Free Pattern: Temperature Scarf to Crochet

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First few rows of the project knit with the moss stitch. As you can see, the color changes are very muddy.

First few rows of the project knit with the moss stitch. As you can see, the color changes are very muddy. Click to embiggen.

As you know from my previous post, I picked out the colors to use for my temperature scarf and ordered them. Well once I finally got all the colors in (I forgot to order one in my original order). I was getting a bit stressed that I was falling behind on the project so I got started knitting the day it all came in.

To start with, I used a moss stitch and about 84 st across. I knew this would give me a scarf about a foot wide, which sounded good. But when I started knitting, 3 things became obvious really quickly:

  1. The moss stitch is not very good for color changes that are crisp. Mine were very muddy.
  2. I was going to have a LOT Of ends to weave in at the end of the project. Like about 730 of them (the beginning and ending end for each day). Ugh!
  3. I was going to have to sacrifice one of my favorite sock needles for an entire year!
The temperature scarf for the month of January with a sc ripple stitch.

The Temperature Scarf so far (just the month of January) with a sc ripple stitch. Click to embiggen.

I thought about a knitting stitch I could use instead, but they all would either curl a lot (like stockinette stitch with garter stitch borders) or make the scarf skinnier (like ribbing) or make it even harder to weave in ends (like lacy stitches). So I started playing with crochet stitches. I wanted something tight so that I could weave in my ends as I went and so it would be warm. I wanted something about 6 feet long and I wanted to be able to see the color changes pretty clearly. But I didn’t want it to be boring. After playing with it a LOT, taking gauges, ripping out, and playing more, I came up with a single crochet ripple or chevron stitch and I really like the way its turning out. I do know that I will have to wash it & lay it flat when its finished, however, because it will get a bit wave-shaped as I go.

The Pattern

Chain 103

Row 1: sc in 2nd st from hook, sc 2 tog in next 2 st, *1 sc in each of next 3 st, 3 sc in next st, 1 sc in each of next 3 st, sc 3 tog in next 3 st** repeat from * to ** 7 times, 1 sc in each of next 3 st, 3 sc in next st, 1 sc in each of next 3 st, sc 2 tog in next 2 st, sc in last st

Change colors as indicated, weaving in ends as you go. Block.

The Question

Now I’m trying to decide if I should make this scarf reflect the weather in one place (Omaha, NE) or make it reflect the weather around me. For example, I’m going on vacation in April to somewhere warm: should I do the colors of my vacation or the colors of Omaha while I’m gone. Let me know what you think in the comments or the poll below.


One other note:
Turns out you can get the historical weather for previous days/months you may miss very easily online here. Just substitute your zip code for the one in the address bar.

People aren’t meant to know so much…

About each other. We were and are a herd species. I think we aren’t meant to know all the problems of the human race. But thanks to our news outlets we do. It’s too much to bear every day. It hurts us and cripples us. It makes us hurt ourselves with alcohol and food. Add that to the devil on our shoulder, the one who looks like all the cool kids (while the angel looks like a total dork) and all our dark, depressing parables where we add even more guilt to the mix, and its no wonder drug addiction and obesity are such a problem. I’d like to live somewhere with less cultural guilt, please. But without have to leave the United States.