December 30, 2006

Stash Buster Striped Blankets

I got a copy of Sally Melville's Styles, and thought I would take her advice about sorting by colour... 14 large buckets later (and I don't think we found all the bags of wool around), I made the decision to create a pattern for something that would use a LOT of stash up, quickly. Really quickly. I mean--really! So, using some of the ideas from Styles, mostly about picking 3 adjacent colours on the colour wheel, and the handy knitting machine, I came up with a basic knitted blanket.

Knitted Blanket
On the knitting machine, I use a setting of 10 (gauge roughly 4 sts to the inch), cast on 60 sts, and knit 400 rows. Change colours every 10 rows; this can be done as blocks of colour with 4 dark and 4 light strips in each block. Knit 6 strips, sew them or slip stitch crochet them together. Block. Decide that you need an edging. Start drinking Reisling (or Rickard's red, or other beveredge) while you think about what edging you should use...garter stitch, not more than 10 sts wide, preferably something that will be easy to change colours on a regular basis.

The first blanket is red, purple and blue. I sewed it together with mattress stitch. By strip 3, I was definitely thinging that there must be a better (faster, easier) way to do this--maybe slip stitch crochet. I didn't know how to knit in the ends, so it will take approximately 17 years to sew in all the ends. They stick between your toes in your sleep, and drive me bananas. I may just decide to line it with fleece, so that Nicole doesn't whine for years.

Blanket 2 for daugher two, Patricia, was made with blues and greens and purples. I figured out how to knit in the ends as you go--much better, although some of the backs slipped to the front, and created a speckled edge along one side. This one has a crochet edging, which I don't think is the best choice, but I love the colours, and I love the pattern. .

Blanket 3 is all wool, and only 4 strips wide. I changed the pattern so that there are blocks of colour: 4 dark and 4 light strips of each 'colour way' to 400 rows (5 blocks of colour). Slip stitch crochet together, and this one will have a garter stitch edging. 3 strips sewn together so far; this one only has 4 strips, as it is for the sofa.

The plan is:
pinks, purples, whites (one for each of the twins, and one for my goddaughter)
green, blue, grey, and purples (2 youngest nephews)
red, purple, blues (oldest nephew, and godson)
whites, greys, yellows and greens (husband, our bed)
amish (read this as as loud as possible, rainbow colours (one sister)
romantic colours (pinks, reds and blues) (Mother, youngest sister)

Knitting for Christmas, and beyond

This is another hats post (I really do love the hats pattern--it is so flexible, and easy).

This one is done with two strands of worsted weight yarn, on 8mm needles. Cast on 30 sts. Create wedges by knitting to 22 sts, then turning around and knitting back; knit to 23 sts, and knit back, and so on until all the sts are used up. Continue until 5 wedges have been made--and then check your size. You may need another full wedge, you may not. If you don't, then cast off and sew together.

My niece walked in while my nephew was trying one on, and said: Awesome hat--where did you get it, and can I have one? (all in one breath, no pause!).

These are fast, and easy, and really good stash reducers.

December 29, 2006

Baby Surprise, Preemie Sized

This is a collection my ramblings on trying to create a preemie sized baby sweater based on the Baby Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The original was published in Knitter's Magazine (first in issue 14, then reprinted in issue 41, both of which I own), as well as in Knitters Workshop, and The Opinionated Knitter. This is an origami type of knitting pattern--knit all in one piece, with only the shoulder seams to sew.

I played with the proportions using the desired guage, desired size, and the adult version, published in The Opinionated Knitter, to get a preemie size sweater that would be easy to knit and not have any seams in any uncomfortable places. The magic is in the folding; to discover how to fold it, please purchase one of the patterns. An inexpensive reprint of the original is available from Schoolhouse Press; or, you can go the more fun way and purchase The Opinionated Knitter that contains both the adult and baby versions, along with a lot more interesting stuff that is worth owning. (Both Knitters magazines are out of print, sad to say.) I can say that, without the pattern, I could not figure out how to fold it! Really, please respect the copyright issues and purchase a copy of the original. You won't regret it!

A note: this was developed as a charity knitting pattern, and cannot be sold for profit; the original copyright for the concept belongs to Schoolhouse Press, and Elizabeth Zimmerman; this pattern is copyrighted to me. If you do use my pattern variation, your 'cost' of use is a sweater knit for charity.

Baby Surprise, Preemie size

guage 6sts, 6 ridges to 1 inch (although, as EZ says, babies come smaller and larger, so play with it) using baby sport weight/sport weight wool and 3.5 mm needles. This makes roughly a 3-5 lb preemie sized sweater, about 11" in circumference.

The sweater is knit first from cuffs to elbows in two pieces, and then joined by the cast on that runs across the top of the shoulder. Markers are placed at each point; these become the decrease points, that run from elbow to the underarm along the back of the sleeve, and then the increase points that run from underarm to about belly button across the front. Length is added by knitting back and forth along this center section, and then the entire outer edge is knit up with a garter st border. In keeping with EZ's original idea, button holes are placed on both outside edges. This sweater is more fun when you change colours with abandon, and is a good way to use up your stash.

Sleeves: (make 2) Cast on 22 sts. Knit 3 ridges (6 rows).
Increase row: k3, *m1, k4 * end m1 k3
Knit until there are 8 ridges, in total.
Join: knit across first sleeve (rs), pm, cast on 55 sts, pm, knit across second sleeve.
next row (and all wrong side rows) knit.
(rs) Knit, decrease 1 st on each side of marker, knit, decrease 1 st on each side of marker, knit. (In the original, this is an sk2, which I found harder to keep in a straight line).
Next row, (and all ws rows): knit.
Repeat for 11 decreases. There should be 33 sts between markers, which is roughly the width of the back.
(rs): knit to marker, m1, sm, k1, m1, knit to second marker and m1, sm, k1, m1, knit to end.
next row (ws): knit across.
Repeat increase rows until 9 ridges have been worked.
Note: EZ added increases about the 3rd ridge down across the back to provide fullness for the diaper, about every 7th sts.

Neck: Next two rows, while maintaining the increases on the public side, bind off 4 sts at each neck edge.
Next 4 rows, while maintaining increases on the public side, bind off 2 sts at each neck edge.
Work until there are 64 sts between markers.
To lengthen the sweater, work on the center 64 sts only until 8 ridges have been worked.
Border: (rs), work across center 64 sts, pm, pick up 8 sts along the lengthened edge (1 between each ridge), work sts placed on hold (center front).
Next row: (ws): work back, sm, work across center 64 sts, pm, pick up 8 sts along lengthened edge (1 between each ridge), work sts placed on hold for center front.
Work for 2 ridges total.
(ws): K3, *yo, k2tog, k5*, end yo, k2 tog, k3, m1, sm, k1, m1, knit to marker, m1, sm, k1, m1, k3, *k2 tog, yo, k5*, end k2 tog, yo, k3.
K2 more ridges. Bind off.
Fold and sew shoulder seams with a flat seam. (This is most amazing form of knitting orgami I have seen!). Sew buttons on left for a girl, or buttons on right for a boy.

Any texture that has a 'square' ratio for knitting will work for this pattern. I have used a variation of two colour knitting, varying garter, seed st. and double seed st. in the stripes, with colour changes on both the public and private sides. As long as you maintain the decreases in the correct placement, and end the final edges with garter st, it looks very cool.

Enjoy, and knit a couple for a preemie near you!