Tshirt yarn

All those dyed shirts, cut into strips. The 2-color ones were made from sweatshirt rags, dyed separately & then stitched into big loops. The darker balls all started gray. I’m carrying a strand of wine-colored Schulana Morbido (80% wool/20% nylon, sorta lofty thick/thin) along the whole way.

I’m trying to decide what stitch to use. The Alterknitsversion just uses garter. I experimented with plain garter, this moderately pleasing thermaly stitch that probably has an actual name (K1 row, P 1 row, *K1, Sl1 wyib 1 row, *K1 Sl1 wyif 1 row), and the K1 Sl1 wyif every row pattern used in that woven strips rug in Simple Knits with a Tiwst. I tried them all for about a ball’s worth, then ripped them out, not able to decide. I think the last one was the best suited, but just as I was feeling well pleased with it, I decided I wanted a big fat cable down the center and ripped it all out. Then I decided that would be stupid with such busy fibers, but it was too late. Story of my life.

FREE PATTERN: Big Stripe Big Cable Capelet

Time: 8 hours?

Cost: $12

Skills: Knitting in the round on circulars, cables

Level: Beginner

I just love my little capelet (is this actually a capelet? I’m not 100% on the terminology, but it seems too little to call a poncho…). It’s toasty, but light and short enough (elbow-length) to throw over anything and still have a pretty normal range of motion. If you don’t like the rolled edges, trim in garter or seed or something unrolly, or start with a couple knit rows and a purled row & turn the edge under to hem.

It’s knit in the round from the bottom up, and there’s a simple, fat cable going up the middle. It’s a good, easy project for My First Cable. And this was, in fact, my first cable that wasn’t just a swatch. I kind of only like big fat cables.

This yarn is cheap (under $4 for a 4oz hank) and old timey and I love it. It’s called Briggs & Little, from Canada’s oldest yarn mill, apparently. It’s got lots of lanolin & feels stiff to begin, but kind of warms up as you knit it. With washing, it blooms from a somewhat stiff fabric to something soft and full and bouncy. It’s a little rough for a next-to-skin item, but it’s fantastic and sturdy for something layered, like this capelet.

This garment uses 3 natural-looking colored heathered grays. There’s a fair amount of vegetable matter you have to pick out, but I actually kind of like that, makes it feel all the more rustic.

You can mail order it from Deanna Dunsmuir in New Brunswick.

Size

Women’s One size (SML).

Note: For larger sizes, use an extra hank or two (for instance, start with a hank of Sheep’s Gray, lighter, or Threaded White & Gray, a twist; or end with a hank of Black) and adjust pattern based on washed & blocked gauge. (If that’s too vague, email me & I’ll quit being so lazy and figure out the math.)

Yarn

  • 1 hank (4 oz) each color Briggs & Little Atlantic (100% wool) in Dark Gray, Medium Gray, and Light Gray

Needles

  • US 10.5 24-30″ and 16″ circular needles
  • Close size dpn in wood or bamboo (or you can use a cable needle or the extra circular)

Gauge

  • 11.5 st=4″ washed & blocked

Patterns

Cable 12 back: Slip next 6 st onto cable/extra needle. Move those stitches to the back of your work, then knit the next 6 stitches on your left needle. Side the reserved stitches to the end of the needle they’re on, and knit them onto your right needle.

Cable 6 back: Slip next 3 st onto cable/extra needle. Move those stitches to the back of your work, then knit the next 3 stitches on your left needle. Side the reserved stitches to the end of the needle they’re on, and knit them onto your right needle.

Instructions

Light Gray

  1. With Light Gray, CO 145. Join & PM, being careful not to twist st.
  2. Place cable panel markers: K64, P2, PM, K12, PM, P2, K to end.
  3. Work 13 more rnds in pattern
  4. K 64, P2, SM, Cable 12 back, SM, P2, K to end
  5. Work 8 more rnds in pattern

Switch to Medium Gray. Starting with #3, work as for Light Gray.

Switch to Dark Gray.

Note: You’ll need to switch to the smaller needles after a few decrease rows–after the cable is a convenient point.

  1. Work 9 rows in pattern.
  2. PM for raglan shoulder decreases: K24, PM, K24, PM, K16, P2, SM, K12, SM, P2, K16, PM K24, PM, K to end.
  3. Decrease before and after each shoulder marker (not cable markers or row end marker!) every other rnd, three times–121 st
  4. Work rnd in pattern, working Cable 12 back at center panel.
  5. Decrease before and after each shoulder marker (not cable markers or row end marker!) every other rnd, two more times–105 st
  6. Work 1 rnd plain
  7. Decrease before and after each shoulder marker (not cable markers or row end marker!) every rnd, three times–81st
  8. Decrease one last time before and after each shoulder marker, and also work the following decrease/cable between the cable markers: ssk, K1, Cable 6 back, K1, K2tog.
  9. Work row plain, except between cable markers: ssk, K4, K2tog.

BO. Weave in all ends, working in ends at color joins in duplicate for a few stitches, then weaving in normall.

Soak in cool water with wool wash or shampoo for 5 minutes. Squeeze suds through gently, rinse gently, roll in towels, pat into place, and let air dry.

Here’s a crappy picture of me wearing the capelet, which is a little rumpled from being worn nonstop for a week & then wadded up on a chair for another week. It’s I’m useless with the auto-timer, so I’ll try to get Ron to take a fresh, pretty shot next time I get around to washing it.

big stripe big cable capelet

Bummer

I just got an email from the editor who’s been working on my book & she’s leaving for a new job next week. Does this mean my book will just fall through the cracks? Allegedly no, but I’m still nervous. Especially since I still haven’t gotten the manuscript acceptance portion of my advance. Everyone keeps saying it’s on track, but you know how blithe people are when it’s not their money/life.

Big fat Webs order

New Webs order, yum! Blew enough to qualify for the 25% off discount.

There’s a bag of Berocco Pleasure (66% Angora/29% Merino Wool/5% Nylon $59.99/$44.99 after discount for a bag of 10 50g balls). It’s a chainette yarn, which will hopefully minimize shedding. I got navy, to match the 3 balls I ordered and really liked a few months ago. I also ordered a bag of gorgeous fushia, but apparently it sold out, so I didn’t get it. This will become a slutty fitted ribbed sweater.

6 balls of Berkshire ($4.99/$3.75 after discount for 100g ball) in wine and blue ming; 5 balls each in burgundy (which is a rich red, washy as that looks) and charcoal (almost black). I really like the Berkshire. It looks like Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride, but it’s 85% wool/15% alpaca, so the hairy part of it isn’t itchy. I love the way Lamb’s Pride looks, but ‘m really sensitive to mohair, so that’s exciting to me. It’s also a little less dense than Lamb’s Pride. The colors are rich (there’s kind of a crappy lack of good browns, though) & the stuff’s cheap, as little as $3.75/100g with the discounts). I’m using the wine for my stitch sampler swatch poncho. (I had specific plans for the others when I ordered, but I promptly forgot them. I need to keep a running list of plans for yarn. I’m always forgetting my plans.) The yarn is springy with great stitch definition. It gets softer and drapier with washing.2 balls of Opulent FX, a carry-along that has a thread with tufts of spongy with glitter ($2/50g ball). No specific plans, but for $2, I couldn’t resist.

1 ball of Karaoke (50/50 wool/bamboo, $9/$6.75 after discount), which I returned–I liked the yarn itself, but the color was too dull.

1 cone of Brora Softspun (100% wool, $12/lb. It really does soften with washing, but the color is dishwater–I figure I’ll salvage it by dying it blue & rich brown). I’m thinking I’ll wind huge hanks over a couple of chairs spaced a few feet apart, then space-dye it so that it stripes.

1 cone of Higland Tweed in Cardinal (100% wool, $12/lb, scratchy enough that I won’t buy it again, but it was cheap enough not to grouse too much–I’m still psyched about knitting a sweater with a continuous thread; maybe I’ll use it for a top-down raglan to be worn over a shirt); and some wool wash.

Plus, a grab bag! It’s the $99 5-bag grab bag, so we’ll call them $20/bag, or $2/ball. Technically, it’s $1.90/ball, since the 501 had 12 balls.

(Note to self: take future pictures of yarn on white background. Red doesn’t exactly help the color accuracy…)

10 50g balls K1C2 Angora Soft (45% Nylon/40% Viscose/15% Angora). Great yarn. it’s actually sort of a pale green chainette. I may well dye this, too. Here it is swatched. it has a lovely drape & will make a pretty spring or summer something.

10 50g balls of Dive Cotton Club (60/40 cotton/acrylic). Hate the color, love the yarn. I’ll dye it.I’m generally into cotton blends, which lighten the yarn and make it smoother/less sheddy. This one’s a Chunky cotton that’s light and smooth, not quite as resilient as Reynolds Cabana (a favorite), but in the same neighborhood.  

10 50g balls of Dive Cotton Club (60/40 cotton/acrylic). Hate the color, love the yarn. I’ll dye it.I’m generally into cotton blends, which lighten the yarn and make it smoother/less sheddy. This one’s a Chunky cotton that’s light and smooth, not quite as resilient as Reynolds Cabana (a favorite), but in the same neighborhood.2 50g balls Filatura de Crosa 501 (100% wool), in a rich, dark purple. Not a purple girl by nature, but this is a lovely color. Should make a nice classic sweater.

10 balls Classic Elite TwoTwo (100% highland wool). Nice chunky classic yarn. Will dye.

10 balls Classic Elite Isabella (70% cotton, 30% acrylic), nice neutra marled. I might dye, might keep as-is.

I wasn’t happy with the colors, but was very well pleased with the yarn. I think a good part of my problem was that I gave too many variables in my request (you can pretty please the grab bags & they’ll try to accomodate you). Next time I’ll say I like natural fibers, classic yarn (not novelty), and dark or bright colors.

FREE PATTERN: Thrifty Critter with Long Striped Scarf

wrapped in scarf

Time: 4 hrs

Cost: $0

Skills: Knitting in the rnd on dpns, single crochet.

Level: advanced beginner

You could easily change the size just by adjusting the yarn weight & needle size. He’s all scraps, so he’s free, hurrah!

I didn’t weigh the yarn, so I don’t have exact quantities, but I’ll just make a very generous guess. Use leftovers & scraps (I wrote the brand used when I knew what it was, but anything similar from your scrap bag will work). The head & torso work on 8st increments for increases & decreases. The bottom uses 6st (because of the change in st after the arms).

For additional accessory/decoration options see: Thrifty Critter Wizard Hat & Scarf pattern.

Yarn:

  • body: 25g dark red worsted wool yarn (used a Lamb’s Pride type 1-ply)
  • scarf: 15g self-striping sock yarn (used Lion Brand Magic Stripes in 202 Sea Blue)
  • hair: 6″ super bulky soft twist (used Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky 1007 Gray Wolf)
  • eyeballs: 2 yd off white or white DK yarn (used Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight in 000 Natural White)
  • 1yd bright blue DK wool yarn
  • 1yd bright green DK wool yarn
  • 1′ black DK wool yarn

Needles

  • set/5 US5 dpns
  • US3 needles
  • small crochet hook
  • yarn needle

Misc:

  • clusterstuff, scrap yarn, strips of rag or pantyhose for filling
  • beans to fill the bottom half (tie them up in a bit of cloth, net, or pantyhose so they don’t spill out while you knit the bottom)

Instructions

With US5 dpns & red yarn, CO 8. Divide between 3 needles (you’ll save the extra needle to use later) & join & PM, being careful not to twist stitches. I used k into f&b of each stitch for my increases, but M1 would be tidier.

Head

Rnd 1: *K fbl, repeat across rnd–16 st

Rnd 2 (and all even rnds): Knit.

Rnd 3: *K1, K fbl, repeat across rnd–24 st

Rnd 5: *K2, K fbl, repeat across rnd–32 st

Rnd 7: *K3, K fbl, repeat across rnd–40 st

Rnd 9: *K4, K fbl, repeat across rnd–48 st

Knit 9 rnds.

Neck

Note: Pay attention to tension–it’s easy to make these rapid decreases baggy.

Rnd 1: *K4, ssk, repeat across rnd–40 st

Rnd 2: *K3, ssk, repeat across rnd–32 st

Rnd 3: *K2, ssk, repeat across rnd–24 st

Rnd 4: *K1, ssk, repeat across rnd–16 st

Knit 8 rnds.

Body

Rnd 1: *K1 K fbl, repeat across rnd–24 st

Rnd 2 (and all even rnds): Knit

Rnd 3: **K2, K fbl, repeat across rnd–32 st (errata change: previously erroneously included a duplicate of Row 1 for Row 3; this has been omitted and row numbering adjusted)

Rnd 5: *K3, K fbl, repeat across rnd–40 st

Knit 4 rnds.

Arms

Using just the next 4 stitches, work 18 rows I-cord.

Using the first 2 st of your I-cord, work 6 rows I-cord & BO

Break yarn, leaving 2′ tail.

Using yarn needle, thread tail back down to base of finger.

Using tail as your working yarn, knit 6 rows I-cord with the 2 remaining live st at the end of your I-cord yarn.

Weave end back down through arm.

Rejoin yarn. K20

Using next 4 st, work 9 rows of I-cord for the 2nd arm.

Using first 2 st, repeat finger as before.

Using next st, K fbl to make 2 st, then work another finger.

Repeat with remaining 1 live st at end of I-cord arm.

Break yarn and weave back down through arm.

Rejoin yarn and K to end of rnd.

Armpits

When you reach armpits, PU 2 st into bottom of each arm–36 st

Next rnd: K tbl of 4 st under each armpit (2 PU st + 1 on either side) to make things tight and tidy.

Using stuffing of choice, stuff the head and neck.

worked to arms

Lower Body

K 7 rnds.

P rnd.

Stuff upper body with more stuffing to desired firmness, and lower body with beans bundled in a scrap of fabric pantyhose, produce net, etc. Leave the tied-off end facing down so you can untie and remove excess beans if necessary.

Bottom

Rnd 1 (and all odd rnds until last 2): Knit.

Rnd 2: *K4, ssk, repeat to end of rnd–30 st

Rnd 4: *K3, ssk, repeat to end of rnd–24 st.

Rnd 6: *K2, ssk, repeat to end of rnd–18 st.

Rnd 7: *K1, ssk, repeat to end of rnd–12 st.

Using yarn needle, thread tail through live stitches, pull snug, tack down, and weave in end. If you like, leave a long tail, and push the needle all the way up through the top of the head (you’ll have to really squash him) and then back down to the bottom before weaving in the ends. This lets to flatten the top of his head a bit, if you wish.

Hair

Using yarn needle, thread bulky yarn through top, leaving a few inches loose. Feed needle all the way to bottom, trying for a weird angle to lodge inside end into beans. Pull needle through loosely so it slips out of yarn, leaving other yarn end snugly inside critter.

To get the wisp, wet the tip and roll it between your palms.

Eyeballs

Big eye: Using white yarn & crochet hook, Ch 3. Working into 1st ch, SC6, then spiral around another rnd & join with a sl st.

Small eye: As above, but only work 1 rnd.

Sew eyes onto head, then embroider irises and pupils. I just did one pupil, which I think gives a nice lazy eye effect to the other eye.

Scarf:

With US 3 needles and self-striping sock yarn, CO 10

Sl 1, K to end.

Work 40″ (finished scarf will be longer than one shown–it’s still in progress. I’ll add some pictures with him wearing the finished length when we get a sunny day). BO.

Fringe ends.

Because I’m a dork, here’s a bunch more pictures:

on heat register

knitting on the porch

front stair

in the lobby

Thrifty Critter

I’ll take some better pictures in natural light tomorrow, but for now, here he is:

critter knitting

and also:

knitting, with stink eye

Besides Le Critter, I cut out several shirts’ worth of strips for my rug.

Alternate Alterknits Rug

I’m dying a bunch of t-shirts that I’ll be cutting into strips to make a version of the Alterknits rug. I’m using wider strips & maybe bigger needles, and I’m thinking of carrying a strand of bulky wool along with for extra texture and strength. There was a giant rag bag in the hallway when we moved into the school, mostly sweatshirts & t-shirts that had been cut up to use as cleaning rags. I like terry rags for cleaning, so I’ve just been sort of waiting until I’m out of clean rags to use them, but I thought a rug might be a better use. They were a mix of grays and dirty whites, all stained, but mostly in pretty good shape. So I dyed all the whole shirts & many of the large pieces (big enough to be worth seaming into a big loop to cut up). I used 2 packs each RIT dye in fuschia and sunshine orange (25 cents each from the salvage place in KC), and the intensity varied by the original color and order in the dye pot. The orange went from burnt orange to tangerine to pale peach. On the left is the hank that I cut up before I realized I didn’t want a sweatshirt-gray-with-stains rug and that I had a bunch of RIT dye from the junk store.

orange rinse bath

The fuschia ranged from dark purple to hot pink to a muddy purple-pink:

pink rinse bath

and then I used the dregs of the dye to dip some yarn I had that was a sort of ugly “natural” yellowy gray–not amazing, but better. I may dip the whole thing again in some neon pink RIT I got at the same time. I’m going to dye all my faded grandma flannel PJs next week and pretend they’re all new. I’m kind of in love with the RIT dye right now.

yarn dyed with RIT dregs

I’m cutting the t-shirts into inch-wide strips & the sweatshirts into 1/2″, which will hopefully even out the difference in thickness. So far, I’ve only cut up 3 shirts. It’s hard on the hands, but it’s fun winding them into the large, satisfying balls they make. The little ball was a child’s shirt.

tshirt yarn

The pattern says to stop cutting the strips at the armpits & toss the top half of the shirt, but I continued cutting all the way around into the sleeves. The yarn it makes is less refined, but it seems so wasteful to stop at the armpits. And I’m hoping knitting in the yarn as well will create a more textured appearance that’s forgiving of irregularities.

Thrifty Critter

Hooray! Now I can feel free to ramble endlessly about knitting without destroying the Housewife. I’m starting to modify the lovely Girls Suck theme for WordPress, and right now, I’m working on a little critter to use as my mascot. Originally, I had a sort of retro navigation icon thingy I’d made before I decided I didn’t want to handbuild everything. But I loved the original theme so much I want to kind of keep the same feel, so I thought I’d knit a little scrap yarn critter to sit on the ground. So I’m working on him now.

critter in progress