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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sock Experiments

It has been a whirlwind these final days before the Christmas holidays! Besides the kids being home from school and all the Christmas preparations, some design submissions and proposals were due, and of course my software consulting business had some deadlines too.

Now it is time to sit back, relax and play around with ideas that have been patiently waiting their turn to be put in yarn.

completed sock experiments

One such "project" are my ideas for socks. I am not really a handmade sock wearer (I wonder why, actually, with all those great sock patterns everywhere?) but the cold weather lately has peaked my interest in some thicker yarn (worsted) socks for home wearing.

The first step was to get educated about sock knitting. So off I went to the library and came home with a couple of interesting looking books. I did not realize all the different ways you can construct a sock!

The traditional top-down approach, then we've got a toe-up, and flat. And all the options for heel and toe constructions! My work was cut out for me. Neat, something new to learn and to expand my horizon.

It was quite a learning experience. Not so much that the knitting instructions were difficult or the sock construction was a mystery. No, pretty much all the instructions are for sock yarn and here I was with worsted yarn. I sure learned a lot about sizing and what patterns work and don't work. For example,
  • I needed to knit with smaller needles than the yarn tag calls for to get a denser fabric or else the socks were very "airy" and not very warm
  • Smaller stitch repeats are necessary because of the thicker yarn else you end up with only 2 or 3 pattern repeats
  • Variegated worsted yarns pool colors in not so advantageous designs as worsted yarns are designed for larger stretches and not for a small tubes
My sock experiments are not over yet (as quite a few unfinished sock projects littering my work area can tell you) but slowly I am developing some favorites. For example, I definitely like the toe-up approach. It just makes a lot of sense - you can easily try them on as you go and you won't have to worry as much about running out of yarn before you are done.

As I get closer to my perfect sock (and some patterns to write), you will find me wearing miss-matched socks around the house as they go through their wear test. Who said they always have to match?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ryuu-ko: Dragon Child

Yippee! The winter issue of Petite Purls is live and my first ever seamless, bottom-up, raglan sweater is part of it!


The sweater is called "Ryuu-ko" which means "Dragon Child" in Japanese. The sweater is sized for 2T, 4, 6, 8, and 10 and can also be found on Ravelry.

I was surprised how quickly this sweater knit up and when I was finished, I was finished. No sewing seams. Ah, that was really nice and perfect for my impatient boy who couldn't wait to wear his dragon sweater. :D

I've also used Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes for the first time. It was a great yarn for this project and I can highly recommend it. The yarn cost came out to about $15 for a size 6. You can't beat that for a wool sweater!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 Christmas Cards

It was high time to make my Christmas cards for this year!

I've been turning over ideas in my head for the last couple of weeks until finally my creative juices had to be let out and I was in the right mood. For a whole morning I took over the dinner table and cut, folded, glued, and stamped.

Wow, I really liked what came out of my session! Nearly too nice to send off... :)

Origami inspired Christmas trees

Laser cut felt embellishment

Unfortunately I was a bit late to list them in my Etsy store so that I don't expect many sales this season... but I was able to sell a couple at various craft shows and to friends. I've marked my calendar to be earlier for next year...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Circle the Pearl" Necklace

This morning I woke up with an idea for a pearl necklace that would break the traditional strung pearl look a little bit. It's more modern twist on the strand of pearls. - And I had to try it out to see if it really would work in the real world. :)

Sometimes what you imagine just doesn't look so nice in the "real world" and you've got to go back to the drawing board. But this design really worked!

The lavender/blue fresh water pearls looked great inside the silver plated rings and the small pearls and silver beads give the rings a nice spacing so that each pearl could shine.

The necklace is a little bit more than 20" long so that you can wear it comfortably with a turtle neck.

It is now available in my Etsy store.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Flower Hair Barrette

On one of my runs to the craft store I picked up this really nice Christmasy fabric remnant. It had the Christmas colors and a bit of glitter thread to make it special. Unfortunately it was not enough fabric for napkins... but then I remembered a beautiful book I once had borrowed from the local library on how to make fabric flowers.

After a little searching I found my notes on the flower folding technique in my idea/project book and gave it a shot. Oh, how neat this barrette turned out! And I happened to have a regal looking button too for the flower center!

I had just enough fabric for 7 flowers and you can purchase one through my Etsy store.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Luxurious Tulip Cable Gloves

TulipCable Fingerless Glove
Shown in size L

After getting quite a few comments and requests for the pattern of my Tulip Cable Gloves (I love them! They are soooooo soft and silky, and have a great elegant sheen), I've finally put it together for sizes L (7.5" hand circumference) and M (7" hand circumference).

It has been test knit in a couple of different yarns besides the Patons Silk Bamboo that I've used for the glove  in the picture above. Other yarns used were Dale Tiur and a DK angora. All of them turned out really nice.

You will be amazed by what the right pattern with the right yarn can do.

Or as one of my test knitters commented:
Your gloves are VERY nice for the level of difficulty. [..]. Part of the appeal of your pattern is a very quick knit with very pretty results.
The combination of the simple to knit tulip cable pattern and luxurious yarn will garner you many compliments.

Thank you so much for the great volunteer test knitters over at Ravelry. It was a pleasure working with you.

If you are interested in a quick knit that makes a perfect gift, find the pattern for purchase here:  ($4.00)