Wednesday, November 26, 2014

December Goals

It's hard to believe that December is just around the corner.

I already know it will be a busy month: basketball season has started, so Mom's Taxi Service will be back for practices & games. I have two craft shows and four custom orders on deck. I need to do Christmas shopping and figure out how/where to store my inventory until spring craft shows start up again.

With all that being said, I feel like I need to set some goals for December to wrap up the year with a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes I look at my piles of patterns, my work area, and my yarn "treasury" that has spread through three rooms of the house (oops, make that four. I just remembered there's an under-bed storage bin in the master bedroom),  and feel overwhelmed. So many ideas, so little time. So much yarn, so little storage space!

So, here are the goals I am setting for myself for the month of December:

1) Stick to the yarn diet! No shopping for yarn, no matter how good the sale, unless I receive a very specific custom order and need to purchase yarn to complete it. Considering the fact that I have about ten totes full of yarn, that scenario seems highly unlikely!

2) Finish all four of the above-mentioned custom orders. One needs to be completed this week, two by Christmas, and the other is open-ended, but I would like to have it done this month.

3) List all of my "big ticket" items ($20 or higher price) in my Storenvy shop. 
     At this point, there are only 15 items that fit that description, and three of them are already listed.

4) Finish two more "big ticket" items. I already have one about 25% done and another at 95% done (just need to sew on buttons).

5) Finish one of the stalled WIPs in my craft corner (WIP = work in progress). Will it be the Star Scarf started back in July or the Reversible Boot Cuffs started in October? Or that pink and brown swatch in the bottom of the basket that's been there so long I forgot what I was going to do with it?

6) Fill a gallon Ziploc bag with scrap yarn, and finish it all off with projects like Kooky Owls and Striped Giraffes.
Bag is filled. I think it's a two-gallon size.

First project from the scrap yarn bag...

Okay, that's the plan! I will update occasionally and add some pictures

Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase ...
2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy
3) Listing items... 3 down, 12 to go
4) 2 Big Ticket Items
5) Stalled WIP
I made myself a spreadsheet to keep myself on track... let's see if it works!

December 3rd update...
Three days in...
Progress Report:
1) 31 days / no yarn purchase ... Still standing firm, despite being inundated with yarn sales, coupon flyers and e-mails about new yarns.

2) Orders Hat  Hat  Scarf  Cup Cozy- Finished the cup cozy, but got orders for three more items.
3) Listing items... 3 down, 12 to go - no progress here.
4) 2 Big Ticket Items - I have one at 95% completion, another at about 75%...
5) Stalled progress here.

Snow-vember Wrap

I got snowed in last week. The Buffalo, NY area got hit with "Lake Effect Snow" that dropped about three feet of snow on us overnight, and then two days later, we got hit again... another three feet.

I had plenty to keep me busy...lots of yarn, lots of orders, lots of ideas. Over the course of my seven-day "Snowcation", I finished up about twenty projects.

One of them was a design project that I'm calling "Snow-vember Wrap." The idea for this started when the second Hunger Games movie, "Catching Fire," came out. My daughter saw it, and texted me, saying "Katniss wears a knit poncho in the movie. I can see you making one." I was intrigued, and looked around for patterns, but none of them appealed to me. They had a stiffness in the neck (one pattern called for rope loops wrapped in duct tape) that just didn't look comfortable to me.

Then I saw Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin on the Today Show in an asymmetrical poncho with an armhole on one side. It looked comfy and stylish at the same time.

So, during my week of staying warm and cozy by the woodstove, I made up my own design. Here is how it turned out.

First, I will give basic "any yarn with appropriate size needles" directions. I made up this wrap with Lion Brand Homespun yarn and size 11 needles. I have a second wrap on my needles, using two strands of "I Love This Yarn" and size 13 needles. The pattern is easy to adjust to different yarns and needle sizes, since the sizing is determined by the center section.

Step 1: Measure around the chest and arms. For my model, the measurement was 42".  Make a strip about 8" wide and the measurement you just took plus 2" for a little extra room. The strip for the pictured wrap was 19 stitches across. I made up a ribbing pattern with different widths (K2, P2, K1, P3, K4, P3, K2, P2). For the next wrap, currently on the needles, I'm putting a cable in the center. You could do a K2 P2 ribbing, or get fancier. Slip the first stitch of each row for  a neater edge. When you cast off, don't cut your yarn... you will go right on to the next step.

Step 2: Pick up stitches along one edge of the strip. Make a note of how many stitches you pick up. You'll need that number later. I worked this section in the round on circular needles, but if you only have straight needles, you could knit back and forth, seaming it later.
Alternate three rows of stockingnet stitch, then three rows of reverse stockingnet stitch. If you are using circular needles and knitting in the round, this translates to three rows of  knitting / three rows of purling. For the first row of each "stripe", you will do a decrease row. I started with a decrease every 8th stitch for the first stripe (knit), then every 7th stitch for the purl stripe, every 6th stitch for the next knit stripe, etc. Do three knit stripes and two purl stripes. Cast off with the last row of the third knit stripe.

Step 3:
Cast one quarter as many stitches as you picked up around the neck. Work in ribbing pattern of your choice, decreasing along one edge every other row  until one stitch remains. Leave a long tail, and sew longest edge of triangle to the bottom of the wrap. Make another piece that is a mirror image of the first one (if you did your decreases on the right side for the first piece, do them on the left this time).  Sew to the bottom of the other side of the wrap, and then sew the bases of both triangles together.

So, here are my more exact directions for the poncho shown above.
Lion Brand Homespun Yarn (used a skein and a half, about 8 ounces)
Size 11 needles

Center portion:
Cast on 19 Stitches
Row 1: K2, P2, K1, P3, K4, P3, K2, P2
Row 2: K2, P2, K3, P4, K3, P1, K2, P2  (for this and each following row, slip first stitch)
Repeat rows 1 & 2 until length is 44". Cast off, but don't cut yarn.

Top Portion:
Pick up 100 stitches along long edge of strip.
Row 1: Knit around, doing a decrease every 8th stitch.
Row 2 & 3: Knit around
Row 4: Purl around, doing a decrease every 7th stitch
Rows 5 & 6: Purl around
Row 7: Knit around, doing a decrease every 6th stitch
Rows 8 & 9: Knit around
Row 10: Purl around, doing a decrease every 5th stitch
Rows 11 & 12: purl around
Row 13: Knit around, doing a decrease every 4th stitch
Row 14: knit around
Row 15: Cast off.

Bottom Portion: 
Cast on 25 stitches
Row 1: (Right side)
K1, P3, K3, P1, K1, P3, K2, P1, K3, P1, K1, P3, K2
Row 2: (wrong side)
P2, K3, P1, K1, P3, K1, P2, K3, P1, K1, P4, K3, P1
Repeat rows 1 & 2  ribbing pattern, but decrease one stitch on the right side of each row 1
Continue until 1 stitch remains. End off, leaving a tail long enough to sew long side to bottom of wrap at front.
Make another bottom portion, but make your decreases on the left side of each row 1 of pattern. Sew to bottom of wrap at back, match up base of triangle to other base. Sew bases of triangle together.

The ends of your long beginning strip are not sewn together, forming an armhole in the side of the wrap.

That's it! If you have any questions, let me know.

I will update this when I finish wrap #2.

I decided not to charge for this pattern because it's still a work in progress and a bit on the rough side (only one size, no stitch counts for decrease rows, etc.) If you would like to show your appreciation for my design work, my paypal address is philipp4v6 at, or, if you had some leftover partial skeins of yarn you wanted to send my way, you could mail them to Elaine O, P. O. Box 26, Marilla, NY 14102. Both my husband and I are hourly employees, so each of us lost a week's wages because of the storm. I also had a craft show cancelled due to the weather, so any contributions will help offset that lost income.

Update: Wrap #2
I made the second wrap with the same basic design, but used size 15 needles and two strands of knitting worsted held together. I weighed the finished wrap, and found that I used 11.4 ounces of Hobby Lobby's "I Love This Yarn".

For the beginning central strip, I cast on 18 stitches.
Here is the ribbing pattern I followed:
K 1, P 1, K 1, P 3, K 6, P 3, K 1, P 1, K 1
Every 8 rows, I did a cable on the center K6 stitches.
I made the center strip about 45" long. Then I picked up 100 stitches around one edge for the upper section. I decreased to 36 stitches at the neck.

I did the bottom portion differently: I folded the wrap in half and started at the side fold. (The right side of the picture above). I cast on one stitch, then picked up a stitch from the center strip. To make things extra easy, I did the bottom portion in garter stitch, knitting every row. Every other row, when I got back to the center strip, I picked up another stitch. When I got to the end of the center strip (the bottom of the armhole, I started to decrease a stitch at the end of each row next to the center strip (K2 together), and then I would take that stitch off the needle, slip it through the next stitch on the center strip, and put it back on the needle. (Like I was picking up a stitch, but the stitch I picked up was already on the needle.) By the time you get back to where you started the bottom section, your decreases should have you down to one stitch. Bind off and tuck in ends.

Wrap #3 is in the works... but it won't be as pretty. It's going to be a scrap yarn "for home wear only" garment for me! 

For my "Hobo Cowl" (below), I'm using size 15 needles and two strands of worsted weight yarn, very similar to #2 above. I just tied on a new ball of yarn whenever one ran out, leaving yarn ends exposed. Might tuck them in... will see when I'm done. 

Almost done... just working on bottom section.