Amigurumi Knits

About two weeks ago I discovered a book at my local library and I’ve been working on small projects ever since. First of all, Amigurumi is:

  • Amigurumi (編みぐるみ?, lit. knitted stuffed toy) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.[1] Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amigurumi

The book Amigurumi Knits by Hansi Singh includes everything from fruits and vegetables to sea creatures to backyard bugs. The first pattern is of an aubergine (eggplant) which is good for beginners. The patterns are complex, but I didn’t have a problem following them as long as no one around began a complicated conversation while I was counting (two. . . three. . . four. . . five . . . what did you say?)

The beginning of the book has good step by step instructions for the different styles of increases and decreases, the wrap and turn that the author describes as a way of creating short rows without leaving wholes, and other knitting techniques used in the patterns. It’s a great way to learn more about knitting, creating fun and adorable objects that everyone will coo over. Don’t be surprised if you get a few requests as well.

I finished the spider and keep in by my desk at work. I get at least one comment a day on it. The tomato came out great and I’m working on the carrot now. I can’t wait to make myself a Jelly Fish with the tentacles hanging down. I think it would even make a good baby mobile. Anyone else agree?

I also use Caron Simply Soft yarn because it is inexpensive and comes in so many colors. I look forward to eventually using Cascade 220 or another fancier yarn, but for now acrylic it is!

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2010-07 Cabled Pillow #2

I love cables and decided to make a few little things with yarn I already have in stock. These pillows make great gifts and are a lovely simple adornment to any home. This is Pillow #2 of 3 original designs I am sharing.

I used Caron Simply Soft yarn and size 5 needles. The gauge is 5 stitches and 6 rows = 1 inch in stockinette stitch, creating a pillow that is about 8 x 10 inches in size stuffed.

Front:

Row 1: Knit

Row 2 Purl

Row 3: K2 P6 C4R T4L P4 P14 K14

Row 4: P14 K18 P3 K1 P4 K6 P2

Row 5: K2 P5 C4R P1 K1 T4L P17 K14

Row 6: P14 K17 P3 K1 P1 K1 P4 K5 P2

Row 7: K2 P4 C4R (P1 K1) twice T4L P16 K14

Row 8: P14 K16 P3 K1 (P1 K1) twice P4 K4 P2

Row 9: K2 P3 C4R (P1 K1) 3 times T4L P15 K14

Row 10: P14 K15 P3 K1 (P1 K1) 3 times P4 K3 P2

Row 11: K2 P2 C4R (P1 K1) 4 times T4L P14 K14

Row 12: P14 K14 P3 K1 (P1 K1) 4 times P4 K2 P2

Row 13: K2 P2 T4L (K1 P1) 4 times T4R P14 K14

Row 14: As 10th row

Row 15: K2 P3 T4L (K1 P1) 3 times T4R P15 K14

Row 16: As 8th row

Row 17: K2 P4 T4L (K1 P1) twice T4R P16 K14

Row 18: As 6th row

Row 19: K2 P5 T4L K1 P1 T4R P17 K14

Row 20: As 4th row

Row 21: K2 P6 T4L T4R P18 K14

Row 22: P14 K19 P6 K7 P2

Row 23: K2 P7 C6B P19 K14

Row 24: P14 K19 P6 K7 P2

Repeat Rows 3-24 twice then:

Knit 1 row

Purl 1 row

Bind off.

Back:

Cast on 48 stitches

K24, P24

Continue for 23 rows then

P24, K24

Continue for 23 rows

Bind off

With right sides together, sew together the edges of the pillow. Leave about a 2-3 inch opening. Turn pillow so that right sides are facing out, stuff with fiber fill of your choice and seam together 2-3 inch opening. Using Caron Simply Soft yarn and size five needles, this creates a 8×10 inch pillow.

C4R: Cable 4 Right Slip 1 stitch onto cable needle, hold at back of work. Knit 3 stitches from left needle. Knit stitch from cable needle.

T4L: Twist 4 Left Slip 3 stitches onto cable, hold at front of work. Purl next stitch from left needle. Knit 3 stitches from cable.

T4R: Twist 4 Right Slip 1 stitch onto cable, hold at back of work. Knit next 3 stitches from left needle. Purl 1 stitch from cable.

C6B: Cable 6 Back Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle, hold at back of work. Knit 3 stitches from left needle. Knit 3 stitches from cable needle.

2010-06 Cabled Pillow #1

I love cables and decided to make a few little things with yarn I already have in stock. These pillows make great gifts and are a lovely simple adornment to any home.

I used Caron Simply Soft yarn and size 5 needles. The gauge is 5 stitches and 6 rows = 1 inch in stockinette stitch, creating a pillow that is about 10 x 10 inches in size stuffed.

Front:

Cast on 48 stitches

Row 1 Knit

Row 2 Purl

Row 3 K2, P4 C4B (P4, C4B)twice P16 K6

Row 4 P6 K16 P4 (K4 P4) twice K4 P2

Row 5 K2 P3 T3B (T4F,T4B)twice T3F P15 K6

Row 6 P6 K15 P2 K3 P4 K4 P4 K3 P2 K2 P2

Row 7 K2 P2 T3B P3 C4F P4 C4F P3 T3F P14 K6

Row 8 P6 K14 P2 K4 (P4 K4) twice P2 K2 P2

Row 9 K2 P2 K2 P3 T3B T4F T4B T3F P3 K2 P14 K6

Row 10 P6 K14 (P2 K3) twice P4 (K3 P2) twice K2 P2

Row 11 K2 P2 (K2 P2) twice C4B (P3 K2) twice P14 K6

Row 12 as 10th row

Row 13 K2 P2 K2 P3 T3F T4B T4F T3B P3 K2 P14 K6

Row 14 as 8th row

Row 15 K2 P2 T3F P3 C4F P4 C4F P3 T3B P14 K6

Row 16 as 6th row

Row 17 K2 P3 T3F (T4B T4F) twice T3B P15 K6

Row 18 as 4th row

Repeat Row 3 – 18 two more times

Knit 1 row

Purl 1 row

Bind off

Back:

Cast on 48 stitches

Row 1-24: K24 P24

Row 25-48: P24 K24

Bind off

With right sides together, sew together the edges of the pillow. Leave about a 2-3 inch opening. Turn pillow so that right sides are facing out, stuff with fiber fill of your choice and seam together 2-3 inch opening. Using Caron Simply Soft yarn and size five needles, this creates a 10×10 inch pillow.

C4B : Cable 4 Back Slip 2 stitches onto cable needle, hold to back of work. Knit next 2 stitches from left needle. Knit 2 stitches from cable.

C4F: Cable 4 Forward Slip 2 stitches onto cable needle, hold to front of work. Knit 2 stitches from left needle, knit 2 stitches from cable needle.

T3B: Twist 3 Back Slip 1 stitch onto cable needle, hold to back of work. Knit 2 stitches from left needle, purl stitch from cable needle.

T3F: Twist 3 Forward Slip 2 stitch onto cable needle, hold to front of work. Purl 1 stitches from left needle, knit 2 stitches from cable needle.

T4F: Twist 4 Forward Slip 2 stitches onto cable needle, hold to front of work. Purl 2 stitches from left needle, knit 2 stitches from cable needle.

T4B: Twist 4 Back Slip 2 stitches onto cable needle, hold to back of work. Knit 2 stitches from left needle, purl 2 stitches from cable needle.

Making Moolah with Knitting

How to make money knitting? If you find out, please let me know!!!!

There aren’t too many people who actually make money knitting. Most of us try hard not to spend too much of our hard earned cash on the prized strings in our local yarn stores. There are a few people who are making money and even a couple who earn a regular income off of knitting in general. Most of us don’t have the resources to go out there and open a yarn shop. From what I can tell, it is hard to keep up the enthusiasm after awhile. If you are a really talented knitter, there are wealthy people who will pay good money for a hand knit sweater or fancy shawl. I think bags are good too, as long as you can find someone who will pay for your labor as well as the cost of yarn. So far, I haven’t earned even close to mininum wage.
There are companies that will pay to have you test their patterns. Once again, you have to be an experienced knitter. I’m not sure how much they pay, but I’d assume the more experience, the more your income potential.
A great website to visit is etsy. On etsy, people can set up shops (similar to ebay) but can only sell vintage, supplies, and hand-made items. It is fun just to browse around or to find gifts for other people. I have my own shop set up- but I haven’t tried selling anything up to this point.

Most of us don’t knit to make money, but it is definitely a plus if possible.

Ode to Knitpicks

Most avid hobbyists have a favorite store/a favorite brand/ a favorite website to browse around. I have an activity that I liken to window shopping online. I’ll go to a webpage, add everything I could ever want into the shopping cart, and then eventually close out the page. Some places, like amazon, have a wish list so that later on I can decide if I really wanted that thing-a-ma-bob or not.

One of my favorite sites to do thing is Knitpicks. I know this is a not a new company and if you’ve ever favorited anything to do with knitting on Facebook, you’ve likely had an ad from them pop up in the right hand side of your window. Yet, I still love the site. I have the Harmony Options Interchangeable Needles. They are colorful and sharp. Some people may not want pointy objects that are that sharp, but I don’t mind the occasional jab at my fingers as long as they help me tear through some rows faster.

A favorite part of the Knitpicks site is their enormous amount of accessories. Yes, accessories are not always necessary but they are almost always wanted. I don’t mean in that -I need a stitch holder while making this collar- kind of useful way. No- I want the Crafty Critters Knitting Tool Holders because they look cool! I want something shaped like a crocodile to hold my needles. Why not? I do have a GoKnit Pouch which is very useful. I like to throw my small projects in their and I can take them in the car, to work, and to the lunchroom with me as I need to. The best part about it is that it is waterproof, so I don’t have to worry about a loose cap on my water bottle messing up my yarn.

There are tons of great gadgets and gizmos, quality knitting needles, and plenty of yarn on the site. If anyone is looking for a sturdy set of quality interchangeables, I recommend the wood harmony options set. I have no doubt that any of their products will be loved. Happy Knitting.

Sticks and Needles Part II: Shapes and Sizes

Most of us picture a pair of knitting needles, long and skinny with a knob at the end.  I’d imagine them being aluminum and purple.  Those were my first pair of knitting needles bought at the local store, Raindew.  I loved the click click sound they made as I create each stitch.  It was not until years later that I learned about the variety of needles out there.

Straight Needles: These are the long skinny needles with a knob at the end.  They are good for scarves, small blankets and smaller simpler projects.  The knob at the end prevents the stitches from falling off and the stitches are passed from needle to needle with each row.

Double Pointed Needles: These are shorter, skinny needles, usually coming in packs of four or five.  Both ends are pointed with nothing to prevent stitches from falling off.  These are used for socks, i-cords, stuffed animals and small shaped projects.  The stitches are knitted in the round, going from needle to needle with two-four needles holding yarn and one ‘working’ needle.

Circular Needles: These are two straight needles connected by a cord.  The yarn is knit from one needle onto the other, with the stitches sliding on or off via the cord.  These are used for round projects such as hats and sweaters, can be used using two needles to make objects that would normally require double pointed needles (knitting with two circulars), or can be used for knitting flat objects such as scarves by turning the work at the end of each row as if one was working with two straight needles.

Cable Needles: These are used for cables.  They are a smaller needle, usually in the shape of a hook or similar to a ‘V’.  These are used for holding stitches behind or in front of the work, while other stitches are knitted and then knitting the cable needle stitches to create a bump, design or cable.

Time

I am afraid I have been overwhelmed of late and my knitting has been neglected.  Working on two group projects with school, busy work week, and trying to write for another personal project is taking up so much time.  I still have the shawl on the needles because I ran out of yarn.  Yes, I know- I should have gotten enough when I bought it.  I think I might just pull the whole thing off anyway.  I have another project a few rows in.  I want to make another felted bag, but this one in brown.  I have so many tan and brown items of clothing and no bags to match.  I have a few shades of galway yarn that look good together.  Now, I just need time.  I think my idea in my head would make a great pattern that I can’t wait to share.  I love felting bags.  The great thing about felting is that the gauge is really unimportant.  I can even knit and read at the same time without having to focus on an intricate steps of a pattern.  Of course, now that I’m listening to books, I don’t have to do that. 

I’m trying to cover knitting topics little by little since it takes so much time to get a pattern/project done.  Please let me know if there are any topics or questions you would like me to cover.  I’ll get to more about knitting needles in the next post. 

Happy Knitting.

Sticks & Needles Part I: what’s your needle made of?

Knitting needles are those indispensible tools of the knitting trade that seem so simple and yet are available in an immense variety.  Many people remember the long skinny metal sticks that their Grandmothers used and the sound of the click click click, stitch by stitch.  Today, needles are found in just about any material.  The most popular ones are:

Metal: smooth, good for quick stitches, can be more difficult for slicker yarns.

Wood: Warm to work with, more mailable will flex while working, better for slick yarn and tighter stitches. 

Plastic: Light, smooth, flexible.  Can become very warm while using.

Bamboo: Has a lot of the same qualities as wood needles but are lighter.  They are also more abt to breaking (as I have broken my share of cheap ones).

If you are just starting out, try different needles to see what is most comfortable.  As with everything, different people like different materials.  My favorites of the moment are my Knitpicks Harmony needles and the Lantern Moon Sox Sticks.  I do go through phases where I prefer to use metal needles.

Happy Easter

I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Easter, a Happy Passover and a joyous Spring.  This is the time of year for rejuvenation.  As the weather calms and the trees begin to bloom, it is a change of pace for most knitters.  While many concentrate on scarves, hats and sweaters during the fall and winter months, these are too heavy for many as nature begins to warm.  Spring is a time for making lighter garments and experimenting with more delicate materials.  It’s ok to put away the wool and pull out lighter cottons, linen, and (yeek if I could only afford it) silks.  There are an assortment of spring and summer yarns available at your local yarn shops, online and even at the big box craft stores.  It’s a great time to make that light tank or even a cardigan set.  Have a spring jubilee with other knitters in the area.  Make a baby blanket just because you can.  Ok, maybe I’m the only one who does that. . .

Seed Stitch Belt 2010-03

I wanted a quick project and while I was hunting down a new belt in Kohls, I had an idea!  Rather than paying $20+ for something I really don’t care for, I’d make my own.  This is a great beginner pattern, no shaping necessary.  Think of it as a skinny scarf that has a little sewing involved.

Caron Simply Soft

Gauge 6 stitches 7 rows = 1 inch

Size 4 needles

1 Belt Buckle (try a craft store or take a part an old belt)

Cast on 7 stitches

Row 1: K1, P1, Continue to end.

Row 2: K1, P1, Continue to end

Repeat this row until desired length- remember that the belt will stretch (a lot) so put it around your waist to check.

Take Belt clip with tong and fold over one end.  Seem this to the belt.  See Picture below.

Knit loop- cast on five stitches and knit in seed stitch as above.  Bind off after 3 inches.  Seem together around belt (near belt clip.)

Wear with pride!

Oops, I don’t have enough yarn!

One of the first things that you learn when you begin knitting, is that when working on a project, make sure you have enough to finish it.  Patterns tell you how many skeins you’ll need or at least usually how many yards.  It’s better to have more yarn than necessary that not enough.  It’s also best to have enough of the same color lot so that you don’t have those pesky differences in shading.  Normally, when yarn is made, the dye is created and all of yarn is made with that/those colors.  For example, XYZ wool dyes 200 skeins of purple wool on Tuesday.  On Thursday, it will dye 200 more skeins of wool.  Those two dye lots are going to be a tiny bit different, no matter what.  So, if you want to knit your purple sweater, it’s best to get all your yarn out of one dye lot to make sure the front and back (or top and bottom) are the same shade of purple.

With this in mind, you have to know what you are using your yarn for before you buy it.  I had bought about 6 skeins of Paton’s Baby yarn about a year ago when my friend was pregnant.  I made a small baby blanket and set the rest aside.  A little over a month ago I decided to make another blanket and figured I could go out and find more if I needed it.  After all, it is a popular company with yarn available in Michael’s and Jo-Anns.  I was at the end of the last skein and went out to find more.  Paton’s Beehive Baby Sport Yarn in Natural Girl was nowhere to be found.  Rather than keep searching, I decided to finish the blanket early.  The border had to be finished in 10 rows rather than 12.  All in all, I was lucky and the blanket looks fabulous- but I was lucky.  Did I learn my lesson?  Absolutely not!

Ravelry

It seems like there are now social network sites for everything.  I’m one of those people who are completely addicted to Facebook but do not want to admit it.  I’m an online junkie who needs to recheck everything, including my knitwerks site, regularly.  I wake up, take a shower, go online. 

There are many knitting social network sites out there, but my favorite and probably the most popular is Ravelry.  It is a community for knitters, crocheters, spinners and dyers to join, share, and talk about the crafts they love.  There are thousands upon thousands of patterns available both free and for a fee.  You can search by yarn, by needle size, or even designer.  Their notebook section allows you to add yarns, needles, books and projects.  It is a great way to organize that mess of a stash you may have!

  One of my favorite features is the groups.  You can join other crafters based on favorite tv show, region, school, or similar interests.  There is a group for Knitty fans, for tea lovers, for cat people, for House fans and for nearly every local knitting shop.  Inside, you can commiserate, discuss events, and share projects that you are working on and have finished.

I love to browse the patterns.  You can use key words to help guide your search, but I generally wander aimlessly through page after page of recently added items, favoriting the ones I like the most in hopes that I come back to it.  This is a great inspiration and makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

Block Baby Blanket 2010-02

I started knitting away without really knowing what I wanted to do.  Before I knew it, I was using left over soft baby yarn and creating a blanket.  I am a little less than midway through it, but wanted to post the pattern anyway.  People keep asking me who I am knitting it for.  My response, “By the time I’m finished, someone will be pregnant.”

I am using Patons Beehive Baby Yarn in 11421 Natural Girl colors.  It has tones of pink, blue, beige and white.  There is a double seed stitch border, with alternating squares in stockinette and seed stitch.

6 stitches and 8 rows = 1 inch in stockinette

Size 4 circular knitting needle at least 16 inches long.  Using stich markers every ten stitches will help keep track of the changes.

Cast on 170 stitches (@36 inches wide)

Row 1: K2P2, continue to end.

Row 2: K2P2, continue to end

Row 3: P2K2, continue to end

Row 4: P2K2, continue to end

Continue for 12 rows total

Row 13: K2P2 (4 times) K2, *K1P1 (5 times), K10, continue from * to last 10 stitches, K2P2 (4 times) K2

Row 14: P2K2 (4 times) P2, *P1K1 (5 times), P10, continue from * to last 10 stitches, P2K2 (4 times)

Row 15: P2K2 (4 times) P2, *K1P1 (5 times), K10, continue from * to last 10 stitches, P2K2 (4 times) P2

Row 16: K2P2 (4 times) K2, *P1K1 (5 times), P10, continue from * to last 10 stitches, K2P2 (4 times)K2

Repeat Rows 13-16

Row 21: K2P2 (4 times) K2, *K10, K1P1 (5 times), continue from * to last 10 stitches, K2P2 (4 times) K2

Row 22: P2K2 (4 times) P2, *P20, P1K1 (5 times), continue from * to last 10 stitches, P2K2 (4 times)

Row 23: P2K2 (4 times) P2, *K10, K1P1 (5 times), continue from * to last 10 stitches, P2K2 (4 times) P2

Row 24: K2P2 (4 times) K2, *P10, P1K1 (5 times), continue from * to last 10 stitches, K2P2 (4 times)K2

Repeat Rows 21-24 through Row 30.

Rows 31-40: Repeat Rows 13-17

continue in this manner until you’ve knit the desired length of blanket.

Ending: Repeat Rows 1-4 for a total of 12 rows.  Bind Off.

Listening to Books

A while ago I was at the library, wandering around, when I discovered these little playaway books on preloaded mp3 players.  First of all, I am one of the few people out there who do not have an ipod or an mp3 player or even a smart phone.  I found these little devices that have one book recorded on it, and that you can borrow for three weeks at a time (longer if you are a chronic renewer like me).  I listen to them at work, at the gym, and while knitting.  So far I’ve listened to Marley & Me, Songs of the Hunchback Whale, Blue Diary, and Water for Elephants.  I started The Time Traveler’s Wife but it bored me.  I couldn’t stand the speaker for Beach Road.  I’m currently listening to The Wednesday Wars, which is directed at children, but is written (spoken) well and is a perfect cutesy book to have at work.  My next one will be The Joy Luck Club. 

I’ve read most of these before with my absolute favorite being Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  The narration is split between the 90 or 93-year-old Jacob Jankowski and his 23-year-old memory.  He described both his life at a nursing home, his aging body and loneliness at a point when his children are too old to take care of him.  Across the street, the circus is setting up and a fellow resident begins to claim that he used to carry water for elephants.  Jacob becomes angry at this, saying Mr. McGuinty is a lyer.  A nurse, Rosemary, takes pity on him and begins to treat him like a human being instead of another body. 

We listen to him tell about being 23, days away from taking his final exams in Veterinarian School at Cornell University when his parents are killed in a car accident.  This occurs during the Great Depression.  Jacob finds out that the bank is foreclosing on his parents’ home and goes to take the finals.  He walks out of the room without answering a single question.  Fate takes him to the railroad tracks where he jumps into a car only to find out that he’s on a circus train. 

The rest is an adventure.  Jacob discovers circus life and the meaning of love for both the beautiful Marlena and the surprising elephant Rosie.  This is an absolute must read- or listen.  There is even a movie in the works, which is planned to come out in 2011.

Songs of the Humpback Whale was also a fantastic experience.  Listening to it was even better because there are five narrators in five voices.  I believe that this brings it to life far more than actually reading it could- and Jodi Picoult is a great writer.  This is a journey of self discovery by five very different people who are connected by life and events that are beyond their control.  A mother, father, daughter, uncle and lover all reflect on the actions that take them to a quaint apple orchard in Massachusetts.  While listening, you salivate at the description of the crunching apples, shiver when the cool northeastern winds blow, and feel the characters as if they are standing next to you.

Happy Listening!