One option: put out the flames and pick back up again!
Have you ever tried a knitting (or crochet) experiment before? That is, started knitting without a pattern, having a specific purpose in mind but not 100% sure how you were going to get there and if it was going to work?
As you might know if you saw my last What I’m Knitting Wednesday post, I tried an octo-knitting experiment last month.
I’ll get to how that turned out in a minute.
First, I’ll catch you up with my FOs (finished objects) completed since the last WIKW. Then I’ll show you what’s on my needles and, yes, I’ll tell you more about my octo-experiment.
Yarns and Patterns Used for These Projects
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Pattern: Lingering Over Tea
Yarn: USY in fingering weight
I’m using Addi Turbo Lace circular needles for the Lingering Over Tea cowl.
Finished Object – the iPad Case
I knitted an iPad cover for my husband Eric’s new iPad a couple weekends ago. Here’s how that happened:
Eric purchased a new iPad. (This is our family’s first-ever iOS purchase, so this was a big moment for us.)
He’d had the iPad for maybe 10 minutes when he tossed off this comment: “I’ll bet you could knit me a case for this.”
“I’ll bet I could,” I chirped.
After about 5 minutes of searching, out popped Frankie Brown’s adorable Oxford Envelope. I showed it to Eric. He agreed that it seemed perfect.
“I could knit it in red and white,” I suggested, after Eric’s favorite sports team, the Detroit Red Wings (hockey).
“Hmmmm… I don’t suppose you could knit the Red Wings logo on one side?”
This time it took me even less searching time on Ravelry to find a pattern with a Red Wings Fair Isle chart. (Chart was part of this pattern.)
I found stash yarn (I have literally no idea what yarn it was — I’m coining a new abbreviation, USY, to indicate Unidentified Stash Yarn) that appeared to be the right thickness and cast on in about 2 minutes.
I knitted the slipped-stitch side and began the bottom of the logo side Sunday night. Monday morning to early afternoon, I finished the logo side. At my knitting group meeting that evening, I knitted the flap and sewed on the buttons.
If you knitted this pattern entirely the way it’s written, it’s easily finished in a 24-hour period. And even throwing something else on one side doesn’t slow you down too much. I love this pattern!
I enjoyed knitting the slip stitches so much that I started knitting a hand towel in a slipped-stitch pattern that evening at my knitting group. More on that a little later!
Finished Objects – the Hand Towel & Washcloth
I knitted these after my octo-experiment (which you’ll read about soon, I promise!)
I wanted something quick and mindless after using my brain entirely too much during my experiment! So using my old reliable technique, mitered knitting, I whipped out a washcloth.
A little smaller than I’d intended, but it’s cute. And you can use for a face cloth, easily.
Then I decided to try the mitered-rectangle technique I’d used for Lion Brand’s Modern Miters afghan pattern. I had to wing it a little on this one, because I obviously didn’t want the rectangle to be as small as it is in the afghan. I doubled the cast-on stitches and doubled (with some adjustments) the stitch counts required for the decreases.
Even so, I once again proved that knitting math is not my strong suit and wound up with a slightly-lopsided rectangle. The top was kind of sloping on one side.
To fix it, I came up with the ingenious idea of double-crocheting across the top, starting with where the “sloping” began. Miraculously, this worked! It makes the towel look a little cough interesting, but it also makes it look even. And I think the double crochet adds a bit of charm.
I’m planning to send this sweet little set to For the Children of Pine Ridge. And I’ll knit a couple more sets before I send them off.
The Not-Quite-Finished Object: My Octo-Knitting Experiment
You might remember that during my last What I’m Knitting Wednesday, I decided to try to an experiment.
After writing about the Octopus for a Preemie Project and witnessing how the group had a knitting pattern that was then pulled after it had issues, I thought I would try my own hand at developing such a pattern.
I tried with size 5 needles. Immediately realized those were too big and tore the knitting out almost immediately. I tried again with size 4 needles, knitted a few inches and just knew that was too big as well.
(What do I mean by “too big?” Octopus for a Preemie requires that you see absolutely no space in the stitches. Size 4 and size 5 both produced stitches that were too open.)
I felt pretty good when I knitted a considerable portion of an octo-body with size 3 needles. Didn’t see space anywhere. Knitting through the back loop of every stitch also helped. I thought, “by golly, I just might have figured this out.”
Eventually I made the body long enough that I wanted to try stuffing it.
This is where I ran into problems. Two key standards for Octopus for a Preemie include a) no stuffing showing in between stitches and b) stuffing the body tightly enough so that you can’t create an indentation when you press against it.
Unfortunately, when I stuffed tightly enough to meet standard b), standard a) flew right out the window.
I was pretty disappointed. I’ve never designed an in-the-round pattern before, and I thought I had come pretty darned close to not only designing a pattern, but one that would help knitters knit for Octopus for a Preemie.
(Apologies for not providing photos of my failed octopus. I was disappointed enough that I frogged the octo-body immediately when I realized it wasn’t right.)
“Well, maybe going down ANOTHER needle size would do the trick,” I thought.
I went through this whole process, again, with size 2 needles. (In case you’re wondering: yes, my hands suffered a bit. I may have brought out the compression gloves at one point.)
Sadly, the result was the same: stuffing the body tightly enough led to stuffing peeking through the stitches.
At this point, I gave up. My hands were not feeling good, and I felt like maybe I just wasn’t the person to figure this out.
Sharon, the leader of our knitting group, has since given me a few ideas on how we might be able to work out a knitting pattern after all. And I will probably try again, using some of her ideas.
But for now, I’d rather stick to what I know works! That’s why I used the yarn I originally purchased for the preemie octopus for the washcloth and hand towel you see above. I knew I could do that, and pretty quickly, too.
Work in Progress: Lingering Over Tea Cowl
I told you in my article on patriotic patterns how I grew so enchanted with her descriptions of her knitting that I followed her on Instagram.
(Incidentally, if you’d like to follow me on Instagram, feel free! I’ll warn you that I post a lot of things that have nothing to do with knitting — hair selfies, photos of my family, random nature beauty shots, random food shots, and so on.)
Anyway, Laura posted a photo of a cowl pattern she was designing, and said she needed test knitters. I piped up that I had zero experience in test knitting but that I couldn’t wait until she released the pattern.
She then told me that I could absolutely test knit the pattern if I wanted, and that she primarily needed to make sure the directions were easy to follow. I jumped at the chance!
I’ve been working on the cowl ever since Laura sent me the pattern. I’m well over half-finished and may even be done by the end of the month.
I love this pattern! It’s been ages since I’ve knitted a pattern with cables, and every time I knit a pattern with cables I wonder why I don’t do it more often.
Something I’m learning about myself in knitting is that I love knitting anything that produces “magic.” Cables, slipped stitches, mitering, double knitting, turning a sock heel… heck, even ribbing seems magical to me! (If you’re thinking “boy, you’re easily amused”… why yes I am. And proud of it.)
Laura said she called her pattern “Lingering Over Tea” partially because she thought the cables look a little like tea roses on “trellises” — that is, the “posts” in between the cables. ”Linger” is the name of the colorway of the yarn she used to design the pattern, so there’s that as well.
I encourage everyone to check out Laura’s podcast. I love listening to her talk about her knitting, the books she’s read recently, and the Bible studies she’s participating in. If you enjoy it as much as I do, you can sign up for her newsletter as well.
(You’ll receive notice of a discount on her pattern, too, which is currently selling for $1.99 on Ravelry.)
Work in Progress: Improvised Slipped Stitch Hand Towel
So earlier I mentioned that I want to knit several sets of hand towels and washcloths for Pine Ridge Reservation. This is the beginning of my second set.
I also mentioned that Frankie’s slipped stitch pattern in her Oxford Envelope inspired me to try it in a different way. This is the first inspiration. I thought it would look really cute in one solid color and one variegated color. Here’s how I’m using it currently.
I intended this as a washcloth, but I cast on too many stitches, so I guess this is the hand towel instead! Obviously I haven’t gotten very far on it, since I’ve been spending most of my knitting time working on the cowl.
Whew! That’s a lot of words about my knitting! Congratulations if you somehow managed to get all the way down to the bottom of this post, haha.
So, let’s hear from you! What are you knitting (or crocheting) lately? Have you tried any experiments? Were you more successful than I was? (Hopefully you were.) Have you accepted any challenges?