DIY Christmas Crafts

This post was originally published in 2015, we’re re-posting it again today to give you a few ideas to jump-start your holiday crafting.

Today we’re rounding up past Christmas crafts. While Sarah was busy ordering gifts yesterday, I was finishing up the decorating. I love to get everything up as soon as possible so that there’s plenty of time to enjoy it (plus, I need the decorating out of the way so that I have every extra moment left to think about gift shopping!). If you’re taking your time and in need of decorations, we put together a list of past DIY projects that we made, love, and were excited to put out again this year.

This list provides a range of projects from those that can be finished in 30 minutes to others that may take a few hours, and the skill-level required varies from the simple to the more complex. In addition to decorating your house, some of these projects like the felt and cinnamon ornaments make great gift tags. What we have here is a little bit of something for everyone.

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Sweater Season

It’s sweater season! … at least for a day. Oh fall, you fickle thing.

I wanted to share the details on two sweaters that I’m excited to start rotating into my wardrobe this season.

Bohus Cowl

First up is the Bohus-inspired cowl neck sweater. It’s from an issue of Vogue Knitting, but lucky for you, the pattern is now available as a free download from their site!

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If you don’t know much about Bohus sweaters, it’s worth going down that rabbit hole and learning about these beautiful designs.

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Knitting WIPs II

Hey there, I’m popping in this afternoon to share some of the knitting projects that I’ve recently finished, am working on, or are on my mind. I’m exciting. You may need an extra cup of coffee.

After I finished up the big sweater project, I immediately cast on a sweater of my own, Wolf River. I love how this turned out and now have a case of sweater fever (there are so many good patterns out there!). I haven’t even worn this one yet and I’m already itching to start another sweater, but as you’ll read below, there are a few other little projects that I’m hoping to get out of the way first.

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Wolf River is a boxy sweater – no waist shaping at all – and it got me thinking that this is a great characteristic to look for if you’re new to sweater knitting. Of course, this sweater’s lace pattern may not be the easiest thing for a new knitting, but there are other simple boxy designs out there.

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This sweater was knit with less than two skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool, one of my favorites. I have two more skeins in my stash and am thinking that it would be fun to make a second Aidez since I wear my first all of the time.

Last year I designed and knit a fair isle hat for Alex and realized that it would be fun to knit the boys new hats every year. I made this one over the weekend (after knitting a sweater, little hats are a breeze!).
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Project Sweater : Seaming and Finishing

Do you also think that this time of the year with its chilly days, long dark evenings, and plenty of new TV is perfect for knitting? If so, maybe you want to knit some Christmas stockings or a new hat.

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If you’ve been following along for a while, you may remember the big sweater project I’ve been working on. A quick recap : my friend had a sweater that she loved, but had been worn a lot and was slightly felted from washing. She asked me to knit another sweater just like the first, but slightly longer. In the first post I introduced the project and share my process swatches as I figured out the stitch patterns, then I wrote about finding the right yarn for the job, and in February I shared an update and the detailed stitch patterns. The project took a minor hiatus when we moved and had a baby, and finally, when things settled down this summer and fall, I finished the sweater! I wouldn’t let myself work on any other knitting projects until this was done, so there was major motivation to move it along :-).

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In addition to sharing photos of the finished sweater, today I wanted to talk about constructing the yoke (the area of the sweater around the shoulders, across the chest and back, and up to the neck).

If you’re new(ish) to sweater knitting, let me start by explaining that there are a variety of ways to construct a sweater. Broadly speaking, some sweaters are knit flat and others in the round. When knitting flat, you will knit one piece for the front, one for the back, and one for each sleeve. Those pieces are then sewn together, creating seams up the sides of the body, along the sleeves, and then between the sleeves and body. Sweaters knit in the round are almost completely seamless, except for minor seams in the armpits, and you can start from either the top and work your way down or from the bottom and work your way up.

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Project Sweater : Update II

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This is the third post in a series where I’m slowly taking you on the adventure* of figuring out how to recreate the sweater above. The original sweater belongs to a friend and has been well-loved and well-worn for at least a decade or so. Over that time, it also became slightly felted. I’m knitting a new sweater to be exactly like the old in every way except length – the new one will be a touch longer (one diamond cable’s length).

In the first post, I introduced you to the sweater, it’s three cable patterns, two yarn options, and two swatches using those yarns. Both of those swatches were too small to match the original sweater, but I was able to work out the stitch patterns. By the second post, I had found a yarn and needle combination that produced a swatch that was the perfect match to the sweater! I also discussed blocking in that post.

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Today I’m back to share a minor update ~ mainly that actual sweater knitting has commenced, and I’m about halfway done with the body of the sweater!

I also wanted to share my initial pattern notes for each of the cables. I often see a cable stitch that I’d like to incorporate into my own projects, but if it’s part of another pattern then I either have to buy the pattern of figure it out through trial and error. Of course, sometimes I get lucky and will find exactly what I’m looking for in a stitch guide, but even that takes a bit of hunting. Each of these distinct cable patterns can be incorporated into any variety of projects, from hats and sweaters, to throw pillows and afghans.

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The notes are written as if you’re knitting in the round and moving along each row from right to left, which is often the case for a sweater. If you need any help translating them to a flat piece of knitting, please let me know!

Cable 1

Worked over 7 stitches and 4 rows.

  • Row 1 : purl 2, knit 3, purl 2
  • Row 2 : purl 2, pass the third stitch on the left needle over the two stitches before it, knit 1, yarn over, knit 1, purl two
  • Rows 3 & 4 : purl 2, knit 3, purl 2

Cable 2

Worked over 14 stitches and 22 rows.

  • Row 1 : knit all stitches
  • Row 2 : knit 1, purl 5, c1b, purl 5, knit 1
  • Row 3 : knit all stitches
  • Row 4 : knit 1, purl 4, c1r, c1l, purl 4, knit 1
  • Row 5 : knit 6, purl 2, knit 6
  • Row 6 : knit 1, purl 3, c1r, purl 2, c1l, purl 3, knit 1
  • Row 7 : knit 5, purl 4, knit 5
  • Row 8 : knit 1, purl 2, c1r, purl 4, c1l, purl 2, knit 1
  • Row 9 : knit 4, purl 6, knit 4
  • Row 10 : knit 1, purl 1, c1r, purl 6, c1l, purl 1, knit 1
  • Row 11 : knit 3, purl 8, knit 3
  • Row 12 : knit 1, c1r, purl 8, c1l, knit 1
  • Row 13 : knit 2, purl 10, knit 2
  • Row 14 : knit 1, c1l, purl 8, c1r, knit 1
  • Row 15 : knit 3, purl 8, knit 3
  • Row 16 : knit 1, purl 1, c1l, purl 6, c1r, purl 1, knit 1
  • Row 17 : knit 4, purl 6, knit 4
  • Row 18 : knit 1, purl 2, c1l, purl 4, c1r, purl 2, knit 1
  • Row 19 : knit 5, purl 4, knit 5
  • Row 20 : knit 1, purl 3, c1l, purl 2, cir, purl 3, knit 1
  • Row 21 : knit 6, purl 2, knit 6
  • Row 22 : knit 1, purl 4, c1l, c1r, purl 4, knit 1

Cable Abbreviations:

  • c1b ~ place next stitch on cable needle and hold to the back, knit 1 next stitch from left needle, knit the stitch on the cable needle
  • c1r ~ place next stitch on the cable needle and hold to back, knit next stitch from left needle, purl the stitch on the cable needle
  • c1l ~ place next stitch on the cable needle and hold to front, purl next stitch on left needle, knit the stitch on the cable needle


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 Bobbles!

The pattern below is for four bobbles, two worked in one row and two worked in a second row, with the bobbles alternating in a vertical pattern. The four bobbles are worked over a multiple of 10 stitches 4 rows. I like this bobble pattern because they lay flatter and don’t seem to eat up as much yarn as some of the more traditional bobbles.

  • Cast on 3 stitches.
  • Set-up row. Knit 1, k1fb into next two stitches, knit 1, k1fb into next two stitches, for a total of 10 stitches.
  • Row 1 : (k1,p1,k1,p1) into the first stitch, k4tog through the back of their loops, (k1,p1,k1,p1) into the next stitch, k4tog through the back of their loops
  • Row 2 : purl all stitches
  • Row 3 : k4tog through the back of their loops, (k1,p1,k1,p1) into the next stitch, k4tog through the back of their loops, (k1,p1,k1,p1) into the next stitch
  • Row 4 : purl all stitches
  • Repeat rows 1 – 4

*Go ahead, you can laugh at my use of the word adventure to describe this series, and if you do, know that I won’t be inviting you over for knit night ;-).

 

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Weekend Project : Knit a Stocking (or three!)

Ok, maybe three’s a stretch, but we’re all a bit crazy at this time of year. This is the first year we’re celebrating Christmas morning as our own little family of three, and we didn’t have stockings. Knowing that, my original plan was to do something fun and easy. Maybe buy a couple pair of festive knee high socks or some cozy looking wool men’s socks and use those for this year. But a month or so ago I ran across some bulky yarn, decided it was perfect for stockings and worth just testing the waters.

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It’s easy to fall down the knitting hole, but with so many other balls in the air, I didn’t want this project to consume me. So I picked up two skeins of yarn (one red and one white) and wanted to see how long it would take to knit a single stocking and how far the two skeins would go. When I knit that first stocking in a weekend using only those two skeins, it was a no-brainer to knit the other two!

If you have ever knit a sock before, this is a project that you can easily finish in a weekend. If you’ve never knit a sock before, then this project may take you a little bit longer, but knitting big is such a great way to learn some new sock-knitting skills, and I include links to some of my favorite resources in this post. Plus, a common problem for a first time sock knitter is finishing that second sock and/or getting it to match the first; you won’t have that problem here!

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Whenever I hear “knit stocking” the one thing I worry about is how dense the stitches are. If you have a loosely knit stocking, then as soon as it’s filled with treats, the stocking will stretch and you’ll get that holey look between the stitches. I wanted to avoid that, and one of the easiest ways to do it is to knit with a bulky yarn on needles that are a few sizes smaller than what you would normally use. That’s exactly what I did here, and it produced a nice dense fabric that doesn’t stretch out of shape too much when filled.

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Resources

  • Cast on. Turkish Cast On
  • Increasing. M1L and M1R
  • Short Row Heel : basic instructions or a video with a method for eliminating the little holes that are common at the start and finish of the heel. This heel is really easy to make, and the holes are so (soooo) minor, so I don’t want that to deter you. I have my own way of dealing with them by picking up extra stitches and then decreasing them later, but since you’re knitting a simple stocking that won’t be worn, you could easily just use some extra yarn to stitch the hole closed – if you even get them!
  • I cord bind off. You will have to use the cable cast on before starting the I cord bind off.

Materials

  • Yarn : Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in fleece (white) and claret (red)
  • Needles : US 10, you will need either one long circular for the magic loop method or a set of double pointed

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Instructions

You will be knitting these stockings from the toe up to the cuff. I’m going to give you a set of generic instructions that can be used to knit any stocking of this size, and then I’ll give you the details for the specific patterns you see in the photographs. I’ll assume that your stitches are split evenly between two needles (i.e. that you’re using the magic loop method).

  • Cast-on. use the Turkish method to cast-on 20 stitches (ten on each needle). Fortunately, these instructions show you how to do the Turkish cast-on with exactly that number of stitches, so you can follow it step by step.
  • Begin Knitting. When I start a sock, I like to knit one and a half rounds before starting my increase rows (I always think that knitting across the first needle creates a single row for the tip of the toe, and then knitting a complete round creates my first official round – I may be crazy).
  • Start the increase rows (this comprises the toe area of the sock). Round 1 (increase round) : k1, M1L, knit to the last stitch on the first half of the stocking, M1R, k1. Repeat over the stitches on the other half of the stocking. Four stitches added. Round 2 : knit all stitches.
  • Continue repeating rounds 1 and 2 until you have 44 stitches on your needle.
  • Knit the foot. Knit straight for 27 rows.
  • Knit the heel. Use the short row method to knit the heel. You will work the heel over the 22 stitches that are on one half of your sock. When making the stockings, I wrapped 7 stitches on each side of the heel, leaving 8 unwrapped in the middle.
  • Knit the leg. Once your heel is finished, knit the leg of the stocking for 53 rows.
  • Bind off using the i cord method. This is a great technique for binding off the stockings because it creates a strong final row that will not stretch out over time (unlike a ribbed cuff) and as you’ll see, it also seamlessly morphs into a loop for hanging your stocking. The only problem is that you may not be able to really stretch the cuff if you want to sneak an over-sized present in the stocking! The other problem that arises is that the loop for hanging your stocking will be placed where ever you start the i cord bind off. Thus far we have been knitting the stocking in the round starting from one side of the sock; you don’t want your loop on the side, but on the back of the stocking. Before beginning the i cord bind off, knit 11 stitches so that you are now positioned at the center back of the stocking. You will work the i cord bind off over three stitches, just like these instructions (lucky you!).  Once you come to the end of the cuff, don’t cast off the three i cord stitches, rather continue knitting an i cord for 21 more rows.
  • Finish your stocking. Sew the live stitches of your i cord to the start of the i cord row ~ creating a seamless-looking i cord band with a loop in the back. Weave in all loose ends. Hang your stocking and cross your fingers that it doesn’t get filled with coal!

Santa’s Sock Stocking Detail

  • Knit the toe. Use the basic instructions from above, casting on with the white yarn and using it to knit the toe area.
  • Knit the 27 rows of the foot in red.
  • Switch to the white yarn and knit the heel.
  • Knit 40 rows of the leg in red.
  • Switch to the white yarn and knit 11 rows in seed stitch.
  • Knit one complete round plus 11 stitches to position the start of the i cord at the back of the stocking. Finish with the i cord bind off.

Striped Stocking Detail

  • Knit the toe. Use the basic instructions from above, casting on with the red yarn and using it to knit the toe area.
  • Begin the stripes. Switch to the white yarn, but don’t cut the end of the red yarn (you can carry both colors up the length of the stocking, drastically reducing the number of loose ends that you’ll have to weave in). Knit five rows in white. Knit five rows in red. Repeat this pattern for 25 rows (ending with five white rows and just before starting a red row). Knit two rows in red.
  • The heel area. I like to work the heel in the middle of a stripe so that there aren’t any funny color switches immediately before or after the heel. Continuing to use the red yarn, knit the heel. Once the heel is complete, knit three more rows with the red yarn. When looking from the front/top of the stocking you should see the five red rows of the stripe pattern.
  • Knit the leg. You are now at the start of a white stripe. Continue working the five row stripe pattern for 50 more rows.
  • You are now at the top of the stocking. Knit 11 more stitches to position the start of the i cord at the back of the stocking and continue using the red yarn for the i cord bind off.

Snowflake Stocking Detail

  • Knit the toe. Use the basic instructions from above, casting on with the white yarn and using it to knit the toe area.
  • Knit the 27 rows of the foot in red.
  • Switch to the white yarn and knit the heel.
  • Knit the 52 rows of the leg in red (not the 53 listed above!).
  • Switch to the white yarn. Knit one round plus 11 stitches to position the start of the i cord at the back of the stocking. Work the i cord bind off.
  • Finish the stocking by embroidering a snowflake design into the side of your stocking. I make a very simple design using a backstitch. I decided to embroider the snowflake because I wanted it to have six points (like in nature), but it’s hard to find and/or to design a knit snowflake pattern with points rather than eight. As for other embroidered embellishments, the skies the limit! I added a line of running stitch around the toe and heel areas. You could add number of snowflakes, varying their size and shape.

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If you knit a stocking, we would love to see it! Leave us a comment below or tag us on instagram @liveseasoned. Happy knitting or happy rushing around buying those last minute presents ~ either way, we hope you have a great weekend!


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Elving : Part 1

Ok, after I hit publish on this post, my attention will turn back to Thanksgiving (at least until Thursday!), but today we thought it would be fun to jump ahead and give you a sneak peek of the Christmas crafting that’s begun in our house. Somewhere along the way, Calder and I started referring to this as “elving” ~ sneaking away to my craft room to either work on Christmas presents or decorations. Today is labeled “Part 1” because I’m sure this will be the first of many elving posts from the Seasoned sisters!

On Friday, I shared a picture of one of the Alex-friendly ornaments for the tree. Along with the filled balls, I’m also sewing a few simple felt ornaments. I have to admit that I really leaned on Pinterest for ideas this year, getting my inspiration for the ornaments from photos I saw while browsing pins and then just putting my own spin on them.

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Another Pinterest-inspired project is going to come from the white trees and ribbon of moss in the photo below. This little project surprise is something that’s so simple, and I’ve wanted to make it for years. So I may be a little too excited that it’s finally happening.

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Then, there’s my impulse buy of yarn last weekend that is turning into some fun red and white stockings for our house. I saw the yarn in Michaels, and knew it was bulky enough to knit up quickly, but I didn’t want to commit to knitting the stockings if it turned out to take longer than I expected (there are too many other little elving balls in the air to add a big unexpected knitting one!). I picked up two skeins, and they made one cute stocking. When I went back to the store for more yarn, I discovered that the white was out of stock in most stores and online (it’s a holiday made-for-tv tragedy in the making!). After calling a few more stores, I found some in stock and bought enough of both colors to make the remaining two stockings for this year and to add another to our mantel for next year… maybe I went a bit overboard and bought enough to knit stockings for every possible future family member, including future pets.

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I’ve mentioned our local apothecary a few times. I love that place, and it’s quickly becoming my number one elving resource this year. I stopped in this week to pick up oils, herbs, and other ingredients to make a few different gifts for giving. These are my top secret projects that I’ll be so excited to share come January when the gifts are all finally opened.

liveseasoned_fall2014_xmas_crafts1_wm So that’s just a snippet of what’s going on around here. What doesn’t come through in this post is that I may have already started playing my Pandora Christmas station and downing glasses of eggnog nonstop whenever crafting… I promised myself that I would hold off until Thanksgiving, but the mood struck when the elving started.

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Project Sweater : Update 1

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A little over a month ago I introduced you to my big fall sweater project. At that point, I introduced you to the sweater’s main stitches and showed you my first two swatches. Neither swatch was spot-on, as both reproduced the stitch pattern at a smaller scale than the sweater. I was able to decide that I liked the bulkier second yarn better than the worsted weight first yarn, so my plan was to make at least one more swatch (and maybe more) with the second yarn using larger needles. In this post, I’m going to share the rest of my swatching and final yarn selection.

I began by adding a third swatch to the initial two using the Knit Picks bulky yarn (the same used for Swatch #2) and US size 11 needles. Below I listed the yarn and needle combinations for the first three swatches. After finishing the swatches, they had to be blocked.

  • Swatch #1 : Yarn: Cascade Eco ~~~ Needles: US9
  • Swatch #2 : Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes ~~~ Needles: US10.5
  • Swatch #3 : Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes ~~~ Needles: US11

Blocking Wool

Whenever knitting with wool and other natural fibers, the last step of your project or swatch should always be to block it. Blocking wool helps to relax the stitches into their final formation, it will even out the stitches within their rows and columns, making a swatch more square. Additionally, blocking may be used to adjust the size and fit of a finished garment (to some extent you can make something a touch bigger if needed such as adding length to sleeves or adding curves to a sweater if to fit more appropriately around your bust or hips without using darts).

There are a number of different ways to block your fibers, but I’m partial to the wet method. In this case I soaked the swatches in a lukewarm bath for 15 minutes. Removed them from the bath and gently squeezed out as much excess water as I could before laying them out in their final dimensions to dry. When I placed these pieces on a yoga mat for drying. I wasn’t interested in increasing their size, I was just interested in staying as true to their natural size as possible, so I tried not to stretch them at all, just to lay them down keeping the stitch rows and columns even. Once in their final place, I added a few straight pins around the edges to keep the swatches from shrinking for morphing as they dried.

In the photos above, you can see the difference between the unblocked (right) and blocked (left) swatches. Notice that the blocked swatches have a neater shape with straighter edges… except for swatch #3, where I tried something slightly different to start the bobble section and it ended up backfiring by adding too many stitches to that section.

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The photo above shows the blocked swatch #3 laying on top of the sweater. You can see that it’s a spot-on match for the sweater’s pattern gauge. Exciting! My one concern was that with the larger needle, the stitches were starting to look slightly too loose for my liking. What would this mean for the final sweater? When it’s being worn, the stitches that are carrying a lot of the weight, such as the ones over your shoulder, would look really stretched out and you would be able to see through them.

One way to fix this would be to find yet another thicker yarn (this is why I switched yarns between Swatch #1 and #2). But I really liked the feel and shade of this wool, and I was concerned that that search could lead to many dead ends (and unsuccessful swatches) before I found another contender. So, I decided to go in another direction: hold a smaller gauge yarn together with the bulky weight, increasing the thickness of the yarn being stitched. So it was time to swatch again.

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For this swatch I simplified things and just tested the ribbing, bobbles, stockinette stitch, and garter stitch. I started by holding the bulky yarn with a worsted weight yarn and then switched to a fingering weight yarn halfway up the swatch. The worsted-bulky combination was too thick, but the fingering-bulky combo was just right!

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In the photo below, I placed Swatch #3 and #4 over the sweater. You can see that the gauge is still great – matching the sweater. I “fixed” the bobble problem by going back to my methods from Swatch #2 (specific stitch details will come in a future post).

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Below is a final closeup of the two swatches, with Swatch #3 on top and #4 on the bottom (fingering-bulk yarn combo showing). In that photo it’s obvious that there isn’t as much empty space between the stitches, rather they are producing a nice fabric. So, that’s my final solution – to knit the sweater holding the Knit Picks bulky yarn with a fingering weight yarn on size US 11 needles. I’ve ordered the yarn and my next post will be an actual sweater-knitting update!

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Little A’s New Winter Hat

Two months ago I shared some of the projects sitting in my knitting basket. Since then there’s been a bit of progress made on almost everything in that post. The socks have doubled in length. I’ve repaired a few of the moth-eaten hats (going to share some of that soon!). I gave you a detailed update about the sweater and am working on a second post in that series. Today, I’m sharing the pattern for Alex’s little hat, which doesn’t look anything like it did in the previous post. All in all not bad work considering those long winter knitting and TV evenings are just getting started!

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I tried Alex’s hat on his big head before the last post, and thought it was a bit snug, but didn’t want to admit it to myself. Trying it on him again last week, which involved wrestling that little 18 month old to the ground for a tickle-fest, confirmed my worries that he would quickly outgrow it. Over the weekend I finally ripped out the original hat and started again. A small sacrifice for that little cutie.

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In the process I scrapped the tire track pattern for something that was more detailed, would cover the whole hat, and that included at least one traditional motif.  This hat is knit from the bottom up, and I developed the patterns as I went, completing one row of color before thinking about what to do next. A quick Google image search for “fair isle knitting” turned up this sample (shown below) and I decided to use the bottom snowflake for the lowest band on Alex’s hat. I knew I wanted to incorporate a heart somewhere (because how many more years do I have to knit hearts into his clothes), so why not a whole band of hearts? Then I finished the top with a red circle to keep the color repeats going.

Fair-Isle-Knitting-Design-Idea

I’m sharing the pattern here for the exact hat that I knit. I haven’t put any work into up- or downsizing this pattern, but I do think that it would be a fun experiment to knit it with bright chunky yarn and big needles to create an adult-sized hat (just a different version of the simple fair isle hat I knit for our sister Kristin a few Christmases ago).

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Pattern

Yarn : Malabrigo worsted in two colors, I will refer to the color that you use for the patterns as the contrast color

Needles : US 7, 4.5 mm

Pattern Chart : Charts are  below, but you can also download a PDF of the charts by clicking here.

  • Using your contrast color cast on 96 stitches. Use your preferred stretchy cast-on method (I like the long-tail method).
  • Row 1: Begin a K2 P2 rib using the contrast color.
  • Rows 2-9: Switch to your primary color and continue the K2 P2 ribbing for 8 more rounds.
  • Rows 10-15 : Using the primary color, knit in stockinette for 5 rounds (knit all stitches).
  • Rows 16-29 : Snowflake pattern. Repeat Chart 1 six times around each row (you should read the chart from right to left and bottom to top, with the dark squares representing stitches knit with the contrast yarn).
  • Rows 30-35 : Using the primary color, knit in stockinette for 5 rounds.
  • Rows  36-43 : Heart pattern. Repeat Chart 2 six times around each row.
  • Rows 44-51 : Using the primary color, knit in stockinette.
  • Row 52 : Decrease row. *K2 K2tog*, repeat ** for the entire row. 72 stitches remaining.
  • Row 53 : Knit all stitches.
  • Row 54 : Switch to the contrast color. Knit all stitches.
  • Row 55 : Decrease row. *K1 K2tog*, repeat ** for the entire row. 48 stitches remaining.
  • Row 56 : Knit all stitches.
  • Rows 57 & 58 : Decrease rows. *K2tog*, repeat ** for both rows. 12 stitches remain.
  • Finish off the hat by cutting your working yarn, weaving it through the active loops, tightening and weaving in all ends.

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 All in all it’s a super simple hat that will keep any Colorado kid’s head warm with its double layering of yarn from the fair isle knitting. I love it, but I think if I were to knit another one, I might add more little color flourishes between the rows of pattern. Who knows. I do know that I still have yarn left on both of these balls – possibly enough to knit a baby hat for Little A’s little bro!

 

 

 

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My Big Sweater Project

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As I mentioned in this post, I have a growing uncontrollable pile of knitting projects going on. One of those is this sweater project. This is a friend’s sweater that she’s worn and loved for many years (I don’t remember how many, but she bought it at Pier One when they still imported and sold clothes!).

I’m not sure if you can tell in these photos, but the sweater is well-worn and has been slightly felted. She asked me to re-knit the sweater and add some length (about 4 inches or so). Rather than work on the whole project behind the scenes and share the finished sweater, I thought it would be fun to turn this into a series and share the process. Today I’m going to talk about my first two steps, which I try to conquer at the same time: 1. choosing the appropriate yarn and 2. working out the stitch pattern.

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The Stitch Pattern

I start by just looking at the sweater and identifying simple stitches and bigger blocks. If you look at the first picture in this post, you’ll see that the areas on the sides of the sweater and the underside of the arms are garter stitch (the most basic knitting stitch). The cuffs and sweater bottom are knit 1 purl 1 ribbing. The bigger blocks are identified in the photo above: Cable #1, Cable #2, and the bobbles. The next trick is figuring out exactly (or approximately) how those blocks of stitches are made.

Cable #1. I work from right to left because that’s how the rows are knit. Cable #1 is relatively simple to figure out because it’s so small, worked across just 3 stitches. The area where it narrows is typically a point where the cabling actually occurs (where we would change the order of one or more stitches moving them in front of or behind others). In this case, that doesn’t happen, and at the same time you will make the small eyehole that’s in the cable! It was a fun puzzle to work this one out, but I’ll save the exact pattern for a future post. 

Cable #2. If you’ve ever knit a simple cable pattern before, Cable #2 should look relatively easy. There are two stockinette stitches that are forming the diamonds: moving out from the middle to the sides and then back in again. Inside the diamonds is a stockinette stitch and outside the diamonds is garter stitch. 

Bobbles! The bobbles were definitely the hardest stitch to work out (as you’ll see below in Swatch #1). I was able to figure out the cable stitches within a few attempts, but the bobbles took a lot longer. I began by looking at a few stitch guides online and knitting the bobble patterns. It took a long while to find a bobble that wasn’t too big or too small and with a spacing between bobbles that matched the original sweater. 

Choosing the Yarn

The easiest way to narrow your choices is decide what type of fiber you want. In this case we wanted to go with a wool again, then comes narrowing in on weight. I knew that this sweater was knit with a bulkier yarn, but the lines between yarn weights can be fuzzy. I started with a yarn that I used before and loved, Cascade Eco. Eco is a softer wool, and the Ecru color was a fairly good color match. As you can see, it’s considered a bulky wool on the Cascade site, but it’s really on the thinner side of bulky. The second yarn I tested was Knit Picks Bare Wool of the Andes. A slightly thicker bulky weight yarn and again a good (even better) color match but not as soft to the touch.

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Swatch #1

Yarn: Cascade Eco ~~~ Needles: US9

This is the swatch where I worked out most of my stitch confusion, particularly the bobbles as you can see in the left panel. As mentioned above, the cables were easy, but the bobbles are a mess. I finally worked things out in the last few rows at the top of the swatch. You can also see that I made a mistake in Cable #2, using stockinette rather than garter on the top half of the diamonds. It’s good to see where you make those absent-minded mistakes in the swatches, so that you know where to be extra careful while knitting the sweater.

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Swatch #2

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes ~~~ Needles: US10.5

With the stitches worked out, this swatch was more about testing the second yarn and double-checking my notes to confirm the patterns.

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Putting both swatches on the sweater, a few things are apparent. The gauge (the size of the swatch over a standard number of stitches or pattern) of the first swatch is definitely too small for this sweater. The gauge for the second swatch is slightly better, but still looks to be on the small side, but the stitch patterns look like a perfect match!

What’s next?

It’s time to test the second yarn in a few more ways. First, before ruling out a swatch that is close to the final object, I’ll block it (more on this in the next post). If it seems slightly too small after blocking, then I’ll move up a needle size and see how that works. There’s a risk that it could make the knitting look too loose, but in this case the original sweater looks to have a more loose weave so that might be the ticket.

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