Sunday, March 27, 2011

Didn’t Mother Nature Get the Memo?

This is what we woke up to. Now, please don’t think I’m whining. Over on the east coast, the weather is far more wintery than we have here. They have my sympathy. This little bit of white stuff is already gone and the rain has taken it’s place. It was just a little surprising to see white again.

About the slippers… I think when I make more, I will have to put leather bottoms on them. The last pair I made John lasted two years, even with wearing them outdoors, so I didn’t expect our slippers to wear out as quickly as they are.

Do you think I can use some leather I have on hand? A number of years (and more than a handful of pounds) ago, I bought a pair of Danier leather pants. One day, they got caught on a store display and tore. The store realized they were partly responsible and offered to pay for having the pants repaired. I was given (and still have) the lower half of that pant leg, beautiful soft black leather. There’s more than enough there to make soles for the slippers, but I wonder if it’s suitable. Any thoughts?

I have been knitting this week. Both the cardis for the girls and the Western Seas sweater have seen some progress, but none is ready for a picture update. With yesterday being Sit & Stitch day, I wanted to start something else and there’s been a small project I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into for quite a while. Friday evening, I cast on!

This is the Mini Mochi Fake Isle hat from Crystal Palace Yarns ( The pattern is written for Mini Mochi, a yarn with long colour changes, similar (I believe) to the colour changes in Noro. Each hat is worked with a single ball of yarn, working from both ends of the ball. I am working it in two different fingering weight yarns, one, as you can see, with long colour changes (Marks & Kattens Fame Trend) and a gray sock yarn. It will be a fairly muted fake isle (as opposed to true fair isle knitting) hat but if I like it, I have more yarn waiting in the wings to make another, more vibrant, hat (which I may do anyway).

One of the nice things about knitting this hat with this yarn is that if I don’t care for the current colour combination, I can just wind off the colour I don’t like until I get to a colour I do like. It’s a simple fair isle pattern, an 8 stitch, 6 row repeat. If, at the end of the knitting, I don’t really care for it, it will go into my box ‘o knitted stuff and will eventually be given away to keep someone else’s ears warm.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holey Slippers, Batman!

We have holes! Does this mean I have to make more slippers? Not that that is a bad thing. They work up quickly and they’re fun to knit. I’m just surprised that we’ve gone through the soles (well, the left soles) so quickly. It hasn’t even been a year!

Maybe this time, I’ll knit something different for myself. Hmm… off to see what’s available “out there”!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ramblings on a Rainy Day

Last week, I reviewed the app, Knit Hat Designer; the following day, I picked up a ball of yarn, a circular needle and, with the app, designed a simple hat for myself. Even using sock yarn (Marks & Kattens Fame Trend) and 3.0 mm needles, this was a really quick knit. I started it Saturday evening and finished it on Sunday. It’s only today that I’ve gotten around to taking pictures of it.

I like it! It’s light but warm, fits easily into my jacket pocket and it’s colourful! There should be two buttons where the brooch is but I haven’t had the time or inclination to dig through my button bag yet.

I think I’ll get a lot of use out of this app. I have quite a few orphan balls of yarn and with a swatch and the app, I can turn a few of those balls of yarn into hats.

This hat was about the only knitting I’ve done this week. Well, that’s not entirely true; I did knit a few rounds on the next Western Seas sweater and a few rows on the turquoise cardigan for Oceanna, but knitting has not come easily this week. I’ve simply been far too restless. John accused me of suffering from spring fever; he could be right. I’m having a difficult time just sitting still!

On the fitness front, I’m still hanging in. With the help of LoseIt!, I’m eating more healthily, I’m getting more exercise, drinking more water and seeing some results. My weight fluctuates, but, after one traumatic day (a gain of 5 lbs in one week???), I know that it took years to get to this point and it will take time to get to where I want to be. That said, I’m already finding that some of my clothes fit better than they have in some time and I’m noticing that I have more energy than I have had in a long time.

I even dusted off the bike this week and went for my first bike ride in a very long time! If I think back, the last time I had a bike was when my daughter was small (I remember because she got her foot caught in the spokes on one bike ride). She’s 31 now.

I cycled around our local sports field (where I usually walk), a 20 minute ride. By the time I got home, my legs felt like rubber! It was fun, though! Even though the weather isn’t the nicest today (a bit of rain, wind and very overcast), I enjoyed getting out.

This week, I also picked up a balance ball and an exercise guide to go along with it. It’s supposed to be good for building your core muscles, which, at my age is probably a good thing. I love just sitting on it while at the computer, too.

Enough about my attempts at fitness! How about a bit of cooking? Well, baking. Over at my cooking blog, I’ll be posting a recipe for some heart-healthy bran muffins that I’ll be baking today. The original recipe came from the hospital my mom was in when she had her bypass surgery. I intend to modify the recipe a little, so do head over to check it out. The link is in the sidebar.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Bit Early, I Know

I’m not Irish. I never will be. However, I couldn’t resist posting this picture; I took it on my Sunday walk.


Click to see full-size image

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all my Irish friends… and those who wish they were!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

App Review

Not a lot of knitting happened around my house this week. It seems that every time I picked up my knitting, John would have something lined up for us to watch on the computer (we no longer have cable and watch TV on our iMac, over the internet). Even though my current knitting is predominantly stocking stitch, the low light makes it difficult to see when I need to so the knitting was put aside.

I do, however, have something knitting-related to share. This week’s post is primarily a review of a new app I downloaded this week.

I came across talk of this app on Ravelry. The app is Knit Hat Designer; on the iTunes page for this app, the description reads:

Knit Hat Designer is a hat pattern design application for all knitters with a basic skill level. Our app was built with the creative knitter in mind. Why continue to buy single use patterns that are designed for a single gauge of yarn? We think that, with a little help from a computer, normal people should be able to design simple hat patterns by themselves. Knit Hat Designer helps you to do exactly that!
How does it work? Knit Hat Designer has simplified the creative process by breaking down a hat pattern into six key traits: Style (the crown or top part of your hat), Ribbing (the finish, or bottom part of the hat), Gauge Height and Width, and Head Height and Circumference. You design your hat by telling Knit Hat Designer what to use for each trait. When you press "Knit", Knit Hat Designer will do a little bit of thinking, and then -- voila! -- it will provide you with a pattern that's ready to knit from!

It isn’t an inexpensive app; the price is $5.99 and that alone could turn people away. However, with the promise of 99 possible hat designs, I can live with the price, especially if you figure that a single pattern can cost anywhere from .99 or more.

(I love my Timmie’s mug!) Above are some screen shots from the app, not necessarily the best pictures, but enough to give you an idea. Basically, you input your information and it puts together a pattern for you. Each style has a photo and when you tap the picture, you’re given different views of the same hat (front, left side, back and right side). Once the pattern is created, you can email it (to yourself or anyone) or you can knit it directly from the information saved in your iPod.

There’s also a “send feedback” option, so you can interact directly with the app designers if necessary. After I’d first downloaded the app, I tried to email a pattern to myself and was immediately kicked from the app. I tried to send feedback and the same thing happened. I posted my disappointment in the Ravelry thread where I’d read about the app and was answered directly by the app designer who suggested that my email had to be set up and working or, failing that, he asked that I contact him directly with information about my device type and IOS version. Once I configured my email, though, the app worked just fine.

I know there are books out there (Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Patterns comes immediately to mind) that are great for anyone wanting to design their own hats, but none of them are as portable as an iPod or iPhone. Price-wise, considering the number of available permutations, I don’t think the price is out of line even though it isn’t a cheap app. All in all, I like this app. I think I’ll get plenty of use out of it, even though I’ve been designing my own hats for a number of years.

The details:

Knit Hat Designer by Jessica Hedrick and her husband Dave

  • Price – $5.99
  • up to 99 possible hat designs
  • sizes from baby to adult large
  • multiple yarn gauges
  • email capability

My humble opinion? Worth it!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Is Winter Finished Yet?

I’m sitting here, with my fingers poised over the keyboard, and nothing… absolutely nothing comes. There! Now that I have the first sentence down, the fingers can start moving.

There has been some knitting this week. For some reason, knitting hasn’t been very high on my priority list, but I did get some done. The backs of the cardis for Trinity and Oceanna are done… well, one’s done, the second is a few rows from being done.

Ethan’s Western Seas sweater has seen some measurable progress, too. I’m really loving the colours in this yarn and it’s knitting up nicely. I think this will be a very nice little sweater indeed!


In case anyone wonders, the cast on I used is the Channel Island cast on, a wonderfully stretchy and very nice looking cast on. If you’re interested in learning more about this cast on, click on the picture and it will take you to a picture tutorial by Jolene Treace. And if you Google “Channel Island  cast on”, there’s also a video tutorial available on YouTube.

There’s been a thought niggling around in my brain all week, a design idea. Last weekend, and the beginning of this past week, was a cold one. We had some snow, it’s been windy, and it’s been just plain cold… for here! I still like my walks, though, and was determined to get a couple of walks in. I had a small problem, though.

I use my iPod Touch as a pedometer (there’s an app for that!). Unfortunately, glove-clad fingers cannot interact with the touch screen and you have to remove your gloves in order to use the screen. When you’re all bundled up and your sleeves are velcro’d snugly at your wrists and you’re holding an iPod trying to pull your gloves off with your teeth, it can be a little inconvenient. That’s where the niggling thought comes in.

I’ve decided I want to make a pair of fingerless gloves that will still keep my fingers as warm as possible. I also wanted to make them a little different. A few years ago, 2003 to be exact, in the winter issue of Interweave Knits, there was an article by Pam Allen featuring four thumb gussets, a basic gusset and three variations. I’ve always intended to try the Palm Gusset in a design and this is the time.

Thinking about these mittens over the last week, I came up with a design for what I think will be a well-used pair of fingerless mittens that will still keep my hands and fingers warm while giving me the access I want. This is what I have so far.



The yarn I’m using is a leftover skein of Cascade 220, 100% wool and I’m using 4.0 mm double pointed needles. I’m making notes as I go along and will publish the pattern once I’m finished, just in case anyone else would like a pair of these.

I have to say, I’m already thinking about the possibilities of using this thumb gusset in other mitten/glove designs (colour work comes to mind... 14 or so stitches of blank canvas! Can’t you see it?) So far, I’m really liking the fit and feel of this thumb design. I may need to do more experimentation!