Cast-On Monday: It’s Been Too Long!

The 5th challenge of The Fiber Factor was all-consuming for me … lots of new techniques to conquer, and leagues of hand-sewing and hand-embroidery to do before I could rest.  My fingers bled, my eyes crossed: my piece was a harsh mistress :). One thing that kept me at my task was knowing that I had not one, not two, but THREE mystery KALs lined up to start right when the project was due. Yippee!  Naturally I started them all as quickly as I could. We shall not mention that I already have the specs (and a bit of bling) for Challenge #6.

First up: the RHK Mystery KAL by Sara Elizabeth Kellner.  RHK stands for Rabbit Hole Knits — Sara designs adorable stuffed toys to knit, and this seemed like a great opportunity to make one.  This MKAL is free — all you have to do is join her forum.  I’m using some left-over Tosh Vintage in Rosewood:

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Next up: the Autumn Mystery KAL by Susanna IC.  Right now the pattern is still $3, but the price will go up as clues are released.  Buy now to get the best price! 🙂  I’m using two skeins of Tosh Sock in Mare and the browner beads:

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Last but not least, the Morticia Halloween KAL 2013 by Boo Knits.  I’ve been dying to do a Boo Knits pattern, and I had this skein of Alfar just begging for a good use.  I’m doing the “two kids of beads” option, making the larger shawl:

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FO Friday: Cranberry Wensleydale

Allow me to present, Miss Cranberry Wensleydale, of the Cheddar Wensleydales!

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Project: Cranberry Wensleydale

Pattern: Wensleydale

Designer: Heather Ordover

Available: a mere $1.50 on Ravelry

Yarn: leftover Tosh Light in Alizarin

Materials: itty bitty safety eyes

I haven’t made a little knit toy just for fun in a long time, but that’s exactly what this was!  Someone suggested I should stuff it with catnip.  They would be mistaken.

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Heather Ordover’s pattern is straight-forward.  After the nose is complete, there is no shaping until the bum.  I opted for the “knit separately, then sew on” version of the ears, and I ended up sewing them on upside down (I think), but they looked cuter that way, at least to me. I also bought and used safety eyes for the first time.  They are SO much better than flat sewn eyes — they look right the first time, and don’t have to be redone a hundred times because the first 99 made the animal look demented.

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Also?  Cranberry Wensleydale is the best cheese.

 

FO Friday: Poodle for Hire

Some time ago, I donated a custom-knit dog to a raffle to benefit a friend (sad details here).  The lucky winner was the family of Zacharia the mini poodle.  Everyone say, “Aw, what a cutie!”

This project turned out to be harder than I initially anticipated.  It was hard to find the right fiber to make the poodle’s fur look right.  I ended up with Bernat Pipsqueak … which was WAY WAY to large a yarn.  So, I un-plied it, and knit with individual strands — this took a lot of time, but it gave me the look I was going for. Eventually.

Project: Poodle for Hire

Pattern: Poodle

Designer: Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir

Available: in Knit Your Own Dog: Easy-to-Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches

Yarn: Bernat Pipsqueak and Swish DK

As I have come to expect from the KYOD series, this toy poodle was constructed in multiple flat pieces, then sewn together. I used Swish DK for the toes and face, and the Pipsqueak every else. I ended up modding the ears and tail, but other than that this was knit as-written. Doing the PULT stitch is Pipsqueak was especially exciting.

I’m not completely happy with how the legs came together with the body, but I think Knit Zacharia is recognizably a poodle … so I am satisfied.

Cast-On Monday: C-ATCH William

On Friday night, I realized I really, really wanted to make my friend Julie an itty bitty knitted Scottie dog from “Knit Your Own Dog.”  Her (real) Scottie, William, was up for a big agility title this weekend.  I cast on late Friday, and after a busy day at agility on Saturday I knit for about 8 hours to finish.  William earned his C-ATCH on Sunday — hooray! — and I was able to give Julie a mini-Scottie to celebrate the accomplishment.  I’ll give more details in another post, but here’s a little preview:

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FO Friday: Toy Gromit

1541 toy Gromit

Introducing …. my very own toy Gromit!  I stayed up (too) late Friday night to finish, even though I had an agility trial the next day (which means rising at ungodly early in order to drive two hours to the trial, arriving there by 7 AM). The satisfaction of leaving this sweet little toy dog completed instead of in parts was well worth the delayed bedtime.

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Pattern: Border Collie

Designer: Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir

Available: in Knit Your Own Dog (available for $8.49 on Amazon)

Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (leftover Cream, Merlot Heather (I think), plus tiny scraps of Semolina, Edamame, and Ash)

As I mentioned in my review of Knit Your Own Dog, the pattern is made up of a billion tiny pieces, all worked flat.  After I seamed and stuffed the first leg, I thought it would be fun to show the bits that go into a toy Border Collie.  Right next to the penny is the left rear leg.  Above the leg, you can the top of the head.  The rest is just a big muddle!

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In this photo, the legs and body are all seamed and stuffed. I used pipe cleaners chenille stems to provide structure for the legs.  (I learned from making some cool amigurumi last year that this is absolutely necessary.) The ears are still waiting to be sewn on, and the original tail is looking awfully big … I ended up chucking it and making a smaller version than called for in the pattern, to better match my dog. I’m very impressed with how the designers achieved a very dog-like shape.  Often knit toys approximate real shapes with blobby shapes and imagination — but this one looks like the real thing!

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For the eyes I pulled apart two strands of Edamame and Semolina, and re-plied some of each into a single strand of greeny-gold yarn to match Gromit’s eye color.  Simple French knots make surprisingly convincing eyes.  I embroidered the nose with satin stitch … I’m still not 100% satisfied, but I have decided to call it done after cutting out the stitches once or twice and starting over. The collar is made out of Ash — again, to match the real Gromit’s awesome collar (a D Dogs Designs original).

1546 toy Gromit

1547 toy Gromit

1545 toy Gromit

FO Friday: Loopy the Sheep

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My friend Donna took some glamor shots of the samples for my Aviator scarves (up for publication through Knit Picks IDP).  She is a professional photographer, specializing in dogs and dog sports, and I suspect she found the (inanimate) knitted items rather not a challenge in comparison.  I had asked her to do the shoot in exchange for “something knitted.” I offered her a choice of the two sample scarves, but she thought they were “too nice.”  Later on, she joked that I should knit her a new dog (her Border Collie is sometimes a bit naughty!), and it occurred to me that I could knit up a little sheep for her!

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Pattern: Loopy the Sheep

Designer: Amanda Berry

Available: for $3.25 on Ravelry

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (about half a ball each of black and white)

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The pattern is easy to read and complete — I found no errors of any kind.  The designer did a great job with photos showing how the pieces go together.  The directions to make the loopy fleece were clear. I did modify the pattern to make almost all the parts in the round instead of flat, because I didn’t want to seam those little hands and feet.  Conversely, I chose not to seam the ears — I liked how the stockinette curled.

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Ravelry Monday

This is my inaugural “Ravelry Monday” post, so let me explain a bit … every Monday, I’ll look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry. Based solely on my own personal opinion, I’ll highlight a few of my favorites, including at least one free pattern and at least one for-pay pattern.  I love novelty, but classic beauty always gets me too.

First pick: “Big Breakfast” by Amanda Berry ($2.95)

I’m a sucker for a cute stuffed food, and this breakfast-gurumi has it all: bacon, eggs, beans, sausage, tomato, and waffle!

Second Pick: “Nine Dwindling Cables” by Yarn Owl (FREE!)

Lovely, three-dimensional cabled tam! Love the color and the design.

Third Pick: “Hearts in Estonia” by Susan Gutperl (€3.50 EUR)

Like so many, I’m addicted to gorgeous lace just like this.