Friday, December 19, 2014

Just a plain old hat

After I finished knitting up the Skull Isle Hat and Hutchin, my oldest boy requested a hat, too. He was very specific in what he wanted, a black hat with a double layered brim to keep his ears warm. I asked him if he wanted stripes, or colors, or cables...but no, just a plain old black hat.

Despite its plainness, the hat was pretty fun and easy to knit up -- the perfect project for multiple episodes of Broadchurch. I think it could easily made into a stripey hat.

In the language of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann, here are my pithy directions for this hat.

A Plain Old Hat:

This particular hat was knit for a 10-year-old boy, who has the same head circumference as my own, a pretty standard 22 inches. If you want to size up or down, change the needle size accordingly.

I used a nice standard worsted weight wool, Cascade 220 (220 yd/3.5 oz)

Size 6 (4 mm) circlular needles with a long cable


Brim - Using a provisional cast-on technique of your choice, cast on 96 stitches onto a circular needle. Begin a 2 x 2 rib in the round using a magic loop technique. (A 2 x 2 rib is just as it sounds, k2 p2, all the way around.) Continue rib for 15 rounds or about 2 inches. Purl next round. Continue in rib for another 15 rounds, or the same amount of rounds you did before the purl round.

Body - Now fold the provisional cast-on edge toward the inside of the hat, so that the purl row now forms the bottom of the hat. On the next round, knit together the stitch that is on the left-hand needle with one provisional stitch from your cast on row. Keep working the provisional stitches into the stitches on the left-hand needle as you knit all the way around until you have completed the round and there are no more provisional stitches. (Count your stitches to make sure that you still have 96!)

Continue knitting in the round until the hat measures about 6.5 inches from the bottom of the brim.

Crown shaping -
Round 1 - *K14, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 2 and every even round - k all stitches
Round 3 - *K13, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 5 - *K12, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 7 - *K11, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 9 - *K10, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 11 - *K9, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 13 - *K8, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 15 - *K7, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round (48 sts)

Round 16 - k
Round 17 - *K6, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 18 - *K5, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 19 - *K4, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 20 - *K3, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 21 - *K2, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 22 - *K1, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 23 - *k2tog, repeat from * to end of round. 6 sts remain.

Cut yarn and thread through the last 6 stitches. I like to go through twice, to make it feel more secure. Weave in the tail and fasten off. There -- you've got yourself a new hat!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goose in the Pond blocks and PDF instructions

Here they are! These are my first two blocks from the instructions I drafted for a 15-inch block. Each block requires not quite 1/4 yard each of a main print and a solid/neutral. I turned the instructions into a PDF for you to download -- just click here.

The top block uses a print from Alison Glass's Handcrafted collection, and the fabric from the bottom block is Priory Square by Katy Jones. The solid is a great go-to neutral, White Linen from Art Gallery's Pure Elements collection. The weights of these fabrics match perfectly.

I'm going to have to put these blocks away for a bit to concentrate on other projects, namely a couple of Super Totes that I've committed to making for upcoming fundraising auctions.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Goose in the Pond

I've been obsessing about this Goose in the Pond block for months now, ever since seeing this quilt a while back.

Here is a schematic for the potential lay-out, although I still have to work out whether to include a border. I have a 15-inch test block cut. It looks like each block will require a fat quarter of a print and a fat quarter of a background/solid fabric. Now on to the fun part, the piecing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Printable Monthly and Weekly Planners for 2015

It's very old fashioned of  me, I know, but I'm a visual person so I like to keep a paper calendar/planner. As I'm keeping track of activities and appointments for three other people in addition to myself, there are certain features I like in a calendar/planner. Each year, I struggle with finding The Perfect Calendar.
So this year, I got proactive and made my own planner! I had so much fun creating these planners, I thought I would share them with you all.  Here are the links to the Monthly Planner and the Weekly Planner for you to download.

The two-page monthly spread is meant to be used in a three-ring binder (or a Circa notebook, as I use). There are 25 pages for the monthly calendar, which should be printed front and back. I also print the weekly planner (with space for daily tasks, meals, shopping list, and errands) front and back, so that I can take the single page with me when I'm out and about.
It's still a work in progress, and I will likely tweak or add features as I go along. If you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to shoot me an email at elvycrafts(at)gmail(dot)com, and let me know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Another Hat: the Hutchin by Brooklyn Tweed

Despite the fingering weight yarn and the cabling, this might be my quickest knit to date! I cast on a couple of weeks ago and finished Friday, a day late for Mr. Elvy's birthday.

I absolutely love this pattern. I am ambivalent about the yarn. The pattern is Hutchin, by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. The cabling looks complicated but was actually quite easy. The pattern diagram was excellent.

The yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Birdbook, knit up beautifully. However, it had a tendency to break easily when pulled. I accidentally sat on the tail once and broke all but an inch off the tail, which made it difficult to weave in at the end. Also, when I was tightening up the hole to finish off the crown, the yarn broke, again leaving me with only an inch with which to work. I had to make an ugly knot to have enough yarn to weave into the hat.

All in all, though, this is my favorite hat to date. Eventually, I'd like to make myself one in cream. That will have to wait, as my 10-year-old has also requested a hat. His request is for a black watchman's type hat. You wouldn't know it, but it's somewhat difficult to find a nice quality yarn in black, but that's my next mission.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A little fall knitting: the Skull Isle Hat

My almost 8-year-old requested this hat in these particular colors. I previously knit the same beanie in black and green for Mr. Elvy in December of 2007. Can you believe it? Seven years later the first hat is still around and well-worn, sometimes by the 8-year-old who was barely a year old then. Mostly it's worn by his dad, which is why the boy had to ask for his own.

This time around, I knit a small with a finished circumference of 20 inches. (I should have knit a medium, as it's almost too small.) The pattern is from Son of a Stitch 'N Bitch by Debbie Stoller and is called Skull Isle Hat, pattern by Chelsea Fowler-Biondolillo. The yarn is from my LYS, Happy Knits, and is a very serviceable (i.e., washable) wool sock yarn, Regia 4-fadig.

The hat isn't perfect; some of the skulls are slightly misshapen. You can see the worst of it in this picture. Figures, shoulda had the kid turn around for a different angle, but it was a miracle he let me take the picture in the first place. Most of the knitting was done on the go. I am finding that as the boys get older and have more activities, several times a week I am left cooling my heels while waiting for them. This particular hat was knitted over several twice-per-week sessions at Academy of Kung Fu. I have Hutchin on the needles right now for Mr. Elvy.

BTW, the scarf was knit by my mom. The boy likes to wear it "cravat" style, as he says.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cherry red with silver racing stripes, the summer shorts model

My 1st grader has a red t-shirt from summer camp that he loves. Like any fashion-forward seven-year-old, he asked for a pair of red shorts to match his red shirt and the red socks he was wearing that day.

I obliged, because it's not often my boys ask me to make them clothing. (I just hope he doesn't follow through with the all-red outfit.)

This is the Kid Shorts (pattern by Made) with the racing stripes option. These shorts are just about the most adorable thing I've made in a long time. I love them. I've got several more planned for both boys, and I threatened to make Mr. Elvy a pair in an adult version.

For a size 7, these shorts required only a half-yard of a wide-ish (maybe 50"?) remnant of red denim from my stash. The bias trim is also from the scrap bin (probably gray kona).

See that t-shirt? It's the Banyan Tee by Figgy's. I made it last summer with left over jersey knit from my scoop top. (YES, we do have matching mom-and-boy tees!) But this t-shirt was such a hurried affair, and I didn't like the way to collar turned out that I didn't even bother to hem the thing.

Here are details of the plain-front option and the back pockets. Seriously cute. Or maybe it's just the boy I find so cute!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quilting With Fourth Graders

This year I am the room parent for my son's 4th grade class, which also meant that I was in charge of coordinating the class art project for the school's annual auction. So this is what a group of very enthusiastic 9- and 10-year-olds created:

We started with a layer cake. This was one I had in my stash, one of Aneela Hooey's early collections called Sherbet Pips. We then took 5-6 squares at a time and cut them into strips of various lengths of 2 to 4 inches. The kids then selected three different prints and sewed them together. It was a great project for novice quilters, as there was no concern about keeping a quarter-inch seam allowance (or sewing a straight seam, for that matter). Most of the kids had never used a sewing machine before, so again, it was a very doable group project.

Each block was trimmed down to 9.5" x 6.5". We used a 5 x 8 setting, so we needed a total of 40 blocks. There were only a few strips of fabric left over at the end, so it was a great project using a layer cake. I then used 3.5" x 6.5" blocks for the sashing in between each block, and then 3.5" strips between each row.  The border also used 3.5" strips. The quilt turned out to be a relatively good-sized quilt, 63" x 75".

For the quilting, I used a longarm quilting pattern called Jade. The pattern reminds me of puffy clouds and flowers, so I thought it would add some nice texture to the white background.

These kids should be proud of their work. I think it turned out pretty spectacular! We've already had a few parents expressing interest, so hopefully the quilt will raise some funds for the school.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

DIY Laundry and Dishwasher Detergent

I have read many different posts and discussion threads about the merits of making your own laundry and dishwasher detergent, that I had to give it a try too. And yes, both detergents really work. In fact, they work really well. I can't say that  have done the math to see if making your own detergents is as cost-effective as people say, but it is kinda fun to make.  And it's satisfying in a way I can't really describe.

After trolling Pinterest, the common ingredients seemed to be borax and washing soda, with variations for laundry versus dishes. Many recipes had you using entire boxes of borax (76 oz.) and washing soda (55 oz.) at once, but I wanted to come up with recipes that I could whip up easily depending on need.  So, here is what I came up with:

LAUNDRY DETERGENT - 2 tablespoons or 1/8 cup per load

1 bar Fels-Naptha soap (grated in the small holes of a cheese grater, or pulsed in a food processor)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups Oxy-Clean (optional)
1-2 cups Downy Unstopables or Purex Crystals (optional)

DISHWASHER DETERGENT - 2 tablespoons or 1/8 cup per load

2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups citric acid
1 cup kosher salt
* use white vinegar as a rinse aid

Be sure to mix well before using, and store your detergents in an air-tight containers. As a last note, many recipes called for using only 1 tablespoon of detergent per load, which I think would work just fine. I only happen to use 2 tablespoons, because I have extra 1/8 cup measuring scoops handy.