Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Works In Progress

There's something about finishing a knitting project. No matter the scale, simple or complicated, it spurs a sense of accomplishment when you hold that completed project in your hands. With the untidy loose ends finally tucked away, the hours of knitting seem totally worth it.

It's such a great feeling, I just wish it wasn't quite so elusive. It probably wouldn't be so hard to finish one project, if it was the only thing I was working on. Yes, I have been guilty of starting new projects before completing the ones I've already got going. And while it's inconvenient to have needles tied up in a partially knit work, I find the pictures of my works in progress on my Ravelry page even more maddening. The row of unfinished pictures on my project page recently drove me to set a goal for myself: Finish my Works in Progress or WIP's before 2011 is over!!

The list of projects I had left in knitting limbo included the monstrous undertaking of recreating the Ron Weasley Blanket as well as a half-completed newsboy hat, an argyle sweater for the dog which was perhaps only ten percent complete and a disastrous attempt at a bikini. Frogging these projects was not an option, I'm a little type A and it just seemed weak to rip them out and remove them from my list of projects I aimed to complete.

The biggest project was my blanket and I'm pleased to say not only did I finally finish it, but I typed up the pattern as well and posted it on Ravelry. I was convinced that I was the only person who would want to recreate the blanket as exactly as possible. Boy was I shocked by how many people responded to it. All the compliments were extremely flattering and I hope that anyone who decides to make the blanket finds the instructions easy to follow.

With my Weasley blanket complete, I turned to a hat I had begun probably two years ago. I'd started it and realized I didn't have even enough yarn to get passed the band at the bottom. I had bought a new skein of yarn at the time to finish it but had never gone back to it. The needles I'd been using were needed in some other project and I'd stolen the circulars, leaving the half completed work with the needles removed, stitches unraveling. Beginning a project without any idea where I'd stopped in the pattern was hardly ideal and I wanted to kick myself! Needless to say, after a bit of patience and a fair bit of cursing, I managed to get the work back to a stage at which I could begin following the pattern again. The hat ended up pretty cute, now I just wish I had a brown coat to wear it with... 

With the hat under my belt, I turned to a sweater I had dreamt up for the dog to use up a couple of yarns left over from squares I had made for my Weasley blanket. I thought an argyle pattern for a sweater would be cute. Turns out, argyle is a bit of a pain to not only knit but to increase and decrease within as the pattern for my dog sweaters calls for. Fortunately I have a very small dog and the sweater only took a couple of days to complete. Again, with a little more cursing, I finished it by December and Susie got it as a Christmas present. She's always cold and seemed rather content with her knew attire.

The final WIP, looming over my head was an ill-fated attempt at a bikini. I'm not sure why I thought this pattern was a good idea, but I knitted two triangle pieces and then lost interest when the instructions to connect them became a bit fuzzy. After much debate, I finally turned it into a halter top. Using elastic and under wires I stole from an old bra, I came up with a design that offered some support and didn't look too awkward. The skein of yarn dwindled as I finished the bottom. When it finally ran out, I bound it off and decided that showing a little midriff was better than getting a whole other skein of a yarn color I'm not sure I like anymore. I'm just glad this project can now be filed under "Finished" works.  

My projects page now boasts a list of 33 completed projects, nothing frogged, nothing abandoned. Of course now I've got my eye on the queued list of patterns that I'd like to start. Perhaps 2012 will be the year I clean that list up. :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Potter Pattern Done!

Eighty nine pages later, I have finally come up with a pattern for the Ron Weasley Blanket. I put a tremendous number of photos into it to make it a decent attempt at explaining how to make it and I'm afraid the pattern is quite lengthy.

Here is a link to check out the monstrosity that is The Ron Weasley Blanket Pattern.

I've never written a pattern before so I'm sure it's got errors but I figured I'd have a go at it since no one has come up with a detailed pattern for this popular project yet.

If anyone does decide to use this pattern, I would love to see pictures!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mischief Managed!!

After two years, I'm finally done with the Ron Weasley Blanket! I've been pouring over pictures, hunting through yarn stores and have spent hours doing garter stitch, and it's finally complete! The blanket is as accurate as possible and I'm quite excited by how it has turned out. I've taken a couple photos of the my blanket in the same position as the pictures, I'm quite pleased.

The only thing left to do now is write out the pattern. I don't know that anyone else will be crazy enough to replicate the blanket as seen in the movie but I'll keep working on it. The pattern will be rather lengthy as there are 80 different squares to write instructions for. I'm including reference pictures to show where each sqaure pattern was obtained.

Here are a couple pictures to show my blanket and how it compares to the real thing!




Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm a Potter Freak...

I'm not ashamed to admit a sizable portion of my knitting projects have been Harry Potter related. The first project I ever made and the reason I learned to knit was a Gryffindor house scarf. I followed it up with three more in the appropriate shades to create a complete set of house scarves for myself. I became quite practiced at creating the lengthy garment and I made several more for my mom, cousin and even the dog!

After ten scarves, I was ready for something different...but still Potter related! Through out the movies various knitted items have caught the eye of avid knitters and I was no different. I've since tried my hand at a Gryffindor house sweater, a couple of hats worn by Ginny and Hermione and even a few Gryffindor themed items to match the house scarf. But the most daunting project I undertook was the patchwork blanket seen on Ron Weasley's bed.

The blanket escaped my notice early on, but later captured my attention when I saw it up close while touring the Harry Potter exhibit. The obsession to recreate it started with a simple suggestion from a friend that I should make it. I didn't immediately jump at the thought. The blanket was big with so many colors and patterns! And we weren't even allowed to take pictures. Making Ron's blanket would be a huge undertaking, I wasn't sure I was up to it.

Of course, the seed was already planted that day. I couldn't get the blanket out of my head. I searched online and found a couple of pictures of the blanket. I was done for, there was no turning back...

At first I created a couple of squares using leftover yarn from my then modest stash. After scrutinizing the photos, I started purchasing a skein or two of yarn to replicate the squares I could see. The more I made, the more obsessed I became. I scoured the internet for photos, even taking my own screen caps of the movies in which the blanket made a cameo appearance. Each new angle provided a view of a couple more squares, I wanted my blanket to be as accurate as possible!

Meanwhile, my yarn collection grew with each purchase of a yarn that was "just perfect" for a square I'd figured out. My stash now totals over seventy different yarns and I own multiple shades of every color.

It's been two years since I started the Ron Weasley blanket and I think I've compiled every known photo of the blanket. Having looked at them repeatedly, I think they're burned in my memory. Though not every square was identifiable, I managed to create a master guide in which the majority are not only represented but in the correct arrangement. The corner of the blanket that remained hidden in most shots contains squares with locations that I couldn't accurately identify. The few remaining empty slots were filled with squares I could make with the surplus of yarn remnants I have collected through out this project.

By now I estimate the blanket is nearly eighty percent done. Having finally completed the design for the last elusive corner of the blanket, I am posting this with the intent of documenting the finally stretch of completing this tremendous project.

In the event that any fellow Potter fanatics want to replicate the blanket as exactly as possible, here is a link to all the photos I used to create my blanket design.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Ugly Merry Christmas




A year ago I was faced with an arduous task: design an Ugly Christmas Sweater. No, not just ugly but the ugliest Christmas sweater I could imagine. One so ugly it was guaranteed to win any contest. Well, at the very least, the one my brother was entering during last year's Christmas season.

Fast-forward to now...the sweater competed and won in 2010, don't worry. But it's great success doesn't do justice to the monumental effort it took to design.

Creating it was quite the undertaking. I had sworn to include every holiday figure and icon I could knit. My vision included Santa, Rudolph and Frosty. They were all there along with gingerbread men, evergreen trees, wreaths, presents and candy canes. Jingle bells? There might have been a few. But in my search to create the most obnoxious red and green garment only an old lady could still consider classy, I found I needed to start designing my own knitting charts. There just weren't enough available on the Internet.

That being said, in the event that anyone who's crafty with needles decides to embark on an ugly Christmas sweater adventure in the future, I thought I'd share these.


Couldn't have made these without this very useful website: http://jacquie.typepad.com/Charts/knitChart.htm



This one's not entirely mine. I tweeked a Santa chart I found on Ravelry... The original just looked too sad! The original chart can be found at www.knitting-and.com/knitting/patterns/charts/santaclaus.htm Many thanks to the creator!



Friday, October 28, 2011

I have a problem...

So I have a small collection of yarn. Enough to fill a couple of dresser drawers. Yeah okay, so the dresser is really only filled with yarn, don't judge me! I have a problem and just can't help myself. I keep buying MORE yarn.

But can I really be faulted? I have a vision! When I get a project in my head, I can spend hours strolling through the yarn aisles comparing each color, looking for just the right one. And though I may have five other similar shades at home, if I find one that's just perfect, I NEED it!

But there is one catch... The only thing that can make the purchase of a new yarn sweeter is the price. I'm a coupon queen and my heart beats a little faster every time I get one for 50% off. I don't think I've bought yarn at full price in years.

And having purchased the majority of my stash for half off, paying even slightly more drives me nuts! So when I visited the Jo-Ann Fabrics in town that was closing and saw entire bins of yarn marked down to half-price, resistance was futile. They had the colors I'd drooled over months ago when a blanket to match my living room had come to mind. I knew it was a sign.

Needless to say, 25 dollars later I've got three of the four colors I need for my blanket. And when the new Jo-Anns opens in two weeks, I'll be using my coupons for the grand opening to stock up on the last color.

Casting on...

I still remember the day I learned the knit and the purl. It took endless hours of frustration, tying my needles into hopeless knots, as I learned the motions that would weave a skein of yarn together. With time I learned to keep the tension just right and eventually embarked upon the journey almost every new knitter takes - the scarf. An unchanging width of warmth where the end knit last invariably looks a bit better than the start.

It's been eight years since then and the movements have become fluid, the projects more complex and the yarn collection a bit ridiculous. I've got all sorts of ideas and have come up with a clever design or two of my own. This blog will be a place to share these ideas as well as my knitting misadventures.

Check out my projects:
http://www.ravelry.com/people/penguineer