Easy Cozy Ear Warmer / Headband

Sometimes you don’t need a whole hat, just something to cover your ears.

purple-bandHere is an extremely easy pattern that goes quickly and is a great stash buster. Unstretched it measures 18” around and 3.5” wide. It easily stretches to 6” wide when worn. It requires about 75 yards of medium weight yarn.

 

 

 

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The picture above shows the difference between switching colors between two knit rows and switching colors between purl rows.

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Separate Pieces Before Assembly

Here is what the two separate pieces look like before assembly.

I made three bands, all the same except for color. The gray one got snatched up before I could get a picture of all three together. The other two will be for sale in my Etsy store GoodForGoodnessSake. So if you are too busy to knit them yourself you can buy them there. Remember, all the profits from the store are donated to veteran’s causes.

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This is one of the early prototypes. I knit it and asked several people to try it on. The consensus was that it was too narrow and too loose. So I decreased the number of stitches to 65 and added another 6 rows. Again, I asked several people to try it on and they liked it so this is the pattern I have settled on.

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Spoiler alert: Here is a preview of the new style of bands I am working on. Stay tuned for new ideas!

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

 

Cozy Cowl Hood

While shopping in Portland OR a few years ago, I saw a knit cowl hood in an outdoor store. It could be worn loosely around the neck like a scarf (one that doesn’t fall off) or could be raised and worn like hood.

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After a few experimental attempts, I came up with this pattern. It is one of the most requested items I make. I think I have made about a dozen so far.

It is easy, but takes a while, so leave yourself enough time if you are making one as a gift. There are 10,912 stitches. You will need about 350 yards of medium weight yarn. I really like Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash 100% wool. But I have made it with lots of other yarns as well. Some of the new ombre yarns are pretty.

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These are some leftovers of the Superwash colors I have used.

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I hope you enjoy the pattern. As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

Shuttlecraft to Enterprise

I have always been a Star Trek fan. I watched the original series as it aired. In those days, you actually had to watch TV shows when they were on, there was no way to record them. If you missed them, you missed them until they showed up in reruns. We had a tree house that we named the Enterprise. In our imagination, anything from pinecones to rocks to tomatoes could be a photon torpedo and be chucked from our high perch onto the Klingons below.

In 1992 we were looking for a new ornament for the Christmas tree at the Hallmark store, something we did each year. There I spotted the Shuttlecraft Galileo. It had lights front and back and plugged into tree lights after removing one bulb. Apparently, the first ornament in the series, the Starship Enterprise, had come out the year before in 1991 and the Shuttlecraft was the second. There has been a new Star Trek ornament each year and they are among Hallmark’s best sellers.

I was delighted to find that when you pushed a button on the bottom, Commander Spock spoke. “Shuttlecraft to Enterprise, shuttlecraft to Enterprise. Spock here. Happy holidays. Live long and prosper”.

 

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Old Shuttlecraft Ornament 1992

As my daughters got older, they also looked forward to hanging the craft each year and hearing Spock’s holiday wishes. I was saddened by Leonard Nimoy’s passing last year. And this year, the ornament seemed to have died, too. One light wouldn’t work and saddest of all, the voice was barely a whisper. If the room were quiet, and I sat very close, I could barely hear it. I was sad, about the ornament and about the actor.

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New Ornament

The girls were also sad. Maybe because they knew I was. But those little darlings found me a new ornament on EBay. I was so surprised and delighted. They explained that may were for sale, but only a few actually still worked.

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I even have a box now! I was surprised to learn that original price was $24.  It seems odd to me that I would have paid that much since I am rather frugal by nature. I guess I really wanted it.

This week I am enjoying the new ornament on so many levels. I love hearing Spock’s voice. I enjoy reliving the wonderful times we had playing Star Trek. And most of all, I am so touched by the thoughtfulness of my daughters.

Snowy Day Hat

It has been unusually cold and snowy for December. Although the bad weather makes it difficult to get around, the snow is beautiful.

I was inspired to design a new hat, actually two new hats. The wide white brim reminds me of the beautiful snow drifts and the white color strand stitches represent the falling snow. I chose colors that reminded me of the winter sky.

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The brims of the two hats are a little different, but both are wide, soft, and white.

The photos do not do the hats justice. The foam heads are not as big as real heads so the hats look looser than they really are. I guess I will have to work on my photography.

I hope you enjoy them. If you want to make your own snowy day hat, I am sharing the patterns here. I swear one of these days I am going to go through my posts and retype the instructions in a more conventional format. But for now, I think these instructions will do.

If you like them, but don’t want to make them, you can buy them at my Etsy store: GoodForGoodnessSake. Remember, all the money raised at the Etsy store is donated to veterans charities.

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Etsy Store Reboot

 

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Last year I started an Etsy store. I love to make things; sewing, knitting, weaving, crocheting. Sometimes I make things with a specific recipient in mind. Other times I just make things to try a new skill, use some extra yarn or fabric, or just on a whim. I thought that I could sell these items on the Etsy sight and donate the money to veterans charities.

It started well, but then life became unexpected busy. The items I had placed in my store expired and I didn’t refresh the supply. But now I am ready to start again with greater determination and more realistic expectations.

So if you are looking for handmade gifts or something for yourself, check out my store.

GoodForGoodnessSake at etsy.com

Record Keeping

I have a long history of bad record keeping. I always start with great intentions but in the end I would rather “do” than “document”.

When I was 10 years old I joined 4H. I did not live on a farm as most of the other girls did, 4hso I could not raise a cow. Instead I did “city” projects like baking cookies and sewing for dolls. I prepared demonstrations on clothing color and accompanied my friend on the piano as she sang the 4H song. At the end of the year, the leader said she would be collecting our record books. Not sure how I missed that one, but I didn’t know I was supposed to be keeping a record book. I didn’t know what they looked like or what was supposed to be in it. It was not the first time in my life that I had panicked, but it was a memorable one. I had already been slapped at the style show for not having neat enough finger nails so I wasn’t sure what the punishment would be for not having a record book. Somehow at this young age I figured out that you can FAKE a record book. I quickly found a few example books to look at and pasted up a pretty good imitation of a record. I guess I must have passed because I don’t remember getting slapped again. But it did set a bad precedent for me.

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Later in life I faked mileage books, lab journals, summer reading logs, baby books, and project timelines.

When I learned to weave, the instructor again stressed the importance of recording both successes and failures as an aid to learning. That made some sense so I made a real attempt to keep track of everything I wove. I even developed a spread sheet for calculating and recording measurements.

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I really tried. At least for a while. But it is just too easy to warp the loom and try something that has been rattling around in your head, all the while promising that you will record and document it “when you get a minute”.

As a result of these bad record keeping habits, I often find myself trying to remember how I did something and having to work out the specifics again. What size needle did I knit that hat with? How many stitches and how many rows? Sometimes I ask the person that received the item to measure it and send me a picture. That can get a little awkward, especially when they don’t have it anymore. 🙂

Record keeping is easier these days, so maybe there is hope for me after all. I nearly always have a camera and note pad with me now (my cell phone). Snapping pictures is a good record keeping start. At least if I choose to put off actual organized documentation until projects are long done, there is something tangible from which to draw inspiration.

On a whim, I decided to google “4H record book”. My screen was filled with images of forms and lists for every kind of project.

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I could have used something like this when I was 10. Or maybe, one of our meetings at the start of the year could have been about the importance and mechanics of record keeping. That would have been useful. The lesson I learned at this young age, namely that records can be faked, was probably not the lesson that was intended.

 

Shawl Improvements

Recently I posted a pattern for the knit Silvery Shawl. It was a trial and error attempt to recreate the crocheted shawlette of another blogger. It turned out pretty cute. When I got done and finally figured out how many rows and stitches I needed I realized there was an easier path to the same results. So this is an update and revised pattern.

Original shawl and pattern.
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Needles: Size 15
Yarn: Red Heart Unforgettable (Bistro)

Row 1: K1, M1, K across

Row 2: K across

Repeat rows 1 and 2, 92 times until there are 95 stitches.
Bind off and weave the ends.

I started knitting not knowing how many stitches I wanted to increase to. I just kept trying it on and measuring. I settled on 95 stitches and I am happy with the size and shape.

But it dawned on me that it would actually be easier to start at the large end and work backwards. Decreasing seemed like it would be easier than increasing, just knit two stitches together at the start of every other row. And no counting after casting on 95 stitches. Just keep decreasing until all the stitches were gone.

I had enough yarn for two more shawls. My sister liked the first one, so I would make the second one for her and the third one could go in the Etsy store we run to raise funds for veterans causes.

Pattern Version 2 (Don’t use this one! Go on to version 3 below!)

Using the same size 15 needles, CO 95.

Row 1 : K2tog, K across.

Row 2: K across

Repeat row 1 and 2 until 1 stitch remains. Slip yarn through last stitch to finish. Weave ends.

The new shawl is the same size and shape as the first but there are some differences.

The first shawl was bound off at one edge while the second was cast on. They look a little different but both are acceptable.

The angled edges where the increases or decreases occurs look VERY different from each other. The first shawl had M1 increases along its length and looks much better than the second shawl’s K2tog edge.

I really liked knitting the second shawl, decreasing from the large edge so I decided to make a sample to see if I could neaten up the edge. I decided to move the k2tog stitch in from the edge a stitch or two. I tried it both ways.

k1, k2tog, k across        and        k2, k2tog, k across

sample

Here is the sample. The wide part is the k1, k2tog, k across and this is the edge I have chosen. So here is the pattern now.

Pattern Version 3

Using the same size 15 needles, CO 95.

Row 1 : K1, K2tog, K across.

Row 2: K across

Repeat row 1 and 2 until 1 stitch remains. Slip yarn through last stitch to finish. Weave ends.

I will post a picture of shawl 3 when I finish.

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Yarn Error Resulting in Uneven Color Pattern

I did have a problem with the yarn I am using: Red Heart Unforgettable. The second skein has a number of knots where two pieces of yarn were joined. This is always annoying as it created more ends that need to be woven in. The knots appear in the middle of rows, unexpectedly. Very annoying. Even worse, one of the joined pieces didn’t even continue on correctly with the color pattern. The result was a weird stripe of color that looks out of place. Very disappointing.

I sent a note to Red Heart today and I will let you know how they respond. Its not like I could just take the yarn back. Its already been knit and that was a lot of work!

Update 12/19/16

The third version is definitely the best! Here is a picture of the edge.

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This is how the edge appears if the “make one” stitch is moved in one from the actual edge.

K1, M1, K across

I tried to contact Red Heart about the “knotty” skein of yarn. I was annoyed that 12 hours of work were lost on the shawl with a gross color error as a result of the pieced together skein of yarn I got. The process of complaining was even more annoying. Instead of providing an email address for communicating with customer service I had to fill out one of those web forms. I was unable to attach pictures and in the end was “forced” to choose from an archaic list of useless “titles”. I could not submit the form without a title. When I finally was able to email a real person, she was condescending and unhelpful (and she NEVER actually used the title I was forced to choose). I guess I will just have to wait and see if I actually get the replacement yarn or not.

Red Heart has been moved to the bottom of yarns I will choose.

 

 

 

 

 

Cocoa Nibs – A Holiday Baking Story

About 5 years ago I was looking for a recipe for chocolate holiday cookies that were dairy free.

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http://www.marthastewart.com/340252/mocha-slice-cookies

I found a great recipe for Mocha Slice Cookies on the Martha Stewart website. The recipe calls for cocoa powder, espresso powder and cinnamon. The flavor is chocolaty and rich.

The recipe lists butter which I replaced with a non-dairy margarine. That seemed to work out OK. It also called for an ingredient that I had never heard of before, cocoa nibs.

I asked at the local grocery store if they had any. Not only did they not carry them but they had never heard of them either. The internet describes them as the roasted, hulled, chopped pieces of the cacao bean. In the chocolate industry they are ground and mixed with sugar and fat to make chocolate candy.

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In 2011 you could find them in specialty stores in large urban areas but certainly not in my area. So I decided to order some online. One of the comments on the cookie website listed a source. (The product is no longer available here.)

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I went to the website and found that there were several different size packages.

The recipe calls for 1/2 C of nibs and I knew I would make at least a couple of batches. I didn’t want to have to reorder and pay additional shipping but the nibs were only listed by weight and not by volume. I looked in vain to see how much a 1/2 C of nibs weighed. In the end, I just had to guess. I know that 1/2 C of butter is 4 oz and thought that was a good reference. I was still thinking of the nibs like chocolate.

So I decided to order 5 pounds. I thought 5 pounds of butter or chocolate isn’t such a big package. Holy moley was I surprised. It turns out that 5 pounds of cocoa nibs is enough to make 32 batches of cookies. It was a big bag. Cocoa nibs are not dense like chocolate but light and fluffy like coffee beans.

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Fortunately, we have a vacuum sealer for packaging food. We divided the nibs into 2C batches, sealed them, and stored them in the freezer. They freeze well it seems and I have been using them ever since. Everyone thought the whole thing was very funny. Every year I hear, “Do you still have nibs?”

Yesterday, I got the last package out of the freezer. In a way it was kind of sad. There are only enough nibs for 4 batches. The cookies are popular and often requested so I again went in search of nibs.

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Apparently they have become one of the new “superfoods” so lots of stores in my area carry them. The store only had 2 packages (8 oz each ) so I bought them both. I don’t know if I could ever again feel secure without some nibs in the freezer.

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And now that I have a modern package I finally have the information I needed from the start – the weight and volume correlation for nibs.

1 tsp = 3 g

This is a great recipe for those who like chocolate but cannot tolerate dairy. I chuckle every time I make them remembering the story of the nibs.

Silvery Shawl

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I recently made this super soft, knit shawl for my daughter. Looking at the finished project, you might never guess how the project evolved.

I saw this beautiful shawlette on Brittany’s B.hooked Crochet blog. I loved the way the shawl looked and the way it draped. The pattern uses a yarn called Shawl in a Ball.

I have been trying to learn to crochet after knitting for decades. I have known how to crochet a chain since I was a child. But crocheting the second row always proved difficult. I could never see where you were supposed to insert your hook. When you knit, all the stitches stay on your needle and you deal with each as you go back across the piece. But with crochet, you have to find each stitch again. I would alway miss some stitches making each successive row shorter and shorter. In this way everything I tried to crochet ended up with a rainbow shape. Recently, I have been getting the hang of it but still find it easier with some yarns than with others.

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I looked for the “Shawl in a Ball” yarn at Michael’s since they carry it on their website but could not find it in the store. I was excited to get started over Thanksgiving so I chose a different yarn, called Unforgettable, of the same weight and bought 2 skeins to get the correct yardage. If the project worked out I would look for the pretty rainbow yarn later for a second shawlette.

I really like the silver/gray variations. But I found it impossible to crochet. The yarn is so fluffy that the stitches ran together visually and I couldn’t figure our where to insert the hook.

It was interesting to read that Brittany didn’t always follow the instructions, but rather drew inspiration and created her own techniques. I decided to do the same. I knew that the double crochet (DC) stitch that she used would produce an open airy pattern and that by increasing one stitch each row, along the same edge each time, a triangle shape would result. So I decided to see if I could reproduce those same characteristics in a knit pattern.

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To make the pattern open and airy I chose large, size 15, needles. To make the shawlette flat without the edges curling, I chose a garter stitch, all rows knit, and increased one stitch at the beginning of every other row. This placed all the increases along the same edge. I used the Make One (M1) stitch for the increases.

The original crochet pattern increase to 91 stitches, so 91 rows. The size of the crocheted version is 31 inches wide and 50 inches long.

Here I must admit that I am a rather lazy, yet confident, crafter. I KNOW it is important to pay attention to gauge but I always think that my projects will turn out alright without testing it. True to form, I started knitting just to see what would happen. After a time, I laid the work out flat and checked the gauge. In a 4” x 4” section there were 16 rows wide and 11 stitches long. I did some quick calculations.

*If 16 rows = 4 inches, then 200 rows would equal 50 inches (the desired width).

*Starting with 3 stitches and increasing every other row for 200 rows yields 103 stitches in the last row

*11 stitches are 4 inches long so 100 stitches would be 38 inches long.

Ultimately, I decided on 184 rows. I kept trying it on and decided then it was big enough.

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An interesting outcome of increasing the stitches in each row  as the project goes along is that the color variation bands become more and more narrow. What a pretty effect!

 

So here is the pattern for my version of this cute shawl:

Using size 15 needles and a medium weight yarn, cast on 3 stitches.

Row 1: K1, M1, K across

Row 2: K across

Repeat rows 1 and 2 92 times until there are 95 stitches.

Bind off and weave the ends.

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Straight Edge

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Edge Where Increase Occur

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Edge That is Bound Off

Here are pictures of each of the three edges.

Shawl-In-A-Ball has enough yarn in one package to make an entire shawl while the yarn I used, Unforgettable, came in smaller packages and I had to use two. That meant that I would have to join two pieces. When you are working with a yarn that has a color variation, variegated or ombre, you should pay attention to the pattern when joining. You wouldn’t want to join the end of a dark region with the beginning of another dark region or you would have twice as much dark yarn in that part of your project as elsewhere.

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As I approach the end of one ball I lay it out next to a section of the next ball and try to find a place to join them that will make the pattern continuous. The cat is always nearby to help. 🙂

This time it worked out that I could just join the end of one to the start of the other. It doesn’t usually happen that way. I usually have to cut some off.

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This yarn, the color is called Bistro, has some variation that surprised me. Occasionally there was a little extra chunk of black fiber spun in with some lighter fiber. It made some dark spots in the pattern that from a distance look like errors. Hmmm. I make enough mistakes without the yarn making it look like I made even more.

Brittany’s original shawlette pattern used the entire package of Shawl-In-A-Ball which has 150 g and 473 meters of yarn (518 yards).

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When I was finished I decided to see how much yarn I had used. Each package of Unforgettable is 100 g and 246 meters (270 yards). I weighed the shawl using my kitchen scale and found it to be 124 grams. That means I used 305 meters. My shawl is lighter weight than the original pattern. It is also very stretchy.

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So I took a bunch of pictures for this post and then called my daughter to come get her shawl. It can be worn in a variety of ways, as shown.

It occurs to me that now that I know the pattern, it would be easier to knit in reverse. Start with 95 stitches and decrease one stitch every other row. If I make another, I will try it that way and add a picture to this post.

I hope you enjoyed the story and that you like the pattern. The shawl is SO soft and stretchy. It is very comfortable.

As always, your polite and helpful comments are welcome.

UPDATE: See “Shawl Revisions” posted on December 8, 2016 for a revised pattern.

Oh, Yarn.

Who is in charge? You or the yarn?

I have a pretty big stash of yarn. I accept bags of yarn the way some people accept stray animals. The yarn may get used in a project or it may be passed along to some other user. I also acquired my mother’s stash when she died five years ago. Some of her yarn had been used before and recovered, carefully wound into balls odd sizes.

My yarn may be used for knitting, weaving, or crocheting. It came a surprise to me that yarn that made a wonderful knit scarf would not necessarily make a good woven one.

It dawned on me that approach fiber projects the same way I approach cooking.

  • look in the refrigerator, see what’s there, and think of something to cook using those ingredients
  • find a recipe that sounds good and go to the store to get the needed items
  • see something in the store that inspires me, buy it and cook it

Some days, I look through my yarn stash and try to use what is there to make something. Fortunately, I am not restricted to making things for myself, or even those I know. I can make anything and sell it on the Etsy site we run to raise money for veterans organizations.

Sometimes, I see a pattern in a magazine or on a blog or get a request for an item, and go out and purchase yarn specifically for that project.

Other times, I wander around the yarn store and see something I can’t resist.

This week, all three things happened. I chose two yarns from the stash and threw a scarf onto the loom. I got a request for a cowl hood that is blue or ombre or sparkly and went to the store to buy yarn (blue/black ombre it is!). While I was at the store I found adorable sock yarn and have decided to try socks once again (the only other socks I ever made were terrible mis-shapen).

So, who is in charge? You or the yarn? Of course it is a happily co-dependent relationship.