Monday, January 27, 2014

Felted Cat Bed for Rondo

I cleaned a couple of crocheted wool pillow covers and once dry, I placed them on a table. Next thing I know, my cat Rondo, had adopted them and turned them into a bed. So, I see an opportunity here to use up some stash and create a felted cat pad for Rondo. Since I don’t know how this will felt, I’m knitting a 38” square.

I decided to knit the pad in garter stitch stripes to use up some stash and to create a thicker pad. Rondo is a large cat so I cast on 125 stitches using the short-tailed long-tailed cast on in 2 colors.
It took a lot of knitting to get to 38", especially in garter. I used about 2 1/2 skeins of each color and 117 garter ridges. I bound off after completion of a ridge using k2tog bind off. My gauge is : 14 stitches / 4 inches; 13 garter ridges in 4 inches.
It took 3 washes, 1st warm, 2nd and 3rd on hot to felt and 5 days to dry. The pad is 3/16" thick and 25 1/2" by 26" in size. It didn't felt as a perfect square. The edges are longer than the dimensions through the center and its a bit wavy.
Yes, he's a big cat and he loves it. So even though not perfect, its a success.


Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Joys of Hand-dyed Yarn

I love hand dyed yarns. Most of what I knit uses them. So, I pretty much use them all the time. They can be tricky, even when buying skeins from the same "dye lot" or shipment. Typically, these yarns don't have numbered dye lots.

Thunderhead uses MadelineTosh prairie in the Graphite colorway. Both skeins were purchased at the same time from the same shipment. One skein is a little lighter than the other. To compensate, I alternate between the skeins every two rows so the differences cannot be seen in the finished object. Other skeins of this colorway which were purchased later are reasonably close and could be used in a single garment when alternated in this manner.
This is also the approach that I used when knitting my Whiskey Sour sweater. I had purchased MadelineTosh DK in the William Morris colorway for this sweater about a year before I started the sweater. When I came back to the pattern, the amount of yarn required had changed (yikes!). So, I took a chance and purchased enough skeins to alternate with my original purchase. Luckily the color of the second purchase could easily be alternated with the first purchase.

Alternating between skeins is a little more obvious in Heather on the Moors. This sweater uses a club color of Miss Babs Yummy Superwash Sport. You can see that the variation is more obvious. Again, this was barely noticeable when looking at the skeins.

While alternating skeins works well for sweaters, it can be troublesome in lace shawls. When alternating between skeins, the yarn is typically carried up along the edge. If the yarn carry is too tight it will restrict blocking of the shawl. To avoid this, I try to use only a single skein for lace shawls.

There are other tricks to consider:

  • Don't alternate every other row, alternate in chunks. This will result in more ends or will require more splicing of the yarn, both issues on a lace shawl
  • Don't alternate at all. Investigate if there are good places to make the transition, so the transition looks intentional.
  • Don't carry along the edge. Sometimes you can find a better place to carry the yarn. In the case of Heather on the Moors, I carried the yarn on the inside of the sweater, where the sweater body and Icord meet.
  • Knit a swatch to test the variation between swatches. Knit a number of rows from each skein, then switch skeins. Your goal is to understand the color variation and then choose the best solution for your project.
  • Unfortunately, you can't count on hand dyed yarns even being similar. Sometimes they can vary greatly from shipment to shipment. The three skeins of yarn pictured are all MadelineTosh Sock in the Steam Age colorway. Each skein was purchased at a different time. They are so different, that they are going to be used as if they are separate colors in the Stephen West Shawl, Color Craving by a friend of mine. It will be interesting to see the outcome.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Winter Lemonade

    The next sock to be knit as part of the GPY sock club is Blomster by AnneLena Mattison. I chose Hand Maiden Casbah in the Melon colorway. It just seemed perfect for these socks.

    Blomster is a toe up sock with a heel flap. I don't like knitting heel flap socks toe up, so I'm knitting this one top down. I toyed with the idea of inverting this pattern, but it didn't seem worth the effort. The pattern will have a similar effect whether knit toe up, as designed or top down. The original design called for a stockinette heel flap. I changed it to a eye of partridge heel flap for more durability. My goal is to maintain toe overall character of the original design.

    The sock is knit as follows:

    I'm knitting the medium size sock, so I cast on 64 using the German Twisted Cast On. Knit 10 rows of 1x1 twisted rib
    Knit a singe row of stockinette as a transition row. You can place markers in this row as follows: K5, PM, K9, PM, K4, PM, K9, PM, K10, PM, K9, PM, k4, PM, K9, PM, K5.
    Knit a row of the leg as follows: K5, sm, knit row of chart, sm, k4, sm, knit row of chart, k10, sm, knit row of chart, sm, k4, sm, knit row of chart, sm, k5. Knit until leg is 5” long (including cuff) or desired length. I'm going to go with 3 chart repeats which will make the sock about 6" long (I'm using a US 1.5 (2.5 mm) needles for the cuff, so I'll have a little increased length over the specified needle size). The heel flap will have a clean start if the leg ends with row 18 or 19 of the chart.
    The original design of this sock called for a stockinette heel flap. I have decided to modify the heel flap to use the eye of partridge heel stitch. My heel flap is knit as follows: Turn work, starting heel flap on WS. Knit as follows: Rows 1 & 3 (WS): SL 1, P to end, turn; Row 2 (RS): *SL 1, K1*; repeat from * to * until end of row, turn. Row 4 (RS): SL 1, *SL 1, K1*, repeat from * to * until 1 stitch before end; K1; turn. Repeat rows 1-4 for a total of 8 times and then repeat rows 1-3 one additional time for a total of 35 rows, ending with a WS row.
    The heel was turned as follows: Row 1(RS): Sl 1 wyib, K 18, SSK, K1, turn; Row 2(WS): SL 1 wyif, P7, P2tog, P1, turn; Row 3(WS): SL 1 wyib, K to 1 stitch before gap greated by turn on previous row, SSK (1 stitch before and after gap), K1, turn; Row 4(RS): SL1 wyif, P to 1 stitch before gap created by turn on previous row, P2tog (1 stitch before and after the gap), P1, turn. Repeat rows 3 & 4 until all stitches have been worked. 20 stitches remain.
    Pick up gusset stitches as follows: turn work. SL 1 wyib, K19, PU & K tbl 18 stitches along the edge of the heel flap, pick up & knit a stitch in the gap, Knit the first row of the chart (or the next row after where you left off), PU & knit a stitch in the gap, PU & K 18 stitches along the gusset. I set my start of round at the beginning of the heel.

    The gusset proceeds in the typical manner. Round 1: decrease round; Round 2: knit round; knitting a row of the chart across the instep for each round. Rounds 1 & 2 are repeated a total of 12 times, then repeat round 1 once. There should be 32 sole stitches (adjust the number of gusset decreases as appropriate to get the correct stitch count). Knit sole stitches and reset start of round at beginning of instep.

    Knit the foot to the desired length, allowing for about 2" for the toe. Luckily, my foot length ended at row 18 of the chart so that I could proceed with the toe transition. (Note: The motif can be extended into the toe. There are 5 stockinette stitches on each side of the motif. Decreases could be placed here. If you do this, you will need to either eliminate the eyelet row or adjust it as necessary.)
    Since I'm attempting to duplicate the pattern, I need to add the eyelet round before starting the toe. I knit the eyelet round as follows: K1 * YO, K2tog *, repeat from * to * until 1 stitch before end of instep stitches, YO, K1, Knit sole stitches until 2 stitches before end of sole stitches M1, K2. This results in two additional stitches in the toe. I liked the way the eyelets were centered using this method. If you follow the pattern directions for this round you won't need to add an extra stitch on the sole, but the eyelets won't be centered.
    My toe: Round 1: K1 (YO, K2tog) * , YO, K1, K, M1, K2. Round 2: K1, SSK, K, K2tog, K2, SSK, K, K2tog, K1. Round 3: K. Repeat rounds 2 & 3, 8 times, then repeat round 2, 5 times. 7 stitches remain. Kitchener the toe closed.

    This project can be found on ravelry at: Pink Lemonade


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. Pattern is copyright by AnneLena Mattison

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    Knitting Goals for 2014

    Over the last 2 years, I have done a good job of meeting my yearly goals. I have increased my knowledge in different knitting areas, I have published patterns, but now I need to do some stash control. So here are some of my goals for 2014:

  • Use up some of my sock yarn. I'm going to start knitting simple mitts for gifts and charity to use up some of that yarn (Stash Mitt-down)
  • Use up some of my leftover sock yarn. This is yarn used to make other items, but not enough to knit another pair of socks. I'll use it to make small stuffed items, striped socks and striped mitts (Mouse Invasion)
  • Use up some of my worsted & bulky stash. I don't really use yarn of this weight, so I need to use it up.
  • Organize my stash!!! I need to get all of the yarn into named bins and record that information in ravelry so I can find my yarn more easily
  • Learn how to size a sweater to fit me well.
  • Learn how to calculate appropriate yardage requirements for a sweater
  • Use my sweater knowledge to adjust and knit the central park hoodie or a similar sweater
  • Make use of my newly acquired brioche knowledge to knit up some scarves and / or hats
  • Complete the Master sock class book. I have 3 pairs of socks to go, so I need to finish them
  • Publish some more patterns, including a stranded sock or hat pattern
  • Master tension when knitting continental style
  • I'm sure I'll come up with more goals for the year, but this is a good start. What are your goals for the year?


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.