Free-Style Knitting – The Coozy Mitten

 

The knitted coozy-mitten started out as a joke. After taking up knitting a little over a year ago, my family has been generous with their ideas of items I could knit for them. Their suggestions vary from scarves and sweaters to blankets embroidered with their face or a knitted Charizard toy. My cousin P suggested the knitted coozy-mitten idea over Thanksgiving.
After the commotion of the holidays settled down, I found myself ready to take on new projects. My cousin P’s birthday was approaching so I figured, why not give it a shot? I had a set of new double-pointed size 8 needles and some red yarn. Perfect time to experiment.
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Cold beer, warm hands.

I don’t have a pattern for these coozy mittens, so I decided to make one up. I’ve also never knitted mittens before, so this was truly an experiment.
After cast-on, I did simple ribbing and then stockinette stitch in the round. When I reached the point for the thumb gusset, I decided to divide the stitches in half, securing half on a stitch holder and dividing the remaining sitches across four needles. Then, with the live stitches I once again joined in the round with an increase row and continued around.
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About halfway through the project, part of the hand completed and starting the other half.

At about the halfway point I bound off and then picked up the stitches from the holder, rejoining the yarn and knitting another identical side. When I reached the point that the two sides were equal and would fit around my test can of ginger ale, I bound off and sewed the two ends together to make a continuous loop on the inside. The bound-off edges sewn together created a pretty stitch detail that I hadn’t anticipated.
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In-process stitching the bottom of the coozy-mitten.

 To finish the piece, it needed a bottom on the mitten to prevent the can from sliding through. Using two of my double-pointed needles, I cast-on 6 stitches and continued with knitting in stockinette stitch, increasing on the knit side by 2 stitches each row until I came to the center row, then I decreased the stitches by reversing the pattern.

 

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The finished coozy-mitten, with my trusty test can of ginger ale.

The finished coozy-mitten came out better than I could have expected. I was so thrilled to complete my second pattern design. It may not be perfect yet, but I expect this won’t be the first cozy-mitten I make. And best of all, my cousin liked his birthday gift!!

Until next time, happy knitting!

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Spinning yarns: Exploring the books on knitting

As someone fairly new to the realm of knitting, and also a bibliophile, I’m naturally drawn to the craft aisle in the bookstore. I love the pictures of beautiful handmade garments and complex stitching.

But the surplus of craft books can feel intimidating at the same time. I read patterns all the way through, just to be sure that there won’t be any surprises midway of some intensely complex stitch that’s lightyears above my skill level. One day, my goal is to be able to read patterns with confidence, sure that I understand from start to finish.

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In-process pillow for my living room following the pattern from Project #7 from The Very Easy Guide to Cable Knitting by Lynne Watterson. This is the book that taught me how to cable knit. I’ll share my love of this book in a later post. 

The best books for learning techniques tend to have clear instructions with good corresponding photographs. That’s how I first fell in love with Lynne Watterson’s  The Very Easy Guide to Cable Knitting (1). It’s a fantastic book for learning cable knitting techniques and I highly recommend it.

Some books are definitely better than others, as I’ve had to find out the hard way. I purchased a book of patterns at the library book sale and then tried to knit my first pair of socks.

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The Sock Fail: It started out promising with a cute cable design, but once I reached the heel this pattern was toast!

The pattern started off bad with a miscalculation in the number of cast-on stitches to the number of stockinette stitches used after the ribbing was complete. I started over three times before I realized the pattern was wrong, not me. (It was also my first attempt knitting in the round AND knitting a sock.)

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My small collection of craft books. I often take advantage of the large selection available at the local library. It’s a great way to sample patterns and different authors.

Even though I like to experiment and create my own patterns, I love to also read books and try out patterns designed by others much more skilled than me because it helps me progress my skills. This becomes a way for me to learn, practice my techniques, and find a a great way to relax. Over the next few weeks I’d like to be able to share the books that I love, in the hopes that others will also find these books as enjoyable as I do.

 

  1. The Very Easy Guide to Cable Knitting by Lynne Watterson, 2010, St. Martin’s Press, NY

Falling in Love: an accidental Valentine’s Day jewelry set

Say what you want about Valentine’s Day, everyone has their own opinions on how wonderful or horrible it may be. I’m choosing to look at this holiday at its simpler core: a day when we celebrate people we love. I like for my jewelry to mimic my emotions or remind me a pleasant time and place, and that’s how this necklace set came to exist.

 

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Red Jade and Mother of Pearl necklace, bracelet, and earrings

This set was never designed with Valentine’s Day in mind. In fact, the first version of this set was actually green. And because it was never created specifically for this holiday, I want to talk about it now. The design is simple and uncomplicated, smooth and polished, and the pattern blends seamlessly together.

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The necklace is balanced. The Mother of Pearl beads show veins of off-white; the imperfect color striations mirror the beauty found in the everyday moment.

At its core, this necklace represents the true heart of love, the real feelings of a love that is unconditional. True love doesn’t need exotic destinations or expensive dinners, it just needs two people with a connection based on respect, understanding, and passion.

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Unlike the necklace which is strung on nylon coated wire for strength, the bracelet is strung on elastic. This gives it more flexibility; in life, when our minds are flexible we become more open and understanding people.

We may complicate love with our busy schedules, our selfies, our selfishness, our desire to be in the next moment instead of enjoying the present. This Valentine’s Day let’s move past that and just be with the one you love. Enjoy the time together; it’s more precious than anything else.

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The original necklace set, done in green jade with Mother of Pearl beads.

These were the emotions that went through my mind when I first designed this necklace set last summer.  I wanted a necklace that was smooth and calming and made me feel peaceful when I wore it. These feelings are the same ones my love conjures for me; he makes me feel relaxed when I’m stressed, or calm when I’m anxious, he inspires me to pursue my dreams. He loves me, and I love him very much.

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A peaceful evening when I wore the green jade necklace set.

He’s the one who suggested I recreate the necklace set in red. I think he gives good advice.

Happy Valentine’s Day.