Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Barn Dress

Just quickly, I wanted to share a picture of a dress I recently finished for my baby niece ("barn" is Swedish for "child", hence the name of this post. Sorry if you were trying to find suitable attire for a hoe down). The pattern I used was this one, and I'm super pleased with how it turned out. As I write this, my niece is just under two months old, but the dress will be her first Birthday present from me. I'll hopefully be able to present it to her personally. If you're playing at home, the mummy of this baby is my sister, whom I have done some collaborative projects with and whom I mentioned in a recent post because she has her own blog. I have another niece, and also a nephew, whom I've mentioned on this blog too. They are equally as excellent as their little cousin.

The Knitted Kitten

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Synaesthesia and Knitting

There's this phenomenon called synaesthesia. Basically, it's when a person associates certain sensory stimuli with other, apparently unrelated ones. For example, Monday "feels" dark blue to me, and Thursday "feels" brown. I don't think it's that uncommon to have sort of feeling around what colour numbers, letters and days of the week are. Some people have this synaesthesia in a way more pronounced way, though. Some people even associate smells with people's names, and others "see" colours in music.

So last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I was thinking about a cowl I recently knitted. I made it far too short to be very warm, but I didn't realise until I had already cast off. I had used a sewn cast off, so it's a bit of a pain to undo, so I haven't got around to making the cowl bigger yet. In my half-asleep state, I imagined myself doing the cast-off on that cowl. If you're not familiar with it, a sewn cast off is where you forgo the right needle and use a sewing needle instead, to finish your knitting (see here). "Gee," I thought, as I watched the sewing needle in my mind's eye weave through the stitches, "the male needle is doing all the work here." And then I was like "What? Male needle?" It occurred to me that I view the right needle as the female needle and the left needle is the male needle. Therefore, in a sewn cast-off, the left needle, which has all the stitches on it, is doing all the work, because the right needle has been replaced by a sewing needle. There's no real reason for me to perceive the needles as two different genders, but I kind of do. And I think this is an example of a mild case of synaesthesia. I realised also that I view RS rows and odd-numbered rows as "female" rows (I guess because odd rows tend to be RS rows). The only possible explanation I can give for this feeling is my tendency from an early age to view anything that relates to me as "my team", as it were. Therefore, because I'm right handed, the right side is the better side, girls must rule because I am one of those, and all actresses called Katherine are insanely talented and beautiful.

Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting observation. Am I the weirdest or do other people think similar things?


The Knitted Kitten.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Blogging: 30% boredom, 20% talent, 50% nepotism. Do not tumble dry.

This anonymous blogger with a sister who sounds freaking amazing wrote this great post about crochet. Just kidding, it's my sister, and here is her post: http://landofmarj.weebly.com/the-state-of-yarn . Yes, I'm the prolific little sister who wants a sheep.

My syster's (as they say in Sweden) blog also includes posts on other interesting topics such as parenthood (see that watermelon belly on the banner? My brand new baby niece used to live there) and terrible English usage. Our mum was an English teacher and our dad is an English person. Don't hate us because we're eloquent.


The Knitted Kitten

Monday, 9 June 2014

Lily Ear Flap Hat

I realise I haven't posted on this blog all year. And I didn't specifically plan to, since I'll be finishing my Masters this year, so, you know, busy busy. But I was writing this design on my iPad anyway, so I thought I'd copy and paste it to my blog.

I whipped up this beanie for my eight year old niece. She loves hats, apparently. The yarn I used is now discontinued. To get a similar effect, I think it'd be cool to use a handspun yarn. I would suggest a 10- or 12-ply weight (Aran or bulky) singles, either plied or core spun with sewing thread. 

This hat is pretty stretchy, so will fit most kids. I got it on my larger-than-average-for-a-female adult head, but it's a little short for a grown up. All you'd have to do to make it fit an adult would be to make the section worked even in stocking stitch continue for longer (maybe about 7 inches instead of 5). While the hat I made used a fancy crimpy yarn, this is a pretty standard pattern and almost any yarn would work.

This pattern uses short rows to create the ear flaps, and it is all knitted in one piece. The ear flaps are in garter stitch, while the rest of the hat is in stocking stitch. Because all the non-short-row bits are knitted in the round, there are no purl stitches in this pattern.

You are welcome to knit this hat for loved ones, and to sell items made using this pattern. Please do not reproduce and sell the pattern itself.

Apologies for the low quality iPad photos.

Lily Ear Flap Hat

Needles: 4mm dpns
Notions: darning needle, scissors/yarn cutter.
Yarn: two balls of Panda Rhumba.
Tension: 20 stitches per 10cm in stocking stitch.

Co 66 stitches. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.
Ear flaps (worked back and forth):
Row 1: k9, turn
Row 2: k3, turn
Row 3: k4, turn
Row 4: k5, turn
Row 5: k6, turn
Row 6: k7, turn
Row 7: k8, turn
Row 8: k9, turn
Row 9: k10, turn
Row 10: k11, turn
Row 11: k12, turn
Row 12: k13, turn
Row 13: k14, turn
Row 14: k15, turn
Row 15: k16, turn
Row 16: k42, turn
Rows 17-30: repeat rows 2-15.
From the next row onwards, you will be knitting in the round in stocking stitch (knit all stitches). 
Continue knitting in the round in stocking stitch until the piece measures 13cm (5 inches) not including ear flaps.
Decrease for crown:
Round 1: [k4, k2tog] to end
Rounds 2, 4, 6, and 8: k all stitches
Round 3: [k3, k2tog] to end
Round 5: [k2, k2tog] to end
Round 7: [k1, k2tog] to end
Round 9: [k2tog] to end
Round 10: [k2tog] 5 times, k1. 6 stitches remaining.
Break yarn, leaving a 20cm tail. Thread tail onto darning needle. Pass needle through remaining live stitches and pull tight. Weave in all ends. Ta da!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

How I do a Tenion (Gauge) Swatch

I started a new project recently. It's a pair of socks for my best friend from primary school. The first Christmas after I learned to knit, I made her a red lace scarf, the next year a red lace beanie, the next year red lace gloves, so this year for Christmas I'm making her red lace socks. Because I wanted to get the sizing right, I did a proper tension/gauge swatch, and I thought I'd share how I test my tension, and discuss a couple of other methods I've tried. To aid your understanding, please enjoy my very high quality MS Paint diagrams.

What is Tension/Gauge?
Tension (called "gauge" in the USA, and maybe Canada) refers to the amount of stitches and rows you can knit in a given area, on a given weight of yarn with a given needle size and stitch. For example, consider and 8 ply acrylic yarn, knit in stocking (stockinette) stitch on 4mm needles. Your average knitter will knit about 22 stitches and 28 rows in a 10cm X 10cm (4in X 4in) square. Of course, averages are statistical calculations, so don't necessarily represent any real person's tension. And as hand-knitters, our tension may well change day to day, row to row, or even stitch to stitch (hopefully it's not too uneven though). This is why it's important to check your tension.

I don't always check my tension before starting a project, but I do believe that they're important if you're going to do something where accurate sizing is important.

Tension for Knitting Patterns
At the start of knitting patterns, the designer will almost always include a section for tension or gauge. These things usually look something like this:

Tension: 34 sts/48 rows = 10cm X 10cm in stocking stitch

Tension guides on knitting patterns usually quote expected numbers for a 10cm square, but sometimes will quote for a 1 inch (2.5cm) square. Similarly, tension guides usually give you expected tension for stocking stitch. However, some patterns, especially those with featured stitch patterns, like lace, will give you tension for that stitch pattern.

So, What is a Tension Swatch, then?
A tension swatch is a square that you knit in the recommended needle size and the yarn you are planning to use, to see if your knitting produces the same tension as those recommended. If you find that your swatch has more stitches and rows per 10cm square, your finished object will turn out too small. You'll need to go up a needle size and knit another swatch to see if those needles are better. Conversely, if your swatch has fewer stitches and rows per square, your finished object will turn out too big, and you'll need to go for a smaller needle size.

Great. So how do you do a tension swatch?

The Method I use: 15cm X 15cm (6in X 6in) Square

When I first learned to knit, I borrowed this book from my local library. It contained information for how to do a tension swatch. I've tried other methods, but I still turn to the method described in this book for my "Gold standard" of tension. So this is how I do it.

  1. Plan a 15cm X 15cm swatch (not 10cm). Why? You're not bound to get an accurate count of your stitches and rows since edge stitches often curl round the edges, and I don't know if it's just me, but my selvedge stitch are looser than the others. Also, if your tension turns out to be tighter than that given by the pattern, your square will be smaller than 10cm squared and you won't know how far off you are.

    To calculate what is a 15cm square, multiply the stitches and rows from the pattern's tension guide by 1.5. So, if your pattern says that 20sts X 30 rows makes 10cm squared, you would cast on 30sts and work in stocking stitch for 45 rows. If your tension is dead on the guide, your square will be a 15cm square.
  2. Once you have done this swatch, it will be curly, as stocking stitch is. Since you're bothering to do a tension swatch, you're probably planning on bothering to block or steam your finished project. Therefore, you need to block or steam your swatch. You might also want to beat up the swatch a little too, to imitate everyday wear and tear, since knitted objects may stretch over time. I will usually block swatches properly, washing briefly in warm water and laundry liquid, then rinsing in warm water. However for this pattern, I couldn't be bothered going to those lengths, so instead I thoroughly washed the swatch in warm water and squeezed it out. See my diagram for how I did it: 

 After you've wet your swatch, you need to pin it out to dry. Pin it out square, but don't stretch or compress it so that it fits into a 15cm square. That defeats the purpose of the swatch. I would normally use sewing pins, the ones with the colourful heads, but I don't have any in Tasmania, sew (pun intended) I used sewing needles. I could never have done this in Adelaide. My female dog Bubbles loves metal things. Once, my mum noticed that Bubbles would yelp every time she got into her bed. Turns out she had been collecting the sewing needles I would inadvertently drop when I wove in ends etc. (I had a tin full of sewing and darning needles) Thank God she never ate any of them (she has eaten other sharp metal things before). I now keep much better track of my notions. Anyway, I digress. Here is what it looked like when I pinned out my swatch:
Once it is dry, grab your ruler or tape measure and count the number of stitches (including half stitches) and rows in a 10cm square. As I said before, if you have a greater number of stitches/rows than the tension guide, your finished object will be smaller than the design. Fewer stitches/rows than the guide, it will be larger than the design. If you're one or two stitches off, you might not want to bother adjusting the needles size and re-swatching. If you want, you can calculate, based on your own tension, how big your finished object will be, and then decide if the finished size will do the job.

Other Ways to Swatch
  • The garter stitch border method: I read once that because stocking stitch curls, it's a good idea to knit a border of garter stitch around the stocking stitch bit that you will count your tension from. I've tried this. I don't recommend it. I did a garter stitch bordered swatch, blocked it and counted, and was really surprised that my tension was much looser than the guide, when it is usually pretty much spot on, if not a little bit tight. So, I did another swatch with no stocking stitch and my tension was back to normal. Conclusion: By starting off with a few garter stitch rows, garter stitch being a looser stitch than stocking stitch, you've established a looser tension. If you want to try it, here is a picture:
  • The half-arsed method: I do this pretty often. You start knitting a swatch then can't be bothered finishing, or you don't want to break the yarn. So, you cast off, not pulling the yarn the whole way through the last cast off stitch (so you can unravel it later) and count your stitches and rows from the portion of swatch you've done (you can figure out the per-inch tension if you don't have a 10cm portion). Not as accurate as doing a proper and blocked/steamed swatch, but it does give you an idea.
I save my tension swatches and am planning to turn them into a  blanket when I have enough. I have some half-arsed ones that I might also put in the blanket, I haven't decided yet.

  • My stitch tension is ok but my row tension is wrong! Help!
    • Yeah, this happens to me. Here's a little trick: If your pattern is something which is knit sideways, then you should pay more attention to your row count over your stitch count. For other patterns, those knit top down or bottom up, stitch count is important. This is especially true for garments. If your row count is ridiculously different from the tension guide, you might want to consider adapting the pattern itself.
That's all. Here's a picture of a beetle:

Monday, 15 July 2013


I'm still sad about my rabbit. It's hard to grieve when you're away from the creature who has died. I've usually found the death of a pet to be much easier to handle than the death of a person, which is logical, and I assumed it was because I value my human relationships more than those I have with animals (that's the fashion, anyway). But when I was 17 and our first dog -- my brother's -- died after 12 years on earth and a brief but tough illness, we told my brother, who was living in another state. He decided to drive the 8 hours to our place to bury her. With the time it took to organise his trip back and drive down, it was a couple of nights with Bouncer's body above ground before we buried her. I found that death as hard as losing a human family member until we buried her. Even six years later as I write this, I've got tears in my eyes. Bouncer's death reminds me that I won't fully believe Coal is dead until I see his empty hutch and the disturbed soil where my dad buried him, next to my dear dog Donny.

Sorry for the downer. I didn't even mean to write that. This was meant to be a fun post. Switching gears.

I forgot to mention that I did a fun project just before I went back to visit Adelaide. You see, one of my housemates was leaving Tasmania for her home in Canada after six months. I definitely knew I wanted to knit her something as a going away present, and I definitely knew I wanted to knit her something Australiana-y. A few weeks before leaving, she went to Sydney and came back with a kangaroo onesie, and I had my answer. By modifying this pattern, I made her a pair of kangaroo mittens! She's from Canada, you see, so your hands freeze off if you don't wear mittens. If you're a member of Ravelry, I've posted my pattern modifications on here. And here is a picture of the mittens (apologies for the mess):

Peace out,

The Knitted Kitten

Friday, 12 July 2013

Rest in Peace, Coal

My last post was about how I had made a toy rabbit out of yarn I spun from the fur of my real rabbit, Coal. In that post, I talked about how Coal was getting older and I wanted to make the rabbit as something to remember him by when he passes away. My mum has just called to tell me that Coal has died. He was fine one day, and the next day did not greet my mum when she went to feed him; he had died in the place he sleeps. I knew this day was coming. I only hope he died peacefully and painlessly. I will love you always, my bunny rabbit.