Archive for the “gloves” Category

Way back in 2009, I knit what was to become my most-worn project: a pair of convertible mittens with two full fingers and a few exposed fingertips, using a combination of the Cigar and Gnomittens patterns. They were made specifically for Winterlude in Ottawa, so that I could have my hands mostly covered and still be able to hold my spoon at the outdoor stew cookoff. One only really needs three fingertips in the winter, right? What can't you do with just three fingertips?

My usual snow gloves are incredibly warm, but too thick to let my fingers be useful for anything more than making snowballs. I called these knit gloves Fleep-Tops, and wore them through several winters. They fit perfectly. They were, in fact, the best thing ever. (So great that Michael asked me to make a pair for him, too!)


But I knew that one day, my Fleeps would become thin and need replacement. And I knew that the yarn (Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed, which is 85% wool/10% silk/5% cashmere) was getting harder and harder to find. So a year later when I was in Ottawa for Winterlude again, I bought two more balls of it, this time in a deep green colourway with red and yellow tweedy flecks, called "Cedar".

Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed

I've missed going to Winterlude for a few years, but this year I'm going back, and so in the beginning of the month I cast on for the next pair of Fleeps. The first one is nearly done, with just a few more fingers and a mitten top to go. I may be frantically knitting on the train again, but I swear, these will be done by the end of the month so I can wear them around one of my favourite cities!


Unfortunately, the yarn isn't as great as I remember from the first pair. It seems weak. There are some very thin spots, and in one place one of the plies had frayed and broken so that I had to rejoin the yarn. The knitted fabric is a good weight, though; I'm not worried about these wearing out in just one season. Because it's so hard to find and because I'm annoyed at the yarn, I'm going to be looking for a replacement DK-weight tweed for my inevitable next pair. I think I'll always want a pair of Fleeps around!

I'm following my notes from the first Fleeps very closely. The only changes I'm making are to shorten the index and middle fingers, which are the half-length fingers, so that the finger covering ends before my first knuckle instead of after it. More cover seemed like a good idea when I made the first pair, but the fabric bunched up oddly when I bent my fingers. I'm definitely going to sew magnetic snaps onto these to hold the top to my wrist and keep it from flopping about, and I'm also considering sewing a polar fleece lining into the mitten for extra warmth.

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"Do you think, if we blockade her bag, she won't be able to leave?"

"I don't know, man."

"It's worth a shot. Come on, I'll take this side, you stretch out over there. She'll never be able to get through us."

"This has never worked before... but okay."

I am heading off for a two week vacation! The hardest part of packing was choosing what knitting projects to bring. I'm just about up to the heel turn on the second of my traveling socks, so I decided to bring another skein of sock yarn with me. I chose the Periwinkle Sheep that I got at Rhinebeck last year, and I'm finally going to make Cakewalk socks for myself.

Then I thought, maybe that's not enough. Maybe I should bring yarn for the fancy cabled kneesocks that I've been wanting to knit for years. Should it be Clessidra? Or Rhiannon?

Then I realized that as tempting as it may be to say that I'd have two weeks of pure knitting time, the truth is that I'm not going to work on something fancy or complicated at Pennsic. It takes too much concentration. I need something simple that I can do whilst holding a conversation, something I can put down and pick up without losing my place.

The yarn for my new dark green Fleeps is in the bag.

I don't have any posts queued up for while I'm gone, but I'll see you all in two weeks!

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This, my friends, is what is known as a Very Silly Picture. This is me, dancing like a fool, at Winterlude this past February. Friend Patrick, who is a very good photographer indeed, took the shot while I was being ridiculous in the park for the amusement of those around me. Fortunately, more people were looking at the ice sculptures than at me, or I might have been photographed whilst blushing bright red.

The great part about this picture, at least for the purposes of this blog, is that I am covered in handknits. The Winterlude Hat(tm), the Stripey Striped Scarf, the Fleeps... and, though you can't see them, I believe I was wearing handknit socks at the time. And the picture wasn't taken to show off any of those things. No, it's just a candid shot of me, wearing lots of things I knit myself. And one thing I spun and then knit, which shows up surprisingly well in pictures even if the contrast is a little dim in person.

I'd like to have enough handknit (or crocheted) stuff that all my friends' photo albums have pictures of me wearing stuff I made myself. It would also count if I learned to sew and was photographed wearing clothing I'd sewn. That's next on the list - once the craft room is set up, I'll have a place for the sewing machine and can re-familiarize myself with its ways. I have a simple skirt in my wardrobe that I'd love to be able to duplicate. After that, who knows where my skills might branch out?

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Wildcard – Embellish the story
Embellishments come in all types and forms. Some are more than purely decorative and form a practical function – pretty buttons are as much part of holding a garment together as mere decoration, and some are just there to give a piece an extra ‘something’. Blog about an embellishment, be it a zipper, amigurumi eyes or applique patch which you are either saving to use or have in the past used to decorate a project with. Write about whether you are a very minimalist kind of knitter with classic lines and timeless plain knits or whether you love all the bells and whistles or sticking sewing and otherwise attaching decoration to your pieces.

Although Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011 is technically over, I thought it would be fun to do the wildcard post anyway!

The best embellishment work I've done to date was attaching little snappish magnets to the tops and cuffs of the Fleep-Tops I made for Michael. My own Fleeps flap; he requested that his could button or snap back out of the way. It took several tries to get the snaps just right, as does most of the embellishment work I attempt. For example, it took several tries before I successfully crocheted buttons onto a sweater, not to mention the one where Pirate-Husband had to help me seam a pair of Blu babypants after I'd tried and failed multiple times to get the orange seam-yarn to show up properly.

Once I'd gotten the basic idea, though, it wasn't terribly difficult to sew on the felt and then sew on the little snaps. (Who am I kidding? It was a pain in the butt. I had to do it over and over again to get it right.) They look really, really good subtly embedded into the cuffs... and they work really, really well, because they're incredibly strong little magnets. They work *so* well, in fact, that I'm almost afraid of them pulling out the fabric even with the felt reinforcements. My next pair of Fleeps will have snaps of their own, and then I will no longer have flapping Fleeps.

I'm not really much of one for actually *doing* the embellishing or accessorizing, but I do appreciate the finished look of a project with trim or an edging, and I can really appreciate it when an embellishment is both beautiful and functional, like a crocheted button or a perfectly set snap.

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Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while.

How has one of your past knits lived up to wear. Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which he then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the was in which you hope that item is still doing good for its owner or the cause it was made to support.

People often ask me if I wear out my handknit socks. "You must have put so much work into them," they say, a concerned look creeping into their eyes, "and then you walk on them. I wear out my socks so fast. Is it even worth it to knit socks?" The funny thing is that I have not yet worn out a pair of my socks, not even the first pair that I finished in 2006. Admittedly, I don't wear those often as they don't fit perfectly. But still. Even the socks I wear more often are still going strong. One pair has perhaps felted more than the others, but the fabric itself is still solid.

The Fleeps, on the other hand, I finished in January of 2009 and they are the knitted items I wear most often. (ETA: The Fleeps, or Fleep-Tops, are actually flip-top glove/mittens. The tips of my thumbs, forefingers, and middle fingers are exposed for things like tying shoes and signing receipts, and the other two fingers are fully closed. They are the best glove/mittens in the world, probably because I took the time to completely custom-fit them. You can see the Ravelry project page here.) They've seen three winters now (and I do wear them into early spring) and just before going to Winterlude in February I noticed that the tops of some of the half-fingers had started to wear out to the point of unraveling. Fortunately, the thin spots were easy enough to fix with duplicate stitching, but I'm thinking that it might be almost time to knit a new pair of Fleeps for myself. As a side note, wow, my hair was short in that picture! It's now well past my shoulders and back into "long hair" territory.

What would be the use of knitting something like socks or gloves, only to have them sit on a shelf looking pretty? I make my knitwear to be worn, to be used, and I know that eventually it will wear out past the point of repair.

Anyway, the Fleeps are without a doubt my favourite thing I've ever knitted. I like my hats, and scarves, and socks. But I love my Fleeps, and I can't imagine ever not having a pair. This is why knitting is great - a storebought item may be discontinued, but as long as there's yarn, I can always make more Fleeps! I already have the yarn for the next pair in my stash, in a deep dark green tweed colourway. (I also need a new winter coat, so I hope to find one that goes with deep dark green gloves.)

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there - eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl - we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays "Thunder" colourway. Understated blues and grays... if you've been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven't, now you know!) I have no idea when I'm going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I'd gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren't exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I'm thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people's hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it's cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn't want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I'd make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I'd make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I'd make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I'm squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there's another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they're getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael's new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he's going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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Last weekend I finally sewed the magnetic snaps to Michael's gloves, but there were problems... First I sewed the snaps directly to the gloves. That seemed fine while I was doing it, but in reality when I tested them, there was too much pull on the knitted fabric. So I added wool felt reinforcements to the wrist snaps, but because I haven't got an instinctive feel for sewing the way I do for knitting, I put them on the outside of the cuffs, between the snaps and the knitting (and then I took a picture, so you can see here how wrong I was).

When I showed Pirate-Husband, as I probably should have done the first time around, he told me the right way to do it would be to use bigger pieces of wool and put them on the insides of the cuffs, sandwiching the knitting between the felt and the snap. I borrowed an x-acto knife from him and I've finally got them right... just one day before deadline. WHEW.

Not only do the snaps work better, and I've less fear of them pulling out of the knitting, but they look much better too, now that the felt is on the inside. I'm so pleased with the way these came out - and now that I know how best to attach the snaps, I may add some to my own Fleeps! Unfortunately, mine are getting to be a little thin. I might get another season out of them, but then it will be time to knit a second pair for myself. Maybe I'll hold off on the snaps until then; after all, my Fleeps have been flopping for a couple of years now... and just last night, I found that the top of one finger was wearing dangerously thin. I've reinforced it with leftover yarn and all is well again! People often ask me if I've worn through any of the socks I've knit (I haven't), but no one ever asks me about these. I wonder why not - they see so much more use.

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Aubrey M. Tinyfierce lost her fight with FIP yesterday. In the end, her fierce was just too tiny for a disease which is inevitably fatal. To say that we'll miss her terribly is an understatement. At least for now, her picture will stay in the banner of my Etsy shop, which should be opening for business in the next couple of months. If I can't do it to support her any more, I can still do it in her memory - and to build up a fund for Floyd T. Underfoot, should he happen to get sick. Right now we're grateful that he's healthy as a horse, sleek and energetic.

Friend Stef came over yesterday to keep me company and help distract me from thinking about Aubrey too much. I showed her the Winterlude Hat (tm) which I'd blocked over a perfectly-sized ceramic bowl1, and she fell in love with its awesomeness. Then, because she has more sewing experience than I do, she helped me pin the fleece lining for the hat. It went much more smoothly for having an extra pair of hands involved. We had a good time chatting about craftsy things while I began sewing it up. I'm so close to being done with it and I can't wait to try it out when I get to Canada in a week and a half.

While I've got the sewing box out, I need to sew the magnet-snaps into Michael's Fleeps. And on the subject of projects which are really, really close to completion, I'm within a few stripes of the toe on the second Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey Jaywalker. I've been working on it here and there while I wait for things like car maintenance and allergy shots. The other day I pulled it out to knit a few stripes and was actually surprised to discover that it's almost finished!

I didn't get much done on the blanket this past weekend, but I plan to work a couple of hexagons in tonight. And soon, if I'm feeling tired of crochet and want to get back to knitting, I can start on the pink and purple sweaters for the twin niecelets.

1. Which shall be my hat-blocking bowl forevermore, when it's not serving its usual role as a fruit dish.

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We had our family holiday celebration on Monday at my brother and sister-in-law's place, and I finally got to give Dad his hat. It fits him perfectly, and he said that it is exactly the hat he wanted! Hooray! Now that I know his size, I told him, I can keep him in hats for as long as he wants. He mentioned a hat with notches over the ears to fit his headset when he flies. I'll have to see about making something like that, perhaps for next Chanukah. Dad was kind enough to model it for me and even to lend me his camera to take pictures, since I'd (of course) forgotten mine.

Speaking of cameras, I've been thinking about getting a new one. Not another point & shoot, like the one I currently have (a Canon SD850IS), because - well, because my next mobile phone will have a really good small camera built right into it - no, I'm envying a DSLR, with which I can take much better pictures. It's almost silly to think about it now because I don't have the money to buy a camera, but maybe someday soon I will. Pirate-Husband thinks it's silly of me to want such a thing. He is convinced that I will buy an expensive camera, take twenty pictures, and get tired of it. I'm not sure I see myself hiking all over the countryside hauling a camera with me, true, but I'd certainly take lots more pictures of stuff indoors, like kittens and dinners and knitting.

In other news, I got a package from Thailand in the mail. It makes the world seem very small, to be able to buy things from the other side of the planet with a few clicks of the mouse, and have them show up at my door less than two weeks later. What was inside the package, you might ask? (And why did I buy from an Etsy seller in Thailand? Because I couldn't find the same things for a better price more locally. I looked. But 20 sets of snaps for $12, including shipping, is about as good as it gets.)

Twenty sets of ultra-thin, surprisingly strong, magnetic snaps. They are the kind of closures that are sewn on, rather than clipped through fabric. This seemed to be a wise decision for attaching a magnetic snap to the mitten-tops and wrist cuffs of Fleep-Top gloves. The kind of magnet that's clipped through would leave a very cold metal circle on the inside of the cuff. I'm actually concerned that they are *too* strong, that unsnapping them will put more stress on the yarn than it can take, and that the gloves will have a shortened lifespan as a result. Perhaps I should reinforce the place where the snaps are sewn on with a piece of fabric on the inside.

My own Fleeps have never had anything to hold the top back when it's not in use, and I've never had a problem with them flopping about... but Michael requested that I do something for his gloves, and so I shall. And if the magnetic snaps are as awesome as I think they will be, it's fairly likely that I'll add them to my gloves, too.

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I'd mentioned that the first two Fleeps had come out slightly different in size, but the more I looked at them the more I realized just how different they were. I tried to quell the thoughts of reknitting, but when Michael tried them on a few weeks ago, I knew instantly that I'd have to make one glove over.

He said I'm crazy, that if he wanted two identical gloves he would have bought them in a store. (Isn't he nice?) I say it's not crazy; the whole point of custom knitting is so that things fit exactly as they should. What good is it if one glove fits perfectly and one is so big that it might have been made for someone else?

How far off could it have been, you ask? Well, I'll tell you, although it's kind of embarrassing... one glove was 3/4" longer than the other, and about 1/2" wider. That is some serious difference. And it's totally unacceptable. So really, the decision to reknit wasn't a difficult one at all.

The sizing difference has to be a matter of gauge/tension, because each of the gloves has the same number of stitches (I counted to be sure) and the same number of rows. Maybe I was hurrying more when I knit the second one, and it came out tighter, and thus fits perfectly? Obviously I should hurry when I reknit the first one to get the same gauge. Or maybe I accidentally knit the first one on US 4/3.5mm needles instead of US 3/3.25mm? We'll never know.

I began to knit the next (would that be the third, or the first?) glove, making sure to pull my stitches tight. After the cuff I could see that my gauge was much more in line with the second glove that had fit properly. Hooray! I kept measuring as I worked my way up the hand, just to be sure. And it came out just fine!

I had enough yarn left in the ball to knit a third glove and one mitten-top, and unraveling the first glove gave me enough recovered yarn to knit the second mitten-top. Unraveling was an adventure as I'd woven the half-million (okay, ten) yarn ends in very carefully. I also had yarn left over from my own pair of Fleeps that could have filled in, if I didn't have enough, but it worked out just fine. And the cut-off fingers will make wonderful felted toys for the kittens.

The second mitten-top was finished in a frantic burst of knitting on Thanksgiving morning, and I held my breath when Michael tried on the gloves Friday night. But woo! They fit perfectly! Then he gave them right back to me to put on some sort of fleep-top holding device. I ordered little sew-on magnets that are shaped like snaps but don't actually snap; if those turn out to be somehow wrong then I'll sew on a button and a loop.

He still says I'm crazy - and a perfectionist, too - but I feel lots better about having made gloves that fit right. Would you have done differently?

Due Date …… Project
10/3 ………… Angie’s gifts
11/1 ………… Second Fleep, hand section
12/1 ………… Mom’s sock #2
12/1 ............ Dad's hat
1/1 ....………. Gift for Janis's baby boy
2/1 ………….. Fleep Restraints for Mitten Tops, awaiting magnets
2/1 ………….. Jacob Hat
3/1 ………….. Twins’ sweaters
4/15 …….….. Gift for Gwen's baby

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