Sunday, December 14, 2014

Star Light Star Bright ornaments by Mad Mad me

I had to share this great simple pattern from Mad Mad me, via Moogly. This is truly a scrap-busting project. All those teeny odds and ends of yarn I can't seem to get rid of are now fancy little stars! Like, little bits I tried to make flowers out of, but didn't have enough. I used those.

The tutorial can be downloaded here: Star Light Star Bright.  It's easy to follow and super quick to work up.

I can't even tell you what yarns I used to make these. The white parts are a combination of Lion Brand Wool Ease in Wheat (the variegated one), Pound of Love, and a third thing I found a little ball of.

Shown left to right in Pound of Love, Wool Ease, and mystery ball.

The middles are all over the place, and aren't even all the same weight, though most fall into the worsted category. The variations in weight and texture of the yarn create slightly different sizes and effects in the finished project.

To finish these into ornaments, I had to do something about the backs. I don't mind them only having one pretty side, but I want the back to look finished, and mine looked like this:

*Shudder.* I could have done a better job of weaving in my ends, but I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with it, so I didn't bother. Instead, I cut some circles out of felt and used them to cover up some of the messiness and attach a ribbon to hang them at the same time. I used chalk to trace a small shot glass for the first one, then used it as a template for the rest. There is absolutely no reason to use black felt except that's what I had on hand and I refuse to enter a retail establishment until after New Year's.

Then it's hot glue time! I used a little dot to glue down the ribbon first. and then a swirl to secure the felt. I cut my ribbon into 8" lengths.

That's all it takes, and you've got yourself a homemade ornament!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pom Pom Magic

There are many, many pom pom tutorials out there on the interwebs. But when I needed to make one to top this little pointed cap, I didn't follow any of them.

I read a lot of different methods and directions and then I found a way that worked better for me than any of them. So, here it is!


Thin cardboard with a fold in it. (I used a 6 pack box, but a cereal box would work too.)

First, we'll have to make a template. The fun thing here is you only have to make it once in a particular size, and you've got yourself a pom pom making machine.

Cut a chunk out of the side of your box so that the length across the fold is a bit bigger than you want your finished pom pom to be. If it's too big, you can trim it down, and you'll have to do some trimming anyway, so err on the large side. It is MUCH easier to cut a piece of cardboard that already has a fold in it, than to cut a square and try to fold it yourself. If you want a straight line (and you do), this is the way to go. The length along the fold is less important. My little rectangle is 2" (1" on each side of the fold) by about 2.5." You may find a longer piece easier to deal with.

Yes, that is a Sierra Nevada box.

Next, take a length of yarn—6" or so—and sandwich it the fold. This will be your pom pom tie.


And now, we wrap. Around and around and around the folded side. Then around like fifty more times.

I wrapped this one a hundred times, because I guess I really like counting. The number of wraps isn't crucial, but you want a lot or yarn for a full pom pom.

When you're all wrapped up, cut the yarn and then pull your scrap yarn down to the bottom of the folded cardboard to tie.

I found it easier to partially tie it on the cardboard, and then slip the whole thing off to tighten the knot and make it more secure.

Slide your scissors into the loops and cut all the way around. 

 You should now have a big, gangly pom pom that looks like it needs haircut. 

Give it a haircut! Just snip all around the circle to get the ends even and the pom pom the size you want.

 Check out this good looking pom pom. 

I felt like I trimmed a lot around the circumference of my pom pom, but it measures just about 1.75" across, pretty close to my 2" template.

Now, go out there and fill the world with pom poms!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mesh Mobius Cowl

Hello, and welcome to the bloggercized version of Strung Out Fiber Arts! I am an avid crocheter and knitter (though my primary craft is crochet) and have been selling my finished products and a few patterns on Etsy since 2011. I hope this blog will be a place for me to share my experiments (successes and failures) and the overall process of turning a ball of yarn into a fun finished product.

With no further introduction, (drum roll please), my very first blog post will be...a free knitting pattern. Hurray!

This is an extremely simple pattern—so simple I'm not sure it even qualifies as a pattern—but it's fun to make and beautiful to wear, so I think it’s worth sharing.

Mesh Mobius Cowl


1 skein of Knit Picks Palette in Cream
Size 7 straight needles

Gauge is not crucial for this piece. Palette is a fingering weight yarn and the needles I’ve chosen are several sizes larger than recommended, which makes the mesh effect more pronounced. Even larger needles will create a looser, lacier effect, while smaller needles will create a denser pattern.  My gauge was approximately 10 stitches and 12 rows for a 2” square after blocking.

This cowl is worked flat and bound off to join into a mobius ring.

CO 70 sts.
Row 1: k1, *yo, k2tog.* End k1. Repeat directions between asterisks.

That’s it. That’s the only row of the pattern. It’s the same on both sides so it creates a perfectly reversible fabric. Just keep on knitting until you run out of yarn or decide your cowl is long enough, making sure to leave enough yarn to bind off. A couple yards should do the trick.

There are many ways this simple pattern can be varied—fewer stitches cast on for a slimmer, longer infinity scarf, using an additional skein to make one long piece to wear as a traditional scarf, joining in a circle, or as I’ve done, adding a half twist and joining into a mobius cowl.


This is where it gets a little wacky. I actually first bound off my piece, seamed it together, hated how it looked, and ripped out the seam and bind off row.

I don’t recommend this.

Instead, I found that a sort of modified three needle bind off brings it together much more nicely. (More on this below.)

I’d advise attempting some light blocking with the piece still on the needles. I blocked mine somewhere between binding off and then ripping it back out, so I don’t know how well blocking on the needles will work. But it’s going to be pretty impossible to block with your cowl sewn up into a mobius strip, so give it a try.

Blocking is totally worth it for this stitch pattern and yarn. If you’re like me, and often make items using acrylic yarn that don’t necessitate blocking, like tiny Cinderella wigs, it’s easy to imagine it doesn’t make a difference. But this is wool, and this is lace, and it totally does.

Before blocking, my piece measured 12” x 23” and afterwards it measured 15” x 27.” That’s how much the lace opens up with a little treatment. It’s kinda cool, actually. The result is a rectangle of soft, airy delight

To bind off and seam the cowl at the same time (yay!) you need to give the cowl a half twist so the needle edge lines up with the cast on edge.

To do this, lay the piece out flat and bring the needle point to the opposite corner of the cast on edge. I think of this as catercorner if you find that helpful.

 Then, bring the end of the needle across to line up with the cast on edge. 

Now for the fun part! If you’re familiar with three needle bind off, this is quite similar, but instead of knitting together live stitches, you’ll be knitting through one live stitch and picking up another from the cast on edge to bind them together. No third needle necessary.

Insert your needle into the first stitch and through the first cast on stitch of the opposite edge, and knit together. 

 Do this once more, and then pass the first stitch over, binding off as you usually would. 

This gives you a ridge on one side, as you might see on the wrong side of a sweater.


And the other side is much cleaner looking than anything I was able to achieve by seaming. With  no seaming!

The back is the front, the inside is the outside. Science!

I find that the mobius-ness helps the cowl to lay nicely around the neck with little to no effort. With round cowls I tend to be unsure of how to arrange them, and the twist arranges itself for me. 

Ta Daa!