Monday, January 19, 2015

Zebra Chevron Legwarmers

Legwarmers are a great way to try out a new stitch pattern. They're so simple in structure that starting one isn't much different from making an in-the-round gauge swatch, which is why I pretty much never gauge swatch a legwarmer. Gasp! I know. It's a travesty. But I hate swatching, and if I guess right the first time, I don't have to. If I don't guess correctly, I have a gauge swatch and can figure out from there what I need to change. Clever, eh?

The only tricky thing about this design is adjusting a stitch pattern written to be worked flat into one that can be worked in the round. This is fairly simple to accomplish and is a good way to learn about how stitch patterns function. To revise a stitch pattern so all sides are the right side, every other row (the wrong side ones) need to basically be flipped inside out and backwards.

No problem, right?

For this project, I used Zebra Chevron from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It's a fabulous book, and you should have it. I resisted buying such a thing because there are so many stitch patterns available on the internet, but it makes a big difference to have something to hold, flip through, and mark up.

The original version read as follows:

Note: On all right-side rows (odd numbers) all sl-sts are slipped with yarn in back. On wrong-side rows (even numbers) all sl-sts are slipped with yarn in front. 

Cast on with color A and purl one row.
Row 1 (Right Side): With color B, k1, * sl 1, k2; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 2: With B, k1, * p2, sl 1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 3: With A, k1, * k1, sl 1, (k2, sl 1) 3 times, k3, (sl 1, k2) 3 times, sl 1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 4: With A, k1, * sl 1, (p2, sl 1) 3 times, p3, (sl 1, p2) 3 times, sl 1, p1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 5: With B, k1, * k2, (sl 1, k2) 3 times, sl 1, k1, sl 1, (k2, sl 1) 3 times, k1; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 6: With B, k1, * p1, (sl 1, p2) 3 times, sl 1, p1, sl 1, (p2, sl 1) 3 times, p2; repeat from *, end k1.
Rows 7 and 8: With A, repeat Rows 1 and 2.
Rows 9 and 10: With B, repeat Rows 3 and 4.
Rows 11 and 12: With A, repeat Rows 5 and 6.

It looks rather complicated, doesn't it? For me, it's difficult to picture what exactly you're doing and why. Parsing it out to be worked in round clarifies things quite a bit.

The first step is to take out the stuff that no longer applies. That note about slipping stitches in back on right side rows and in front on wrong side rows? Lose it. All stitches will be slipped in back.

Next, remove all those extra stitches on the edges. We won't have any edges, so we don't need those.

For example, on Row 1 instead of k1, * sl 1, k2; repeat from *, end k1, we can simplify it to *sl 1, k2.
So easy!

Something pretty nifty happens as we move into the next, wrong side row. With the edge stitches removed, it reads * p2, sl 1. Since all our sides are the right side, we need to work in reverse and change the p's to k's. Revised version: *sl 1, k2.

That looks familiar! It's the same as Row 1. And the same goes for every wrong side row. When revised to work in the round, they're the same as the row before. Isn't that nice? The full revised stitch pattern is given below in the legwarmer pattern itself. Enjoy!

Zebra Chevron Legwarmers

Size 6 and 8 dpns, or whatever you prefer for small circumference knitting.

Gauge: 18 sts and 20 rows for a 4" x 4" square.

Color A: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford Gray
Color B: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Black

With A, CO 48
With smaller needle work in  k1, p1 rib for 1.5" (9 rounds)
Switch to larger needle  and knit one round. Start stitch pattern.

Stitch Pattern
1 & 2: With B *sl 1, k2
3 & 4: With A *k1, sl1, (k2, sl 1) 3 times, k 3, (sl1, k2) 3 times, sl 1
5 & 6: With B, *k 2 (sl 1, k2) 3 times, sl 1, k 1, sl 1, ( k 2, sl 1) 3 times, k1
7 & 8: With A, repeat rows 1 & 2.
9 & 10: With B , repeat rows 3 & 4.
11 & 12: With A, repeat rows 5 & 6.

Continue to approximately 15.5” total length (or length desired), ending on round 12. K 1 round. Switch to sz 6 needles and work in k 1, p 1 rib for 1.5”

Bind off using a stretchy method. I used Lori’s Twisty Bind Off.

These are fairly slim legwarmers, but there isn't a lot of leeway with a stitch pattern that requires a multiple of 24 sts. You could certainly add another repeat if you like big slouchy legwarmers, or just go up a needle size.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Mod Bob, a wig for all occasions

It's Epiphany! And if you're in the vicinity of Louisiana, you know what that means: the official start of carnival season, king cakes abounding, parades marching through neighborhoods, and costumes.

In celebration of all things Mardi Gras, my pattern for The Mod Bob crochet wig is now up for sale!

Short Version

The pattern includes instructions for a short version that slopes up sharply in the back, and a longer version that would do a better job at covering up longer hair. Adjustments for children and toddlers are included.

Long version with Devil horns
I've worn this wig for many an occasion in New Orleans, from Halloween and Mardi Gras, to just a cold(ish) evening out on the town.

short version in progress
The wig is crocheted in two pieces and sewn together, so the bangs are more defined. It's a fairly simple pattern, the most complicated stitches are front post double crochets and a couple invisible decreases, though that stitch is explained in the pattern.

Double devils!
As a bonus, I've included instructions for the optional additions of devil horns or alien antennae to make your wig into a true costume piece. Or a very, very fashionable hat.

for the fashion forward extra terrestrial

I hope you like it as much as I do. The pattern is sold as an instant download from my Etsy shop: The Mod Bob Pattern  Happy crocheting!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Fisherman's Wool Felted Slippers

Felting is always an experiment. Even when making the same pattern with a different yarn, or using a yarn you've successfully felted in the past in a new way, you can't be sure exactly how your project will turn out. I've used Fisherman's Wool for felting projects in the past, and know something about how it behaves but it was still an adventure getting the slippers finished in the shape of an actual human foot.

The pattern I used is Marsh Felted Slippers, available as a free Ravelry download. I did make a few changes, since I can't seem to follow a pattern any more than I can follow a recipe. I worked the whole thing in garter stitch, in the hope it would add extra thickness, and I added 6 rows before the start of the pattern to give a slightly higher cuff. My cuff turned out pretty short anyway, which may have been the result of the garter stitch being shorter than stockinette. The pattern only gave a width measurement for gauge, so I figured a little variation would be fineand it was!

The stripes were worked as follows:

Oak Tweed: 6 rows before pattern start
Nature's Brown: 18 rows (up to foot increases)
Oak Tweed: 4 rows
Nature's Brown: 2 rows
Oak Tweed: 6 rows
Nature's Brown: to end

After I made one slipper, I was....concerned. Instead of looking simply like a giant, loosely knitted slipper, it looked like a giant misshapen elf shoe.

Long and curly and rippled and narrow in the middle, and then gigantic in the heel.

I tried it on to see if it would look a little more like a shoe.

It didn't. 

In an effort to not waste my time completely, I decided the felt the first slipper. If it actually became a successful slipper, only then would I knit the other foot.

Since I've felted with fisherman's wool before, I know it can take some heat. And the slipper was so, so big, I wasn't too worried about over-shrinking. I ran it through a hot wash with some other laundry, and it came out looking pretty darn good. Still rather elfish, but not so rippled and uneven. I tried it on, mushed it around in the shape of my foot, and since it was still rather big, ran it in the dryer for ten minutes, tried it on again, and gave it another ten. I walked around with the wet thing on my foot for awhile to help with the shaping, and was surprised to find I had a pretty good looking slipper. 

I worked the second slipper the same way, then took a couple pics for that before-and-after drama. 

I thought it would be a simple matter to replicate my felting method for the first slipper....and it should have been. I put on a load of laundry and waited for the magic to happen. When I took my slipper out of the wash, it had shrunk much less than the first one. At first I thought it was just one of those felting mysteries, and moved on to the drying portion. But then I discovered the fatal flaw
I'd washed a large load of laundry with the dial set to small. Less water! That was the reason for the variation. Now annoyed at myself, I continued wetting down the slipper and running it in the dryer until it finally resembled its partner.

I have to say, though, it never quite matched up. The stripes weren't as clean, and never got as smooth as the other. Let this be a lesson that felting likes hot water and lots of it. 

If I were to do this again, I would start out with a smaller number of stitches and add more rows to the cuff for a bit more ankle warmth, but if you have smaller feet you might find that simply shrinking them more will give you a narrower ankle. And of course, I'd felt them at the same time, in the same way. With plenty of water.

I'm still quite happy with the result!