The Panda Owl

The Panda Owl

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Gift of Knitted Gift Giving, Part 2 (How Did You Do THAT?!)

My grandmother is 80 something, rather independent, and loves to go shopping. Even though she's a pretty cool nana, I don't think she knows what a kerchief is for. Thus, when she is presented with her gift, it's going to be called a scarf and I'm going to have to demo how to wrap it around her neck so that it keeps her warm, but doesn't make her look like Billy the Kid. It turns out that many kerchiefs (and shawls) are started using the garter tab cast-on to create their triangular shape. I was unfamiliar with this knitting technique before this project. This ties into the lesson I learned from working on her gift. You should definitely add to your knitting time if you encounter a technique that you have not used before (i.e. a different cast-on method, a unique stitch pattern, etc). It will probably take you more time than you think to get the hang of it. I had to do some research (reading online tutorials and watching videos) before I figured out how to do the garter tab cast-on properly (FYI – you can do it using a crochet hook or just with regular knitting needles). After completing the garter tab and starting to knit, I also had trouble seeing how the kerchief was forming. I took some photos throughout the project to document my progress and show everyone how the garter tab becomes a triangular piece of knitting.

The garter tab cast-on

Here is a close up of the garter tab cast-on

This is the result after knitting a few more rows 

Slipped knitted piece onto circular needles to accommodate the increasing number of stitches. A kerchief is basically an *isosceles triangle. I can see now that the row attached to the needles is forming to become the two equal sides of the isosceles triangle and the row at the bottom is forming to become the unequal side of the isosceles triangle (the long side of the kerchief).

Finished kerchief. The bound off edge form the two equal (and shorter) sides of the isosceles triangle.

Finished kerchief on me. Gun slinging cowgirl? Or Williamsburg hipster? 

*FYI – An isosceles triangle is a triangle that has two sides that are equal length. The third side can be shorter or longer in length than the two equal sides. In the example of a kerchief, the third side is longer.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Gift of Knitted Gift Giving, Part 1 (Easy Does It, Maybe)

Every year sometime in December (and frequently before any major holiday,) countless knitters are faced with the knitting versus time dilemma. Well-imagined plans of knitting homemade gifts do not come to fruition because knitters forget to account for enough time to complete said knitting before designated gift giving occasion. Such miscalculations have surely resulted in the creation of lame construction paper IOUs with promises that physical items will follow at a later date. Or, worst yet, many knitters ditch the knitted gift notion completely and have to brave the masses at the mall to buy last minute gifts.

I found myself in an all too familiar knitting vs time crisis as a family trip to visit my grandparents rapidly approached. I had decided to make some bed slippers for my grandfather and a kerchief for my grandmother. Today's post will focus on the slippers as I learned an important lesson while working on them. Word to the wise – if you have not knitted a particular pattern before, add more time onto your knitting estimate. Do this even if the pattern looks easy! The reasoning is that untried patterns will produce unpredictable results.

For example, you may not be able to obtain the suggested yarn and struggle using the substituted yarn (happened!). Or you may not be pleased with the finished product and want to tweak the design (happened!).

My first attempt at the slippers created something that looked less like a slipper and more like a coffee bean or maybe a canoe (on the bright side, I got some good ideas for knitted bowls).

Can't you see yourself paddling along a river in one of these? 

I wasn't too keen on the back of the slipper - I thought the heel and sole looked too pointy 

I actually ended up running out of yarn (also an unplanned unpleasantry) so I had to go to another yarn store to restock. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't like how the heel of the original slipper was formed so I added a back to the slipper to give it more body.

Picked up stitches on the back end of the slipper and knitted to form a back. I though this gave the slipper a more polished look.

All these tweaks and changes added to my knitting time which fortunately in my case, I could accommodate in my schedule. The second attempt produced slippers that I will gift.

Not the prettiest footwear in the world, but they will keep toes warm

Stay tuned for Part 2 – the kerchief that was supposed to be a shawl that will be described as a neck warmer when gifted to an 85 year old woman.