Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's on My Knitting Needles

In October, I'll be teaching a two-part class on knitted mittens. This is going to be a basic mitten, but based on some feedback from a student in one of my hat classes, our mitten is going to have a pointed top rather than the rounded top found in most mittens (because that's how your hand is shaped, right?)

Here's one of the mittens started with stitches for the thumb on a holder.

I don't like doing thumbs very well, so they always get done last. I have to get this pair done pretty soon, so I can deliver it to the knitting shop so students know what they're signing up for. I'm also going to teach them about "half-mitts" and fingerless gloves. Half-mitts are just what the name implies--half a mitten which stops just above the knuckles, but you don't have to knit in the half-fingers like a fingerless glove. I have several pairs of these and they're really nice in the wintertime--especially if you work in a chilly office (like I do) but you need your fingers free for work.

I found a bunch of dishcloth patterns a few weeks ago on a really cool website called Dishcloth Boutique. There are patterns for knitted and crocheted dishcloths. I have a bunch of cotton yarn in my "stash" and decided that I would try and get a few dishcloths knitted up so we could start using them instead of paper napkins at the dinner table. I thought this was a pretty good idea for several reasons: I could use up some yarn to make space for storing more yarn, I would get to try lots of new patterns, and I would eliminate more trash by not throwing away paper napkins anymore. A "win-win" any way you look at it!


Everyday in my e-mail in-box, I receive the Knitting Daily e-mail from Interweave Press. I also subscribe to their Interweave Knits magazine and they publish many other fine knitting pattern books which I own. In the daily e-mail about 10 days ago, they interviewed Mags Kandis who designed the "Modern Quilt Wrap" for Folk Style, the newest pattern book published by Interweave Press.

Here's the picture of the "Modern Quilt Wrap." Isn't it beautiful? I really liked the design, but thought to myself, "that looks really difficult and so many ends to weave in!" They had the pattern included in the e-mail, but I didn't even take the time to look at it because I thought it would be just too much work.

About a week after that e-mail, I was looking over at Martie's blog and saw that she had actually started working on the quilt wrap herself and was doing it a bit narrower (more like a scarf). Well, after seeing what Martie had done, I was so inspired, I decided to take a second look at this pattern. The instructions listed it as "easy." "Come on, Ruthie," I told myself, "you should be able to handle this without any problem."

So I printed out the pattern and started looking through my yarn stash again and came upon a couple of kits I had purchased years ago (one for multicolored socks and the other for multicolored vests). The only thing I ever did with these kits was to wind the hanks of yarn into balls and it's been languishing in the yarn cupboard ever since. The yarn colors were perfect for this design and I started it last Friday night.

It really is a very simple pattern--you start with this L-shaped thing on your needle and with a decrease on each side of the center, your L-shape gradually decreases into a square. I've been weaving in the ends as I go, so will not even have to deal with too many tails once the project is completed. I've been trying to do one section every couple days or so, and it's quite enjoyable to see my progress and how the colors work together.

Here's the front side (see how it's turning into a square from the "L" shape?)

And here's the backside (I usually don't cut the yarn tails off till after everything's finished and I wash it).

Now that the sun is going down by 7:30, I have much more time in the evening for knitting. (Although I did spend a few minutes with a hummingbird perched on my finger tonight after supper--no amount of knitting can even come close to the joy I get from those little birds!)


entoto said...

That wrap is lovely. I can't wait to see what you do with it. Please show us the finished product. Also, would you share your fingerless mittens pattern? I DO work in a chilly warehouse, but need my fingers.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Trixie,
I'll post pictures of the wrap when I get it finished. Let me know if you want the pattern and I'll forward the e-mail to you (it's all garter stitch!)

I'll be happy to share the half-mitt pattern with you as soon as I get it typed up for the class. I think you will like them.

entoto said...

Forward on! I did a clapotis for my mom a year ago. Always thought I would do one for me, but I have not! Maybe I can make this work.

Jayne said...

Wow Ruthie, that wrap looks like it will be so very pretty! Can't wait to see the finished project. :c)

Susie said...

That wrap is so colorful. It should keep you warm and cozy in your cold weather.
Wish you were nearby, I take a class from you and brush up on my knitting skills, which are pitiful at best!

Anonymous said...

Mitten weather will be upon us before we know it. I love mittens they are always warmer then gloves. That wrap looks interesting and what a great way to use up scraps of yarn, I to will be looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Okay. I think we have already established that I am not knitting gifted. But if I could knit, the first thing I would knit would be dish cloths. My mom had some hand knitted ones a few years ago and they were awesome. I have also tried knitting some--but we know the end of that story.

Is there a place where you can BUY these precious babies?

--Robin (Bumblebee)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Trixie,
Watch you e-mail inbox for the pattern....

Hi Jayne,
The colors are a little brighter than what I usually use, but it's turning out kind of neat.

Hi Susie,
I enjoy teaching the knitting classes because all my students have been very willing to learn something new, and it's great to have them excited about going home and continuing to develop their newly-learned skill.

Hi Mom,
This has been a fun technique to learn and I've been thinking about how to adapt the pattern into an afghan size.

Hi Robin,
I've left a special dishcloth offer in your e-mail box....

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Ruthie is the BEST. Thanks for that great email offer!

I wish you lived in Maryland to give me knitting lessons.

Did I tell you I actually PAID to take knitting lessons from a couple of Italian ladies with moustaches a few years ago? They were very nice but kept telling me that I was too "tight" and that I needed to relax.

How funny is that? Relax? Me?


By the way, Ruthie, I thought you were working overtime this week...

--Robin (Bumblebee)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Robin,
I have a name and phone number in my knitting bag of a lady who wants private knitting lessons. I haven't called her yet because my schedule is so goofy and I don't know what to charge. Can you tell me how much you paid? Do you think $15/hour would be a fair charge for private lessons? Did you go to the teachers or did they come to your place? (or did you meet at a neutral location?)

I ended up working only about 15 minutes late today....looks like the real overtime will start on Saturday and continue into next week :-(

Mary said...

Ruthie, you are so talented! I knitted years and years ago and enjoyed it but I never did anything as complicated as you do. Wow. What I really wonder is how you find time to knit and blog. What I am glad to know is that you save time for your little green metallic backed lovelies :o) Mine are wild...I dread them leaving. I counted ten today. Numbers are decreasing.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mare,
10 hummers at one time? I'm so envious. On only one occasion a few weeks ago did I see that many. And if you say the numbers are decreasing that means you've had so many more than I ever see here! I can certainly understand why you dread them leaving. They are so special.

Mary C said...

Hi Ruthie - your post is inspiring me to pick up some needles again. I think the last project(s) I did was crocheting dishcloths - they were the kind that are two-layers thick, called "crochet on the double." I liked making the cotton dishcloths. I visited the links you posted. Dishcloth Boutique was quite impressive; and so was Knitting Daily. I think I will bookmark them and visit them from time to time. Your scarf project looks like fun and easy to do. Maybe one of these days . . .

KGMom said...

I agree, the wrap is lovely.
But, I am not convinced that it is really easy. I am still working on "you start with this L-shaped thing. . ." All I can knit is blankets.
No mittens for me, or wraps.

Ruth said...

I like hand made mittens and buy them for myself at the market. They are so inexpensive that I would never make my own. The people who knit them must get about 40 cents an hour for their work. Your knitting is art! I will stick with dishcloths for now. (I did get your email a while back about dishcloth patterns...thanks.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary C,
I like to crochet too, but mainly for afghans--most of which I give away. I watch for sales on the Red Heart yarn in the big skeins and will buy about $100 worth at a time. This keeps me in afghan projects for about a year!

I'm glad you enjoyed those sites I mentioned. Be sure to post pictures of your projects once you've finished them!

Hi Donna,
I'm the type of person who tends to make simple things much harder than they are, but when I sat down and started knitting following the instructions in this pattern, it was easy, REALLY! And it's all garter stitch!

Hi Ruth,
Handmade mitten are nice, but take a lot of time. I met a nice German lady a couple years ago who knits mittens and gloves to sell at local craft shows. She said she charges only $12 for a pair of gloves! I was shocked--there's so much extra work in making gloves. She said she can't stop knitting and was happy selling her stuff for almost nothing. She said she sells out every year.

Anonymous said...

If you adapt the pattern to afghan size, I know the Red Cross will be very happy to have some new afghans for the people that have fires or floods. There is a gal who was caught in the flood in Austin, MN a couple of years ago. She lived in a basement apt and got up to over a ft of rain in her apt, the Red Cross came and gave her an afghan. She lost everything but a few clothes, so much for a basement apt. That afghan was the only thing she had to hold on to that was hers. She still has it.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
I never heard that afghan story before. Was it one of my afghans? Or does someone in Mower County make afghans for their Red Cross chapter? I will have to call you for more details. Thanks for letting me know.

Larry said...

That's a nice hobby you have, and you seem to be good at it!-It's nice to have more than one hobby-more things to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Just checking in after too long. Love your version of the quilt wrap! Love the suggestion of using a variation of that pattern for a blanket...think I'll do that sometime. Also there is the "Rambling Rows" Afghan pattern from Cottage Creations that does something similar that is WAYYYYY fun to knit...(I have one unfinished, knitted out of Kureyon, so the self-striping is beautiful).

Bye!!! Martie

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Well, I'm really late replying to your question! Hoh.

Well, my knitting lessons were back in...hummm...I think it was 1994. So perhaps you'll forgive me that my memory isn't that clear.

But perhaps you've already figured this out? Maybe as a point of reference it would help to tell you I pay my son's math tutor $30/hour. She has been working with him about 3 years. She is awesome and my son now makes As in math--a formerly D student back in the 8th grade.

If you could teach me to knit socks, I would happily pay you that! Sadly, I would be a very stoopid student.

--Robin (Bumblebee)

ojan0011 said...

Hi Ruth- I was hoping to find someone in the Rochester area that can give me lessons this December. I'm a very inexperienced beginner who can't quite get the hang of things. Let me know what you think!
Thanks a ton,