Tuesday, February 28, 2012

crocheted sweaters in the mail

Many thanks to Elizabeth D, who not only donated the yarn for these sweaters, but who has also uploaded these photographs for me!  Thanks also to "cti', whose delightful sweater pattern inspired my designs here.

The multicolored sweater is a woman's size small, while the red one is a child's size 10.  Both are done in single crochet with variations for the stripes, which make for a thick and warm fabric.  Both will make it on time for this campaign, and there is yarn leftover for mittens next time, hooray!

I learned a lot figuring out how to make these, bottom-up without a pattern, and had lots of fun--but I think I'll go easier next time.  Too many ends to weave in!  Phew.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lopi blanket

It seems I've been awfully productive this campaign -- but the truth is that many of the things I've sent were started some time ago, and there's just been an unusual outbreak of finishing projects.

I started making squares for this blanket last spring, probably in April. I had a lot of Lopi yarn; after pulling out two sweaters' worth (one of them the blue pullover that I mailed a few weeks ago) I was left with a completely noncohesive group of colors, with no more than two balls of any one color. I started making squares -- cast on 40 stitches on size 9 (my needle for Lopi, because I knit loosely) and knit 6 rows (3 ridges) in garter stitch. Then, keeping first 3 stitches and last 3 stitches in garter, I worked back and forth in stockinette for 68 rows, then ended with 6 rows (3 ridges) in garter stitch. This provided wonderful mindless knitting. When I had 12 squares, I laid them out in the best arrangement I could find, and crocheted the squares together. I hadn't joined squares with crocheting before -- it is so fast!! I chose a medium gray, so although the joining yarn does show through a tiny bit if you look closely, it doesn't show from a few feet away. Each square took less than one ball of yarn, but two balls did not provide adequate yardage for a third square.

Colors, as usual, aren't quite right -- top photo is too dark and bottom photo is too light. But you get the picture. . . this one went off today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last two items of this season

The top dark green sweater is the WW II Red Cross pattern on the a4A website. I used a Reynold's heavy knitting worsted, which creates a really warm sweater. This type of yarn isn't very easy to find. The bottom vest is from Berroco, called Peter Easy. It is size extra small. I've been knitting sweaters like a crazy person, which I'm sure many others have been also. Now I will return to the 4 other projects which have been waiting for me. Actually, I have to admit that I ordered more yarn to try a sweater I've never done before. That will be next season. All the best to everyone.

Edited to add the direct link for the sweater pattern: find it here. It's a scan of someone's actual copy of the pattern; the markings are just that knitter's notations. Make any size, especially the largest sizes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

jet-lag knitting


I was traveling away from home when I discovered the series of New York Times articles on Afghan children dying of cold in a refugee camp in Kabul. This upsetting news story encouraged me to put my jet-lag/insomnia to good use. A local yarn shop carried a very attractive yarn which I had never seen in the U.S., Lang's Nobile, a soft blend of merino wool, mohair and silk, with long color repeats that seemed well suited to accessories.

I used Elizabeth Durand's addictive mitten pattern in the largest size. Each set of mittens left me with enough yarn to improvise these two hats. Everything got blocked once I got home and is now ready to travel to the AFSC basement.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

mittens on the way

A package heads to San Francisco today, containing the blue sweater and Lopi mittens pictured a few days ago, as well as two more pairs of mittens:

Both pairs were knit using two strands of worsted held together, following the instructions for the smallest size of this mitten pattern.  This gives a small to medium adult size, perfect for our age group. The double strand achieves a bulky gauge, but the fabric is more supple than I usually get with a bulky yarn.

I washed the Lopi mittens again, in hopes of evening out the fabric. The first wash was a simple soak and spin using a no-rinse wool wash. This time, I washed on the handwash cycle (ordinary top loader but with a handwash cycle) so there was a little bit of agitation. Because I used Lopi, a pretty fuzzy yarn, I turned them outside when I washed them. They look and feel much better now:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cold in Kabul

A very troubling article was published in The New York Times on Saturday. It has been an unusually cold winter in Afghanistan, and, sadly, children have been freezing to death. You can read the article here. In case you've ever had moments where you doubt that what we do can possibly make a difference, here is your answer.

I am now even more motivated to finish my projects in progress and get them to San Francisco by February 29.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

blue sweater and mittens to go

These will be in the mail this weekend:

For the sweater, I used the Children's Bulky Top-Down Pullover pattern from Knitting Pure and Simple. I had 5 skeins of this beautiful Lopi (a deep blue, with an overlying red haze, and occasional flecks of turquoise and green) in my stash, and the yardage on the pattern said that would be enough. I was skeptical -- but they were right! I had enough left over that I didn't have to be nervous near the end, but not enough to think I could have made a larger size. I made the biggest size, which measures 34 inches at the chest. My friend's 11-year-old son - a normal, healthy kid - has a chest measurement of 29 inches, so I know this size is right on target. I added a couple of inches to body and sleeves to provide room to grow. I also used a nice trick for the bindoff on the roll neck, to keep it stretchy. Instead of using the "normal" technique, do this:

*Knit 2 stitches together. Return the 1 stitch now on the righthand needle to the left needle.* Repeat until you're done. You no longer have that overly tight edge that so often results from a neck edge bindoff.

The mittens are also Lopi, also from stash. They use the stitch and row count from the smallest size of the pattern on the A4A web site, but with needles appropriate to Lopi, and come out as an adult medium (I'm guessing there -- my hands are L/XL, and these are too small for me, but bigger than kid size). You can see a ridge where the needle was left in place while they were put aside for quite a long time -- I may try washing them again to see if I can get rid of that.

I'm sure beautiful things will start flooding in now that we know our deadline -- I can't wait to see!