Agujas

The Art of Knitting

Tag: wool

Knitting Tools

Besides yarn and needles, there are a few tools that come in handy for knitters and crocheters. These are some of the knitting tools that I’ve been using lately.

DPN Tubes

Now that I’m knitting socks, I have found these double-pointed needle (DPN) tubes to be absolutely necessary. With DPNs, there is a higher risk of stitches slipping off the ends. With these tubes, you can store your knitting safely inside without fear of losing stitches. Just carefully line up your needles so that they are side by side and your work is concentrated in the middle. Lay the needles and your work inside the opening of the blue tube. Most of your knitted piece will stick out. Next, slide the red tube over the blue one lining up the openings. Twist slightly to hold your knitting in place.

DPN Tubes 1

I picked these up at the Must Stash Yarns booth at a fiber festival. (Try saying “must stash yarns” three times very fast). It came with two DPN tubes and a set of tubes without the opening to store and carry your DPNs or crochet hooks.

DPN Tubes 2

Cable Needles & Stitch Holders

I already have a reliable and boring cable needle in my toolkit but when I saw these colorful chunky cable needles, I had to have them. They’re so much fun in pink and green. Those little round felted thingies are stitch holders. They are handmade locally and come in several colors. I like using these stitch holders made out of felted fibers instead of those rubbery point protectors, although I have some of those as well.  (The cable needles are from WC Mercantile; the stitch keepers from Yarntopia.)

Cable Needles Collage

Nøstepinde & Set Gauge

Then there are these beauties in black walnut and oak. The one on the left, a nøstepinde, is used to wind a center pull ball. No kidding! Sometimes the simplest tools are the best. To read how to use this tool, try this post from Hatchtown Farm.

The tool on the right is a set gauge. The thinner section at the top of the gauge is 1 inch wide. To determine the weight of your yarn, wind it around this part of the gauge from end to end. Keep count as this will give you the wraps per inch, which you can then translate into yarn weight.

Both of these simple yet beautiful tools are hand carved at Marsh Mellow Meadows. (Not to be confused with marshmallows. Lots of tongue-twisters!)

Nøstepinde & Wraps Per Inch Tool

Blocking Mats

Until very recently, I’ve been blocking my knitted items on large towels. Not always effective because they don’t always lay flat. I looked for blocking mats online and in stores in the arts and crafts and children’s sections and frankly found them way too expensive. Then I found these at a dollar store. $1 each! I even like that they can be broken down into even smaller mats. Or I can make them as long or wide as I need depending on the size of my project.

Blocking Mats 1

Of course, for a dollar, you can’t be picky about the colors. These come in all shades princess!

Blocking Mats 2

Do you have a favorite knitting or crocheting tool? Do you like it because it’s simple, cute, one-of-a-kind, handmade, fast, or budget-friendly?

Sunday Knitting

It’s a beautiful Sunday, a little rainy, but calm and peaceful.

Mexican Easter Eggs

The cascarones are ready for cracking.

Cascarones

A hot pink sock in progress.

Sock in Progress

Wishing you a lovely day.

My Bulldog

I love dogs … but no one in my family does. Well that might be extreme. The teen always wanted a dog but he has allergies and he sneezes up a fit when around pets. The husband likes outdoor dogs, like labradors. I like smaller pets indoors but don’t like the doggy smell. So, I knit my own dog.

Bulldog 1

The pattern came from Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. This is the English Bulldog. I think bulldogs are adorable, sort of ugly-cute with their long jowls, large shoulders and short legs. Apparently they are known to drool and snore. What’s not to like?

Knitting up the body was easy. Just follow the pattern, and be sure to label the parts.

Bulldog Parts 1

Bulldog Parts 2

The tough part was putting him together. The instructions have shortcomings. The book could be much improved with diagrams showing how all the parts fit together, especially for the head. It was hard to visualize what he would look like from staring at the knit head pieces. I even thought of taking pictures of my bulldog in progress but most of the time, I was making it up as I went.

Bulldog Blocking

Overall, I am quite pleased with how he came out.

Bulldog 2

In retrospect, I have a few lessons learned to share with anyone who might knit their own best friend:

  • While I blocked some of the body parts, I didn’t block them all. I should have. It would have made joining the pieces easier.
  • I under-stuffed the legs. I will probably open him up a bit so that I can add more stuffing to the legs. They can’t quite hold up his weight. Even that may not be enough though. I’m toying around with inserting some popsicle sticks into the legs to help him stand. We’ll see.
  • He’s a bit thin. I was wary of overstuffing him to make sure I could get the accordion look but may have under done it. I may fatten him up a bit when I go in to stuff the legs.
  • To keep that accordion look, the pattern suggests tying a piece of yarn from the head to the tail inside the body. I sort of did that but I let the yarn exit under the tail. Then I sewed a very small clear button just underneath, barely visible. When I feel he needs some scrunching up, I tighten the yarn and wind it around the button to hold it in place.
  • I’m satisfied with the face except that I may move the nose up closer below his eyes. He has more of the bulldog look when I move the nose a little higher.

Bulldog 3

I like this little fella’. No fleas, muddy paws, picking up poop with a plastic baggie, no shedding. Perfect.

To Spain or Bust

Another knit hat is off the needles. Simple pattern with reliable results. This hat is intended for a gentleman my husband met on his trip to Spain last year.

Another Beanie

On his walk along the Way of St. James, he stopped for the night in León in northern Spain. There, he befriended the owner of the Taller de Grabado y Estampa. He spent a few hours talking with the owner and artisan, José Holguera, in his engraving and stamping studio. My husband came home with these beautiful limited edition lithographs of the Catedral de León and a pilgrim’s staff imprinted by Holguera on his lithographic press.

Holguera Lithograph Catedral de León

Holguera Lithograph Staff

Over the holidays, an envelope stamped with Correos España arrived. It contained a beautiful lithograph of a modernist starry night.

Holguera Lithograph Star

As a token of appreciation, my husband wanted to send his friend a gift – so he asked me if I would hand knit a hat. The hat needed to be special, even in its simplicity. I went through my stash and selected the yarn I brought back from my trip to Colombia. It is 100% hand-spun wool in natural, undyed hues.

Natural undyed wool 1

I used the darker brown. The photo of the finished hat was taken under different outdoor lighting conditions so the richness of the brown does not come through as in this photograph.

Natural undyed wool 2

I was concerned it would be a bit scratchy but it is soft and warm. I doubled the yarn as I knitted to make it especially cushiony. It seems fitting somehow – 100% undyed, hand-spun wool from Bogotá, Colombia, hand-knit in Texas, for a friend in León, Spain.

January 2015 FO: Cabled Brioche Scarf

During a trip to Germany, we had almost a two-hour visit with the owner of Atelier Zitrón who after talking about the quality fibers they used, walked us into a showroom full of yarn spun especially for hand-knitting. Three skeins of Opus 1 yarn have been in my stash since. The skeins come infused with aloe vera and jojoba.

Opus 1 Center Pull Balls

When I came across the Cabled Brioche Stitch Scarf pattern, I knew it would showcase the vibrant colors of the yarn.

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 1

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 2

The brioche pattern creates a nice loft and the cabling adds layers and depth.

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 3

The rich colors add yet another element of interest.

Opus 1 Brioche Scarf 4

This one might be a knit gift to me.