Stashbuster Mixed Media Cowl

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Before my Art Show in November, I made several of these and they have been well received by many folks there buying them for gifts or for themselves. I wanted to type up a tutorial for any who might be interested in making one (or LOTS) also. It’s a great way to use up your existing stash. In fact, I made it my mission to ONLY use what I had on hand…little bits of this, leftovers of that.

M&MMakeCowl The first thing I do is gather up my yarns. Mortimer and Millicent wanted to oversee my photo tutorial efforts, giving invaluable (and sometimes annoying) suggestions and critiques along the way. 🙂 I like to put the yarns in a white bowl so I can see them sitting there together. I pull anything and everything that tickles my fancy: solid yarns, variegated yarns, fibers with a bit of bling, textured yarns, etc. I don’t worry too much at this point whether or not I’ll actually USE them all…this is the fun part of putting color together! There may be a yarn or two that just don’t make it into the finished cowl. Or I may just use them all!

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I choose a bulky yarn as a “base” or anchor. Since I’m using either a size 13 knitting needle or an N crochet hook, I want the stitches and yarns to be rather chunky. But this doesn’t mean I can’t use worsted, DK or even fingering weight yarns. I just have to combine the thinner yarns to approximate a chunky weight. I’ll demonstrate this a bit in the photos.

If I’m knitting a Mixed Media Cowl, I cast on 40-50 sts. This is a wide range that you will have to determine the number based on how thick your yarn choices are AND based on how generous you want your cowl to be. I’ve made them anywhere from neck huggers to cowls with a bit of drape. You choose! The knitted version is simply garter stitch all the way through.

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If I’m crocheting a Mixed Media Cowl, I chain 45-50. Again, this all depends on the above factors. This one is a 50 chain Cowl, which is a bit more generous than some I have made. I use single crochet stitches THROUGH THE BACK LOOP. This allows the crochet to have more drape to it than regular single crochet.

So, here we go:

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I began with the “base” yarn, a chunky yarn combined with a very slim shiny yarn just to add interest. Chain 50.

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Sc in the second chain from hook and in each chain across. I like to crochet into the “butt” of the chain thereby giving a nice edge that looks like bind off in knitting.

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Attach a new yarn or set of yarns. Here I’ve combined two different worsted weight yarns. Together they are somewhat close to the thickness of the “base” yarn. I attach the new yarns just before finishing off the last single crochet stitch. Then, with the new yarn(s), finish the sc, CHAIN 1, and turn your work, ready to go on the next row!

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I work single crochet THROUGH THE BACK LOOPS at the same time crocheting over the ends so that I don’t have to weave them in at the end.:)

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I work two rows of each color or set of yarns. This time there are THREE yarns held together:  a worsted, a textured, and a thin “bling” yarn. Continue working sc tbl, and crocheting over the ends.

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Continue working in this manner until you have the height you desire.

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I worked 7 groupings of yarn, giving me approx. 6″-7″ depending on how much you stretch the fabric out. This crochet stitch looks a bit like sideways ribbing and has a lovely ridge on both sides.

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I end with the “base” yarn again. This is certainly not necessary, but I think it finishes it off. This last time I held a different shiny yarn with it for variety.  I only work one row of this. Weave in all ends.

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The cool thing about this cowl is that you do not need button holes! Place your buttons where you like and you can button it up in two different ways:

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With the buttons vertical, straight up and down (as pictured in the selfie above:).

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Or with the buttons and cowl diagonal, hugging the neck a bit more. Either way is lovely I think!

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Of course, Mortimer and Millicent had to try it on too! They were so upset that it didn’t fit them! Then they thought perhaps I had made them a cozy blanket, only to be dashed again when I explained this was a Cowl for PEOPLE not mice! (I may need to go make a couple of cowls, mice size, for them as they are a pouting a bit.)

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Choosing the buttons is REALLY fun! Go to your button box, mix and match, or find inexpensive buttons in shops you frequent. They add just the right touch!

Wear, smile, and have a beautiful, artsy day!!

Knit Together! (and Crochet!)

MyDearFriends

I’m not sure how to put into words the joy that I have with these dear friends. I wish I could write more eloquently about them to make up for the lack in my photography skills. These four women occupy a very dear spot in my heart. That spot is all soft and squishy, colorful and textured, just like the yarns we run through our fingers.

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Many years ago, this spot began to grow as I met each of them in a beginning knitting class I was teaching at one of our local yarn stores. Bobbie, Ellen, Pat, and Tracy (from left to right, after myself on the very left in the lime green top) were all learning to knit. As we knitted yarn together we found our lives being knit together as well. We started to go to plays together and make trips out of town to yarn shops. We began meeting for lunch at restaurants and in each other’s homes. Each of us, so different in our backgrounds and station in life, realized common ground in our enjoyment and love for each other. This has only grown over the years, even when we didn’t get together as regularly as we are now.

Tracy

One of the things I wanted to do this fall was to establish a regular time with these friends. They all wanted to grow their knitting and crochet skills, so we’ve been meeting once a week all fall to learn new techniques, to work on projects, and mostly to talk and laugh!! These photos are taken from our Christmas Making Party last night.

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I absolutely loved seeing the table strewn with yarns, knitting needles, crochet hooks, ribbons, buttons, thread, delicious treats to eat, and tea to drink! It is amazing none of our yarn trees fell over into the foods! We all had a great time learning to make these incredibly simple trees from a basic knitted or crocheted square!

Bobbie

 

I found the idea from a favorite blog I follow, called The Twisted Yarn, where she showed step by step how to create these simple decorations. I also made one with a crocheted square and varied the size of the knitted square to see how it makes up in a smaller version. ALL of them turned out so charming and delightful, even with their wonky shapes!

Pat&Karen

Though we’re taking a break for the holidays, I’m already looking forward to our weekly Knit Knites in the New Year! All but one have taken to learning to crochet, so I’m dreaming up inspiration for them as they add to their skills. They are now pressuring the “one” to join the crochet bandwagon!

KnitKniteXmas2 I love to teach knitting and crochet! I have enjoyed getting back into teaching numerous classes this fall at Knit One Smock Too!! It is a delight to watch ladies “get” it, and take off with their needles or hooks. But it is equally a delight to meet women from all walks of life and get to know them even if it’s just for a one-time class or a four week class. It has been an EXTRA privilege to be able to continue the friendships made with these four women, who are now my dear friends.

I’d encourage everyone who loves to knit and/or crochet, to find a group to join and invest in the friendships you will find there! The camaraderie of yarn lovers is like none other! You’ll be blessed with a huge spot of joy in your heart!

A Vested Interest

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I love knitting vests! Perhaps it’s because, without sleeves, you’re finished in nearly half the time! Perhaps it’s because they’re less bulky than a sweater, or because they aren’t too hot in our moderate winters here in the piedmont of NC. But overall I guess it’s because the knitting is fairly simple and straightforward.

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I do like adding little embellishments here and there. I didn’t have a pattern for this vest, so I just did whatever came to mind…a little pocket on the front, a decoration on the back.

This vest is knitted with Noro Silk Garden Lite. There really is nothing better than the colorways Noro has in all their lines of yarn! They are an artist’s yarn for sure…rich, saturated colors with lovely grays and neutrals mixed in. I worked the striping by knitting four rows of one ball of yarn, then switching to a different ball of the same yarn, but starting with a different color. Does that make sense? Anyway, it was a quick and fun knit. I used ceramic buttons I had made several years ago while visiting some potter friends of mine in Reidsville. I loved using the different shapes down the front, adding a bit of whimsy to the overall look.

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 I’m getting ready to start another vest, one a bit longer than this one. I absolutely love cropped vests and sweaters, but I want to see what I can come up with for a longer version. Do you have a favorite vest you’ve knitted? Do tell! I’d love to hear/see all about it!

FREE Stripedy Mini-Tree Skirt Pattern!

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FREE PATTERN!! For all my crochet friends out there…you’ll have this one worked up in no time at all! Bring a bit of festive stripedy goodness to your tiny trees in your home.

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Use up your stash to create a random striping in all sorts of colors and textures. Or simply choose two or three colors to stripe in a specific pattern. Of course, you can choose to make this just one color…but why not have a bit of fun with all those lovely leftovers you have lying around!

My pattern gives you all the details you need to crochet this. Plus, as always, the Variations on a Theme section helps you to think of all the many possibilities there are in just this ONE pattern. And it’s FREE! so why not?

Have fun!  Click here to download this pattern, and here too for PAGE 3!!  OR go to my FREE PATTERNS! page at the top of my blog to access the pattern.

Big & Bold Bookmarks*

For those of us still attached to good ‘ole paper, ink, and binding…bookmarks are a great way to keep track of where you left off.  They are perhaps the simplest thing to knit…extra mini scarves, embellished however you’d like!  I’m giving you a mini tutorial here. But in the near future I’ll be combining a few different patterns into one FREE pattern for you to download and print out. Be on the look-out for it!

Here’s how I made these bookmarks:

I used Cotton Classic yarn and size 6 needles.  (Pictured here are my dpns-double pointed needles.  I love using these for small projects like this, but you can use straight needles or rounds if you like!)

Cast On 12 stitches.

Knit for 64 rows (32 garter ridges)

Bind Off.

Weave in ends.

Embellish as you like.  Click on each of the highlighted words above for a tutorial on How-2 do each step.  Then click on any of the following highlighted words if you need instruction on how to Fringe or add other Embellishments.

That’s it! So simple. Yet bold.

**Variations:  You can easily make your bookmark thinner in width or wider!  Simply cast on fewer stitches if you wish to have a thinner bookmark.  OR Cast on more stitches if you want it wider.  Keep on knitting beyond the 64 rows if you want your bookmark longer.  OR stop sooner if you want it shorter.

Remember:  Be the Boss of your own knitting! Why not think like a designer right from the beginning?

P.S. Though I’m terribly fond of traditional books, I do appreciate and enjoy the e-versions! I love my iPad and my husband can’t live without his Kindle.  Rest assured I will be offering in future, patterns for you to both knit & crochet cases for all these wonderful electronic book machines!

Oh so many things to show you how to knit and crochet…oh so little time!:)

Embellishments*

In the world of knitting & crocheting, EMBELLISHMENTS  are all the decorations one can add to your knitted/crocheted piece to give it a little pizzazz, a bit of flourish, or just a finishing touch.

Embellishments include everything from stuff to add ALONG EDGES, like fringe and crocheted/knitted edgework.  The latter gets into some wonderful add-ons such as ruffles, single-crochet edging, shell edging, leaf edgings and so on.  At a later date, I will give you some very basic edgings to knit and crochet onto your yarn work.  But for now, adding Fringe is the only one I have a How-2 for you.  Click here for how to add fringe to your scarf, poncho, shawl, purse, etc.

Other kinds of embellishments are things you might add ON TOP OF your knitted/crocheted piece and not along an edge.  You might add decorative buttons, ribbons, knitted/crocheted flowers or other shapes, and surface stitching.  The latter can also be quite elaborate as knitters & crocheters may wish to add the wonderful world of embroidery to their yarn work.  Satin stitch, running stitch, and chain stitch  are just a few options.  For now, I’ll just walk you through RUNNING STITCH.  I use it a lot to add spirals and other designs on my knitting and crocheting.

Knitted Scarf Flowersclick here for a tutorial on making these sweet and easy flowers.

Buttons & Beads-It may sound too simple, but sometimes we overlook the obvious: Sew on buttons and beads either along an edge or in a cluster, or as centers of flowers or a spiral running stitch.

Ribbons-Grosgrain, satin, and organza ribbons add a festive touch to any knitted/crocheted piece.  Try weaving it in a criss-cross fashion, or use it like you would use embroidery thread or yarn to make designs.  Follow the instructions below for making RUNNING STITCH designs with ribbons as well as with yarns.

On the back side of this ribbon criss-cross, I added beads to make the back side as pretty as the front.  Just thread the beads onto your ribbon as you go, then insert the needle where it needs to go next. *This would not be an issue on something where the wrong side isn’t seen.  But for this scarf, I wanted either side to be “presentable”.

Running stitch-Decide on the design you wish to make.  This stitch feels a bit like DRAWING WITH YARN, so sketch out a design, thread a yarn needle with your chosen color of yarn.

Begin by pulling yarn up through the wrong side of the knitted/crocheted fabric.^

Choose a spot just a little ways ahead of where your yarn is, insert the yarn needle, and then bring needle back up to the right side a little ways ahead.  Pull the threaded needle through.

Repeat this last step over and over until you have created the design you want.

In order to CLOSE IN  the dotted line you’ve created, you will simply reverse your dotted line and “fill in” the spaces left undone.  But I wanted to add a few beads as I went.  So…I UNthreaded my yarn needle, placed a beed on the yarn, and continued sewing until I wanted another bead.

Continue in this manner until you have created your design.^

End with the yarn dangling from the back side (wrong side) of your work.  Tie a knot (if desired) and weave in the ends. OR, add on a bead to this end, securing it with a knot.  I just let the end hang off for a little twist.

Create your own designs to make in RUNNING STITCH!  Sketch them out first on a piece of paper to guide you, or just improvise!  Like I said…it’s like DRAWING WITH YARN.