April 30, 2014

16 For The Unselfish Knitter - Kar{e}tpostal Care Tags by Über den Traum

I admit it.  I am a selfish knitter.  I knit primarily for myself, and when I imagine that maaaaybe I could take the time to create something for someone else, it has to break all possible Barriers of Importance.

Like a shawl for my dear friend Christina's wedding:

See my blog post about the Dolce Vita shawl here.

Or a baby cardigan for my dear friend Eva's first sprout!

See my blog post about the Friedrich cardigan here.

When I first started using Ravelry (the buzzing online knit and crochet community), I immediately joined the group "Selfish Knitters and Crocheters".  First, the name was highly amusing... but second, I realized I really wasn't alone in my narcissism.  The group has 8726 members, and that is a hefty number for Ravelry!  Here is a hilarious snapshot of some recent discussion topics:

You see, there's a problem with knitting for others.  Some people are the greatest gift recipients in the universe and your heart overflows with warmth when their eyes light up while holding their new handknit shawl.  But then there are the others who simply don't understand the work that went into the item, and you can see that pretty clearly in their eyes as well.  In fact, Ravelry forums are filled with some rather shocking stories of how knitted gifts are received!

But I'm starting to see another side of it.  Making a gift for someone isn't any different really than buying one, in that they could just as easily not like what you bought, and you could just as easily have spent hours trying to pick it out.  I mean (and this is a more wide-ranging question) why do we need to care at all what someone does with an item once it has passed from our hands to theirs?  I have always loved the act of giving gifts, from when I was a kid traipsing through the mall trying to find the perfect scrunchie for a Christmas gift (yes, it was the 90s).  In fact I prided myself on finding good gifts, no matter how long it took.  I need to bring that giving element into my knitting obsession!

What better way to celebrate my new desire to be a more UNselfish knitter than to find a great gift tag for these future Charitable Acts?

One of the scariest things about giving knitted gifts is explaining in a simple way how to care for an item. Unfortunately, the most beautiful yarns of all are the most difficult to care for, and if the giftee is not a knitter, it's not always clear how to convey the right information.

Über den Traum, an Etsy store run by a mother-daughter team from Greece, has come up with a lovely alternative!  Their Kar{e}tpostal Care Tags are .pdf template printables which provide an array of whimsical hand-drawn images for different fabric care instructions.  Scroll down for a 10% off code exclusive for my followers!

After printing, you simply circle or check the icons that apply to your gift, and your recipient will be "in the know", NO EXCUSES.  And believe me, they will also enjoy the time looking carefully at the sweet little icons too, as there are little hand-drawn mysteries in each one:

Let me show you some of these icons in detail. For the temperature symbols, the images depict a variety of oceanic landscapes:

From the chilly rocky coast...

...and blustery European seas...

...to the warmer diving waters...

...and balmy islands!

I love the low temperature iron setting, decorated with slowly flapping bunting, implying that not much heat is reaching them...

...the drying settings (watch out Indiana Jones!!!)...

...and the instruction to dry flat where a little cat  has decided to lay right on top of your blocking!

The fronts of the tags come with several colored notecard options, with or without lines, where you can mark the name of the recipient and more info.  However, you could easily also print the care side only and leave the front entirely blank or personally embellished.  (Where's my Dayana Knits rubber stamp??)

Photo from Über den Traum

Photo from Über den Traum

I only have a black and white printer.  I found the tags/cards to be to floppy on regular paper, but discovered I could buy firm card stock for only ~15 cents per sheet at the photocopy shop.  Simply print them out double-sided and there are lines to guide your cuts.

For those of you in North America, remember that the paper is A4 size, and you must check "shrink to fit" so that they fit on 8.5" x 11" paper!

This is my next gift, Balkan (a pattern by Brandon Mably) for my husband.

Despite the "gift wrapping" only the back and half of the front are done, don't get excited!  :)  But I wanted to wrap it up and see what it looked like with the care tag.  If you recognize the flowers, yes, they are from my blog header!  It's the two week window of Siberian Squill at McGill University.  Every year I photograph something in those flowers, last year it was my Rhea top.  It was definitely NOT warm enough to wear that this year!

See my blog post on the Rhea top by Marie Wallin, here.

Guess what?  Über den Traum is offering a discount to my followers who purchase this  card set!  

Visit their Etsy shop listing here and use the code DAYANA10 for a 10% discount.  The code lasts until August 2, 2014 and you will be e-mailed the .pdfs immediately upon purchase.  I hope some of you would like to try these cuties out!

Visit Über den Traum on Etsy

April 24, 2014

38 Unlike a Virgin -- Madonna from Rowan Magazine 55

Help!  I have a knitting problem.  I can't seem to knit with neutral colors.  White, beige, khaki, ecru... it just won't do!  Jewel tones are my thing, and it is not surprising that I took a floaty fairy-tale neutral top from the Spring/Summer Rowan Magazine 55 and made it into something you would find in a pirate's treasure chest.

Mmm, yes, that's a Kit Kat treasure chest!  Instructions here.

This is the virginal Madonna by Marie Wallin, designed for Rowan Cotton Glacé, Fine Lace and Kidsilk Haze.

But I didn't want a virginal Madonna, I wanted a pop Madonna!

The pattern is just an oversized rectangular body with skinny drop-sleeves -- something that is very fashionable right now.  I've seen Rowan do a lot of boxy patterns lately which I haven't liked, and usually it's because the knit fabric is too thick to hang the way the fabrics used in current fashion do.  But here was a pattern for laceweight yarn, filled with silk and drape, and finally ideal for boxy shapes.

Even better: with all these stripes and colors, I could do a good dip into my stash!

This was my first foray into my jewel tone idea.

I had some of my old Kidsilk Haze-like stand-by (Artfibers Tsuki) that was leftover from 2 favorite projects.

See my post on my Marshmallow, Embellished here.

See my Valentina Wings on Ravlery, here.

I also added 3 sample balls of recent new yarns from Rowan.  It's always a challenge to use single balls of yarn, so I was delighted to see some color matching between two serious jewel-tone sparkly Kidsilk Eclipse shades and one ball of the totally luxurious 100% mulberry silk, Truesilk.

Make sure to tie a knot in each end while working with this gorgeous luxurious yarn!

Finally, I rounded it out with a huge cone of random endless thick and thin yarn that I have about 5000 yards of, and some frogged Alchemy Bamboo that had been re-purposed to 3 failed projects and needed a new home. GO STASH!

The pattern has you cut your yarn after every stripe.  One of the reasons for this is that you don't always end up on the same side as where you started because of odd numbers of rows.  At first I decided I would even up the numbers of rows so they ended up on the same side, and then carry the yarn up.  I abandoned this after the first few stripes.

First, it was good to have odd numbers of rows in some cases.  For instance, this stitch pattern, which is made by looping the yarn over the needle 3 times while you knit, looked much better with 2 regular rows below than 3.

Second, this is a very lacy pattern.  The last thing you want is to see the wrong color yarn showing through the side while being carried up!

And here is where I want to give a little advice:  make a stitch pattern YOUR OWN.  Knit it up and see if you really actually like it!  For stripes like this (which will take an excruciatingly long piece of your life to make), find the combo YOU prefer.

I used the start of the back as my experimentation board and gigantic swatch.  If you manage to look closely at it (and no one will), it doesn't match exactly with the front.

Here are some of my suggestions to make the little stitch patterns better.

1. Try to avoid purling with a new color on the wrong side.  All of the Cotton Glacé rows are only 1 row, and that row shows up as a purl row on the right side.  Purl rows are nice, but when a NEW color is added, they show a stripe of the old color mixed in with the new.  This works fine with neutrals or similar colored yarn.  But it worked terribly when I transitioned from light colored yarns to dark yarns.  I decided to keep the purl look for only one of the color transitions.  For the rest, I changed it from one to two rows, first knitting one row on the right side to avoid the color change showing, and then adding the purl bumps by knitting a second row on the wrong side.

2. The most awesome stitch is this circular stitch which is made by knitting into 5 long stitches you make in the row before.

I made a mistake at some point where I had a purl row after the circle instead of knit.  Wow, that looked so much better!!  It gives the stitch a little more texture, almost like adding filligree points to a corona.

3. Don't feel trapped by the odd or even number of rows per stitch pattern -- because you know what?  It actually doesn't matter!  Because you are cutting your yarn after every stripe, there is nothing to stop you from starting from either side of your knitting.  This is really revolutionary if you think about it.  Specifically, what I mean is this.  Say you just finished a right side row and you are going to cut your yarn on the left where you ended the row.  It is the exact same thing to either start on the purl side row where you left off OR to connect the yarn back where you started, and begin with a consecutive right-side row!

You're probably concerned about the amount of ends involved in knitting something like this.

Oh yes, there are billions -- but I have something to make you feel better.  You can use one end of every stripe to knit the stripe together in the seam!  Not only do you use up an end and sew your seam, but you never have another color showing in that stripe.  I used mattress stitch to sew up each stripe using an end.  The results were more perfect than I imagined they would be.

Quick, spot the front/back mismatch!  ;)

This was one of the most work-intensive projects I've done in awhile.  It wasn't hard to do, but it took forever!  I estimate that I put more than 150 hours of work into it.  It used 2.75 (US 2) needles and was 41 inches wide!  I found a way to shave off a few hours though.  I noticed on Ravelry that the sleeves were coming out rather long and I wanted them to end right after my elbow.  Also, I wanted them to be super-skinny.  So I decreased the number of stitches cast-on and only increased until a width I needed.  That's what's great about drop sleeves -- you just stitch them straight into the body, so you can infinitely change their width without having to do anything with the body shaping.

You may have noticed that it is NOT spring in Montreal yet.  I was looking around for some kind of bush, evergreen, anything that would suggest the turn of the season... and nothing!  What to do?  Pretend like you live in a post-apocalytic abandoned industrial zone that wouldn't have trees and flowers no matter whether it was in the height of summer.  My flowers are painted words!

Mile End, Montreal, South side train tracks, ~Casgrain

OK OK, I found sooooome trees.  Hey!  How do you like them boots?


I was thrilled to receive 112 entries for my Fine Art Aran giveaway.  The two Grand Prize winners will receive 2 skeins of colorway Bolero each, and the Second Prize winner will receive 1 skein.



Congratulations!!  You all gave me Ravelry names so I will see you there.  :)  Thank you all for participating and KEEP FOLLOWING as there is sure to be another Rowan yarn giveaway in the near future.

See my Queen of Pop on Ravelry

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