Learning to Knit, Page 2
Intermediate Patterns

This is my journalling page, recording each knitting project I have done in order. Helpful information about each project includes: where I found the pattern/directions, what size needle & yarn I used, how long it took me to complete each project, what I found challenging/new skills learned and any special notes. I hope that you find this page useful as you teach yourself or your children to knit. If you have suggestions, please email me.


Zoo Toy Bag

This project is found in Nursery Knits by Zoe Mellor, page 75. The stripes make it a good use for left-over yarn but the pattern itself is very simple. I'm using size 6 needles, as the directions call for. This will be a birthday gift for my mother-in-law, as a special bag for the kids to use when they sleep over at her house.

New skill: making a pocket

Notes:

  • Began this project February 28 2006. I finally finished it (more in time for Mother's Day than her birthday) May 17 2006.
  • A main color here is going to be Patons Classic Wool Merino (223 yards for $4.99, you can't beat that price!) in color 00225, Dark Grey Mix. nice elephant-y color. And, because I have found that knitting projects can be expensive, I'm planning on using up my odds and ends of different blues, with the grey and cream to tie it in, and a nice grassy green and maybe a yellow? for accent colors. it depends on what catches my eye at the yarn store.
  • This project turned out to be a beast. It did in fact use up a lot of my odds and ends of yarn but I also had to buy so many colors that I have more leftovers from the zoo toy bag then I had before! It also takes a really long time to finish, so even if you're done knitting the bag itself, be aware that sewing up the sides and finishing the project may take an additional week or two. I have tons of notes from this which I will transcribe here after I find them (lost in the move) but, to sum it up, this project is fine for a beginning knitter with the exception of the ribbing which I found difficult. Just make sure you have a child who is happy to work on the same project forever (such as a phelgmatic) and go for it. Or try it yourself! My MIL was thrilled with it and I felt a real sense of accomplishment upon finishing such a difficult project.


Mermaid Dress-Up

This project is found in New Knits on the Block by Vickie Howell, page 94. My daughter has been dying for this costume so I'm going to give it a try, even though I'm scared to death of the complicated pattern. I finally feel ready to knit again (I took a month-long break after finishing the Zoo Toy Bag) but if this project is too much for me, I think I'll try quilting instead for a while. I love knitting simple stocking stitch patterns because it is easy and so relaxing. The problem is that it gets boring and you think to yourself, "This is too easy for me. Surely I'm experienced enough at knitting to try something more complicated. And why not learn something new?"

Then you find yourself trying to read a pattern that makes your head ache and you start thinking, maybe a nice stocking stitch pattern would be just the thing. :-)

New skills: slip stitch, ribbing

Notes:

  • Began this project June 23 2006. It is still ongoing.
  • I am using Atacama hand dyed alpaca in beautiful blues and teals, color number 502. There's no dye lot for this yarn so I can buy one skein at a time as I need it, thereby spreading out the cost. The pattern calls for ten 50 gram balls of a viscose/polyamide blend so I'm not sure how much of my substitute yarn it will take.
  • First things first. I need to find directions for the slip stitch. Even though this book explains the abbreviations for the knitting terms used within, it doesn't explain how to do any of them. It's an intermediate knitting book. (Excited, but nervous, to try knitting at this level.) So let's see... how does one sl 5 wyif
  • Well, I am pleased to announce that this is the simplest complicated-looking stitch ever. I love it! It's absolutely doable for any child or adult who is clear on how to knit and purl. Here's the definition of how to slip a stitch from Debbie Bliss's book Baby Knits for Beginners (an excellent way to begin knitting, as she has some of the clearest diagrams and directions I've found): "Insert the right-hand neeldle into the next stitch on the left-hand needle and slip it onto the right-hand needle without knitting it." There. Easy as pie. Now, the yarn in front part means that before you start slipping stitches, spread your two needles apart like a gate and pass the yarn right through from the back of your work to the front-side. When you are done with your five slips, pass the yarn back through your spread needles before you go on. The slipping means that the yarn is loose, it makes a kind of five stitch wide loop of loose yarn which then, after five rows of doing this (purling in between) you pick up onto your needle and knit back in, which gives you the fish scale look. It really is extremely easy. The other nice thing about this pattern is that it is in two parts. So if your child hates it after completing the top, it can just be a cool tank-top. Or because, the top is just a rectangle, you can make it into a purse or a pillow or some other project. I would recommend practicing the stitch by casting on 19 stitches of plain white cotton yarn and doing one row plain, one row purl, then the set of 20 so you can see how the whole design unfolds, then cast off. It is really worth the time. Enjoy!
  • Here's a fun suggestion. If your child is having a hard time remembering to move the yarn in front before slipping his stitches, try reading Sammy the Seal. For some reason, when I think about slipping I always think about seals. Anyway, the seal slips out through the gates, roams around, and then returns to the zoo. So you can pretend this is what you're doing with your yarn and every time you see the direction "slip" you know to take your seal and pass it through the gates. Hope this helps! :-)
  • Finished the top July 24 2006. Instead of making an i-cord for the shoulder straps, I braided three strands of yarn and made each shoulder strap three strands of braid. It looks really pretty. A hint: when you add in a new skein of yarn (the top takes 2 skeins) tie it in at the end of a row, not in the middle. This pattern stitch is so loose that your knot will slip right through to the front of your work. It is very stretchy and fits Natalie well (4 years old). Now I'm ready to start on the skirt. The beginning of the tail is the ribbed part at the bottom. I didn't put "ribbing" as a new skill for the zoo toy bag because I couldn't figure out the ribbing and just did two rows of knit stitch to finish it off instead. Now that I understand how to pass the yarn forward and back of my work so as not to create a mess, I think I'm ready to try ribbing.


Playful Penguin

This project is found in Nursery Knits by Zoe Mellor, page 70. I'm waiting to be able to purchase more yarn for my mermaid costume so I'm beginning this one in the meantime, since I have a small amount of black wool yarn from my Aunty. I know black isn't often used in Waldorf, but I don't want to waste it and I can always give the penguin as a gift or donate it to a toy collection program at Christmas. I'll be using size 3 needles, as the directions call for. The directions don't seem to be complicated (although they're a little difficult to read). The penguin is made in lots of little pieces so the most time will probably be taken in the assembly. I'll be stuffing the penguin with unspun wool.

Notes:

  • Began this project July 30 2006. Completed August 7 2006.
  • The black wool I have to use up is worsted weight wool. The other two colors (cream and orange) I don't have on hand, so I'll have to search for some in an equivalent weight. eBay is a nice place to find bits and pieces of an exact color. The yarn category is divided into all different types (alpaca, angora, cahsmere, cotton, hemp, linen, mohair, ribbon, silk, wool -- even handspun and handpainted) or you can search by brand name, such as Debbie Bliss.
  • I originally had the idea of making each color a different type of yarn and now I'm quite taken with it. The black is wool, the white is cotton (Peaches 'n' Creme worsted weight, which you can find at your local Wal-Mart) and the orange I just purchased today: a merino/alpaka/silk blend (Peru DK Luxury, available from A.C. Moore, color 06. It's more of an autumn orange but they had bright Halloween orange Egyptian cotton yarn and I HATED it. Didn't even want to hold it in my hands and I knew it would be a complete waste of money because after I used the tiny amount called for in the beak and feet I'd never want to see it again. So how would I use up the leftovers? Besides, I've used the Peru Luxury brand of yarn in other projects and it is quite nice. By the way, don't get the "chunky" luxury yarn or it will be too thick for these needles.) I had considered buying pure silk but they didn't have it. So the penguin's body is all warm and fuzzy, the white "tuxedo shirt" is somewhat stiff and holds its shape well and the beak and feet will be very soft and snuggly, perfect for chewing on. Have fun with your yarn choices! They really make the difference between a great project and a blah one. I'm thinking of ribbing the feet for added interest but I haven't decided for sure.
  • This project was very fun and easy to complete. I decided not to make the feet ribbed -- I just used the pattern given. He turned out absolutely adorable. I'd make this one again.


Farm Animals Set

This was a variety of small projects which I completed on vacation in Connecticut. We visited a dairy farm so it seemed a good time to make some farm animals. When we arrived home I gave Natalie a wooden stable and some wooden figures to complete the set.


Chickens

I used a Magic Cabin kit from a series called Mohair Critters (no longer available). Began and finished two chickens on August 22 2006.


Duck and Ducklings

I used a Magic Cabin kit from a series called Mohair Critters (no longer available). Began and finished four ducks (one large and three small) on August 23 2006.


Horse

For this project I purchased some beautiful cotton yarn in Northampton MA called Mission Falls 1824 cotton. It has a lovely nubby texture. Color 205. I also used some leftover Magallenes yarn, color 300 (beiges). This is a thick and thin hand-dyed 100% wool yarn and was perfect for the mane and tail. It was leftover from my Crocheted Root-Child. I used the horse pattern in Toymaking with Children.

Notes:

  • The horse turned out to be a really complicated pattern and I had a hard time reading the directions for the hole in the back and then the rest of the rows following it. I had to keep ripping it out and trying again. I began this project August 24 2006 and finished August 31 2006.
  • Looking for more animal patterns? Check out my list of Knitted Animal Patterns.


Firefighter Hat

This project is found in New Knits on the Block by Vickie Howell, page 21. I am using Paton's Classic Wool Merino yarn (found at Michal's). I am making two hats, one for each of my nephews (2 and 4 years old) so I purchased two skeins of Bright Red (color 230) and one of Royal Purple (color 212). This yarn is pure wool so it should felt well. Each skein is 223 yards. I am using a set of size 10 1/2 bamboo circular needles made by Clover.

New skills: knitting with circular needles, wet felting a knitted project

Notes:

  • Began this project September 4 2006. Finished November 18 2006.
  • I only ended up doing one hat because it was so time consuming. Knitting with circular needles wasn't hard and you don't have to worry about the pattern since it all gets felted and the pattern becomes indistinguishable at the end. Don't let there be big gaping holes, though. Make sure before you felt that you darn any loose places in the knitting. I used tiny dpns for the very end since I only had a size 2 set on hand from my Aunty's stash. They worked out well because the very top of the cap felts the least. After knitting I dumped the thing in the washer (it was larger than my head before felting, covered my head completely and hung down nearly to my shoulders) on Hot with no spin and an old blanket. No detergent but there must have been some left in the dispenser because the tub filled with suds. Check every 5 min. When felted to the size you need -- it took about 12 minutes -- remove from washing machine tub, rinse thoroughly in a sink to remove soap, and lay flat, blocking to desired shape. Fill cap with plastic grocery bags for a day or two to establish shape then remove so hat can dry completely. After the hat is entirely dry I did the patch and embroidery. Instead of F.D. I embroidered Co. 4 since Joe was turning four. The hat turned out to be a big hit! I recommend this project if the gift-giving occasion is more than two months away.


Knitted Veggies

These free online patterns are found at Jimmy Beans Wool. Patterns include baby eggplant, baby cucumber, baby banana, baby carrot, and baby orange.

New skill: knitting with double-pointed needles


Baby Cucumber

I started this one first -- looks to be easiest pattern. I'm not familiar with knitting in the round using circular needles, except for the tiny bit that I did finishing the firefighter hat, which I just guessed my way through. Now I have to use them in earnest. I found great directions for using double-pointed needles here at in a useful article called Techniques with Theresa.

For the cucumber I am using Sugar 'n' Cream 100% cotton yarn. Color 00084 Sage Green.

Notes:

  • Began this project November 25 2006. Completed it December 27 2006.
  • I stopped the directions at the end of decrease round 4 and just stuffed the cuc and tied it off. It's really cute (and I couldn't understand the rest of the directions) and has a nice ribbed pattern.


Baby Carrot

After running into a wall on the cucumber, I began the carrot. I used Lion Brand 100% wool yarn in color 133 Pumpkin.

Notes:

  • Began this project November 25 2006. Completed it December 27 2006.
  • Again, I didn't understand the directions for finishing so I stopped after "stuff baby carrot". The directions call for p/u (picking up) the 18 stitches at the end of the orange part with a light green yarn and knitting some I-cord for the top of the carrot. I just tied long pieces of green yarn (about 10) through stitches so each was tied securely with two long ends hanging down to be the fronds. I'm sure there's a better way but I was in a hurry to finish since this set of veggies was a Christmas present.


Baby Eggplant

Started this one third. It's beautiful (actually my favorite pattern) but I thought the directions looked tricky and I wanted some practice on dpns before I began. For the eggplant I am using Paton's 100% wool yarn. Color 00212 Royal Purple.

Notes:

  • Began this project November 25 2006. Completed it January 15 2007.
  • I lost the directions for this halfway through but, instead of printing them off the internet again, I thought I'd just make up my own pattern. I thought that would be fun! So I had already gotten to the part where you are done with the widest bit of the eggplant and are then decreasing so I decreased for a while and when I got to 6 stitches I tied it off. That was the bottom. I stuffed the eggplant and then began to make some leaves. I used some leftover green cotton yarn from my cucumber and invented the leaves. Here is the pattern I came up with for them:

      cast on 10 stitches
      first row: K2 P2 across
      second row: knit all stitches (knit 10)
      third row: K2 P2 across
      fourth row: decrease one stitch at each end, knit all stitches (knit 8)
      fifth row: K2 P2 across
      sixth row: knit all stitches (knit 8)
      seventh row: decrease one stitch at each end, knit all stitches (knit 6)
      eighth row: K2 P2 across
      ninth row: knit together first pair, second pair & third pair of stitches, leaves 3
      tenth row: knit together first pair, knit together two remaining stitches, tie off

  • Finishing: I made three leaves and spaced them evenly around the top of my eggplant (the cast on end, where you begin the pattern). I sewed them with wrong side facing outwards. The purling gives the leaves some texture and makes them curl in less but I don't want obvious ribbing showing, so I prefer the reverse side. Then I knitted about an inch and a half of "cast on three, knit all rows" to be the stem. Sticking the stem in the middle of my leaves, I securely sewed all leaves to the stem and tidied up the loose ends. It came out beautifully! Deep purple, chubby at the bottom with a tall thinner neck and three green nubby leaves. Adorable.
  • I'm excited about how fun it is to make little foods for the play kitchen -- if you're looking for more patterns, visit this site (Knitting Pattern Central).


Cotton Dishcloths

Having been directed to do so by Zen and the Art of Knitting, I used 100% cotton yarn to knit a set of dishcloths. These were a gift for my sister-in-law. One thing I love about Zen and the Art of Knitting is that it gives a stitch pattern at the start of each chapter. So, if you can knit and purl, you actually learn some new stitches while you read!

New skills: waffle stitch, irish moss stitch

Notes:

  • I decided to make a set of three dishcloths. Using white for the garter stitch (chapter 2), blue for the waffle stitch (chapter 8) and green for the irish moss stitch (chapter 10). It was fun to try different stitches and kept the project from being boring.
  • Garter stitch. Began December 4 2006. Completed December 5 2006. Tore out and redid this one since the casting on 35 stitches ended up being huge, not the same size as the other two at all. This is because the waffle stitch and irish moss stitch both contain the purl stitch so they bunch back on themselves a little bit and end up smaller. When I redid the garter stitch washcloth, I cast on 30 stitches. Began the second version December 13 2006 and finished December 22 2006.
  • Waffle stitch. For this I cast on 36 stitches. Began December 6 1006. Completed December 11 2006.
  • Irish Moss stitch. For this I also cast on 36 stitches. Began December 11 2006. Completed December 13 2006.


The Crown

This pattern is found in a Lion Brand yarn publication called Just Hats: Favorite Patterns to Knit and Crochet, page 66. I wish I had some way of showing the picture here -- the model is absolutely adorable! I'm making this hat for Leah who is three but using the directions for age 4-6 years as my work tends to come out small.

This pattern calls for four colors. I am using yellow for A, green for B, purple for C, and pink for D.
A and B are a 100% cotton yarn called Sugar 'n' Cream. Color 00010 Yellow for A. Color 01712 Hot Green for B. C and D are Lion Brand Wool (100% wool). Color 147 Purple for C. Color 140 Rose for D. This pattern uses a combination of circular needles and straight needles in a size 8. It is knitted in both stockinette and garter stitch for a variety of textures.

Notes:

  • Began this project December 29 2006. Completed January 4 2007.
  • I have mixed feelings about this project. While I was working on it I thought it looked horrible and made a note to use more muted colors. Then when it was done I turned it inside out and decided it looked better that way (more stripes) but I had already woven in the ends so I was disappointed that it wasn't feasible to go back and change it. I seriously considered giving it to charity. It's a perfectly serviceable hat but I didn't want to look at every day and think what a terrible job I did. But, finally, I gave it to Leah who loves it and wears it every day. And it looks okay on her -- it's obviously a bright cheerful children's hat. So I am getting used to it. I would say if you are making this pattern to not weave ends in until the very end so you can decide if you like the right side or the wrong side better.
  • I did not do the top tabs.
  • Overall, this is a great book of hats, with good directions for beginners. The hat patterns use knit, crochet, and "knit/crochet then felt in the washing machine" (they include some of each) techniques. Hats for women, hats for men, and hats for children are all included. Makes me want to get their companion scarf book!


Kathy Scarf

I really wanted to do a scarf next. Natalie has been asking for a new scarf and we chose a beautiful hand-spun yarn at Artsfest over the summer for exactly that purpose. My problem has been finding a pattern. My first scarf (my first-ever knitting project) was a simple garter stitch. I wanted something more interesting than that so first I tried to knit small garter stitch squares and sew them together in alternating directions (pattern running horizontally, then pattern running vertically). I thought it would look really neat but, alas, it just looked sloppy. This is because I'm not a machine and my squares weren't the same size each time. So I tore it out and looked for another pattern. I remembered saving a link somewhere on page 1 of my knitting patterns for a neat-looking scarf that was too intimidating to me at the time. It's called the Kathy scarf and I'm ready to try it! She gives three versions of a simple one-line pattern which can be used to highlight an unusual yarn. I am trying version #1.

New skills: yo, purl 2 tog

Notes:

  • Began this project January 10 2007. I don't have notes on when I completed it, but it is very lovely. I remember working on it during a workshop at Barbara Dewey's and I think I finished it while I was there. Natalie never wears it, though, because she says the yarn it too scratchy.
  • I cast on 18 stitches since Natalie is a child and 30 stitches would be too wide for her. The pattern can be done in any multiplication of 4 plus 2 stitches.
  • YO ("yarn over") according to the nice people at knittinghelp.com simply means you circle the yarn around your right needle. The reason for this in this pattern is that you are purling two stitches together and so if you didn't increase by one, you would have a shorter row each time. The scarf would soon be done! So you "add in" an extra stitch before you combine two together so that when you flip it over and start working the other side, you still have 18 stitches. However, since you've wrapped the yarn one time around your right needle to do the YO, it is going to look on the other side like two stitches have appeared. When you start working the other side of the first row, be sure to insert your right needle into the left of the two "new" stitches. The right hand one is super-tight. The left hand one is the one you want. When you do this, and slip both loops off, you're going to get a big hole. That's what you want -- it's part of the texture of the scarf. So when you're working row 2, knit two stitches, then insert your needle into the left of the two "new" stitches (made by your YO trick previously). Then wrap your right needle with a loop of yarn and then purl the next two stitches together. Then knit one. You'll soon recognize where each stitch lands on the backside. It is a super simple pattern as long as your yarn isn't too fuzzy, in which case it gets complicated. She recommends a tubular type yarn.


Mittens!

Time to make mittens for all of my girls. I searched high and low for a really simple mitten pattern and finally found one on page 92 of The Children's Year: Seasonal Crafts and Clothes.

Notes:

  • I am starting with Natalie (6-8 years old). Size 5 needles for the body, size 2 needles for the ribbing. You also need a long-ish stitch holder. I picked a thick Lion's Brand wool yarn for her that will match her winter coat: Tutti Frutti


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