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March 2016

My hair really did used to be this long.

march hair

Also I need to knit some of these ears for my hat.


Ear We Go

On reflection teddy bear ears can wait. I have at least half a dozen teddy bear knitting patterns around the house giving different ways to make them. I'm sure anyone wanting wearable bear ears has plenty of their own ideas. I'm starting with something else.

cat ear prototypes

This is attempt three at cat ears. I've knitted them from a central point on the back of the base, up and over the edge of the ear and down the front. I also had to include a couple of short rows to make the sides match up. This pattern lets me change colour from outside-black to inside-pink along a single straight line.

The ears look OK laid out flat and would be really easy to attach to a hairband that way. I was originally intending the ears to be curled around at the base, just a little, like a real cat's. Version four will probably have a flatter bottom edge to enhance the natural curl of the stocking stitch.

Knitted in orange they would make pretty good fox ears too.

The drawback of the increase up one side, decrease down the other method is that it's going to be completely inappropriate for bunny ears. I've had a test knit where I tried doubling increases along that central fold, but the knitting wouldn't lay flat and it ended up just looking untidy.

Instead I'm trying short rows. Two prototypes in and I'm more or less happy when I see them laying down, but anytime I hold them up in the mirror they end up looking like donkey ears (don't laugh). Maybe I've seen too many versions of A Midsummer Nights Dream but I associate long furry ears fairy curses and I can't stop.

I've had it suggested that it's because I'm spacing them too far apart on my head. When I've finished two I'll try holding them next to each other instead of spaced out.


Bunny Ears

Back to the small knits for a bit. As I said at the beginning of the month I really do need to make some bunny ears because... I don't know... reasons.

I've made devil horns before and I imaging I'll make these in a similar way. They may need a bit of internal structure to stand upright, a wire frame maybe, so I'm not sure they'll be young child safe.

My first thought is to knit each one as a shaped tube of stocking stitch, but as that's my first thought when knitting virtually everything no one is surprised. I do wonder how I'm going to do the inside pink bit as vertical colour changes in round knitting leave the yarn at the wrong end of the colour block every time.

If I instead started knitting along a line down the front of the ear I could work outwards in pink, increasing at one end as I go, then change to brown-grey and a purl stitch to decrease down the back of the ear.

Maybe bunny ears isn't the way to start as they're big and it will take a while to make each prototype. If I figure out something smaller and simpler, like teddy bear or cat ears, I'll have a plan of attack for the bigger knit.


Filet Knitting Progress

Many, many attempts later and I've settled on a method to knit a grid of approximately square holes. Approximately because the holes still have rounded corners and I don't think there's anything I can do to improve them further. I have stopped the stitches leaning to the side which was a major victory for the not-wanting-to-block-everything-I-knit camp. Also each “square” is coming out pretty damn square (i.e. as tall as it is wide) which was definitely not the case with my first few tries.

filet knitting holes

I rotated this picture so the rows were horizontal, but I didn't warp the dimensions at all. It's a square image that fits a square number of holes, success!

The method I'm using is worked in the round, over three stitches, for three rounds. First round is k2, pass first stitch over, sl1, pass previous stitch over. Second round is yfwd, kb1. Third round is kfb, kb1. The non-holes (blocks?) are going to be worked in a twisted stockinette. They might come out slightly larger than the holes, I can't really tell from the small samples I've made so far. If they do come out loose I'll try switching to a tighter slip stitch.

I've stated knitting a prototype bag to see how the filet stitch lays out when I do a larger area of it. I'm keeping it simple, no handles, no base, just cast on a multiple of three, knit a simple grid design of holes and blocks, then cast off. Not sure if the end result will be useful at all, despite large amounts of effort going into it, but it's the learning that's important.

Already it's proving interesting. The test nets I made seemed quite dense and rigid, but the larger area I'm working on now is a lot more stretchy. I may have to knit the final bag in something a bit tougher than acrylic/wool blend.


Some Things Run in the Family

Recently I've been collecting knitting samples done by other people. Sometimes I follow them around with needles and wool saying pleeeeeeaaaassssssee a lot, the rest of the time I borrow already knitted items.

The best thing I've borrowed is a scarf my mum knitted in the 70s. She saw Tom Baker rocking the swishy scrap scarf and made one of her very own (she knits, she likes Doctor Who, she appreciates a quality scarf, it's almost like we're related). The scarf has been in storage for years so this weekend I've been trying to freshen it up. I may even be able to wear it a couple of times this spring, we're still getting cold snaps.

close up of scarf

The scarf had a small moth hole in one of the stripes which I've attempted to darn. I only really know the basics for fixing stocking stitch and the scarf is done in garter so it was a bit of a challenge. Luckily the scarf is made of thin, mismatched stripes so I was able to hide the fix quite well. It helps that I own basically every colour of yarn under the sun. The darned spot is in the photo above so if you didn't see it at once I'm pretty happy.

close up of scarf with darned area circled

Yesterday I very gently washed the whole thing in lukewarm soapy water with just a dab of hair conditioner (which I have learnt makes a good softener for wool, also it smells good). After rinsing I noticed that the wash opened up a second hole, which I again attempted to mend and soaked my jeans in the process. The cleaning was worth it though because it did get rid of a dried on sticky patch and the smell of moth balls is less noticeable.

scarf in water

I got most of the moisture out by carefully rolling the scarf up in a towel and then walking up and down the bundle in bare feet. I'm specifying bare feet because I unthinkingly try it wearing socks at least twice a year. The scarf was spread out flat on some more, dry, towels overnight so it could air dry the rest of the way in shape.

Me and my vintage Doctor Who scarf are now off out for a day in the springtime sun.

me in the scarf scarf on the grass


Filet Knitting and Oddment Oddities

Once again I, a person who does not like knitted bags, am trying to knit a bag. This time I've been lured in by the idea of filet knitting. This type of stitch is supposed to resemble filet crochet. It's made up of open squares (aka holes) and closed squares (aka... knitting), worked in a grid to make a pattern. If you think it sounds like I'm knitting a string bag, then yes, that's probably what it'll be. Oh well.

My old fashioned knitting books give filet knitting instructions that have a horizontal bar across each open square and the closed squares worked in garter. All in all it's kind of an ugly stitch and not at all like the pretty, delicate, filet crochet I've seen pictures of.

Looking online for an alternative method suggested combining a yarn over increase with a k2tog decrease to make the hole. It's quite a small hole so I've been doubling up the decrease, only that means I'd have to increase the height of the opening, which puts us back in horizontal bar across the middle of the square territory. At the moment I'm experimenting with slipping the yarn-over increase for a row.

Because I'm awkward I'm also working it out as a stitch in the round, that's how much I hate sewing up.

This month my main project will be something small and a bit more in keeping with the original idea of the website – oddities from oddments! Last month's pattern was fun but it used up almost an entire ball of wool. Maybe I actually will do those hare/bunny ears I drew.