Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sackboy I

Here he is, in all his glory!

The original Sackboy. I am by far not the first to make one, but I did think of it on my own, before I knew others had done it.

He makes me very proud, even if he's not perfect - his arms and legs are disproportionately long. But other than that, I was super pleased with the final product here.

Made with Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, black felt, a pink piece of Foamie, a working brass-tone jeans zipper, buttons, and accent stitches in LB Wool-ease Oatmeal. He's got a wire-frame skeleton, made from an old notebook, so he's fully poseable - even his thumbs.

I call him Sackboy I because he is the first of several planned ones. I already have two requests from close friends that I will honor, and during the construction of those I will be writing up a pattern with pictures that will be available on I'll make a note here when it's up. I considered selling these myself, but honestly it's a work of love - I don't think I could make enough money for it to be worth the time it took to make this one.

The next iterations will have a few other improvements - while the zipper on this one works, he's stuffed so full, it's hard to zip or unzip. The legs and arms will be proportionate, the body a bit larger, and I would like to add wire framing to the face so other expressions are possible.

Just like the real thing, Sackboy I gets around.

He digs the music. And this gives you a good idea of what size he is.
He's also really good with animals. Spiff likes him, anyway.
He gets a kick out of gaming. Unfortunately he can't play LBP at my house, though.
And one last standing shot, waving to the world.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dreaming of an 8-bit christmas . . .

I have minions at my day job. And to thank them for doing the otherwise thankless job, I made them Christmas presents.

Cue images!!

What we have here are fleece hat versions of Mega Man, Proto Man, and a Tanuki suit. There are precedents - the people wearing these hats have photoshopped images of themselves as these characters on our door. Yes, I'm serious.

These were sewn, not knitted - once again I'm not even following my own rules. Sorry. But at least I think they enjoyed them, and it made me feel so deliciously nerdy to have made these.

If I get any requests, I can draw up a simple pattern. Each hat only took a few hours to cut and put together; just as much time was spent figuring them out as making them, probably.

Worst Knitter Ever

I keep letting other things get in the way of my creative passions.

Like, you know, life.

I didn't even update the blog for a while, which is ridiculous.

Anyway, here's a minor list of what's been going on:

Finished the awesomeness. I have a hand-knitted, wire-framed and thus fully poseable Sackboy of my very own. He's about 9 inches tall, and slightly out of proportion - his legs and arms are too long, compared to his body - but he's only the first of several. I have a lot more I want to say about this topic, perhaps later, once I get some really good pictures.

Started on something for myself, finally - a neckwarmer/ruff kind of thing. I had a small hoard of several skeins of Bernat Felting yarn in Gardenia, which is an absolutely gorgous colorway, and I didn't know what to do with it, until I was inspired by seeing some work by the featured crafters on Etsy - there are a lot of neckwarmers out there, and it made me want one for myself. So far that one's mostly done with knitting, it just needs finishing work. Rather than knit it as a tube in the round, I did it as a flat rectangle, and I'm going to attach some shell buttons so the closure will be adjustable. I guess it's kind of like an artsy scarf more than a neckwarmer. I started in on some matching armwarmers, but the bulky yarn looks a little weird for that, so I don't know if I will finish them.

When I get home I'll add pictures for everything I'm discussing here.

And now it's Christmas, and I feel like I failed. I started in on a sweater for someone, but just today I decided to give up, because there's no way it will be finished in time. It's working up really fast with size 15 needles and Caron's Simply Soft Quick, but not fast enough. Even if I just didn't sleep, it probably wouldn't be done, so I decided to set it aside and enjoy the holiday. I will finish it up for the next gift-giving occasion.

I think there's a philosophy in that - knitting should be fun, not work. When I find myself begrudging everything else I'm doing, because it takes time away from a project that I really don't even want to look at but feel like I MUST finish, it makes for a crappy holiday. Really, the philosophy here is one I've failed to learn for years now - start sooner than I think I will need to. On EVERYTHING. Today I went and bought a gift instead, and I feel amazingly better with that pressure off. Now all I have to do before Christmas is my regular day job.

But I am le tired . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Storage Issues

I was wondering how other people solve this problem that I have encountered. It could be that other people don't hoard the amount of yarn that I do, of course. But surely there must be a few other pack rats out there who need a place to keep approximately 200 pounds of yarn.

(I'm kidding - who has 200 pounds of yarn? My stash really only totals 193 or so, I just round up.)

Rack shelving, with see-through plastic bins, so I can see what's inside. It's hard to see in this picture, but I also tied a small sample of the yarns inside to the outside of the bin, which helps for the ones on the higher shelf. I can reach that high, but I can't see what's up in there near as easily.

So far this is a lot better than the laundry hampers it was previously tangling in. Any skeins that have been 'opened' are in ziploc bags too. Now, I just have to knit all the stuff I was planning on making with this ridiculous pile.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Little Big Planet is Neat

I haven't even played it. Haven't even seen it being played. But I am still interested. View the protagonist:

He's cute, he's small, and he's knitted. Looking at pictures of this guy next to ordinary objects like a skateboard or a soccer ball, I estimate he's about 4 inches tall. Others are interested in the fact that he (or she) is very customizable. Here we appear to have a shinto, or perhaps sushi chef, model.

In this vein, I have been knitting something that makes me feel really, really awesome. Pictures are coming soon.

The only thing I regret is that I did not think of this sooner - while I did come up with it independently, apparently I am not the only one, nor am I the first. At least I can take solace in the fact that mine will be appropriately sized.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What have I done? Dear gods, what have I done?


At any rate, it seems that a large amount of the things I make are presents for my Mom. I would like to think she likes them for themselves, as well as because I made them. As a Mom, it's her job, I guess. At any rate, though, here are a few that I remain proud of. Note that the misshapen clay objects left over from middle school art class do not feature here.

Items in this bunch: A crocheted car coat. Made with Red Heart Light and Lofty in a dark red color - again, I won't remember the name - from the Lion Brand Car Coat pattern. (You have to make a logon to see any Lion Brand patterns, but its free.) I adapted it from the original shawl collar, and added pockets. I also lined the edges with a row of Lion Brand Incredible tape yarn, in Autumn Leaves. I love this stuff so much.

There's also my first successful yarn project ever - a crocheted afghan in cream and sage Light and Lofty. Mom loved this; it was a Christmas present. I made it from a pattern in some afghans book.

There's a really cool intarsia scarf I made for her from a pattern in a knitting magazine. Which one exactly escapes me at the moment, but when I find out, I'll come back to edit it. This is in Caron's Simply Soft, which is one of my favorite acrylic yarns ever. It is super soft, comes in beautiful colors, and is really affordable. I have a huge stash of some of my favorite colors, which is good, because I heard they are changing it - my local Wal Mart has stopped selling it.

Lastly there is another necklace. This one I have made several versions of; thin copper wire and glass beads, twisted and woven together. Perhaps later I will post more detailed instructions on making one, and a shot of one I made for a friend that came out nicer.

Too many pictures to clutter up this post with. Click here to see them on Picasa.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This is what happens when I feel like making something, but I don't plan

About a week ago, I was sitting on the couch and was struck by a sudden desire to make something. I have a lot of craft supplies just lying around, and lately I have been on a wire-and-glass kick. I got to thinking about how wire is so much more organic-looking. And then this came out.

Three large glass leaf beads, a number of seed beads in shades of tan/brown and copper, copper wire, and some green ribbon. It's just barely bigger than a choker - it rests at the base of my neck. It closes with a loop of ribbon that just fits over a large roundish glass bead.

I do wish, now, that I had planned it better. As it was I sort of just kept going until it seemed done, but with some careful design it probably would have been nicer. Also, I really need practice with wire. In some places it is wobbly, where I would rather have it smooth. It's also a bit poky. Still, though, I love this. It makes me wish I had more open-necked tops, like a simple boatneck in some neutral color. Perhaps I will knit one, if I ever finish with all the other projects I have ongoing.

One more detailed picture below.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jayne Hats, Part 1

Newly updated as a Christmas present!  A javascript calculator to help those who don't want to math.

The original stylishness

So another one of those things I do is watch scifi. I am one of those tragic cases who love(d) Firefly. And like many other nerds, I feel driven to own things that resemble things I see on TV. That led to the creation of my first Jayne Hat. It was actually a present for a like-minded friend. But of course I wanted one, so I kept going. While I don't have a good picture of the first, I DO happen to have a shot of mine laying around.

Guess who that ridiculously smiling face belongs to? Yours truly has, in the past, been accused of making faces like a five year old for pictures. I'm sorry, that's just the way I smile. Plus I love this hat. There's a slight spiral twist to the stitches from knitting this in the round, and the earflaps curl up - mostly because it's supposed to look slightly badly knitted. I could have made it bigger, but I wanted it this size. Note - the Jayne Hat calculator gives you numbers that include no ease, negative or positive.

Note: the original Jayne hat that I made was also knitted through the back loops, because I actually didn't know I was knitting incorrectly at the time. Wow, that's embarassing. It won't look as 'tight', or as spirally, if knitted normally. A new picture is coming whenever I get off my butt and make a better one; that Jayne hat is currently being worn by a companion cube at my office.

So let's talk construction! The following is my own pattern. The example hat was knitted in the round, on size 10.5 dpns, with Lion Brand Wool-Ease and Vanna's Choice. I could not tell you the color names, but they are a burnt orange, marigold yellow, and garnet red sort of colors. The cool thing about this hat is that it is easy to substitute whatever sort of yarn you want, since you
calculate the stitches after making your own gauge swatch. This also means the needle size you choose is more up to you, although going too small will make a heavy and tiresome fabric, while going too big will have too many holes.

My favorite thing about this pattern is that it is adjustable for any size hat, any yarn, and any DPNs/circular needles you want, so you can make Jayne hats for babies, dogs, dolls - whatever you desire.

This pattern is copyright Stephanie Schwinn as of 2015. You should feel free to make this pattern, and sell any objects made from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern itself, or distribute it for free. If you want to show it to someone else, just link it back here, or show them the pattern entry on Ravelry!

Jayne Hats for All
Materials And Pattern Notes:
Use any yarn and needles you prefer. For the original look, you will need yarn in three colors - yellow, orange, and red. You should use the same weight yarn for each color - i.e. don't get a worsted weight orange yarn, and a bulky weight yellow yarn - but they don't have to be different colorways in the same brand or anything.

The number of stitches will vary depending on the head size of the intended wearer and your gauge - which comes from the needles and yarn you choose, as well as your individual knitting style - but the calculator takes care of that for you. Now, on to the pattern itself.

This hat is knitted in the round, and therefore needs to be done with double pointed needles (DPNs), or a circular needle.

You will also need a few stitch markers - I recommend 6 or 8. If you have only a few (like 3 or 4) then the top will be more pointy. If you have a lot (10 or 12, etc) then it will be more flat on top.

Follow the measurement instructions, fill out the calculator, then BLAMMO get your customized pattern! (Disclosure, the calculator does not make a 'BLAMMO' noise.) The wording says 'inches' because I'm American and unfortunately we haven't converted to metric yet, but the calculator will work if your measurements are in centimeters instead.

Measurement Instructions:
Step 1: Measure your head.
Measure around where you want the hat brim to fall - I usually measure just above the brow line. If you want a snug fit, use the exact measurement or subtract 1 inch. For a slightly looser fit, add 1-2 inches. Call this measurement B inches (for the circumference of the brim). Now think about how tall you want the hat to be - for an average adult head, this is about 7 inches tall (if you flatten the hat out and measure from the brim to the top.) We'll call the height of your hat H. If you are making a hat that is much larger or smaller than that, the height is about 1/3 of the brim length. Use this formula:
Desired height = B/3 = H

Step 2: Make a gauge swatch.
Make a swatch that is 20 stitches by 20 rows, using the yarn and needles you have chosen. Now measure that swatch - measure the total width and total height. We will call the width X and the height Y.

Step 3: Calculate your pattern
Joy! What good is being a programmer if you don't use it for fun as well as profit? The formulas have been replaced by a nifty javascript calculator. Just put in your measurements and it will write out the pattern for you.

Of course, if you like math, feel free to use the formulas instead.

Now fill out this equation to get your stitches per inch:
20 stitches = X inches wide. 20/X = your stitches per inch.
B * stitches per inch = S
Multiply B by the stitches per inch to get the approximate number of stitches you will need - call that S. It makes things easier, but not necessary, if you round this number to an even number that is divisible by 6, 0r 8. There's a good reason for that; at the top there are radial decreases and it's simpler if you can do them every so many stitches, and an even number makes the ribbing come out evenly.

Similarly, calculate the height of your hat in rows.
20 rows = Y inches tall. 20/Y = rows per inch.
H * rows per inch /2 = R
Multiply H by the rows per inch to get the total number of rows you will need. Since the hat has two color blocks, we divide that number by two, so the number of rows in each color section is R.

Now for the calculator: you still have to do a gauge swatch or this really won't work; gauge swatches are necessary in knitting anything where the size is important, folks. Here's some instructions from Knitty on how to knit a gauge swatch; do this one in regular stockinette, measure it to get your stitches per inch (SPI) and rows per inch (RPI), and plug those into the calculator below along with the dimensions you want to get your custom pattern!
Enter these:
B (Desired brim size):
H (Desired hat height):
SPI (Stitches per inch in your gauge swatch):
RPI (Rows per inch in your gauge swatch):
M (Number of decrease markers you want, even number; 6 or 8 is recommended):

After calculating - to save your calculated results, copy/bookmark this link.
Link to your custom pattern results!

Your calculated values:
S (number of stitches to cast on): (S)
R (number of rows in the orange and yellow sections): (R)
D (Stitches between each marker during the decrease setup): (D)
E (Stitches to pick up for each earflap): (E)
ER (Rows to knit for each earflap before starting decreases): (ER)

Detailed Instructions:
Cast on (S) number of stitches with the orange yarn. Don't use a super tight cast-on, nor a super-loose one; I used the long-tail cast on but I did it loosely so it would stretch a bit. These will be at the hat's brim. If you are using DPNs, distribute the number of stitches evenly across your needles. Mark the join with a stitch marker, or just notice that the tail of the cast-on hangs from the join point.

Rows 1 and 2 : do 1x1 ribbing, a simple (k1, p1) pattern all the way around. If you ended up with an odd number of stitches, you will have two knit ribs next to eachother where you join the yarn, which sucks. The calculator above is designed to not do that, however, so hopefully you'll be good!.

Rows 3 - (R), switch to normal stockinette in the round - knit every stitch. This length also depends on personal preference, again - check out some pictures of Jayne wearing his hat and make your own judgement - feel free to use less, or more, rows, if you do not like the length.

Rows (R)-(2R): Switch to yellow yarn and continue the stockinette for another (R) rows. At that point, get out some more stitch markers. Place a marker every (D) stitches, so that you have (M) equally spaced markers.

Now continue knitting around and k2tog the last two stitches before each marker. Continue in this pattern until you are left with (M) stitches; you may have to remove some needles or adjust things during this process. Switching to smaller DPNs might help too. Lastly, cut the yarn and draw it through the last stitches with a yarn needle or a crochet hook; weave in the free end.

Make a crazy pompom with all 3 colors and secure it to the crown of the hat.

For each earflap, pick up (E) stitches on opposite sides of the hat. There should be (EB) stitches between each earflap. Knit earflap separately, with the red yarn in stockinette stitch; these earflaps are flat so knit them flat, turning each row; this should be knit one row, purl the next. Work (ER) rows, then start decreasing at each end of each row - k2tog or p2tog, depending on whether it's a knit or purl row. Keep going until you have 3 stitches left. At that point, bind off and cut the yarn, leaving a tail of 6 inches. Cut another piece of yarn about 11 inches long and pull it through near where the cast off tail exits, then tie all three together at the base, cut them to the same length, and let them dangle as earflap ties.

Weave in any leftover ends, and voila - you've got your very own Jayne Hat. Cunnin', aint it?

Here is a short version of the pattern, useful if you take this on the road, or just prefer the brevity. I know I like em' as short as possible.

Short Version of Pattern:
Calculate number of stitches and rows as described above.
Cast on (S) stitches with orange yarn.
Round 1: k1,p1 rib around.
Round 2: k1,p1 rib around.
Rounds 3 to (R): k around.
Switch to yellow yarn. Distribute (M) stitch markers evenly throughout your number of stitches; these will be used as decrease markers later.
Rounds (R - 2R): k around.
Begin decrease rows:
On each round, k2tog the two stitches before each marker. Continue in this pattern until there are only (M) stitches remaining. Cut the yarn, leaving at least a 6 inch tail, and use a crochet hook or yarn needle to draw the yarn through all remaining stitches, then cinch up the hole and secure the free end by weaving it into your knitting.

Pick up (E) stitches along the brim (you can start anywhere you like.)
Knit flat, instead of in the round, with the knit stitches on the right side. In stockinette stitch, continue for (ER) rows. Begin decreasing - at the end of each row, either k2tog, or p2tog depending on if it's a knit or purl row, until there are three stitches left. Bind these off and leave a tail at least 6" long hanging.

Make a second earflap in the same manner, opposite the first one.

Earflaps will curl - it is intentional, for that truly cunnin' look.

Make a pompom out of all three yarns together and secure it to the crown.
Cut two extra lengths of red yarn and thread one through the end of each earflap. Tie it together with the free end of the earflap at the very base, and trim the ends to match. This mini-fringe can be used to tie the earflaps together if you so desire.

Hello World

So I'm not just a knitter. I suppose I should admit now that this blog won't just be about knitting. In fact perhaps the title is misleading. I do a lot more than knitting. Plus I have a short attention span and a lot of interests. So I can only guarantee that knitting will in fact be discussed at some point; not that it will be the only thing I will babble about, or that I'll say anything really relevant.

Great! Now that we're past that awkward introduction stage, I am excited to finally put this stuff out there. I have no idea if anyone else will be interested in the things I make, but I have wanted to share them for a while. So here goes nothing!