Reviews: May 2010 Archives
I love knitting hats. Hats for everyone was my motto. I love 'em. They are so easy and quick and just plain fun. Well, now I love knitted toys! Monsters to be specific. More to the point this monster: Albert the Absent-Minded Monster. He is adorable and pleasurable to knit. Albert is one happening guy.
I was not so sure to begin with. I have typically been against knitted toys in the past. Knitting is time consuming and most of all a relaxation process. How my definition of knitting and toys could be melding in a way that I could come to grips with was not something I wanted to think of. Toys are loved, sure, but they are also abused, forgotten, and partners in messy crimes. To spend hours lovingly knitting something that will endure those experiences was beyond me. Until, I had a child. Gone was the nay-saying. I took one look at Albert and knew she would love him. That fact that I could make him for her was the sweet, chocolate covered cherry on top of the hot fudge and peanut butter Sunday with my choice of ice cream (Thank you Brusters!)
Now for the Knitty-gritty: Albert was a great knit. Not the fastest project I have completed but certainly enjoyable. He took about 5+ hours to complete. I followed the pattern explicitly, except for when I didn't, which I will explain as we go along. First, I used Magic Loop throughout since I have developed an allergy to DPNs since I discovered Magic Loop. I, maybe, have shortened the body by a few rows. I got anxious to move on after row 40-something (probably 45, 46). After that the pattern changed from row to row so it was hard to get bored. I enjoyed seeing the different parts take shape. I had also forgotten how much I enjoyed 3 needle bind off and how pretty it was.
Assembly was straight forward but I think I over stuffed the arms. I will try less next time and perhaps a different attachment for a better shoulder. I will also over-exaggerate the belly button next time-bigger is better! Since my daughter is 16 mos, I went with knots for the eye, just in case. Also, I don't recommend super glue for his mouth- go with the fabric glue as recommended. I didn't have any so I went with the super glue. Turns out, not as super as one would expect. I ran out for the fabric glue.
Mostly, I just love how flexible his ears are. They make Albert very expressive. Albert strikes me as just the right size to take to Grandma's or the movies. He can sneak in anywhere. Plans are in the works for a rainbow collection. I will probably go with double-stranding some to make them bigger. I want to experiment with different sizes as well as color.
Check out more pictures on Ravelry
Yarn used Berroco Weekend in Nectarine
P.s. Albert is getting comfy in his new home
On May 10th I discussed Rowan Organic Kids Collection and knitted up a super cute pattern from that book. Today, I am reviewing the yarn used for that project, Rowan Organic Cotton DK Naturally Dyed in Oak Bark.
First there is one very important thing you should know about me. I love natural fibers. I am as a moth to a flame. I often relapse into daydreams where I am bounding through a field of wild flowers (I am, of course, wearing the cutest of sundresses) just my nature fiber skein, wooden needles and me! I recoil as if struck when I happen upon yarns similar to Red Heart. The fiber can make or break my day. That said you can see the general direction of this review.
I thoroughly enjoyed this yarn. It was very similar to other cotton yarns I have worked with in the past but I did notice some subtle differences that, in my humble opinion, justify the Rowan name. First, there was a delicate but distinct softness that went above the usual cotton softness. Like extra softness, if you can imagine. It did not leave my hands feeling as dry as cotton usually does. It glided just a little better making it much easier to use with my preferred wooden needles. Typically, I pair cotton with acrylic needles but I was glad not to have to do so this time. My acrylic circulars are not equipped for magic loop.
I did have the usual trouble of splitting that is common with cotton, so I was left with a few wayward loopies scattered throughout my finished project. A few min with a crochet hook fixed them.
I was further impressed with the colors available. I am used to a bright array of the spectrum but the Rowan Organic collection is a rainbow of toned-down, natural hues that are outside the norm of cream, white and brown so as not to bore but are also great for any color palette. You can be sure that any color selection will fit nicely into your wardrobe.
The added bonus is the organic. This is a must for a growing number of knitters and gives peace of mind to an activity chosen for peace of mind. They go hand in hand. I will definitely be using this yarn again and again. It is a yarn that once you finish one project, you start scanning your magazines and books for another.
P.s. Don't forget to submit your questions for this Wednesday first "Ask the Expert" posting!
Once in a while you come across a knitting book that is full of projects you are not only excited to knit but can't wait to knit (I am talking a 6 yr old waking up on Christmas morning excitement)! This just about sums up my state of mind when I first finished reading Rowan the Organic Cotton Kids Collection. This book's one-two punch of cute kids coupled with equally cute projects guarantees it a place in every shopping cart. The pictures are bright and detailed. It is easy to see how clothes will fit, the actual size of projects and the wonderful color options available. All projects featured in this book are knit with Purelife Cotton 4 ply and DK yarns meaning that most knitters will already have something in their stash to start on a project right away and if not then the featured yarn and colors are easily found. Since it is organic cotton you know that all projects will be just right for baby and kids; clothes will be super soft and stuffed animals will cuddle right back.
I had the opportunity to knit one of the chickens (Gordon, Hugh and Jamie) from the book and it was easy and breezy. I used Rowan Organic Cotton DK in Oak Bark. The chicken knit up in about 2 hours but with the finishing and all the details, the whole project took about 3.5 hours for completion. I also had to come up with some modifications for me. I didn't have a crochet hook in the appropriate size so I knit a 3 stitch i-cord for each leg, about 3 in long and finished it off with 3 small strands of yarn as the feet. I also wove a piece of yarn to the top and tied it in a bow because I could not crochet a comb. I think both of these mods do not change the character of the pattern so are easy options for those who are exclusive knitters or, like me, lack the correct tools.
Another modification that I opted for out of easy was to pick up the middle 16 stitches at the bottom of the body where the base attached. This allowed me to knit the base right onto the body and made for less finishing later. I had to add an extra purl row before I could follow the pattern instructions for the base. I also only used 2 colors for the finishing details instead of the recommended 3 colors. I just used little bit that I had in my left-over bin for just such occasions. No telling what brand they are but I know they are cotton.