March Projects

March Projects

Well, March seemed to go the same way as February... not enough time for getting a lot done.  But, I did get some stuff done! In February, I had started knitting a sock monkey. I had done several hats by then, and realized that I was dangerously close to being surrounded by stacks of hats that I will never get a chance to wear in sunny SoCal, so I started looking for something new to do. Only I really really liked doing the hats, and for some bizarre reason, I thought making a REALLY SMALL HAT would be AWESOME.  (Why does this bring back memories of getting into the insanity art of tutu making???)  I did, at least, recognize early on that a tiny hat served no purpose with no tiny head to put it on, and so the logical thing to do, then, was to first knit a sock monkey.  I found a simple pattern online, and read it over; it seemed pretty straightforward, and doable, and so I bought more yarn, and started in.

Two legs joined by knitting the body directly at the top rows of the legs.

Each leg/arm/tail is started at the bottom with cream color yarn and just a few stitches; they are increased row over row until the form a circle, and then just knitted straight up into a tube.  For the legs, once the first tube is the right length, the stitches are held with needles, and the top of the leg is left open. Then another leg is knitted, and when it's the same length as the first, both legs are moved to the same set of needles (four double-pointed needles).  They are joined together by knitting around the tops of the legs, which is also the beginning of the body.  Then, the knitting is just continued on for the body. The body, all the way up to the start of the top of the head, is just a long tube.  Just like the legs, only wider around.

It's starting to look like a little body!

The finished body.

The top of the head is done the exact same way as the feet, just decreasing stitches instead of increasing stitches.

I realized, at this point, that the top of the head looked out of balance to the rest of the body; I checked the instructions again, and I had done it correctly, but I didn't like it.  I ripped it all out, and re-knitted it, much shorter the second time. The next step was the muzzle, which is similar to the process of the legs, only instead of a circle, it's an oval, and so the increases aren't evenly spread around, but are done at the beginning of the circle, and in the middle, so that as more rows are completed, it forms an oval.  The muzzle is started with red thread for the mouth, and then the thread is changed to cream for the rest of the muzzle. When it's the right size, the stitches are cast off, so they won't pull out, and the yarn is cut off from the skein, leaving a tail.  That tail is used to sew the muzzle on to the monkey body. Just for fun, I added the eyes and nostrils at this point, so it wasn't a creepy eyeless body, and so it would look like a monkey. That's when I realized he was going to watch me knit his arms and tail, which seemed even creepier than an eyeless body, somehow.

It's a monkey!!

The arms and tail were knitted the same way as the legs, only once they were the right length, I cast off the stitches so they were closed tubes, then I used the yarn tails on each piece to sew the appendage to the body.  This made them floppier with more movement than if I had left the tops open for sewing onto the body.

One arm on. Yay!

I ran into some issues with the ears; the pattern for the ears was sewn as a half circle, and it just wasn't going well; the stitches were pulling weird because of the shape (user error, I'm sure!) and I was just not happy, so I did some sock monkey knitting research, and found another pattern that had a completely different approach to the ears; and ironically, that approach was the exact same as starting the legs!!! The only difference was that once the circle was the right diameter, one more row was knitted to give a curl around the edges, and then the whole thing was cast off, and sewn on to the head. Finally, all the body parts were done and attached, and the monkey was finished!!!

Hello, Sock Monkey!

The whole think took about a week, each arm and leg took roughly an evening, and since it's stuffed as it goes, and body parts were sewn on as they were finished, it was easy to stay motivated to finish him.  I'm not entirely happy with him; I think he's a little chubby.  I took him to band, where one of the musicians is also a knitter (and a super source for expert advice!!!!) and she told me how to rotate the stitches around on multiple double pointed needles to avoid pulling on the stitches at either end of each needle. She also gave me some valuable information about gauge, yarn weight, and needle sizes; I think if I'd used a thinner yard and a smaller needle, the monkey wouldn't be as chubby; but, the pattern is also very simple, and so it will always have the dimensions it does now.  I've found another pattern for a slightly more sophisticated monkey that I will try in the future. BUT, back to the reason for knitting the sock monkey - the tiny hat!!! It only took a few hours, and it was so super fun. It's a scaled down version of the same hats I've been knitting; only I added a pom pom just because how ridiculous is a sock monkey in a winter hat with a POM POM?!?!

I think he looks pretty snazzy in his awesome hat. I also think he should be singing "rolling with my homies".

After finishing the monkey, I FINALLY got around to a hat project I had promised a friend a year ago. Someone had given me a really cool crocheted hat (the words "cool" and "crocheted" don't seem right when placed together, do they??) that had a bizarre origin... a girl in the faire circuit was a crocheter, and also a stoner.  She apparently gets high, and crochets.  So one night she crocheted a purse, and someone (who I'm sure was also high) put the purse on his or her stoned head, and they laughed at the "ears" the corners made when worn.  So, the stoner girl started selling the purses as hats and apparently business boomed.  I don't know if that's all a true story or not, but it's funny.  So I'd started crocheting the same hat for a friend, and that's when I discovered that I HATE crocheting. I don't have a good reason why, but I SO do not like it.  So I put the yarn and needles back in my "projects to be completed" stash, where it made me feel guilty every time I went near it.  When researching sock monkey hats, I came across a humongous collection of hat knitting patterns, and the sheer amount of variation and creativity was just staggering. And inspiring. I realized I could KNIT the cat ear hat! I picked up the yard again, and circular knitting needles, and went to town. I varied my original hat pattern; I removed the cuff, and changed the ribbing to a much finer rib; I made the band only one inch tall, then I used both the homespun yard and the fake fur yarn together for the rest of the hat. I realized very quickly on that a simple circular knit stitch would result in most of the fur fibers being pushed to the inside of the hat, and so I did a traditional stockinette stitch, alternating rows of knitting with rows of purling; and, since on the purling stitches the hard was on the front side of the hat, I used the fake fur yarn only on the purl rows.  Amazingly, it worked! The hat had just the right amount of fur! At the top, instead of decreasing stitches to shape the hat into a rounded top, I left the hat square, and did a 3 needle bind off  to cast off the stitches while simultaneously making a seam to close of the top of the hat. I couldn't believe that it turned out exactly as I had hoped. I kind of wanted to keep it. ; )

 

Meow!

(I did pick up more fake fur yarn when it was on sale, I am SO making more of these. ; ) I also managed to start up my sewing machine once again; while the break from historical costuming was nice, I SO missed it.  I love the exactness of it, the fussiness of it, the research that goes into it, the different construction techniques, and the complicatedness of it all. (That should SO be a real word.) I made a few mockups of the 1810 regency short stays, and then started the actual stays. I also prepped the pattern for the chemise and dress, and have cut out the fabric for the chemise.  The undergarments will all be completed in April, if all goes well.  I also printed, scaled, and prepped the patterns for the 1650's ter Borch gown, and put those away for another day.  And, because I don't like to sew later at night, but I like knitting, I started another knitting project, my most ambitious to date.  I'm not sure if I'll finish it in April, but I am off to a very good start!  

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