Tag Archives: blanket

Hexipuff Update (or all the spectacular uses for hexi-puffs)

My hexipuffs

My hexipuffs

39 hexipuffs

39 hexipuffs

I’m 10% of the way through my beekeeper’s quilt, and 100% addicted to these satisfying little puffs.  This week, I finished my 39th puff, which I see as something as of a milestone (384 puffs make a full size quilt).  So far, my goal is to complete a double bed size quilt in a random selection of colours. These hexipuffs were made out of eight different balls of scrap sock yarn (Studioloo Bootsie, Dream in Color Smooshy and Starry, ONline Supersocke, madelinetosh merino light, and Cascade 220 Superwash Sport). I’m hesitant to start attaching anything, since I’d like the colours and colourways to be evenly distributed in the quilt.  It is interesting to note that there are way more in progress quilts on ravelry: 3833 in progress compared to 741 finished quilts. I suspect that we’ll all be at this for a while!

A hexipuff headboard, originally spotted on Pinterest

A hexipuff headboard, originally spotted on Pinterest

Rosalias' HexiChristmas (taken from ravelry)

Rosalias’ HexiChristmas (taken from ravelry)

Along the way, I also discovered some of the other spectacular and creative uses for hexipuffs, like this much-shared wall hanging/head board which, I believe is suspended using hooks from anthropologie.  I’m considering it as a temporary home for some of my finished puffs. One commenter on knit the hell out suggested using them as cushions for dinner chairs (a great idea, but I’m not sure I could watch my toddler eat pasta that close to hours and hours of knitting). Another brilliant blogger made an entire Christmas tree out of hexipuffs.

My ravelry and pinterest searches revealed hexipuffs used as Christmas ornaments, key chains, upholstery, baby toys and blankets, and my absolute favourite: a cozy cat bed!

A hexipuff pet carrier by catlips (taken from ravelry)

A hexipuff pet carrier by catlips (taken from ravelry)


I think I found the best use EVER for leftover sock yarn!

My hexipuffs (or 1.3% of a quilt)

My hexipuffs (or 1.3% of a quilt)

I’ve struggled with what to do with all my leftover sock yarn.  Each pair of socks results in smallish balls of lovely scrap, and it didn’t take long for me to develop a pretty major stash.  I’ve made newborn hats and contemplated wild striped socks, but I’ve never found a really satisfying use for these leftovers.  To add to the urgency, we’re looking for a house, and the upcoming move has motivated me to deal with every bit of clutter that I will otherwise have to eventually pack up and move.

Tiny Owl's beekeeper's quilt (photo copied from the pattern website)

Tiny Owl’s beekeeper’s quilt (photo copied from the pattern website)

So imagine my delight when I came upon this gorgeous Tiny Owl Knits pattern, The Beekeeper’s Quilt.  It’s a pretty popular pattern with over 5000 projects on ravelry, and at least 5 how-to videos on youtube.

The pattern reccommends 384 of these tiny little “hexipuffs” for a full size quilt, so I may be working on this one for the forseeable future. However, each little puff knits up in less than an hour, so they’re perfect in between projects.  So far I have 5 puffs (or 1.3% of a full size blanket!), but I’ll keep you posted as I work my way through my stash. I’ve made

A hexipuff in madelinetosh merino

A hexipuff in madelinetosh merino

hexipuffs with ONline suppersocke (from my Wedge socks), white Dream in Colour Starry, and pink and black madelinetosh merino (from my Hederas, and the Monas I made for my husband at Christmas), and they all look lovely. I’m so happy to be converting clutter into something beautiful for our new home, what a great pattern!

All The Old Showstoppers (Part 2)

Because one post couldn’t contain them all:

My youngest niece and her Project Linus blankie

My youngest niece and her Project Linus blankie

Favourite Shower Gift:  I know I’ve said this before, but nothing beats the Project Linus Security Blanket from Knitting for Peace as a baby shower gift.  I have literally dulled a pair of needles making this blanket six times.  All six are still in use, even though the oldest recipients are approaching school age. The simple, but pretty texture looks the same from both sides.  It’s durable and practical, warm and cozy. I made all six in Cotton Ease, so they’re machine washable; trust me, no new parent wants to hand wash anything. Nothing makes me a happy knitter, like seeing these get worn out as the newborn babies grow into toddlers and preschoolers.

My son's bulky jacket in Dream in Color Groovy

My son’s bulky jacket in Dream in Color Groovy

Favourite kid sweater: Diane Soucy’s Neck Down Jacket is another pattern that I’ve come back to again and again.  It comes in sizes from toddler to preteen.  It’s fast; it’s easy; it’s adorable; it’s knit in one easy piece (even the pockets!).  So it should come as no surprise that I knit this one six times in Dream in Colour Groovy and Berocco Chunky.  If like me, you have absolutely no skill with sewing, don’t let the zipper scare you off – most dry cleaners will sew in the zipper for a pretty reasonable fee (mine charges $6).  The shape is so timeless that I regularly see very expensive versions of this sweater in shop windows.  Just last week my sister-in-law emailed me to tell me that her daughter wears it every day to school as a jacket.  I could go on about this one all day …

Paintbox Log Cabin blanket in Noro Taiyo and Berocco Vintage

Paintbox Log Cabin blanket in Noro Taiyo and Berocco Vintage

Favourite blanket: … and finally the real show stopper:  The Paintbox Log Cabin Blanket.  This pattern is available for free and it gave me my favourite knitting project of all.  This project requires a really significant investment of time and money, and I probably won’t make it many more times.  At nearly $200 worth of yarn and 4 months of knitting, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime special gift.  That being said it was worth every penny and every minute.  Because the blanket is constructed in squares, it was an easy project to take with me and I loved being surprised by the way the colours materialized in the Noro.  It’s so beautiful and simple, I only wish I’d thought of it first. I cannot thank Katherine Keyes enough for this pattern. Spectacular.

I’d love to hear your favourites.  What patterns have you coming back for more?

All the Old Showstoppers (Part 1)

What keeps us coming back to the same patterns over and over again? Certainly, a familiar pattern is always faster and usually made with more technical proficiency, but there’s more to it than that.  A really great pattern demands to made over and over again.  Some patterns have that perfect mix of beauty, versatility, practicality and reliability that has you coming back to them again and again. These patterns are the ones that I love to make over and over again.

The worsted weight version in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino

The worsted weight version in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino

Favourite hat:  I’ve written a few of my own hat patterns and tried countless others over the years, but the one I come back to again and again is the Dean Street Hat, which is available as a free ravelry download.  The pattern comes in chunky and worsted weight and every size from toddler to large headed adult, like me.  The texture has a nice density that keeps you warm. The cables are simple enough to knit swiftly but attractive enough to be special, and I’ve gotten countless compliments on the three that I’ve made.  All in all a classic.

My first Rocketry cardigan in Dream in Color Classy

My first Rocketry cardigan in Dream in Color Classy

Favourite baby sweater:  While my recent experience with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Sweater on Two Needles, had me second guessing this choice, Dream in Color’s Rocketry Baby Cardigan edged it out.  The advantage went to the Rocketry cardigan purely on the basis of it’s unisex appeal.  This adorable cardigan works well for boys and girls, and it’s a great stash buster.  The stripes keep the knitting interesting and make ensuring uniform sleeve length a breeze.  I’ve made it four times, twice in the suggested (but expensive) Dream in Color Classy, and twice in much more reasonable Lamb’s Pride wool.  It’s reliable and seamless, and works equally well as a six colour rainbow sweater and in simple three colour combinations (I’ve tried pink/white/black and red/navy/white).

Gusset heel toe up socks in unidentified stast yarn

Gusset heel toe up socks in unidentified stash yarn

Favourite socks: As a dedicated sock knitter this was a tough choice.  Lately, I’ve worn down the spine of Cookie A’s knit.sock.love and I was tempted to choose one of her innovative designs.  In the end, however, I went for simplicity: Wendy Johnson’s Gusset Heel Basic Socks, published in Socks from the Toe Up are fantastic.  The directions have an admirable clarity and they are perfect for showing off multicolour yarn or as a basis for your own experiments with texture.  The gusset heel is elegantly simple, providing lots of space for good fit across the top of the foot, without all of the slip stitch heel fuss.  I’ve had lots of knitters look at these and ask how I made such a clever heel, if only I could take the credit.

On Baby Booties

Simple Booties on our son in the hospital, on his birth day

Every time that a friend or relative announces that she’s pregnant, I eagerly break out the needles and pastel yarns. BK (before kid), I used to knit baby booties every time.  They’re quick, adorable and easy.  And aren’t those what you’re supposed to knit when you’re expecting?  I experimented with a number of patterns before settling on Bernat’s creatively named Baby’s Booties (available for free on their website) and Simple Bootees from Claire Montgomerie’s Easy Baby Knits.

Both make lovely booties, and both are wonderfully easy for novice knitters.  The Bernat pattern is knit flat in worsted, while the Simple Bootees are knit in the round with sport.  They were also great stash busters.  When our little guy arrived, we, of course, put his perfect little paws in both sets of booties.  Immediately something became very clear: the Simple Bootees I’d been presenting at showers for years did not stay on.  Furthermore, the sizes above newborn were ridiculous when compared to an actual baby foot.

Bernat’s Baby’s Booties, made in Dream in Color Classy

The Bernat pattern was much, much better that way.  The booties stayed put, and had an appealing warm thickness that made you feel like a good mom for putting them on your little one.  However, I’ve stopped making baby booties.  After going through the first year with our little guy, and after watching my sister and sisters-in-law clothe their little ones, I realized that booties are essentially useless to most parents.

The first three months are a wild period of adjustment, and I’ve yet to see the parent who has a lot of time to think about accessories when they’re being woken up every 3 hours, all night.  Furthermore, little babies often require full outfit changes every few hours, when leaky diapers and spit up strike.  Most newborns spend their days and nights in one piece jammies with feet that save their parents from endless rounds of dressing and redressing, from piles of teeny tiny laundry and from thinking about baby’s clothing in any coherent way.  Our baby booties were photographed lovingly and pulled on our little guy’s feet a few times during the 6 or 8 weeks they actually fit. Now they live in the home I expect is reserved for many lovingly crafted baby booties: the memento drawer.

These days, I try to make practical shower items that will get worn out instead of making tiny adorable mementos.  In our house, the unchallenged champion in the useful category is the Project Linus blanket from Betty Christiansen’s Knitting for Peace. The holes eased my anxious mind in the early days, and I’ve made this workhorse six times for various friends and relatives.  My sister-in-law recently asked for a second Project Linus for her second daughter.  To be honest, I’m a little sick of this pattern (my size 9 wood circular needles are literally dull), but it’s hard to resist knitting something you know will be used and cherished. I’m looking for a new pattern to take it’s place and would welcome any suggestions.  I usually make it in Cotton Ease.  The cotton blend is soft, washable and relatively inexpensive.  Our blankie is a little worse for the wear, but more than two years later, my son is cuddling up under it every night; which for me is the real test of any knitted gift.

Mia’s Project Linus Blanket (nearly 2 years old and still being snuggled)

Turkish Delights and Noro Inspirations

The Hagia Sophia

Our travels often influence both my own personal style and my knitting; but no trip was more inspiring this way than our 10 day sojourn in Turkey.

The surreal fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

In the spring of 2011, we had planned to visit friends teaching in Cairo.  Fortunately, we looked at our tickets, and decided that our 48 hour layover in Istanbul could be easily extended to fill the entire trip.  After long negotiations with Turkish Air (I’m reasonably certain at this point that our travel agent winces when we call) and extensive perusing of our Lonely Planet, we had a new itinerary.  Our friends met us in Istanbul, and we spent 10 days in what has become my favourite travel destination.  Our trip was limited to Istanbul and the surreal landscape of Cappadocia, but the seacoast and East remain on my bucket list!

Turkey is a feast of colour and texture for fashion and textile lovers.  The streets, clothes and buildings are a wash with soft yellows, oranges, blues and greens.  As a knitter, the gorgeous chaos of Istanbul’s bazaars was awe inspiring.  Sandwiched between piles of pottery in saturated mosaics, and artfully arranged spices from across Asia and the Middle East are some of the most beautiful, hand crafted textiles and accessories I have ever seen. On the way home, our bags were packed with scarves in pinks, greens and turquoises for our moms and friends, and colourful silk ballet flats and earrings.  A rug was mostly definitely not within my maternity leave budget, but I went home dreaming of thick, handcrafted swirls of burgundy and gold to rest my feet on.

The view across the Golden Horn (Istanbul)

Turkey is geographically quite spread out, but domestic flights are very reasonable, and we were able to escape the bustle of Istanbul, and visit Cappadocia.  A long history of bizarre geology (the fairy chimneys) and human habitation make it a fantastic place.  People are extremely friendly, the food is terrific, and everything is waaaaay cheaper than Istanbul.  If you make it to Cappadocia, do not miss the eight story underground cities, used by ancient Christians to hide from Romans, or the magnificent local cuisine – I’m still dreaming about the tomato soup!

The shops of Goreme

Since the trip, I’ve thought about designing a scarf pattern inspired by the intricate colourwork of Turkish rugs and scarves, but may, in the end, have to leave that to the experts.   However, one of my favourite yarns has given me an outlet for all of this Turkey love: Noro Taiyo.  The combinations of earthy and saturated colours bring me back to the Spice Bazaar, and the uneven, organic texture is reminiscent of Cappadocia’s surreal hand carved architecture. Since coming across this yarn shortly after our trip, I’ve been using it everywhere.

The yarn itself can be frustrating to work with.  It’s thickness is purposely inconsistent; which can give your work a beautiful organic texture, but can also be an absolute pain when a particularly slim section pulls apart in your hands (full confession: I’m a tight knitter).  Each multicolour colourway contains a clear outlier, a colour that looks nearly ugly in its contrast to the rest of the yarn.  In the right project, the outlier makes the entire work more beautiful, but it in the wrong project, it can make an intricate pattern or adult sweater look plain wacky.

My top Noro successes have been relatively plain patterns that embrace it inconsistency and 70’s colourways.  The Paintbox Log Cabin blanket (available for free at Katherine Keyes’ blog: Get Your Hook On) was designed with Noro in mind and it shows.

The Spice Bazaar

My log cabin blanket

This blanket took months to make (and upwards of $100 in yarn), but was worth every minute and penny.  Katherine Keyes used Noro Kureyon, while I used Noro Taiyo, it is less expensive per yard, and a little easier to care for.  This caused a major overestimate in the number of skeins required, and I’ve been experimenting with remainders ever since.

Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket has eaten up a few of the leftovers.  I used the 1968 pattern to make one for each of my two year old nieces, on 5.5 mm needles, it’s a perfect fit.  The pattern is technically really easy, but difficult from a reading comprehension perspective, and I highly recommend the 6 episode YouTube videos for anyone unfamiliar with her patterns.  It’s knit in one very strange piece, with a single pair of seams across the top of the shoulders.  The wacky colours and uneven texture make for really beautiful, obviously retro sweater.  The great thing about toddlers is that they can get away with a fashion statement this bold!

Amelia’s toddler surprise jacket

Finally this really simple Entrelac cushion cover is now a staple in our living room.  The variety of Noro colourways makes it easy to match any couch, or living room and I’ve since knit cushions for half the family.

Entrelac cushion