My Movie Knitting (Or How A Pile Of Yarn Becomes A Sweater)

So, I’ve given myself a goal. Have you ever done that? Told yourself, “I’m going to knit this by this date so I can wear it to this event.”  I never have made THAT kind of goal for myself. Usually my goal knitting is a) making a gift for someone by their birthday/Christmas/baby shower or b) making the items in time for the auction they’ll be donated to or c) making the items in time for the deadline of the book(s) they’ll be in. Making something for myself to wear to an actual event is a completely new idea, so we’ll see how I fare.

Step One - open the bag o' yarn

What a hank looks like

The umbrella swift

 

I will admit that when I first started knitting as a young girl, and even when I took up knitting again as an adult, I never bought anything that wasn’t prewound in a ball, ready-to-knit. Only in the last six or seven years did I venture into buying hanks, and I either wound them by hand (with the help of the husband) onto something random like an empty water bottle (I do not recommend this method) or would have the yarn shop do it. About five years ago I bought myself a yarn winder, and with the help of my husband, again, would wind them on my own. Then, my husband made my Christmas wishes come true when he bought me my own swift about three years ago. I almost cried. It’s made life so much easier, and opened up a whole new world of yarn for me. Not to mention, my kids love helping me wind the yarn!

My swanky set-up

 

So, I set up my swift and my winder, and went to town.

After winding, the hank becomes a cake - voila!

 

So, what am I knitting with this lovely cake?

I’ll let you guess. I’m sure some of you can guess just by looking at what type of yarn it is… though I’ll give you another clue and say that I’m not knitting it in the color it’s knit in for the pattern. I’m breaking out! The goal was to knit this lovely garment by my birthday, November 6th, but the likelihood of me finishing this in a week is very slim, so I’m giving myself til November 18th. Hm… what’s happening on November 18th?

One hint…

 

What’s on your needles?

 

Free Halloween Pattern – Rip-apart Vampire Doll

In the process of making Vampire Knits, as with any book, there is a lot of editing that happens. Sometimes patterns we love get dropped at the last minute. This little guy was a great concept, but ultimately was hard to photograph. I still like him, and need to work on a way to make his neck a bit stronger so that it doesn’t flop to the side, but other than that, he’s still a cute little vampire doll.

  

Don't mind his pinned on mouth.

Little Eric

You can make him two ways. I intended him to be made in separate pieces, with velcro on the ends of each piece so that the arms, legs, and head could be ripped off easily and put back together. The thought behind this is that in a lot of vampire stories, the only way to kill a vampire is to rip the pieces and either burn them or bury them separately. The bonus is that he makes a great frustration doll.

I made the first version to look a bit more like Eric Northman from the Sookie Stackhouse books, and later made a version that looked more like the O.V. himself, Dracula.

So, if you’d like to make your own little Vampire, here you go!

Burn the Pieces

by Genevieve Miller

In several vampire stories, the only way to kill a vampire is to rip it into pieces and either bury them separately or burn them. I thought it would be a fun concept for a doll, and even helpful in easing stress… just rip it to pieces and put him back together again. 

This doll could be made in all kinds of different colors. I chose black and grey for a more “traditional” vampire look, with pale white skin.

Difficulty

Intermediate

Size

One size

Finished Measurements

15 1/2″ (40cm) tall

Materials

1 skein each Patons Grace, 100% mercerized cotton, 1.75 oz (50g), 136 yd (125m), colors Night (A), Clay (B), and Natural (C)

1 skein LION BRAND Microspun, 100% microfiber acrylic, 2.5 oz (70g), 168 yd (154m), color Ebony (D)

Set of 5 size 3 (3.25mm) double-pointed needles

Crochet hook

Tapestry needle

Polyester fiberfill for stuffing

Velcro

Sewing needle and black and red thread (also deep red to match Velcro, if dyed)

Small amount of black, white, red, and blue felt

Small amount of satin fabric for cape lining

Small button

RIT dye (color Scarlet) for dyeing Velcro (optional)

Gauge

24 stitches and 36 rows = 4″ (10cm)

Special Skills

Knitting in the round

Basic sewing and embroidery skills

Abbreviations

Kfb – knit into the front and the back of the stitch to increase

Pattern

Doll

Body

With A, cast on 48 stitches and divide evenly among 4 double-pointed needles. Join in a round. Work in stockinette stitch until piece measures 1 1/2″ (4cm). Change to B. Work even until piece measures 4 1/2″ (11cm).

Shoulders:

Needle 1:  Ssk, knit to end.

Needle 2:  Knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.

Needle 3:  Ssk, knit to end.

Needle 4:  Knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.

Continue as set until there are 3 stitches left on each needle. Cut yarn, leaving an 8″ (20cm) tail. Thread yarn though stitches and pull tight to secure. Stuff with fiberfill, sew bottom edge closed.

Arms (make 2)

With B, cast on 12 stitches. Work in stockinette stitch for 4″ (10cm). Change to C, knit 8 more rows. Bind off.

Legs (make 2)

With A, cast on 16 stitches. Work in stockinette stitch for 5 3/4″ (15cm). Bind off.

Head

With C, cast on 16 stitches and divide evenly among 4 double-pointed needles.  Join in a round.

Needle 1: Kfb, knit to end.

Needle 2: Knit to last stitch, kfb.

Needle 3: Kfb, knit to end.

Needle 4: Knit to last stitch, kfb.

Continue as set until there are 9 stitches on each needle. Work even for approximately 26 rounds or until head measures 3 1/2″ (9cm) from base of neck.

Shape Head:

Needle 1: Ssk, knit to end.

Needle 2: Knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.

Needle 3: Ssk, knit to end.

Needle 4: Knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog.

Continue as set until there are 3 stitches on each needle. Cut yarn, leaving an 8″ (20cm) tail. Thread yarn though stitches and pull tight to secure, adding fiberfill before closing.

Finishing

Dye Velcro if desired for “bloody” effect according to package directions. Allow to dry.

Sew arms and legs along side seams, stuff with fiberfill, sew top openings closed. Weave in ends. With sewing needle and thread, sew soft side of Velcro to end of neck and each arm and leg. Sew stiff side of Velcro to body where parts will be joined.

Eyes:

Draw two almond shapes onto black felt and cut out; this will be the outline around the eyes. Draw two slightly smaller almond shapes onto white felt and cut out; this will be the whites of the eyes. Draw two small circles onto blue (or other color) felt for the irises. Attach all together with black thread in the center of the iris to create the pupil. Sew eyes onto face as shown, using black thread.

Mouth:

Draw a mouth shape onto red felt and cut out; a simple crescent works well. Add fangs cut from white felt, if desired. Sew fangs onto mouth, then mouth onto face using red thread.

Hair:

To create a slick widow’s peak, thread D onto tapestry needle and sew hair onto head from back of head to front using long, closely spaced stitches until scalp is covered. Adjust length of stitches to create widow’s peak, making them longer in the center.

To create longer, flowing hair (like Eric Northman), cut strands of D twice as long as desired hair length. Using a crochet hook, fold 1 strand over hook, insert through top of head, and pull ends of yarn through loop to secure (as for attaching fringe). Repeat until scalp is covered, trim ends if desired.

Cape:

Using 2 of the double-pointed needles as straight needles, cast on 56 stitches.

Row 1: Knit.

Row 2 (RS): Ssk, knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog (54 stitches).

Row 3 and all wrong side rows:  Purl.

Repeat Rows 2 and 3 until 14 stitches remain, ending with a RS row. Piece should measure approximately 6 1/2″ (17cm). Work even in stockinette stitch for 5 rows, ending with a WS row.

Increase as follows:

Row 1 (RS): Kfb, knit to last stitch, kfb (16 stitches).

Row 2: Purl.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until there are 22 stitches. Bind off knitwise on a WS row. Weave in ends. Block.

Cut a piece of satin fabric or felt the same size as the cape. With black thread, sew to WS of cape as a lining.

Button Loop:

Using 2 double-pointed needles, cast on 3 stitches. Work in I-cord for 5″ (13cm). Bind off. Fold I-cord in half to

make a loop and sew to right edge of cape, at neck indentation. Sew button opposite loop. Dress doll in cape.

   

I used a fancy button off one of my own sweaters.

If you end up making one, please post it here!!

Success At the Knit Shop!

This past Saturday, I was at Knitting With Sandra, a “local-ish” yarn shop for a book signing. The shop is in Riverside, CA, which is about an hour away from me. Shelley, one of the owners, contacted me through Ravelry a few months back about having an event, and I thought it was a great idea! I was still smarting a bit from being rejected from my own local bookseller, so when I was contacted by Shelley, I was over the moon.

Saturday started off with a soccer game between the Yellowjackets and the Dynomites!

Me and my little Yellowjacket, Madeline.

After the game, I gathered my samples, my m&ms, my buttons, my magnets, my map, my directions, changed my clothes, ate a quick hot dog, kissed the kids & husband, and set off to the shop.

I was quite proud of myself that I did not get lost, even without a GPS.

The shop was lovely, as were the women. I was prepared to do a demonstration of the duplicate stitch, but it never came up, and we were having such fun chatting and getting to know each other, that I just let it go. I signed several books, and even signed an apron, which had been signed by several other (more well-known than me) designers.

The lovely ladies brought a fabulous spider cake, cupcakes, chocolate/caramel dipped giant pretzel sticks, meatballs, snacks, and drinks. There were vampy napkins that made me giggle. They had plenty of copies of the book to sign – and red sharpies!

My parents stopped by on their way home from visiting my grandmother, which was nice. I got to have some familiar, loving faces and they got to see their daughter in action. My mom also picked out some yarn she thought might make a good project for HER. (so I bought some – don’t tell her)

My most surreal moment was brought to me by a woman named Michelle, who snuck in behind me and told me she had a book to sign whenever I had a moment. When I turned around to chat with her, she showed me her Tourniquet scarf she knit and said my book was the first knitting book she’d ever bought for herself.

I had a twinge of a celebrity moment for just a second. I was overwhelmed by emotion and couldn’t believe that a) she knit something I designed and b) she couldn’t wait to show me. I LOVED it. I took a picture of her and then we took one together. I decided I needed to wear the Werewolf Hat so we’d both have something on. (Nevermind that it was 95 degrees outside – it was lovely and air-conditioned inside Knitting With Sandra.)

Thanks Sandra, Shelley, and all the lovely ladies at the knit shop! I had a lovely day and hope to be back soon!

Meet Designer Tanis Gray (9.3.10)

Meet Tanis Gray!!

How long have you been knitting and how’d you get started?
I have been knitting since I was 8 years old. My mom was knitting a sweater for me and I had always seen my grandmothers knitting and crocheting. I wanted to do it, too! My mom taught and got me started on the obligatory garter stitch scarf. We would spends our winter breaks in northern New Hampshire and she and I would go knit at the local knit shop up there to learn new skills and buy yarn. The woman who ran it immediately put me on DPNs and had me knitting mittens weeks after I learned to knit. The following year she had me knitting fair isle sweaters.

How did you start designing?
I started designing my own mittens almost immediately after learning how to knit. I could never find exactly what I wanted and having an artist mother, she encouraged me to design for myself. It was a great lesson in trial and error because if it didn’t work, it was just a mitten and I could rip it out. If it did work, I could knit up another and have personalized mittens. Having an unusual name meant I could never get little things with my name on it like my friends could, so I was thrilled to be able to make things my own.

What was your first design?
My first published design was an aviator scarf done a few months after starting my Yarn Editor job at Vogue Knitting for knit.1. I now have over 150 published patterns and also enjoy self publishing patterns on my own or in a bundle with friends as well as through knitting magazines and books. Designing each pattern is a unique experience.

What did you design for Vampire Knits? What inspired you?
I designed a head scarf, Tru Blood bottle cozies and a got blood? pillow. The head scarf idea came from my long hair always being in my face and the constant need for sparkle in my life. The red and silver were a nod to blood and silver bullets. The Tru Blood bottle cozies came from watching the show while drinking tea. The idea was like the paper cuffs Starbucks puts around their cups, but this was more fun. I’m fascinated by blood types and thought it was an interesting twist. The got blood? pillow was an inside joke since I am very lactose intolerant and the constantly successful ad campaign milk has is still prevalent. Everyone knows the tag line and there are so many spin offs.

Who’s your favorite vampire, or what’s your favorite vampire story?
My favorite vampire is a toss up between Dracula and Eric Northman from Tru Blood. One one hand you have the original bad ass vampire, the granddaddy of the undead and on the other an attractive vampire with authority issues. It’s a tough call.

 

Meet Designer Sara Delaney (9.4.11)

First off, please let me apologize for my absence. Now that the kids are back in school, I hope to be a more regular blogger here! Let’s meet the lovely Sara Delaney!

How long have you been knitting and how’d you get started?
I learned to knit when I was 9, two years after learning to crochet. My Memaire taught me, one needle under my right arm and it was a disaster. She was a Continental knitter trying to teach me English style. After a few failed attempts she sat me down in front of her and said, “Do what I do.” So I did and now I’m a Backwards, Right-handed, Continental Knitter. It’s kinda crazy but it works.

How did you start designing?
There wasn’t a yarn shop where I grew up, only a K-Mart and the knitting resources there were lackluster at the best of times. In high school I took 3 years of Clothing Construction and Design classes. Once I understood how clothes were put together I was excited at the prospect of making the fabric to fit into those shapes. Of course I was a teenager and easily distracted so it took me a few years to really get around to doing it.

What was your first design?
A striped sleeping cap that was 7 feet long.
I started making crazy hats for a family member when I was a kid because they swore they’d wear anything I made. I pushed to see just how crazy I could get the hats before they wouldn’t be worn but they always were.

What did you design for Vampire Knits?  What inspired you?
I designed the Shapeshifter Shrug. I loved the idea of versatile piece based more on the wolf/shape-shifter side of the Vampire legends.

Who’s your favorite vampire, or what’s your favorite vampire story?
I have to go back to the original piece of modern vampire fiction here. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in high school and fell in love with the characters. To then see the Count portrayed by Gary Oldman on screen was pure enjoyment. He was the consummate shapeshifter, perfect for every encounter.

Shapeshifter Shrug

Doll-Sized Werewolf Hat Pattern (8.2.11)

My two girls have dolls they like to dress up. They have one American Girl doll and 3 Our Generation dolls (the Target/Battat version of AG). These are 18″ dolls and their clothes are interchangeable.

The girls and I thought it might be fun to alter some of the patterns in Vampire Knits to be doll-sized. The first one we tried was the Werewolf Hat.

Directions:

Using the same yarn as the Werewolf Hat (Knitpicks Suri Dream in Fedora)

**Note – this yarn is discontinued. If you don’t have any, you can use another yarn that’s similar. I also made a few in Cascade Bollicine.**

With size 9 or 10 dpns , cast on 39 sts (13 on each dpn)

Join yarn, careful not to twist.

Rounds 1 and 3: knit

Rounds 2 and 4: purl

Round 5 and on: knit.

Knit til it measures 2.5 inches. Begin decreases.

Round 1: k 11, k2tog, repeat twice (36 sts)

Round 2: k1, ssk, knit across dpn, repeat twice (33 sts)

Repeat these two rounds til there are 3 sts left on each dpn. Cut a long tail and using a tapestry needle, pull yarn through all stitches (like a drawstring). Weave in ends.

Ears (make 2)

c/o 1

kfb

purl

kfb (twice)

purl

kfb, k2, kfb

purl

kfb, k4, kfb

purl

knit

bind off knitwise. weave in ends, sew ears onto top of hat.

 

IMG_4190

Maybe next I’ll make a doll sized Tourniquet. 🙂

Thank You, Comic Con! (7.31.11)

Last weekend, I went down to San Diego for Comic Con. You might remember that last year, Random House was promoting my book, which was due out in September. It was a great experience for me, and I learned a little about promoting the book. I got to do an interview, and met a lot of people and got to talk about the book a lot.

This year, the book had been out for 10 months. My publisher brought a few cases of the book to sell and give away. (They sold two cases on Friday, so we gave some books away on Saturday.) I brought Vampy m&ms, 3 of the projects, and some magnets to give away. Potter Crafts Marketing Director, Donna, brought the books, lots of buttons, and markers for signing. Donna sported the Tourniquet scarf and walked around a bit, letting people know I was there for the signing.

I signed a LOT of books! It was fabulous! I signed for women, men, knitters, crocheters, people who had crafty friends or family, and people who just liked the book itself.

I signed a book for a man whose mother has used her own copy of the book so much it’s getting worn. I signed a book for a man who actually knew who I was and was familiar with the book and asked me to sign the Paw Warmers page, because it was going to be his next project. I have to say, this one blew me away the most. I was on Cloud 9 after meeting JJ.

Thanks to Donna at Potter Craft and thanks to all the people who came to visit me at the booth and sign the book. I hope you all love the book, and would love to see pictures of projects you’ve made (this goes for all of you – I may have to make a post calling for photos! :)!