Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Present Ideas

It's that time of year again - for knitters it's variously a fun and/or a stressful time. Yes, it's holiday knitting time! Honestly, I'm ambivalent about the whole prospect.

I used to knit for everyone - because I could and because I couldn't imagine anything nicer than a handmade gift. But then I realized that there were some people - smart, funny, kind, loving people - who just didn't appreciate the wonderfulness of a knitted gift. So they came off the knitted gift list. And soon, I wasn't knitting holiday presents anymore.

But then gradually over the years, I've dipped into holiday knitting again. For me, non-garments are the way to go. But your mileage may vary, of course. I still think a handmade gift is the best thing you can give someone. Here are some quick little fun projects that I've enjoyed making and giving over the years:

Beaded Bookmark (Ravelry link)

This is my new go-to teacher gift. Knock this sweet little thing out in an evening, enclose a gift card to a bookstore, and you're done! Fingering weight yarn and about 25 beads (added as you go). Easy-peasy. The pattern comes with a half dozen variations of the beading pattern.

Tiny Sweater Ornaments

Oh, don't get me started on these. Last year I made a half dozen of these. I gave these to some dear friends. They're fussy, but also awesome (the sweaters, not the friends). The cable is fun, but the pattern also includes a plain version. Fingering weight - another small project you can knock out in an evening or two.

Cable Hot Water Bottle Cover (Ravelry link)

My husband thought knitting a hot water bottle cover was absurd, but he doesn't have crazy-knitter genes. I loved this (and actually kept it for myself). Eschew all those high-tech polarfleece, electrical-corded warming devices! A hot water bottle (you can still buy them in any drugstore) with a handsome cover is like snuggling up with a warm, non-demanding companion. This pattern is written for bulky weight yarn, so it goes quickly. There are a bunch of patterns on Ravelry, but this one was my favorite. This would be a nice gift for someone who lives in a drafty old house, or a reader, or an older person (wait - that's me!)

Tiny Felted Hearts

This pattern isn't written to be felted and the picture above is pre-felting, but I ended up stuffing these with yarn and felting them. Then I added a ribbon and gave them as ornaments to the above-noted fussy but awesome friends. I didn't put eyes on them, but those amirugumi creatures always make me laugh out loud. Poke around her website - her patterns are delightful.

So there you go - some ideas for you. But don't feel like you have to knit gifts for people. Only do it if you enjoy the process (knitting should be a stress-reducer, not a stress-inducer!!) and if you realize that not everyone will get the wonderfulness of what you did for them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love giving and receiving presents as much (okay, maybe more) as the next person, but this time of year, it's good to take a break from your gift list and think about how you can make your world better. Here's a link to Interweave Press's list of charitable organizations and their guidelines for giving. Boy, just reading the list gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling!
Though every one of these programs is doing fabulous wonderful necessary work, one of my personal favorites is Heifer International. They donate animals, trees and other stock to needy families around the world in order to increase sustainable self-sufficiency. They have a "Knitting Basket" donation that provides two llamas and two sheep to a family for income-producing wool.

Each year Gus and I go through the catalog and pick out an animal to give. Two years ago we had Merry Chicksmas and last year was Merry Cowmas. He donates all of his December allowance and then asks relatives to each donate a few dollars too. And that adds up to a lot of chicks! Or one cow!

Most of these organizations will accept donations on behalf of someone else, so think of it as a nice alternative to a gift card to the local mall. A donation to a charitable organization is especially nice for a teacher's gift.

And, as I tell myself 10 times a day this time of year, stay calm! Take some time to stop and smell the pine and cinnamon scents around us, hear the beautiful holiday music, watch the twinkly lights, sip some hot chocolate, and appreciate all the little good things we have in our lives.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Pattern! And Yarn Giveaway!

So, since I published it I've had 725 downloads of the Infinity Loop Scarf. That's a lot of Infinity Loop Scarves, folks! I hope that there are still a few of you out there who are not making Infinity Loop Scarves, since I have a nice new pattern to introduce. New pattern time! And a yarn giveaway! Yee haw!

One of the many things that I love about knitting is fair-isle or stranded colorwork. Honestly, you couldn't pay me to do intarsia (all those ends and bobbins!), though I know a lot of people love it. Look at this gorgeous insanity ("Foolish Virgins" cardigan by Kaffe Fassett):

The woman who knit this said she had FORTY bobbins of different colors going on each row. Excuse me while I curl up weeping in the fetal position. But hey more power to her!

But give me a good two-color knitting pattern and off I go! I love this:

(Bird in Hand mittens)

And this!

(We Call Them Pirates hat - lost at school for 6 terrible months and then found in the Lost & Found on the last day of school! Didn't have to sell boy to the gypsies after all.)

In the spirit of all that colorwork, I came up with an easy and fun introduction to two-color knitting, Easy Fair Isle Headbands!


They're good for ladies and men! They're warm (double layer of fabric)! They're easy (no increasing or decreasing and only 16 rows of colorwork!) and don't use a huge amount of yarn. They look great on the ski slopes, on the sidelines of your kid's soccer game, or gadding about town. They keep your hair tidy and fabulous and your ears nice and toasty-warm. They'd make a quick thoughtful gift for a teacher (those cold afternoons on the playground!) or friend.

I love the classic look of the color combinations above, but thought I'd take one of my million balls of Noro Kureyon (a self-striping yarn famous for its insane combination of colors) and use that as one of the colors. Here's the result:

Waah! Super-love!

I'm giving away two copies of the pattern with the following yarn (delicious Mission Falls Wool).

Leave a comment below* or on Facebook with your yarn choice AND your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. Mine is my mother's old favorite, mashed rutabagas. Also I love that jellied cranberry sauce - from a can!!

*don't forget to include your email address

Monday, November 8, 2010

To Infinity (Loop Scarves) and Beyond!

New free pattern alert!!

I was recently asked to teach an Infinity Loop Scarf class at The Tangled Web and so I knocked out a pattern and some samples to bring to class. If you're not familiar with infinity scarves, they are basically just a gigantic loop - no pesky ends to deal with - which you wrap luxuriously and fabulously around your neck.

The pattern I came up with features a Ruffled Infinity Scarf:

(sample done in one of the ten trillion skeins of yummy Malabrigo that I've accumulated over the years)

And a Non-Ruffled version:

(sample done in Noro Taiyo)

Infinity scarves are fun and easy! They're great for using up odd bits of yarn, combining textured yarns, using self-striping yarns, and are a great mindless piece of knitting to pick up and put down. And of course, the holidays are coming up - they make a nice gift too.

I posted this pattern on Ravelry this weekend and had THREE HUNDRED downloads in the first 24 hours! Yikes.

Anyway, here's the link - go download and if you make one, please email me a picture or post on Ravelry or Facebook!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Easy-Peasy Baby Blankets!

I've been busy, busy, busy lately! First, in non-knitting, there was this:

The boy's Lego minifigure Halloween costume that consumed most of my waking moments for the past few weeks. That's a lot of cardboard and duct tape, folks! I didn't realize how much time I was spending on it, mentally and physically, until yesterday when it was finished and he wore it in his school's Halloween parade. I came home and actually didn't know what to do with myself!

Fortunately, there is always knitting. I set myself to finishing my two Easy-Peasy Baby Blankets. Here they are:

I increased to 126 sts on each - worsted weight cotton on a #7 needle (though next time I'll go up to an #8 to make it bigger faster - those last couple of increase rows were reallllllly long....) They both ended up about 22" square, which was a little smaller than I wanted, so I did 2 rows of single crochet around the edges to add about another 2" to the total width.

I really enjoyed these little blankets; I think they'll be my go-to baby gift for the next couple of babies that come down the pike. I like their plainness/simplicity and their garter-y goodness.

Here is the link*, if you have babies on the way who need a quick gift. Next post, new pattern and giveaway! Stay tuned!

[ETA: *It's the Marina's Soap Sock and Easy Peasy Washcloth pattern. I took the Washcloth pattern, which starts at one corner and increases up to 44 sts. I kept increasing up to 126 sts to make a blanket.]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back to Knitting!

Sorry, folks, the blog got hijacked by the Phillies for a while there. But since they seem to be sinking fast, let's talk about something fun....like knitting!!

Yesterday on Facebook, Kris mentioned that she was about to become a new grandma (yay!) and asked, "...Anybody have any great but simple ideas for new babies from their grandma?"

Funny she should ask because I am in the middle of the same dilemma (as a friend and sort of great-aunt-in-law rather than a grandma). My usual go-to project for new babies is this, the Easy Baby Cardigan:

In this case (I think this was for my nephew), I also made the matching hat. A few weeks ago, after a baby lull of a year or so, I found out that a dear friend of mine was welcoming a new baby boy into her family and also that my husband's nephew's girlfriend had just had a baby girl.

I wanted to make something special for each baby, but didn't have enough emotional energy to make sweaters for both. So I poked around in my patterns and suddenly had an epiphany! What if I took this:

(Easy-Peasy Washcloth) and expanded it into a blanket? Light bulb! I love a garter stitch blanket and I love the simple eyelet edging on this. So I unearthed some cotton-blend yarn from the stash and started these:

What's great about this pattern is that it is the ultimate no-brainer. You can just put down and pick up without constantly checking a pattern. You can also control exactly how much yarn you want to use. I had 2 balls of cotton-blend yarn with 207 yds on each ball. So I increased until I had used up one ball and then started decreasing with the new ball of yarn.

I started these at the corner, but instead of increasing up to about 50 sts or so (can't remember exact #) for the washcloth, I continued until I had 126 sts, which was also when I ran out of yarn from the ball. I was shooting for a stroller blanket of about 24" x 24". 126 sts on a #7 needle got me to about 21". I only want to use the 2 balls of yarn for this, so I'm going to make up the difference by crocheting a 1.5" border with cocoa brown at the end.

I love these blankets because just as the rows start getting long and boring, it's time to start decreasing! That's where I am with the pink one; the blue one needs about 20 more rows.

So there you go, Kris. A couple of ideas for that precious new grandchild. Plus here's a whole page of baby patterns. And here's a page with some sets on it if the sweater/hat combo appeals.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Winner and Useful Information!

Thanks everyone for your input. Button "A" was the winner by a nose. Though the sweater is unabashedly peachy-pink, it's ostensibly a unisex design, so the anchor buttons may induce people to knit the little thing for their baby boys too.

The winner of the free pattern was Shirley, who also left this valuable information in her comment: For buttonholes: After placement of top and bottom buttons. The remaining buttonholes are evenly spaced between, measure the distance and divide by the number of buttons left plus 1. If 3 buttons are left, divide the distance say 12. 3+1=4 divide by 12 = 3 so you would center a button every 3 inches
Brilliant. Thank you, Shirley. I'm including this on the blog not only to share it with everyone out there, but also so I know where to look the next time I have a buttonhole band coming down the pike.

Here is the finished Baby Chestnut Hill Gansey Cardigan, with Buttons A and errant buttonhole discreetly (I hope) sewn up. We've taken pictures, so the pattern should be available soon. I will keep you posted. I've also finished the backs of the Child and Adult versions of this cardigan, so they're in the pipeline now too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Help me!

Okay, I need help. Button help. Also buttonhole help, as evidenced by the photo below. I just finished the sample for the Baby Chestnut Hill Gansey Cardigan (which I am thrilled about - can't wait to make one for me - an adult-sized one, that is) and need to pick out buttons. That's where YOU come in. Help me choose which buttons by voting on the choices below.

But first, because you are all my dear understanding friends out there, I will share my shame. I am possibly the worst buttonhole distance estimator on the planet. No matter how scientific or mathematical or non-scientific or organic or holistic an approach I take, this is what I end up with:

Say what? What was I thinking? The second button from the top is where the buttonhole should be, but unfortunately is not. Go ahead and laugh. And this is like the 10 zillionth cardigan I've made, so I really should know better. If anyone has any tried and true methods for buttonhole distance estimation I'd love to hear them. [By the way, my patterns don't direct you to do this - it's just my wonkiness. The patterns say to space 3 buttonholes evenly on the band. I can't even follow my own pattern!!]

Now on to more pleasant subjects. Let's choose a button! Here is CHOICE A:

These are medium-sized goldtone anchor buttons. Classic and one of my all-time favorites.

Here is CHOICE B:

Teeny gold dome buttons. Small and tasteful, but too small?

Here is CHOICE C:

Medium peachy-pink flat buttons. Non-confrontational, but too boring?

Leave your vote in the Comments below! I'll also pick someone at random and email them the Momogus Knits pattern of their choice, just for being helpful!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yarn Made From Plastic Bottles?!

I came across this yarn in a catalog recently. I try to be super-conscious about reducing plastic in my life - glass storage containers, reusable shopping bags - so I was thrilled to see that recycled plastic bottles were being made into yarn! It will still never biodegrade, but at least it will be sweet baby sweaters or warm hats that might get more use than bottles in a landfill. What a world.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the latest Giveaway! Reading everyone's memories of their favorite teachers was awesome! Go read the comments right now! It'll make your day! Thank you, teachers!

And now, without further ado, the winners!

Andrea, whose favorite teacher was Miss Steinmiller, won ES5 Easy Child's Hat and the blue yarn.

Diane, whose favorite teacher was Ms. Jones , won NS4 Child's Cable Hat and the green yarn.

Stephen, whose favorite teacher was Mr. Frank, won ES8 Easy Adult Hat and the black yarn.

And Maureen, whose favorite teacher was Sister Marie, won NS3 Adult Cable Hat and the gold yarn.

Now go forth and knit some great hats! And don't forget you can post any and all of your Momogus Knits project pictures on our Facebook page! Stay tuned for more giveaways in the future!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's Giveaway Time!

My boy went back to school last week, and I've been a little bit blue. I love having him around during the summer. I also like not having to get up at 6:30 am. But now he's back, and I decided the only thing to do to lift my spirits would be a Back To School Giveaway!

Because all I can focus on right now is little projects, I thought a hat pattern and yarn giveaway would be just right. So here's the deal: I'm giving away TWO children's hat patterns and yarn and TWO adult hat patterns and yarn.

You can choose

ES5 - Easy Children's Hat


NS4 Easy Child's Cable Hat

Your choices with these patterns are 2 balls of beautiful soft machine-washable Mission Falls 1824 Wool in either lovely leaf green or soft cobalt blue (the top row below). These children's patterns are written for ages 2-10 yrs old.

OR if you don't have any young folks to knit for, you can choose one of two adult hat patterns:

ES8 - Easy Adult Hat


NS3 Easy Adult Cable Hat

Your choice of yarn is either classic black or rich harvest gold Mission Falls 1824 Wool (the lower row below).

So, in order to qualify for the giveaway, leave a comment below telling who your favorite teacher was and why. Also let me know which prize you would like - pattern and yarn color. Please include either your full name (so I can contact you on FB) or your email address in your comment (you can do that infoATmomogusknitsDOTcom thing to avoid it getting farmed for spam) [spam farming...that's a weird thought....]; if you don't, I can't get in touch with you to send you your prize!

My favorite teacher was Miss Leopold, my 4th grade teacher at Jenkintown Elementary School. She taught us all of the world capitals (I still remember that Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria!), and told a story about an uncle of hers that stepped on a nail and his mother immediately knocked out his front teeth so he could drink through a straw because he got lockjaw (this made quite an impression on me). She also had us put on "The Taming of the Shrew" for our 4th grade play. It seemed normal at the time, but I can't imagine what an undertaking this was. She was awesome!

As always, my official 10-yr-old arbiter will take time from his busy schedule of Lego-building and grumpily-doing-homework to choose the winners randomly. Good luck!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Welcome New Stores!

A mighty Momogus Knits Patterns welcome to the latest (and particularly geographically diverse) wonderful yarn stores to join the family: The Knitting Cottage in Hagerstown, MD; Dog House Yarns & More in Culpeper, VA; Yarn Envy in Ottawa Lake, MI; Asheville NC Home Crafts in Asheville, NC; Brooklyn Yarn Cafe in Brooklyn, NY; The Knitting Den in South Lyon, MI; Atkinson's Farm Yarns in Vincennes, IN; North Woods Farm & Fiber in Campobello, SC; and Yarn Dance in Bemidgi, MN. I had two cousins who went to college in Bemidgi; when Patty the owner called me I got all excited when she said her store was located in Bemidgi because that name is so evocative in my family. I also might have scared her a little with my crazy excitement.

If you're in the neighborhood of any of these wonderful stores, stop by and buy some delicious yarn and hang out with the friendly folks. We have to support our local yarn stores or they'll all disappear!

Monday, August 23, 2010

And now for something completely different....

(Don't worry, my knitting compadres, this is a non-knitting blip on the radar...)

If there's a crafty bandwagon anywhere around, I'll jump on it! Lately I've been seeing many articles about canning and preserving, and I've been intrigued. I remember years ago my friend Lisa gave me a jar of preserves that a friend of hers had made. When I expressed delight and amazement, Lisa said, "Oh you would like her - she knits and makes furniture and makes her own preserves." This paragon of self-sufficiency has haunted me a little for years.

So yesterday I went to the Oreland Hardware Store and bought this:

Matthew went to the Glenside Farmers Market and bought these:

Now I shall attempt to combine the two into (insert heavenly choir here) homemade peach jam! In my mind, this is the equivalent of saying, "Well, I'll just go ahead and build a nuclear reactor here in my backyard."

Enlist a helper. Peeling peaches (after the hot/cold water dunk) is awesome slimy fun:

Unpeely goodness:

Then chopped up a bit:

I was cooking with gas up until this point, when I checked the recipe and it said to add SEVEN AND A HALF CUPS of sugar!!! Say what?! That is a veritable mountain of sugar! It was every molecule of sugar in my house. It seemed like an awful lot, but I at this point I am fanatically following the recipe to the letter, so we'll see:

Oof. That looks like a lot of sugar....

Anyway, dump the peaches and the SEVEN AND A HALF CUPS of sugar and some lemon juice into a pan and cook it on up:

I am blessedly skipping the steps (like #5-#25) where I juggled piping hot jars and lids and liners and ladles and got half of the jam on the counter/stove/floor/the cats/anything in a 20-foot radius. (Note to self: next purchase - wide mouth funnel). Here are the jars, filled with jam and safely sealed, boiling away in a water bath for 10 minutes:

Drumroll please! Here is the finished product:

Beautiful, ain't it?! I made 4 pints of peach jam. It took about 3 hours from start to finish. It was exhausting, both physically and mentally. I am all for improvising and not throwing a lot of money at a new hobby, but this is one enterprise in which you are rewarded exponentially for having the right equipment. I am definitely going to get that wide mouth funnel and try it again. We can't eat it for another 12 hours, but I will report back.

ETA: The jam was runny, but delicious! Apparently, according to my Ball book I need to let the fruit boil more. Next time...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Be Your Own Yarn Dyer!

I'm back from gorgeous Lake Willoughby, Vermont - sigh! I had a lot of time to think about designs and ideas and promotions and giveaways and all that good stuff. I also found time to visit some amazing yarn stores and add to my "little" stash (ha. ha.)

From Knit or Dye in Brattleboro, I bought some Malabrigo lace yarn. I am so all about laceweight yarn these days - it's crazy, considering how absolutely 100% against it I was just a short while ago. Well, what goes around comes around or something like that.

Anyway, this yarn is a true olive green. And while I love olive green in general, I like it on the more acid-y side. A good violent chartreuse makes me shout with joy. So I decided to see if I could get this yarn more chartreuse and decided to dye it. Follow along with me!

Here's the yarn in its original form:

Untwist the skein (but leave the ties on!! You'll never untangle it if you take the ties out!! Don't ask me how I know!) Now give your yarn a little cold water and vinegar bath (about 30 minutes soaking - 4 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. The vinegar is a mordant to help activate and hold the dye):

Take a break with some Cheerios while the yarn soaks:

Then drain the water out, don some gloves and use a strong solution of Wilton Cake Icing Dye in Yellow (strong = about a tablespoon of dye and a teaspoon of water - a little goes a long way) to paint the yarn. I started out painting it, then just dumped the whole glass of dye over the yarn:

After dyeing you wrap your yarn in some plastic wrap:

Curl it up in "cinnamon bun" style:

And then nuke it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes out of the microwave (it will be hotter than Hades!), rinse gently (especially important for single plies like this yarn), and then hang on your drying rack of choice, in this case, the baseball pitchback in the backyard:

After a couple of hours sunbathing, the finished product was subtly but noticeably yellowy-er:



For more detailed instructions on using this method to dye yarn (like how to get stripes in dyed sock yarn and the like) go to Kalamazoo Knits etsy site. They are great ladies!!