Saturday, November 29, 2014

Brioche Scarves

I discovered brioche stitch last year when I knit my dad a scarf for Christmas. I love its squishiness and warmth and drape! It's also a very neutral pattern that works for men and women--I feel like I can knit it in any color and style and it'll look great.

Here's the scarf I knit for my dad last year. I knit it with Red Heart Super Saver on size 11 knitting needles. I love the extra squish the large needles give. If you use different colors for the edges, as I did in black here, note that one edge will have one more stitch than the other (because brioche needs to be worked over an odd number of stitches). Happily for me, it's not very noticeable.

About a year ago, I also bought a skein of Red Heart Super Saver in cherry red to use on myself. I wasn't sure what to make, though. Eventually, I decided I wanted to use up the whole skein on one project, and after some trial and error, my brioche infinity scarf was made. It is so warm, and the loose tension makes the knitting stretchy, which makes the scarf even more versatile. Just knit away until you're out of yarn, then seam or graft the two ends together. I actually used a provisional cast on so I could graft, but after spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to graft brioche, I ended up using the stockinette version of the Kitchener stitch, which is by no means invisible, but I wear the scarf with the graft in the back, anyway, so in the end, it doesn't matter too much.

This is my first infinity scarf (Brioche Infinity Scarf), and I'm finding lots of new and fun ways to wear one. I'm discovering why these scarves as so popular!

Update 1/12/15: Also, two-color brioche is beautiful. I learned it here. This Christmas, I converted my boyfriend into a scarf-wearer with this. He wears it all the time! 

And my mom, after seeing that, wanted one, too, so I was working on this the past couple of days. (The matching shirt was completely unintentional.) She gets it when she comes visit me for my birthday in a few weeks :)

Check out Summer Shenanigans for more!

Caring for Plants

I recently moved into my home for the next eight months, my college dorm room! Before I left, my friend considerately gifted me two plants: an African violet and a fairy castle cactus. He also linked me to care websites for both, and the detail of those websites pretty much convinced me that I was going to kill both the plants. Happily, though, both the violet and cactus are in great condition. (Or at least the cactus hasn't changed for the worse.)

Here's how I care for the African violet.

  • Rotate a quarter-turn every two days
  • Water from the bottom every four days (I basically let the pot sit in water for thirty minutes)
  • Water from the top, carefully avoiding the leaves, every month or so
  • When I'm not watering the plant, I fill the dish with water and set the pot on some rocks to increase the humidity around the plant. I used rocks that I had; gravel would probably work better.
I also plucked off a leaf, cut its stem at a 45-degree angle (leaving about an inch of stem), and placed it in water. After a few weeks, roots started to grow. I moved the leaf into a pot of soil. It's been over a month, and I'm still waiting for something to sprout.

And the cactus:

  • Rotate a quarter-turn every two days.
  • Water until the water drains from the bottom of the pot every twelve days.
I've never really been much of a plant person, but I love how these add color to the room!

Graduation Tassel Ornament

While browsing the web after graduation, I came across this great idea for making ornaments from your graduation tassel. After preserving my bouquet and rose, I just had to do this, too. I picked up the plastic ornament for $0.59 at Michaels during their Black Friday sale. I think I could have done with a smaller size, but no matter--I still love how this looks!

To make your own ornament from a tassel...
1. Buy a clear ornament with a cap.
2. There should be two holes in the cap where the wire goes through; cut a slit between these holes.
3. Feed the tassel through the hole in the top of the ornament. You'll probably have to turn the year tag sideways to get it in.
4. Pull the loop of the tassel through the slit you cut in the cap and cap the ornament.
5. Knot the loop of the tassel on the wire loop of the ornament.
6. Hang and enjoy!

If you'd like, you can also decorate the ornament with markers or ribbon, or add some confetti inside the ball. Get creative!

Preserving a Rose

I can't believe my first semester of college is over in a couple weeks. It's gone so quickly! I just finished a couple things from graduation because I was waiting for the craft stores to stock one thing: ornaments! The clear kind (glass or plastic) you can open up and fill yourself. Even better, Black Friday weekend meant it was all on sale at Michaels.

A few months ago, I wrote a couple posts about preserving flowers and what I did with my graduation bouquet. I'd dried my rose from graduation, coated it with hairspray, and tucked it away on a shelf until I could get an ornament ball. I picked up a plastic one for $0.29 (make sure to get the ones that have halves that snap together), tucked the rose inside, and threaded a piece of maroon embroidery floss through the hole on top. And voila! My graduation rose is now a beautiful ornament!

This was a super-easy way of preserving the rose and its accompanying memories. This is also a great idea to preserve other special flowers from a bouquet, boutonniere, or your garden!

If you want to add some extra pizzazz, check out Home Depot's dried rose Christmas ornaments. They use spray paint, some moss, and baby's breath to make extra-festive ornaments. I wanted to preserve my rose as a way to remember graduation, though, so I left it like this. Reminds me a bit of the Beast's rose in Beauty and the Beast, actually--just a different container.

Basketweave Blanket

I've wanted to knit a blanket for a while; however, the amount of yarn I would need to purchase always put me off. Recently, there was a huge yarn sale near me at the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (a fabulous nonprofit), so of course I went. I bought six skeins of Red Heart Super Saver for nine dollars, but because of the number of skeins of each color I had, I agonized over patterns for a while. I knew I wanted something fairly simple that I could work on while reading. I remembered the basketweave stitch patterns I'd come across while looking for scarf ideas. I love the texture of basketweave in the pictures, so I decided to go with that. To solve the problem of different numbers of skeins of different colors, I decided to arrange blocks in a pattern. After trial knits and measuring yarn and lots of knots, I finalized my pattern and got started. Here's what I eventually came up with.

This is a pretty heavy blanket, and it's on the stiffer side. I love curling up underneath it on the sofa!


Needles: US Size 9 Circular needles are ideal because they can hold more stitches and more weight, but this works on straight needles as well. You don't want to know how I know.
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver White, 4 skeins; Red Heart Super Saver Aran, 2 skeins; Red Heart Super Saver Navy Blue, 2 skeins*
Finished Dimensions: 40.5" x 69.25"
Gauge: 16 stitches x 26 rows = 4" x 4" in Basketweave Pattern

*Note: Because there are times you will need three separate balls of navy, I pre-cut three pieces of navy, each about 47 yards long, for the squares in the middle (see chart below). I actually made the blanket one skein (but I was pretty desperate for yarn by the end), so after I cut yarn for the three sections in the middle, I worked each side of the border with one end of the yarn.

In love with this texture!
Basketweave Pattern:
Rows 1 (RS)-3: k32
Row 4, 6: k3, (p2, k6), p2, k3
Row 5: k2, p1, (k2, p6), k2, p1, k2
Row 7: k32                                                
Row 8, 10: k7, (p2, k6), p2, k7
Row 9: k2, p5, (k2, p6), k2, p5, k2
Row 10: k32
Repeat rows 4 to 10 ten times.
Repeat rows 4 to 7.
Row 48: k32

Cast on 170 stitches in navy blue.
Knit 7 rows in garter stitch.
Maintain a 5-stitch navy blue border on both sides throughout.
Follow the colors shown below and use the basketweave pattern for each square. When working across, pick up the new colored yarn under the old color to minimize sewing later. It also creates a neat stitch-like pattern on the wrong side.**
Knit 7 rows in navy blue in garter stitch.
Bind off and weave in ends.

32 sts

48 rows


*Image note: For some reason, the navy blue perimeter is missing a chunk in the upper left. I'm not sure why this is happening, but it's there!

**Here's the wrong side of my blanket. In addition to the woven ends which I didn't cut (since it's for me and I don't really care :D ), you can see the two types of edges between the navy blue and white. The right edge is a result of the wrong side bumps, but the left edge is the result of picking up the new color from underneath the old color!

This pattern is for personal use only. The finished item may not be sold for profit. Please acknowledge the author. Thank you!