Catch Up With A Year of Techniques: We're On Month Four Already!

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46 Comments
  • You are too hard on yourself. I give you an A-. No wait, you deserve a solid A for successfully wrangling all the fiddly bits!

    • I give you at least an A- too. I didn’t even do Alex because of all the finishing!

      And extra credit for the link to that Kitchener video. Maybe I will actually remember how to do it now!

  • You get an A* from me. 🙂 I absolutely love how you’ve embroidered the eyes!! I want to knit a friend for my Alex so that I can give it beautiful embroidered eyes too. 🙂 He’s really lovely, and I can’t wait to see your chicken. Huzzah!!

  • A long time ago I heard a bear maker talk about embroidering eyes. She said a single stitch could make the difference between a happy, friendly bear and a scary bear. Your Alex’s eyes are perfect: youthful and contemplative. He is a total lovey.

    • Contemplative is the exact word. Perfect. I know in my heart I will never knit a toy but looking at that thoughtful mouse I am somewhat sorry about that.

  • Now I understand why people look at *me* sideways when I start pointing out all the flaws in my knitting! 😉

    Pro-tip on preventing floppinness in stuffed things: florist or beading wire. I keep a roll right next to my (seemingly bottomless) bag of stuffing. You can thread it through the middle of the icord (I frequently just knit the icord around it), work the two ends down into the stuffed body, and those ears will do whatever you want them to!

    • I saw the photo and my first thought was that I loved how you did the eyes. I was so surprised when you said you might redo them – I thought they were fabulous! Thanks to Honeybee33 for the tip on the wire. What gauge of wire do you find generally reduces floppiness without producing too much stiffness?

      • I must confess a total lack of knowledge of gauge-things, but it takes much less than you ever think it will.

    • Wire is a great solution as long as the toy is not for a small child.

      • Deeply agreed! As someone who has not taken on dependents, I always forget about that. /:-\

        • My two are 18 and 20 and I still live in terror of choking hazards!

  • I love his eyes!
    Definitely A solid A!

  • I completely identify…my Alex is on time out, waiting for the day I have enough patience to fiddle with him. Please tell us about his eyes though. My Alex is going to a baby and these eyes are perfect. Overwhelming A+ on the whole mouse.

    • For his eyes I worked an embroidered star where you keep going in to the same hole in the center and just keep going around the circle until it’s all filled in. Then I backstitched a circle around each eye so that the star was more of a pupil.

  • My Alex is also still in pieces- I wanted to start on the cloche!

    • Not gonna lie: I started two projects while “looking for stuffing.”

  • I appreciated your self analysis about knitting toys. I can relate totally. Your finished Alex is reason enough for me to push through my own put together and finish it anxiety. Hope to add my picture of an Alex soon(ish).

    • Go Karen! I was motivated to be able to post about finishing Alex here, of course, but also by the sure knowledge that if I waited, that little pile of parts was going to get forgotten.

  • I think he’s perfect—he just needs a little pink smile!

  • I found that video on memorizing the Kitchener stitch some time ago – watched it once, did as she shows, and have never had to look up the sequence again. It’s brilliant!

    • After YEARS of Kitchener avoidance I can hardly believe that I actually know how to do it now. A MIRACLE!

  • Wait: Kasse Fassett update?

    • Oh yeah, that’s coming. Still a long way from the finish but I can see the finish line in the distance now, as the flower parts are finally done.

  • I don’t think toys will ever be my cup of tea. Your persistence has been admirable and the finished product is lovely.

    • I agree completely. A charming mouse, Kay!

  • Brava! A+ from me! He’s very cute!!

  • I think he’s adorable and I give you an A+. There is no way I could have done better!

  • He looks great to me, seeing as he is actually finished. Mine languishes in the bag…I don’t have any use for him (I’ll give him to my grandson as he is the only child around, but he’ll just sit on the bed) so after negotiating the pinhole cast on, I feel as though I have accomplished what I want. I’ll finish him some day, though.

  • Alex is beyond adorable and a real inspiration. I was interested in the comment about adding a smile, but I think he’s best as is; the lucky soul holding him can project whatever emotion s/he wants to. Alex is just asking, “What do you think” or anything that comes to the kid’s mind. Part of his broad appeal.

    • I think so too, Elise! Also, I remember reading somewhere that the smile is the trickiest part of a toy’s face. I quit while I was ahead.

  • So the eyes are not quite perfect — it gives him character, without turning him into Bill the Cat from the “Bloom County” strip. The gauge issues with the body could be a problem if you were going to give him to a small child (or Olive), as he might literally get the stuffing loved out of him. Practice makes perfect, so knit a few dozen more before you list your occupation as “toymaker” on your tax return!

  • You powered through and actually made the mouse. I opened the package with the yarn and then looked at the pattern just released that day. A Mouse! A MOUSE!! So far, I haven’t done any of the projects though I’ve got the zauberball to do the helical stripes. Have fun!

  • Kay.. I was going to send you the link for Lorilee’s amazing video of how to memorize the Kitchener, but I see you found it! This is one of the most valuable vids.. I’ve sent it to many knitfriends.. ‘cuz who can remember how to do the Kitchener anyway?! Love your Alex.. and the tips to make it go easier. I’m gonna cast on right away!

    • Bunne, we have to spread the word about that video far and wide! Only 100K viewings and it is truly a game-changer for Kitchener.

  • Thank you for posting the video re Kitchener stitch! So very, very helpful. And Alex is very handsome.

  • Comment regarding the year of techniques, I am finding it really difficult. I completed the gloves, loved it, still working on the shawl finally figured out what the shift etc means. I found the yarn very difficult to work with since doing a new technique. Didn’t’ do the mouse, today started the hat, took 10 times to cast on 5 stitches and work on dp needles without slipping off. Did about 9 rounds and something was wrong and had to rip out. Now to do the cast on again. The demonstration was nice but would have like to see how it works with 5 stitches. I like the concept but I do believe the projects are too difficult.. carol morrison

    • Hi Carol,

      i’m sorry for your frustration. I always struggle with cast-ons on dpns, even if there are many more than 5 stitches. I hope that you will continue to follow the series, and jump in again if a project or technique catches your interest. There is a ton of support in the Lounge and Ravelry group for A Year of Techniques.

      • I appreciate the challenge. I am not a beginner and the shops here do not tend to offer challenging classes very often so I rely on the internet to push myself. I am sorry that Carol is not enjoying this but I am happy as a clam. Carol, do you have a knitterly friend who could sit with you? Also, Jen’s Ravelry groups for each month posts tons of helpful tips and we would love to help you. I had to do the tiny cast on more than once and there are quite a few tips on taming that beast in the Ravelry thread. I hope that this becomes less frustrating and more fun for you!

    • Hi Carol,
      I’m sorry that you’re finding the projects too difficult at the moment. There is a range within the collection, so I hope that you’ll feel able to dip in and out. I don’t own any books where I’ve knitted all the patterns, so please try not to feel too disheartened. Do pop in to the Lounge discussions or over on our Ravelry group (the link is in all the pattern pdf files – you can just click on it) where there are lots of knitters around to help. For the hat, here are a few things you could try if you want to give it another go before you move on… You could cast on 10 sts and miss out the first round – more stitches is generally easier and for the sake of one round, no-one will know. 🙂 Lots of people found that they either found it easiest with one dpn per repeat of the lace, OR with a circular needle and a stitch marker between each repeat of the lace. That means you can check your stitches after each round an immediately spot if there’s a problem. And finally if you do a few rounds, you could then add a lifeline (where thread your stitches onto waste yarn and leave it in the fabric in case you mess up – then you can pull your knitting back to that point without worrying about losing any stitches). If you google “adding a lifeline” you’ll find some great links showing you how to do that if you’ve not tried it before. It’s SO handy if you’re finding something a bit challenging. I do hope that helps, and please don’t hesitate to join the conversation in the forums – we’re all learning new things all the time, and there is lots of great support and advice out there. But as I said too – please don’t feel you have to do all the projects. You may well find once you’ve worked through some of the more straightforward designs, that you then come back to the ones you’ve found harder, and they aren’t so bad as your skills have grown. With all good wishes, Jen

    • My trick is to start with only two dpns. You can still connect the stitches into a circle. Then I add dpns when I have enough stitches. Works really well.

  • Love how yuu did the eyes. Embroidery, rather than buttons, makes them safe for a small child.

    • Totally agree, love embroidered eyes.

    • If I’d had to find buttons he’d still not be finished!

  • I must say, I absolutely love the embroidery that you did for the eyes. I’d have never thought of that, and I think it’s genius, and perfect for him. 🙂

    Also, thanks for sharing the construction tips. I’ll be using the line-everything-up thread for sure now; and I absolutely adore Lorilee’s class on memorizing kitchener stitch. With just a quick refresher, I am grafting toes and toys without looking at instructions, and it feels great. 🙂

  • A- Kay! And I love the eyes

  • He’s lovely , the pin wheel is amazing and floppy is essential for cuddle ability:)