Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pencil in Some Knitting

Today is the first Tuesday in September, and that means it's the first day of the school year for most students in Canada and the United States. So I thought I'd do a back-to-school type post, and soon settled on the idea of picking out a selection of pencil case knitting patterns for you all. I can hardly think of a more classic going-back-to-school purchase. My father still has the pencil case that was bought for him when he began first grade back in 1944, although his pencil case was not the zippered fabric or plastic envelope that is used today but a narrow wooden box with two compartments and a sliding top. He tells me the cool kids in his class had a three-decker wooden pencil boxes, and that in his day schoolchildren didn't have backpacks to carry their books in but fastened a strap around them and carried them by the end of the strap.

The pencil case above is, of course, quite literally a Pencil Case, and is designed by Katie Startzman. I'd almost feel like making a book-shaped backpack to go with it. The pattern is available as a $4(USD) download, or as part of an eBook.

This Abacus Pouch pattern by Derya Davenport harkens back to an even older educational tradition than wooden pencil boxes and book straps. It's a free pattern.

This plaid pencil case pattern by Debbie Bliss appears in her book, The Knitter's Year: 52 Make-in-a-Week Projects-Quick Gifts and Seasonal Knits.

This Bright Pencil Case, designed by the Lily Sugar n' Cream yarn company designers, seems perfect for holding a selection of coloured pencils. It's a free pattern.

The Daisy Dachshund pencil case might be perfect for a small child who doesn't like leaving the family dog or his or her stuffed toys behind at home during the school day. The pattern is by Mel Clark and appears in Knitting Everyday Finery: Practical Designs for Dressing Up in Little Ways.

Here's a simple yet eye-catching striped pencil case, designed by Stephanie Mrse, from the book 50 Knitted Gifts for Year-Round Giving: Designs for Every Season and Occasion Featuring Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted.

The Cabled Pencil Case pattern, by Dissolved Girl, is a free pattern.

The Sanquhar Pencil Case pattern, by Tom of Holland, is available as a £2.50 download.

The pattern for this flowered pencil case, made by Ravelry member Cassidy Clark, is not available but would be easy to copy.

For that matter a pencil case would be an easy beginner design project and a good way to use up some odds and ends of yarn. If you're making it for a child, it's a good idea to involve the child in the design process. There's always a schoolyarn social dictum as to what's in or out, and as an adult, you may not have any idea as to what the equivalent of today's three-decker pencil box is.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The Little Red Plane

The Little Red Plane is a knitted stop motion short about a boy and his cat and the trip they make in a little red plane in order to deliver parcels. This short was made by Charlotte Blacker in her final year of university.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2013: A Review

Interweave Knits has come out with another special issue, one on holiday gifts. And they've even released it early enough to give you decent lead time before the Christmas holidays. Let's have a look at the 41 gift ideas in the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2013 issue.

This is the Joe's Coffee Cosy pattern. I can't help but think this going to get coffee dripped on it with every use. It's cute, though, and I like that the knot and loop fastenings are so organic to the design. I've seen sweaters designed with much less care than this little item.

The Dala Horse design is based on the traditional Swedish Dalecarlian horse, which is an interesting folk craft to read up on if you have a few minutes. However, if you're not Swedish or into that particular tradition, they do look cute but a little non-descript.

The Southern Cross Afghan is a good design. So simple (it's all garter stitch), and yet with such strikingly graphic appeal. I can see it working equally well on a couch or in a baby's crib, depending on the colours chosen.

The Faun Baby Jacket design is simple and cute. I'd be sure to make this in colours that coordinate with whatever colours the child has in her closet, so as to make it as wearable as possible.

The I Heart You Cowl has an adorable pattern on it, but that cowl does appear to have a more than slightly awkward shape. It isn't sitting well in either picture here.

The Star of the East Afghan is another sharply graphic garter stitch afghan. I see it's the work of the same designer as the Southern Star afghan above, Ann McDonald Kelly. She's a designer to watch for.

The Shifting Afghan is another good piece of work. Of course it helps that the yarn used is so gorgeous.

The Fair Star Dress certainly has its good points — I love the full lace skirt — but is lacking from a practical perspective. I'm guessing from the shoulder ties and the see-through skirt that it's meant to be worn over a full outfit, like a pinafore, as it is here, and I can't say I care for the concept at all. This resulting outfit looks cobbled together and like a child playing dress up rather than a child dressed properly and becomingly. I'd make this design into a proper dress with sleeves and shoulders and buy or make the little wearer a petticoat to go underneath.

Love the Heartgyle Pullover, though I'd either coordinate those buttons better or leave them off the design altogether.

The Pinecone Cap doesn't really do it for me. It doesn't look quite enough like a pine cone to have earned its name, and it's not really working aesthetically. I think I might like it better if it were in different colours, and named something else.

Can't say I'm a fan of the Knitted Pinecone Ornaments either. Again, they just don't look enough like real pinecones, and just look kind of cheesy, like Astroturf on a lawn.

The Boy Vertical Vest. I'm wavering on this one. I wasn't quite sure whether those vertical lines passed successfully as an abstract design or just looked kind of random and pointless, but I think they work and that I'm going to come down on the side of liking this design.

The Parquet Stole is definitely a design that lives up to its name. And it's a lovely piece of work.

The Gracile Scarf is a fun, flirty little thing. Not practical, of course, but then not everything has to be.

Oh, I love the Imogene Shawl. It's feminine in a way that is totally unlike the very feminine Gracile Scarf just above and which is much more to my own personal taste: it's graceful and elegant rather than frivolous and frilly.

The Bingham Hill Scarf is another lovely design. It has a very fine gauge and as you can see from the photo, you'll be able to wind it around your neck repeatedly without it getting bulky.

The Corsage Scarf is your basic oblong scarf, but with an interesting texture and end-finishing.

The Hope Chest Scarf is another classic oblong scarf, with an even more interesting texture and end finishing. I see that this scarf and the Corsage Scarf above were designed by Angela Tong, and she's another designer to watch for, because she's one who can take a very basic item that's been done to death and turn it into something interesting and polished.

The Pecan Pullover is a very traditional design with a few different touches: the cabled detailing is unusually well done and the long cuffs can be buttoned to bracelet length or worn wrist length. That could come in handy for doing dish washing or meal prep around home, though I think if I were wearing the sweater the sleeves would spend most of their time turned down and the buttons would just sit there and bother me.

The Caldicott Scarf is classic yet distinctive and it's one that most men would happily wear, unless of course the man we're speaking of is my father, who scorns not only scarves of any design but also hats, gloves, and coats. And who has had pneumonia twice in the last two years.

Quite like the Veronica Slouch, even though I don't normally like non-functional buttons as design elements. These ones, however, have been turned into an integral part of the design and would be an excuse to splurge on some really beautiful interesting buttons.

With the Albatross Cowl, we have a case of a design looking too much like its name. Entrelac is a difficult stitch design-wise, because it tends to look so bulky and rather crude. This buttoned cowl really does not look good when unbuttoned and worn as a scarf, though it looks okay as a cowl.

The Everstar Scarf is a very classic design, so much so that I feel like I've seen it before.

The Woodcutter Hat and Woodcutter Mittens are also very classic, though this time they're just distinctive enough that I don't think I've seen a hat or mittens quite like them.

The Pretzel Scarf is a beautifully textured and wonderfully warm-looking.

The Leadville Cowl is a beautiful piece that seems to sit well even when the model isn't pulling on it.

The Leeward Pullover is a classic gansey that's been given a few modern touches such as slightly different sleeve construction and rolled neckline. It's very wearable and flattering and a sweater a woman will be able to keep in her wardrobe until it's worn out because it will never go out of style.

Love the Walker Scarf. But then I'm a sucker for a classic cable. I blame my Irish ancestry.

I quite like the Beekeeper Slouch hat too.

The Trimble Court Scarf is a beautiful item, but it does look regrettably stiff and awkward when on.

The Stevie Mitts are cute.

The Mint Chocolate Mitts are another fun example of that reversal of colour trend I've seen a lot in mittens, gloves and socks.

The Sailor's Mittens look just like oven mitts to me, and that's not a good thing.

I see we're continuing the kitchen homage theme with the Complements Hat, which looks like a tablecloth. The design is fine, but I would knit this hat in any other colour to avoid making my head like a supper table at the Ponderosa.

The Alpaca Road Socks are totally cute. Love the plaid effect.

Love the Tartan Mitts. Plaid works so well in small doses.

Love the Frosted Pines Hat. Not only is the lace overlay with a darker lining very pleasing from an aesthetic perspective, it'll also make this hat much warmer. Lacy caps and scarves and gloves are all very well, but wear them out in a really cold wind such as we tend to get in January in Toronto and you'll feel as though all lacework is vanity and vexation of spirit.

The Big Brim Hat is... okay. I would probably like it much better in nearly any other colour. Try as I will, I have a hard time getting past my dislike of mustard yellow.

Not a big fan of the Bezold Hat and Cowl. It's not a terrible set, but it's nothing special either. It looks like something that was whipped up in very little time without much thought or effort. And that cowl does not sit well.