Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sick Computer

A horriable virus has struck down my laptop. It is super sad and at the geek squad getting sorted out. Sadly, untill then I will not be able to post this week. Hopfully my computer will be fixed and back to me by the end of the week.

As soon as I get my laptop back I will finish the Beginner Guide to Knitting, along with a free pattern and some pics of my thrift store dress alterations.

P.S. I start Me-Made-June '11 tomorrow. Wish me luck! Once my lap top is back I plan on posting how I am doing and upload pics of what I'm wearing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Me Made June '11

I'm going to do it, or at least try to do it. I just signed up for Me-Made-June '11 I am going to attempt to wear garments and or accessories made by me each day of June. I think I might have to chronicle my adventure here on Blue Betty. Here is my pledge to Me-Made-June '11:

'I, Amanda of bluebettyblog.blogspot.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June '11. I endeavour to wear one accessory or garment made by me each day for the duration of June 2011'

If you are interested in participating or just want to read more about Me-Made-June '11 go check out Zoe's post on 'So Zo...What do you know'.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dress Alteration

I found this "lovely" dress in the Fill a Bag for a Buck bin at my local thrift store. I pulled it out and saw that it had potential, good bones. in my bag it went with a few other items worth altering. It is three sizes to big, has a tea length skirt that was cut on the bias, pockets (one of my favorite features), giant shoulder pads and was a horrible faded carnation pink.

Like I sad the shoulder pads were giant. They looked like something a preteen would use to stuff their training bra. Although I will give a little credit as they had lingerie straps sewn on to them.

Out the came! And it was easy at it look liked the were only hand basted into the dress.

Not only did it have shoulder pads it had underarm guards as well. This was my first encounter with the real thing, I had only heard and read about them till then.

Next I took out the elastic which was so old it was deterioration as I patiently seam ripped. It had not spring left into and was leaving little white bits of hardened elastic all over the table, and me. It was a bit gross.
I tried to take the sleeves and yoke off the dress with out cutting, but the way it was sewn together that would have taken me hours to do. I finally gave up my hopes of seam ripping and just cut the top to my specifications.

To get rid of this horrendous pink I dyed the dress purple. This was a fiasco mostly because we do not have a stopper for out sink and i had to improvise by using a plastic container lid that fit just so over the drain. All in all though it worked.

Here it is all dyed and ready to go. The fabric laying over it is going to become bias tape for the edges. I'm planing on having this finished today (fingers crossed). Simon and I have a party to go to on Saturday and I am hoping to wear my new dress.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beginner Guide to Knitting Part IV: Knitting

Now that you have stitches on the needle its time to learn to knit! This is the fun part. In this guide I am going to show you the continental style of knitting. What this means is that you will hold your yarn in your left hand, and "pick" the yarn with your right hand needle. The other popular style is English knitting, where your yarn is held in you left hand and wrapped around the needle.

Hold the needle with your stitches in your left hand and your empty needle in your right hand. Wrap your yarn around your left index finger. Insert your right hand needle into the first stitch on your left hand needle. Insert your needle front to back from the left side of the loop, as seen in photo below.

Wrap yarn around right hand needle.

Pull wrapped yarn through stitch on left hand needle creating a loop on the right hand needle.

Slip loop off of left hand needle.

There you have it the a knit stitch. Continue in this manner till there are no more stitches left on your needle. When you have done this you have completed one row of knitting. Switch you needles in your hands and begin your second row.

Beginner Garter Stitch Scarf
Garter stitch is the result of knitting all of your stitches on each row. Its a great way to become framiler with the knit stitch
Using the backwards loop cast on, Cast on 20 stitches
Knit all
continue knitting until your scarf measures 60" or desired length.
Bind Off (check back next Tuesday for a look at how to Bind Off)

Knitting Resources
Which Style Should You Learn?
Learn to knit: knit stitch, video tutorial
Knitting-Basic Knit Stitch (continental), video tutorial

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Techniques, Beginner Guide to Knitting Part III: Casting On

Now that you have your yarn and your needles it's time to learn how to cast on. There are many different ways to cast on but as a beginner you should try the backwards loop cast on. It is simple, easy to learn and it gets the job done.

First you will want to place a slip knot on your needle. If you do not know how to make a slip knot check out the tutorial on Wiki How.

Here is how it should look once your slip knot is on your needle:

Next you want to take the live end of your yarn (the length of yarn that leads back to your ball of yarn) and wrap it around your index finger. As you can see in the picture below my live end is under the length of yarn coming off the needle.

Slip this needle up through the loop from underneath.

Now the easy part. Slip your index finger out of the loop and pull the loop tight around your needle.
Make sure you don't pull your loop too tight. You want the stitched to be snug around the needle, but you want to make sure you can still slide the stitches along the needle and get your second needle into the loop with out difficulty.

Tomorrow we will learn how to knit and a simple project pattern. Go practice the backwards loop cast on. Below are some more resources for this type of cast on.

More Backwards Loop Cast On
Learn To Knit: Backwards Loop Cast On, a great video on how to execute this type of cast on.
Wiki How: How to Make a Slip Knot
Knitting Daily: Backwards loop cast on, short, sweet and to the point.
Knit Wiki: Backwards loop cast on Link

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Update: Surfing and Such

We had our first surf on the Jersey shore yesterday and it was a good one! I should have brought my camera, because the waves were about knee to chest height and spilling. (A spilling wave is my favorite kind of wave.) I got to try my new board and well I love it! It was a good thing we went yesterday, the weather here in Philly has turned cold, cloudy and rainy. Just a good excuse to get knitting!

This week is going to be a busy one. I have to work on my design, and sew a dress or something to wear to a party on Saturday. Here are some of my fabric choices from my stash. I love them all, but am having a hard time trying to decide.

I also have different amounts of each of these, so I can't just pick one dress or design and then pick a fabric. Each fabric choice would need a different project.

This was my newest addition to my fabric stash, that I like being about to say is grown, but not out of hand just yet. I'm tempted to go back and buy more yardage I love this print so much. It's fiber content is 100% cotton, but this fabric has a nice drape and body without being too stiff.

I also finished my sweater and actually wore it out the other day. I will have to get a picture of me next time I wear it. I swear it has buttons on it. The sleeves need a bit of elastic in the cuffs, but that's an easy fix.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beginner Guide to Knitting Part II: Needles

Once you have your yarn its time to figure out your needle situation.

If you are a beginner buying your first set of knitting needles can seem just as confusing as the wide world of yarn. There are so many types of needles, straight needles, circular needles, and double pointed needles. These are all made in just as many materials, wood, bamboo, steal, and acrylic. And these all come in sizes ranging from US 000000 to US 32. With so much variety it can make your head spin.

What Size?
If you were successful in finding a single ply worsted weight yarn you are going to need about a size US 8 to a US 10 needle. Checking your yarn's label is also helpful because there will be a suggested needle size printed there. These are usually pretty good recommendations.

Which type of needle?
I am a fan of the circular needle, but this is not important in your adventure to start knitting. Over time you will develop a preference for certain needles. As someone just starting out you should look for a pair of 9" straight needles. Straight needles come in longer sizes, but for a scarf you won't need the extra space of a longer needle and shorter needles are easier to wield.

What material should the needles be made out of?
Again over time you will develop a personal preference depending on how tight or loose you knit. But when you are just starting out give the bamboo a try. They are light, and smooth, strong, warm to the touch, and flexible. Bamboo is also renewable resource. (Did you know bamboo can grow up to 12 inches in one day!)

Once you fall in love with a yarn look for an appropriate sized pair of 9" bamboo straight needles and you will be ready for action. Just like buying yarn ask questions and let the employees know what you are looking for.

Needle Resources
Clover 9" Straight Needles
Knit Picks Harmony Straight Needles
Wiki How: How to Choose Knitting Needles
Blue Betty: Bamboo, Wood, Steal or Plastic

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Best Berry Muffins

I have been baking muffins like crazy these past two weeks. Berries have been on sale at Whole Foods and to make sure we use them I'm been baking berry muffins every few days. The Hubby loves these muffins because they aren't "super sweet" and are full of berries. What is great about this recipe is that it only has a few ingredients, one of them is Bisquick (which also makes wonderful pancakes).

Best Berry Muffin Recipe
2 Cups Bisquick
1/2 Cup Soy Milk (or regular milk)
1/2 Cup Soy Yogurt (or regular yogurt)
2 tbls Honey
1 egg
2/3 Cup Berries (I like to crush my berries a little before I mix them in.)

This will make 6 large muffins or 12 small muffins.

Combine all ingredients and spoon mixture into greased or lined muffin tin

Here is the batter for my strawberry & blackberry muffins

If you like sprinkle a little bit of whit or brown sugar on the top.

Into the oven they go!

Bake in an oven at 400 degrees for 20 min or until golden brown on top. If you are making smaller muffins you will only need to bake them for 10 to 15 min.

Ta-Da delicious muffins.
Let cool for a few minuets then remove from baking tin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beginner Guide to Knitting Part I: Yarn

When you decided you want to learn to knit where do you start. You need needles, yarn and some one or some thing to tell you how to cast on, how many stitches to cast on, how to knit, and then once your project is completed bind off. The interenet has a plethera of infomation on knitting there are video tutorials, articlas, blogs and everything in between. Where does one start?

Before you even cast on there are some tool and supplies you will need to purchase.
You will need:
Knitting needles.

Today we are going to discus yarn.
With so many different yarns out there where do you start? What will work the best for a beginner? Well, if you are just starting out you want to look for a smooth single ply worsted weight yarn. This probably makes little sense to some one just starting to delve into the world of knitting. Essentially you want you yarn to look like this:

What is single ply?
Single ply means that there is only one strand of yarn. Some yarns are multiple strands of yarn twisted together to make the yarn thicker. These sometimes can split, which means as you are knitting your needle can separate the plies or strands. As a beginner you will want a single strand of yarn this way you won't have to worry about your yarn splitting and this means less head aches.

What does worsted weight mean?
Worsted weight pertains to the thickness of the yarn. When knit a worsted weight yarn knits to about 4 to 5 stitches per every inch. This is classed as a medium weight yarn. When you are looking at a yarn the label that the company uses to brand their yarn will have this information on it. It will tell you suggested needles and give you a suggested gauge. You are looking for a label that has a suggested needle size of about a US 8 to a US 10 (we will get to needles in Part II) give or take a needle size. There will also be a suggested gauge, a worsted weight yarn will knit to about 16 to 20 stitches for 4 inches. Again this is just a suggestion if you fall in love with a yarn that is a little thicker or thinner that's fine just try to find a good medium weight yarn.

How much yarn is enough?
An easy simple beginner scarf would require about 250 to 350 yards of worsted weight yarn depending on the size of the scarf. Keep in mind that an adult scarf is about 50 to 60 inches long depending on the wearer's height. Another tip, buy all your yarn at once. Having worked in a yarn shop for three years I can't tell you how many times customers haven't bought what they needed, ran out and either we couldn't get the color they needed or the same dye lot. (Dye lot is how a company keeps track of a batch of yarn in a certain color, sometimes different dye lots look a little lighter or darker.)

What fiber is the best?
There are so many answers to that question depending on your skill level, project, and price range. Lets just start by say you should get a yarn that you like, that feels nice to you. What a yarn feels like is called the "hand". A 100% merino wool will have a softer hand than a peruvian wool's hand. Those who find wool itchy are probably dealing with a low quality wool with a poor hand. There isn't one best fiber although a wool or wool blend is warm and will hold up well to time and use if cared for properly, but if you are against wool there are a lot of alternatives out there for you. As a beginner though you should find a yarn that you will like working with, you are going to have this yarn in your hands while you work with it so try to find something you enjoy the hand of. Two suggestions, stay away from mohair for your fist project it's fuzziness tends to obscure stitches and it can be a pain even to an experienced knitter. And stay away from acrylic yarn from big box stores, yes it is cheep and you get enough on one hank of a project, but those yarns are poor quality, cheap, and are usually not a single ply.

If you are concerned about price and do not want to spend a fortune on your first project I hear you. There are plenty of yarns out there that are a great quality for the quantity and the price. Knitting should be enjoyable and you should purchase the highest quality yarn in your price range. Most yarn shops also have a sale section where you can get great deals on great yarn. Be prepared to spend at least $20 to $30 on a good yarn.

*Go to your local yarn shop and don't be afraid to ask questions. Let them know you are a beginner, and tell them your price range and what your looking for.

Great Yarns for Beginners
Sulka by Mirasol
Grace by Louisa Harding
Kureyon by Noro
Latte by Ella Rae
Peruvia by Berroco (good buy!)
Mauch Chunky by Kramer Yarns