Looking for Inspiration and New Knitting Ideas

last_mangoMarch 27, 2008

I am a fairly novice knitter, but I love it! My biggest challenge seems to be finding things that I WANT to knit. I'm in Florida and have no interest in sweaters, socks, hats, etc. I'm not thrilled with acrylic-type yarns, but I love the feel of cotton and wool (just not ON me - ugh). So, I've knit felted purses, boxes, bowls (often dressed up with felted flowers or sewn on seashells), pillow covers, and cotton dishcloths by the dozen.

But, last night I spent an hour at the bookstore searching for a new project. I found bananas, backgammon sets, and dog sweaters, but nothing that thrilled me.

So, I would love to hear if anyone here has some ideas?

One last comment, there are other knitters in the family that have inundated any new babies with beautiful items, so that won't work either...

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...Knit and felt a carrying case for your pc...how about a cotton shrug for cool evenings? Do you also sew or embroider? I do, and made myself a carrying case as a take-along, with places for needles, pins, tape measure, chalk marker, glue stick, scissors, floss, thread, etc (and, I use it all the time)...it's knit and felted, and I decorated it with flowers and leaves cut out of wool felted fabric and applied with buttonhole stitch. I always like to have going, one 'mindless' knitting project, for in the car knitting...now I'm working on a blanket....adult sized.....made just like a dishcloth only I'm working with very thin wool, and in a moss stitch instead of garter...you could make a cotton throw like this. Next winter I plan on making scarves for the men in my family...in stripes, of the colors of all the schools they've gone to (my husbands will have high school and the 3 colleges he went to!)...if your fella isn't a college graduate, then grade school, middle school and high school... or, do men there wear scarves in winter?)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 2:56PM
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Thanks for the reply...

No scarves in winter here! (But the college colors are a great idea - don't know any guys up north, though).

BUT, I really, really like the idea of a felted carrying case! Good idea. Your sounds lovely, do you have a pic or know where I can find a pattern?

I'm contemplating a knitted blanket, but made of blocks so it is more portable (and less daunting). I'd like to finish it like a quilt (with a fabric back and edges, maybe?). Unfortunately, I'm having NO luck in my search for something like that, other than very plain items. I'm thinking intarsia blocks in cool/unique designs - has anyone here seen examples of that? I'm not quite confident enough to jump in without some guidance...

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 3:28PM
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I have 3 little boys under the age of 3 and I don't have the attention span to devote to anything requiring serious concentration. I love the mindless kind of knitting and find that I knit more to relax than to create. If you're a knitter like me, charities would be wonderful for you.
Simple blankets, newborn hats, and newborn kimono's would be great to donate to you local hospital. Check with your local homeless and battered women's shelters to see if you could donate some of your creations.

Stuffed toys are another idea. They really are quite easy and would be great to donate to local police stations and social services departments where children are often in very scary situations and a "stuffie" would be of great comfort.

In Florida, beach bags and beach mats would be handy and allow loads of creativity. Have you been to this website? It could spark some creative ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Knitting Pattern Central

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 4:09PM
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Mango, I've always got something going that doesn't entail toting a huge bag along, like the blanket you mentioned giving a try. I just finished the baby log cabin quilt I posted about a few days ago, which was done like that. I carried around just one skein of yarn and made all of the central squares, then put that skein away and grabbed the next color, and worked all the squares with that color, and so on.

Right now I'm making another baby blanket using a pattern from one of the knitting magazines I subscribe to. It's called 'Make it Mitred'. All of the 3 to 4' squares are knitted together, not sewn, which makes me extremely happy. Of course, the piece does grow as I knit, but I really like the way it's shaping up. I'm making it for a little girl and I'm using a sweet pink, pastel yellow, and a variegated with pink, yellow, and lavender.

Send me an email if you'd like the pattern. It's also VERY easy.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 4:57PM
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there isn't any pattern...this is something you can easily figure out...after all, there isn't any right or wrong.

I've knitted several blankets...double is the biggest I've done, and I highly recommend NOT doing just blocks...the sewing up is miserable and seems to go forever. Try knitting it in strips..from top to bottom. That way you'll only have one strips-worth to carry around with you. I personally don't like a blanket that has a wrong and a right side, so I usually do mine in strips of knitting stitches that are reversable.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:14PM
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Thanks so much for your replies! You all have given me some great ideas.

I like the donating of baby/mom items to a shelter - that's a really good thought.

Donna - I'll go look up your post about the log cabin quilt!

Sandra - Thanks SO much for the pics - that looks like a perfect little project. And for the advice about sewing the squares - I can see where that would be a pain - I'll keep it in mind.

Has anyone here seen a blanket that is finished with fabric on the other side and then "quilted" with a knit front?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 6:53AM
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I also quilt, and don't think a knitted then quilted 'blanket' would be a very good idea. For one thing, a quilt 'sandwich' must be stretched tightly and then basted together before quilting, and this would be impossible to do with a knitted 'front'...if you pulled it taut, then when you quilted it together the back would then draw up and be a mass of tucks and puckers. The lines of quilting would 'distort, also, the knitted front and certainly not add anything to the looks of the cover...they would detract from the knitting...and, finally, what would the benefits be of having knitting on the front and then fabric on the back? One of the best parts of a knitted blanket is the cosiness of the knit, which you wouldn't have, if you tried to back it with fabric. You could, of course, try it, but I don't think you'll like the finished product and believe you'll have a he** of a job even trying to do it!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 9:27AM
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Use cotton thread or yarn to knit light summer clothing like swim suit cover ups or a summer cardigan. Knit bed socks for those nights you just cannot get your feet warm.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 4:26PM
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Get a couple of books that feature lots and lots of knitted pattern stitches. I like the Harmony Guides: "Knitting Techniques," "450 Knitting Stitches" and "440 More Knitting Stitches." They have a variety of patterns: lace and other openwork, textured stitches, cables, Fair Isle and intarsia.

Your idea of a knitted sampler is great, but as a quilter, I agree with Sandra that it's not feasible to layer it with a fabric backing. If you stitch with textures, lace and cables you won't have to worry about carried yarn so a backing isn't necessary anyway and you can satisfy your desire for different colors by using different yarns for each block.

If you really want to try intarsia, how about throw pillows to match the sampler throw? That way you won't see the back side of the knitted fabric, but you will have the opportunity to try the technique.

BTW--stitch pattern books are invaluable if you ever get to the point where you design your own projects. I hate most sweater patterns because they tend to have the parts knitted separately and then stitched together later. (I DETEST sewing sweaters up!) I prefer to knit my sweaters in one piece, preferably with raglan sleeves and I use the above guides all the time for ideas for textures, cables and lace. Right now I'm knitting my daughter a shrug. I went on-line and found a basic shrug that she liked, then I had her pick out the lace pattern she wanted it worked in and I designed the shrug to fit the lacework. I love shrugs--clothing doesn't get much easier than that!


    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 6:16PM
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I've knitted laptop covers for my two daughtercomputers. And knitted washcloths as gifts for all the female members of my family. Just a few of the non-sweater knitting projects out there! Did you know Julia Roberts loves knitting on the set? It's a great hobby. I consider it an antidote to nail biting.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 9:53PM
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Mango, so you don't want to sit by your pool, sipping a margarita while knitting an afghan? :-)

I'll include a link to an afghan pattern book. This book has 67 different patterns, all made with yarn from the Plymouth Yarn Company. Naturally, other yarns could be substituted... Just click on any individual photo and you'll get a popup of a larger photo, and it will also show what yarn was used, how many balls/skeins you will need, and what size needles are used.

In this book there are some patterns for afghans that are made in strips, others made in squares, and most are made "in one piece." As others have said, it would be great to knit something to give to a shelter or hospital.

When I first found this book on that very web page, I wanted to buy it but it was out of stock. So, I checked Amazon and got a brand new book for a lot less than what's shown on that web site. You can find this on eBay, too.

There are plenty of web sites where you can download free patterns, such as Knit Picks and lots of other yarn company web sites. Even though you say there are other family members who knit baby things, every hospital and shelter could use little baby booties, caps, etc.

And everyone needs at least one cozy knitted scarf, for when they travel to a colder clime.

Here is a link that might be useful: 67 Knitted Afghans

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 3:04AM
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Baby projects: contact the big hospitals in your area and see if they need preemie caps. There are good websites with patterns for these and they are quick, fun projects. Good way to learn to use double pointed needles. BTW--I knit all my own cotton golf socks because I cannot STAND that seam that runs across the toe of most socks. There are some great sock yarns out there and even in Florida a person needs socks once in a while. 8^)


    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 9:12AM
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Wow - all these new replies. Thank you so much for writing. It gives me a lot of unique ideas to think about.

Thanks for the quilt comments from people who know! I was hoping for the fabric backing to hide my crude intarsia attempts, but I can see the problems you're talking about.

I like the pillow to match the sampler idea. I've already done an intarsia (very simple) pillow that is waiting to be felted - even knit pillows seem so darn hot here. Felted bowls held me for a long time, but now everyone I know has one! Ha. (And they also have cotton dishcloths that were tied up with soap and ribbon) Maybe they need pillows, too...

Thanks for the afghan links and the idea to look up other knitting stitch guides - It will give me something to browse while sitting by the pool drinking margaritas! (Where, unfortunately, Sheila, I will NOT be wearing a knit cover up - aaack, that would scare some people away. Maybe for my beautiful niece, though? Nah, not unless I could figure out a way to include a surf brand logo on it!)

I still like the baby donation ideas - I will look into some local organizations. Have any of you actually done that? Did you start with a hospital or shelter?

Thanks again for all the responses. You all obviously know WAY more about knitting than I do, so I really appreciate the input.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 9:20AM
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I have been knitting and delivering baby blankets for Project Linus for several years. Project Linus is a national organization that provides blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Blankets can be any size, even preemie. Yesterday I delivered blankets to a local NICU and they were so grateful. The requirements are simple - blankets just need to be handmade and washable. There are chapters in every state, including Florida.

Please consider donating blankets to Project Linus. I can guarantee that you will find it rewarding.

Here is a link that might be useful: Project Linus Chapter Listings

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Other donation ideas: Felted stuffed animals (there are some AWESOME patterns for these out there) and afghans for women's and homeless shelters. To learn about charity knitting projects in your area, ask about them at your local yarn shop if you have one--they usually have all the skinny on this sort of thing. If you just want to have an excuse to knit (and who doesn't?) I'm including a link to Knit 'n Style's list of knitting charities.


Here is a link that might be useful: Knitting Charities

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:42PM
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If you have a veteran's hospital in your area, knit lap robes to go home with them, bed socks, etc.

I always make something for a baby I hear is coming. When I am really organized, I have a stash of already knit and crocheted blankets, trimmed diapers as burp cloths, booties, sweaters, and hats. Then I just grab what I want and get it to the mother or grandmother. I have learned that young moms have plenty of baby hats and afghans, but burp cloths and booties that stay on as well as knit or crocheted ones are scarce. I like to make cardigans so young parents can use them instead of needing to buy a little jacket for cool nights or visiting grandma. These can be cotton for warm Florida evenings too.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 8:41PM
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Those are great charity links. Very good ideas - thanks. I had thought about knitting charity items, but had always wondered if people REALLY wanted them. It looks as if they do. I've taken books, puzzles, games, etc. (in very good shape) to a senior center and a school and I could tell the staff wasn't too excited about having to deal with a donation. I'll send an e-mail to the most local Project Linus group.

I like the "baby items in reserve" idea, too.

Unfortunately, yarn shops are far and few between and the few I've been to around here had a very scant selection (mostly acrylics) and not-so-helpful staff. I went to some shops while visiting Montana - heaven. So much stock, so many ideas, so many customers, very competent staff - wow. Well, it's taken a while for coffee shops to catch on here, too - maybe the yarn shops will come...

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:44AM
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Yarn shops are few and far between around here, too, although a new one did open just 30 minutes away. My favorite yarn shop is two hours away, in the town where my parents live, so I try to plan my visits so that I can stop and shop for a few minutes on the way up. I love on-line shopping for things like needles and notions, but I really like to see and handle a yarn before I buy it. This shop has a great selection of sock yarns, which are my personal yarn addiction!


    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 10:57AM
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I live in Florida so don't knit many sweaters but I like to knit Barbie Doll clothes, ski outfits, dresses, hats, bags, etc. They are fun to make, easy and don't take much yarn! Also little hats for newborns are always needed in soft yarn. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 9:09PM
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