December 18, 2014

Quick project tutorial: Record yarn bowls!

If you follow me on instagram, you may remember my excitement when I hit upon this idea many months ago:

Made a broken record into a yarn bowl! It's not perfect, but I think this concept could be awesome with some practice!

(caption: Made a broken record into a yarn bowl! It’s not perfect, but I think this concept could be awesome with some practice!)

A photo posted by Lee Meredith (@leethalknits) on

I had a broken record, so I made it into a bowl, but with a hole chipped out of it, and then I realized… I could thread yarn through the hole and use it as a yarn bowl!

Experimented a little more with the record yarn bowl idea - eeeek it's working!! Needs a bit more perfecting but I'm loving this idea! Thinking about both a blog tutorial and selling them around Portland... Fluevog store event is off to a great start! Fun to mix all my samples in with the fancy shoes. Come by before 9 if you're in portland!

So then I played around with the concept, made a bunch to bring to an event where I was selling things, but in the end decided it’s not something I’m going to make to sell as a regular thing.  Shipping would be annoying, and I wouldn’t be able to sell them for much since they do break pretty easily if you drop them, so they’re not like a long-lasting high-quality item (I sold them for $6 at the event, just a fun cheap impulse buy kind of thing).  They totally function as yarn bowls, but not to the same extent as nice ceramic bowls, since they are very lightweight and bounce around if the yarn ball pulls.

Record Yarn Bowl

What they are is a fun thing to make in 5 minutes for yourself and for knitting friends!  They are SO quick to make, and cheap if you have access to vinyl records no one wants to listen to (thrift stores, record store 50 cent or $1 bins, or sometimes records stores have free boxes in the front to give away crap nobody wants) – I imagine this being an easy project you can make a bunch of one afternoon, and bring them to your knit night to pass out for everyone as a fun holiday gift, or just for the heck of it!

Record Yarn Bowl

So, here’s what you need:

  • A vinyl record (one that’s too scratched up to listen to, or that no one would want – don’t melt anything good, it would make me cry!)
  • Scissors (big ones that are okay to use for this kind of thing, not nice ones obviously)
  • An oven
  • An oven-safe bowl
  • Gloves (things will only heat up to around 225 degrees, so knit wool gloves should be enough to protect your hands, while letting you use them) or oven mitts
  • Optionally, another bowl or two for shaping your yarn bowls into different shapes and sizes

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Before I make a bowl, I usually wash the record, with dish soap like a dish – it’s much easier to wash a flat record than to clean the bowl after it’s been made!

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Heat up the oven to around 225 degrees (anywhere from 200-250 should be fine). Turn your oven-safe bowl upside down, and place the record on top, then put that in the oven:

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

While it’s in there, put on your gloves and get your scissors ready…

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Leave it in for about 2 minutes, or until you see it melt down over the bowl.  Don’t leave it in extra long, as it may get too melty and fume-y.  If you take it out as soon as it’s soft, the fumes shouldn’t be bad, but of course keeping the room ventilated is a good idea!

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

So, take it out, and immediately make your cut, to form your hole for the yarn to go through.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

There are lots of different ways you can do this – the simplest is as you see below, just a straight line diagonally into the edge:

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Once the cut has been made, it will already be starting to harden back up again (by the time I took that above photo, it was already hardened), so put it back on the upside-down bowl and back into the oven for another couple minutes.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

When it’s re-softened, take it out and put it inside a right-side-up bowl (either the same one you’ve been using in the oven, or a different one), and form your bowl shape, and your yarn hole.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

For the bowl shape, remember your yarn needs to fit in there, so it can’t be crazy wavy in and out (which is how the record will naturally want to bend).  For the yarn hole, if you made a cut like the one pictured, then spiral the strip into a tube.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

For other kinds of yarn holes, just remember you’ll want to be able to get the yarn in and out, so make a hole with a slit or opening of some kind.  After the tutorial are lots of photos of different bowls I made while experimenting, so you can get ideas for different kinds of holes.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Once things are formed, just hold it all in place how you want it for about a minute, and then it should be hardened up and finished!  If you mess it up somehow when forming the shape, just stick it back in the oven for a minute to re-soften.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Here’s that finished bowl in action!

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

You can also form bowl shapes around the outside of an existing bowl, if you want a different kind of yarn hole – I think this one was made that way, so it’s wider / more open:

Record Yarn Bowl

So that’s it, so easy and quick!  Now here are a bunch that I’ve made!

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

If you make some bowls, I would love to see them!  If you post a photo on instagram, @leethalknits to show me, or tweet @leethal, or add photos to my old leethal flickr group :)  Have fun!

Filed under: general crafts,gifts,home stuff,quick project,tutorials — leethal @ 11:10 am

December 16, 2014

New pattern set: Twist on a Classic mitts + What a Twist hat!

New bulky, QUICK patterns, just in time for last-minute holiday knitting!  This is technically one new pattern, plus one pattern re-release, but they are available together as a new matching set.

Twist on a Classic mitts What a Twist hat

Twist on a Classic (ravelry link) is a new pattern for fingerless mitts – they are fun and speedy to make, they are cozy in bulky yarn (but can also be made in lighter weights), they are custom fit to your hands, and they have a classic look that would be pleasing to any giftee ;)  But also, I recommend making a pile for yourself, as I have done since designing them – I’m wearing the red/orange pair right now as I type and I love them!!

Twist on a Classic mitts

What a Twist (ravelry link) is a re-release of my Pink Squish Hat pattern from Knitscene in summer 2013.  The pattern rights went back to me, so I made a leethal-style pdf, renamed it, and now you can buy the pattern directly from me.  It’s not a typical leethal pattern – it’s designed in a single weight/gauge (bulky weight, 13 stitches to 4 inches), and there are no modifications or variations offered – but, it is constructed in a cool modular way that makes knitting it really fun!  And it’s reeeally cozy to wear!

What a Twist hat

When I made plans to self-publish the hat, one thing that bothered me was that I wasn’t able to squeeze a hat out of one skein of the recommended yarn, I had to dip into a second skein, leaving almost a full skein left over.  So, I thought, how about I design a pattern that’s perfect for using up that almost-skein, for an item that pairs well with the hat?  So that’s what I did!  2 skeins of Quince & co. Puffin (or other similar bulky yarns) are the perfect amount to make a hat and a matching pair of mitts!

What a Twist hat Twist on a Classic mitts

They are fun to make together, since they use a lot of similar techniques, and they are definitely great to wear together, both being covered in bulky cables and garter stitch squishiness!

Twist on a Classic mitts What a Twist hat

So, you can get the patterns individually (from my site, hat/mitts, or on ravelry, hat/mitts) for $5.50 each, or you can get them together at a discounted set price – $8 for both.

What a Twist hat What a Twist hat

I don’t need to say much about the hat; it’s pretty straightforward, and I posted about it back when the magazine was released.  Several projects have been posted on ravelry, so you can see what other knitters had to say over there.  I made this new sample above with the contrasting crown cable, but I’m actually not into how that looks, so I recommend just using one color throughout ;)

Twist on a Classic mitts

But I will tell you more about the mitts!  They are made sideways, so they’re custom fit around your hand, and the cable is knit modularly with no picked up stitches, just simple short rows (no wrapping), with increases and decreases connecting it as you knit to the adjacent sideways sections.  The mitts are joined together with 3-needle bind-offs, and the thumbs are knit in the round.

Twist on a Classic mitts Twist on a Classic mitts

They can optionally be made with a contrasting color cable, which is a fun way to show off a small amount of a special yarn, like I did with my handspun sample…

Twist on a Classic mitts

…which are solid color handspun for the main yarn:

Twist on a Classic mitts

They were originally designed for bulky weight, but since they are custom sized around your hand, they can easily be made in any weight.  The pattern as written works well down to around aran weight (or anywhere from heavy worsted through all levels of bulky/chunky weights).  Here is my aran weight sample:

Twist on a Classic mitts

(That’s a recycled hand-dyed yarn, which slowly changes colors from orange to red.)

Twist on a Classic mitts

There are modification notes included for going down to lighter weights, and/or making longer mitts, and also for changing the placement/width of the cables, for if you’re using a lighter weight and want to expand the cable… I started a new pair today using a wider cable modification, again with a special handspun yarn as the cable panel:

Decided last minute to include some modification notes in the pattern I'm releasing tonight, which meant casting on another sample to test a mod idea - looking good!

An awesome tester knit up a mitt with the wider cable mod, and the longer length mod, which you can see on ravelry.  The way the pattern works, if you are a somewhat experienced knitter, once you make one pair normally so that you understand how the parts all fit together, you can pretty much make them any weight, any size, custom cables if you want, etc.  But of course, you can just follow the pattern exactly as written and not have to think about mods!  Lots of options!

Twist on a Classic modified mitt in progress

They are worked continuously from beginning to end – if you make the single color version, you never break your yarn, including for the 3-needle bind-offs and other finishing steps, so you only have 2 ends to weave in.  If you make a contrasting cable, then you’ll just have the 4 extra ends to weave in from the cable.

Twist on a Classic mitts

The pattern is written for 2 lengths, and then there are the mod notes included to go longer.  The shorter length (only for bulky weight) knits up SO quickly – they take me about an hour per mitt, and I am not a fast knitter!  The longer size is for nice long mitts in the bulky weight, or shorter length mitts for the aran weight range, like my red sample.  They are still a very quick knit, even in the lighter weight.

Twist on a Classic mitts

The pattern includes full instructions for all techniques used (cast-ons, bind-offs, sideways edge techniques, cables), and process photos to help you along.

Twist on a Classic mitts

I love every pattern I design, but something about these makes me a little extra excited, how they are SO quick and fun to knit, and have such a simple look that can be really plain and classy, or totally wild and wacky, depending on yarn choices.  I love them!!

Twist on a Classic mitts

I hope some of you are able to take advantage of the release date and whip up a few pairs for last-minute gifts!  If you do, please snap a photo and throw your projects up on ravelry – seeing your versions is my favorite part!!

Twist on a Classic mitts

Happy holidays!

Filed under: gifts,hats,knitting,quick project,self-publishing — leethal @ 7:30 am
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