Tiny giants

We’re having a KAL for Palpitation, and I’d be delighted if you joined us!  I find I want to knit a few more of these, but it feels like some sort of breach of etiquette to knit in my own KAL.  So I’m going to pretend that what I’m doing is using a few more hearts as a way to talk about some finer points of making these.  But we all know what I’m really doing is indulging myself and making a few more.  But don’t tell anyone, ok?

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Now I know Valentine’s day has come and gone, and perhaps now the fascination with the fuzzy hearts will fade and we’ll all come to our senses.  But just in case any one is still playing (or in case any one wants to do these next year), I had one more thing I wanted to talk about.

One of the things lots of folks wanted to do was to make either giant versions of the hearts (think couch cushion sized!) or tiny ones (I swear some would fit on a quarter).

I didn’t go for the giant option (I’m lazy…very very lazy…I do not love you enough to knit a cushion for a blog picture).  But I did find myself indulging in a tiny heart.  Mine is just a hair over two inches (which is small enough to be adorable, but in no way the smallest one I’ve seen in the KAL).

Now there are two ways to change the size of something.  Change the size of your stitches, or change the number of stitches.  You can do either (or both) on the hearts.

For the giant ones, reach for the biggest yarn you can manage.  Some folks were using bulky, and some were using several strands of bulky held together. For the tiny ones, go the opposite direction.  I saw some done in lace weight and some done in crochet thread.  Whichever way you go, you’ll want needles to match (I did my tiny one on 000s).  Just remember you want to make a tight enough fabric that your stuffing doesn’t show through.

But in addition to changing your yarn/needles, you can also change your stitches.  The pattern comes in three stitch counts.  But they’re all aimed at being sort of hand/pocket/envelope sized.  Even with a super bulky yarn or a lace-weight yarn you may not be able to get as large or as small as you’d like if you’re aiming for something dramatic.

Luckily, the pattern is easy to modify.  You can continue to increase until you get to the size you want if you’re going big  Or you could work fewer increases to go smaller.  In either case, be sure you’re increasing or decreasing by multiples of 8 from the stitch counts the pattern gives you.  And of course, if you make changes, your stitch counts will be different from what I give in the pattern.  You’ll just want to work your knit front/back on the middle stitch, and then divide left and right for the top of the hearts.  If you change the bottom, you may need to do a bit of experimenting to make sure you like the shape and proportions you’re getting on top, but from what I’ve seen, they all come out adorable!

 

Stuffed

We’re having a KAL for Palpitation, and I’d be delighted if you joined us!  I find I want to knit a few more of these, but it feels like some sort of breach of etiquette to knit in my own KAL.  So I’m going to pretend that what I’m doing is using a few more hearts as a way to talk about some finer points of making these.  But we all know what I’m really doing is indulging myself and making a few more.  But don’t tell anyone, ok?

knitalong

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So once you’ve knit a heart (or two…or a dozen) you’ll probably want to stuff them.  Now you don’t have to…I’ve heard from a few folks planning to use theirs as coasters, which is totally a great idea.  But I suspect most folks want to put something in there.  And you’ve got lots of choices.

I went with wool for mine.  I had a few ounces of a mystery fiber from a long ago fiber festival in the bottom of a stash bin.  That filled the first few (I think two ounces of fiber filled six hearts).  Then I kept making more and realized I needed more stuffing, so I got this and used it for the rest (you can see it behind the pink heart above).  It doesn’t take much (I’ve filled six more hearts and am nowhere near out).  I like that the gray doesn’t show through as much as white stuffing would.  You could also use polyester stuffing if you prefer, I’m just a sucker for wool.

If you want your hearts to smell good, you can also put stuff in them for that.  I put lavender in a bunch of mine (at least a teaspoon each…more is better, it’s just a little tedious to fill them.  Chamomile would also be good, and I’ve heard from folks using rose petals or cedar chips too! Anything that smells good to you, fits in the heart, and is shelf stable should work!

And then…then there is the cat toy option.  The Kitten Overlords made it clear that they needed a heart of their own (by stealing one of mine, the little beasts).  So I made them one, complete with an extra strand of silk/mohair (their favorite yarn to steal out of my knitting basket…ask me how I know) held along with the background yarn.  Not the prettiest or most subtle of the hearts, but the goal is tempting to kittens!

I stuffed it with a bit of wool, a lot of catnip, and some little rattle inserts.  It seems to have been a success!

You could also use dried rice or beans to make microwaveable hand warmers.  You’ll want to use a bit of common sense (start by microwaving them for a short time, like 30 seconds, and check to make sure they’re not super hot), but wool is actually a really great fabric for something like this as it’s a good insulator and way less likely to melt or catch fire than a synthetic fabric.

You’re really only limited by your imagination here…I have a feeling you’ve got suitable supplies on hand and can totally come up with something clever!

Just this once…

We’re having a KAL for Palpitation, and I’d be delighted if you joined us!  I find I want to knit a few more of these, but it feels like some sort of breach of etiquette to knit in my own KAL.  So I’m going to pretend that what I’m doing is using a few more hearts as a way to talk about some finer points of making these.  But we all know what I’m really doing is indulging myself and making a few more.  But don’t tell anyone, ok?

knitalong

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One of the questions I’ve been getting is ‘so I love the hearts…but I hate DPNs, can I use circs?’  And of course you can!

I mean generally speaking I won’t…because I’m apparently set in my ways and hopelessly taken with my DPNs.  But there’s no structural reason why you can’t.  And just to prove it, I did.

There really aren’t many things where you just flat out have to use one needle style or another.  In fact, other than a mobius cast on, I’m having trouble thinking of something where you must use a specific style of needle (doesn’t mean there aren’t others…just that I can’t think of them off the top of my head).  But rest assured, the hearts work fine with whatever you like best!

Which means that the rest of mine will be with DPNs…but you probably already knew that!

Got 90 seconds?

We’re having a KAL for Palpitation, and I’d be delighted if you joined us!  I find I want to knit a few more of these, but it feels like some sort of breach of etiquette to knit in my own KAL.  So I’m going to pretend that what I’m doing is using a few more hearts as a way to talk about some finer points of making these.  But we all know what I’m really doing is indulging myself and making a few more.  But don’t tell anyone, ok?

knitalong

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So let’s talk blocking.  I know…I know you don’t like to do it.  You say it’s too hard or it takes too much time.  But I found myself curious.  Just exactly how much active time does blocking one of these hearts take?  The answer…less than 90 seconds.  I really think you can spare 90 seconds to make your knitting better, don’t you?

Let’s walk through this step by step.  Get yourself and the knitting to a working sink.  Turn on the water (that’s when I started the timer).  Shove the knitting under the tap and start squeezing it in your hands.  Wool is a bit water resistant (that’s why it floats if you just set it in a bowl of water) and by squeezing it you help get it soaked faster.  Squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze squeeze.  Get it really soaked.  Flip it over once or twice while you’re doing that to make sure you get the front and back.  This takes me about 45 seconds. Turn off the water and give the whole thing one massive squeeze to get rid of the extra water (if you have a clean hand towel around, you can squeeze it in that…but it works even if you just do it in your fist).  Let’s call that five seconds.  Now drop it on your counter and pat it smooth.  Give it a tug and a push and a shove and get it all tidy and straight.  That’s maybe, maybe 30 seconds if you’re feeling fiddly (that’s when I turned off the timer).

And that’s it.  You’re done. Go away and let it dry.  That part does take a little while (about 30 minutes for me, but it’s going to depend on your fabric and the temperature and humidity in your house), but you don’t have to actually do anything with it during that time (if you’re me, you’ll cast on another one…it’s a sickness).

So, if you don’t want to block because you just don’t want to, that’s fine.  But, at least for these, I’m going to be fairly stern if you tell me you don’t block because it takes too much time!

Starting off right

We’re having a KAL for Palpitation, and I’d be delighted if you joined us!  I find I want to knit a few more of these, but it feels like some sort of breach of etiquette to knit in my own KAL.  So I’m going to pretend that what I’m doing is using a few more hearts as a way to talk about some finer points of making these.  But we all know what I’m really doing is indulging myself and making a few more.  But don’t tell anyone, ok?

knitalong

PALPITATION

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So…in that spirit, let’s talk about casting these on.  If you’ve never used Judy’s Magic Cast On, there are instructions over here, and you can read about a figure 8 cast on here.

And that brings up another important point.  The first few rounds of this have you working on very very small numbers of stitches.  It is absolutely normal for things to feel (and maybe even look) a little wobbly for the first 5 or 6 rows.  About the time you’ve got about 18 stitches on your needles, things start to feel a lot more mellow.  And by the time you get to this point, everything is easy. So just a little cheer leading…don’t worry if it feels funny, it’s normal, it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong!  Keep going, it will get easier in just a few rows.

And, the natural counterpoint to casting on, let’s talk a little about casting off.  At the end you’ll have two groups of 8 stitches each…one on either side of the heart. You can either kitchner them or just thread your tail through and cinch them down like the top of a hat.  If you go that route, I like to go through each stitch twice (it helps keep them from looking loose or sloppy).  Either works, either is cute, it’s totally a matter of preference!

Any other questions about these you’d like me to talk about?  I know they’re a simple project, but there’s a surprising amount of room in there for little details to make a difference!  That…and I don’t mind an excuse to make a few more.