Mago

In Croatian, Mago is a short, pet name for a donkey. Not that I would ever consider a donkey an animal deserving a pet name, just to be clear. In fact, when I was a little kid, the Mago was my personal boogie man. Whenever I would resist eating something, or going to sleep, or disobey my parents in any other way, all they would have to say was “If you don’t do it, Mago is gonna come and get you” and I would instantly be eating twice as much as I had been told to, putting my pyjamas on all by myself, or asking how else I could help them… What had inspired this incredible fear of donkeys, I cannot tell. But having met some recently, I can imagine it had something to do with the sounds they make. If you’ve never heard a donkey’s call up close and personal, well, all I can say is consider yourself lucky.

Having said all that, let’s mark today as the official end of my Mago dread. I am reclaiming the donkey, and you get a cute little scarf recipe along the way.

Before all, I have to say that the idea for the scarf was not my own. I found this cute little donkey scarf on Pinterest and, since it was no longer available for purchase on the original website, I thought that I would try making it myself. Eventually I did so, and made notes along the way. I am now sharing those notes with you, since they are there anyway. I do not intend to claim this as my pattern in any way. I will not sell the scarf nor the instructions on how to make it, nor will I make profit from it in any other way. If you chose to use it, you should probably stick to the same principles.

I hope you like it!

Materials
95 grams of a bulky weight yarn (I used Cascade Yarns Eco+), mostly in MC. You’ll need a tiny bit of yarn in CC for the hoofs, snout and hair.
2 buttons for eyes.

Needles
5.5mm straight or circular (whichever you prefer for knitting back and forth) and same size dpns or circular (whichever you prefere for knitting small circumferences in the round).
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends, sewing in the ears and making the hair.

Finished size
150 cm in length and 11 cm in width

Instructions
Everything is knit in garter stitch (knitting every row).

Legs
CO 6sts in CC. Knit 6 rows in CC. Break CC yarn and knit 22 rows in MC. Break yarn but leave stitches on needle.
Repeat for second leg but at the end do not break yarn.

Body
Make sure both legs are on the same needle and the right sides facing the same way. Using the yarn attached to the second leg (MC), knit the next row as follows: k6 (second leg), CO 20sts, k6 (first leg). Now your two legs and body are connected and you have a total of 32 stitches.
Knit 300 rows in MC. If you want to make the scarf longer or shorter, adjust the number of rows you knit here.

Snout
Still using MC, on the next 4 rows:
k to 2 stitches before end of row, k2tog. (28 sts)
Switch to CC, and on the next 10 rows:
k to 2 stitches before end of row, k2tog. (18 sts)
BO all stitches.

Ears
Ears are knit in the round. I used double pointed needles.
Using MC, CO 12sts and join for knitting in the round. Knit 20 rounds.
Next round: kfb first 6sts, k to end. (18 sts)
Knit 8 rounds.
Next two rounds: k2tog to end. After the two rounds you will end up with 5sts. Cut the yarn and thread it through the remaining stitches with a tapestry needle. Pull tight.
Repeat for second ear.

Sew the ears on between the 23rd and 25th garter ridge counting from the bind-off end.

Hair 
Thread a tapestry needle with CC. Make a bunch of 2-3cm loops on the right side of the scarf by pulling the yarn through individual stitches just under the level of the ears. When you’ve finished looping through, cut open the loops at the opposite end. Don’t worry too much about making the length even, it looks better when a bit messy. Secure with running stitch at the bottom end, going over several times. I improvised this bit and it seemed to have worked. :) Using a 100% wool yarn will also help as the yarn will stick to itself a bit, especially after you wash the scarf, thus making unravelling of the hair less likely.

Eyes
Use buttons of your choice. Sew them on the third garter ridge counting from the ears down.

Et voila! Your Mago is finished. Give it a gentle wash and a blocking, and find a happy recipient. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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WIP week: blocking mittens

I finished the colourwork on my first Fiddlehead mitten a few weeks ago, but given the fact that the mittens come with a lining (which I haven’t knit yet), I was unsure about the size and wanted to see how they would react to blocking. And since colourwork, especially by inexperienced colourworkers, requires heavy blocking, I found myself in a kerfuffle. How to block this thing and make sure everything is stretched well and stays like that until dried and set? I thought and thought and thought, and then I remembered this tutorial.

So I went and found some plastic placemats. I bought three because I thought they were kind of thin and wouldn’t be sturdy enough to resist the pull of the knitted item. I was wrong, one was more than enough. Turns out that wool is not that strong in the end! ;)

I didn’t exactly bother to pull up the tutorial before I started cutting, but worked from memory (and of course forgot some things). I also thought I’d be a smartass and go “why on earth should the thumb be separate?” (and of course found out exactly why when trying to put the mitten on the blocker). In retrospect, holes (which I forgot) would’ve made the drying much faster, and a separate thumb (which I ignored), would have resolved the issue of plastic being slightly less flexible than human fingers. I guess what I’m saying is: follow the freakin’ tutorial, if you’re smarter than me.

In the future, I do plan to improve my ‘prototype’ by adding the holes, making the shape smoother, and making the wrist part longer, so that it sticks out of the mitten. Ok, and maybe even separating the thumb. ;) Luckily, I have enough placemats left to experiment.

Oh, and one more thing. Consider it Fridica’s bonus advice: be careful with where you’re cutting the mat. You wouldn’t want your scalpel to slash into the surface of your desk, for example. Purely hypothetical. Purely. :/

Here’s the blocker in action.

Not bad for a placemat!

travelling with your needles

It is my pleasure to present you the second fridica DIY tutorial! :)

This one is just as simple as the first one was, but since it’s sometimes the simplest of solutions that don’t come to our minds, I hope it’s still worth sharing! As soon as I started knitting, I became quite inseparable from the activity, and wherever I went, I wanted to have all my tools with me to be sure that, if inspiration for a new project strikes, I am well equipped to put it into practice! Wherever I’m living, I usually display my lovely tools something like this…

However, long pointy things that can pierce through other stuff yet also be easily misshaped are not the easiest of transportable objects. So I had to come up with a way of bringing my knitting needles safely (both for them and for other objects in my suitcase) with me on all my travels!

It didn’t take long until I noticed this cardboard tube at the top of my closet.

If you’ve ever bought a poster online and had it shipped to you, you have one of these. The posters arrive rolled up in a hard-cardboard tube, with a plastic top like this. The top is usually stapled to the tube on one end, and free on the other.

I always felt bad throwing the tube away after I retrieved my poster. Good thing I didn’t! I decided to put my needles inside it, but the tube was quite long, and the first time I tried it the needles kept rolling back and forth, and creating a hellish noise at it. So I added some improvements.

First, I asked my Dad to cut the tube shorter. He used a handheld electric saw (my parents live in the country, they have these sorts of things), but I’m pretty sure you could do it with a good kitchen knife as well (hehe, I’m imagining scenes from telemarketing – “You can cut a tin can with it, and even after that it still cuts a tomato perfectly!” :D), after all – it is only cardboard. The length I chose was a few centimeters more than my longest needle. That came out to about 45 cm. Don’t forget to add another 1cm of length for the depth of the plastic top (it goes partially inside the tube)!

The other improvement I added was to pad the bottom of the tube, so that the needle tips don’t get damaged when my suitcase is being pulled and pushed in different directions. This was very easy – I simply used yarn scraps! I always feel bad about throwing yarn away, even if it’s so little that you really can’t do anything with it. So whatever scrap yarn I had after weaving in and cutting off ends, I just stuffed it at the bottom of my tube…

… and soon enough, my needles had a soft cushion to rest their tips upon! :)

After that, all that’s left to do is decorate your tube! I haven’t been so good on this part yet, I’m actually embarassed to show you my little “drawing”, but it’s a start at least! :)

Ummm, those are supposed to be needles. Blush…

Since I’ve had it, I’ve made plenty of use out of this tube. I can testify it holds up well in big suitcases (it’s never spilt open!) and it’s even small enough to shove into a backpack for shorter trips (yes, I’m that obsessed!). So now I never have to be apart from these again… :)

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful! If you have other ideas for transporting knitting needles, please share! I still haven’t found a very elegant method for cable needles, and my collection of those is rapidly growing…

resourcefulness

One of the things I really love about knitting is that it seems to develop a new ability of my brain – that of resourcefulness. I have already written about my makeshift sponge-armchair-turned-blocking-board. This week, however, I was faced with baby shoes in need of blocking, and since they were pretty shapeless when they came off the needles, I needed something to give them the right shape – flat blocking just wasn’t gonna cut it! So I thought about what I had at hand, and came up with this! I was so proud of myself for my silly little idea that I decided to share it with you, so here is my first ever DIY tutorial for blocking baby shoes!

You will need:

  • two socks (size will depend on the desired size of baby shoes)
  • one plastic freezer bag
  • some scotch tape

Before I continue I must add no socks were harmed in the making of this tutorial! And yes, all my socks are this silly.

Now, the first thing you want to do is roll up the sock. This is an almost automatic movement for me because it’s how my mom has always stored socks, but in case you’re not so familiar with the technique, here are the steps. First, roll, making sure the heel part is on the inside of the roll.

Then, turn inside of cuff out.

Don’t pull it too far so that you get some sort of solid shape, resembling this.

Now, put the sock inside the plastic bag (I used one plastic bag and cut it in half, because the rolled up sock is really small, and that way you really don’t waste much!). Wrap it all up!

Secure the little wrap with scotch tape.

It’s gonna look something like this. You can play around with some more tape to smooth out the edges and make them rounder, to resemble the shape of a baby shoe better. Since the sock is soft material, this is really easy to do.

Insert into knit up baby shoe!

Because the sock is made of fabric, you can actually stick pins in it as well, in case you want to make sure lacey parts spread out the right way or you just want to secure certain parts of it.

And voila, after it dries, this is what you get!

A perfectly shaped baby shoe! I’m very happy about the shape of the front and the perfect roundness of the heel. Trust me, before this process it wouldn’t even stand up on its own.

I hope this little tutorial may come in handy to you some day! I would also love to hear how you block baby shoes… Perhaps there is a much easier way that I missed, my brain tends to ignore obvious things sometimes… ;)

p.s. After you’re done, simply remove the socks from plastic and you can wear them again, no need even to wash them! (Mine remained completely dry despite being wrapped in wet wool, the plastic bag protected them perfectly! :)