Knitting, etc.

Favorite Crafts and Projects

1.  I especially like to make cloth tote bags out of print fabric for gifts, donation, and for my own use as the alternative to paper or plastic.  A “standard” adult-size  tote bag requires 0.75 to 0.875 yard of 44 inch-wide fabric (canvas, heavy printed percale or muslin, etc.).  The three bags shown together below right are each made from a 16 inch wide by 44 inch strip of cloth as bags for a small child (Zora).



Welsh flag fabric for the bag at left was obtained from Textile Express at  and knitting sheep and glow-in-the-dark constellation print fabrics at right are from .

For detailed directions to make this type of bag, see the PDF file below:


2.  I make utilitarian–not works of art–patchwork comforters (tied, not quilted), usually using  nine-patch, courthouse steps or log cabin blocks.

(l-r) Courthouse steps comforter and nine-patch comforter with matching pillows

Below right is a quilt that is a true work of art.  It was created by Meg Shwemmer of Ripon, WI, as a retirement gift for me.  Meg’s quilts are sought as contributions to silent auctions to raise money for charity and are cherished baby gifts as well.  This quilt is much too nice to serve as a bed covering, however, so it is hung in a hallway out of direct sunlight.  The chart below left (source:  Jean’s  Jazzy Jumpers from the UK)  was the basis for the quilt design as well as the Welsh flag sweater below.

                OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                                OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have also made a number of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls (25 inch size) using a  now very old McCall’s pattern.  Here is the most recent one:


Her matching bag contains a flannel blanket and pajamas.

3.  Inspired  by a beautiful afghan made by my great aunt Annie Vinton Collins that I used to admire each time we visited her, I learned to crochet “granny squares” and have made many granny square afghans, including the “mathematician’s afghan”–120 squares with one for each possible permutation of 6 colors taken 3 at a time (each combination of three colors surrounded in traditional black)–shown below:


4.  Also shown here is a pillow with Jeanne’s original “happy rainbow” design (circa 1983) used to create a silk-screen and printed on muslin.  I learned silk-screen printing by photo process as a Girl Scout leader and have used it many times to make and print specialized designs  for family, scout events, Physics Fun Force “uniforms”, draig goch bags to give to students going to Wales to study, Welsh Weekend t-shirts and tote bags, etc. (See also tote bag above with multiple printings.)  Now that phophorescent inks that withstand multiple washings are available (e.g. Speedball Night Glo in phosporescent white, yellow, blue, and green), it is possible to print designs or accent them so that they glow in the dark.

5.  Most of my scrap yarn goes into making mittens–two-needle type–or granny square blocks that are later sewn together to make blankets, draft stops, etc.  Here are instructions for two-needle mittens (adult size):


6.   I have done some fair-isle pieces, most notably my Welsh flag pullover (a very difficult design and not recommended for beginners).  Here is the chart for the dragon on the sweater  shown below as well as the quilt made by Meg Schwemmer.  Click on the link below the picture for a view that can be enlarged and/or printed.     

Dragon knitting chart newspaper2_PDF  


My favorite knitting  project, however, have been vests and cardigans combining Aran-Isle and Jersey/Guernsey pattern stitches (simple and braided cables, antler-stitch, diamonds, honeycomb, seed stitch, hearts, etc.)     

7.  The items I have made most often, however, are raglan “hoodie” cardigans for infants.  With rare exceptions I make these in variegated yarsns–Red Heart brand  Mexicana , which has all the colors of the spectrum, a favorite–for visual appeal.  I began making these cardigans about 1970 and stopped counting how many I’d made after I’d completed 100.  Here is the pattern (source:  Woman’s Day maganie from the 1960’s):

Raglan Baby Hoodie

       hoodie_max   zora_in_hoodie 

(Left to right) Infant Maxwell Norton Dunday models (circa 2004)  sweater ade from Mexicana print yarn,  infant Zora Anne Orsborn models one (in 2016) made from Starbright  (handed down from cousin Stella Dunday),  and Zora (about 11 months old)  is wearing the 2017 Wisconsin  Eisteddfod Crown-winning Aran Isle variation with panels of braided cables, antler stitch, and honeycomb stitch

Modification by Mary Williams-Norton of a pattern originally published in Woman’s Day magazine sometime in the 1960’s.

Materials and Equipment Required:  Approximately 12 oz. knitting worsted weight yarn (Red Heart brand acrylic recommended**:  I most often use variegated (print) yarn for a more interesting effect), 6 buttons 0.5 inch to 0.75 inch diameter (I often use buttons of different colors and/or shapes); circular needle US size 4 (or 5 for a slightly larger cardigan), crochet hook size G or H, yarn needle.

Body:  (beginning at neck edge)  Cast on 77 stitches.  Row 1 (inside) K 7 (right front band), P 10(fright front), place a marker on the needle, P 11 (right sleeve), place a marker on the needle), P 21 (back), place a marker on the needle, P 11 (left sleeve), place a marker on the needle, P 10 (left front), K 7 (left  front band).

Row 2 (outside) K across row increasing one stitch on each side of each marker and slipping each marker between increases (8 stitches increased).

Row 3 K 7, P  to within 7 stitches of end of row, slipping markers, K7.
Row 4 (buttonhole row)  For boy make buttonhole in left front band by K 2 K 2 together, yarn over, K 3.  For girl do same in right front band.  Otherwise repeat row 2.  Make buttonholes every 14 rows (7 ridges in garter stitch front bands)  Otherwise repeat Row 2 (increasing 1 stitch on each side of marker.
Row 5 (and subsequent odd rows):  Repeat Row 3.
Continue until a total of 15 increase rows have been made and you are back at the beginning of the next row on the outside (Left edge).

Divide and make sleeves:  K to first marker.  Remove marker, cast on two stitches, knit across to second marker, remove it, turn to inside, cast on 2 stitches, P across to include 2 stitches cast on in previous row.  These 45 stitches are the left sleeve. (Note:  fronts, back, and other sleeve stitches remain on needle.)  Work these 45 stitches in stockinette stitch (K 1 row, P 1 row) for 38 more rows.  Next row K 2, K 2 together across row.  Then K 7 more rows for garter-stitch sleeve cuff.  Cast off stitches leaving  yarn end long enough to sew sleeve side seam.  With outside (right side) edges together, sew up sleeve side seam.  Turn sleeve right-side out and pick up 4 stitches, two on either side of seam.

K across to next marker, remove it, and create second (right) sleeve as above.  After picking up stitches as top of right sleeve on either side of seam, continue knitting to right edge.

Body of sweater:  Work 39 more rows keeping front borders in garter stitch (K every row) and rest of body in stockinette stitch, working buttonholes every 14 rows.   Row 41 (right side):  K 7 for border then K 4, K 2 together across the row to within 7 stitches of the end, K 7.  Next 7 rows K each row (bottom garter-stitch border).  Cast off.

Hood attachment row:   Work a row of double crochet from the inside of the left border to the inside of the right border along the neckline edge.

Hood:  Cast on 70 stitches.  Work in stockinette stitch for 40 rows ending with P row.  Decrease row:  K 2 K2 together across next row.  K 7 more rows to create border.  Cast off.

Finsihing:   Fold hood piece in half with fold perpendicular to cast on edge.  Sew together along cast-on edge.  Sew remaining edge (extending from one end of cast-off row of border to hood seam to the other end of cast-off border) to double crochest row along neckline.  Note:  you will probalby have to stretch the hood edge as you sew so that the neckline and hood edges will match from end to end.

Sew on buttons opposite buttonholes.  Secure with yarn needle and trim excess cast on or cast off yarn ends. 

Washing instructions:  Since this garment is for an infant, it should be made of yarn** that stands up to machine washing and drying.  Many acrylic yarns stretch when washed and must be machine dried (at low temperature setting) in order to regain their proper shape, so I recommend the following washing/drying instructions:  machine wash warm on gentle cycle, machine dry low and always machine dry if machine is used for washing.



The “Homeless”**  Sweater (Man’s Raglan Crew Neck Cardigan)
Size:  Large/Tall

Knitting Worsted weight yarn (acrylic, washable)  about 28 ounces

Needles size 3 (ribbing cuffs and neckband) and 6 (body)

Back:  Cast on 92 stitches on # 3 needles.  Work in k1, p1 ribbing for 2 inches.  Change to #6 needles.  Row 1:   k3, p1 across row.  Row 2:  k2, p1, then k3, p1across row until last two stitches, p1, k1.  Repeat pattern for “mistake stitch rib” for entire sweater.
Work until piece is 17 inches long.  Next two rows: cast off 4 stitches at beginning of rows while keeping in rib pattern (84 stitches remain).  Decrease one stitch at each edge every other row until 20 stitches remain.  Slip stitches  onto stitch holder.

Right Front (button side):  Cast on 57 stitches.  Row 1 (wrong side):  work 48 stitches in p1, k1 ribbing, then k9 (front band).  Row 2:  k9, then k1, p1 to end of row.  Repeat until piece is 2 inches long ending with wrong side row.  Next row:  k9, k3, p1.  Continue k3, p1 to end of row.  Next row:  k2, p1, then k3, p1 to within 2 stitches  of front band, p1, k1, then k9 for front band.  Contiure these last 2 rows until piece is 17 inches long.  Bind off 4 stitches on the edge opposite the front band (Cast off stitches are on the armhole side).  Continuing the rib pattern, decrease 1 stitch every other row on the armhole side until the piece measures 7 inches vertically from the cast  off stitches.  Slip 9 stitches of the front band onto a stitch holder.  decrease 1 stitch every row  on the front band edge while continuing to decrease 1 stitch every other row on the armhole side until only 1 stitch remains.  Cut off a length of yarn and slip  through that last stitch.

Left front (buttonhole side) Work as mirror image of button side except also make buttonholes in front band as follows:  When piece is 1 inch long, make first buttonhole by  working k3, k2 together, yarn over, k4. On next row in front band, k9 (including k1 in yarn over loop).  Make a buttonhole every 20 rows:  This should yield 7 buttonholes.

Sleeves (make 2):  Cast on 40 stitches on No. 3 needles.  Work in k1 p1 ribbing for 3 inches. Next row, switch to No. 6 needles and increase 1 stitch every 5 stitches.  (48 stitches total).  Next row, k3, p1 across row.  Next row k2, p1, then k3 p1 across row to last two stitches, then  k1 to end row.  Repeat these last two rows twice to establish rib pattern.  Keeping in rib pattern, increase 1 stitch at each end of every fourth row 14 times (76 stitches total).  Work back and forth on these 76 stitches until piece measure 17 inches long.  At beginning of next two rows, bind off 4 stitches.  Maintaining rib pattern, decrease 1 stitch at each edge every other row until 8 stitches remain.  Slip stitches onto a stitch holder.

Finishing and neck band:
Assembly:  Sew sleeve seams and side seams of sweater body.  Stretching as needed, sew sleeves into armhole spaces.
Neck band:   With No. 3 needle pick up 9 stitches from left front band (buttonhole band), 10 stitches from neck edge of left front, 8 stitches from left sleeve, 20 stitches from back,  8 stitches from right sleeve, 10 stitches from right front, and 9 stitches from  right front band (button band).  K across front bands and work stitches between front bands in k1 p1 ribbing.  Work 8 rows, make buttonhole in buttonhole band, then work 4 more rows.  Cast off.
Sew on buttons opposite buttonholes.

** The name “homeless sweater” came about because this sweater is a reproduction–although without dye lot variation problems–of a sweater that lasted 41+ years (with patches, mending, etc.) that we thought even the most down-and-out homeless person would not wear.  In its last years, it was allowed out in public for fear of frightening puppies, kittens, and small children.