Posted by: jinniver | April 17, 2009

Wearing your heart on your sleeve (and your art on your shirt)

Edit:  Want the instructions in a easily downloadable .pdf?  It’s now available below!

I don’t want to brag…

Aw, who am I kidding?  I’m rather chuffed with myself right now…so I’m gonna brag a bit.  Sorry.

I don’t remember exactly where or when I saw it, but my brain made the following note:  “Seriously cute!  And quite appropriate for me considering my blog title.  Bet I could make one of those…”  Then I moved on and mostly forgot about it.  Apparently things were still percolating in the back of my brain, though, because two days ago I found myself buying a strange combination of supplies and casting 20 stitches on fingering weight yarn on some US1.5 needles.  Tonight I finished all the gluing, and voila!

WIP pin (2)

A Work in Progress to wear!  How apropos, no?

The pin was surprisingly simple–the hardest parts were a) figuring out how many stitches to cast on (my first try was much too big) and b) keeping the knitting from curling while still keep it soft–because I wanted to keep the feel of this beautiful yarn as well as the look.

The supply list is surprisingly short:

  • fingering weight yarn, scraps (I used Three Irish GirlsKells Sport Merino in Azalea Orchid)
  • small DPNs (I used US1.5 for stitches large enough to easily slip on the toothpicks and for the look of the knitted fabric)
  • toothpicks
  • furniture repair markers (those markers that fill in the scratches in a furniture’s finish) – optional
  • beads (your choice of size, as long as the hole is the right size to get the toothpick tips in them securely)
  • multi-purpose craft glue (must bond to metal, wood, fabric)
  • pin backing
  • thin wire – optional

First, I had to figure out what I wanted my knitted WIP to look like.  As I mentioned, the first try was frogged because it was too big; so was my second.  Third time was the charm; I cast on just 20 stitches and opted to knit the first three rows in seed stitch to minimize curling.  I was going to use 1×1 ribbing, but I’ve always liked the look of seed stitch…it’s just that it’s a pain to do when you’re a thrower.  But with only 20 stitches, that wasn’t much seed stitching.

Then I just started knitting in stockinette.  The next decision was how long I wanted my WIP, and that turned out to be just a case of eyeballing it compared to the toothpicks I was going to use as miniature needles, so that the whole thing was in proportion and wasn’t too big.  I liked it at about 1 1/2″.  Then I knit just half of the next row.  I cut a long tail, and wrapped it to look a bit like a mini skein, knotted that, and sewed it to the front of the WIP with the end of the tail and a tapestry needle.

In the meantime, I’d prepared my miniature “needles.”  I started by staining the toothpicks with the furniture repair markers.  I’d bought a set with 3 shades of brown, and for these needles I used the medium brown, which has some red in it.  You don’t have to change the toothpick color, but I think it gives a more finished look.  Then I glued the beads (I chose glass pearl beads in a light pink) on one end of the toothpicks.

Now here’s why I used DPNs (vice straight needles, or even circs): I needed to slip the stitches off so they were oriented properly on the mini needles, and the easiest way to do that was off the back of the DPNs.  The toothpicks aren’t perfectly smooth; I could have sanded them, but they were smooth enough for me to get the stitches on them.  Then I glued the toothpicks together in a crossed position, as well as tacking down the last stitch on each needle (just in case).  The last step was to glue the pin backing onto the back of the WIP.

WIP pin (3)

At least, that was supposed to be the last step.  Unfortunately, there was still too much curl to my little WIP.  Fortunately, I had some wire (for a different project I hope I’ll be telling you about soon), so I cut 2 pieces just a bit shorter than the WIP and glued them to the back, just inside the first and last stitch (which do naturally curl around the back.  Between the glue and the wire, the WIP now hangs nice and straight.

And now I can share my art (and my prediliction to leave things undone!) with the world…and you can too!  Download the pattern here or ravel it!

WIP pin (1)



  1. I faved this on ravelry. I think it’s such a great idea! Now kinda curious about the wire…


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