Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Woolly Gift

I was soooo pleasantly surprised and very pleased with this woolly gift presented to me by a friend that had returned from England/Wales (and maybe other parts).

She said she really had to search for some wool. No one was carrying it.

I said Prince Charles is working on it.

In case you like details, this is a washable merino double knit wool from James C Brett, West Yorkshire in an unnamed but lovely shade of green. Pea green, maybe? Troy and I couldn't come up with a description.

In any case I have been enjoying planning what to do with it. I am thinking some gloves and matching cowl, or maybe hat.

Maybe this glove and hat set:

(Certainly not the cowl/wrap.) I'm in the mood for a beret or tam.

Or these gloves:

I could improvise a matching hat.

Or, final option:

(without the beads, I think)

[I've ripped all these photos from Ravelry folks. Thanks to Drops Studio, Glenna C. and Belroxsum.]

It's exceedingly fun to consider all the possibilities. There's so much potential in a ball of wool...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beading During the Game

So it wasn't that I wasn't interested in the game. And it's not that I needed to distract myself from what quickly looked to be a losing game. (Not for sure, but just likely...) But my bead box was still out from when I fixed my mom's necklace and just having it out put my mind to beading.

There were a lot of beads in there that I thought were so pretty. So pretty I couldn't resist buying them. Why was I leaving them sitting in a box? Not inspired? Insecure about liking the results? Not in the mood for stringing beads? Well, no more!

I whipped out a lot of necklaces, earrings, anklets and a ring today. Ya, I know...wow, right!?

Here we go:

1. Necklace from golden brown stones that I love:
It's meant to be worn with the clasp in front. This probably isn't "cool" anymore as I remember my older sister showing me a necklace like this years and years ago. But oh well, I like it. I love these toggle clasps by the way. So simple. So secure.

2. Simple strand of light-weight wooden beads:
These are reused from another necklace that I didn't like as much. But I really liked the beads. And several times since I had the idea to restring them, I've wanted to wear it with an outfit I had on. But I hadn't made it yet. Well, here you go, self!

It's held together with a magnetic clasp, but very insecurely. The magnet is not nearly strong enough. When I realized it, I did not have the energy to restring the whole thing. So I will live with it. Hopefully nothing's yanking on my necklace anyway.

I took a few of the extra beads, added some smaller black ones and strung them unto a stretchy cord for a ring:
I finished it with a simple square knot figuring it would be hidden inside my palm. I wore it all afternoon and it was very comfortable. I've had some of these rings that were way loose or tight, but this one seems good.

3. Another simple strand of pretty brown beads:
I found these brown beads strung on a string in my box. So I had "laid out" the necklace, put it on a string and then...? What happened? The only thing I could figure is that it came out too short and that I didn't have the energy at that time to solve the problem.

But today I did. I added some little silver spacers between each bead (I had only one extra...phew! I was a little worried at the end) and that did the trick.
The brown beads are flat and highly reflective. I found them in three different shapes: large ovals, small diamonds and small rectangles (not shown). This necklace is a touch longer than most I make which would  make it longer than a choker but not by much.

4. Red and black necklace:
Finally something different--I didn't just string some beads on a wire!

I took some extra red beads and put them on a wire with loops on each end. Then I separated them with black tube beads on wires. I put a bend in the center wire and hung some wires with various red seedbeeds on them.

I ended up with two extra red beads already on wires so I threw them on some fisherman hooks and now I have a pair of matching earrings.

5. Wooden bead necklace on leather thong:
I had a hard time doing a clasp the last time I used this leather thong so this time I just tied each end around the other string and now it is adjustable. There's enough friction with the leather that it doesn't slide unless you pull on it specifically.

6. Stone and shell necklace:
This necklace is made up of two strands. I liked the shells but couldn't quite see myself wearing a shell necklace. (Ok on a cruise, but not in my "real" life.) The other strand is made up of various stones and beads that I liked but didn't really have enough of anything to make a necklace with them.

I wanted to twist the two strands together but could not find a way to make them stay twisted.
Lucky for me, if I twist them and then do up the clasp, it stays that way. (When I unclasp it, it completely untwists again). I really love this necklace. The subtle colours, the interesting textures and shapes.

7. Two fun anklets: (Just in time for summer...oh wait...maybe not.)
The blue one is strung onto a stretchy material that clams to be "strong, stretchy, and easy to knot." The last part is completely untrue. Any knot I put in it came out with the slightest pull. I think I have it in place now with a couple of different types of knots. (A crimp bead just cuts through the stuff.)

The second one is strung on regular beading string. It was fun to do.

And that's "all." Now to figure out what outfits to wear them with...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When I am Determined, Watch Out!

I have to say there are times I'm glad I'm on my side.

It was only three days ago when I was writing about my deadline knitting and what I had to get done. Guess what...all done!

The blue lace scarf is blocking:

The pink socks have all their [many] ends worked in and are blocking:

And another project I had forgotten to write about, restringing my mom's necklace, is done:
The beads frayed the Kevlar string and caused it to break. I restrung it with nylon coated stainless steel wire and that should hold better. I tried to make it a touch longer at the same time, but I think it ended up the same length (somehow).

I'll show you some better pics of the finished objects when they're done blocking.

Meanwhile, let's be thankful I use my powers for good...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How's the Tunic Looking?

Why thanks for asking.

I think it's going well. I am above the sleeve increases and  puttering along.
My deadline knitting (previous post) is slowing progress a little, but I still work on this when I don't have the attention span to pay attention to what I'm doing.

The shape of the sweater looks a little odd because the sleeve shaping takes place so early. The sleeves are ridiculously deep and that makes the body look shorter than it is. It'll all work out; trust me.

I only have about 2.5" done on the sleeves and have 4.5" more to do before I can introduce the second colour and all the fun begins.

One detail I really like about this design is the bottom edge. It doesn't dive straight into the 3x3 rib, but first does 5 rows of 1x1 ribbing:
This gives a very smooth line across the bottom. If you started the 3x3 ribbing right away, the bottom edge would buckle and curl, but the 1x1 rib tames it nicely. It makes the garment lie better and from further away you don't really notice the shift in the ribbing. Bravo!

I picked up some Blue Sky alpaca. (Blue Sky being merely the yarn brand; it doesn't define the alpaca in any way.) It is so dreamy and soft. Quite a contrast to the scratchy "serviceable" grey wool.

I found a new group on Ravelry by the way...it's for people who like scratchy wool. I couldn't believe there were more people like me!

And for the record, I'm not talking about itchy wool--I don't like that sensation either. But there's a lot of good...what shall we say?..."rough" wool out there, and I like it!

Back to the main topic, I'll be interested in how these very different wools interact.

One thing's sure, though, I'll be glad the cowl neck is made from the alpaca. My neck is one place I do not appreciate "scratchy" wool.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Old Projects / New Projects

Even though I'm pretty good with dates, I still often have deadlines sneak up on me. And, not surprisingly, it's worse when I'm really busy like I have been lately with work. So the other day I was startled by the thought that when my mom comes to visit in a few weeks, I should have all my Christmas knitting ready to go back with her in case I don't make it home for Christmas.

So that go me to thinking, What do I have to finish for Christmas?

The first and probably most time consuming has already been finished! (And no, I'm not telling here what it is...she's probably reading.) But I do have to wrap it yet so it still gets added to the "to do" list.

The second is these hat heel socks:
I've been working on them since the middle of July. They've been my "car knitting" lately as they were easy to pick up and I knew the pattern. But I haven't had any car knitting lately. So they were languishing. When this deadline occurred to me, I started to focus on them and then they went like gangbusters!

I think I finished the second foot over an evening at small group. And then it sat in my car for a while because I had to weigh what was left to know how much I could use for the leg. When I finally dragged it all inside and got it together with the scale, I measured 25 grams left. Ok. I would knit the leg until 13 grams were left. Which I did. (I think in one evening again; these socks really are fast.)

Then I started the leg of the second foot, while not cutting the yarn. (I'm not pessimistic, I'm just cautious. And experienced.) And sure enough, the second foot was about four rows shorter! So I undid two rows of the first sock (while congratulating myself on not cutting the yarn), knit two more on the second sock. Then still ran out of yarn and had to undo one more row on each sock. Then they were even and done.

Now you know why they are attached like children's mittens in the photo. I just have to work in all the ends and these puppies will be done.

As I was considering the WIPs that I had and which had to be finished by this deadline, I remembered my blue lace scarf:
I started this scarf just because it was a nice pattern and I had the lovely blue Malabrigo lace wool. It's the perfect blue for my mother and that was always the idea in the back of my head. But she's not really a lace person (although she can certainly appreciate the work) and she didn't go crazy over it when I showed it to her. (I hope you're not too disappointed reading this, Mom!)

And then I thought of my grade school sewing teacher. I think I'll send it home with mom to give to her just as a thank you. I know she'll appreciate the work and I can't imagine the colour not really being to her taste.

I haven't worked on the scarf very steadily but I have managed to make progress. It goes a lot faster now that I've found my way in the pattern. I wrapped it around my neck tonight and I think it's just about long enough to hang around your neck and fill in the "crack" of your coat collar and that empty V above your buttons.

I looked at the pattern and it instructs you to make the scarf 68" long. That seems crazy long. I have about 35" right now:
and I think that's just about enough. I'll finish with the border soon and then block it. That will make it look a lot better, I assure you.

This lace weight wool is really lovely. (I know, I say that about a lot of wool!) It's very soft and as plush as string that thin can be.

While I love finishing projects, it usually frees me to think about starting other projects...

I follow a group on Ravelry called Obscuriousity. The group's goal is to promote great but obscure patterns. Their definition of obscure is fewer than 50 projects on Ravelry, older than 6 months and readily available. It's been a fun way to check out patterns that don't have a large "band wagon" to jump onto. (You know I'm really not into trends, right. Sometimes to my own detriment, but there you have it.)

I'm technically a member, but since I've only been lurking so far it's more "following" than "participating." Until now. Each round (usually 2-3 months) they run a sophisticated nomination process and I have occasionally voted my admiration of a pattern, but never a commitment to make it.

Well, this round, they just may have gotten me! I really like this sweater:
from Drops Design. I really like the style. Simple but not  boring. Feminine but not too girly or fussy.

And I voted for it. Not a vote for "I like this" but a vote for "if this wins, I will make this." (Not that they have police for this or anything.)

The second and final round of voting ended today and it looks like this pattern won. Now I feel obligated!! With a 2-3 month time frame I still have time to decide. (And the group actually does not enforce end dates at all. It's a very "whatever you like" sort of group.) I don't really need another project, but I don't have a KAL going currently and would enjoy the company. And I could time it so that I could make it for NaKniSweMo in November.

I'm thinking of going with the called-for yarn instead of finding a substitute at Red Purl (still deciding though). One advantage of this yarn is all the colours available. Check them out here (scroll down just a bit) and let me know if you think any of them especially suit me. (Nothing too dark, please.) Aren't all those delightful options just intoxicating?! I love options.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Comfort Knitting

I worked a lot of hours this week, and one night when I came home, tired and drained, I told Troy I was eating Captain Crunch cereal and KoolAid for dinner. He nodded understandingly and said, "Comfort food."

I thought of that yesterday as I started to feel bad in the afternoon and evening. I sat on the couch watching college football (Welcome back!) wishing for some knitting that I didn't have.

The summit scarf is going well, I am making progress. But it had too many short rows and things to keep track of. Plus I couldn't watch TV while doing it.

The socks I'm doing were in the car and I wasn't about to go get them. (Don't mock me! I wasn't feeling good.) Plus they were at a point I had to think about them; it wasn't just knitting round and round.)

The lace scarf was definitely too much to handle.

And then I realized: I need comfort knitting. Some straight stocking stitch in a wool I enjoyed. Rows long enough that I could knit for a while before I had to turn around. Pieces big enough that I would be knitting for a while before I had to think about things like shaping.

Lucky for me I had prepared for this situation. Just on Friday night actually, I took a fresh look through the Ravelry database for a tunic pattern for this wool:
that I raveled from this sweater from Goodwill:

I wasn't sure what I wanted in a pattern, but there were a lot of patterns I knew I didn't want. I've been looking for at least six months and had never really found anything. (I found one pattern I liked, but all the examples on Ravelry didn't really fit right, so I didn't bother with it.) And then, boom!, on Friday I found two. Maybe it's their new pattern search function. Maybe I just hadn't noticed these. Or, maybe it was because I thought this wool was a bulky weight and when I finally swatched it earlier in the week, it turned out it's more like a DK weight. Different pattern set for that--big difference!

In any case, this afternoon, I cast on for this sweater by Just call me Ruby. (The pattern is published on Knitting on the Net.) I'll be shopping at Red Purl for some white or off-white to do the colourwork. (Might be the Rowan BFL that I made Troy's sweater out of. We'll see.)

My favourite part? The "turtleneck" is actually cowl. It's a separate piece and you can wear it or not based on the weather. Look at the pattern for a picture of the sweater's actual boatneck. It's nice!

And it worked: I felt comforted. Now, however, I'm wondering if I'm crazy to start another project. But how could I tell myself no? I was all pathetic laying on the couch...giving myself those puppy eyes. Please?

By the way, my new pillow was wonderful to use as I was sitting on the couch. So comfy on my back, and I'm still loving it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Finished Project and a New Idea


Guess what I did today! I just had to finish it. I quilted the second yellow block to match the other one, cut some blue strips to make a non-piped trim, bordered it with red and quilted the border. Sewed the front to the back on 3-1/2 sides, stuffed the pillow in, and sewed it shut old-school style.

I really like the blue trim
to set off the center squares from the border.
I hope it converts any non-believers that the blue binding is going to work on the quilt itself. I love it.

I think you can see some of the border quilting here:
Just a meandering path around some of the shapes in the fabric print. Once again, a lot of fun!

And I did one more thing this morning:
Did I fool you?? This isn't actually on the quilt. I made another sample block,
to try red thread on the yellow square.

I still really liked the quilting pattern itself, but I just could see doing it if it was yellow on yellow and you couldn't see any of the quilting. What's the point of that? So I had to try it in red. I think it will really tie into the red squares a lot more this way. Leave a comment and let me know what you think either way. (No poll this time, but I'd like to hear what you think: red or yellow...why?)
It's been pretty exciting to make so much progress on a quilt in so little time. My quilts tend to sit for years between stages. Go, me!

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