Sunday, July 25, 2010

County Fair Entries

I hope you've all been preparing your county fair entries, either for the Cass County Fair or your own local fair. Many have already taken place, and I am getting ready for mine which starts next week (Aug 2).

Last night I printed and filled out the Entry Form and then pulled out everything I wanted to enter. I had in my head that there would be more, but the final number was 11 entries, one more than last year. They are:

1. Raffle Quilt Block: New York Beauty

Click on any picture to embiggen it.
2.Pieced wall hanging (less than 45"x45"): Crossed Canoes on a Starry Night

3. Cardigan or coat: Whistler
I hope they'll not quibble about whether this is a "coat" or not. I don't know if they're strict about it needing a front opening. Or maybe my partial opening on the front will count.

Or maybe they'll be so dazzled they would give it the blue ribbon in any category I put it in...ok, just kidding, but I can dream.

4. Pullover-adult: Troy's Woven Cables Sweater

5. Blouse: Purple Mohair T

I think "blouse" is kind of an odd knitting category, but I'm pretty sure if this purple confection doesn't fit the bill, nothing will!

6. Vest or shell: Deep V Argyle Vest

I'm slightly worried about the look of the deep V neckline. I think it looks great when being worn, but it makes the garment look a little funny sitting flat. ::throws up hands:: We'll see.

7. Holiday ornament-knitted or crocheted: Easter Eggs
I'm not sure if they want me to just pick one ornament, but how could I chose? I'll submit them all as a group and just see what happens.

8. Knitted afghan larger than 36"x48": Red Purl KAL afghan

9. Colour Photography-Still Life: Symmetry of Trusses I
I took this picture last summer while we were still putting up the roof trusses on Troy's shop. I have always been fascinated by the repetitive pattern roof trusses make.

It seems every year I have a bunch of pictures to put in the still life category and almost none for any of the other categories (landscape, seascape, abstract, animals, head or figure, birds). It's sometimes hard to chose which one is the one!

10. Colour Photography-Head or Figure: Grandmas are Best
I took this one when the entire family went to the Dominican Republic a year and a half ago. I've always liked it, and finally decided it is enough "more than a snapshot" to submit.

At least it's a more serious entry than last year's [at the bottom of that post].

And I should note both photographs are framed, but you'll have to wait for the county fair results post to see them.

11. And finally, the always troublesome "Knitted-Any other knitted article not listed." I mean, that could be anything!

Here are the options I'm thinking about this year.
a. Belinda Shawl
b. VHS Tape Tote
c. Firestarter Socks

a. This is the most impressive of the three. But it's also the one I need to hang at Red Purl for the club I'm promoting. I'm thinking I'll save it for next year instead.

b. I really like to push the boundaries with entries like these. The last two years I have submitted crocheted plarn bags and I got 3rd and 2nd when I think there were no other entries. (They don't display by category so it's hard to know for sure, but I think so.) So, bottom line, I don't think the judges like my plarn items. But, I'm not in this just for the ribbons, so I might submit this one anyway.

c. Still can't believe there is no sock category. Socks have been a craze for about 10 years now. Cut the blouse category (who knits a blouse!) and put in a sock category already! So the socks end up in the miscellaneous category going up against all other crazy things. Doesn't seem right.

So why don't you help me out? Please vote on this poll:

That's what I've got going for this year's fair. I've shown you mine, now you show me yours!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Bewitching Belinda

Yes, my Belinda shawl is done!

I took it over to Red Purl this evening and was able to snap a few ok, a lot of pics! The shawl also received its fair share of ohhhs and ahhhhs. (Thanks again, ladies.)

Amy also likes to have new knits on the dress forms. I'm happy to oblige. I told her I had to have it back for the fair, but now I'm considering leaving it til next year. I think I probably have enough things to enter this year without it. (And I can only put one item in the miscellaneous category.)

I got the shawl blocking Tuesday. Looks about the same as last time, doesn't it. But there is a second layer under there. It was a little harder to block as I had to make sure both layers were stretched out. Not surprisingly, they were slack in opposite directions and it meant a lot of pulling. This is probably the most aggressive I've been blocking anything. It was really stretched out. But it can take it; and using the blocking wires helps to spread the stress around.

The result was even better than I hoped for. I didn't exactly pick up every single stitch on the edge, so I was worried it may come out wavy or ripply on the edge. But no, it was great (Yeah!) and the edges looked crisp and clean.

Gratuitous picture just because I can't resist.

This pin is available for sale at Red Purl and made a nice combination display with my shawl. (Pins need something to hold together to look good; they look rather pointless sitting on a counter, if you ask me. Give 'em something to do! I say.)
It's sterling silver and looks really lovely on the shawl. Just a little out of my current discretionary spending range. :(

Another thing I can't resist are these "see through" pictures. I find the left particularly demonstrative of the faux plaid pattern, but they're both nice.

Are you curious what it looks like the other way round? (I did, after all, make it with the right side facing out both ways.)
Project Stats
: 27 Apr '10
Finished: 14 Jul '10
Pattern: Belinda by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines (library copy)
Materials: Fleece Artist Mini Kid (mohair/nylon), 2 skeins ($50.35)
I don't see the plaid illusion so much this way; it seems more like the lighter pooling colours just give a general glow through the purple. I really like the vertical ribs on this side that run contrary to the length of the shawl. Having both sides really gives some nice options!

And now the scoop on the Belinda Club. Amy and I have nailed down the dates and some other details.

There will be 4 meetings of 1-1.5 hours each on Thursday evenings: Aug 19, Sep 9, Sep 30, and Oct 21 at 6:00 pm.
The cost is $40 plus materials and book, Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines.
Only experience needed is cast on, knit, purl.

Description – A “club”…not quite a class, more than a knit-a-long. This beautiful shawl is fairly simple to make, but may require some cheerleading to get it done! I’ll bring tips from my experience, problem solving skills if you run into trouble, and we can spend time together just knitting and pushing each other forward. I’d suggest strongly contrasting colors to really bring out the effect of this two-layer shawl. (Note: the store sample was done as a color-pooling shawl. I will be happy to share my experience with the color pooling, but this is not a color pooling class. I do not recommend trying it unless you feel able enough to do it on your own.)

If you would like to sign up, talk to Amy at Red Purl. I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun together!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Here Kittie Kittie

Look what I found on the post when I visited Red Purl tonight! I think it's great fabulous!!

That's some amazing popcorn stitching there.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What to Knit While You're Camping

Turns out this summer has brought a lot of special events (like 50th birthday parties) (not mine!) and life changes (like a new job) and I haven't been able to knit like I usually do. I'm really hoping this will sort itself out soon and I'll be back to old form but meanwhile I'm keeping it simple (and small) over the summer.

When I was packing for a camping trip in Ontario last week, I was looking forward to hours and hours of driving time in which to knit. First thing I worked on was the Belinda shawl--the one item I was determined not to take. I mean who takes a mohair shawl on a camping trip? But, remember, I was very determined to finish it as well, and was so close I couldn't help but throw it in the car. I finished it in the first couple hours of driving. (Yeah!) I got it blocking tonight and will write more on that later this week. (That's the plan.)

The next thing I packed to take was the cotton cloth project I've been working on this summer. I don't think I've written of it yet, but it was something I decided to do over the summer. (Part of the "keeping it simple" plan.)

I've raveled cotton three sweaters: a powder blue, a soft lavender and a perfect red. The blue and lavender look lovely together and I've knit several designs based on a maple leaf:
To make the pattern I figured out what my gauge was and that I wanted the cloth to be 45 stitches by 60 rows. Then I overlayed a clipart of a maple leaf over a square grid representing that gauge. I then transformed the smooth lines of the clipart to "blocky lines" on the grid. After knitting the first leaf, I made a few changes to adjust for "real world" knitting and am pretty happy with the result now.

I'll be playing with some bleach on these blocks when I have enough to work with. If I like them, they may turn into a blanket or wall art; if I don't like them, they may become wash clothes or dishrags!

At the campout itself, I worked on some solid stocking stitch squares. The plan is to bleach the maple leaf onto these ones. And they were ideal for knitting outside as I didn't have to follow a chart. Nice and easy.
Being cotton was a good thing too, as I can wash out the campfire smoke smell!

On the way home, I finished the plain squares and I realized I left my charts at the campsite and couldn't make any more maple leaves.

So I cast on the last project I brought with me. Another pair of hat-heel socks out of a bright fuschia yarn:
I left this pattern with my charts so I didn't get very far. (Ok, so yes this is my third time, but I don't have it memorized yet!) About this time, Troy asked me to drive so it worked out alright anyway.

And now I've been home for two days and haven't knit a stitch. Not good!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


In what I might call these dog days of summer (because it is hotI have been doggedly determined to finish my Belinda shawl.

Of course, I had the first half done. The hard half as far as trying to make all those colours line up. I was looking forward to working with a solid colour and not having to worry about that anymore. (And it's been great--I haven't had to tink back a row even once!)

What I wasn't looking forward to was those long long rows that are necessary to make the pattern perpendicular to the first piece. But after finishing half of the second layer, it isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be! (It does help to be doggedly determined, though.)
The rows for this second half have 208 stitches (compared to about 66 for the first) and when I realized that wasn't any more than many sweaters in the round need, I stopped worrying about it. It's not that many stitches, and just covers a long distance because of the large gauge.

Alright! Ready for some mock ups of how it's going to look? Here it is lying on a solid background (as it will across my back):

And now a couple shots held in front of a window so you can imagine what it might look like with nothing behind it (as the part hanging off my arm will look):

So far it definitely looks like it works better with the dark colour on the bottom. When it's on top, it just dominates the shawl and the other colours have a hard time showing through.

I started the second half last Saturday (the 3rd), and was really determined to have it done by this Friday. I can't remember why now though. Hopefully there wasn't an important reason I'm forgetting!

I did want to get it done soon, however, so I can hang it at Red Purl to promote the club I'll be leading on this shawl. No firm details yet but it looks like we'll meet four times over about three months, starting mid or late August. I'll let you know when Amy and I work out the knitty gritty.

Meanwhile, I am knitting two together and double yarning over like my life depends on it!! Despite the heat, I am still loving working with this mohair yarn. It's really nice...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Firestarters Finished

It's been a while, but I've finished a project!

These socks have been going on in the background of other projects. I love them very much, but they are still intended as a Christmas gift. (Can you imagine I am that far ahead!?)

The pattern was a very nice design from Marjan Hammink, aka Yarnissima. Her aim is to make designs that allow designer yarn to shine. ("Great yarn deserves a great pattern.") And I'd say she's done a good job of it.

I love the subtle shading of this wool/nylon yarn; it changes from pink to grey but manages to give a nice overall impression instead of looking like a jumble of different colours.

The pattern itself combines side cables with a plain foot and ribbed leg:
Yarnissima uses twisted knit stitches to really make the cable and rib patterns pop right off the surface.

The pattern started with a short-row toe (my first). It yields a nice rounded shape with a smooth finish.
There are no ridges from increases and decreases, just a little "hiccup" where the short rows end and are picked up again:
This toe is the closest you'll find to a commercial sock toe. (Think the ones with a seam across the top.) They have a seam because they've taken the bottom stitches, continued them up and around the toe, and then seamed them to the top stitches. Project Stats
: 5 Feb '10
Finished: 2 Jul '10
Pattern: Firestarter by Yarnissima (free)
Materials: Pagewood Farm St Elias in Butterfly, $26.75
(Hand knit socks would have a Kitchener seam instead of a sewn seam which would make them perfectly smooth.)

But as I said, these were started at the toe, and that makes them a little different. You cast on half the stitches you need with a provisional cast on, knit up and over the toe (using short rows to shape) and then pick up the stitches off of the provisional cast on. Presto! That gives you the number of stitches that you need, and you start knitting the foot.

From the sample of patterns I've seen, Yarnissima favours unusual gussets. This sock has a reverse stocking stitch panel with increases along one edge. This creates the wedge you see below and provides all the increases you need:
The ribs of side cables are separated to run along either side of the gusset panel and then join up again with a little twist at the top. Besides being pretty, this mini-cable also serves to eliminate the common problem of a hole where the front and back join after the heel. Very clever, Yarnissima!

The heel used a slip stitch pattern which transforms smoothly into the twisted rib.
The slip stitch results in two layers of yarn at the heel which helps it stand up to the heavy wear it usually sees. It also makes the reverse side very smooth against your skin.

After the heel, the side cables resume and an all-over twisted rib pattern is added. Once again I changed needle sizes as I went up the leg, increasing twice to make the sock fit better.
All in all a nice looking pattern that was fun to do. A little work at the beginning before I caught on to the cable pattern (like usual) but once that was memorized, or became logical, the socks were a very interesting portable project for me. What more could I ask for?

I did struggle with some elbow and wrist issues during the second sock if I knit on it for too long. 2.25 mm (US size 1) needles are very very tiny! and there's only so long I could work on them comfortably. But that's why I started them so early. No arm-numbing knitting marathons in December for me!!

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...