Friday, April 24, 2015

Prayer Shawl

Here's a project I haven't shown you at all yet.

There is a family who attended our church until recently that is helping their son through cancer treatment. Of course we all have been praying for them, but someone at church suggested (strongly) to me that I should knit a prayer shawl for them. Her logic was that although she would like to do so, she can't knit. So I should make it.

I guess I couldn't argue with that.

I knew some of my raveled cashmere would be ideal. I know it's hand-wash but other than that, it is light, warm and compact. I didn't want to knit a huge thing that would be hard to carry around or take with them as they travel to another town to go to the hospital.

With that in mind, I searched for a smallish shawl. I wanted something pretty (of course), pretty but not too fussy, and preferably a crescent or semi-circle shape just because I've been intrigued by that lately. I found an option I liked and I would have to use two strands of the cashmere to get the right thickness.

Since there was lace in the pattern, I decided that I would ply the two strands together. I've done some lace with two loose strands, and I don't like how it separates in the yarn overs. So I estimated how much I would need for the shawl and plied it on my drop spindle. I turns out I ran out with only about four rows to go, plus the I-cord bindoff. But I had plenty of the yarn, it just wasn't plied. Since there was no more lace, I finished the shawl with two strands that were not plied. I can't see a difference in the stocking stitch.

Part of why I liked the pattern was its interesting construction. You start by knitting the wide border that will end up along the bottom edge of the shawl:
But as you go, you increase one stitch at one edge, but leave a stitch on the needle that you don't knit. As you go along, this gives you a whole series of stitches on the one edge. Once the border is done, you have all those stitches ready for you--you don't have to go along and pick them all up. I thought it was brilliant.

The picture above shows the border just after I finished it, and you can see the stitches on the right side all ready to go, as soon as I bind off the stitches on the needle. (I was knitting it at a Coffee Break conference at that point. I was very happy to finish the border during a break so that I could move on to the stocking stitch section for the afternoon. No more looking at charts!)

(You can tell I knit the lace while I was at the conference, at meetings and at small group because there are two places where I lost my place in the chart. It's a 16 row repeat and I either skipped from row 8 back to row 1 or skipped from row 16 to 8. So I was still following the chart, but it doesn't flow quite like it should. I didn't notice until after I had the shawl blocked! But don't worry about looking for it, there's no prize if you find it. :)

Once the border is done, you knit across all the stitches and then start some short rows from the center.
 This makes a nice crescent shape:
 Well, if you block it right. A lot of the projects on Ravelry look rather triangular and I tried to avoid that.

The shawl is finished with an eyelet row and then an I-cord bind off, which you can see very well in the first picture above.

It was a lovely knit and of course handling cashmere is always a treat. The shawl would be easy to throw over your shoulders over a shirt or sweater for a little extra warmth. Or it could be worn around the neck, either tightly wrapped or in a longer, looser loop.
I hope it wears like a hug.

Project Stats
: 31 Mar '15
Finished: 13 Apr '15
Pattern: Regina Marie by Sara Burch
Materials: Raveled cashmere, 47 grams ($3)
Finished Size: 44" point to point / 14" top to bottom centre

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cute as a Button

It wasn't done in a weekend, but the little sweater for my co-worker's child is done.

There was some drama with the dyed yarn and whether I would have enough. I ended up making the sleeves a little shorter than the pattern called for, but I think they look a little long so I'm glad.

The sweater has been waiting about a week for the buttons. Not my favourite part of the job.

But while I was sewing them on, I thought I'd show you a few tricks I've picked up over the years.

First, I use doubled thread for buttons. That's pretty common. I used to thread the needle over one strand and then knot the two cut ends together.
But that leaves you with a knot and some loose threads after the knot. Also, it means you're restricted in how close you can sew to the end of the thread because the needle is stuck in the loop and needs room to turn around.

So a better way is to thread the needle with the two cut ends and leave a loop at the other end.
 Now, when you start to sew, you can catch the loop with the needle after taking the first stitch,
 and in that way, secure the end:
Take one more anchor stitch, and you're ready to sew on the button.

When you're sewing buttons onto knits, you usually have to watch that you don't sew them down too tightly. There needs to be room behind the button for the fabric around the button hole. Otherwise, the buttons are hard to do up and the button band won't sit properly.

You can convince yourself that you will just make loose stitches, but it's hard to do. Like, it's an absolute delusion to think you can do it. The stitches will have uneven tension and it's almost impossible not to make them tighter and tighter.

So, prop a match stick (or a toothpick) between the button and the fabric after making your first stitch through the button. Continue to sew the button on over the matchstick.
Now you can pull evenly on the stitches and be sure that there will still be a space between the button and fabric.

After stitching the button securely, knot it on the backside by taking a stitch and then pulling the needle through the loop before pulling the thread tight (twice). Then remove the matchstick and pull the thread to the front side of the fabric but behind the button. Wrap the thread around the stitches a five or six times (between the button and the fabric) and then knot it again in the same way.
 Wrapping the stitches makes a sort of post for the button and reinforces the thread as well.

And with four buttons, my little sweater was finished:
I think it looks rather smart and I hope it will fit the little tyke next winter.

Project Stats
: 21 Mar '15
Finished: 28 Mar '15
Pattern: Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down (free)
Materials: 120 grams of ravelled wool, used double. The green was dyed with KoolAid.

It looks rather proud of itself here, doesn't it!

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Our church organized another group project for Easter. Each year during lent we "put away" the word "alleluia" and don't use it at all. Then on Easter we "bring it back."

Last year we each decorated letters of the word Alleluia and hung them during the service all around the sanctuary. This year we were asked to make the entire word, with whatever method we wanted and they will hang at the front of the sanctuary.

I decided to use the method I had thought about using for the last church group project: colourized pictures from our church directory. And this is what I got:

Actual size is 11x4"

I was very happy to figure out how to do this in Photoshop and am really happy with the result. I used to update the church directory so I had a bunch of old pictures on my computer. There are about 90 of them in the project (including the duplicates).

Here are the Alleluias done by others:

I always enjoy working on these group projects. I love the variety of interpretations and methods.

May I suggest?

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