Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From Pause to Present


Super Bulky Clown Colored Glory

I was really hoping that my first project from handspun would be some delicate gorgeous something-or-other, but instead, here it is in it's Super Bulky Clown Colored Glory.

I started learning to spin using a drop spindle in March of this year after purchasing a Trindle. I watched some YouTube videos to help me learn what to do, and that's probably why Kelie has asked me why I spin left-handed - ha! Hey - at this point it feels right to me, and it seems to be working, so left-handed it will be.


Day 1 from pencil roving


Day 3:  Looking Better



The first fiber I had to practice with was some 100% wool Schoppel Wolle Roving Ombre in colorway 906 Multi that I won at Stitches.  The pack contained a 50g braid, and a 50g skein of pencil roving.  At first, I thought you could draft off the pencil roving skein without having to break off sections of fiber.  That obviously was way wrong.  So I put the pencil roving away and started working from sections of the braided fiber and started to get better.  I remember when I finally drafted AND had the spindle spinning at the same time - woohoo!!!  So I kept at it for a few days, and then admit that I lost interest and put it on Pause.  It wasn't looking that great. 

Practice and good roving makes a lot of difference!

Then in June, I heard about the Tour de Fleece event on Ravelry.  In this spin-along, participants were supposed to spin each day of the Tour de France competition.  I thought this would be a great way to get some consistent practice in.  I went to the LYS and purchased some Artistic Fibers roving in 50/50 Alpaca/Silk that was wonderfully soft.  I kept up with the Tour for 9 days, and then ironically tripped over my husband's bike in our garage and hurt my left wrist (elbow, hip, knee...)  That ended the Tour de Fleece for me as I needed to let my wrist heal for a while. 

This month, I've been posessed by the need to finish up some projects (love it when that feeling hits!) and I started working on this roving again, and now have half of the 4oz braid spun.  I'm slow, but happy with the results.

On Monday, I was cleaning up some project bags, and found my first spinning efforts.  I decided it was good practice, but unusable, and threw it all away - braid, pencil roving, and the fiber I had spun.  Then as an afterthought I pulled the pencil roving back out of the trash, thinking it would be fun to spin it without any drafting to make a thick 2-ply yarn.


2-Ply Super Bulky from Pencil Roving

That night, after emptying my spindle, I spun the 42g of remaining clown colored pencil roving, and then plied it.  It only took 45 minutes from start to finish, and I ended up with about 19 yards of decent looking super bulky yarn (wpi = 4).

Penguin and Alpaca House
Yesterday, I knit it into a small purse for my neice using size 13 needles, and used pretty much every inch of the 19 yards.  I figure she can appreciate the bright colors.  I had purchased two cute finger puppets at the Vista Fiber Fiesta for her, and this purse makes a perfect home for them.  I'm going to send them off to her today  :-)


Now I'll go back to spinning my pretty alpaca/silk roving, and when I make something out of it, it will be a delicate gorgeous something-or-other.

Cheers-









Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sometimes I Am So Freaking Smart

I finished my iPhone purse today - yay!!!  What I had left to do was the twisted cable purse strap.  Since it was something I haven't talked about before, thought I'd take some photos along the way.

I read somewhere that you should start with a length of yarn about 4 times as long as the final twisted cord you want to end up with.  Now I wasn't sure if that included the initial fold or not so I decided to err on the make-it-too-long side.  I wanted my strap to be about 40" long, so I measured out 160" of yarn, folded the yarn on itself at that point, and then pulled off enough yarn to get back to the other end.  At this point, I have a double thickness of yarn, 160" long.  It seems really too long, but better that than the alternative.

Next, as I wanted to bling it up at bit, I strung 06/0 beads onto one of the strands of yarn, and spread them out so that they were spaced every 1-1/2 to 2" as shown above. 

Now it's time to start twisting.  I slipped the folded end over the leg of an inverted table so I would have something to twist against.  Then I tied a knot in the opposite end to hold the two ends together.  Stuck my finger in there, started twisting, and then had a total brainstorm.

Why not let the skeiner do the twisting???!!!  So I skootched the whole setup over toward my electric vertical skeiner and clipped the knotted end onto one of the arms.  Then I pulled the table back away from the skeiner until the yarn was not dragging on the floor.  Turned on the skeiner, et voila!




I can't even begin to guess how much arm fatigue this saved me!  I let the skeiner run for a while, checking the results periodically until I decided it was tightly twisted enough. 

Now it is time to let the cord twist back on itself, much like plying handspun yarn.  Because it was still longer than my armspan, I had Mr. Wendy help me hold the twisted cord tight while we folded it in half and let it twist together.

At this point, the cord was twice as long as I needed it to be.  I guess that original estimation of starting out with 4 times the length includes the intial fold.  So I thought what the heck - lets try twisting and folding it again. By gosh - it worked!

To finish the cord, I tied a knot in the unfolded end to keep it from coming untwisted, and trimmed the uneven ends.  Then, using thread and needle, I sewed the cord into my purse.  I'm pretty darned happy with the results!



Friday, October 14, 2011

Houston We Have Pocket!

So I got really tired of knitting the plain Stockinette lining of my Leftober iPhone Purse, and decided to take a shot at the pocket!  It's sort of the same ailment that causes us to start multiple projects at once, only I work on multiple parts of the same project at once.  I'm well known in my own mind for multi-tasking to the point of complete non-productivity.

I did this pocket completely ass backwards.  Normally when you make an inset pocket, you first knit the flap that becomes the lining of the pocket, and you leave the stitches at the top of the flap live.  Then you work the outside of the piece, and you pass over each edge of the lining flap, you grab a purl bump on the flap selvage and knit it into the outside piece.  It's very neat and tidy looking.  Then when you reach the top of the flap, you bind off the stitches on the outside piece as you work your way across, and the live flap stitches are substituted into the main piece.  OK - that was probably confusing...

Since I had already knit the outside of the purse, I had to knit the pocket onto the outside of it.  So, I picked up stitches going through the fabric to form the "seam" where the bottom of the pocket connects to the purse.  This was fiddly, but successful - it really looks invisible.  Then I knit the pocket back and forth, and on the RS rows I knit the pocket stitch together with an outside stitch from the purse.  This looks OK, but isn't as neat as it would have looked if I had done it correctly.  I added some ribbing rows at the top of the pocket to help it stay closed, and to prevent it from rolling.  As you can see, the size is perfect for me to coil my earbuds into - yay!

I've been asked to write this pattern, and when I do, I'll write the pocket part as if I did it correctly  :-)

Now back to the boring Stockinette.  Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Left-Ober Project

Our Ravelry group tries every year to pay respectful hommage to the cherished month of Socktober by doing something fun and out of the ordinary.  In 2009, we had a mini-sock exchange, in which 72 knitters from the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia sent itty bitty socks to their swap partners. 

In 2010, we truly showed loved to our WIP sock projects by having a Second Sock KAL.  In this event, over 40 pairs of unfinished socks were finished, and single socks around the world rejoiced at finding their perfect mate.

This year, we've decided to try to reduce our sock yarn stash by declaring this month to be Left-ober.  We've started a KAL thread in the Ravely discussion group, and all you have to do to play along is make something out of leftober sock yarn.  We all have some!

So far, we've seen our knitters create a beautiful and original beaded/knitted necklace, an adorable mini-sweater ornament, and a pair of cute baby socks.  Many other leftober projects are on the sticks, including mine which I'll tell you about.

Since I got my iPhone in February, I've been wanting a little purse to carry it in.  Sometimes, when I want to listen to music or an audiobook, I don't have on garments with a pocket to put the phone in and that annoys me.  So my thought was to knit a little iPhone purse, that is big enough for the phone, the earbuds, and maybe a few other little purse items.  It would need to have a long handle to wear over my neck so that the purse hangs against my chest or on my side in messenger-bag style.  I thought it should be double knit  or two-layered for strength.  Ideally it could have an external pocket that the earbuds could go in when they aren't in use so that they don't get all wrapped around everything else inside the purse.  For a secure closure, I thought a flex-frame would be perfect.  You know - the metal thingies you squeeze from the sides to open the purse.  Then when you let go, it snaps back shut.

This has become my Left-ober project.  The yarn I'm using is some Pace Step, leftober from a Think Outside the Sox contest entry from 2008.  The purse is a rectangle - I cast the bottom edge on using Judy's Magic Cast On.  Basically, the purse is knitted as a tube - and to make it pretty, I stole the beaded Social Butterfly motif from my Mystery Sock I pattern.    I knit the tube to be long enough to hold the phone plus extra length to cover the flex-frame and a little extra margin - just cuz.  Then, I did a picot turn row, and am now working the inside half of the tube.  Not only will the second half of the tube turn inside to create strength, but it will also create the casing for the flex frame.

The photos show my progress to date - I'm about an inch into the inside part of the tube.  It's super monotonous stockinette stitch at this point.  I've also shown a photo of what the picot edge will look like when turned to the inside - love those cute little girlie edges! 

When I reach the desired length of my tube, I'll insert the flex frame and then kitchener the end closed.  I probably ought to put the external pocket on before I sew it shut in case I need to stick my hands inside the tube.  Then I'll sew or perhaps crochet a seam just below the flex frame that joins the two layers to create the casing.  I-cord handle?  Hmmmm?  Sounds like I'll be hashing out those details as I go...  future posts!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Great Knitting Day!

Today I had three excellent knitting experiences, so I thought I'd share :-)

First, I attended a meeting of the local TKGA Chapter today for the first time. Why did I wait so long? Well - back when I first knew about the chapter, I couldn't attend the weekday meetings because I had one of those pesky corporate jobs. Then, three or so years ago when I stepped away from the corporate world - I just plain forgot about the chapter. Last weekend when we were at Vogue Live, a couple of the members introduced themselves to us at our booth, and asked me why I'm not a member. I had no good answer for that at all, so Voila! Today I am a new member.

Second, I picked a great meeting to attend for a first timer. This is a very large chapter with over 200 members, and they have monthly meetings that are well planned and include great program speakers. Today's speaker was Barry Klein, owner of Trendsetter Yarns. Mr. Klein and his mother started Trendsetter 24 years ago, and their products feature many, many interesting yarns in all sorts of textures, weights, materials, and colors. He gave a very interesting talk on how different types of yarns are milled, dyed, and plied, and had slides showing production equipment from the mills they use in Italy. I was particularly interested to see the methods the mills use to dye variegated yarns at commercial scale - one method uses lots of syringes to inject dye right into cones of undyed yarn! Crazy stuff :-) I got up the nerve to introduce myself to Mr. Klein after his talk - after all, we did hang out across the aisle from him at the booth featuring his yarns at Vogue Live.

The third awesomeness of my day is that I finished knitting my Siesta sweater while I was attending the TKGA meeting - YAY!!!!! As you may have heard me mention on the podcast, I decided to make it long and use up all the yarn I bought. So... I did a calculation to estimate how much yarn I would need for the icord bindoff, and wound that off the outside of my last ball of yarn to hold in reserve while I knit the sweater as far as it would go from the inside end of my ball of yarn. The result is that the only yarn I have leftover is the teeny tiny ball shown above - love that!!! The sweater fits great and is flattering - the photo here doesn't show it off very well. It's somewhere between long-tunic and short-dress in length, and I look forward to wearing it with leggings.  After I block it (just a bit to help the icord edgings lay flat) I'll post a modelled photo :-)

So that's my great knitting day so far!

Cheers-

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blocked!!!

Ta Da!!!!  The shawlette is finished and blocked!  I'm very pleased with the results - the shawlette is in the cresent shape I was shooting for, and the scalloped edge looks really pretty  :-) 


The shawlette is about 14" wide at the center, and has a 56" wingspan.  Perfect for wrapping around necks, shoulders, or heads.  I used all but about 32 yards of the yarn in my Sock-aholic skein, so I'm pleased with my efficient yarn planning, too!

Here's what it looked like before blocking - reminds me of the Potato Chip Scarf - ha!


I'll get the kits released as soon as possible.  Now that I know it all works, I need to finalize the pattern, and have Mr. Wendy help take photos and make some videos.  Stay tuned for the Seaside Shawl coming soon!

Cheers-

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Thorny Situation

So yesterday I probably could have finished the new shawl.  I've completed the body rows and am working on the border.  The problem is I decided to do some yardwork - perhaps you've heard me whine about pruning the dwarf palm trees before.

The palms are quite pretty and border the back fence of our yard.  When we moved in, they were young and each of them had one main trunk.  In the 9 (wow - can it be 9?) years that we have lived here, the darned things have only gotten to be about 6 feet tall, but have expanded in circumference significantly by splitting off to have multiple trunks.  More trunks means more pruning.  As the fronds age, they turn yellow, then brown just like leaves on any other tree.  Pruining is required to clean off the old fronds periodically, and I always put it off as long as I can.  Why?  Nasty Thorns.  In the picture above, you can see an example of the thorns that grow at the base of these otherwise peaceful looking fronds that innocently wave in the ocean breeze.  They are long, they are strong, and they are surgically sharp.  They regularly pierce through my rubber coated gardening gloves as I prune, forcing me to use language that makes even the neighbor's dog blush.  And, as if frequent stabbing wasn't enough punishment for trying to do a good deed, these thorns also seem to contain some sort of toxin or irritant that causes the knuckle joints in my hands to swell and ache.  This happens every time I prune these trees, and I never seem to learn.  Next weekend when I finish pruning the half that are left to be sheared, I'm going to try Mr. Wendy's leather gloves.  If that doesn't work, I'll have to see if I can find a suit of armor on Ebay.  

This morning I am still picking bits of thorn tips out of my hands.  The worst injury was a thorn that stabbed under the fingernail on my right index finger, and then left a quarter-inch thorn tip under there.  Had yesterday been a weekday I probably would have had the doctor dig it out under local anesthesia, but instead I took matters into my own hands, literally, and extracted it myself using a needle and strategically gritted teeth.  Needless to say, my hands were too achy to knit or type much yesterday, and I spent the rest of the day watching TV and playing Words With Friends.

So here's what the shawlette looks like now - too funny looking, huh?!  I completed the body rows that are worked flat and lengthwise.  The number of stitches had increased toward the end to the point where I couldn't see what the thing was going to look like since it was all bunched up on the needle cable.  Then to start the border, I picked up stitches on the sides and cast on edge, and am knitting the the border in the round.  It's mostly a garter stitch border to keep the edge from rolling, but there is eyelet detail along the scalloped lower edge of the border which should be cute.  I have either two or four more rounds to do before I bind off - depending on how the yarn supply holds out.  I've been monitoring it by weight as I've worked, and at this point, it appears I'll have enough yarn to complete the four rows I would like to do before BO, but that could be cutting the yardage really short.  I'll work two rows, and then make the executive decision as to whether I can squeeze in two more at that point.  I like to use up as much of the yarn as I can, but I don't want to make it so close that some people might run out before they finish due to personal gauge differences.

Wish me luck - my next post should show the blocking in process!

Cheers-

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shawl Updation

I've been making some serious progress on the new shawlette so I though I'd give you a peek! 

After doing some yardage estimations, I decided to repeat the motif seven times across the shawl.  The central repeat is the full length shown in the previous post.  The two on either side of the center are a bit shorter, and the four end repeats are shorter yet.  This will give the shawlette the cresent shape that I'm shooting for.

I'm not at full width yet, and the shawl is currently at 52".  The motif widens as it progresses, so I expect to see that factor increase the width somewhat more.  Plus, there will be a border around the whole thing which will add another couple of inches. 

In the photos, I have the WIP shawl (done in colorway Canteen) pinned on top of the test motif so that you can get a sense of what the finished piece will look like.  The curved edge of the motif will repeat seven times, side-by-side.  The eyelet border will be worked all the way around the shawlette to finish the opposite edge and ends.

I still have 33 rows to work before starting the border.  The rows have 320+ stitches in them at this point, so they take me a while to do.  I'd better get back to work!

I'm still paranoid about running out of yarn before I'm finished, so I've been weighing my ball as I go and doing calculations to project whether or not I'll make it through.  So far it looks promising - fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Motivation

It's hard to believe, but I've actually just come off a 10 day no knitting streak.  It's not that I didn't want to knit, it's just that I was really busy in the days leading to Sock Summit.  And then while I was in the midst of all the knitting activity at SS, I didn't have a break to knit when I wasn't needing to get some sleep instead!  Now we're back, and I'm craving the feel of fiber between my fingers.

While we were on the road, I decided I need to schedule a "Design Meeting" with myself everyday.  I find that when we get busy, I'm prone to letting the design work slip. So I'm hoping to bring a little discipline to my daily activities by scheduling a couple of designing hours into my day.  This is most important during the beginning stages of new project where I am working off charts that I have on my computer, and editting them as I work.  Once a pattern gets underway, the project tends to get more mobile, and then I'm more likely to work on it in the evening while I watch TV, and I make progress at a faster clip. 

During my Design Meeting today, I finished the motif I've been working on.  I like the curved edge on it - it will be pretty and wavy when it is repeated side-by-side.  I also decided that the 5-leaved motif is a Starfish!  That also goes well with the wavy border, so it looks like we're going to have a seashore theme for this project.

Now I'm noodling how to connect these motifs together to form the shawlette.  I weighed the motif to help me gauge yarn usage so I can keep this pattern to a one-skein project.  I copied the outline of the motif and laid it out side by side so that I can see how much space I need to fill between the repeats.  I believe I'm going to shoot for seven repeats - with the center three being longer than the two on each end.  This should yield a cresent shaped shawlette. 


Now to figure out how to get it started!

Cheers-

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A New Yarn is Born!

IndiGoGo!
Our Name the New Yarn contest closed at 10am this morning, and we have a winner to announce!  Kitten With a Whiplash is our big winner - he submitted Indi-GoGo Juice which we're going to shorten to IndiGoGo.  Awesome!  I felt this name captured the indigo color, as well as the "indie" yarn dying concept, and the GoGo part provides the perfect fun kick to tie into our "adult beverage and venue" theme.  Congrats, Kitten!  

I don't have a Ravelry ID for Kitten, so I've contacted him via Blog  :-) 

Now I'm off to label all the new yarn for Sock Summit!

Cheers-

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tweeted! and The Birth of a New Shawl Pattern



This is what I saw at 7:24 Saturday morning...  it's not often that the first words out of my mouth on a Saturday morning are "uh oh..." 

The Yarn Harlot saw the new Bridge of Roses pattern and graciously shared it with her Twitter audience - how exciting!  This sort of advertising tends to be pretty effective, so that was only the first of many "tweet-driven" orders.  We've been spending the last few days manging the extra volume, and are doing pretty well with it.  I don't think Intern Lori knew what she was in for when she arrived!  Thanks to the Yarn Harlot for helping to make our Susan G Komen fundraiser an even bigger success!

This is what it looks like inside my head

Prior to the Tweet Event, I started working on the new shawl design which I promised I would blog about as I go.  There's not much to share yet, but I can say that the shawl will be semi-circular or cresent shaped, and will have lace motifs in it, and I'd like it to have a wavy lower edge.  I have in mind a pie-shaped motif that is comprised of leaves that will look something like my sketch on the right.  These will be lined up side-by-side to form the lower edge of the shawl.  There will need to be some other filler above them and between them, but I'm not quite sure what that needs to be yet. 


Individual Leaf Motif

My process to figure it out is this:  first I came up with the individual leaf pattern that is the size I want (shown left).  I wanted a smallish leaf that is knit from tip to stem, and is surrounded by yarn overs.  Now I'm in the process of plugging that pattern into a chart to come up with a rough draft of the larger motif.  Then, I'll test knit the larger motif and make necessary adjustments to it.  Finally, once I see how the larger motif looks, I'll decide how to duplicate it across the bottom of the shawl and hook them all together.  It's really like assembling a puzzle, and is quite a challenge.  We're planning to take a long weekend trip, so I hope to have my chart roughed together so that I can work on it on the plane  :-)  Hopefully my next update will feature a finished larger motif!

Cheers -

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cool New Displays for our Travelling Road Show

Mr. Wendy and I just finished doing a test run setting up the new display fixtures for our Sock Summit booth.  Pretty exciting! 

I'm sure glad we did the test run.  Besides gaining some invaluable practice at putting the network binning together, we identified two little issues that needed to be addressed.  First, one of the connectors wasn't correct, but the ever handy Mr. was able to modify and correct it.  Second, we are missing a part!  Guess I'll make that call tomorrow.  Plenty of time...  no biggie.

I'm very happy with my choices.  Although these units are lightweight and will pack into a relatively small space, they provide us with enough sturdy shelf storage to house about a gagillion skeins of yarn, and six linear feet of hanging space for lots of kits and notions.  Together with the table that is provided for our booth, we'll be in great shape.

And...  I was contacted by the Vogue Knitting Live folks on Friday.  They wanted to make sure I knew about their West Coast conference that is happening in Los Angeles in September.  Over 6000 people attended the market at the East Coast event they hosted, so it sure seems like we just might want to exhibit there, too!  And then the Torrance Fiber Festival in November...  we're going to be getting pretty mobile around here.  Our new fixtures should be getting lots of great use.  

Cheers- 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Eleven New Feet

We're so Sock Summit focused around here lately that even Mr. Wendy is getting into it!  I thought you might enjoy seeing the creative work he's been doing to help make our booth look great.

Mr. Wendy is a woodworking hobbiest.  He has done some really beautiful work around our home - our pub with a walnut bar, our office with a 12-foot long cherry wraparound desk-for-two with matching cabinetry above, beautiful maple cabinetry in one of our baths, and a Tuscan-inspired wine wall in our kitchen with oodles of storage and featuring an oil painting done by his mother.  Yes folks, we're both lucky to have a lineage of generations of creative people! 

I needed some feet to display sock sample for the exhibition booth, and asked Mr if that was something he would be interested in producing.  He just happened to be looking for an excuse to get his tools out, so he enthusiastically headed to Home Depot to find some wood.  Using one of my plastic sock blockers that I got from Knit Picks as a template, he traced the feet onto the wood, and then rough cut each one using his band saw.  For step two, he used his router to fine tune the cuts, and then finally hit them all with a bit of sand paper to smooth out the edges.  Kelie and I both used the same word to describe his results:  "Perfect!"  They really are.  Thanks Mr!


This weekend we'll be giving our new display fixtures a test run set up to make sure I got all the pieces when I picked them up last week.   Can't wait to hang a few feet on them!

Cheers-

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Flower Gardens

Thought I'd post a quick update on the two flower gardens I'm nurturing right now.  Our weather is getting pretty nice now, and it's inspiring me to be outside more, and playing in my garden more.  I'm even more inspired to pull weeds!


Felted Clogs by Bev Galeskas

First, here's an update on the felted clogs I'm making for my mom for Mother's Day.  Last time she was here, she mentioned that the she was wearing out the pair I made her a few years ago.  Isn't that the best compliment on a knitted gift ever?  So although making her another pair isn't an original gift, it seems like it will be appreciated and well used, so that's what I'm working on for her.  This pair is made from Cascade 220 and Plymouth Galway.  I've finished the knitting and felting, and now I'm working on some embroidery to spiff them up another level.  I haven't really done embroidery in the last 30 years or so, but I have about every color of floss under the rainbow, so that's what I'm using to put the flowers on these clogs.  It's a simple design, but is a little difficult due to the thickness of the felted clogs.  After one evening of struggling to pull the needle through each stitch, I smartly grabbed my small pliers and am now using them to help me tug the thread through the clogs.  It's much easier on my hands!  Anyway, one is done, and I think it looks pretty cute!  I'll start working on the second one tonight, and should be done in plenty of time to get these in the mail.  This is one of the projects on my Gift Knitting Boot Camp List - so far my 4 gifts this year have all been done on time!

My other garden is my rose garden.  I have about 15 plants in our front yard which I enjoy tending to during the early part of the year.  Here in Southern Cal, we prune our rose bushes mid-January, and expect to see our first big bloom in April.  I'm right on track!  Historically, my enthusiasm about regular garden tending seems to wane after the first bloom, so this year I'm really trying to maintain my gardening mojo.  Really, if I spend about 30 minutes a week out there, it's plenty, so I keep telling myself that's all I need to do.  I've also started saving the blooms in the freezer when they start to fade so that they can become dye! 

Cheers -

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Snowman Project Update!

I've been having lots of fun working on the Snowman Hat and Mittens set, and it's almost done! I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to work on a project you can finish quickly.

I made the hat in about 6 hours last Sunday, and now a week later, the mittens are nearly done, too! I'm amazed at how little yarn the set has taken to make. I've used about 150 yards of the aran weight Shepherd Worsted in red, and about 60 yards in white (and a few yards in green that I stashbusted from Kelie - thanks, Kelie!) This means I have quite a lot of yarn left from my two 225 yard skeins, so that's going into the "bank" of yarn to be used for doll clothes later this year.

I'll write up the patterns soon for anyone who might be interested. The hat is really simple, and it's so stretchy that it will really fit a wide range of heads. It's small enough for a kid, or big enough for me if fully stretched. The only change I would make for an adult is to make it longer - it doesn't quite cover my ears. It starts with a few inches of 2x2 ribbing worked back and forth with a seed stitch flap on one end. Then the flap section is bound off and the remaining stitches are joined to work the crown of the hat in the round. The crown is done in 5 identical sections which I've charted. Finishing work includes using the cast on tail to seam up the ribbing so that the flap is exposed to sew the buttons on to.

The mittens start with about 4 inches of ribbing and then proceed into stockinette for the hand section. The thumb is worked in as an "afterthought" thumb which is a super simple way to do it. The upper part of the hand is worked similarly to the crown of the hat so that it sorta looks like the snowmen on the mittens are wearing hats to match the big hat. I know... goofy :-)

When I got the mittens done, I almost stopped there. They look really cute the way they are and I was thinking that adding the embroidered snowman face (per my original sketch) to them might be overkill. So I cut some features out of paper and laid them on the mittens to get an idea of what it might look like. I still think the face looks pretty cute, and these are for a girl who will be 4 when she gets them, so I'm going to proceed with embroidering some coal eyes and mouth on, along with a carrot nose. And then I'll also add a green bow tie to match the bow tie on the button snowman.

So - my first Christmas gift is almost done - woohoo!!! Time to cast on a new sock :-)

Cheers, Wendy

Sunday, March 27, 2011

From Monkeys to Snowmen

I think all knitting is fun, but today I'm starting a project that will be REALLY fun! I have a young niece, and I just love making kiddie things for her. This year, I'm planning to make her a couple of gifts - a hat and mitten set for Christmas, and a doll with clothes for her October birthday. I have the yarn for the hat and mitten set, and a newly opened slot in my knitting bag (Monkey Socks are done - yay!!!) so it's time to cast on a hat! I must say I'm also excited to be starting a project that will be a quick one to finish.

First - I must show off my completed Monkeys: Tada!!!! These are made from Jolly Jumbuck Helios - hand dyed by a nice lady in Australia. The fiber is 70% wool and 30 % silk, and it is very soft. I love the colors, too! Finished these in a pub yesterday while watching UConn win their game by the skin of their teeth. Monkey Socks are written as a top-down heel flap pattern, but I made them toe-up with a Fleegle Heel, so they are actually Upside Down Monkeys. They fit great!

Now on with the new! The hat and mitten set for my niece will have a snowman theme, due to some really cute buttons I found. I got this yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted 100% Superwash) and the buttons at the Dublin Bay shop in Portland last October when out on a LYS Day with the local Ravelry Group gang. This yarn is super soft! I look forward to knitting with it.

For the hat, I plan a wide red ribbing that overlaps on the side, so I have a place to sew the decorative buttons. The crown of the hat will be mostly red, with some white snowflakes stranded into it.

The mittens will be the most fun - I'm going to make them look like snowmen. I plan for the ribbed cuff and thumb to be red, and then the hand part up to the second knuckle or so to be white for the snowman head. Then I'll finish the top of the hand with red to look like the snowman is wearing a hat. I'll embroider the coal eyes and carrot nose onto the faces, and will probably put a little green bowtie on each snowman, too. Gotta see what contrast yarn I have in the ol' stash trunk! I have 225 yards of each of the red and white yarn, so hopefully this plan will come together! I may end up starting the hat and mittens concurrently so that I can distribute the colors between the set pieces most effectively. As you can see from my drawings, I didn't exactly do the math on this project - ha! I'll write down what I do as I go, though, just in case it turns out cute.

Cheers -

Friday, February 4, 2011

Call Crafty 911, It's a Double Homicide and Kidnapping

We have a fresh crime scene here, and are on the lookout for a small furry unsub.

We store our Christmas decorations in the rafters above the garage, and have for over 8 years. Among the many festive and cherished hand-made decorations I tuck into cardboard boxes, were three goofy little snowmen, made from tube socks filled with rice, and adorned with scraps of fabric and little buttons and pieces of coal made from Filo clay. I made these wobbly little guys on a camping trip in 1999 along with a group of my friends. You can see our whole snowman family in the photo - including Queen Latifa in the back row who was made by a creative young teenager. My trio of wobbly snowmen looked perpetually drunk, and therefore resided on the bar in our pub every holiday season.



Today as I was walking through the garage, I noticed one of the three snowmen lying on the floor of the garage. He had been chewed to shreds, and not a grain of his rice innards was to be seen. Scattered around him were bits of torn cardboard. It took me a few moments to figure out what was going on as we've never seen mousies here (or at least they've stayed hidden thank you very much!)

Fortunately, Mr. Wendy arrived home just as I was surveying the snowman murder scene. He gowned up and ascended the ladder to the rafter storage area, armed with a long poking stick. Sure enough, the one box that contained all the Christmas decorations had many holes chewed through it. After ensuring no unsubs were currently in reside
nce, he brought the box down for the sad post mortem. Snowman Number Two had also died in the same horrible manner as his former drinking buddy. Snowman Number Three is nowhere to be found, which upgrades the crime to a double homicide and kidnapping.

Other fatalities included a quilted holiday table runner I had made about 12 years ago, Smithers' Christmas stocking, and a holiday embroidered hand towel. RIP. Critically injured are a quilted hanging I made in the early 90s, and a set of Christmas stockings - my first socks, by the way - that I made in about 1981.

I had just about summoned the emotional strength to lay the quilted hanging to rest when Mr. Wendy pointed out that most of the damage was contained to the corners of the outer green stripe. "Couldn't you cut
that part off or something?" he asked. Well yes, I considered, and then remembered that I think I actually still have some of that fabric in my quilting stash - believe it or not. So now I have a little sewing 911 challenge.

As for the stockings, I immediately started assessing the steps required to repair them. I don't have any more of that glorious Red Heart yarn, but among the other surviving decorations are some of those lit
tle ice skate ornaments made by crocheting around a paper clip - you know what I'm talking about. Amazingly, the red and green skates are in the same worsted weight acrylic yarn colors as my stockings! I think there will be enough yarn there to do the necessary repairs. Another 911 challenge!

So it's been a tragic craft day here, but I feel positive I can save two of the victims. As for the perp - they say that animals who digest uncooked rice explode. I hope he did
- right after he choked on the Red Heart.
Cheers -