Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day of Progress

It has been a wonderful day of progress. Well, actually a night and a day. Last night was a quiet evening of alone time for knitting. Salad, Guinness and yarn. Friends, life just does not get much better than that! Made outstanding progress on the Colinette throw. See:(Don't worry about me. I never attempt a lace chart under the Guinness influence.)

I'm only 16 rows from being half way done. What does that equal? Maybe one-third. It feels like pure luxury. It is working up so fast and fun. All of my resolve to strictly follow the directions has gone out of the open window. (it was 95 hot degrees here today). I have slightly 'adjusted' yarn sequencing keeping the exact same number of rows as instructed. And occasionally switched a stockinette section with a garter section. Surely it will all work out by the end.

Today I went to my old knitting group for catching up. So much fun to see everyone again. Even with the lagniappe lunch, the progress on the DH plain vanilla socks was remarkable. Definitely will be finished by the time he returns from the next trip.

Bert enjoyed his freedom time before I left for the day. Mostly he just wanted peanuts and the joy of flight. We discourage sleeping on the furniture, lest a stray cat or dog wander by - he gladly went back into his cage so I could have my day of progress on the socks.

I returned home to a marvelous blog post gift from the Glampyre Knits gal Stefanie Japel. She has posted her Lace Panel Tunic. It is a dream, so check it out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Homework Time

I've got homework! And it must be completed by Saturday. Oh, it is not difficult homework - just a little patch in contrast color A.

The Riverside Knitting Guild is have Joyce Wyatt in to teach a workshop on patchwork knitting. The link to the Guild is over in the left column. I'm thinking that it will be a fun day. You can read Joyce's bio here. I know for a fact that my homework is not the first to be completed. Neither is it the last. Right where I like to fit in - the middle of everything!

All workshop participants need three contrasting colors. Don't know if it fits the rules but I went with three shades of grey. Well, I suppose one is actually a tint, but let's not quibble. I'm in a more serious mood lately and that keeps me away from the happy colors. Grey worsted. Only thing that could possible be more serious is chunky black.

No photos. Would not want my classmates to cheat.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Felted to the Finish Line

Four and a half hours of measuring, cutting, sewing, ripping, re-sewing and sore fingertips. And now I get to jump up and down with glee. You first saw the messenger bag ready for felting in this post.

My process for felting has an extra step. Boiling water in the washing machine. This was such a huge project that it took two kettles of actual boiling water for the magic to occur. Our hot water heater is set just hot enough for bathing and clean dishes. This is how it is set. Just two clicks past Warm. Thus, the shot of boiling water any time there is a felting project.

Snowy, the grandcat, enjoyed helping while I sewed lining. It is so easy to plot the lining for rectangles. Don't laugh, but the bottom of the bag is a sturdy 1/8" thick wood length from the craft store. The front panel and both sides are reinforced with two thickness of plastic mesh canvas. There is no reinforcement on the back side, because I wanted some flexibility to curve around the hip.

First, I cut the wood and plastic guts and fit them inside the bag. When those were exactly right, then I cut the lining fabric with seam allowances. The planning and thinking and fiddling all worked out. I was so very pleased when the whole thing was finished that I actually took time to put away the sewing machine and pick up all the bits of thread and clean the mess.

Look carefully at the top photo of the completed messenger bag. Only one grommet on the flap shows. I've added a second and when my patience returns, a third grommet will go in. Pure decoration and no practical purpose. Sure does look good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Knitters Everywhere You Look

Today I joined a few friends for good old fashioned social knitting. We met up at a local eatery for casual conversation and relaxing. With caffeine and sugar for fuel, we tried to sip, munch, talk and knit all at the same time. Isn't it wonderful that knitters are so good at multi-tasking?

Turns out that my server moonlights as a knitter. We had a lovely conversation about the b
lue ribbons she has won. She even triumphed in a speed knitting contest. How thrilling is that?

So we friends settled down and pulled out our current "public knitting" projects. For me, public knitting is something small and portable that does not require m
uch attention. I am this far on the socks for which Bert selected the yarn:

Another sock knitter was there and working on these self patterning socks.

Socks in southern California make a lot of sense. Cool evenings mean that you can wear socks year round. Not at all like other things. Not at all like caps made with three strands of mohair. Oh no. Not at all like that.

Even though some folks do knit with three strands of mohair when it is over 90 degrees outside. See..........
When the hat in progress came out of the bag, our group increased in number. Suddenly we were visited by another coffee addict who also knits. She popped over from another table to check out the yarn and pattern and swap stories for a few minutes. Yep, knitting in public is magnetic. All the other yarn-a-holics come and confess - oops - they come and chat about what is on their needles.

We had one group member working on this scarf. The color is off in the photo. It is a soft lavender and quite beautiful. Only about twelve inches long at this point, but it will surely be a keeper when finished.

All in all it was a relaxing and festive two hours. We encouraged each other. We encouraged the restaurant staff. We encouraged the customers.

Maybe this is what life is all about. Maybe so.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Worth the Budget

Great enjoyment coming my way! Yes, the Love It kit is already working it's way into my heart. Using size 11 needles makes progress seem fast.

I've settled on making the throw for use here at home. One row is only 111 stitches. That's less than two rounds on a sock. Because of the gauge, it seems as though it moves faster than socks. It surely does. Already on row 23 and it looks amazing. See?

It is exactly what I expected.

The only problem is I get tired working with the large needles. Don't know why - I just do.

So, in order to rest my fingers, it seemed like a good idea to cast on something smaller to work on at the same time. Kinda hard to take an entire throw on the road to the Guild meeting tomorrow.

Bert became quite excited about his sudden freedom and the ability to influence a new project. Bert decided that the time is ripe to cast on for manly man socks for the DH. So much easier to bring to the meeting. Don't you think?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blew the Budget

Yep, I spent the whole yarn budget for the month in one fell swoop. Not that any of you have ever done that. Surely you have restraint and internal control. You probably understand how to pace yourself. You have learned the meaning of moderation.

Not me. Nope. Can't apologize for it either. Won't apologize is more the truth.

And I LOVE IT! As in the Love It kit from Colinette.

Sue at Knit 'n Stitch is quite the sales person. Stopped in for a lovely conversation. Just conversation and catching up. I was ready to walk out of the shop and then she just happened to tell me that "__(insert name of any knitter you admire)___ has such success with this yarn!" Well, talk about an invitation to break a Commandment or two. Thou shalt not covet. Thou shalt not drool. Thou shalt not have any other .... You get the drift.

So of course I blew the entire budget for the month and I still love it. Hand-dyed fibre. Three patterns. Personalized service. And maybe a little competition thrown in to boot. I love it. Stash, patterns and options all rolled into one bag of possibilities.

Planning to cast on for the Jacket, or Pullover or Throw - - who knows. Any guesses? Leave a comment.

Clearly keeping organized for the project will be a challenge for me. This one required making a yarn guide for staying on track. And if I am actually going to try to follow the pattern exactly, it is imperative to stay on track and use the supplied yarns as indicated. Failure to do so will surely result in not enough yarn for the recommended pattern repeats and then life would circle back around to blowing the budget on more yarn. Breaking commandments yet again. It is a vicious circle.

Look carefully past the yarn in the photo above and to the right.
Are you wondering about the map in the background of the photo? That is a framed poster of the plantations of the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans. It's a southern thing.
And a reminder to never forget that mankind is capable of inhumane actions.

Interested? It is still available and one source is here. Surely there are others.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Double Post Crochet Purse

The season has definitely changed. Even here in southern California the evenings are cool, the vista is crisp and pastel tints are being replaced with darker shades. Definitely time for a change in the wardrobe - including the bag de jour. That makes it a wonderful time to revisit a favorite of mine. Actually a design of my own.

The Post Modern Purse works great in solid cotton. The texture provided by the crochet post work is all that is
needed to give subtle (OK maybe not so subtle) interest. Make it plain or embellish with ribbon. The choice is yours.

Post M
odern Purse
Designed by Lenora Fran├žois Stewart
copyright 2007

This modern and functional draw-string purse features front and back post double crochet panels. Scallop finishing and drapery cord closure add glamour making this lined purse perfect for day to evening.

Finished Measurements
Approximately 9” wide x 7” high x 3” deep (excluding handles)

• Butterfly Super 10 Mercerized Cotton light (dk) weight yarn (4.5 oz/250 yds/125g per skein) 2 skeins
# 3429 merlot or equivalent substitution
• Size E/4/3.5mm crochet hook
• Wrights Home Collection 27” drapery tieback with tassel at each end
• 1/4 yd. lining fabric

10 dc = 2 inches; 5 pattern rows = 2 inches

Special Stitches

fpdc (Front Post Double Crochet) yo (yarn over), insert hook from front to back and to front again
around the vertical post (upright part) of next st, yo and draw yarn through, yo and complete dc.
bpdc (Back Post Double Crochet) yo (yarn over), reaching over top of piece and working on opposite side (right side) of work, insert hook from right to left around vertical post of next st, yo and draw yarn through, yo and complete dc.

Front, bottom, and back are worked as one panel. Side gussets complete the purse shape.

Main Purse Panel
Chain 87
Row 1: dc in 4th chain from end and in each chain across, turn (85 sts)
Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as f
irst dc throughout), dc each st across, turn (85 sts).
Row 3: rep Row 2
Row 4: Ch 3, dc across in top loop only, turn (85 sts)
Row 5: Ch 3, dc in next st, fpdc, [dc, fpdc] 16 times, 15 dc, fpdc, [dc, fpdc]16 times, 2 dc, turn. Note: The 15 dc will become the bottom of the purse
Row 6: Ch 3, dc in next st, bpdc, [dc bpdc] 16 times, 15 dc, bpdc [dc, bpdc] 16 times, 2 dc, turn.
Row 7: Repeat Row 5
Row 8: Repeat Row 6
Row 9: Repeat Row 5
Rows 10 – 16: Repeat Row 2
Rows 17 – 21: Repeat Rows 5 – 9
Row 22: Repeat Row 4

Rows 23 – 24: Repeat Row 2

(Make 2)
Chain 37
Row 1: dc in 4th chain from end and in each chain across, turn (35 sts)
Rows 2 – 7: Ch 3 (counts as first dc throughout), dc in each dc across (35 sts)

Using Main Purse Panel and side gussets as pattern, cut one panel, and 2 gussets from lining fabric adding seam allowances. With RS facing, sew lining pieces together. Fold top edge 1/2” to WS and stitch in place. Set aside.

ing Purse
Holding wrong sides together, sc bottom edge of gusset to first 35 dcs of Main Purse Panel, sc side of gusset to the 15 dcs of bottom of purse, then sc top of gusset to next 35 dcs. Repeat for 2nd gusset.

Work Scallop Edge along top of purse as follows:
Sl st in any corner and work *5 dc in next space, sc in next space * Repeat from * around opening.

Beginning at middle of one gusset insert one tassel end of drapery tie; weave through under scallop stitches skipping from center of one post work panel to the center of the next post work panel to form handle; continue around to middle of second gusset. Repeat with second tassel end for 2nd handle. Tie cord together so tassels hang on one gusset end.

Slip stitch lining to inside of purse below scallop edge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ahead of my time

I am ahead of my time. Yes, already moving quickly through the gift making rush for the end of the year. Mid-October and I am on a roll.

It is my privilege to chair a committee of amazing thinkers and workers. The organization we belong to focuses on doing for others; thus we don't make a big deal of gifting our volunteers. But how can a little cotton string be interpreted as doing too much for self?

of my committee members will receive a washcloth and soap as a reminder of all the work we have done to "clean up" some issues and wipe out old practices to let the new shine through. Using Cathy Waldie's Two Hearts as One Dishcloth pattern and Bernat's Organic Natural Cotton.

Three down and one to go. It was all going so smooth and fast. Then, Bert happened. Bert is a dwarf macaw who likes yarn. He often enjoys the end of the skein and decorates his cage with lovely abstract hangings. Today, Bert tried to get more than his fair share. He went straight for the ball and started to pull. At least he had the courtesy to pull from the center and not mess up too much.

Back to the cage for Bert.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wet and Wooly

Think ahead. Knit or crochet fast - as in maybe a mistake or two and then felt, felt felt. It is so easy to whip up a rectangle that is too big to be useful and then felt it to fit your favorite bottle. I’ve made a slew of these in a color way that will make any UCR friend happy.

It does seem that for stripes to felt and still have color “pop”, it takes at least two rows of knit or a good double crochet. My current no thinking pattern is to produce a nice rectangle measuring approximately 1
5 - 16 inches wide and about 12 inches tall. Then use a good single crochet to seam the cast on edge to the bind off edge and close up a bottom. Of course if you crochet the whole thing, sew the beginning chain to the last row. This is done so that stripes run vertically on the finished wooly sack. I even like the little feet that you see in the photo above.

Don’t like the feet? Then fold up (or to the inside ala fake gusset) and stitch down.

Guess I got to feeling a bit cocky. Fast knit, fast felt, fast dry was not good enough for me. I could do better - more fancy. Turn the whole thing on its side and look
at it differently. You should have seen the Birthday girl’s face when she opened this purse and found a quite special bottle of Merlot. OH, Wow! This brown one is knit like a clutch purse in the style where you bind off the center stitches on one row and then cast back on on the next row. This results in a “self handle.” I did make contrasting side gussets that were only about 1.5 inches wide prior to felting. The whole thing is even lined with a fabric to match the gusset merino and closes with a zipper! Felted i-cord can make any design you want to add on and VOILA! Gift wrap to equal the gift inside.

Wool Smells Better

Terrible wild fires here in soCal. Let us all hold dear thoughts for those who are personally impacted by loss. The smell of smoke is everywhere and here in Riverside, we have brought the dogs indoor - too much smoke in the air. We are closely watching a fire in San Bernardino near the freeway.

So today I actually had almost an hour to work on what will one day be a thick felted messenger bag. This one has i-cord bind off as contrast. All that is left to do is finish the flap and i-cord all around that, make a strap and then felt.

My plan is to worry about lining later. First I have to decide who gets it and then customize for the lucky man. Look for the pattern at Knitty all the way back in Summer 05

I have looked at different possibilities for the strap. Right now I am leaning toward a purchased adjustable with the felted strip sewed on. And should there be a buckle closure, or magnets, or snaps or nothing? Way too many possibilities and this one is not yet speaking to me.