Sunday, May 29, 2011

Looking Good

The back of the Fantasy jacket is squarely stuck in the boring repetitive stage.    This little lace swath is destined for someone else, so I'll never get to wear it.  And perhaps that makes it more difficult to stick with the sameness of the pattern.  A narcissistic attitude and I do admit it.  What's in it for me?

Only nineteen more rows and the back will be complete.  Now, it just looks like this.

This jacket has cap sleeves.  As you probably know, cap sleeves often grow out of the body piece seamlessly.   That is why the jacket back is widened  at the under arm area rather than decreased for a set in sleeve.  It is possible to add cap sleeves after the  front and back are sewn together.  I've done that and have no specific preference.

Frankly, given that  this is a whole lot of crochet, I'm glad that the pattern has the sleeves added "as you go."  

Although fuzzy, this photo is a better look at how the pattern works out.   This openwork is written as an eight row repeat.  Actually, there are only three rows - only two if you think about offsetting the zigzag row by a half pattern. 

 The first hours of working on this project were tedious.  I had to read every one of those eight rows hoping not to make a mistake.  Let me tell you, it was very slow going for quite a while.

But that is what it is all about, right?  Perhaps, that is what is in it for me.  Go slow and learn something new.  Recall and work with out so much reading.  Then put the pattern aside and trust your ability to read the crochet and just get it done.

This long weekend has plenty of time left and the back will be completed before long.   All of this little cashmere lace needs to be interrupted by something different.  But that is for another post, another time - but soon!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't Rush Your Fences!

It is almost time.  Every year, there are many who just can not wait it out and they rush to celebrate.  I was raised at a time when jumping ahead simply was not done.  Not at all.

Please, to make this old southern lady happy, wait just a few more days.

Memorial Day is on Monday.  That is when we in America pause to remember the lost, offer respect to those still with us, and thank all family members who have silently waited for loved ones to return from their job protecting our American way of life.  Let me be perfectly clear.  My father served in WWII.  Pacific theater.  He had memories, some of which he shared with his family.  Some memories remained private.   

Rush your fences on this holiday all that you want.  Spend the whole weekend saying Thank You to a soldier, veteran or military family.  Keep saying it all year.  I'll be right there with you honoring those who serve.

I do have one request.   

Memorial Day is on Monday.  Please, please, please don't put on the white shoes until Monday.  For the love of all that is tradition - have some respect!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Will It Look Like?

I am not much of a lace maker.  A few shawls here and there - the very few I have shared with you.  A bit of lace edging on a sleeve or trim is OK.  Honestly, lace is so time consuming that it either bores me with repetition or I loose interest due to the slowness and thus the time involved.  When I start a project, I want it done.  

So, why did I agree to take on this commission?  Because of the cashmere.  Hey, I'll endure a lot to work with 100% cashmere that I don't have to purchase!  

Pure divinity.   It is hook candy for sure.

This is a wad of crochet lace.  Barely begun lace.  There is much to accomplish.  While the construction of the final piece is fairly simple, the working - or at least the getting started and setting the pattern over the first foundation and eight rows is advanced work for sure. Now, the pattern is set, both in my brain and in the crochet itself.

A crochet friend was looking and drooling near this wad and asked the right question.  "What will it look like?"

Naturally, I set off on a lecture (diatribe?) about the process of  soaking, stretching, pinning and drying.  Otherwise known as basic blocking.  This friend has not yet attempted lace work.  She is more in the camp of making purses, tote bags and useful boxes.  Toss in a washcloth or two and even an occasional gift blanket for my Bert and she is a very happy and accomplished wielder of the hook.  But, as far as I know, she has not ever attempted lace weight and delicate stitch work.

Sensing that my lecture on blocking was a bit over the top, I invited her to help me stretch out the lace so as to simulate the final piece (post blocking).  

Oh La La!  That is going to become one fine piece of work! 

This dry run has excited me so much that now I must finish just to see the final piece upon some lucky lady's body.

Wow!   Even I am going to be impressed.  When it is finished.  Weeks from now. . . . . . sigh.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It Is Finished

Just in time for for the windy blustery rainy day, the new summer V-neck shell is completed.  The timing is poor - but I don't care.

This might look quite plain and unexciting in the photo.  In person, it is marvelous.

Here is the back of the shell in all of its simplicity.  At first I had a bit of concern that the three rounds of broken rib would be less than sufficient for the neck and sleeve openings.

This cotton (Sublime Organic Cotton)  handles the short ribbing well!   It looks fantastic and has body.  If the yarn had been more "flowing" such as soy or silk, I do not think the three rows would stand the test of standing sturdy.

Soon, a photo of the embellished front.  That needs to wait for a non windy, not rainy and very sunny day!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why Did I Ask?

It is my own fault, really.  In the last post, I asked for suggestions related to my next project.  Something to start  just as soon as the new cotton v-neck shell was drying into my size.  Why, oh why did I ask?

First to offer guidance was daughter #2.  It seems that she is searching for a new summer purse and really wants something "custom and individualized."  Color me wimpy mom.  I crumbled like feta cheese and even took her to the LYS to select her custom colorway.

My brain is now occupied.  There is a goal.  

Notice that two colors are required.  One might immediately correctly surmise that the purse of the moment has stripes.  Very simple two row pattern.

In order to make a sturdy hard working purse-worthy fabric, the entire piece is worked with two strands.  

And a big hook.

There will be no felting which is what is hinted at by double strands and a larger hook size.  Something felted  is what #2 daughter suggested.  But as the production artist, I am offended by felted wool in the summer.  You, of course, are allowed your own opinion.

Two strands plus a big hook equals fast progress.

Repetitive repetition might be boring if not for the dimensionality resulting from the post stitches.

I know.  I know.  I have previously waxed poetic about crochet and post stitches.  What can I say but that I know what I like and I like what I know.

More to come....especially the panic over running out of color #2 as there was not quite enough at the store to coincide with the amount requested in the pattern.  

And you should know that another "friend" offered up the opportunity to make a little summer wearable.  Because of swatching for that and working on the purse, I still have not finished MY project.

Why did I ask?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thinking Required

Today should have been the end of my new summer sleeveless shell.  All that is need is to pick up stitches and work three rounds on each arm hole.  Very easy.  But alas, my brain started to explore possibilities.  Or perhaps the better description is that my brain started to think, "and then what?"

That is all it took.  How could I possibly finish the only project on needle or hook and be faced with nothing?  As previously confessed, I do not do well with nothing in the work stream.  Oh, yes.  My brain started thinking.  So, I sat and thought my way through back issues of favorite publications.  I made a pot of green tea with the hope that the thinking would be enhanced. 

I even - please insert your own huge gasp - checked out the stash for inspiration.


I could not think of any  thing that made both my fingers and my brain happy.

I'm still thinking.  And hoping.  That inspiration is close at hand and  will present as just the perfect next project.  Because I really, really do want to finish the cotton shell and strut the simple beauty of cotton in the summer.

Encouragement is humbly solicited.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vest of Many Colors

The adage about yarn collectors must be true.  I refer to the observation that we tend to collect within the same color palette because of some unseen or unacknowledged basic comfort level.  For many a decade, I have acknowledged that my personal preferences are teal, jade and Merlot.  A quick look at my stash or my closet will confirm that any variance from these favorites are  black, white or red.  Although, there is the occasional navy tossed in most often because it is a logo shirt.  

If you are a member of The Knitting Guild Association, wander through the oldie but goodie patterns to discover the instructions for this Diagonal V Neck Shell by Laura Bryant of Prism yarns.

As you can see, I had much stash yarn that fell into the merlot color way.  And, just to make it interesting, there is a bit of sari silk that leans toward the teal/jade shades.

If you have never experienced a large swath worked on the diagonal, try out this method.  There are all manner of videos available to learn the simple increase to desired width, then decrease back down.

I had great fun changing colors throughout the project.  Some yarns were held single, others doubled upon themselves or doubled up with another yarn to create a whole new adventure.

Here is the back.  One thing that must be understood about knitting on the diagonal is the inherent flexibility of the resulting fabric.  And, sometimes that flexibility of a good thing and sometimes it needs to be  controlled.  

Control in this case comes from a round of single crochet followed by a round of crab stitch (reverse sc) that finishes off all openings.  I am particularly grateful for the pattern note impacting the arm openings.  The direction to work the crab stitch a little tighter around the arms helps to control the flare that might other wise take place.    It is little hints  such as this that, when followed, help to add a professional finish to hand work.  And that is just one more reason to actually read every word of a pattern.  You never know what tidbit will become a part of your knitting bag 'o tricks.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sitting In The Morning Sun

One of the absolutely amazing things about knitters - or crochet fanatics, spinners, tatters, etc - is that we do not require participating in the great wired world.  Often, I observe this fact upon boarding an airplane and hearing the "power down your equipment" announcement.   Those of us who are wedded to  the stick & string habit just keep on knittin' (or whatever).  We rarely ever power down unless sleep overcomes or muscles tense.

Witness this fine summer day.  No electric cords in sight!  We are not of the wired generation.  Although, truth be told, one iPod was connected to portable speakers whilst the classics wafted on the breeze.  So there was pre-charging which might or might not count in the great scheme of this post.

To the left of me, there was knitting.  No electricity needed.

Just beyond and cropped out of this photo was a sweet babe in his mother's arms.  Turns out that knitting is conducive to sleep.  Perhaps it is that rhythmic click click of the needles.

And to my right - more knitting.  It is hard to capture the moment frozen in one frame, but the near knitter helped the far knitter work a bit of short row magic on the back collar of a sweater.

No electricity needed.  Although, if I may digress, a quick YouTube video could also offer the needed instruction in a pinch.  But that up close and personal sample of w&t really did the trick!
There was an opportunity to nibble and, as all good workers of the yarn know, wipes were supplied so that the chocolate never touched the fibers!

Perhaps the point of our outing in the morning sun is simply this.  Hand knitting is a very green and environmentally friendly activity. 

As she held tongue firmly in cheek and wondered at the hypocrisy of suggesting such a green activity while plugged in to the computer various wireless devices in an effort to encourage non use of electricity.  HMMM.  Must give this more thought.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Behind My Back

It felt like it all happened behind my back.  Oh, sure.  All the hints were there.  A spike reaching elegant and tall to the spring sun.  Little tips ready to blush for the season.  Yes, the signs were plentiful and my hopes were high.

And then life got in the way.  Life in the form of a trip away from the yard and out of range of Mother Nature.  Upon returning, all that had been merely a soft hint was now there in full glory. 

This lovely gift is from an aloe that sits at the edge of the patio.  

Words can not express my gratitude for the color play.  The older blooms appear like miniscule bananas so bright is the color and softly hanging in a clump.  Those yet to open wander off into green tints that look nothing like the first to blossom.

Another plant had offered a glimpse into glory, but only a hint.  And, as these things so often take place, as soon as I was gone, the full beauty erupted.

And over in the corner, in view of my knitting spot, is this jade.  Jade - - much of the year this is actually a jade colored plant.  But when the warm power of the sun says "wake up sleepy head" this one puts on her lipstick and adds a lovely blush all over.

We have grown jade for many a year and this sturdy tolerant plant always delights me.   I am continually baffled that his succulent grows equally well in this southern California desert as it does when I first encountered it as a patio plant in Louisiana.    

My words fail.  I shall quote another more eloquent that me:

Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we.  ~Michel de Montaigne, translated