Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can You See Me Now?

I am knitting stripes.  These are not shrinking violet strips.  These are high contrast stripes in shades and textures that jump out and say, "look at me!"

Even though these particular stripes speak to me, they are quite boring to knit.  The same thing
and over
and over
and over even more.

But every now and again, there are wedges to be knit and  that breaks up the monotony of stripe after stripe.

Watch out world, here I come!

Well, after a massive amount of  monotony broken up by bright wedgie-ness.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Modelette Time

One of the charms of any LYS is the availability of willing models.  No arms were twisted in the taking of these photos of the Fantasy Jacket.

Remember - this is advanced crochet.  So, wipe off that drool and choose one of the following:

1.  Grab stick and string.  Hook On
2.  Grab stick and string.  Take a Class
3.  Grab stick and string.  Negotiate a Deal

No matter which option you choose, this Rowan Magazine is required.

The sizing on this pattern is very forgiving.  The model here is not the intended final owner and yet, it fits her well.   You'll want to know that the jacket hangs longer in the back on moi (given my height) and thus covers more of what I have to cover.    That's a good thing for me.  

Don't stare too closely at this photo.  The photo was taken rather quickly before we fiddled with the cashmere over the cotton.   The lower edges of the fronts are, I assure you, exactly even.  Dare I state that they are "mirror images" so perfect is the result of those hours and hours of fretting and pining and measuring and re-doing ad infinitum.

(Stop it, Lenora!  Quit dwelling on the struggle.  Revel in the result)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fantasy . . . . not entirely

Confession time.  Not every moment of the Fantasy Jacket is a fantasy of yarn-ness.  Even when working 100% cashmere.  Once I figured out the look of the pattern repeats, the making of the back  and fronts was easy.  Not easy peasy.  Only easy.  That is because the pattern lines up in a very repetitive manner - it does not increase or decrease oddly.  Nice rows horizontally and vertically with a predictable offset that results in the peaks and valleys.

Then came the sewing.  Easy turned to advanced.  The past was prologue and somehow decades of experience coalesced into memory.  Seaming loopy crochet into matchy matchy seams take time.  And patience.   And thought.  And a clear head.  And, in this case, a calculator.

A major hurdle was crossed when the fronts and back were seamed prior to creating the edging.  That (along with a private conversation on Ravelry) refreshed my slip stitch skills when the vertical stitches from the front needed to exactly match the vertical stitches from the back and in between was the Solomon's Knot.  Well, except when that center back section required, according to the pattern, to be eased to fit between markers.    Memory was refreshed and I was reminded that patience is a virtue.

The front of the Rowan Fantasy is a couture  detail for sure.   The uniquely pleated and folded front panels  add to the endearing casualness of what otherwise would be a very formal swath of cashmere.  But.  And it is a huge BUT.  Getting the two sides to match drained me to the core.  All told it was about three hours of measuring, calculating, figuring percentages, readjusting markers, pinning, unpinning, trying on two different bodies, and then starting over from the beginning before I was comfortable putting yarn to seam and taking the deep breath of trust. 

The trick that finally worked - caution:  math follows - was to return to the pattern and put the calculator to the row/stitch gauge as written and discover that the front was to fold over to the side and meet at a point approximately one-third up from the lower edge.  Owing either to my stitch gauge or blocking being off, a simple adjustment in the size of the pleat was required.  Voila!  That one-third point was finally made.  Well, give or take a bit of hang stretch.  But the point is that the drape no longer appeared to be a pocket for the female anatomy!   Yeah for math. 

And yes, it pains me to say that.  Math is not my friend, I prefer to go with the flow and strive for the look. 

Here it is.  Two sides that match and drape visually the same.  Even the front-to-back pattern is all lined up.  Beauty.  Sheer beauty.  Now that it is all finished (photo with model to come) I am pleased to report that the fretting was worth it.  You may turn this one inside out and look at my seams.  Go ahead.  It's OK.  Sheer beauty, I tell you.

Rowan has done good.  Just don't go thinking that Fantasy is an easy pattern.  It is advanced - at minimum. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fun Find...& a Product Review

A good gadget is a wonderful and fun addition to any life.  Indeed, my family enjoys a weekend stroll through "the gadget store."  (That's a family term, we know what it means.)  The love of gadgets extends into this yarn obsession.  Recently,  and even more fun unexpectedly, I discovered a new gadget for containing and protecting the circular needles.

What follows is a glowing product review and a link for spending money.  So, if you are saving up for enough qiviut yarn to make a winter sweater, stop reading.  You need every $5 you can put your hands on.

This metal tube is a circular Needle Keeper.  Many know the agony of sitting on the Harmony tips and cracking the smithereens out of them.  Never going to happen with this handy protector from One2Wow over on Etsy.

Go ahead and click over to read about Claudia's inspiration for this almost too simple gadget.    

FULL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT:  Claudia and I are both members of the same knitting guild and that is where I first discovered her inventiveness.  I was lucky enough to purchase my Needle Keeper in person.

For me, I worry about a wandering bird getting to the tips of my precious Addi lace needles.  That prompted my purchase.   Just look at that photo!  There is no way that Bert's beak can get to the good needles now.

All in all, a perfect $5 useful gadget.  For your self or for gifting.

Yes indeed, I love this One2Wow Needle Keeper.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Owner's Choice

The owner still needs to finalize the selection of one button, but otherwise this project is finished.    In just over a month of occasional work, a very sturdy and quite functional bag is completed.  This pattern was published as Heather Stripes Bag in the January 2009 issue of Crochet! magazine.  The designer is Mary E. Nolfi and you will also find it as a free download from Caron yarns at this page.    On the Caron website, it is known as Textured Purse, so don't get confused.  It is the same pattern - two different names.

Crochet is normally quite fast for me.  Unfortunately, at the same time that I agreed to make this bag for daughter #2, I also agreed to crochet a lot of lacy jacket-ness for a local store owner.  Two involved and tedious projects at the same time, coupled with three weekends of travel and a holiday made for mighty slow progress all around.   I'll finally hand off this "biggie" purse this weekend.  Well, I'll hand it over after the owner makes the button selection.


Mary E. Nolfi's pattern, by any name.

Body is crocheted with two different solid colors.

1.  Cotton Classic from Tahki Stacy Charles, Inc.  (100% mercerised cotton and one of my most favorite yarns ever)
2.  Venezia from Cascade Yarns (merino silk blend that always works up predictably and wonderfully)

The straps are worked in a sport weight linen from Claudia Hand Painted yarns.   

The pattern offers a somewhat unique twist on lining the purse.  After thinking long and hard about it, I kept to my tried and true regular lining with only one phone pocket added for functionality.  

A few random thoughts about this pattern follow.  So, if you don't like my opinions, stop reading now.

This is satchel sized bag.  It is not a petite and dainty evening companion.  It is a load-'er-up-and-have-a-full-day size bag.

If you decide to tackle the project, it is important to know that the body and side gussets are the fastest part.  Edging, sewing together, making the straps and attaching the straps takes as much (if not more) time as does making the major pieces.

And speaking of the straps.  Don't do it the way that I did it.  Learn from my struggle.  Edge the body piece and the gussets as instructed in the pattern.  Then, sew the body straps into place leaving the top free and hold off on the metal links.  After the body straps are sewn, then attach body to gussets and complete the purse top edging.  Once that top is edged beautifully, then finish stitching the body straps and add the metal links.  Finally, add the purse handles.

I put the whole purse together and then stitched on the body straps.  I found it awkward to sew the straps on the rounded purse and deal with one hand on the inside and one on the outside and twisty yarn.  It worked.  Don't misunderstand.  It was awkward.  

All in all and lovely workable pattern.  And my execution ain't bad either.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Too Busy To Type

Way to busy to type up what I'm busy doing. 

It involves three plies of linen.

Slip stitches.

And the purse.

Wrist hurts.

Definitely going to be worth it all.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Exchange To Learn

What do you get when knitters love getting together?  The opportunity to learn!  That's what you get.  

In the southern California area, there is no such thing as an isolated knitting Guild.  It seems that there are always several folks who belong to more than one TKGA group and what with with coming and going and different meeting days, there is cross over of ideas, inspiration and intelligence amongst many local guilds.

Such was my experience earlier this week when four members of Riverside Knitting Guild were the program at North Coast Knitters (we four are also members there) and explained the Riverside Two-Ball Challenge.  

Slide presentation, explanation of the rules, and six years of re-collected challenge items were displayed.   When every one does a little part, it sure is easy to present a forty minute learning opportunity that excites knitters.

After our fantastic - if I do say so myself - show and share, there was much interest in comparing challenge items from the same year.      Thanks to Pat (she of the PowerPoint presentation), Sue (our RKG President and presentation outline writer), Diane (who is the best ever at showing off what someone else hath knit) and the RKG members who allowed items to be displayed it was a really wonderful show.

Specific entries in the RKG annual Two Ball Challenge drew much attention for the detail and execution shown.  All in all, the members of North Coast Knitters were a welcoming, joyous group and the cross-over sharing of Guild activities was well received.  

We see it all the time in the yarn world.  Saving the dollars to attend a regional or national event, participating in World Wide Knit In Public Day, visiting a new yarn shop, taking a class from a new teacher or belonging to more than one guild or knit group.  The exchange of ideas and knowledge makes the world go around.    Get out there and join in the learning.  Find a way to share your knowledge.  Participate - learn - grow.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Going Green

After two weeks of getting absolutely nothing finished, success has come my way.  There is nothing like the thrill of a quick knit or crochet that works up fast, causes no problems and has the potential to offer something practical to the end user.  

You guessed it!  An afghan square is complete.  While it is true that I generally attempt one afghan per year, this year is woefully un-afghaned.  No pattern picked,  no recipient identified and no plans made for 2011.  Each year, I do however, make one twelve-inch square for the Riverside Knitting Guild Afghan project.  This annual endeavor is a fundraiser for the guild.   Many of us are working away with our donation of a loving hands creation.  

This year, the theme is Be Green.  The provided yarn is Classic Worsted from Universal Yarn in Color 7087 (that being Linden green to go with the theme).  My offered square is perhaps too predictable.

Green yarn, green theme, green bamboo needles- it was all so obvious.  I can hardly wait to see what other members have accomplished.  If I had anyone to bet with, I would place a bet that there will be at least one Prius, one more recycle symbol and one or two windmills.   I wonder if it is possible to knit compost??

I just love the quickness of this square to break up the time commitment of the Fantasy vest and the crochet purse.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Juggling Projects

I was sweating it out.  And laughing at my self for falling into the trap of crocheting faster so as to not run out of yarn.  It was a squeaker, but the blue hung in there and the gussets for the upcoming purse are completed - and they match!  Which is always a good thing.  The matching.  But completing is a good thing as well.  

Because of the shape, these gussets remind me of water vases.  I like the fact that these are not just straight rectangular, but have a bit of bottom heavy girth. 

Not much else to say today.  Working on this purse and working on the Fantasy consume the available hours.  

Nothing gets finished, but a lot gets done.