Monday, September 30, 2013

Slightly Ahead Of My Time

This annual post is a few days early.  But that's OK.  It is never too early to ask, "what have you knit or crocheted for others?"  That's right.  This is my recurring reminder that doing for others is the best gift you can give to yourself.

For this week, I have put aside the chemo caps and am working on a group project.  Twenty knitters - with a wide variety of skill levels - have linked needles to make a blanket for a local organization that provides support for women who need a little extra care.

The blanket is pink.  We are each knitting a square - a pink square.  The pattern is familiar to me because I have seen others complete the designs.  And if they can do it, so can I. 

The squares are all selected from  the Leisure Arts publication Sculptured Squares.  The squares are worked by casting on the outer edge and working in the round toward the center.  That's right.  One knits in the round and produces a square.  I find that absolutely hilarious. 

The organizer of our endeavor has assigned me to make the "X Star" square.  The only difference between my square and all the others will be the way that the center is worked and how the final weaving of live stitches is done.   It will be a new experience for me. 

Don't you just love it?  I get to learn something new, practice getting gauge so as to match other knitters' gauge, and donate a blanket to someone who needs a little extra love. 

Life is good!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Candy Cane Short Of a Holiday

 As soon as a new shipment of holiday candy canes arrives in the stores (should be any time now as it is after Labor Day), my new felted bowl will be filled with the tradition of red and white stripes.   

Look!  I learned, at the simple beginner step, how to make a felted bowl.  She already has a name:  Miss Holly Day.   I like traditional red because it can be used successfully for so many holidays here in the good ol' U S of A.  It just happens that the next opportunity for a red and white scheme is in late December.  Unless you count Veteran's Day which does not have a traditional candy.  But I digress way off the point.

Let me pause in self admiration to state the obvious:  the thrill of acquiring the skills related to a new art form is surpassed only by the opportunity to start a new stash.

Must rush out and buy roving.  Must start saving sealed air in the form of bubble wrap.  This without using the stuff as a stress moderator.  Must get to a craft shop and stock up on a few sheets of foam stuff.  Must use the bamboo mat for something other than rolling sushi. 

Oh, the thrill of it all. 

Check out this second photo.    It shows the bottom of Miss Holly Day and looks quite different from her top side.  She has bits of roving felted in so that she resembles crushed candy canes.  Just a little wacky fun on my part.  I think it is hilarious. 

And speaking of hilarity, notice that her space for inserting said candy canes is slightly off center.  Just like the maker.  Yep, I cut that hole off center and askew on purpose.  Be warned.  Cutting a hole in wet felt that is purposely not centered nor distinctly on the edge is no easy task.  Wonky, on purpose, takes talent, skill and precision.

Miss Holly Day is the result of a class offered by the talented Sara S. of Felt Evolution.  She is teaching workshops all over the southland.    Her classes require no knitting talent.  Crochet is not needed.  Taking a Sara class requires only a free spirit and the desire for an upper body workout.  

Miss Holly Day and I appreciate your admiration.  Now, where can I hide a stash of roving?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Square Fashion

Keeping up with runway fashion trends is not my thing.  For decades what delights me is what I wear.  There is the occasional "must wear" for specific events or command performances and typically those ensembles do not put a smile on my face.  Thus, I am sometimes not quite in step with the latest look.  Especially considering that there is probably not a trendy look for a short, slightly puffy aging Cajun.

Lately, I have once again become enamored with the square and rectangle method of creating garments.  Wiggle being the most recent example.  Having designed and knitted that one rather quickly, I wanted another quick to make pattern that would work well with a recent Koigu purchase.  When I saw the colorway of the KPPPM, I bought enough to crochet a long vest.  But I have a crocheted long vest and while it was a pleasant experience, the thrill of something different was calling me. 

Enter Lily Chin's Sycamore poncho published in Interweave Crochet, Fall 2010.  A quick ten days (give or take) resulted in a lovely fall layering piece.  The pattern claims "half a dozen way to wear."  So far, ways 4, 5 & 6 remain a mystery. 

All in all, I am thrilled.  The main body is worked in extended single crochet (esc) which blocks so differently from plain old single crochet.  The best thing about the pattern is that you work a rectangle with a huge hole then add rectangles to each side and voila!  A  huge square shaped poncho.  It might not be cutting edge fashion, but it is squarely my fashion.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wiggle And Worn

Sometimes, upon executing the last stitch or seam, my honest thought is "glad that is over."  There is pride in the completion.  But sometimes there is no joy in the accomplishment.  Not so with Wiggle.  In fact, letting her go long enough to block was almost more than I could take.

Wiggle is me.  The right now me.  The current life phase me.  Wiggle and I are one.

The RSS hem and arm openings are worked in a Lorna's Laces Solemate.  It only takes a bit of yarn to add the edging.  The rest of the body is a simple chevron lace with centered double decreases that  mirrors the knit stitch running up the lacy holes.  Working all that repetition was made bliss due to the yarn.  And that yarn is Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Spun by Bijou Basin.  Oh, my word.  Yak Down (75%) and Bamboo (25%) feels luscious when you buy it, wind it, work it and wear it. 

Knitting (or crocheting) wearable items that are based on a basic square or rectangle is so easy.

No shaping is required.
Which means that less brain power is needed.
The stitch work is the true star.
You just keep repeating the same thing until the length makes you happy.

Notes were taken throughout the knitting.  But mostly the notes are similar to EZ-type patterns:  repeat these two rows until front measures 10 inches.  Even so, I will write up my notes as this one is a keeper.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Simple Toddler Hat

Simple Toddler Hat
Lenora François Stewart
François Stewart DesignsTM
The Simple Toddler Hat is a variation of the many baby hat patterns available that feature a rolled edge.  This version inserts a simple decorative band to add interest.


·      50-grams worsted weight yarn such as Plymouth Encore
·      Size #7 (4.5mm) Double Pointed Needles
·      Stitch Markers

CO 72 stitches and divide evenly over 4 DPNs (18 stitches each needle)  Work in the round.
Rows 1-8                    Knit. 
Row 9                         K3, P3
Row 10                       Knit all stitches
Repeat Rows 9 & 10 two (2) more times

Row 15 – 17               Knit
Row 18                       P3, K3
Row 19                       Knit all stitches
Repeat Rows 18 & 19 two (2) more times
Work even until cap measures 4 ½ inches from cast on edge.

Decrease Round          (K7, K2tog, PM)  8 times 
Work even until cap measures 5 ½ inches from cast on edge

Decrease Round          (K to 2 stitches before marker, k2tog)  repeat to beginning of round
Next Round                 Knit all stitches
Continue to alternate a decrease round and an knit round until eight (8) stitches remain [drop markers and needles as necessary]
Next Round                 (k2tog) 4 times – 4 stitches left on one needle

Work icord for 3 – 4 inches.  Cast off.
Weave in ends and knot icord.

© 2008 François Stewart Designs, Lenora Francois Stewart


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

There Is Still Time To Join In

I was on a mission.  Wearing blinders that allowed me to see only the mission and nothing else, I entered the yarn store.  Stop laughing.  Right now!  I have the strength of will to stick to a plan and only the plan.  Yes I do.  The mission that day was gift certificates to award as prizes to participants in a challenge.  I even brought along the daughter who crochets and she had permission to force me to stick to the mission.  We had made it to the first yarn store and met the mission.  The second store was an easy in and out to get one last certificate, pay in cash and walk out.

My daughter is a wimp. 

Upon entering that den of sticks and string, what did my wandering eyes behold, but a box full of color with only a few selections left unclaimed.  It is not my fault!  Already coordinated and wrapped with cute bows, each available bundle was speaking to me.  Speaking.  BAAH.  BAAH.   BAAH.

I can resist anything except temptation.  Let me repeat - my daughter is a wimp and I am now an official participant (along with thousands of others) in Stephen West's upcoming KAL.  Signed up - following the Ravelry group and discussions - ready for a jolly time knitting a shawl with no photo - and wondering why you are not on this crazy journey with me.   You have time to jump on the bandwagon and cast on when the first clue is released on September 13th.   Friday the 13th. 

This is actually the first time I will do a "mystery" KAL where the clues are released one at a time.  And naturally I have a bit of travel to do during clue 2, so I might be a tad behind in my knitting. 

And, just in case you are wondering, daughter did remind me to get the gift certificate that started the whole thing.  So, in a way, she did her job.  Maybe I am the wimp???

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's True What They Say

I belong to three knitting guilds, subscribe to all manner of newsletters and follow blogs.  Sooner or later each of these outlets offers advice on exercises for knitters.  Ways to prevent pain.  Tips on how to knit longer and faster without getting twinges.  Hints for avoiding eye strain.  And I dutifully skim the words or listen with half and ear. 

Well, this weekend I practiced what they preach.   My shoulders were relaxed and down.  Not all hunched up getting ever closer to my ears.  Elbows were at a comfortable angle that kept the stitches right in the sweet spot of my bifocals.

And every twenty - thirty minutes I set the yarn aside and moved.  As in got up and walked.  Eyes were focused on objects far away - like watching the clouds for any sign of actual rain.  I even did that slow roll of the head from front to side to back to side and to front again.  I did it in both directions.

Then the fingers got a work out.  One by one, the finger tips touched the palm and slowly worked up to a straight position which moves all of the joints .  Wrists were flapped around and loosened.  And then back to work I went.  Longer breaks revolved around food and football.  But always I went back to the sticks and string.

It's true what they say.  Exercise, correctly applied, allows for more pain free knitting.  Two thousand four hundred sixty stitches one day.  Followed by three thousand six hundred ninety stitches the next day.  That makes a total of 6150 pain free stitches.  Cool.