Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Creature

One brief moment.  That's what it took to suddenly be on the brink of disaster.

All I wanted to do was to take one or two quick photos that would update you on the progress of the current Woolfolk project.  I turned my head ever so briefly to adjust that magic hem and lay a tape measure so as to prove that progress is being made.

And then. . . .

You must understand that I forgot that Bert was flying free and enjoying life.  He was quietly entertaining himself and not bothering me at all.

And then. . . .

In the flash of a wing, he was suddenly in AWE of my bright pink project bag.  I was caught unaware.  Unaware that I'd forgotten to pull the drawstring tight so as to prevent accidents.  The bag is filled with all the the yarn, already wound into cakes and just waiting to be added in to the needle work.

Faster than my hand could swat, but not so swift that my trigger photo finger could not keep snapping, that creature was ready to grab for the opening and explore the fancy color that had attracted him.

 It is amazing what one beak and one little foot can accomplish.  Surely it was the pink.

Maybe it was the hole that looked like it needed exploring.

Maybe it was a crazed old Cajun lady screaming louder than a jungle bird.

What ever it was, it was a temptation that could not be resisted.

Bert accomplished his goal and discovered a new activity.  And he quickly learned that such activity is a sure way to be sent back to bird jail!

The yarn is unharmed.

And yes, I ate the Halloween candy as a way to deal with the stress of mothering a curious creature.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Magic Hem

How could I resist?  For days and days it spoke to me.  It called my name.  Finally, temptation won and I am the proud owner of  Woolfolk Tynd.  This is not a yarn to languish in the stash for "some day."  Oh, no.  It is a "cast on right now and get to it" kind of yarn.  So I did.

I thought and thought about the pullover that it wanted to be.  At first, a basic top down raglan with vertical bands of twisted stitches seemed like the way to go.  Subtle but worth a second look.  That plan is now in reserve for the future. 

Working in the round was the goal.  And something that would not require too much attention so that it could be public knitting.  Well, gentle reader, this is a story about what happened to the yarn.  Or is it a yarn with a story? 

There I sat, cakes of yarn, needles and an idea popped into my noggin' - Judy Becker's Magic Cast On is actually a folded hem just waiting to happen.  Now, I am making a bottom up sorta tee shirt that will probably have simple lace at the top.

This is the end of four rounds of the Magic sitting there ready to become a knitted hem.  Please know that I worked the front and back separately so that there will be a little vent on each side of the hem.

Rather than making a humongous sock toe, I worked a k2tog all the way across.  This joined the two rows of stitches into one band that magically became the hem.

Can I hear a Voila!  You will note that the yarn is a deep merlot/berry shade and I simply could not face making a traditional folded hem where one is forced to actually sew the foldy up part to the knitting stitches which just happen, in this case, to be dark and tiny (well, a size US 6 tiny) and make no mistake in 115 stitches and then do the exact same perfection to make the other panel and well. . . . I just could not do it. 

 Here it is.  Judy's Magic Hem.  Surely others have done this.  I can't be the only one to have an inspirational moment.  So, I'll not take credit for the brilliance. 

After making the first hem, I make a second that (I am pleased to report) is exactly like the first.  Everything was slid onto one needle and joined to work in the round.  Now, there is just round and round of stockinette to be done until a second color decides to join the merriment.  Public Knitting project accomplished!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Barely Bear-like

Does this look like a bear?  

The little crochet bear has reached that point where it kinda sorta has bear qualities but the crochet curls and twists and looks like a wad of cotton that has strange appendages.  Me thinks that faith is required.  And a lot of stuffing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Family Jealousy

Even with out a face, isn't this little bear just the cutest thing!

Daughter #1, she who crochets, found the pattern and whipped it up in no time.  She thought and thought about a face and decided that he is what ever one needs him to be - happy, sad, hungry, sleepy, playful, what ever  one needs. 

And she is going to teach me how to make it. 
Cuz I'm jealous that she found the pattern before I did. 

Sometimes, in a family, that's the way thing are.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Artfully Simple

Check out this Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf by Tamara Kelley.  My daughter, she who crochets, makes these quite often.  She has them in a whole rainbow of colors and yarns.

It is hard to tell  in this photo, but the circle is crocheted with just chains and double crochet stitches.  That makes it very approachable for the novice and a no-look quick project for those of us with a year or two of experience.

I know I have decades of experience with a crochet hook, but please allow me a few days of bliss in the land of make believe.

 The scarf is long enough to double and wear it snuggled around the neck.  That's too hot here in Los Angeles, so I made a button loop that is useful for containing the long loops so that they don't flop around where I already flop around. 

And here is the great part.  I don't even have to tell you how I made the button loopy thing because it is right there in the free pattern!  Ain't it grand?

Yes, this is a worsted yarn (specifically Cascade Yarns Pacific which is machine washable), but I'm thinking it would be great in a DK weight which would require changing hook size and doing math to calculate a longer starting chain and diving again into the button stash and... . . . .

Sorry, got distracted due to The Illness*.  Check out the Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf.  It's a great and versatile pattern.

*The Illness is Start-itis. And I've got a bad case.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Call To Yarn!

The Knitting Tree, LA is collecting shawls, scarfs and hats for a local domestic violence shelter.  Shelters offer  safety and security in times of urgent need.  Haven seekers often arrive with nothing but a strong determination to be strong.  Thus, we are all banding together to knit or crochet safe hugs filled with support for the future.

Consider this post a personal invitation to join in gifting one more item for one more person.  You can make any neck or head gear out of any soft and comforting yarn that is in your stash.  Just put your love into each stitch.  Bring your donation to the Tree any time before Thanksgiving.  Annette is asking each donor to write a short note of encouragement - tags are available at the store.

 This is my first contribution.
Pattern:  Weaver's Wool Mini Shawl available free at this link here.
Yarn:  Worsted from the stash

*  Stripes were added.  Not a big deal, but with two left over bits in the stash, there was enough to combine yarns and make a shawl.

*  Needle sizes were changed to help make the bottom stretch out so that, when needed, it can be pulled around like a hug.  The top 3+ inches is worked on a US 9, then a US 10 for a while, followed by (you guessed it) a 10 1/2  and finally a US 11 for the bottom rows and ruffle.

*  The bottom edge is a ruffle instead of the pattern edge.  My edge is quite simple:
Row 1 -  k1, yo (yarn over) and repeat all the way across ending with a k1.
Row 2 - knit
Row 3 - knit
Row 4 - Bind off.  Of course more knit rows will make a longer ruffle.  So make yourself happy with this part.

This is not my first experience with the pattern.  I can tell you from experience that it looks fabulous when knit with a fluffy stripey yarn all on the same size needle. 

The gift of unconditional love.  With a little yarn, we can all give.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Crochet One For The Cause

 Check out this fun to make Awareness Ribbon Scarf from Naztazia.  There is video support to guide your hook, should you need it.

As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  My mother battled the disease as have several members of my extended family.  And yes, I know one man who also was diagnosed and became a champion for the cause.

My scarf is based on the pattern above.  Rather than a whole scarf or shawl of ribbons, I only did three ribbon repeats for each end of the skinny scarf.  In order to get the ribbons to present in the correct orientation, a bit of magic is needed.  The pattern explains it all.

Basically, I made one end with three repeats.  Then I made another end of three repeats and started the open work.  When the scarf was almost long enough, the last row of open work was attached (via slip stitches) to the first end so that the ribbons hang in the right way.

I will be proudly wearing this scarf for the rest of the month.  And it is time to schedule my mammogram, which reminds me to remind you to schedule yours!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Knotted Up

This ain't your granny's  cable. This is a knot cable and is worked quite differently from the old standby.  It is still set off with reverse stockinette (or garter or seed), but this one floats above a panel.

Go get the Knit Simple Magazine, Holiday 2014 issue.  This is pattern #15 which include three different pillows designed by Annabelle Speer.  Yesterday, I told you about learning this new way of working a twist into hand knit.  The Ravelry description for this states  You’ll love this needle-free method of making cables: knit strips in stockinette, tie the strips into a knot, then continue knitting.

This would be a lovely holiday gift.  An even better thought is to make this knotted pillow as a wedding gift.  Get it?  Tie The Knot.   Sometimes I crack myself up.

The pattern is clear that the pillows are made in two pieces and seamed.  I've been thinking about that the whole time I worked this thing.  What follows are my conclusions should you be interested.

Pros for working a pillow in two pieces:
  • Seams add strength to knit that will be scrunched, flattened, punched and otherwise used in daily life.
  • Seams let you adjust the final size should you not find the exact pillow form to fit your final pieces.
  • Seams let you practice mattress stitch and become either a pro or a failure.
  • Working in two pieces forces the knitter to slow down due to the "joy" of the purl stitch - unless you knit backwards and well, that's a whole different story.
 Pros for working the pillow in the round:
  • You get to start with Judy's Magic Cast On which is the most amazing and useful contribution to knitting since EZ herself.
  • There is no need to fret counting rows because the front and the back will automatically be the same.
  • Only one seam!
  • Once the thing is a few inches deep, it makes a handy pocket for holding the yarn ball when you put the thing on the floor and someone walks by and that stupid cake of yarn goes rolling under the sofa and someone else has to get down and try to reach or get a broom handle or move the furniture.
Because this pillow (Madelintosh Tosh Vintage in Sugar Plum colorway) is a shop sample,  I followed the pattern and knit two pieces.  You, gentle knitter, may decide for yourself the best way to knit a pillow.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Falling Into Place

October started out with a packed and full schedule that threw me off my game for a while.  The good news is that the dreaded seed stitch and I parted ways for a whole whopping five days!  That felt really good.

First, and this pleases me greatly, I am helping out at The Knitting Tree, LA for a few hours twice a week.   The owners are devoting some time to setting up the (soon to open) online store and that requires lots of planning and thinking and strategizing  and even a bit of down time.  

Do you remember that fab and fad of a cardigan known as February Lady Sweater?  I'm smack dab in the middle of teaching it.  Well, actually the class is more about personalizing the fit of a top down sweater and adjusting things to fit a specific body.  My students are amazing.  Each seems to be working a different gauge, so there is even MATH involved.  Just imagine, if you will, this old Cajun who claims to be a horrid practitioner of number things actually showing students how to work the math and get a desired result.  We are having a blast with the pattern.

This past weekend involved volunteering within my local yarn community.  Volunteering always makes me happy and lending a hand at Yarnosphere was a joy.  Lots of friends from all over southern California attended.  There were classes and shopping and demonstrations and book signings and free help and winding stations and beaucoup things to keep a person sick with startitis for quite a long time.  One of my guilds had a booth and I helped out there for a little while also.  

Even with all of this going on, I learned something new on Friday.  Check out these pillows featuring a knot cable:  #15 Cabled Pillow by Annabelle Speer.  Talk about "out of the box" knitting.  It is almost too simple and the effect is eye catching.

Because the brain needs exercise and the familiar, I returned to an old favorite pattern and am occupied planning a new crochet class using the familiar project as a teaching tool.  The class will actually focus on extended crochet stitches and the relation between those stitches and chainless foundation crochet.  It's gonna be fun to teach - - once I get organized and have time to focus on the materials.

What is the result of all this busy madness?  Monday afternoons are now dedicated to staying home and getting to all of these UFOs.