Monday, June 30, 2014

Multiple Directions

Fixated.  That is an apt description for my knitting over the last week.  Absolutely fixated by the new direction of my work after spending two days learning from Myra Wood.

The pieces of knit fabric decided that they wanted to be a bag - a satchel of sorts for when I need just that perfect something.  After listening to the yarn make its decision, it was necessary to work side panels that would give width and balance out the other pieces.

Yes, just as Myra instructed, I steamed each section as the knitting progressed.  Each time a portion was finished, steam was applied.  Then after the entire rectangle was completed pins were placed selectively so that the whole piece could be steamed as one.  Because my yarn choices were not all the same content, over blocking was a good course.  Eventually, all the edges played nicely even though it was necessary to replace pins and slightly align some of the joins.

The underside is not a mess.  Given how many color changes are in this one rectangle, it could have resembled our drawer of electronic wires (don't ask; only family is allowed to see that tangled web).  I love weaving in ends as I knit or crochet and this photo shows why.  Not one tapestry needle was used in the making of this fabric.

Yes, there was some final adjustments made with tapestry needle, but that is a story for another day.

The thing about making a bag is that the knitting is just the first step.  Lining, determining the closure and making it, handle(s) and futzing are left to be done.  For now I leave you with this final thought.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Flowing Thoughts & Flowing Yarn

Run to the keyboard.  Type fast.  Skip a few lattes and a bagel and you can click your way to Knit In New Directions from Myra Wood.  Go do it now.  I will wait.

Whether you knit, crochet, quilt, draw or weave, Myra's journey into your own creativity will send your thoughts into a swirling mass of "must do NOW."

I was fortunate to spend two whole days with Myra in a workshop environment while knitters explored, learned and tinkered with yarn.  We thought about stitch patterns.  We deconstructed long color repeats to make our own color way.  We turned our work sideways and upside down.  We considered seams vs. picking up.  We were creative!

My mind is exhausted.

I have this much accomplished.  These two chunks are either pieces for a bag or the beginnings of a tee shirt.  I am happy and excited about the freedom to just make fabric. Well, that and the whole lesson about tails should this turn out to be a bag.

Thank you Myra Wood.  You rock.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Wacky World Of Yarn Work

Last week was like a roller coaster of hooks and needles held together by string.  Within twenty-four hours  I went on a wild ride of knitting a shop sample and crocheting for the television world.

It all started when a certain yarn store received a shipment of the new Knit Noro 1 2 3 Skeins book.  It is a winner for sure.  A sample was needed and I offered my service.

  Two balls of Noro Mossa later this Cabled Handbag was finished. From cast on through sewing and on to attaching the lining and the handles, this purse took about nine hours - including going shopping for the handles.  When I set my mind to finish something, it gets done.  Period.

And then the wacky got even wackier.  A friend received a job.  He had about four (as in 4) days to crochet a very specific afghan for a production company.  This was more than even the most prolific crochet insomniac can accomplish with precision.  Luckily, friends abound.  He posted and three of our extended group of yarn-a-holics offered to crochet.  We are all determined to be successful so that he gets more jobs for the industry folks down the road.

But let me tell you.   It is really something to see the designer of an afghan teach others to get exact gauge on every piece so that they will all fit together at the last minute with no major issues that could cause the deadline to be missed.

The designer/contractor has a loose hand.  What he could do on an H hook, I needed an I.  The first assistant who got to work needed a J hook to get gauge.  And the final assistant, when last I saw her, was determined to get gauge without moving all the way to a K hook (she is a very tight crocheter who sells her beautiful things all the time!)

Each of the three assistants (and yes, that includes me)  all  produce beautiful items.  But getting all four "hookers" working on what can only be described as panic pace and on the same gauge is not as easy as one might think.  Luckily for us, he who is in charge is an experienced teacher and he has us all working apace for the goal.  Job well done Leo.  Job well done.

So that was my wacky world of yarn work.  Two jobs, both on tight deadline.  And then I rested.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Don't Mess With This

The shelf unit in my yarn studio apparently was overly messy.  At least according to certain family members.  I believe the exact quote was "now, if you'd just do something about THAT." 

To be honest, they were absolutely correct.  The magazines and books were mostly sloppy.  The single patterns were all cattywampus and the beads & buttons were mixed up and spilling out of too small containers.

A little thinking, followed by quick shopping and Voila!  The mess is now hidden behind and in storage systems.   I admit that it will be much easier to find the gold beads in the bead bin and not have to filter through the wood buttons looking for beads. 

You, gentle reader, should be thrilled and delighted that I have spared you a before photo.  I took one; it was so life altering that I actually spend $$ on non-yarn items.  But, all in all, I am thrilled with the result. 

The magazines are in real actual magazine holders!  The binders of single patterns did not change, but it is obvious that serious time needs to be devoted to setting up new binders because two magazine holders are stuffed with patterns. 

The fabric bins have stolen my heart.  That I was able to find sizes that fit onto the preexisting shelves was a huge plus.  My brilliant idea to use yarn to tie on labels deserves a special mention on Pinterest. (she laughs deeply at that one) 

What is so special about these things is while the inside might be a total dump, the family gets to see a pretty picture of organization. 

This one little corner has inspired me to consider reworking the local stash.  But since that is behind closed closet doors, the family does not comment so much on that homage to the word "disarray." 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's Genetic

Today is bittersweet.  Ninety years ago, Ida Mae Francois was born.  Thirty years later she had a daughter when little Lenora was born.  Almost twenty years ago, Mama's life journey ended.

One corner of my yarn studio purposely keeps her memory alive.  Every day that I walk in, I feel the genes wiggle and wake up.  And life goes on.

The two needlepoint pieces are in the style of Currier & Ives.  Mama did those;  I have them.  The oval photo is Alexon and Laura Francois - Mama's parents/my grandparents. 

Under that is a very humble snap shop of the rocker that I still have.  My memory has failed, but it might be that the rocker belonged to Laura (surely it could not be old enough to have been Laura's mother who owned it).  I remember when Daddy and Mama replaced the original cane seat (broken from years of wear) with the pad and upholstery that is still there today.

The hooked pillow front is left over from when Mama tried to re-teach me to hook a rug.  It is cute and meaningful to me even if the skill is not very technical.  And look at the pink afghan tossed over the back of the rocker.  That is from the hand of daughter Sarah - she who crochets - adding her skill and yarn love to the corner that is dedicated to the women of my family.

From Laura to Ida Mae to Lenora to Sarah.   It's genetic and I am proud.

Happy Birthday, Mama.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This & T-HAT

Do for others.  Period.  You have heard it from me in prior posts and at least once a year I ask you to provide loving hands creations for those who need a bit of extra love.

Well, as it happens the opportunity to do a little extra came my way.  The President of ESSS knitting guild mentioned that her daughter ( a labor & delivery nurse) sometimes has need for blankets and caps for extreme preemie babies.  I decided that I could use the Cherub DK from the stash to knit a few wee small blankets.

I knew that I had two balls of light pink and a skein of pure white.    The request to knit for these extremely premature little souls was "about fifteen inches."  Surely that one skein of white would make a square - would it not?

There wasn't quite as much yarn as I thought. 

Thoughts of waiting until my LYS reopened the next morning were of no comfort.  It would not work if that last little corner became pink.  Since I did not have any blue, I was hoping that the solid white would suffice for a little boy.

There is no way for me to know for certain, but I suspect that I am not the first knitter or crocheter to ransack the stash in the middle of the night looking for just a little bit more.

TaDa!  Success.    I'm happy to finish the first blanket and the remainder of this white is becoming a center square that will be surrounded by pink. 

And that's why I have a stash.  So I can help out a friend's daughter without waiting for the store to open.

Oh, and I made another chemo cap for these kind folks.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Right To The Point

Let's get right to the point.  Another project has been cast on.  I'm not a big nor talented lace knitter but something about this free pattern caught my eye.  Oh, sure - it is designed for a dk yarn.  So what can possibly go wrong if I make it out of lace weight?  Same stitches, different gauge, and there was no need to go shopping due to the stash.

Just add another to the long list of "on the needle or hook" at Maison Francois. 

I figure that if anything does happen to go wrong (am I tempting the yarn gods?)  the simple fact that I have already admitted to being untalented when it comes to knitted lace actually removes some the the shame should the inevitable occur.  But I am trying to control for mishaps.

Check out all of the markers!  One marker for every two pattern repeats.  Hopefully this means that I  never have more than twenty stitches to tink.  And I plan to use multiple life lines just for good measure.

Wish me luck, please.  This one will receive my total focus when I'm not working on the tee, the thread crochet shawl, the blanket, the new charity caps or testing a vest pattern for a friend. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was . . .

 Fuzzy Wuzzy was a shawl.

Fuzzy Wuzzy came from a shaggy ball.

So Fuzzy Wuzzy was very fuzzy,

Wasn't she?

Three balls of Mystique (from Knitting Fever)
Size US 13 circular knitting needle.

Cast on 20 stitches,
Row 1:  Slip first stitch purl-wise,  K1 f&b, K across.

Repeat Row 1 until shawl is as large as you wish.

Use a stretchy BO.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Let's Go Shopping

Last week was very productive.  And I even found time to knit!  This is my version of the Princess Kate Shawl.  The theme is the focus of a knit-a-long at one of the knitting guilds to which I belong.  Those of us who are participating will all wear our shawls at a holiday party in December.  And yes, I am patting myself on the back that I am finished months and months early.

The shawl is unique in the way it is constructed.  There are many shawls that are knit or crocheted side-to-side.  That is not the unique part.  What makes this one special is that the ruffle edging goes around the whole thing and it is worked as the shawl body is worked.  Fun short rows do the magic.

The other magical thing about this version is the texture that results from twisted stitches.  All that is needed to make the twist is to knit through the back loop (tbl).  I love the result!

I am convinced that this twist is what slowed down my knitting.  From cast on to weave in this simple shape took three months.  That's a long time for me to work on something so small. 

To be totally honest, this one got ignored a lot.  There was a crocheted tee, a shawl, two necklaces, a gift bolero, a gift scarf, two market bags, a shell, flip flops, a cardigan and three hats that interrupted the knitting.  So, I was not really slacking off. 

The thing is, I don't think this shawl is complete.  I keep looking at the center point and it looks dull.  As it happens, I was recently gifted a bit of copper metallic embroidery floss. 

And my thoughts are off and running!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Embarrassed To The Core

My head hangs in shame. 

A few nights ago, there was a local news piece about these kind folks who are needing assistance with shipping costs.  I've done my part in whipping up hats for their distribution efforts.  Watching the news reminded me that I had not sent them hats for a while.  I know this for a fact, because I actually walk into the Post Office to  mail the package.  And it has been a whole heap of weeks since I walked into that place.

Then I got to thinking and wondering.  What did I do with those hats that I made?  Did I donate the finished work to a different organization?

And that sent me upstairs into the yarn studio  on a seek and find mission that turned into soul searching.  Right there in a straight line with the doorway was a pile of hats - five finished and one waiting for the decreases.

Here it is already June and that collection of hats was just sitting there.  Un-Donated.   Non-Contributed.  I failed to do my part for the world of care.

The two grey ones are wool and I had planned to send them to a group that works with homeless teens.  My thought was pure; my action was missing.

The purple/yellow are cotton and acrylic and the multicolored are acrylic.  Those four were designated as chemo cap contributions.  The making was a joy; the final use was to be happiness.

I am pleased to report that the deed is done.  While it is true that I do not personally have access to facilities that distribute warmth and head hugs, I do have access to those nonprofits that take care of spreading the joy.  These six are now in the pipeline of love.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Moving Apace In Full Color

The second project from designer Linda Skuja is moving along quickly.  And it is in living color!

This crochet short row design is fun and eye catching.  The yarn makes me feel secure in my goal of expanding my palette into colors that are not my normal comfort zone.

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball is a friend of mine.  This Crazy version is, however, new to me.  And it is fun!

The color repeats of Crazy remind me of the way that Noro is plied - with a whole lot more wool.  Even though this pattern is quite open (requiring full coverage underneath) and the design features cap sleeves, the wool of the Zauberball will provide much warmth.  I'm thinking that this one will be a great addition to my winter wardrobe.

Here is the back.  The short row sections are not for the beginner and many suggestions for success abound within the social media yarn world.  That part is great and one of the reasons that I am so active in following blogs, notes & discussion on Ravelry and face-to-face participation in both formal and informal knit/crochet groups.

What do I mean?  I mean all the free help, advice and tips that are to be had by reaching out and joining in!  I get free help, I offer input, the yarn spins, the hook & sticks move and projects are completed.  Right now, I personally know four others who are all working on this pattern.  We help each other, we offer up well deserved "Oohs and Aahs" and we agree when it is time to add that extra row* into the pattern.

*The Extra Row reads:  Rip back now.