Monday, September 29, 2014

You Get What You Cast On

The moment that the stitches were cast on, the future was determined. One might think that a bit of innocence was involved, but that was not the case.  It could be that misplaced belief in a possible miracle was part of the decision - nope.  

It turns out that when an experienced knitter casts on eighty-eight stitches with the intent of producing a swath of drapey fabric that measures forty inches in length and has two slits so as to make a sideways loose vest AND said experienced knitter willingly starts working seed stitch there bound to be lots and lots of moans and groans, not to mention other "sounds."

 One week after casting on and it is only one third done and I might be ready to send it to time out.  

Luckily I have three other projects to keep me happy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mixing Stitchery

Combining crochet and knit in a project makes me happy.  Years ago, there was the ribbed skirt with the crochet edging.  I still love that one and wear it every winter.  More recently, the blue afghan was a fun way to connect sections with no seaming (or ends to weave in) at the end.

This weekend, I cast my eye at a left over ball of Noro with the few orphan bits of color from other balls and decided to try a hat that has been twirling through my mind.

 The  band is TSS (Tunision Simple Stitch) worked  to a length that was about three inches longer than needed to go around my head.  TSS makes a lovely chain on the edge which is just perfect for picking up stitches for knitting.  From there, I used my regular hat pattern and let the Noro Silk Garden do its thing.

Finishing was simple.  The  band was crossed over itself and pinned for a perfect fit.  The two buttons are non-functional, but really do add a bit of style and hold the band in place.  One large statement button would work also.  

Making this took one afternoon.  But it will probably take a few weeks of procrastination before I write up the pattern.  In the mean time, this will become my new charity hat pattern for the fall.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ta Da - With a Virtual Cartwheel For Good Measure

Time to celebrate!

I have named her Green Tea.  The real pattern is Afternoon Tea which can be accessed here.

 The blocking went great.  Well, except for that part where I didn't have enough of the thin flexible  wires and had to pin the last points out individually which was a pain.  But I did it.

Can you see why she is named Green Tea?  The fabulous color morph of Freia Handpaint ends with picot points of green dripping from the tea shawl. 

It is hard to stop admiring the finished work and I keep patting my self on the back for sticking with it and conquering this whole lace thing.  Just picture it - - me doing a celebratory cartwheel and dancing in the end zone.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

When Not Knitting Lace

Call it boredom or time out or TV knitting or public knitting or whatever you want, but most yarn workers will have more than one project going at a time.  When the lace got me down for a little bit, I moved on to bigger things.

This is a big yarn/big needle shawl.  And when I say big needle, I mean a #19 knitting instrument that is a whopping 15 mm.  The thing barely fits in my delicate southern hands!  That is not the point.  The point is that with big yarn and big needles one can produce a holey shawl in just a few hours which is a totally different thing than using itty bitty yarn and smallish needles to produce a holey shawl in hours and hours and days and days. 

And when that itty bitty lace got me down a second time, I made this.

Yep, another brown fuzzy shawl for the shoulders.  This one has fake fur orbs dancing across the front.  I can't decide if it is artistic chic or just plain tacky.  But I love it and it took no time at all to make this size.  By the way, this was on size 13 needles which are not nearly as large as the tree branches that are used to make the #19 needles.

Both of these go very well with jeans and just might become my grocery shopping neckwear for when I need to access the frozen food case and feel like I've stepped into the Antarctic winter. 

That's it folks.  Back to the lace I go.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It Is True

What they say is true.  The third time is the charm.

Let me confess right here, in front of everyone, that it took four carrots, a scoop of bean dip with chips and a fair amount of fresh fruit to accomplish this.  Nibbles and knitting always make me happy.

What you see might look like an out of focus wad of lace, which is what is it in total.  There was no way to get a well lit and well focused photo given the way that my hands were shaking from joy at the magnificent accomplishment.

Please  stare at  the last row - with stitch markers - that has the correct number of stitches and yarn overs to make the next lace pattern work correctly.    The third time is the charm, even if it is midnight when the magic happens and you've over indulged in sort of healthy tasty treats and some of the crumbs have fallen into the lace and counting to eleven becomes a chore and all you want to do is frog the whole thing.  

Hang in there my friends.  It is only sticks and string.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Not So Thrilling Part. . . .

of making all this yarn stuff is that it needs care to be the best it can be. 

 And of course I am talking about the blocking part of the finishing process.  Last week there was lots of final finishing to be done.  It is rare that I steam block.  There is nothing wrong with steam.  Don't misunderstand my point of view.  A few weeks ago, I even taught someone how to use steam to make magic!

The problem with steam is that my fingers get in the way.  Steam is hot!  And so my finger once got too close and I try not to repeat that experience.

This is the shawl that turned out to be a runner for the buffet.  I loved crocheting the strips together.  That part was great fun.  The actual crocheting of 202 rows of itty bitty narrow stuff - - not so much.  The thought of making another two panels did not sit well with me, so I stopped and now the thing is not wide enough to be a shawl for wearing to Tea with the Queen.  However, it looks great in the dining room and will probably stay there throughout the autumn months.

The vacation crochet set came out great.  I made a collar to go with the mitts.  The collar is nothing unique.  It is just a v-stitch worked in the round with a jolt of color.  It flares due to increasing the number of chains between the double crochet of the v stitch.  This set will live permanently in my travel bag.  The next time my row mate on a flight opens up the air flow to "arctic" I'll just pull these out and have a warm neck and toasty hands. 

And thinking about my narrow tolerance zone for temperature fluctuations  - it is now September.  And there is hope in my heart that one day a cool breeze will waft by and Fall will arrive.  It is time to pull out the wool blends and freshen things up for those two hours in the evening when warmth might be  needed before I realize that it is only 68 degrees and I start stripping off the layers. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Playing Catch Up (because the laundry is done)

It is hard for even me to believe that this top has been worn so much in the past month that it needed a good washing.  Well, truth be told, it wasn't worn so much as it was "glowed" upon.  August was a hot month and the last thing I need is my fine knittery languishing about in old sweat my personal scent. 

Here is proof that I can wear horizontal stripes!  This particular pattern (#15 available on Ravelry) has adjusted my attitude greatly. 

After much contemplation and studying of these photos and the actual top, it is possible I have figured out why I love these stripes when I eschew all others. 

#1  These stripes are narrow.
#2  The texture change between garter & stockinette is fun to admire.
#3  The color flow of dark through light play tricks with what the eye beholds.
#4  The vertical stripes add length and a "narrowness" to the sides which also fools the eye.
#5  I freaking love Noro!

At first there was much fretting about the little short-row cap sleeves.  Not the actual short row making - that never bothers me.  I was worried about bunching up under the arm.  There is a little bit, but no so much that it looks weird or anything.

I am so in love with this style on my body that my mind has been straying to color choices for another version. 

Straying a lot. 

Straying often.

I will finish other projects, I will finish other projects, I will finish other projects, I will fini..............

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


And what did my wandering eyes behold? Something new to me!

These are Hitched Bottles.  I've seen many a bottle wrapped with yarn or raffia or jute.  I've heard of a hitch knot.  But never in all my born days have I encountered a hitched bottle.

A bit of investigation confirmed my suspicion.  This type of art is only new to me - - it has a huge number of practitioners.  Knotting around a bottle or container is quite old. 

One obvious current use is a water bottle sling.  Here I'm not talking about a  crochet or knitted carrier into which the bottle is inserted.  This is all about working the string/yarn around the bottle, knot by knot.

This is a good overview of a simple technique that is called a netted bottle.  Same concept as the hitched bottle. 

Self-Made Sailor has some interesting things (and a recipe) over here.  I love the bottom of the bottles.  Do click on over and have a look see.

Further investigation turned up the International Guild of Knot Tyers (IGKT) which just proves that knots are quite a serious matter. 

So what is my point?  Simply this.  A length of fiber is a valuable thing that has practical use AND makes for some mighty fine art.  Yeah for string!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day

There are those who do not understand my current labor.  That's OK.  An artist is difficult to understand, even in her own country.

I have had several past lives, each of which required some version of labor.  First, there was the summer work giving teens and youth a safe, healthy outlet for their energy.  There was the time spent in the contract division of an engineering firm which was followed by my first introduction to the museum world.  Eventually I returned to museums and other nonprofit endeavors which probably explains why I still contribute to those who give to others.  (Have you donated a hat or scarf or blanket recently?)

This weekend has exposed another labor.

Witness the labor of math.  Sweat broke out on my brow.  Breathing was difficult.  Shoulder muscles ached.  Markers were Inserted.  Increases were made.  Yarn Overs were figured out and equally spaced.  Counting occurred.  

In the end, two hundred and ninety whopping six stitches were appropriately placed.  Just what the pattern desired. 

And I did it.  On the first try!

Happy Labor Day to all who labor.