Monday, May 23, 2016

What Constitutes Happiness For One. . . .

Corra, a top down pullover by Jo Allport makes for quick and successful knitting.  The original pattern is knit in one color of Araucania Kiñe.   But with a blank canvas of stitches to work with, I did perhaps go off scheme.

 - - - - Step up on Soap Box - - - -

Color!  I love color.  Asymmetrical color makes me very pleased and nigh on to giddy.  Where is it written that sleeves must be the same color?  Who ever said that a pocket must be aligned with some vertical or horizontal perfection? 

My style might not be to your liking.  And your style might not be to my way of thinking.  However - and this is the whole point - this yarn thing lets each person decide personally what constitutes happiness

 - - - - Exit Soap Box - - - -

My Wonky version of Corra  is two colors of Kiñe interrupted by Baah! La Jolla (a mini skein did all of this striping!) 

Yes, the Kiñe is dk.  Yes, the La Jolla is fingering.  Who cares?  Not me.  I just keep knitting  and let the needle circumference & surrounding stitches take care of making it all work out.

 There is no pocket on the pattern.  I added this one by picking up at the bottom seed stitch edge.  No, it isn't exactly on the front.  It isn't exactly centered on the middle stitch of the side.  It is skewed toward the front and of a size that it will not hold a phone.  But it will hold keys or mad money and that pop makes me happy.

Go back to the first photo of smiling me and notice that the sleeves are different.  One is black. Why.  Because I like it that way.  No other reason.  Well, it does cause the casual observer to take a second look and admire my handknit sweater and wonder how they, too, might own such a marvel of happiness.  And that also make me happy.

Always keep 'em guessing.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Eleventy Million Stitches Later

The deed is done!  Yes, it did feel like eleventy million stitches to bind off and I might have uttered frustration toward anyone who would listen.  But, 'tis done.

And properly washed.

On a side note, I don't weave in ends until all the blocking is done and fully dry.  This allows the ends to match the blocked gauge rather than the unblocked gauge.

It works for me. 

Many who have graciously posted Knit 'n Slide photos on Ravelry indicate an aggressive blocking.  For a moment, I to went that route.

But, as if often the case with this old Cajun, my gears shifted mid-pin & wire.

The yoga mat that is my go-to-blocking-mat wanted to grab & hold the fiber.  So.  I let it.

A nice soft undulating edge was the result.  And I like it.  Mostly I like it because 1) it saved a whole heap of time, and 2) the plan is the wrap and wear this one with jeans or my cotton jersey grey summer dress.  And the soft edge is casual enough for both of those ensembles.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Knit 'N Slog

It started out so innocent.  Knit 'n Slide by Himself - Stephen West.

Look at how cute and not daunting it is.  Just a few knit stitches, a slide back to the beginning and a few more knit stitches.  Turn and repeat.


And then this happened.

It grew.  The only excitement was the occasional row of k2tog and yo.

YO, YO, YO, YO. The knitter's life for me.

I knit.  A lot.  Boredom set in. 

But I kept knitting.

Finally the excitement began.  Color 3 was introduced and there was actual reading of the pattern in order to knit a pattern.  Boredom vanished.

Enter a state of slogging along.

I carried the thing around whilst doing domestic chores.  Every spare block of time was devoted to the thing.

A lot of stitches became even more stitches.

And those stitches barely fit on the longest #4 needle I own.

I knit big holes.  I knit short rows.

I knit a lot!

One hour per row.

One friggin' hour just to knit one row.  How am I supposed to find enough hours in the day to make row progress and still have time to get in the 10,000 steps that keep a girl healthy?

I've started counting stitches as steps and calling the knitting thing exercise. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ready For Summer

Rectangles Rock!  While my real mantra might be "I am the Master of my yarn, I am the Captain of my stick(s)," my second mantra is probably "I can make anything from a rectangle."

Voyage is my latest rectangle based sleeveless top.  It has a basic boat neck design.  The Nettle Grove from Plymouth Yarn has the look of watercolor when knit up.  It is a unique blend:  45% Cotton, 28% Linen, 12% Nettle, 15% Silk.  AND - get this - it is machine washable and can be tumble dried.  Ain't that cool???

I don't really write up a pattern for these rectangular tops.  Sometimes I cheat and make the body part in the round.  However this yarn wanted side seams, so it is knit flat.

The basic recipe is this:
  • figure out YOUR gauge (using intended needles) and cast on for front.  This is called Knitter's Math.  I've finally gotten over the horror.  You can too.
  • knit any ribbing for 6 - 8 rows or as desired.
  • SS until the length will reach your underarm.
  • Change to garter*: RS= k5, YO, ssk, k to last 7 sts, k2tog, YO, k5. WS = knit across.
  • Bind off when piece measures desired length.
  • Make a back exactly the same.
  • Sew side and shoulder seams. 
That's it, folks.

Well except if you want a different neck line.  Then you knit in shoulders on each side (aka little rectangles) and proceed along.

 * The change to garter is not really required. The majority of the upper section can be seed, ss or rss or what ever floats your boat.  BUT - and this is quite important - keep 5 - 6 (or more) edge stitches in a flat stitch pattern (ie garter, seed, double moss, etc.) so that the arm hole edge does not curl.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thriving and Surviving In A Yarn World

While the world whirled onward, the Los Angeles County Yarn Crawl swiftly moved through four days of fabulous thrills and lots of "stashing."

For two days I worked The Crawl and loved every minute of meeting, greeting, stamping, pinning and encouraging participants.  We gave out prizes!  And surprised many a crawler who did not know about our secret unannounced door prizes (a staff alarm randomly sounded and the next customer to walk in received yarn!)

The real heroes down at The Knitting Tree, LA are Jane (mastermind of the plan and the one with all knowledge ),  Chris (brilliant designer and super colorist), Annette (owner and the personality behind the vibe & community spirit) and Bruce (owner and proponent of superb customer service).  

To all the crawlers, we raise a glass in salute.  Thank you one and all.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tree Topper - Free Pattern

Just making it a little easier to have the pattern.  The PDF is downloaded from the home page of our website.

But. . . . some people like to see before they download.

Tree Topper is a cowloncho – part cowl, part poncho.  Extended crochet stitches created a flexible fabric with just the right amount of stretch.  Contrast edging is finished with an armhole that converts the cowl into an asymmetrical poncho.  Worked side-to-side the pattern is easily adaptable for both chest and height measurements. 

Bust: S (34), (M (36), L (40))                                                            
Length: Petite 16 inches.  Tall 20 inches                                                      
Crochet Hook I (5.5mm) or size to get gauge
Gauge  15 stitches & 6 rows = 4” in Body stitch

Yarn:  MC 1 (1,2) balls Cascade Roslyn  Color 12
CC 1 (1,1) ball Cascade Roslyn  Color 16

FDC – Foundation Double Crochet.  Ch3.  YO and insert hook into chain furthest from hook, YO and pull up a loop.  YO and pull through first loop on hook (extra chain stitch inserted), YO and complete DC as normal.  For subsequent FDC stitches YO and insert hook into the V at bottom of previous stitch (that extra chain), YO and pull up a loop.  YO and pull through first loop on hook (extra chain stitch inserted), YO and complete DC as normal.
EDC – Extended Double Crochet.   YO and insert hook into stitch. YO and pull up a loop.  YO and pull through first loop on hook (extra chain stitch inserted), YO and complete DC as normal.
FPETC – Front Post Extended Treble Crochet.  YO twice, insert hook from front to back around post of indicated stitch.  YO and pull up a loop, YO and pull through first loop on hook, [YO and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times
With MC work 60 fdc (petite) or 75 fdc (tall); turn
RS:  Ch 4 (counts as edc here and throughout), edc, fpetc (worked in foundation row  below), edc to last 3 sts, fpetc (worked in Row below), 2 edc .  Turn  (60/75 sts for petite/tall)
WS:  Ch 4, work edc in each stitch across.  Turn (60/75 sts for petite/tall)
RS:  Ch 4, edc, fpetc (worked around fpetc below), edc to last 3 sts, fpetc (worked around fpetc below), 2 edc.  Turn

Repeat these last 2 rows 22(22, 25) times ending having just worked a RS row.
Break yarn.

With RS facing, attach CC to right corner of edge just completed (in turning chain)
Set up:  Ch 3, skip 2 st, *[(2dc, ch2, 2 dc) in next stitch, skip 4 st].  Repeat from * to last 3 sts.  Work (2dc, ch2, 2 dc) in next stitch, skip 1, dc in last stitch. Turn.
Pattern Row:  Ch 3 *(2dc, ch2, 2dc) in next ch2 sp.  Repeat from * across ending with dc in top of turning chain.  Turn.
Repeat Pattern Row 4(6, 8) more times or to desired width.  End.

Repeat Edge for other side.
Side Seam
With WS together and working from RS, attach CC yarn to lower Edge with a slipstitch  - catching both front and back together.
Ch2, *(skip 2dc, 2sc through ch2 space (front & back held together), ch4). Repeat from * for desired seam depth.  End with slip stitch in a ch2 space.  END.

Sew shoulder seams across CC Edge and as far into MC body as desired.

©2016 Lenora Francois Stewart. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of these instructions, we cannot be held responsible for human or typographical errors, variations in individual work, or misinterpretation of instructions. |www.francoisstewartdesigns | on Ravelry: stewlf

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tree Topper Cowloncho

This year has been filled with twists and turns.  Happy thrilling moments and a few days best left in the "forget about it" column.

In and among all of the action, the rectangle has been my friend.  I often joke that I can make anything out of rectangles!  And thus began my exploration of the cowloncho.  I've made them with knit as the body and crochet edging.  I've made them with a crochet body and a knit edge.  And now, a pure crochet version is off the needles and ready for its release.

Tree Topper is a cowloncho – part cowl, part poncho.  Extended crochet stitches created a flexible fabric with just the right amount of stretch.  Contrast edging is finished with an armhole that converts the cowl into an asymmetrical poncho.  Worked side-to-side the pattern is easily adaptable for both chest and height measurements.
This is Tree Topper worn in a poncho style.  The armhole in the contrast edge holds the thing in place.


And here is the same Tree Topper worn as a cowl.  The contrast edge that includes the armhole becomes a fun statement on the fabric swath.

Go ahead and give it a try.  The pattern is available for FREE at this link:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Rest Of The Cleaning Story

 The great yarn studio cleaning and organizing resulted in a pile of trash. 

Shipping boxes and bags, little bits of left over yarn, ruined items, and just plain junk that could not be used by anyone.  We were ruthless in tossing.

Not to worry.

We were careful and generous in the donating.

Twenty hats, scarfs and cowl were donated to three worthy causes.  The box in this photo is filled with yarn destined to a group that knits and crochets for foster youth.  And the white bag is filled with yarn skeins that went to a fundraiser at my local guild.

Getting rid of the junk was cathartic. 
Giving was a blessing.

Life is good.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Yarn Work Is Not Always Glamorous

She who is a crocheting miracle and I set out to clean the yarn studio.  Actually, she told me that "we" were going to do it.  I had no choice.  But once we started we worked without stopping and at such a speed that a mere three hours later, the deed was done.

 The day started with dumping and pulling and culling.  Great thought was put into the task.

Is this ten yards actually usable or tossable?

Can this half skein be donated?

What program benefits from these hats we forgot about?
She who crochets started in the far dark corner.  The good news is that we own a bag of stuffing.  The bad news is I never sewed up the bear. 

Some areas were easy to reorganize.  I'm not much for color organization - or yarn weight either.  Most of the sock yarn is in bins, but the open hanging things let me see a lot at one time.

I'm a big picture type and being able to see "it all" encourages me to mix and mingle in new ways.

Someone else is more of the "whole project in one spot" type of organizer.  One room, one closet and we are both able to have our own method.

Over the years, our storage devices have been cobbled together.  It's mostly a mix of left over organization methods that we stuffed into the closet.

She is really organized. 

All in all, it was a super morning.  And we did such a fabulous job of getting "everything" stored away, that the floor could be cleaned. 

Yes, I actually vacuumed!  It felt good.

What you are not seeing (yet) is the pile of hats, scarfs and yarn that we can donate.  Everyone benefits from the effort.  And that feels really really good.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Living And Knitting Silicon Beach

Silicon Valley might have a longer history, but Silicon Beach is hot, hot, hot.   For the last three and a half years, the area has be command central for Clan Stewart.

 This was the beginning of my long scarf which is now named Silicon Beach.  Every day, the tech employees can be seen walking, biking, boarding and even driving around sporting neck wear that is wrapped and wrapped into a personal statement. 

Silly me.  I cast on twenty-nine gazillion stitches in lace weight and set out to knit a sideways scarf with one beaded edge.  Well.  The thing did end up long enough to wrap and twist and gather into an expression of the wearer - all 125.5 inches of the thing.  

This is what it looks like all scrunched up.  The Happy Fuzzy lace is in the verdigris colorway which is a natural complement to the copper beads.

There is no real pattern other than my desire to practice a new cast on edge - with a twist and the beads.

All in all, the result makes me happy and fits the vibe of Silicon Beach.

PS - yes, those are Mardi Gras beads under the scarf.  Feb. 9 is fast approaching!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cowloncho #2

Oh yes, I did it again.  Meet Lockroy - a cowloncho with a crochet body and knit sides.  I am really enjoying this "one rectangle, two seams" type of creation.

 After completing all the stitchery, Lockroy looked flat.  There was no pop even though the yarn textures and colors were complementary.  Just blah.

A quick dive into the button stash revealed four wood buttons that were perfect for embellishing the transitional bridge from crochet to knit.  There really are four buttons on this cowloncho.  The last one is on the back side at the bottom.

And aren't you glad that I spared the world a photo of my backside bottom?

The yarns are listed on this project page if you are interested in specifics.

The crochet body is a swath of esc (extented single crochet) interrupted near the edges with a line of fpedc (front post extended double crochet).  Those knitted side panels are pure silk - no fancy work needed to let the silk shine in simple stockinette.

Not much else to say except VOILA!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cowloncho: Part Cowl, Part Poncho

One skein of this.  One skein of that.  Put them together and what have you got?  A cowloncho!

I might be stuck in a groove.  A wonderfully happy groove of mixing yarns and skills.  Joining knit stitches with crochet work has always fascinated me.  Whether as a simple edge, dimensional embellishment or full blown mix it up throughout, I love making texture with stick and hook.

Lemaire Channel is my first cowloncho.  You can read about the yarns by clicking the link to the Ravelry project page.  The main body is knit at a loose gauge.  Then edges are crocheted on (can you say "sparkle yarn?").  A few strategic seams and the cowloncho is ready.

It can be worn as a simple cowl if the arm hole is ignored.

That armhole allows it to be a poncho that stays put. 

Use the armhole and scrunch up the rest like a cowl and you've got a cowloncho.

Those of you with eagle eyes will notice that it fits both me and she who crochets.  If you are more in the large or tall category, more than one ball of each yarn will be required.  

This made me so excited that I made another version with a crochet body and knit edges.  I'm thinking that I'll have to write up both patterns and let you make your own cowloncho. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Wonder of Blocking Crochet

She who crochets (aka Daughter #1) is at it again.  Another wrap is off the hook!  Place this one in the Well, don't that just stand up and shout bonjour y'all category because of the colorway.  This is Celestial Strings Berry Lemonade in DK weight.  And it is UV Reactive.  Ain't that fun.


Not much to look at and this would not make anyone happy.

It appears to be random blobs of color.

A little vinegar water.

A little soak.

Well placed blocking wires and sturdy pins opens up the stitchery and shows the grandeur of the work.

Once she adds a seam, that girl is going to be stylin'.