Friday, December 28, 2007

stringplay with pleater

Today started off with stringwork. Somehow, just because they usually see me with some sort of needle and string, my family thinks I am available for hemming pants. They could not be more wrong. I despise hemming pants. But as soon as the work was done and out of the way, I got started on a project I've had in mind for some time - a smocked baby gown.

Boy! It's been awhile since this pleater has seen any action. I'm not sure I even have any confidence that this project will turn out well, but I'm anxious to try.

I bought plain white flannel. I'm using a pattern that is so old (and basic) that I was unable to find an internet link. It is quite similar to the "Baby Bishop" shown here.

I plan a very simple geometric smocking design at the center front only. I absolutely love the handwork involved in smocking. I am not terribly fond of the construction of the garment on the machine. It was fun when I was doing for my own little one, but it is more like work when I'm doing it for a gift. We'll see how this one goes. (If you never see it again, you'll know I bombed!)

SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) can be found here.

I'm sure the world of smocking has changed a good deal since my primary smocking days, but babies probably have not!

PS: that little wooden spool holder in the background was custom made for me by my talented father-in-law after I showed him a picture. It's so handy and is a fond reminder of his many talents.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Quietly, this Chirstmas comes

Christmas Eve morning. It arrives whether one is ready or not. I'm the only early riser in the family (which is now just two), so I have non-working mornings all to myself usually. Today I put the Oxford carols on, placed my earphones, and pulled out some stringplay. That and coffee and my Christmas Eve began.

May yours be just as peaceful. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Family I Married

Sometimes (more so in the past than lately) I play with materials other than just string.
About 33 years ago I made this little family of 5 clothespin people to represent my then boyfriend and his family. My father-in-law died this past summer and in clearing out things from the house the 'family' was returned to me - in pretty good shape I must say, and still in the custom wrapped box! Although made as ornaments, they sometimes stood on a block of styrofoam on the piano.
From left to right they are: My father-in-law a lifelong scout leader awarded the Silver Beaver; my mother-in-law the town's librarian; my now-husband who played on a city league soccer team; his sister, a cheerleader at Southern Tech (now renamed); and his other sister in the high school choral group.
They are a fine clothespin family and they are an even finer real family. And they all have better hair in real life!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Selbu Mittens? Ja!

Pattern: #7 Damevott from "Selbustrikk"
Yarn: Dale of Norway (of course!) Baby Ull
#0020 cream and #0083 charcoal
165m/50 gr - less than one ball each color
Needles: Size 0 and size 1 bamboo dpns

I love them! I love the 'paper doll' part at the wrist best of all. In fact, the paper dolls are what led me on my QUEST to find this book.
I changed around the #7 pattern somewhat. In the book this mitten does not have the floral part in the cuff above the dolls. Instead it has a rather longish striped basic ribbed cuff. I didn't care for the stripes and I really can't get enough of repeating patterns, so I plugged in this part from another pattern.
They are quite snug, especially at the wrist, which is why I went up to size 1s. Once again, making things that come in pairs meant that I had to duplicate something in the second item that I would have preferred changing. I was lucky enough that they came out the same size anyway. Mitten 1 was finished back in April! Reading about someone else's problem with gauge issues on a second mitten made me resolve to wait no longer in finishing these.
Will I ever have my complete bunad? Who knows. But at least I've got mittens!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tomato Soup Socks

Pattern: "Thuja" from Knitty
104 yd/50 gr : 2 skeins color #115
Needles: Size 5 bamboo dpns

This is the third time I've knitted this pattern in this yarn. At least once I did use another colorway (but only because the LYS didn't have my tomato soup color). These are thick and I have always made them as "house socks". I can't imagine them being worn inside shoes. But the yarn is wonderfully soft and smooshy. Since I've never kept any for myself, I can't attest to how they wear, but they feel wonderful.

They are intended as a Christmas gift to the friend who stitched the lovely Redwork handtowel that is beneath them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Peony Cabled Scarf

Pattern: Classic Cable Scarf
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Worsted 100% baby alpaca 109 yds/50 gr
color 3720 - Peony
Needles: Size 7 Crystal Palace bamboo straights
Absolute pleasure knitting. This yarn is so incredibly soft and wonderful. I have loved every ball of Misti Alpaca ever knit. This very simple cable only crosses every 10th row so this is basically a ribbed scarf with a bit of interest. The two balls blocked out to about 5" wide by 56" long.

At this time of year, some of the stringplay turns to Christmas decoration and I get out the buttonhole twist and string some popcorn and cranberries. This relaxing activity is usually accompanied by a wonderful old movie. This year it was "Christmas in Connecticut", the 1945 black and white starring Barbara Stanwyck.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Electric Back-Patter

Emergency FO.
Time to get out the Electric Back-Patter.
How is your Christmas To-Do List?
I had a few things on mine today, the most pressing of which seemed to me to be finish up the cards for mailing tomorrow.
But I was tired. And cranky. And irritable. (Is that the same as cranky?)
All I really wanted to do was knit. Luckily a coworker's daughter went into labor today. Well, luckily for me. I've never met the soon-to-be-mother, but a baby hat seemed in order. And although I don't really have much of a stash, I happened to have this pink superwash yarn on hand from when I had tried to reintroduce knitting to my mother-in-law. So I came home and whipped out the baby cap from "Last-Minute Knitted Gifts". That one has an I-cord instead of a ribbon and mine may too soon, but I'm auditioning this polka dot grosgrain for the photo op.
I'm beginning to relax and feel better. It helps that my husband is in the kitchen making my breakfast for in the morning.....Seven Layer Cookie Bar. What? You don't eat that for breakfast? You should try it.
So, anyway, Gold Star for me. In addition to the little cap above, I also managed (all by myself; without resorting to the manual) to get the time changed on my cell phone. Apparently am Technological Genius. In our house whenever I show off something I've just finished, my husband often says "let me get out the electric back-patter".
Am feeling much better and may even get those cards finished up before time for breakfast.
How do you like the little "vintage" Santa? He's a never-burned candle I bought with my own money when I was 9. The price sticker on the box says 62 cents. He got a little too warm one year over the summer and so he leans a bit now. But it wouldn't be Christmas without him!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Selbu knitting

This picture was taken the other afternoon. I've finally returned to my Selbu votter (mitten) and since this was taken have knitted it almost to the finger tip.

You can see that I decided to put the year (and my initials) on the palm of the hand. I did this with my Estonian mittens and have decided it's (as Martha would say) a Good Thing.

I'm hoping a good wet blocking will miraculously smooth out my stitches. It sure seemed to work with the Red Light Special cap.

I'm still in love with these little "paper doll" designs, but I'm NOT looking forward to that fiddly tommel (thumb).

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Not all the bags are under my eyes

I came home from work yesterday itching for a little textile therapy so I pulled out some Christmas fabric to make a bag. (I tend to make a lot of bags!) This one may serve as a Christmas gift bag or I may just end up using it to hold my Peony cable scarf while it's a WIP.

Not my most favorite bag, but it served its purpose last evening.

While the Christmas fabric was out, I also made a holiday pillowcase. I've made lots of these over the years. Usually in holiday "Snoopy" fabrics to mail off to college. I'm pretty sure all the holidays have been covered. This fabric has mellowed in the stash for a few years. I like the little angel choristers. [click on picture to see them more clearly.]

The purple bag was made using the pattern for a bridal purse in "A Gathering of Lace". Obviously this one is not intended for a bride as it is made in basic Coats Knit-Cro-Sheen crochet cotton in a dusky purple. It may be for the lace group's holiday gift exchange.

This was a nice little knit. I'm not overly fond of it in this crochet cotton, but the pattern is very nice.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Four-Letter Words

…or the Cul-de-sac Dwellers Guide to Fitness and Exercise

For exercise, I usually walk in heat or cold, fair weather or rain, but in the fall I substitute a different form of torture exercise and I rake (and rake, and rake, and rake some more).

I love the trees but the task of raking is a seemingly endless and certainly thankless job.

Many four-letter words came to mind:
work, leaf, rake, sore
I tried not to think too many of those other four-letter words today as I was raking. Instead I tried to be thankful for the nice weather. I hoped the drought hasn't been too damaging to all the lovely old trees and they will be able to make it. And I was thankful, too, that I'm able to be home some days so that I can work and rake and not have to spend quality weekend/knitting time on this chore.

I thought of some four-letter words I like better:
play, read, knit and REST.

"Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree." Joyce Kilmer - 1914

Monday, November 26, 2007

So Easily Swayed

So easily swayed. First Mary talks about and shows pictures of a really great looking cable she's knitting. Then I read about a Swallowtail Shawl that The Harlot has planned in Misti Alpaca laceweight in a sooooo soft pinky/coral melange color. [With beads! I can hardly wait to see it.]
I wanted me some of that! It's a busy time. I can't be expected to concentrate on a colorwork chart for a Selbu mitten. I need relaxing, soothing knitting.
I actually had in mind to knit a pair of "Fetching" fingerless mitts. That's only one ball of yarn. But once I saw this pink (and realized it would mean more thumbs to be knit), I quickly abandoned that idea and decided on a scarf.
The first two trials were quickly frogged. The Double Moss stitch seemed to be a good choice but the thought of doing yards of k1,p1..... quickly lost its appeal (and I managed to screw up even that!). My cable is way easier and not nearly as dramatic as Mary's, but I'm happy and enjoying it and that was the point after all.
Now, unlike Mary, I've never embraced pink. I don't own a single pink article. And while this scarf is not intended for me, I am really, really enjoying this color. What a surprise! Of course it helps that this yarn is not only quite affordable, but also unbelievably soft and wonderful. And it isn't even pink - it's PEONY. Doesn't that sound divine?
Why, oh why, doesn't Misti Alpaca make a fingering weight??

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sampler Lady Bag

Sampler Lady Needlework Bag
Pattern: The Sampler Lady - Little House Needleworks

Did you notice? Two (that's right, two!) WIPs made it off the side bar and into the FO category. Hooray for long holiday weekends. No Black Friday shopping for me. I avoid that at all costs. Instead today I've had a nice time at home finishing up a couple of WIPs intended for Christmas presents.

For this bag I stitched only the lady figure with her sampler skirt and none of the additional surrounding design before making it into a drawstring bag. This is intended as a Christmas gift to a stitching friend.

I had a bit of frustration threading the twisted cord in the casing, but I'm quite happy overall with how it came out, particularly since I was using only a picture of a bag that I had saved from blog browsing earlier in the year.

With the finishing of this and the Tomato Soup Socks (more about those later), I've completed my gift stitching. From now throughout the holidays I can sit, relax, enjoy the lighted village on our mantle and have a calm Christmas. This will be easier by totally avoiding the mall and traffic in that area!

"Who does not thank for little, will not thank for much." Estonian proverb [noticed in a "Mutts" cartoon!]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Snowflakes in November?

Not real ones! Less than a week before Thanksgiving and it is quite warm - in the 70s from now through Turkey day.
These snowflakes are tatted and are on my contribution to the Woodstock library's Festival of Wreaths. Each year individuals and groups (such as Lions Club, The Tribune, etc.) can create a wreath for display during November and December. I've been contributing since it started, about eight years or so.

I generally decide what I'm going to do and then do all the handwork in the summer and get that well out of the way. Wreaths are hung over Thanksgiving break. You know how fast the holidays arrive. If I waited, it would be a burden to get it all done. Summer always seems like the perfect, slow time to casually and gradually make the ornaments.

This year I decided on tatted snowflakes and had fun leafing through pattern books and magazines to find patterns - some of which were more 'snowflake-ish' than others.

Last year was the first time I did anything knitted. I knitted angels from "Angels - A Knitter's Dozen" by Gerdine Strong. What fun they were to create!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Leaf Lace Shawl

Pattern: Leaf Lace from "Knitting Lace Triangles" -Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: KnitPicks Bare laceweight - about 1/2 a hank, undyed
Needles: Size 4 KnitPicks Options circular
It's been finished and blocked for a few days. I'm not sure what will become of this one. I started it just because I needed some lace to knit. I may give it (along with the Cranberry Shawl) for a church auction.
Naturally, since I had no plans to keep it for myself [gee, I have plenty and more planned], my husband likes this one best of all. Know why? The color. The color! Really the lack of color!
I still think I'll probably pass it along. I have a ball of ivory Misti Alpaca Baby laceweight which makes a really fine feeling lace. If I'm going to have an ivory shawl, I'd rather have it in that yarn.
But two small shawls for $4.29? That's hard to beat.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Time for Sock #2

Knitting on the leaf lace shawl is finished and it needs blocking.

I've purchased some really nice Alpaca With a Twist Fino lace yarn and am itching to start a lace shawl - rectangular this time and probably from "Victorian Lace Today".

But first I need to get that second Tomato Soup Sock out of the way. It is a Christmas present and a house sock with thick yarn and big needles makes quick work. Still it is less thrilling to do than start a new project. Besides the rectangular shawl would be mine and these will not be.

This is Artyarns Supermerino and is so squishy and nice. This will be third pair of Thuja house socks I have made and none have been for me. So see; I'm not completely selfish!

(I only use 2 skeins and make the cuffs shorter than I do for 'regular' socks.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stalled Shawl

Well, Fun Fur caused me problems.

Last evening when I picked my leaf lace shawl back up, I noticed a fair amount of pain in my left hand, particularly in my middle finger. It persisted throughout the night, so I'm having to put my knitting and handwork aside for a couple of days.

This is particularly frustrating as the leaf lace shawl is so close to being done. I'm not a great judge of yarn, but I decided to try for one more repeat and then the edging.

I'm still enthralled with this leaf lace pattern. It's one from Evelyn A. Clark's book "Knitting Lace Triangles". That links leads you to her new website.

Is it too geeky that I've already used the e-mail feature to send her fan mail? I just love everything she designs!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Halloween

Want to hear something really scary and creepy?

I spent the day knitting......with Fun Fur and novelty yarn!


Several years ago when novelty yarns were really novel, my sister-in-laws both wanted one. One of them e-mailed this week to ask if I could knit her a pink one. Yes. Pink Fun Fur! [and you thought it couldn't get any worse!]

Next week my hometown is having a "Paint The Town Pink" week to raise money for breast cancer research. Jeanne works at the Woodstock Visitor's Center. Naturally I was happy to oblige - even if it meant PINK Fun Fur!

Trick or Treat?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Need More String!

Somehow this picture does not convey the wonderfulness of this dishcloth. I just love how these Little Houses turned out. I want to make a set in bright primary colors. I want to do it now. But what have I got? Multi-colored string. : (

Guess I'll have to return to my 'real' lace until I can get to the store. But the store is close, so I'm guessing I'll be back in the dishcloth business soon!

Monday, October 22, 2007

When lace gives you lemons, knit a dishcloth

After the colorwork cap was finished, I didn't have anything in particular in mind to knit. Since I had a half of a hank of KnitPicks bare laceweight left over from the Kool-Aid dyeing sometime back, I decided to cast on for another of Evelyn A. Clark's lace triangles. This time I thought I'd knit a single pattern only - the leaf lace.

I had really been craving some smaller needles and lace repeats. I love this leaf lace pattern and was having a grand time. I wasn't even counting every row. It was so relaxing. (can you see where this is headed?)

This morning I got a row in before work and for some reason thought I'd just count to make sure and, of course, was off! Grrrgh. 97 stitches on one side and 99 on the other half.

So instead of tinking back and fixing it, I decided to grab the Emergency Knitting kit and start a dishcloth. It's still lace, still YOs and K2togs and SSKs. And I'm back to counting, because I don't want to mess up and tink this back. But the difference here is the stitch count is much smaller and remains constant.

The little bit shown above doesn't tell you much, but you can see the pattern here. I'm doing Little Houses-2.

{Isn't that Red Cross bag too cute? Mary from Snit 'n Knit sent it to me in a surprise goodie package. I have no idea where she found it originally. I keep it in the car with a ball of dishcloth cotton, size 7 needles and copies of a few easy patterns.}

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Red Light Special Hat

Pattern: Red Light Special hat
by BrooklynTweed
Deep Navy, Alpine Frost, Pesto, Grey Wolf
Needles: Size 6 dpns
a set of cheapie Susan Bates and one lone bamboo
why, oh why don't Bates come in sets of 5??
A nephew specifically asked if I'd knit a hat. I sent him a few online pattern links and he chose this one. Secretly it was my favorite as well. I loved the warm colors of Jared's, but the nephew asked for blues and greens. I really dithered over the color choices and, in retrospect, feel that the light grey is really too light, but I'm OK with it. (I doubt the nephew will care.)
My biggest challenge was getting the nerve to try the provisional cast on and the turned hem. The pattern was wonderfully written and, thanks to the full paragraph that Jared devoted to the wet blocking, I even did that exactly as he said. [who knows how long it will take to dry!]
I hope it fits. Overall - especially now that it's DONE - I'm pleased. I'll send it off to college to the nephew and will go back to some comfort knitting.
The KnitPicks yarn made this a very affordable project. The hat took almost the full ball of the main color, Deep Navy, but there is quite a bit of the other, especially the light grey and lighter blue; certainly enough (I think) to do another hat with just one more $1.99 ball of Deep Navy.
a little fall color there in the background - a pot of mums my Mother gave me!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good news, Bad news, Good news

If it doesn't look like too much of a mess here, then it's due to being 'cleaned up' and posed for the photo.

Good news is that I finally overcame my fear and started the thing. Bad news is that I'm almost sure I picked the wrong yarn (Swish superwash DK) for the inside hem. Good news is that I'm finally past the hem stage and got the provisional cast on released and knit together with the hat. Bad news is I'm not sure if I should have waited one more round to do so. Good news is that it is a tad easier to manage now. Bad news is that I still have no idea if it will fit OR if I'm translating my colors to the pattern properly.

Can you tell this is still a very IF-y project? Good news is I love the colors I picked!
(KnitPicks Telemark in Deep Navy, Alpine Frost, Pesto, and Grey Wolf)

Monday, October 8, 2007


n. Archaic, crumbs, scraps.

Function: noun
Middle English, from Middle Low German orte
Date: 15th century
: a morsel left at a meal : scrap

Work slows down during the week, but cutting and withdrawing threads has begun. I generally cut and withdraw a small section at a time which helps keep the overall piece stable. My orts from this session are in that little blue lid.

Sheri wondered that I could see the work. Sadly over the years I've had to turn to help. You can see in this photo my new aid courtesy of the dollar section at Target! No sense wasting $tring money on fashion! Working in daylight also helps and it's a beautiful and bright October day today. Still a little warm, but a great breeze.

Also under the category of "money well spent" would be my little Uncle Bill's Silver Grippers which are perfect for pulling out the cut threads.

"O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather"
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

Of Ships

Today's picture is a bit clearer. Still white on white is not the easiest to see. [click to enlarge]

The embroidery uses two weights of thread with the heavier (in this case size 8 pearl cotton) used for the satin stitching and kloster blocks. Satin stitch stars are characteristic of traditional Hardanger embroidery as are ships. Ships (so named because of their resemblance to Viking ships) are often worked in groups.

The ships on this piece are at the four corners of the larger star shapes (see one just below the spool of thread). As soon as I've finished the last ship I can switch over to the finer thread (size 12 pearl cotton) and work any pulled stitches. Then I'll be ready for, what is for me, the most fun part - cutting and removing fabric threads and then the decorative needleweaving.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Balm for the Soul

The picture is a little washed out. It was late in the afternoon and a bit overcast when I took this shot. What is it? Well you certainly can't tell from this shot, but it is the beginning of the Hardanger apron; a key component of my bunad.

Didn't know I was Norwegian? Well, I'm not. Where in the world do I plan to wear this get up - assuming first of all that I even ever get it made? Who knows. It's just another of my crazy ideas.

Before knitting seemingly took over, Hardanger embroidery was about my favorite needlework. I still really enjoy it, especially when I have a nice long block of time to sit and stitch.
Today was (finally) just such a day. And what a balm to my soul it has been. Sometimes I fear I am overly fond of spending quiet time alone. I love to sit and stitch and let my thoughts wander.
I don't have a timeline for this nutty project. I thought I'd introduce it here so I'd have something to look back on to help me see how long it takes. Obviously there are many more pieces needed. I may need to do some beading. And I'm gonna need some buckle shoes!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ellen's Stockings

Pattern: Ellen's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush

Yarn: Regia Silk - color 052
55% new wool/20% silk/25% nylon
200 m/50 gr - not all of 2 balls

Needles: Size 0 bamboo dpns

Love, love, love the pattern (except for the heels). Yarn feels great so I sure hope it holds up well to wear. In spite of this particular heel not fitting my heel that well, I'm still very happy with this project. These were lots of fun to knit and I'd happily knit this pattern again. I like how the back eyelet ribbing does not continue all the way down. These give me a bit more confidence to maybe try some of the ones I've been eyeing for years in Knitting On The Road.

Nancy Bush writes patterns so well and so thoroughly. I remember wondering when I ordered this book if I'd ever be able to knit anything from it.

My first try was the Helgi's Mittens I knit for the Knitting Olympics. (I only signed on for one! I know my limitations!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wynnewood Sewing Tin

It always takes me longer than I think it will. But home today and finally finished lining and completing the Whitman's Sampler Wynnewood Tin. I love the gold and aqua in this tin. The pattern and tin was a gift from a friend (some time back).

I did the fun stitching of the little pin pillow right away. And then I remembered this piece of fabric I had and loved that I thought would be perfect for the lining. Luckily I gathered all that together and ziplocked it so that today I didn't have to spend precious time locating all the ingredients. Sort of a 'mise en place' for the kitchen-phobe.

These scissors are too long and the ribbon on the wool felt needle book is too dark, but I'm counting this project done until suitable replacements can be acquired. Those will be easy fixes.

Pictures are a little dark. I think it may rain!

PS: the friend who gave me the tin and the pattern? She ATE the chocolate! Some friend.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ann Budd

I think I must run a bit behind on everything. At least it often seems that way to me.
I've mentioned before that I have really been enjoying Kelly Petkun's KnitPicks podcasts. I am not up-to-date, so tonight's podcast was episode 16 and included a wonderful interview with Ann Budd in which she talked all about her new book Getting Started Knitting Socks.

I'm not sure I've seen this 'in person' at the bookstore. If so, perhaps I just didn't pay enough attention to it as I don't think of myself as in the 'getting started' phase of sock knitting.

But, the interview was great. I loved hearing Ann Budd's voice and I loved hearing her enthusiasm for sock knitting.

I'm definitely going to search this one out!

Sock #2 of my silk stocking is at the heel turn. Fun times.
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Doorknob Drop

Kay came through for me in spades again. Some time back I was browsing around some blogs (no kidding) and ran across some beautiful tatting here. In particular, her lovely motif 16 caught my eye. She listed this book, Tatting from Burda, a Lacis publication, as the source.

Motif 16 utilizes 'block tatting' - seen as those denser, square areas. I have some back issues of "Anna" magazine, but, of course, not the issue with that lovely cover piece.

I found it available through one of my favorite online sources, Nordic Needle. And I thought perhaps I had even seen it at a Lacy Susan vendor booth at the March lace club workshop.
I e-mailed Kay and it turned out she had it; thinks maybe she even bought it in March. AND, since she was headed out my way this evening to a Bible study, she'd do the Doorknob Drop and bring it to me! What service!

Ooohhh. This is a nice book. There are some lovely pieces. I can't imagine finding the time or commitment to make it, but look at this wonderful blouse.

I need more time!! And possibly, more string.

And the cherry on top? Kay, as usual, included a treat with the Doorknob Drop - a lovely pen - made to look like a twig with a little ladybug on it! How neat.

"The balm of life, a kind and faithful friend."
Mercy Otis Warren 1728-1814

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stab or Sew?

You were beginning to think it was only YARNplay around here weren't you? My needlework has tended to go through phases and almost the very first phase was cross stitch which I did a good bit of until I had a daughter. As you might guess, the next (and very intense phase) was smocking. Oh those were the glory years.
When the smocking phase was over and I tried to return to cross stitch, I found it almost unbearably slow.* Besides by that time I had long found Hardanger embroidery. Ocassionally I return to cross stitch and usually when some design (most often it's Christmas) catches my eye.
I'm not sure where I first ran across this design. (I suspect it was here where I saw it stitched over-one and finished as a lovely pinkeep.) This is "The Sampler Lady" by Little House Needleworks. I'm not doing the full chart and am not sure how I'll finish it.
Finish it? Did I hear you snort? Are you skeptical? My only hope lies in that I'm intending this as a Christmas gift, so there is a bit more motivation than for those lovely things intended for me alone that continue to languish in Finishing Purgatory.
*One reason I tend to stitch slowly is that I'm a stabber, meaning I stab the threaded needle from one side to the other and pull the floss all the way through. I just think my stitches look more uniform that way. I do not use a frame or hoop and curiously this link suggests that the sew method is more common for those that stitch in hand. Might know I'd be contrary.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cranberry Shawl

Pattern: from Knitting Lace Triangles
by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn: KnitPicks Bare laceweight dyed with Kool-Aid Black Cherry
Needles: size 4 Options circular
For this first outing in Evelyn's new book, I went the easy route and started with one she had already mapped out - the Sand Dollar Shawl - which alternates just two different lace patterns (Ripple and Medallion) and then I added an extra two repeats of the Medallion pattern before the edging.

I think I could have used a size 5 for this. It still comes out more scarf size than full shawl, but it's very wearable and drapes nicely over the shoulders.
A nice and quick little project that I enjoyed and plan to donate for a silent auction later in the year.

Birthday Relay Socks

Pattern: "Chevron"* Charlene Schurch p 73
Sensational Knitted Socks

Yarn: Plymouth Sockotta
45% cotton / 405 superwash wool / 15% nylon
color 5618 self-striping

Needles: size 1 Boye dpns

My friend, Vickie, bought this yarn for my birthday earlier in the year. She was browsing in a yarn shop when she came across a sample pair, and having never seen self-striping sock yarn, was amazed.

I decided to knit a pair and give them back to her on her birthday - which is today. (Happy Birthday, Vickie!) Although this pattern is listed in the book as specifically for self-striping yarn, I'm not so sure it was perfect for this yarn. Overall it worked out well, but I found I preferred the look of the plain stockinette sole over the patterned upper.

*also I goofed and did round 2 as all knit; forgetting the two purl stitches in each 11-stitch repeat! And, of course, I substituted a heel flap because I couldn't face the forethought heel shown in the book.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Wonderful Weekend

(click to see the goodies up close)
Oh, what a wonderful weekend. May I lead off with a weather report? We had a hint of fall this weekend. Sure there were times when it was a little too warm, but there were also breezes and enough of a coolness to make a Southerner believe that there might really be a fall - a reprieve from endless hot weather.

This weekend in September always seems to offer more opportunities than time. For many years I happily sat with fellow lace makers at the Sandy Springs Festival. Somehow the weather was always nearly perfect. When I felt the breezes on Saturday, I immediately thought of my friends and knew they would be having a wonderful time. I hope to be able to join then again.

On Friday I left work early and Mother and I had lunch before heading over to the biennial quilt show sponsored by the East Cobb Quilt Guild. As in years past, it was a terrific show. It is a perfect time for Mother and I to spend some easy, fun time together enjoying a common interest. Mother's only handwork is quilting and although I don't really quilt, who doesn't like fabric - and color - and design? Repeating geometric patterns always please me.

There is always a good selection of vendors as well and this year there was a vintage textile and used books room. I found some really nice hankies for only $1 each! Those uppermost two have the finest delicate tatting. I will give them a good home.

And in a perfect coincidence I found this lovely shamrock hanky at one booth and later the perfectly matching green vintage tatting thread at another. Together at last! Perhaps one day I'll sit and tat a lovely edging to complement these shamrocks.

We eventually made our way over to the corner where the challenge quilts were displayed so we could look for my friend Kay's entry. This challenge was "Windows" and a plaid fabric had to be included. Kay's window was a porthole. Didn't she do a fantastic job! I loved hers. So 3-D. And the wavy quilt lines reinforce the feeling of seeing underwater.
On Saturday I went to Bulloch Hall in Roswell, the childhood home of Mittie Bulloch, President Theodore Roosevelt's mother. The Magnolia Sampler Guild's biennial exhibit was there. This guild has some really talented and productive members. There were so many beautiful samplers and stitched pieces on display. There were quite a few Quaker samplers displayed which I really enjoyed.
A friend and former co-worker, Linda Telling, will be teaching a piece (A Ladies Sewing Companion) she designed in November so it was a treat to see this displayed. Linda does just beautiful work and has her own business doing the finishing work for other stitchers.
It's enough to make one feel inadequate! Good thing I have healthy self-esteem or that WIP list would start to bother me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Body Maintenance

Anyone within the sound of my voice, or on the other end of my e-mail SEND button, has heard me complain about body maintenance. Grrgh.

If I am awake and not at work, or not sitting and playing with string while ignoring household chores, then you can bet I'm involved with some sort of body maintenance. Now I'm not vain nor do I have the body of Cindy Crawford. But I'm short and I like candy. Oh, and I'm not getting any younger.

How is this related to knitting? Well while I'm out slogging around (and around and around) my cul-de-sac, I can listen to various podcasts to relieve the boredom of the exercise. If I can't knit, at least I can listen to someone talk about it and maybe even review books on the subject.

I've been particularly enjoying lately those by Kelly Petkun at KnitPicks. I'm not always up-to-date in my listening, so the one I just heard was Episode 14 where Kelly discusses various ways to keep track of your knitting such as stitch markers, magnetic boards and rulers, and such helps.

I like to use a little of all that combined with my "Patented Hatch Mark System" and my handy Excel spreadsheets.

The Cranberry shawl is closer to being finished. In fact I've done all the repeats listed for the Sand Dollar Shawl design but still had some Black Cherry yarn left so I'm adding additional repeats in order to make this more of a shawl instead of a scarf and use up all the yarn possible. It was easy enough to open my Excel spreadsheet back up and chart some more numbers. Then it's a simple matter of crossing off each line as I knit it. That way if I leave it for a few days, I'll know right where to resume.

I've also just started listening to British knitter/podcaster at Lixie Knits It so I get the bonus of her accent as well as knitting related chatter. Now if only the Yarn Harlot or Mason-Dixon Knitting would start podcasting!
"It takes six months to get into shape and two weeks to get out of shape. Once you know this you can stop being angry about other things in life and only be angry about this."
Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes, 1992

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Oodles of Options

I bought the size 4 KnitPicks Options needle tips and cables and first tried them with the Swallowtail. Too slippery for me. And they felt a little heavy as well. My Kool-Aid yarn is not quite as fine as the suri alpaca so I thought it was time to give them another try.

I'm really liking them with this project. The stitches slide so well over the join. No slowing down to coax pesky YOs along.

And Evelyn Clark gives me lots of options as well in her Knitting Lace Triangles book. Pick a pattern repeat; plug it in, and knit away.

I'll admit to not being too advernturous this first outing. I'm pretty much doing her Sand Dollar Shawl which alternates just two of the patterns and she's already mapped it out for me. I thought this would give me the best feel for how this whole thing works.

I've got to come up with another name for this shawl though, as Sand Dollar is not expressing this just right. I'm thinking of something with 'cranberry' in the name. Cranberry Garland maybe?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Black Cherry Yarn

Labor Day weekend gave me a little extra time and I used it to wind off half an 880-yard hank of KnitPicks bare laceweight and dye it with some Black Cherry Kool-Aid. Well, actually I used something called Disney Splashers. I went Kool-Aid shopping just when school ended and there seemed to have been a run on Kool-Aid out here in the 'burbs.

The yarn dyed nicely, if somewhat unevenly, but I'm quite happy with the results (used 6 packages). The variation in color in spots to a darker, blacker black cherry and back just adds a bit of depth to me.

I'm looking forward to casting on soon for an Evelyn Clark knitted triangle. That's about $2.75 worth of 'ingredients' up there which sooooo justifies my pattern book purchase, don't ya think?
(click to make it bigger so see all the deep color changes)

Plan Ahead Socks

The Lumberjack Socks
now renamed Plan Ahead Socks (for obvious reasons!)
Pattern: Oak Ribbed Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: All of one ball Lion Brand Magic Stripes in (discontinued) Lumberjack Black
and some leftover Elann Sock It To Me Puzzle for that last toe!
Needles: Size 1 Boye cheapies
What can I say? One ball of LB has always made a pair for me and with plenty leftover for baby socks. This was my first pair of large socks for a male. Live and learn.
"Adventure is just bad planning."
Roald Amundsen (1872-1928 - Norwegian explorer)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ellen's Stocking

The first of a pair of Ellen's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia is finished. I'm not sure how well this Regia Silk yarn will wear, but it surely feels nice. I enjoyed the patterning on this one and liked the stockinette for the heel flap. I do not like the heel turn on this one because it doesn't seem to fit my wide heel as well as others. The spiral shape toe was a first for me as well and it was quick and easy and fits well.

Now I'm torn between beginning its mate and trying something out of my new book:Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn A. Clark.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I love Piecework magazine. My bulging file cabinet attests to this, as does the two or three ever-changing back issues that can be found beside my chair at any time. This Interweave periodical was welcomed in my house long before I finally learned to knit and started buying their Knits magazine.

In early years I read with interest all the articles on knitting and looked with longing upon the wonderful related projects. Those instructions were like a foreign language, as strange to my eyes as the history behind the technique was to my knowledge.

The Nov/Dec 1995 issue (no longer available) had an article by Veronica Patterson on Poetry Mittens that particularly intrigued me. I must have pulled this one issue out once or twice a year to read again the directions and ponder upon those little wooden dpns. Having never seen dpns, nor anyone ever using them, you can imagine how puzzling they were.

Finally last summer I felt ready to try them and I knit Dorothy Parker mittens for my daughter's 21st birthday.

The newest issue of Piecework, Sep/Oct 2007, announces a new contest - on pincushions. I was pleased when my entry got an honorable mention in the 2000 contest.
[spot it in the group photo here?]
I'd like to enter something in this newest contest. But in the meantime (and by 'meantime' I mean when I'm not working on socks and things already on the needles!), I think I'll pull out the July/Aug 2000 issue and admire again the Plum Tomato Pincushion - a beaded confection crocheted with Silk Pearl thread! Yum.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. Ecclesiastes 9:10