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.