Thursday, January 31, 2008

The crawl, uh, I mean the shawl

I was just telling Mary, my lonely reader and blog friend, that I am beginning to relax into my chart and I am really enjoying the knitting of this Arctic Diamond shawl - even if the pace is crawling along. I still have to refer to the chart for every right-side row, but that's no problem.

I just use my "Patented Hatch Mark System" to keep up with my progress. A little tick mark beside the line number to show it has been completed. A little, gentle reminder via Post-It note when it is put away.

I've gotten quite a bit of wear out of my shawls this week. As of today I've worn three different ones to work: the Kimono shawl, the Alpine from VLT, and a Swallowtail. The weather hasn't been that cold this week and the shawls have provided just enough warmth around my shoulders and neck. And you know? I think I feel taller in shawl!

(You can see a bit of my new, red string there in the background. More Valentine fun.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Playing with metal string!

I took a class today. Oh, boy how I love to take classes. I think if I were R&R (rich and retired), I'd take classes every day. And I especially like to take classes where all your supplies are provided and you walk away at the end of the class with a completed project and no homework. Today was just such a class.
The class was entitled Wire Wrap Workshop. Now I wear very little jewelry and I never wear bracelets, so I'm not sure how much I'll actually wear my creation, but I had a lot of fun making it. I signed up with the purpose of exploring wire because I've seen so many neat shawl pins around the internet and I thought it might be fun to try to make one.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A little Quaker heart

The other day while looking for something (and, incidentally, this is how I spend a good portion of each day: looking for something), I ran across a couple of patterns for Valentine's Day projects that I had pulled out while looking for something else a month or so before. [see how that works?]
Luckily they had not worked their way down too far in The Pile only to be rediscovered after 2/14! So I started to work on one and stitched a little Quaker heart. I stitched it over one thread so it would be fairly small. That's a dime there beside it. I think I'll probably make it into either a scissor fob or a little pinkeep and give it away as a Valentine.
But that's finishing work. Ugh. Finishing. Why is finishing never as much fun as doing?
"There are two kinds of people, those who finish what they start and so on"
Robert Byrne

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The "arctic" in Arctic Diamonds

Well a little more snow arrived here in the South, not too much, but enough to prove a backdrop for a WIP picture of the Arctic Diamonds shawl. Looks like a rumpled mess, huh? (You should see my hair!) This is proving a welcome companion for this cold, indoor weekend. All wrong side rows are purled and stitch count remains constant. Hopefully as long as I keep my chart marked properly, I won't get too far off course. I've still not used all the yarn frogged from the first pattern tried with this yarn. I'm liking the looks of this pattern much better anyway.

I haven't abandoned my Hedebo heart, but I need to make a few decisions as to final form before I proceed any further.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mosaic Filling Stitch

Threads have been cut and removed. In this case, I cut and removed two, left four, cut two, and so on both vertically and horizontally. Next I worked the mosaic filling stitch. Moyra McNeill describes it as "basically a square, bounded on each side by blocks of 5 satin stitches over 4 threads".

In that it is 5 satin stitches over 4 threads, it is very like the kloster blocks in Hardanger, but here it is done as a pulled-thread stitch. Pulling each satin stitch tightly compresses the 4 threads underneath and opens up the square's center a bit more.

The next step deals with the areas within the squares. But that will have to wait.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Hedebo Heart

From one extreme to the other. Yes, that's the way things often go here at stringplay. Yesterday was thick, brightly-colored string and today is thinner, shinier, and all white.

One can only knit cotton for so long before hands and wrists complain.

There are many, MANY different kinds of string in the world. Heck, there are even many, MANY different kinds of string in my house. Still it seems whenever I want to do something, I'm at least one string short of a full line (in mind as well as inventory!).

Today I wanted to try a technique that called for #50 DMC Cordonnet. I had sizes 10, 20, 30, 70, 80 and 100. I even had some size 50 but not in white. My stitch shop doesn't carry it. The big box craft stores certainly don't carry it. And mail-ordering a $3 ball of string is hardly instant gratification. So I pulled out some other books and settled on a different project.

According to the sales receipt, I've been wanting to try this - Hedebo embroidery - since 1998. Ten years seems like a nice round number, no? Time to give it a try. It only calls for three different sizes of pearl cotton.

You can see faint signs of a hoop being used. My instructions called for using one. I've said before I don't care for hoops, so I took it off shortly after beginning. I'm working the buttonhole edge around the outline (which you can see a bit better if you click on the picture to enlarge). Later I'm to cut and withdraw threads from the center and do some needleweaving. And there may be some tiny beads involved. It's all experimental right now. To my eye the threads seem a little heavy, but perhaps later, when all elements are present, it will be more pleasing. Or tossed. We'll see.

References: "Danish Pulled Thread Embroidery" Fangel, Wincler & Madsen, "Pulled Thread Embroidery" by Moyra McNeill and "The Open Canvas" by Carolyn Ambuter.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Putting the 'play' back in stringplay

If this group won't put the play back in stringplay, I don't know what would! Aren't these colors great?!

I decided that part of my problems with the lace stole was inability to concentrate. It is January after all; my busiest and most hectic time at work.

Now why these little dishcloth patterns - essentially still lace - are easier is a puzzle, but that's the case. I did one of the Little House ones in October and immediately wanted more colorful string. By the time I acquired it, the itch was gone and I had moved on to another project. But pulling it all out and starting some more was just what I need right now.

That orange one ("Sunburst" according to the label) is so warm. It may be my favorite. The pattern is Lacy Mock Cable and would make a very nice scarf I think. In fact......with a few more repeats it might make a very nice lace shawl!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


The shawl from "Victorian Lace Today" which I described as a "nice relaxing knit" kicked me good, not once but twice. The first hiccup I had decided I could live with, so I continued knitting. But the second was a complete disaster. I must have gotten off a half repeat. At least that is all I can imagine.

So with over a quarter of the repeats done, I frogged the whole thing and rewound the yarn.

Needless to say the shine was off that pattern, and I've decided to go with a different one altogether and have chosen Artic Diamonds Stole from the Winter '06 IW Knits. Seeing this one really inspired me.

The first step here at stringplay? ENLARGE the chart! And maybe if I keep better notes, I won't lose my place this time. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Which is the Way to Baby-land?

The baby gown is done. The fun smocking part has been done for some time, but only today did I manage time at home long enough to set up the sewing machine and complete the construction.

The sewing is very simple but it always amazes me just how long it can take; ironing, some handstitching, and, of course, the photo shoot!

I had planned a very basic geometric smocking design in a light blue which I imagined either a boy or girl could wear. When I thumbed through my notebook of smocking plates, however, I found this little one of little lambs and couldn't resist!

It was fun and I think next time I'll try it in batiste.

"Which is the way to Baby-land? Anyone can tell; Up one flight, To your right. Please ring the bell.

What can you see in Baby-land? Little folks in white - Downy heads, Cradle-beds, Faces pure and bright."

excerpt from Baby-Land by George Cooper

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sock it To Me

There's a reason why this blog is "stringplay" and not "stoveplay". I have a very shaky alliance with the stove. (You may have already noticed the burn rings on the cookbook!) I dislike cooking. My theory is a meal - any meal from a quick lunch to Thanksgiving - is usually eaten in 20 minutes and it shouldn't take longer to fix the meal than to eat it! A poor theory perhaps, but there you go. Sure the talk and laughter around the table can last longer and make the meal more enjoyable, but the food is secondary. And don't even get me started on clean-up. What a waste of stringplay time.

So it might be surprising to see I do, indeed, have a recipe box to link to Kay and Ann's Recipe Show 'n Tell contest.

I married in 1975 and this faux wood box was a shower present. Although the hinges are both broken and I practically never use any of the recipes inside, it has been a fixture on my limited-space counter top for 32 years. It was given to me by a childhood friend and we still see each other twice a year on our birthdays to stay in touch. That alone seems reason enough for me to keep it.

There isn't a single recipe of my mother's in there. She's a better cook than I am, but she is not overly enthusiastic about it either. She did once cut out a recipe from the newspaper for cornbread dressing because it was the closest she had ever seen to how she makes it. I may have made it once. She always makes the dressing.

Enough blather. I'm sure (given the above info) you must be eager to know my recipe. So here I share:

Sock-It-To-Me Cake*

1 box Betty Crocker Pound Cake Mix

1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 or 4 eggs

1/2 or 3/4 cup buttery-flavored oil

1 8-oz. package sour cream

1/2 cup chopped pecans

[1] Combine cake mix, sugars, and oil with eggs, one at a time. Beat well and after each egg add some sour cream. [2] Pour half of batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and sprinkle following mixture on top: 3 tsp. brown sugar - 1 tsp. ground cinnamon - chopped pecans [3]Pour in remaining batter and place in COLD oven. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Let cool in pan no longer than 5 minutes then turn out to cool.

*If you are anywhere close to my age, you've already associated the recipe's name to Rowan & Martin's "Laugh-In" TV show.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Enjoy Life!

Happy New Year! Welcome 2008.

I don't generally make resolutions; at least not in the sense of formally writing them down. I might have a general idea of something I'd like to aspire to reach or accomplish. And everybody wants to lose at least the extra holiday pounds gained eating Seven-Layer Cookie Bars for breakfast, huh?

Last night I finally got to start my new shawl (yarn bought back in early November is Alpaca With a Twist - Fino in Evergreen). I'm doing "Miss Lambert's Shetland pattern for a shawl" - p 50 in "Victorian Lace Today". This will be my first time at trying to knit an edging onto a shawl, but all that is so far into the future that I don't even need to think of it for some time.

It's listed as intermediate lace I suppose because of that knitted-on edging. The center is a nice, relaxing knit of a 6-stitch repeat over 8 rows with all wrong sides purled, and because there are only 70 stitches, it moves along from row to row quickly.

The day began with an unexpected trip out and I was a little perturbed (understatement) at not getting to just stay in and knit. It's true, I think, that music soothes the savage beast. There was a special program on the radio, New Year's Day from Vienna, with Strauss waltzes and polkas and included one "Enjoy Life" which I quickly adopted as a New Year's Resolution.

Knitting needles click; a cup of tea scents the air. The new shawl begins!

Kimono shawl haiku from "Folk Shawls" - my first lace shawl.