Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hiawatha's chickens

"Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"

All the time I was sewing tiny little buttons on for the owl eyes, I had Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha" rolling around in my head. Not the whole thing as who can remember the whole thing?! But the fireflies and the owlet part kept surfacing.

This is a little odd looking cap, but the oddness is from my doing, not from the pattern. The baby for whom this is intended arrived early and around 5 pounds. I thought a small cap was in order so I only cast on 77 stitches and worked it in some leftover Comfort DK. JP voiced some concern over having buttons on something intended for an infant, but I think this will be outgrown so very quickly and way before the babe discovers the buttons.

I love the little owls and intend on making this again sometime in a different yarn.

When he heard the owls at midnight,
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
'What is that?" he cried in terror,
"What is that," he said, "Nokomis?"
And the good Nokomis answered:
"That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other."
Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in Summer,
Where they hid themselves in Winter,
Talked with them whene'er he met them,
Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens." - Henry W. Longfellow

Monday, January 26, 2009

Knits Shoots and Leaves

...or in this case, berries and leaves but I couldn't resist the corny title.

The Leaves and Berries Baby Bonnet is finished and what FUN it was to knit! That said, I do believe I've crossed the line with this one. I'm pretty sure this is something only another knitter would be delighted to receive.

Mary suggested I could just keep it myself and enjoy it for the object itself, and right now that's what I'm planning to do.

I would like to make this again when I find the perfect yarn. The Regia Silk worked out well and makes a nice fabric, but I think it would be lighter and more heavenly in a cashmere/silk blend. Meantime there is enough of the Regia to make the matching socks that Marilyn so graciously included a pattern for when she sent the pattern. Thanks, Marilyn!

Pattern: Baby Bonnet - "Leaves and Berries"
by Marilyn Merbach of Rabbit Tree Farm - Saxonburg, PA
Yarn: Regia Silk (55% wool/20% silk/25% nylon)
about 1/2 ball or 110 yards
Needles: size 1 bamboo dpns and Addi Lace circular

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today I bought a Cadillac

the Cadillac* of needles that is; a pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles.

The lovely wee bonnet has you knit the back crown in the round and set aside, then knit beginning at the front brim back to the crown. I only had size 1 dpns so nothing long enough for the brim stitches.

A quick trip out to the LYS and I was home and content. This pattern is super satisfying. It's like an Evelyn A. Clark only in a bonnet.

High praise in my book.

*or Prius - insert luxury car of your choice. : )

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You had me at berries

I know. Doesn't look like much, does it? But it is my first ever knob. At least the pattern calls it a knob. I'm assuming that is the same as a bobble. I've never knit a bobble either.

What it actually is, is a berry in my newest obsession - the Leaves and Berries baby bonnet.

And it really wasn't that dreadful to knit. I only needed one more needle and a couple of extra hands. : )

I'd link you to the pattern, but the designer, Marilyn Merbach of Rabbit Tree Farm in PA, doesn't have a website. However, she's a lovely person and kindly sold me the pattern once I found her.

The one I saw (and fell in love with) was knit from a kit that also included her lovely cashmere yarn. I don't have any cashmere so I'm trying it out in some Regia Silk. I know. A shame and not at all comparable. Hopefully it will be satisfactory for practice and we'll see how it goes.

ETA: here it is now with all eight berries.

I have NO idea if my gauge is anywhere close.
(that would involve checking gauge, right??)
Who cares. I just want to see if I can make it first.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Out of Jail - FREE

It has only been 11 days of stitching but I have to tell you that I am very happy to see the end of this project.

I realize now more than ever that I generally work with several things in the pipeline for a reason and, while I usually work steadily on one primary project, I have others that work in and out of the queue to help relieve boredom and frustration. And, more importantly, I seldom work on a deadline.

This cross stitch project needed to be complete by the next EGA stitch-in meeting in early February, so I pretty much worked only on it and tried to get as much done with each sitting as possible to make sure I'd get it done.

I was also using, for the first time, stretcher bars to hold the fabric taut. I've said more than once that I dislike hoops. Well stretcher bars are worse. I ended up calling it the rack because to me it was indeed a torture device!

I think I'll read now, maybe do a few cartwheels in the yard, and then contemplate which relaxing knitting project to work on next as a reward.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A is for

Two types of embroidery come to mind beginning with the letter 'A'.

The first one I think of is Ayrshire embroidery which, according to the EGA glossary, originated in 1814 in the Scottish county that gives it its name. It is a whitework technique and principal stitches include padded satin, eyelets, chain, stem, buttonhole, and needlelace fillings.

Pictured is the back crown of a baby cap, one of many examples (for sale) that can be found here. A magnificent christening gown may be seen here.

Demand for this embroidery began to decline during the U.S. Civil War as a result of the blockade cutting off cotton supplies and it was further hurt by the invention by the Swiss of a machine that could duplicate eyelet holes.

In working eyelets by hand you can use an awl to help enlarge the hole

Assisi work is an Italian counted thread technique where the background is stitched and the main design is left unstitched but outlined in a dark color. Tips and a tutorial can be found here if you'd like to give it a go.

Additionally the May/June 1999 issue of "Piecework" magazine contains an excellent article "From a Medieval Italian Town: Assisi Embroidery" by Elly Smith and directions for four Assisi projects to stitch

Friday, January 16, 2009

Son of Leave It To Beaver

Leftover yarn and needles still in the box bag, so why not use them to make a pair of infant socks for one of the new babes? I tried halfheartedly to make them twins but they are only fraternal. Oh well. They will be quickly outgrown!

I used this very basic pattern to make them.

Next up for the next babe? Maybe an owl cap?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fun Felting

PJ Bear (official naming will come later) was felted today.

Knitters speak of the magic of blocking lace but I gotta say that felting is more magical for me. At least with lace you have some beauty before blocking. The loosey-goosey garter stitch of the pre-felted object is not very lovely.

Naturally I was so anxious to toss him in hot water that I forgot his pre-felt photo op but you can get some idea here.

This is my second baby bear from the Fiber Trends pattern (201x) and it is such a fun project.

Several years ago I saw one on the Whimsy blog. She mentioned that she had tied the arms toward the front while it dried and she then gifted hers holding a baby spoon. Awww. That explains why I have my little fellow restrained!

and, once again, my Christmas cactus and I are much alike: we are both Late Bloomers!

Monday, January 12, 2009

another baby cap

Lots of little babies expected around work, the first of which just arrived so I quickly knit up a Vine Lace hat. This is my favorite quick project. 4 rows, 2 of which are knit only. It practically flies off the needles.

Pattern: Vine Lace Baby Hat
at Interweave's Knitting Daily
Yarn: Sublime baby cashmerino silk dk
75% extrafine merino/20% silk/ 5% cashmere
color: 0002 "cuddle"; about 1/2 ball

Needles: size 3 Susan Bates cheapy Silvalume

"a child is born only once, but a grandparent is reborn with each new grandchild."
-Arthur Kornhaber

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who's That Girl?

Recognize that girl? Perhaps because she's so familiar to me (and because I know what I'm stitching!), I can see her already even though there is much left to be stitched.

This is my current project and is not completely of my own choosing. The small EGA stitch-in group that I go to has selected Love Quilts as our service project and we are each doing a square to be assembled by others into a quilt.

This is not an ideal time for me to take on a project with a deadline, but I'm trying to get it done by next month. It would have been much easier, of course, if I had selected a design requiring fewer colors! But this one definitely said 'love' to me.

If you haven't recognized her, here's a hint, she's soft, and lovable and has a red heart embroidered on her chest that say's LOVE. Seemed just right for this project. She has been recreated by many but was imagined and created by Johnny Gruelle.

It is the Gruelle ideal that books for children should contain nothing to cause fright, suggest fear, glorify mischief, excuse malice or condone cruelty. That is why they are called "Books Good For Children".

Saturday, January 3, 2009

so easily distracted

It's been a nice lazy day around the cul-de-sac, but I know work and responsibilities will soon resume in earnest.

One nice thing about a free Saturday is the chance to go to the library and read magazines. What a luxury. Even a back issue was new to me and I found a fascinating article in the Sep/Oct 2008 issue of FiberArts on the art of Dorie Millerson.

I love how Ms. Millerson uses old family photographs as design inspiration and what feeling she brought to them with just string!
[Be sure to view her 2005 'attachments' series in the Portfolio.]

A little more about needlelace can be found here and see a lacemaker at work here stitching Burano lace.

The buttonhole or blanket stitch used in needlelace is used in many laces and embroideries and will be the edge around my current Hardanger piece, but mine won't have that soft, etheral feeling that Ms. Millerson captures. I'd love to see her pieces in person.

See some more beautiful lace pieces in photos that Mary took (in 2007, I think).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome New Year