Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Stretch

Knitting for Sanity. Perhaps I should rename the blog.

I've been holding out on you. I have been playing some lately with something other than string. Watercolors!

A friend - a stitching friend mind you - signed up for a very inexpensive 8-week session. I may have said when she told me about it that I had always wanted to try watercolors. Next thing I knew I was buying supplies. You've been there. You know how easily these things can happen!

Well my 'pieces' won't be popping up here. They are not exactly art. Still I'm not regretting the time. It has been a nice introduction and one I would have never carved out the time for otherwise. But best of all, after each Tuesday session, we stop off for coffee (and cookies usually) and a chat. That has been quite beneficial and I'm going to miss it, I know, when the class is over. I come home relaxed and restored.

I usually have a bit of knitting with me to work on and the sock you see above was cast on last week over coffee and is my new car knitting.

This is a basic 2x2 ribbed sock in Patons Stretch which has 7% elastic. Pretty soft and I'm enjoying it so far.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Spy..... a new bag

One thing about browsing around the internet, you can always find new patterns and inspiration.

Of course, browsing around the internet cuts into the time to actually make the patterns, but what's a person to do??

I call Kay The Enabler sometimes. Perhaps she feels the same about me. We are always passing links back and forth and I know I found this new bag through a link she sent.

The minute I spotted it, I knew I wanted to try it.

This is the Noriko Handbag; a clever little freebie from Lazy Girl Designs.
[celebrating lazy since 1997]

Lazy Girl. Don't you love that name? I do.
But I don't think there is anything lazy about her. I've made lots of little bags, some from free patterns and some from ones I purchased, and these directions were top notch. Besides being well written and full of helpful (and exact) illustrations, it contained many little steps that added greatly to the looks and functionality of the bag.

I loved the bright hibiscus fabric that I rushed right out to my LQS for the moment I printed the pattern. Of course there was nothing just right already in the house! Can you relate?

Conveniently it is just the right size for a small, portable knitting project.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What's the opposite of cable-licious?

Mary asked me about this project - the wee aran sweater.

I'm about a sleeve and a half away from the dreaded seaming. The bloom is off this rose. It's a pure slog knit now.

The knitting itself isn't that bad. It's not the most fun I've ever had, but it isn't the least either. I do not underestimate my dread of sewing. I don't feel comfortable with it. I have no idea how the cable patterns are going to match up at the saddle shoulders (other than I expect they will not; match up that is!)

I suspect that since I don't have much confidence that this project will come even near to meeting expectations, that I am deliberately slowing down to put off the inevitable disappointment.

I've already encountered one major problem. The sides of the sleeves are to be knit in moss stitch and kept in pattern during the increasing. I have absolutely NO CLUE how to do this and haven't found any help on the internet. [I confess to having spent much more time looking at lace shawl patterns than searching for this answer.]

Now this should not be an insurmountable problem. Obviously it can be done; witness the pattern photo! A little logic applied should solve the puzzle. But for the life of me, I can't figure it out. As I worked up the sleeve chart, I did something and decided this was a pattern. Not the pattern, but repetitive. I rationalized that the parents and other adults around the intended baby wouldn't have the pattern in hand for comparison and would really be so besotted with the infant that they wouldn't give a backwards glance to the gladrags.

And truly, at this point, if I'm thunderstruck with the answer, I doubt I'd frog and restart. The baby-to-be is growing and so should this sweater!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Shawl Queen

Another wonderful day with Kay. Today we spent all day at the vendor market at Stitches South. Oh, my. Sensory overload. By the end of the day I was tired and a bit unfocused, but Kay was extremely patient with me as I dithered over my final purchase.

We had visited the Skaska Designs booth earlier in the day and I had overheard that Galina (you don't mind if I call you by your first name, do you?) would be returning soon.

Well, I really wanted to see and meet her!

I've been reading about (and frankly obsessing over) Galina Khmeleva and her gossamer shawls since I first read of her in a 1995 "Piecework" magazine**. Neither that issue, with it's article "Cobwebs From the Steppes - Russian Lace Knitted Shawls" nor a later 2000 one is still available, but her two books are available through Interweave Press and last year's LACE issue is still available and has her pattern for a Russian lace scarf. I saw this very piece and dozens of others on display. The finest, truly gossamer pieces you can imagine! In Person! Can you tell it made my day? And what a gracious woman she is.

The other highlight for me was meeting an artist that I had never heard of before - Neal Howard - a weaver from the Smoky Mountains. Her dyed yarn was beautiful, but her woven kimono-type jackets were wearable ART. Such talent. It appears that her website, linked above, is perhaps still being constructed so, sadly, you don't see any of her amazing weaving. If you ever do see her name listed in a show or market, do seek her out.

So, time to put up my tired feet, brew some strong coffee, and paw through the handouts and freebies.

**By the way, RUN don't walk right out and get the May/June issue of "Piecework" the very moment it hits the newstands. It's is the LACE issue and has a new pattern and article by Galina!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Embracing mediocrity one string at a time

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day and I spent it in the company of dear, and fun, friend. I do not discount that adjective 'fun'. It was relaxation and fun that I was craving. Kay is always a delight to be around and I think we both enjoyed the day.

We started out by dropping in on the Atlanta Chapter IOLI who were hosting another lace workshop, held for the first time at nearby state park Red Top Mountain Lodge. The scenery in the park was a balm and the woods were full of their own lacy white dogwoods in full bloom.

The three classes offered this year were all advanced classes and there was some lovely work on the pillows that I got to glimpse. What a LOT of talent in those three classrooms! It looked like a great workshop. Kay and I timed our visit hoping to arrive at the break and drop in and browse the vendor tables.

Lacy Susan was again there and it is so hard to resist all the wonderful string for sale. They had a good supply of lace knitting books on display including some that I never get to see 'in person'.

With so many designs already owned, it seemed ridiculous to purchase more. I contented myself with this little leaflet for a lace wreath by Diane Willet. Why, oh why, didn't I have this last year when I was struggling to come up with one of my own??

All of the colors of the new Lizbeth cotton were there. SO hard to choose among the lovely hand dyed balls! I finally decided on color 117.
Another spare Aero shuttle completed my haul.

Today, perhaps, I'll finish up the Hardanger piece I've been working on in fits and starts over several months. There are so many other tempting projects in the pipeline. But after seeing such lovely work yesterday and such focus and study, I can so completely chant the "Confessions of a Craftsperson" that I just read here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Incredibly Quick

If you ever need a quick, inex-
pensive baby shower gift this is a great pattern. Or maybe you want to give something handmade but don't want to spend forever or just want to augment to a store-bought gift.

This is the Children's Cotton Hat from "Last-Minute Knitted Gifts". I check this out of the library every once in awhile.

It's the second time I've made it and this time I actually used the Mission Falls 1824 Cotton called for in the pattern. This 100% cotton yarn has a nubby texture and wasn't too awful to knit with - especially for so short a period. It is labeled as machine wash and dry / gentle cycle.

One ball was $5.75 at my nearly LYS and I used less than a full skein.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

I think I mentioned weaknesses. Well I also have a fondness for antique postcards. I started with a small collection of Christmas postcards but have picked up a few for other holidays when I have happened upon some at a good price.
I love the artwork, the fact that they were loved and saved (at least for a time until they wound up in the antique store), and the short, sometimes choppy, greetings on the back.
You can see that this one had a bit of damage on the front, but still the lily is lovely I think.

The message on the reverse of this one reads:

"Dear Cousin, I have really forgotten your address but hope you receive this card & I will try & write soon. I am improving very slowly Carrie"

postmarked in Oil City, PA March 21, 1913.
I cannot make out the city name to which it was addressed, but indeed it was marked through, I assume by the postal service, and a new city written in below in a different hand.
And just as a curious aside, and because I can find all this on the internet easily, Easter in 1913 was on March 23, an unusually early Easter. In fact, 2008 was the first year since 1913 to have fallen so early.
Click here to see 1913 Easter parade on 5th Avenue or here to see three fashionable women strolling along 5th Avenue
Links especially for Mary who has in the past had some outstanding photos of fancy hats in the NYC Easter parade!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My one weakness

I have not quite embraced the digital television conversion. I've not been able to get my favorite of the two PBS stations here, but luckily the one I can get is currently showing season one of "Lark Rise to Candleford" and it has become Must See TV for me.

I have a Post-It note in my coffee cup cupboard that I move out on Sunday evenings to remind me to watch on Mondays and move back inside afterwards to await the next week.

It's more than worth tuning in each week to see the matching costumes worn by the Pratt sisters, the meddlesome snobbish pair that run The Stores, a ladies dress shop. And there has been a pleasing amount of stringplay to see. An early episode showed the character Queenie busy at a bobbin lace pillow, and last evening's episode featured an intricately embroidered tapestry. There are shawls galore as well as snoods, lace jabots, and fingerless gloves.

Julia Sawalha (shown above) who plays a main character, Dorcas Lane, is my favorite. She is wont to say almost every episode that something is her "one weakness". Naturally this one weakness is something different every time it is spoken. I can relate, can't you? I have weaknesses in the plural myself.

If you've read here much, you already know that an Evelyn A. Clark lace pattern is my one weakness. With the front and back finally finished on the wee aran baby sweater, I think I may pause and indulge my one weakness for a bit.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dogwood Days

Still getting lots of rain around here, but it is nice to see all the dogwoods blooming.

I'm trying to be good and finish up the little cabled baby sweater before embarking on a new project. It's hard. My mind is definitely on lace and every couple of rows I stop to look through lace pattern books or surf around looking for yarn.

Hope your projects are working out well.