Friday, July 31, 2009

Socks on the go

The Birch Leaf socks are car knitting. The Tin O' Socks stays in the car and I get a round or two done each day while in line at the bank drive-thru for instance.

Today I made it to the heel flap section so they come inside. Perfect timing for the weekend. Once I get the heel flap knit, the heel turned, and the gusset picked up and decreased, they'll go back out to the car.

This is a fun pattern and I'm sure, even at a row or two every few days, that they'll be ready long before I need woolen socks. This whole Low Stress theme for the Summer of Socks is really working out for me. smile

Before I could set up this picture, I had to pick up my shopping.

Have I mentioned that I don't like to shop? This time I didn't even have to surf or even look through a catalog. I simply called the always-nice folks at Lands' End and gave them the label number off a blouse I already own and like. Friendly, Fast and Easy. And On Sale!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creativity Abounds!

No not here.

Here on the cul-de-sac re-creativity abounds. Find a pattern, get string, re-create. There are no original thoughts in my head.

I'm knitting my BLUE shawl and loving it even if I have had to make a few slight adjustments. [more on that later]

In the meantime, I wanted to point you over to a blog I found today. No knitting; at least not in the posts I read, but I was just bowled over by the inventiveness of the artist, Amy Flynn. The amount of expression and personality she is able to bring to her creations using the most eclectic collection of well - junk really.

So go check out these Fobots.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Truly, Madli, Deeply

I'm happier already. Just getting these first rows in on one end edging of Madli's Shawl was so relaxing. I could almost feel the endorphins releasing into my system.

Now it is said that exercise does this for many people. Exercise? Bah! I walk because I have to, not because I enjoy it or feel so wonderful afterwards.

One thing about this yarn - it is BLUE.

I'm using yarn I found at Stitches South from the vendor Knit Witch; a fairly local indie dyer.

The vendor was very nice. I first chose a skein with light rosy pinks. The yarn was lovely but I never pick pink. What was I thinking? Sitting and looking at it while I ate my lunch at the vendor market, I mused to Kay about my unusual choice. She suggested I see if I could swap it if I wasn't sure about it and the vendor most graciously agreed. So this may indeed be quite BLUE, but at least it isn't pink.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The tipping point

Here you see that I have not progressed very far on my Schwalm project. Before starting it, I wound the blue lace yarn that I purchased at Stitches South. I plan to use it for another shawl from the Estonian book - Madli's Shawl.

And as much as I do truly want to explore Schwalm embroidery, and as much as I've tried to convince myself to finish up the second Birch Leaf sock, I cannot keep my thoughts off lace knitting.
I've been trying to satisfy myself by only looking at ones recently finished by others, but I have finally succumbed and will cast on today.

One of my favorites is this incredibly warm orange one. [Orange, again!]

And take a look at her wonderful post on a needlework and textile exhibit from back in May. Oh, can you imagine getting to see this in person?!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

and to think I discovered it in a COOK book!

I love the library and I'm in and out of Central and a couple of branches usually twice a week or more. As much as I try, I can never leave without checking out a book or two - even when I've told myself I'm only dropping in to return some.

That was the case today. I was only going to return a couple. But I'm there, so might as well at least breeze by the browser right? Just see what might be there.

That's how I came to bring home a cookbook. A cookbook is proof that, not only do I love to read, I'll read pretty much anything. I don't expect I'll try any of the recipes* in the book I found, "Screen Doors and Sweet Tea - Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook", but I am enjoying reading it.

These are Southern recipes so you know there is a story for every one. Would you believe there is one about an embroiderer?

Ethel Wright's father eventually consented to her marriage in 1924 to Hassan Mohamed and they worked side by side at the General Store he opened in Belzoni, MS until his death in 1965. Insomnia brought on by her grief kept Ethel up at night and she turned to embroidery in order to relive the joyous days she shared with her husband as they raised their eight children.

Many of her memory pieces are displayed in the family home, preserved as "Mama's Dream World", and her work was featured in the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folklife, a commissioned piece was on the exhibit catalog's cover, and some of her work is held in the permanent collection.

see exhibit catalog cover (pg 9) here

*but if I do try one, I'd be willing to bet it is the Caramel Cake. I'm weak in the presence of a good caramel cake.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blue and White

For years - YEARS - I tell you - I have been reading about, gathering supplies for, and wanting to try Schwalm embroidery. How many years? How about at least ten? Ten years ago - and this was not when I first started yearning to try it - I read an article in an Australian needlework magazine about Christine Bishop. Her kind reply to my inquiry is dated 24 May 1999.

Perhaps you have experienced obsession; maybe for yarn or a particular pattern. If so, you'll understand. Ms. Bishop informed me that she couldn't supply instruction packs mentioned in the article as she had contracted to publish a book.

Through special order I obtained the book and sighed and swooned and read some more but still did not pick up a needle. Before too long the book was readily available in local bookstores. Eventually I acquired the threads and even a small project kit.

Why do I operate this way? I think because it is so much easier to pick up something I already know how to do; something that I feel fairly confident about the end result. Something I won't have to study, learn, and possibly find initially frustrating. Because at the end of the day, who needs frustration?

Last year I finally got down to trying Hedebo embroidery after a ten-year incubation period. This year I swore I'd tackle Schwalm. Today I began. I'll tell you more (than you'll ever want to know) about it in the next few days.

So that's the white. What about the blue? Well take a look at this most beautiful shawl. This knitter adapted the triangular Miralda shawl into a stunning square one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Triangular Scarf in Leaf Pattern

Pattern: Triangular Scarf in Leaf Pattern
from "Knitted Lace of Estonia" by Nancy Bush

Yarn: Classic Elite - Silky Alpaca Lace
70% alpaca / 30% silk ; 1.5 balls
Color 2403 ; Cloud Gray

Needles: Size 4 circular
32" cable for edging

Wow! Happy Dance! This one was such a wonderful surprise. It was so hard to tell much about it as I was knitting around and around for the edging. This is the first time I've picked up stitches and added an edging this way and there were so many stitches bunched up on the cable, it was difficult to see. This edging, however, is very easy and every row is the same until the bind off. I can see using this same, simple edging around a baby blanket knit on the bias ala brooklyntweed.

The yarn is wonderful; light and soft and very natural looking in color. I'm sure others might be bored with the single motif repeated throughout, but I quite like the look.

Although the actual name of this one has it as a scarf, and many of the smaller triangles I've done have been named shawls, this one is much larger and is truly shawl sized. [53" x 42"]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Orange you glad you came?

I did make pictures of the finished shawl. Surely I'll get the post up by tomorrow. (not that there is a path beaten to the door here or anything!)

In the meantime, since we were still speaking of ORANGE, here's another fabulous shawl.

What is it with orange? Am I just noticing it all of a sudden? I actually have a large ball of orange laceweight, but I wasn't planning on starting it next. Maybe I should think again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Look, Ma! No wires!

The triangular shawl is blocking and I didn't even have to use the dreaded blocking wires. The edging is the same all the way around, and the points were easy enough to tease out and pin.

Shouldn't take too long to dry in this weather. Still I'll leave it overnight.

Blocking pictures are so boring though, aren't they? It doesn't help that the light is so poor and the beach towel is so orange.

And, speaking of orange, go have a look at Miss Alice Faye's current loveliness. Oh, Miss Alice Faye, you are something else!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Light at the end of the tunnel

Quite hard to tell what this is supposed to be, isn't it?

This is the Cloud Gray shawl - a triangular shawl but you sure can't tell that by the picture. I can hardly tell it myself and I'm knitting it!

I'm working the edging, in the round, on all three sides. Rounds are rather long, but the edging repeats are actually soothing to knit and every other round is plain knit.

I started this with close to a full ball of yarn and had visions of lace scarves and things I might could knit with the leftover yarn. Well this edge, on this many stitches, is a yarn eater and I'm not sure now I'll have enough. But we shall see. No need to get the cart before horse just yet.

It might be nice to have a bit of instant gratification, and these quick loopy felt flowers might be fun. I think they'd be nice to use instead of bows on packages and gift bags. Of course, I'd have to get UP to find the felt. Maybe I'll just keep knitting around and around.

Whew! Another hot, hot day. I hope you've had a good weekend.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Old Stitches, New Ideas

When Kay goes to her lakefront cabin in MN every summer, I miss her (a lot), but she's always good to send me long, rambling handwritten letters.

Kay is a prolific pen pal and I know I'm not the only one getting fat envelopes in the mail.

One thing that Kay does, wherever she goes, is visit yard sales, estate sales, and flea markets.

Yesterday's envelope was larger and fatter than usual and when I zipped it open, I was astounded and delighted to find this goodie bag.

She said she left the price on it so I could see that, when it came to a surprise for me, price was no object!

This is a priceless treasure indeed. The book, "Healy Hardanger Samplers - old stitches new ideas" is undated, but was put out by D. J. Healy, Detroit, Michigan.

I wish I had a reader that could give me more information about this store. Since the back cover gives its address as 222, 224, 226 Woodward Avenue, I'm guessing it was a very large department store in downtown Detroit; and one that had a well-stocked needlework department.

A quick internet search shows that it was started by D. J. Healy, born in 1862 in Ireland, came to Detroit in 1880, and started his career as a dealer in ostrich feathers before founding a dry goods business in 1887; the first Detroit retailer to make European buying trips. [2 photos here]

There was one lovely, and very well done, Hardanger square in the package and inside the booklet was one page torn from The Modern Pricilla dated July 1905 with directions for a Centerpiece in Hardanger Embroidery. What a find!

The two lengths of net darning are in pristine condition and look as though they were just recently completed. I have the one on the right upside down in the photo. There was also one page torn from "Needlecraft" Journal of Net Darning and it appears the piece on the left was worked using illustration no. 17 but with a different border.

There is no name inside the booklet and no notations. Who was the needleworker? Did she have a project in mind for these insertions or did she work them just for the pleasure and her own education? I don't know, but I have an idea we would have gotten along just fine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


What is that saying? When you fail to plan, you plan to fail? Not sure who coined that pithy phrase, but it seems apt here.

I needed 242 stitches picked up on the first side. I did at least count the slipped stitches at the edge and thought I was picking up enough, but ran about 20 short.

So I made an actual plan. Not sure whether or not it will work either, but at least it gives me an idea.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bag bag

With the comple-
tion a few days back of some plain socks, I found myself with no travel project and looked around for something to fill the void.

Enter Classic Elite Yarns Bag Bag. Yep. Bag Bag is it's official name.

Even though I try not to use plastic bags from stores, a few always seem to find their way here and, truthfully, the few that do are welcomed and reused as small wastebasket liners. I keep mine in a similar bag bag made of fabric and given to me by some other crafty person years ago.

This one I knit from one ball of Peaches & Creme 4 ply cotton - color Sea Mist (same as the Girlfriend Market Bag) - and some dpns. I think I could have gotten 2 more pattern repeats of the feather and fan and made it a bit longer, but I never seem able to guess yarnage.

Still it is adequate and amused me during it's creation. It will be mailed off soon to live and serve in a cabin in MN. I send snail mail to Kay when she's gone for the summer.

Oh, speaking of summer.....I've been satisfying my inner Norwegian by travelling along with Britt.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Satisfaction Guaranteed

A quiet evening on the cul-de-sac. No fireworks to be heard yet.

As I sat and watched the PBS American Masters special on Garrison Keillor, I finished up the little Evelyn Clark baby bonnet; a thoroughly satisfying and easy knit. [it's called i-cord for a reason after all!]

But speaking of fireworks, I expect that Mary is already aboard the Intrepid and will be soon watching an amazing display.

Happy 4th of July to you wherever you are.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Comfort knitting

I haven't forgotten my cloud gray lace triangle. In fact, if you were to enlarge the picture and examine my spreadsheet, you'd see that I only have the twelve rows of lace edge to complete.

However, the pattern instructions at this point gave me a bit of pause. I have 252 stitches on the needle now and need to pick up 242 on each of the other sides - for a total of 736. Whoa.

It's a holiday here - well a day off work before the holiday and I decided I'd rather knit something just a little easier; something that didn't require as much thinking and counting.

So yesterday I picked up a little ball of Berroco Comfort DK in a sweet pink and today I started another Evelyn Clark baby bonnet.

The Comfort DK is just as splitty as I found it the first time but also just as soft and with just as much lovely stitch definition. It is so inexpensive and so completely washer/dryer friendly that it is hard to beat for gifts.

This is color 2705 - Pretty Pink which I think is just right; not too pink. I think it will be firmer than my first bonnet and, I hope, just as sweet.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

just a silly sock sack

You know how surfing through blogs leads you from one thing to another? And before you know it (if you're anything like me), you've completely forgotten what it was you sat down to look up in the first place.

Well that's how I found this new bag pattern. I somehow wound up reading about the Minnesota Designer Blog Hop where for ten days a different quilt designer will post new patterns or ideas.

I think if you follow along every day and leave comments on all the blogs, you are eligible for a prize or two, but I haven't settled down enough to do all that.

Terry Atkinson's Sock Sack pattern from day 7 of the hop was fun and FAST to make.

I decided to use some silly cat fabric scraps from a long-ago project. [My daughter was in elementary school. It's that old!] I wanted to get an idea of the size and construction first and these hot, bright colors seemed like a good idea and worked with the little black zipper I already had.

The zippered pocket for stitch markers or small items is a nice touch. I think the next time I'll make it just a tad larger, maybe a inch wider and an inch longer and I'll line it. I did finish the inside of the casing with bias tape to enclose any raw edges there, but I think a lining would be even nicer (and a chance to use even more fun fabric!).