Saturday, July 30, 2011

Home Stretch

Nearly finished with this piece. It has been in progress over a long period, but really only saw three serious work phases. I would pull it out, do quite a bit, and then put it away for long stretches at a time.

It is so much easier, for me at least, to work this type of embroidery as it doesn't require so many colors/types of threads. Usually just two sizes of pearl cotton. No stripping of floss or constantly threading needles with different colors. Am I lazy or what?!

Since I've been knitting, I do less Hardanger embroidery than in the past. Each time I do find time for it, I am reminded of how much I enjoy it and puzzle over why I let so much time pass between projects. TIME. I just need more FREE time. No doubt, I'll be pulling out my many books and patterns and pondering over the next one to start.

With all the many (many!) patterns I have, you would think I wouldn't repeat one. Obviously this one is one I that particularly enjoy as I am repeating it. At least I'm doing it in a different color and size and I did change one of the elements. The printed pattern doesn't have the interlaced hemstitch and I think that is what I like most about it. It has been so long since I did this stitch that I had to pull out the encyclopedia to check how to get it started. Once started, it is quick and easy to do.

[Nordic Needle's online stitch tutorial for Hardanger embroidery is here.]

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The weekend sock dog is complete. Parts have been sewn on (it wasn't too bad) and the bit of facial embroidery finished. One of those eyes could use a touch up but I will probably leave it as it is. Unless it just really gets to bothering me later.

All in all a fun little pattern. Only fiddly because I opted to knit it in fine sock yarn using two yarns.

All appendages are knit exactly the same: cast on 8 stitches, increase to 16 by knitting in front of back of all stitches on the first round, and knit upward. Body commences at the top of the legs from live stitches. Arm and ears (not stuffed) are bound off and sewn on. Back of head is knit like a sock heel flap. Poor thing has no tail.

I might knit this or another of the Lion Brand free critter patterns again, but in a heavier yarn. It would be easy enough to have one "wear" a sweater, maybe even a holiday one. Something to remember (although what are the chances of that??).

Hope you've had fun this weekend.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You've Got a Friend in Me

I've asked a couple of my friends to help me hold up the first part of my weekend project. Aren't they doing a fine job!

Weekend project? Wondering what happened to the wonderful Estonian pattern?

I had unexpected car repairs on Friday afternoon but had the Estonian knitting with me. What good company it was. I opted for the smaller lounge just off the showroom. Fewer people are usually there. Fewer people = fewer cell phone talkers and a quieter atmosphere all around. I was especially lucky and had the place all to myself. Bliss. As a result, I have almost finished the whole first skein of white yarn.

Rather than sitting and winding up the second skein, I decided to try out something completely different. I'm using some leftover from previous projects to make a little Poochie Pup Sock Critter. Woody* and Bullseye assisted me once I got the legs done.

The pattern is free at Lion Brand, but you have to register to access their pattern library. No biggie. Here's the LB photo. The pattern calls for their Wool-Ease worsted on size 5 needles. I often like small scale things better so I'm trying it with sock yarn leftovers on size 1s.

Theirs is 9-1/2" tall and mine is just 6". Mine is also currently arm-less, ear-less, and face-less. So far a nice little pattern, but check back after I've SEWN on the arms and ears and attempted embroidered features - two steps that can turn ugly in a hurry.

*Now Woody, he's been my pal for as long as I can remember. He's brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he'll never give up on you.....ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

At last

At last
my love has come along
my lonely days are over
and my life
is like a song.

Back in early June, I finished Wendy's Summer Mystery Shawlette. Fun times. My knitting since has not been very fun or engaging until now.

This Estonian stitch pattern is just perfect and every stitch so far has been just pure pleasure. It is the kind of knitting where you wish you didn't have to do ANYthing else and when you are doing something else you are thinking about how soon you can get back to it. Yes, it is that good! And that is an especially welcome feeling when the HEAT continues to be so oppressive.

I've linked before to Britt Arnhild's lovely blog. She's visiting Venice, Italy again and has a great post with wonderful pictures of a lacemaker with her Burano lace. What a way with string!!

"At Last" is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film Orchestra Wives

Monday, July 18, 2011


The Noro knitting complete, I am happy to be working on something with no color changes, just plain white stitch after another. Very soothing.

Back in April, I was delighted to find The Haapsalu Shawl book. What a gorgeous, gorgeous book! Even though it is by far the most expensive book in my knitting library, it would be worth it even if I never knit anything from it. For awhile there it looked like that might be the case, since this book, in spite of its beauty, has no full patterns.

Instead it has stitch motifs charted. A section at the front describes how to use the patterns to design your own shawl.
These directions are for shawls [rectangles] and scarves [squares] made in the traditional Estonian manner where the body is knit with a garter border, the edging is knit separately in two lengths, and then sewn onto the body.

I ordered two skeins of Nordic Lights yarn from Wooly West. Although the website lists this as "special lace weight" it seems more fingering weight. It is 2-ply but the 475 yds/100 gr is about sock yarn yardage. I'm knitting it with a size 6 and I'll be anxious to see how it blocks. No need to get TOO anxious as this will be a long time from now.

I considered recharting this in Excel since the Estonian symbols are different from what I'm used to using, but I thought I'd try it first and see and I'm really having no problems. I started from a provisional cast on as I think I'm going to go the modern route for the edging ala Nancy Bush. I may regret this later when I have to pick up all those stitches all the way around, but I won't borrow trouble for now.

If you have Knitted Lace Of Estonia by Nancy Bush, you'll recognize some of these stitch patterns (although not the one above). Certainly for the price and for the full, detailed directions for shawls already completely calculated, Nancy's would be the book to get. I might not have had the confidence to launch into one on my own from this book, but having made a few with Nancy holding my hand, I feel better able to take on this project.

And, as usual, I'm already thinking ahead to the NEXT one - using finer yarn.

Link to YouTube video of two Estonian knitters talking about shawl knitting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Certainly Can Can-Can

Well this was FUN, quick, and satisfying.

Bottom is 3"in diameter and it stands about 5" tall. I used size 6 dpns and didn't even finish up that ball you saw yesterday.

Since it is too dang HOT to fill with chocolates -especially as the photo was taken outside - it held a little can of mandarin oranges for the photo, but I think, filled with chocolate truffles, it would make a nice little giftie.

The beaded picot cast on was from the free pattern, Katharine's Bag [Ravelry link].

With that start you wind up with 45 stitches (using 15 beads). As I mentioned yesterday, as soon as I got the cast on completed and read the next part of the pattern, I realized it was not knit in the round so I dropped that pattern like a HOT potato, joined in the round, knit a few rounds and increased 3 stitches to get 48. From that point on I followed the directions from a long ago post of Susan Lawrence. [from the Dec. 2005 archives of her former "I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can" blog].

I've used her directions several times, always with good success, but I have yet to make a felted bag as she shows in these posts. I need to try that sometime. Heck, in this weather I could probably felt it as I knit!

We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave

The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising, She certainly can can-can

[Irving Berlin - 1938]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


My attention span is even more scattered than the thunderstorms that might- or might not - pop up around here.

So scattered that, even though I have just a little bit more left to do on the Hardanger project you saw last post, I just didn't feel like returning to it this evening.

This past weekend I ran across some beads while looking for something else. Isn't that the way it always goes?!

Just inexpensive acrylic beads, but I left them out near the leftover ball of Eco-Cotton Blend from the last bag thinking I might could come up
with some use for the combination of the two.

Ravelry to the rescue.

I just typed in 'beads' and 'bag' into the advanced pattern search field and then narrowed the results to knitted bags. Even then most of the results were not what I was looking for, but it didn't take long to glance over them and find something I liked.

Since I didn't have too many beads, I thought I'd probably have to randomly place them around the bag, but then I happened upon a free pattern for a small bag with a beaded picot cast on. Perfect.

Of course I couldn't be bothered to read ahead, so it was only after I got the cast on complete that I learned the bag wasn't knit in the round, so I abandoned the rest of that pattern. This is as far as I got tonight, but it kept me amused and distracted from the weather!

Monday, July 11, 2011


It always amazes me how much faster the cutting and needle weaving portion of a project goes. I'm sure it is because that, for me, is the most enjoyable part so I keep at it for longer stretches of time. Also, there is no counting at this point, so no delays double-checking to make sure everything lines up and is in place.

Two sides have been completed, one (at top of photo) has the threads withdrawn and is ready for weaving, and the last is still uncut.
A good project = indoors + a/c + low-temp lighting.

I'm going to return to work on it now and while I do I think I'll listen to a podcast. I recently found iMake produced by a Guernsey girl with infectious enthusiasm.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Red Hot & Blue

Productivity has ground to a halt around the cul-de-sac. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the temperature and the output! I don't want to do anything except SIT. And maybe read.

I just cannot get or stay motivated in this awful HEAT. I mean, really! Take a look at that weather map. Dispiriting to say the least.

I've worked a bit more on the very colorful Noro Wisp, but then decided it would be much cooler to work with linen so I returned to this Hardanger project that I started a good while back. [Wow! I just checked and it was back when we had ice! Those were the Good Old Days!]

I took this photo yesterday and have since begun the cutting and weaving of the edge - my favorite part of any Hardanger piece.

Too bad I can't stitch on it in the dark. Much cooler that way.

Oh, I did get new duds, though and that cheered me up. Well that and a new bag of M&Ms.

Hope you are staying as cool as possible where you are.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I wished I owned a string store

Even though the latest Piecework arrived a few days ago, I left it in the protective plastic covering until the 3-day weekend officially started. I know I am sometimes so eager to see what is inside that I rush through it when I do not have enough time available to really read, examine, and savor.

It is another wonderful issue. Of course, I am rather biased. Piecework is my all-time, #1 favorite magazine ever. I can hardly stress that enough. To me it is the perfect combination of history, background, information, patterns, and helpful advertisements. The current issue is no exception. I haven't fully read a single article yet, but the projects have definitely caught my interest.

The first one that had me just itching to try was the article by Carolyn Wetzel, "Oya: A Traditional Needle-Lace Embellishment". The first time I ever saw or read about Oya was a fantastic article by Kax Wilson in the Jul/Aug 1996 Piecework. This article was accompanied by instructions with line drawings for making the motifs and edgings (designed by Gretchen Allgeier) but I didn't give it a try then.

Instead of doing, I fell back on reading; something I often tend to do. I repeatedly checked out the library book "Mediterranean Knotted Lace" by Elena Dickson. This book had wonderful instructions, but still I didn't give it a try.

The Jan/Feb 2006 Piecework came along and again Gretchen Allgeier had instructions, this time with close-up photos of lace in progress. I oohed and aahed, but I was distracted because that issue also had a good bit of knitting including a Nancy Bush sock pattern.

Perhaps the third time IS the charm. This current issue has again instructions accompanied by even more step-by-step close-up photos. I have to say I am really glad that Piecework has stuck with me and prodded me along to finally, finally give this a try.

Which brings me to my post title. I wish I owned a string store. Here I am finally ready to give it go and I don't have the Perfect String. Now I have, as you might imagine, a goodly bit of string, in various sizes and a number of colors. In the instructions Carolyn said she used size 16 pearl cotton (Presencia) but that you may use any thread smooth enough to slide against itself without catching when making the knots.

So I pulled a ball of size 12 pearl (DMC) which is thicker but worked nicely. I didn't have any bright, bold colors in size 12. I was thrilled when I finished my first (and so far only) pyramid. Working with the thicker size 12 made me appreciate even more Carolyn's beautiful and delicate work.

See some beauties here including some by Carolyn Wetzel. Be sure to click to enlarge those photos over there so you can really appreciate the beauty of their work. Some YouTube videos are also available.