Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Mighty Fine

Here is a little peek at why I love to spin as fine a thread as I can.

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If I spin a fine thread, I can knit a fine thread.

These are to become Lacey Mohair/wool Socks. I've pieced the pattern together taking snippets of information from various pages of the book "Sensational Knitted Socks", splicing in my own favorite way of doing things (toe-up, 2 on one circular, figure 8 cast on, picot bind-off) and blending until I (hopefully) have a workable pattern that will be worth knitting. I would just "wing it" without the help of the book, but knitting a heel-flap, turned heel, going toe-up is new for me. Until now I have always done Peasant Heels for toe-up socks.

The afghan/shawl in the background is the Poinsettia Shawl, and is knit from the same handspun yarn I am using to knit the socks.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Blue/Green Merino Top

A quick peek at what I've been spinning lately.

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This is merino top (color "blue/green") being spun up as a 2 ply fingering weight. I purchased the top from Sun Bench Fibres.

As yet there is no planned project for this yarn. Total weight, 250gm.

Friday, January 27, 2006

New Bag

I was at Value Village the other day, on the prowl for cheap craft supplies, when I came across this little bargain:

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I've been wanting a mid-sized knitting bag for quite some time now. I have small ones, good for taking along a pair of socks in progress. I have a large one that I take on vacation. It holds all my notions, as well as a couple of projects. What I really needed was something in between. A bag that would hold a sweater in progress, but wouldn't drag me down.

This one has no interior pockets, but for $2.79 CAD (brand new, not used) I think it is pretty darn good.

The yarn peeking out of the top is my current work in progress. More on that in future posts. A hint? It involves multiple colors of Knitpicks yarn.

If you haven't seen "Hedgehog" yet (Monkey's new buddy) head on over to my daughter's blog, "Busternme" it's well worth the visit. :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I have had this pair of socks on the needles since my trip to Yarn Harlot's book signing. Done two at once on one circular needle, they were my Travelling Project......something boring but easy to do while travelling. At 10 stitches to the inch and stockinette in the foot and k1, p1 ribbing in the ankle, they got really boring and the project dragged on and on. I'm so glad they are off the needles and onto my chilly feet.

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These were done with a "Figure 8" cast on at the toe, a Peasant Heel, and a picot bind off. I did the picot bind off not for they way they look but for the greater elasticity it adds to the bind off. The yarn was from Elann's Sock It To Me Collection in a coloring I no longer see offered.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Group Weaving

In preparation for the guild's next group project, I was asked to thread the heddles and sley the reed of this little table loom. The warp was beamed earlier as part of a warping demonstration.

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It's been years since I've done any of this, and even then, I may have warped a loom, unassisted, a total of 4 times. So what would have taken one of the experienced ladies an hour or two, consumed my entire Saturday.....afternoon AND evening. (A good deal of that time was spent re-reading an old weaving textbook before getting started.) I'm not complaining though, it was a good learning experience and may just get me weaving on my own loom again. I LOVE weaving, but the warping? Not so much. This may help to get me over that hurdle.

After I had the loom completely warped I set to work deciding which rosepath treadling to use. I was up into the wee hours of the morning playing with colored pencils and graph paper until I came up with a design I liked.....and then I didn't use it. The warp is brown and black cotton. I don't care too much for brown or earthy colors in general, so my stash doesn't have much that coordinates with this warp. I eventually decided upon a handspun yarn that I had made when I first started spinning. It's thickish and slubby and completely hides the pattern so I went with a simpler treadling. No point knocking myself out following a difficult to memorize pattern if it won't show in the end anyway!

The wool roving was given to me, and it was rather coarse and dyed in colors I didn't particularly care for (those earthy browns and greens!). Long ago, in an effort to hide its ugliness, I plied the original multi-colored single with a fine, bright blue wool thread. The result was not spectacular, but I set it aside hoping to use it for something some day. I love it in this new weaving!

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When everyone is finished doing their 18-20" of the weaving we will cut the warp off and everyone will make a "Lug-A-Mug" bag from their portion. These "Lug-A-Mugs" are to carry a 'real' coffee mug to our meetings to cut down on the use of environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam cups.

So for this project it doesn't matter that the wool is coarse. The color in these photos is not quite accurate. In real life, they are prettier, and should coordinate well with denim fabric and some leftover beads I have. I can't wait to get my portion back!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Slow Progress

It's time consuming, but I am making progress on my son-in-law's Christmas Stocking.

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I've also been doing quite a bit of spinning and a little knitting. Photos of those projects in the coming days.

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Hurry

And now for something completely different. 'Tis neither knitting nor spinning, 'tis not crochet nor weaving either. This my friends is something I haven't done in years....nay, decades! It's applique and embroidery, and you know, it's kind of fun.

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This will eventually become a Christmas stocking for my son-in-law. It's not needed until next December so obviously I have lots of time.

Although my daughter already has one from her childhood, I'll be making her another, so that the newlyweds will have matching ones. Her original one was sewn from a preprinted fabric panel, and the problem with that is that they discontinue the sewing panels each year so it is hard to get any continuity for future additions. This is a Mary Maxim, felt stocking design, and it seems they add a new version each year. I'm hoping that Mary Maxim will continue to design and sell this type of Christmas stocking for many decades so that I can make one for each new member of our family. I think it would make a great family tradition.

One change I will be making to the basic stocking though. I will be adding a broadcloth or satin lining. Apparently kids don't think too much of their Christmas candy being covered in felt-fuzz.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gnashing Of Teeth


While I await a yarn and pattern shipment I decided to cast on something quick and easy......something that didn't require any further purchases and wouldn't have to be cast aside when the "real" project arrived.

I had found an interesting "Heirloom Baby Bonnet" pattern in an old issue of "Spin-Off" (Summer 2000). Although the pattern is meant to be used with handspun laceweight, I had just the right amount of Zepher leftover from knitting "The Peacock Feathers Shawl", and decided to use that up.

Things were going well. I had the multi-petaled, "medallion" crown of the bonnet done and was at least 5 repeats into the lacey edging (14 repeats required) when I glanced down at my work and there it was, like a slap in the face.

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The REVERSE side of the lace edging was showing on the RIGHT side of the bonnet.

Photo "A" shows the crown right-side up and the lace edging wrong-side up.

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Photo "B" Shows the crown wrong-side up and the lace edging right-side up.

The pattern (or perhaps my interpretation of what the pattern writer meant), was WRONG. Where the designer said "From here on, to the end of every right-side row, knit the last edging stitch together with a medallion stitch." To my understanding that would mean that the rows that end with "K2tog (a medallion stitch with the last edging stitch)" would then be the right-side rows and I arranged my work so that would be the case.

As you can see the lace pattern is very similar on both sides so it took me a while to see the difference. It is most noticeable in the inner lace panel. There is clearly a stockinette base to that portion and it is definitely supposed to go opposite to the way I have it.

It's gone. Ripped! Not the whole bonnet, "just" the lace edging. I was able to save the crown "medallion". I know the difference was slight, but it would have driven me crazy.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Source for Tencel

For those who might be interested, the yarn I used in my Feather and Fan Shawl is 8/2 tencel, handpainted by Margaret Pittman in the colorway "Majesty" and sold at the Heritage Yarns website.

Handpainted 8/2 Tencel - 8 oz./1680 yds. - $24.00

One 8 oz. skein was enough to do the Feather and Fan Shawl.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

F&F Photos

Here you go, the Feather and Fan Shawl being modeled as it is likely to be worn......casually. Although I am sure it would look lovely with an evening dress, with my lifestyle that is not likely to EVER happen.

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The intricate nature of the center medallion doesn't show well in the handpainted yarn.....but the undulating waves of the feather and fan portion sure does.

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And for those of you who wanted a close up of the beaded edging.

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Doesn't the tencel give it a lovely sheen? It drapes beautifully too.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

First of 2006

With the blocking now complete the Feather and Fan Shawl becomes my first FO (finished object) of 2006.

It's post-knitting/pre-blocking bath had a rather shocking result!

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Within a minute or two of hitting the water we had "grape Kool-Aid". The picture, which had to be taken with a flash, does not show fully how dark and purple the water became. It was amazing. It looked like a purple dye bath. I rinsed it in a strong vinegar/water bath in an effort to set the dye so it would not run any more. It looked like it worked. I left the shawl in a cool, clear, water rinse as I prepared the living room floor for the blocking. When I came back I was shocked to see that the dye had once again bled.... a lot! I gave up and blocked it anyway.

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The blocking took 2 full hours and 4 boxes of pins (not the 3 I had previously stated). It would have taken me a little less time if I had begun in a more efficient manner. I thought I should start pinning at the further most points, but found after some experimentation that it worked much better to block the shorter "valleys" (the k2tog sections) severely first, and then go back and pull the "hills" (the k1 yo sections) out further.

It's unpinned and being worn right now. *grin* It's lovely, drapey, and has a lustrous sheen. The circular shape, combined with the slight weight of the beads on the edging, makes it have a fun "swing" shape and movement to the outer edge.

I'll try to get a post-blocking picture of it taken today. It looks great with jeans.

Friday, January 06, 2006

WHAT hole?

You can open your eyes now. The knitting horror show is over.

Yesterday, when I got home from a guild meeting, I was too tired to summon up the necessary brain power to tackle the scary holes in the Feather and Fan Shawl. This morning I fiddled around doing this and that....anything to put off the inevitable. When it could be postponed no more, I got myself set up.

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I gathered all the necessary tools. A pillow covered in a plain white cloth (the better to see the dark yarn), the shawl itself, the pattern, the knitting needles, a couple of crochet hooks, a few skewers in case I needed extra "hands", the leftover yarn (in case some sort of grafting was necessary) and the tea. Tension Tamer tea!

After a few deep breaths I sat down and, starting with the largest hole, which happened to be the one closest to the edge, I counted down and found my place on the chart. Looking very, VERY closely at the work, and then the chart, back and forth, back and forth, I made a startling discovery. There were NO dropped stitches. I repeat, there were NO dropped stitches. Sure there were HOLES, but they were ALL caused by pulled threads. It was a simple matter of working the excess yarn back outward through the stitches until there were no loose stitches. The whole job, from brewing the tea to finishing the tidying up of the last hole took less than 30 minutes!

I'm so relieved I could just cry!

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And here we have the finished results. This WAS where the largest, most frightening hole was located.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dragonfly Temari

This beautiful dragonfly temari ball was a birthday gift, hand made for me by a friend.

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I 'connect' with dragonflies in a special way, and consider Dragonfly to be my personal 'totem'. Over the past few years I have collected dragonfly motifs, so her choice of pattern for this temari ball is especially pleasing for me.

I love it Louise. Thanks SO much.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tencel Nightmare Update

I worked all day on the tencel Feather and Fan Shawl. When my back began to ache I took a short break for lunch and another to do a load of laundry, but otherwise it was me, the shawl, a couple of crochet hooks and a container of beads from 7 am to 5 pm.

The entire crocheted, beaded, looped bind off is now complete, the shawl is off the circular needle and I can take a closer look at the damage done by a few run-a-way stitches. 5 run-a-way stitches to be exact. 5 run-away-stitches that multiplied faster than the proverbial bunnies, and together with their partners in crime created unsightly holes in my lace shawl. You know, the shawl that I have been knitting for the last few months? Yeah, that one.


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Holes four and five are smaller and may need only minor repairs. One of them might just be a snagged thread.

Anyway, it is time to take a break. I'm giving myself 48 hours off as a reward for bravery in the face of overwhelming adversity. Well, that and I have some fleece combing to do before the wool combs I borrowed have to be given back on Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon though, the tencel and I shall meet again. I shall not be defeated.

Note to Leisel: The place to begin ( I reckon) is to figure out where in the chart the hole occurs, grab the first stable stitches, and knit upward from there, one painstaking stitch at a time, following the graph.

I have two things working in my favor. First, this is a "simple" lace. The pattern rows (which are very logical and repetitive) occur only every fourth row and the rows in between are plain stockinette. Secondly, all the yarn is there, hanging loosely in the hole, ready to be picked up and knit again. It is not like I actually missed stitches, knit them in the incorrect order, or broke the yarn....these are dropped stitches. Taken slowly, methodically and calmly, all should work out well. The stitches will just have to be anchored with a spare length of yarn when I get them to the position they were dropped from.


At least that is what I will keep telling myself during my 48 hour break from reality.

The Bad and The Good

Despite the fact that I have a beautiful new spinning wheel to use, not much spinning has been done these past few days. I'm slogging my way through the final stages of the Feather and Fan Shawl and haven't spun at all over the past few days.

The actual knitting of the shawl is all done now. I am working on the outer, crocheted and beaded border. That part looks lovely. There are, however, some rather large and scary holes in the shawl. At least two, possibly more. From what I can see so far they are caused by knit-two-togethers where one of the "two" were dropped. EEP! As the individual dropped stitches slid out, downward toward the center of the shawl, they became many stitches as they opened up through yarn over increases, knit 2 togethers, etc. Fun, fun, fun. I saw the potential for trouble a while back but with all the stitches crammed on a circular needle I could not spread them out far enough to deal with it.

On the good side, they can't slide any lower than where they are because they were "created" from yarn overs and have slid back to the row in which they were created. It will be a major fix, but I'll deal with it when I get the outer edge done so that it is all off the needles and I can see what I am doing.

Wish me luck. And patience. And perseverance. And intestinal fortitude.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Little Miss 1960

46 years ago my arrival made the front page of the local newspaper.

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Why yes, the newspaper is a little tattered and worn. My daughter says the newspaper is really old. Hmmm, that must mean that I am also really old......I'm looking a little worn in places too.

Your Birthdate: January 1
You are a natural born leader, even if those leadership talents haven't been developed yet.You have the power and self confidence to succeed in life, and your power grows daily.Besides power, you also have a great deal of creativity that enables you to innovate instead of fail.You are a visionary, seeing the big picture instead of all of the trivial little details.
Your strength: Your supreme genius
Your weakness: Your inappropriate sensitivity
Your power color: Gold
Your power symbol: Star
Your power month: January
What Does Your Birth Date Mean?