Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some FOs, and a bit of progress

I feel like I have barely posted this month. That's mainly due to much of my knitting/crocheting time has been spend working on gifts. Some of the pieces have now been gifted. So, I can share.

The largest project I have been working on has been this comfort afghan for Aly. This is another group project from the Peaches & Creme group on ravelry. Aly has been suffering horribly from the effects of Lyme Disease. This summer I called to the group to make squares for her. This time around I received so many squares I couldn't even fit them all in.
Once I had all the squares I edged each one with Aly's favorite colour, and sewed them all together. Aly received her blanket yesterday, and had been feeling very yucky. She said it was the best possible day to receive such a gift.
In order to disguise the blanket a bit I managed to make sure I was sending to Aly for the group's holiday exchange. So, for her exchange gifts I made this crocheted snowflake (free pattern) out of Dazzling Diamonds. The sparkle of the thread doesn't show up well in the photo, but I really think it is the perfect thing for these ornaments.
I also made a pair of potholders. Just a simple shape in single crochet. I made one side in variegated purples, and the other in a fun multi-colour. Not exactly holiday themed, but I like them much better than the ones I started in Christmas colours, and I think Aly would, too.

My hand spun sweater has not gotten the attention I would like but it is still coming along. I decided shortly after the last time I posted about it to go with Elizabeth Zimmerman's Nalgar construction. It's a very interesting way to shape a seamless sweater. It's a reverse raglan. The body tube is knit up to armpit length, then instead of joining sleeves and decreasing, you start rapidly increasing until you can fold up the top and work the sleeves outward from there. The remaining top stitches are later kitchenered together for the shoulders.
I don't think I've explained this very well, but the instructions are in Knitting Workshop. If you don't have the book it's loaded with great stuff, and well worth checking out.
In the photo my sweater is at the point where I am ready to start the sleeves. In reality I have one sleeve nearly complete. I hope to get back to work on this week.
I hope everyone in the U.S. has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and for the rest of you, simply a great week!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prayers For Maile Square

Some of you may have already heard that my friend Maile Mauch has recently suffered a stroke. Maile is well known in the online knitting community as she runs the yahoo groups Cloth of the Week, and Monthly Threads, as well as her free pattern site K1P1 Keeping you in Stitches, and the Peaches & Creme group on Ravelry. She also publishes Clothsline Ezine, and does knitting design for Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co., Inc.

A few days ago Norma contacted me. She is organzing and assembling a comfort afghan made up of squares from the members of Maile's various groups. She had decided to request that the squares all be made with one of Maile's dishcloth patterns. However, she was concerned that this would exclude those who only crochet. So, I have designed a square especially for Maile, and those crocheters that wish to make a square for her blanket.
I'm publishing the pattern here, as it is the easiest place for me to make it available to those who need it. However, if you have a comfort, or prayer blanket working for another person, or for charity, please feel free to use this pattern.
Prayers for Maile Square


1 ball Peaches & Creme in Main Colour (I used #89 camel)

1oz (probably even less) Peaches & Creme in Contrast Colour (I used #97 burgundy)

US I-9, 4.5mm crochet hook, or size needed to obtain gauge.

Yarn needle to weave in ends.


3.25 sc = 1 inch (this square should be worked loosely with whatever yarn is being used to avoid too much curling and puckering)

Finished Size should be 7" square or a bit larger for Maile's afghan.

Stitches/abbreviations used:

CC- contrast colour

ch- chain

FPDC- Front post double crochet- wrap yarn around hook, bring hook to front of work, insert behind the post of the stitch to be worked into, from right to left, work double crochet.

MC- main colour

sc- single crochet

slst- slip stitch

sp- space

st- stitch

yo- yarn over

Special Instructions: when two colours are being used in the same round MC should be dropped to the back of work when not in use, and picked up when needed again. CC should be carried inside the MC stitches for the entire round, and dropped to the back when the round is complete. The loose strand of MC yarn left when it it carried across the back of the CC stitches can be hidden by working the stitches in the following round over it.


With CC, ch-4, slst to first ch to form a ring

rnd 1) ch1, 8sc into ring, slst to first stitch to join

rnd 2) ch1, 2sc in each sc around. slst to first stitch to join(16 sc)

rnd 3) ch1, sc in first 4 sc, ch2, [sc in next 4 sc, ch2] 3 times. switching to MC, slst to first stitch to join. (16 sc, 4 ch2 sp)

rnd 4) ch1, **sc in each sc, [sc, ch2, sc] in each ch2 sp** around. Switching back to CC, slst to first stitch to join. (24 sc, 4 ch2 sp)

rnd 5) ch1, **[FPDC into sc 2 rounds below, leaving the stitch from round 4 unworked] 4x- switching to MC in last yo of 4th st, sc in next 2sc, (sc, ch2, sc) in ch-2 sp, sc in next sc, switching back to CC in last yo ** 3x, then repeat once more with out switching back to CC. slst to first stitch to join. (16 sc, 16 FPDC, 4 ch2 sp)

rnd 6) ch1, **sc in each st, [sc, ch2, sc] in each ch2 sp** around. Switching back to CC, slst to first stitch to join. (40 sc, 4 ch2 sp)

rnd 7) ch1, **[FPDC into FPDC 2 rounds below, leaving the stitch from round 6 unworked] 4x- switching to MC in last yo of 4th st, sc in next 3sc, (sc, ch2, sc) in ch-2 sp, sc in next 3sc, switching back to CC in last yo of last sc ** 3x, then repeat once more with out switching back to CC. slst to first stitch to join. ( 32 sc, 16 FPDC, 4 ch2 sp).

rnd 8) ch1, **sc in each st, [sc, ch2, sc] in each ch2 sp** around. Switching back to CC, slst to first stitch to join. (56 sc, 4 ch2 sp)

rnd 9) ch1, [FPDC into FPDC 2 rounds below, leaving the stitch from round 8 unworked] 4x- switching to MC in last yo of 4th st, sc in next 5 sc, [sc, ch2, sc] in ch2 sp, sc in next 4 sc, switching to CC in last yo of 4th sc, **2FPDC in next FPDC, FPDC in next 2 FPDC, 2 FPDC in next FPDC, switching to MC in last yo of last FPDC, (there should be 6 sc from round 8 left unworked), sc in next 4 sc, [sc, ch2, sc] in ch2 sp, sc in next 4 sc, switching to CC in last yo of 4th sc** 2 times, then repeat once more with out switching back to CC at end. slst to first stitch to join. (42 sc, 22 FPDC, 4 ch2 sp)

rnd 10) ch1, **sc in each st, [sc, ch2, sc] in each ch2 sp** to last two sc. in last yo of next sc switch back to CC, DO NOT slst. (71 sc, 4 ch2 sp).

rnd 11) 2FPDC in next FPDC, FPDC in next 2 FPDC, 2 FPDC in next FPDC, switching to MC in last yo of last FPDC, (there should be 6 sc from round 10 left unworked). drop CC to back of work, **sc in each st, [sc, ch2, sc] in each ch2 sp** around. slst to first stitch to join. ( 74 sc, 6 FPDC, 4 ch2 sp)

round 12) ch1, **sc in each st, [sc, ch2, sc] in each ch2 sp** around. slst to first stitch to join.

(88 sc, 4 ch2 sp)

secure yarn. weave in all ends.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

FO: Icelandic Yoked Sweater

I finished the Icelandic Yoked sweater this week. When I mentioned it last I would talk more about the unusual way I went about knitting this sweater. So, I think it's time.

The sweater was made with Classic Elite Skye Tweed, which I got on closeout at their outlet store. I bought every skein they had left in the orange colour, and I was a bit nervous that I would run short. So, I decided to start this sweater in the middle with a provisional cast on.
Immediately after I began I realized that not only did I have two different dye lots on the main colour, but one of the lots seemed to be spun a lot tighter than the other. Honestly, if you held the two strands of yarn side by side you would think they were two completely different yarns.
I was determined to make this sweater with the Skye Tweed. So, I pressed on, alternating strands from the two different lots for each round (luckily I had the same amount from each lot).
I knit the body of the sweater up six inches, then knit the sleeves (also with a provisional cast on), and joined them for the yoke. I had originally thought I would work the yoke directly from Elizabeth Zimmerman's charts, but I quickly realized it would be way too shallow for me. So, I improvised after the first chart.
Once the yoke was worked to the last round before the collar I pulled out the provisional cast on and knit the rest of the body length. When I was done I was shocked to see how much of the yarn was left. So, I decided to use a hemmed edge.

This was my first time working hemmed edges in a knitted garment, and I was pretty pleased with the results. The sleeve and body cuffs have crisp straight edges. The neck was much more difficult, and there is a slight pucker at the back. I am being assured that I am the only one who sees this. I should have had someone take a picture of it while I was wearing it yesterday.
The sleeves also ended up a touch shorter than I expected after the yoke was finished. This was no big deal, since I had used a provisional cast-on. It only meant they started to taper a bit sooner that I had originally planned. They still fit just fine.
Also the two different dye lots really don't show in the finished product. The yarn that seemed so much thinner bloomed when I washed it, and I am guessing that it missed some final stage of washing/softening during production.
When I finished that sweater I immediately move on to the Icelandic wool I had spun for a sweater this summer. Here is the first foot of the body (Yes, I am doing another seamless sweater) worked with the three different shades of gray.
The finished yarn is even bulkier than I anticipated, and is knitting up super fast. I'm getting 3 stitches to the inch on size 10 needles, and I'm almost ready to start the yoke. The top half will be done in two tones of brown.

I also learned to sew a zipper into a knit garment this weekend. I'd done this once before, but had been very unhappy with the results. So, a couple of months ago I had written to Denise, who taught the steeking class I took at my LYS about a year ago, and asked her if she would consider teaching a class on installing zippers. She wrote back saying that she was no longer teaching knitting classes, but would also be interested in learning better techniques for installing zippers. She invited my brother Gerry, and I to come over to her house for a day of experimenting with zippers. So, we all knit some swatches, and searched our knitting libraries. I have to say that I was shocked with how little information we found.

I ended up using a technique I found in an out of print Barbara Abbey book, The Complete Book of Knitting, that I picked up for 20 cents at a quilt fair. It recommended putting a firm crochet chain on the inside edge of your selvage, basting in the zipper, then hand sewing it to the crochet chain. I'm pretty happy with the results. It's not perfect, but it is so much better than my previous attempts.
Denise got beautiful results sewing in the zipper by machine. Check out her blog for details.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The past few weeks have been very busy for me, I had several visitors from out of town, and been been on the go constantly until a few days ago.

Now that I have gotten a bit of rest it's time to get my blog all caught up.

I'll start with the promised better photo of the seamless hybrid. This was worn on the day I went hiking in the White Mountains with my friend Kate. She is the closest of my out of town visitors, and had just come up from Boston for a weekend of foliage peeping.

Hiking the mountains was one of the things I was looking forward to most when I moved to New Hampshire, and finally after 3 years I've been getting some in this fall. We got lots of great photos (one of Kate's was even on Good Morning America), But because I actually have project photos I will only share my favorite:

This is not a good shot of the foliage at all, but I love how clear the reflection in this puddle is!
Another one of my visitors was my friend Maureen. I've known Maureen for 14 years, but hadn't seen her in four years, since she moved to Oregon. Maureen appreciates hand-made items more than almost anyone I know. So, I totally wanted a hand knit gift for her visit, but because she kept wavering on whether or not she was coming I was unprepared.

Five days before her visit I decided I'd better get to work. I selected a yarn that I spun from a blend of microfiber, and bamboo. Then, after much internal debate, decided on Jan's Sensational Scarf from One Skein Wonders. It was a great choice. The one row pattern went quick, and made a beautiful scarf. It also allowed me to just knit until the yarn was all used. My 148 yards of yarn made a 5.5' scarf, which was finished in a single day.
I have also finally finished the Iris Blanket. I pulled out the edging, added more motifs, and re-edges with out the orange I had originally used. I love the blanket, but I am so happy it's done!

My third visitor was a long time blogging friend that I have tried to meet up with a couple times in the past. We tried to meet up summer '08 when I was in her area, then again this past spring when we were both in New York at the same time. Both times things came up to keep us from meeting. Well we finally did it!
A couple of weeks ago Cat came to Andover, MA. Her husband was there for some training class, and she decided to tag along. I picked her up in Andover, and took her over to Lowell where we had a wonderful vegetarian lunch. After lunch we went to check out A Brush With Art. (I must remember to take a picture of the beautiful gift Cat bought for me while we were there and share it in my next post) We finished our tour of Lowell off with a visit to the Hub Mills Factory Store, where Cat and I both got wonderful yarns.
I bought a bunch of Skye Tweed, which is most unfortunately discontinued. I'm making Elizabeth Zimmerman's Icelandic Yoked Sweater. This sweater is turning into quite an adventure. I'll talk more about it once it is completed.
I have one last project to share, and I think I am officially caught up on my three weeks' absence.
My current on the go project is the Ridges and Ribs socks by Criminy Jickets. These have been in my queue for some time now, and I'm so glad to finally be working on them. They really are

The perfect take-along project. They stay in my car, and anytime I need to sit and wait, or if I stop in the middle of my day for a coffee break they are there. They have enough going on to keep me interested, but the pattern is very easy to memorize.
This came in especially handy last week when the swat team was called in to make an arrest a few streets over from me. They made a rushed evacuation of the neighborhood, and for the three hours we all sat in the town meeting hall I was the only one with anything to entertain myself!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FO: Seamless Hybrid

The Seamless Hybrid is finished. I used 7.5 balls of the yarn, which means I have enough of it to make a second sweater. Not bad for $15!
I wish the photos came out better, and I will probably try for more another day.
I followed Elizabeth's directions almost exactly. The two things I did differently:
I started my sleeves with less stitches than recommended. I like a usually like a snug wrist. Actually with this particular yarn I think a wider wrist would have been fine.
I brought up the front of the neck by decreasing a stitch on the front of each saddle after the shoulder shaping was done. I finished the sweater with out doing this, and the neck front hung way too low. So, I ripped back and added some extra rows to incorporate the decreasing. I'm much happier with it now.
I did get one MAJOR shock with this sweater.
If you read what I had previously posted about it you know that I started this project as something I could work on in the car, in the dark. I started it rather quickly due to this, and although I did make a gauge swatch I never washed that swatch. Whenever I buy yarn in the $1 bin at The Hub Mills store I expect that the yarn may have sustained some damage, or had been lost for a while. With this yarn I expected that it had been lost in storage, and possibly crushed in that storage. I think I was right.
After I finished the sweater, and was happy with the neck I put it for a soak in the sink. When I took it out 15 minutes later it was HUGE! I would say at least 30% larger than it was when it went into the sink. I was in shock. I never expected such a dramatic difference.
Luckily after careful blocking, and the yarn fluffing up as it dried the sweater is only a bit bigger than I expected. The sleeves ended up about 1" longer than I would have liked, and the rest of the sweater really still fits fine.
Lesson learned: Always wash your swatch!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweater Time

I've finished the Child's Striped Pullover. This was my first time knitting a sweater in pieces, then seaming it. The very thought of doing it has always frightened me, but it worked out okay. I'm glad I started small, as my seaming was a bit wonky on the first side, but it was neat and completely even on the second.

When I started I thought it was great that I was using a highly textured yarn (Lionbrand's Homespun) as it would hide any mistakes I made. However, as I got to work I realized that the texture of the [black] yarn also made it very difficult to see what I was doing. All in all I am pleased with the finished product, and I'm ready to seam up more sweaters in the future.

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had started a project that I would be able to work on in the dark. It's still not much to look at, but here it is- two sleeves, and half a torso:

On a recent trip to the Hub Mills Store I found 15 balls of Adrienne Vittadini Aria in the $1 bin, and just couldn't pass it up. It is a bulky weight wool/nylon blend that is very soft & Fuzzy. Although this is not the type of yarn I would imagine using for a sweater for myself, the texture reminds me of a favorite sweater from a long time ago. So, I wanted to get to work on a something right away. Since stockinette in the round is easy to do in the dark I decided it would become a simple seamless sweater. I have a few inches to go on the body before I have to join it all and decide on the shoulder shaping, but I am leaning towards Elizabeth Zimmerman's seamless Hybrid. While looking through projects on ravelry tagged with "men" I have noticed that there are two sweaters that seem to look great on everyone- no matter the colour or size. They are the seamless hybrid, and Jared Flood's Cobblestone. Since I have already made the Cobblestone the Seamless Hybrid seems like a great way to go with this.

This is exactly the time of year that I really love to be making a sweater, when the New England air is just beginning to feel like fall, and you know that crisp cool days will be here soon. Last Saturday was actually very cool here, and with the hopes of catching a glimpse of the first bits of red and gold in the trees I took my mother out for a drive in the mountains. We stopped along the way for an impromptu hike, and my mother managed to coerce me to have my picture taken. Luckily (because I hate posing for photographs) I was wearing a sweater I made at this time last year, and had never been photographed in. So, here I am in my Desert Sweater.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spread a bit thin

I hate that I had finally gotten back to posting here regularly then had to miss last week, but it really was a chaotic week. I had so much going on that I still feel a bit frazzled even though my life's normalcy was restored on Monday.

You might think being that busy would mean that I knit less, and usually that would be right. However, I managed to find a new project for each unusual situation. I had already started a pair of socks for my everyday take along project. That was added to the crocheted sweater, and primula shawl after I had abandoned them for the Danish Fisherman's mittens. Then I realized I was going to have to spend a significant amount of time as a passenger in a car during the evening, and I had to cast on a project that I could work on in the dark, and then I realized I had to come up with a gift for a friend's first child's first birthday, and had to cast on another project...

I now have so many projects on the needles I don't know what to do. I haven't yet taken photos of them all. So, Here's a quick update on the two that seemed to be in the most photo ready stages:

Work on the crocheted sweater continued until about a week ago. The front is finished, and I have started the sleeves. I realized about 1/4 of the way into the first sleeve that I hate it. I really don't like the way they are shaped, and I have to figure out an alternative plan/design for them. I'm not sure how I will do it yet. I'm thinking of joining the front and the back and working the sleeves from the body of the sweater down. I figure it will be easy to see the shaping as I go that way, and make adjustments where/whenever I want to with out more ripping back than is totally necessary. Any advice on that would be welcomed!
This is the gift for my friend's son. It's the Child's Striped Yoke Sweater (rav link) from Lion Brand Yarns. It is a free pattern on the Homespun label. I figured a child's sweater in a bulky yarn could easily be done in a week. I started it Monday night, and am over half done already. Here is the front and back seamed together at the shoulders, with the rolled neck worked on afterwards. I still have to finish the sleeves before sewing up the sides. This is the smallest size, 24 months. However, the recipient is the largest 1 year old I have ever seen.
This project has been a lot more fun to work on than I expected, and it is totally gratifying to see a project move so quickly (especially since it seems I am really good at starting things, but not finishing them lately!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Summer Goals Revisited

Several weeks back, in this post, I talked about 3 project goals I had for the summer. Although summer is not technically over for almost three weeks, the beginning of September seems like a good time to take a look at how far I have gotten.

Leaning to quilt was one of my goals ( I think this is a block I've not yet shown here. Sorry if it's a repeat). My project currently looks nothing like the basic windowpane sort of pattern I had begun with. I am about 1/2 way through a queen sized quilt top, and I am thinking I will end up with a finished quilt much nicer than I had dared hoped for out of my first attempt.

I also wanted to spin enough yarn for a sweater to be knit this fall. Here is 28oz of aran to bulky weight (6-8 wpi) Icelandic 2 ply. I probably should have paid closer attention to the thickness of the singles as I spun them. 6 wpi to 8 wpi is a pretty big difference when knitting, but as long as it dries to be pretty much the same I think it will be okay. There is only one skein that looks thinner than the rest, and I can use that for the waist and sleeve cuffs.
I have made an almost firm decision about the sweater I will make from this. I have to work up a swatch or two, and do some math before that becomes a completely firm decision.

The third goal was to crochet a sweater. I chose Treva McCain's Wave Front Men's Sweater, from an Annie's Attic crochet book, Sweater's for Men.
When I first posted about this sweater I had just finished the very boring, and boxy looking back panel. I'm now just over half way through the front. It's an interesting design, and I am excited to see how it all comes together in the end, but in the future I suspect I will stick to knit sweaters.
As for the other two projects I had mentioned in the previous summer goals post:
The primula shawl is still coming along slowly. I keep going back and forth in my mind between two ways of expanding the pattern to make the shawl big enough. Until I can commit I can't work too far.
The Iris baby blanket was a few stitches away from completion when I decided I didn't like the size. So, it is awaiting the day I feel like ripping out the edging, and working on a few more motifs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Danish Fisherman's Mittens

Last Monday I was meeting a friend for coffee, and wanted to bring a project in case I was waiting ( I'm paranoid about being late, so I am usually extra early). While I was looking for just the right WIP to bring I realized that the only small(ish) project I have OTN right now is the primula shawl, which I've decided, after much tinking, is not a good project to work on while I might be easily distracted. So, I needed something new.

Luckily Mondays are my errand days, and I was traveling very close to Patternworks. It was the perfect opportunity to begin a new take along project. Patternworks generally has some wonderful odd-ball yarns in it's sale bin dirt cheap. This time was no exception. I picked up four balls of Classic Elite Classic One Fifty, two in "radish" and two in "pewter".

Now I just needed the small simple pattern conducive to on the go knitting. My next stop was the library. Where I picked up Marcia Lewandowski's Folk Mittens.

Here's what I ended up with. The Danish Fisherman's Mittens traditionally have two thumbs each, so they can be turned around when one thumb wears out, making them last twice as long. I decided I would risk having just the one thumb each.

The pattern was perfect, though. The stranded colour work kept it interesting, but the complete regularity of the patterning meant that I could work with out fear of error even in the most distracting environments. Actually, it was so perfect that these mittens quickly went from my take along project to my only working project.

I knit the first mitten exactly as charted by Marcia, but I did not like the top. I never like rounded top mittens when I make them, so I should have expected it, but these were a bit too long as well.

I ended up ripping the mitten back to the middle of my pinky nail, and started angular decreased. I had to recenter the starting point of my rounds to get them in the correct orientation to the thumb gore, and this cause a kind of awkward looking red stripe. I decided to make this the left hand mitten, which would keep the stripe on the inside, and move the thumb gore on the next mitten to avoid repeating the stripe. It worked just fine.

The mittens used up about 48 grams of the red, and 38 grams of the grey. I bought 100 grams of each, so I have enough for another set of mittens. I'm kind of excited about this, because this may possibly be the nicest yarn I have ever used. Okay, I think I say that about 90% of all Classic Elite Yarns, but this one truly is wonderful. It's super soft merino, but it is cable plied, which makes it firm, and strong. I can't wait to see how it wears. I see it becoming a staple in my stash.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Very First Project

I was digging through a box in my storage unit recently and came across this:

My very first yarn project ever. It's a throw made of Lion Brand Homespun. The entire body is worked in double crochet, and it has a single crochet border.

You can see that this was before I understood the importance of the dye lot.

It was also before I truly understood the function of a turning chain. Each of these stripes is made using a full skein of yarn. I worked with the given colour until I didn't have enough yarn to complete another row, then switched to a new skein. So why are the stripes at the top so much thinner than the stripes at the bottom? Because the whole piece is about 8" wider at the top. I kept increasing at the beginning of the row with out ever realizing I was doing it.

This photo shows how crooked it really is. I can see why I chose to toss it in storage. However, now that I have rediscovered it I love it, imperfections and all. It's actually the perfect thing to grab in the middle of the night if the air conditioning has made my bedroom just a little too cool.

This past weekend I went to the World Quilt Show in Manchester, NH. There were tons of quilts, and tons of vendors. It was really a great way to get out of the heat and spend the afternoon.

I took lots of pictures, but I am only going to share this one here. Although this was not my favorite quilt in the show I was still amazingly impressed by it. Read the description below:

Almost 53 THOUSAND pieces! And it's hand quilted, too.

Also, while at the quilt show I bought several black and white fabrics to work into my quilt. Here's what I did when I got home:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It seems that I am finally back to blogging regularly, after a very long time of only posting here sporadically. I really do enjoy blogging. It helps me stay focused on my projects. So, I am going to try to continue posting weekly.
I've actually done quite a bit over the past week, and will hold a bit back for another post. This one will be about some on going WIPs.
Here's the crocheted baby blanket. It almost finished- fully assembled, and being edged. I think it will require more blocking than I had hoped, but over all I'm pretty pleased with it.
I have finished the second section of the primula shawl. It's hard to photo-document the progress of a circular shawl. Here is a small section stretched out over a dinner plate so you can see a bit of the pattern.
This project reinforce my usual thoughts about not posting gift projects until they are complete and gifted. Last week I was telling Rita, my co-worker for whom this shawl is intended, about the quilt I am working on, and she asked for pictures. I had forgotten I had blogged about the shawl, and gave her my blog address. Shortly after I realized what I had done, and now she knows about the shawl. She was thrilled. I guess it was almost as good as surprising her with a finished shawl, but not quite the same. For those of you who also see my projects on Ravelry, the shawl is entitled "crazy lady" because that is my nickname for Rita.
Speaking of the quilt, I've worked another log cabin square for it. I will need six more this size if I want to make the entire front of the quilt in log cabin squares. I am definitely leaning in that direction right now.
I have a couple of small FO's since I have blogged last, too. I think I am going to write up a pattern for one and post it here another day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dave, don't look.

Although one of my readers has asked me NOT to blog about my quilting (for fear he would be tempted to try it) I just can not resist sharing my progress.

I finished the four log cabin blocks I needed to make the reverse colour scheme of the large block I showed yesterday. Once again I am beyond thrilled! I keep looking at these pieces thinking "I can't believe I made that!"

At this point I am thinking I will have to continue with the log cabin squares.

Here are the two squares together. Each piece is made of four 1' blocks. SO, they are both about 2' square. I am thinking 9 of them would make a lovely quilt top. However there are a few other things I would like to try. So, not sure if I will try and incorporate them into this quilt.

At some point I will blog about knitting and crocheting again, but there is no blog worthy progress at the moment.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Becoming a sampler?

As I'm putting together blocks for my first quilt I keep having the desire to try something just a little different.

I've never really been a fan of the log cabin quilt. Well, not until I picked up a book of piecework projects at my local library. I can't recall the name of the book, but it had the most beautiful log cabin projects in it. So, I decided I had to try a little log cabining for my quilt.

Above is the first square I made, and I loved it.

Then I moved on to a second square. It's sort of a reversal of the colour scheme of the first.

Then I joined 4 squares in the first design, and I am blown away.

I'm not sure yet how it will all come together, but I am really enjoying the process.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quick progress update.

Last night I was knitting the Primula shawl onto a longer needle. It seemed like the perfect time to stretch it out a bit and get a couple photos in which you can actually see a bit of the lace patterning. Unfortunately all of my really long cables were in use in other projects, so the edges are still pretty bunched up, but you can see the center blossom fairly well.

I've also gotten a bit further with the quilt. Some of the fabrics I used in the first block were not going to make it through an entire quilt. So, I came up with a second block design. I have a few of each block done at this point. This project will probably not be touched again for at least a week, but I'm glad to have gotten a bit accomplished.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Goals

In May I set three crafting goals for the summer. At the end of June I hadn't touched a single project of the three. So, July has been spent working towards reaching those goals. I don't have a finished project yet, but I have three WIPS:
This is the most boring to look at for the moment. I have been developing a guilty conscience about calling myself a crochet designer and never crocheting any garments.
The reality is that I just prefer knit garments, but I really do want to stretch my crocheting skills. So, I decided to crochet a sweater this summer. This is the back of the sweater, which was worked in less than 1 day (maybe I don't like knitted sweaters better!) I had a good deal done on the front as well, until I realized it was HUGE and I needed to go down a hook size in the front. I'm getting gauge now, but there is too little done to photograph.

I also wanted to spin the yarn for a hand knit sweater this summer. I seem to always want to make a new sweater in October. So, I figured it would be great to spin the yarn for it over the summer.
This is about 60-70% of the yarn here. (3 hanks of fawn, 2 brown, 3 light grey, 1 dark grey) It is all Icelandic, most of which is from a farm in Maine. I bought the fiber from the farmer last fall while I was at the Fryeburg State Fair in Maine.
The dark grey is a commercially processed roving. There is also black, but it isn't plied yet. I have lots more of the two greys- they will make up the main colours of the sweater with the browns and black adding accents. I haven't fully committed to a pattern yet. I had wanted to spin the yarn a light worsted weight, however the fiber seemed to have a different opinion. It's more aran to bulky, averaging 9 WPI.
My third goal was to learn to quilt. For years I have been staring at quilts at fairs, in museums, and shops, and dying to have one. Not one made by a stranger, though. I wanted one of my very own design. It really all started years ago when I saw a stunning art quilt display at the Brush Art Gallery.
I thought I might wimp out of this project this summer, and say that the duvet cover I made was like my practice quilt, but when that was done, and I saw how crisp and square my corners were it got me really excited to get into some real piece work.
You can see from my very first completed quilt block above that it becomes more difficult to get those nice squared corners while working with many smaller pieces. Even though my first blocks have been far from perfect I will keep them and put them into a quilt. Hopefully each new block will improve, and the finished quilt will document my progress.

I have also started a new shawl to replace the super-fine merino shawl I frogged. This one is made with Plymouth Yarns Alpaca Prima, a fingering weight 100% alpaca. I'm using the Primula Design from Marianne Kinzel's First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.
This is a "coffee cloth" pattern. It's sort of a large doily, or very small table cloth, knit in size 60 crochet thread. I've never seen size 60 thread, but I imagine it's about the size of sewing thread, maybe a touch thicker.
I was hoping that the fingering weight yarn and large needles (4.0mm) would make the design large enough to be a shawl with out altering the pattern at all. I've currently knit about 1/3 of the rounds in the pattern, and I am guessing that it's going to be about 44" across. So, I will definitely need to come up with a plan to enlarge, or add on to the pattern.

I have one last project to share today. It's one that really should have been done by now. It's the last of the baby blankets I need to make this summer. The intended recipient was born this past Monday. So, I'd better get going.
I would have been done long ago, but I put it down for a few weeks, and when I came back to it I decided I didn't like the motifs I had been using, and I started the whole thing from scratch.
It is almost done, and I can definitely have it complete and gifted long before it is outgrown.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spinning, Frogging, and UFOs.

In my last post I said I was going to post some photos of my favorite yarns from my month long spinning frenzy. Somehow I have lost/deleted several of my favorites, but I do have a couple to share.

This one is probably my absolute favorite hank from the lot. This is a fingering to sport weight yarn. It's 2 ply, with one ply being natural silver alpaca, and the other lavender dyed angora. I had never spun angora before. It is a lot more work than spinning wool, but is so soft and squishy it was well worth it. I will definitely be buying more angora. Actually, I wish I could get a few bunnies, but that's not going to happen right now. I used to have rabbits, and always thought all that fur they shed was a nuisance. Ironic, isn't it?

This is another I was very fond of. It's a blend of bamboo and micro fiber. I bought the microfiber at the New Hampshire sheep and wool festival thinking it would be fun for blending. The bamboo has been in my stash for quite some time. I blended the two together on a drum carder, but made sure that the two fibers were still discernible from each other, I wanted the texture differences to be apparent in the finished yarn. It makes me think of a glacier. It's incredibly soft, and shiny, but I don't think it will be the hardest wearing yarn I've ever spun.

I wish I had the rest of the yarn photos I wanted to post, but perhaps they will show up some day.

Since I don't have as many hand spun photos as I wanted I'll share a project disaster story.
A few months ago a co-worker of mine announced that she would be leaving. It was a second job for her, and was becoming too much. This is someone who has always loved my knitting, and has wanted me to teach her to knit herself a shawl. I decided to make her a shawl as a going away present.
I am very fortunate to have some beautiful yarn shops very close by The Elegant Ewe and Patternworks are both about a 20 minute drive. However, when it comes to lace weight yarns I am usually not thrilled with what is available, and often just spin my own.
This time I didn't have the time for it, and I decided I would have to make due with what was in the stores. I went over to the Elegant Ewe, and told them I needed a lace weight in brown ( my co-workers favorite colour for clothing). I ended up with Habu Textiles Super-fine Merino. Super-fine is no exaggeration, but I decided a double strand would work nicely.
This yarn has an incredible 747 yards per ounce! Even double stranded it didn't feel very substantial, but I was on a timeline, and I had purchased 4 one ounce cones of the yarn, and was determined that it was going to work.
I started a pi shawl on size 3 needles, and searched through all my stitch dictionaries for the perfect lace patterns to put into each ring of the shawl.
It wasn't growing as fast as I had hoped, but I had three weeks, and I had knit shawls in less time.
After about 24 hours (actual time spent knitting, not 1 day) I had a shawl the size of a bread plate, and realized that, at the very least I would have to knit the shawl half way through an increase round that Elizabeth Zimmerman had never thought necessary in her writings about the pi shawl.
Finally, I decided I had to admit defeat, and buy a heavier yarn. It would be quicker to buy a light fingering weight and start a shawl from scratch than it would be to finish this one.
(BTW- there was quite a bit of knitting worked after this photo was taken).
I went into work the day I decided to scrap the habu shawl, and was immediately approached by the intended giftee. "I've decided to stay!" she said, probably expecting me to be excited. Instead the exhausted/relieved exclamation of "Good, you don't need my damned shawl!" actually flew from my lips. I think I have to make her one now, anyway.
After this experience I thought back to the last shawl I started, which is now officially a UFO as it hasn't been touched recently enough to qualify as a WIP. I realized that I have quite a few project bags taking up valuable space. So, I decided this summer I am going to clear a few of those bags out.

I started with this hemp market bag. I began work on this many months ago when I needed a mindless project to take along to some event. I loved the idea of it, and couldn't wait to use it. After about a week of attention it sat by my bed in a tote.
Well, it became my first UFO turned FO! Not a major accomplishment, but it's one less UFO.

I have also been trying to get some work done on the sand afghan on a regular basis. It's now almost 50% complete. However, this is one project that I don't mind having sit around for a while. I really love working on it in bursts. It gets boring, and I put it away. After a while I really do get excited to work on it again. Not many projects are able to renew my interests after sitting around for a while.

So, even with out constant attention I know it will be finished some day. Now if I could just get back to those shawls....