Archive for November, 2014

1960s Girl’s Smock

girl's smock 001

This is the prototype so far unblocked. One pocket needs to be sewn on, the other pocket needs to be ripped out and re-sewn. The Nehru collar’s facing needs to be smoothed out which may happen when I block the whole thing. I wanted a space between the beginning of the collar and the button bands. Now I am rethinking whether the space I have is too large and the collar needs to start two stitches in earlier than it does.

I am content with the sleeves and the seams made by the crochet join of sleeve to body. The sleeves are meant to be blouse-like and I like the “ruffles” increasing to the full sleeve size all at once created.

In other news, Yarn Rascal had a wonderful evening for himself. He managed to destroy his Mr. Halloween Cat toy. He tore all the stuffing out and strewed it festively along the hallway leading to the bedroom. He does like to have his work noticed. This morning he’s curled up in his snuggle bed sleeping and looking like the perfect little angel.

I have no immediate projects for my knitting needles, which is creeping me out. I can’t seem to find a pattern I want to knit and I don’t feel like creating my own, but it looks like the latter may be what I have to do. There is the hat that goes with the smock that I still need to figure out, but I wanted a break of just peaceful, no heavy thinking type of knitting. The type of knitting that doesn’t start out with a sketch, a pencil and a calculator. Perhaps a plain pair of toe up socks in Caribbean Turquoise. Now if I can just slip past the sleeping Yarn Rascal, quietly open and search the yarn vault for the yarn…. Not a chance.

Have a good weekend.

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A Snowy Day

A dark, snowy day here is not conducive to picture taking. I meant to snap some shots of the 1960s girl’s sweater. Both sleeves are completed, Nehru collar done and one pocket is in place. It’s a rough prototype and I need to iron out some of the construction kinks. The second pocket is done and ready for blocking.

All blocking must now take place during the day on a board that I can position high up on top of the bookcase where a certain little someone cannot reach. Over night blocking left to fend for itself does not work anymore. Yarn Rascal is not capable of over coming his Yarn Rascal genes. Little one is nocturnal, he roams the house all night. Left alone with unprotected yarn he just can’t help himself.

On the plus side of his yarn affection, I had knit a winter sweater for my first Bichon, Sport. It fit him perfectly, but he hated it. Sport liked micro fleece fabric for his jackets and blankets, he never wore the sweater. Yesterday, with the snow storm coming I dug out Sport’s sweater to see if it would fit Yarn Rascal, as he has outgrown all his winter jackets from last year. I was pleasantly surprised to see the sweater fit him quiet well and he loved wearing it. Pictures of him and his hand knit sweater coming soon.

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Progress continues on the 1960s girl’s sweater. Last night I crocheted the sleeve to the sweater. That’s right, I didn’t sew it, I crocheted it. I love the perfect way sleeve meets sweater when it’s crocheted together.

1960s girl's sweater

When I first read about crocheting knitting seams together, I was a little skeptical about how it would turn out. After all, I had sweated, cried, and suffered numerous meltdowns learning what sewing technique to use where and perfecting those sewing stitches. Wasn’t all that a rite of passage into the knitting world? Along comes Jean Frost and her book Custom Fit Knit Jackets Casual to Couture and there’s a whole new way of looking at seaming.

Crocheting seams together gives a neat, but thicker seam than sewing. While it’s great for finger weight yarn and may work with a DK weight yarn, I don’t think worsted or Aran weight yarns would work. While I loved the way it brought sleeve and armhole together, I found I prefer to sew the side seams of the body instead. This in part is due to the way I start my seam work.

Although I am comfortable with a crochet hook in my hand, I found it slightly awkward seaming with it. First, selvedge stitches make crochet seaming easier. While I had none on the cap of the sleeve, this didn’t cause a problem. Probably that’s because the cap was intentionally shaped to fit this particular armhole shape. What did make things awkward was how and where I like to start my seaming. I like to start my seaming in medias res, so to speak. Translated that means “in the middle of things.” No matter what seam it is, I start my seaming from the middle out so I don’t worry about weakness at the end of seams. This way of seaming was a little awkward with a crochet hook. When I turned the piece to continue seaming the other half, the yarn was on the wrong side of the hook. So I had to work an extra step to get the yarn into the correct position.

Another plus for crocheting knitting seams together is at the end of the seam there is no worry about securing the yarn so the seam doesn’t come undone. When I came to the end, I just finished off the crochet stitch. It was like locking the seam shut. I had less worry about weaving in the ends so the seam wouldn’t open and could concentrate instead on intertwining the yarn in such a way that it could not easily be seen.

Crocheting knitting seams together takes a little longer than sewing them, but overall I am happy with the results.

Have a great weekend.

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Yarn Rascal Love

Yarn Rascal has been in full rascal mode these last few days. Hence, when the new lace yarn from Dream in Color arrived it immediately went on top of the armoire in its unopened package. Yarn Rascal was full out happy-happy when he saw the parcel. A full out happy-happy Yarn Rascal is not goody-goody for yarn. Especially lace weight. He’s spending an indecent amount of time in front of the armoie sitting and begging. I plan to move the package today when The Skipper takes little one for a short walk in this very cold weather.

Yesterday, Yarn Rascal mauled reaquainted himself with the 1960s girl’s sweater. It took 10 minutes to untangle dog, project and yarn. Frankly, I was surprised at his fevered interest. I am using alpaca yarn from Drops which, until now, he’s shown no interest in.

I finished the first sleeve despite Rascal’s forays and sneak attacks. The sleeve cap looks good. I like the 2″ (5) cm checkerboard cuff but the over all length of the sleeve looks a little short to me. I measured and remeasured to be sure it was 7″ (18) cm long. It may be that the cuff, which is longer than normal, along with the immediate increase to upper arm width are giving the illusion that it is short than it is. Ideally, I would love to post the pictures here to see what you think, but the photo shoot did not go well. Yarn Rascal battered down the work room door and escaped with the sleeve in his mouth before I got the picture. Since I negotiated the release of the sleeve, Yarn Rascal has been attached to my hip. It’s going to be one of those days.

Too boot, I am reconsidering the shawl design that I thought was complete. This new design will be much better, I think. So it’s back to swatching for me. However, all the work that was done won’t go to waste. Those swatches are now in my binder and will someday be used, just not today.

I hope that while I chart the new designs, Yarn Rascal will nap. He has a penchant for graph paper; he likes ripping and eating it. Washing it down with a chewed pencil is near heaven for him. Since I chart my shawls according to the size they will be, I lay everything out on the floor. Yarn Rascal loves to be involved in creative floor activity.

Truth is, I love him to pieces and wouldn’t change him for the world.

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The weekend was wonderful. I completed the work on the swatches. Instead of photographing them, I decided to scan them into the computer using my copier. Now I’m itching to knit a complete lace project. In order to deal with this urge, I ordered some lace yarn. I don’t have a specific project in mind for the yarn, which means I’ll be creating my own.

It took me a bit to get into the lace groove. I made many mistakes both in reading the lace charts, counting, and mixing up which decrease to knit on the wrong side of the work. Actually, in Shetland lace there isn’t a right and wrong side. That’s part of its beauty and the cause of confusion until I get my mind prepared and working. So I did a ton of ripping, an action lace yarn doesn’t like repeated over and over again. Thank the yarn-gods-that-be for putting up lace yarn in the 1000 yards (914) meters skeins.

When I work Shetland patterns, I prefer to use Shetland yarn. But since Shetland yarn is Yarn Rascal’s favorite I didn’t want to be fending off yarn raid attacks every 15 minutes. So I chose to swatch with non-Shetland lace yarn. This decision helped throw my off my lace knitting game too. While I knew it was the wrong yarn and the lace motifs and backgrounds would look different I didn’t expect such a huge distinction. I spent quite a bit of time changing specific stitches so they would agree more with the yarn and give me a better idea of how the different motifs were working together.

On the particular Shetland lace motifs I used, the lace was worked on both right and wrong side rows. When lace is worked this way it is considered to be knitted lace. When a pattern says knitted lace, I know there are no rest stops on the turnpike, so to speak. On the other hand, lace knitting does have rest stops. In lace knitting, the lace is worked only on the right side row. The wrong side rows are purled and considered rest rows. The yarn I used was better suited for lace knitting because it had good stitch definition. Not all Shetland lace motifs are worked as knitted lace. Many are lace knitting. But I was locked into using two motifs that were knitted lace and therefore felt the shawl would look better if all the motifs were worked in the same manner.

My next adventure is an oldie but goodie. Back to the 1960s girl’s sweater. The sleeve is looking a tad forlorn and neglected. It won’t feel that way by the end of the evening.

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I took that walk down by the river that I waxed poetic about in my last post. Half way through the hour long trek MONA (Mother Nature) straightened me right out. A strong wind was blowing down river from the north. If a wind is coming from the north at this time of year chances are it’s cold. Froze my eyeballs at the halfway point in the walk and realized I really wasn’t properly attired for a constant, cold wind. So I turned around with my back towards the wind and continued walking only backwards. There’s a bit of cosmic irony in that, but let’s not plumb the depths. By the time I finished, my hands were frozen, I couldn’t feel my face, and my brain was numb. In short, it worked out well.

Today I am determined to pull together this lace shawl design. I’d like to be knitting swatches in earnest by this evening, photographing them by Saturday night, and sending the pictures out to the company Sunday evening. I get a low throbbing in my left temple each time I run that schedule through my mind. It’s either a blood pressure warning or an impending migraine.

The swatches I’ll be knitting are Shetland Lace designs. All will be in the form of lace knitting in that wrong side rows are not rest rows of purl from one end of the circular needles to the other. No, the wrong side rows are patterned too and one must remember to reverse what is on the charts. Thus it is important to remember whether I am on a right side row and knit the chart as is or a wrong side row and reverse those directional decreases. I can’t have myriad interruptions and work on Shetland Lace at the same time without messing up. In fact, the ideal place for me to knit Shetland Lace is a cloister where the occupants have taken a vow of silence. The least ideal place for this type of knitting is where I am currently living.

I need to have 4 to 5 swatches of 25 to 35 stitches and 20 to 30 rows each. I have searched and for the life of me, can’t find my lace needles; the ones with the extra sharp points. Blunt points don’t work well with this kind of lace. But blunt points is all I can find in the needle cache. It sounds like it is going to be a long, tear filled night, but I am trying to stay positive. It’s still very cold and windy out. The river has whipped itself up into a fine froth and I think I may be coming down with a head cold. But I must stay cheery and positive because I don’t want to take another walk.

Here’s to getting things done. Have a great weekend.

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Time to Breathe

The Sound of Music sound track keeps running through my head. This time it’s the song My Favorite Things and the phrase “…when I’m feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Here are two pictures of a place that is one of my favorite areas for a walk, especially when I need to clear my head and refill my spirit.

Hudson River Boats

Hudson River 2

It’s where I will be today.

Frankly, I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around this shawl. It’s making the 1960s girl’s sweater design look like a breeze, and it isn’t. So I am going for a walk and let the wind clear my noisy brain and let the vastness of sky and water replenish my spirit so I can reconnect with the calm, peaceful center within me.

Then when I come back, I am knitting the sleeves to the sweater.

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Lots of knitting going on around here. Between collecting seeds from well-loved garden plants and doctor visits it’s been busy.

The 1960s girl’s sweater’s front and back are completed. The three needle bind off at the shoulders is also done. One sleeve is in the works. The maths for all the sleeves and sleeve caps is completed. I am particularly surprised at how well the plackets on the front came out. The front was worked in one piece up to the beginning of the placket, where I then divided it. Working both sides at once was a novel construction for me. Usually new construction techniques cause their fair share of headaches, but this one didn’t. It almost felt like the sweater wanted to be made this way.

I think what may have helped too is that I purchased the buttons before I ever got to the plackets. Usually, the buttons are the very last thing I buy and buttonholes and button bands are made for buttons I don’t have yet. Having them on hand and planning the plackets around them made the entire buttonhole and band experience go as smooth as silk. From now on, the buttons will be purchased ahead of time.

I’ve taken some time off from the girl’s sweater (I really need to come up with a 1960-ish name for it. Projects without a name feel like orphans to me). Instead I’ve spent time playing with Shetland lace designs for a triangular shawl that until two weeks ago I had no idea I was making.

The living room floor looks a little like a kindergarten classroom. Scissors, graph paper, pencils, erasers, cello tape, small cut out shapes, enough eraser residue to make a small mound, snippets and fine curls of paper here and there and Yarn Rascal relentlessly trying to position himself in the middle of it all to steal the pencils.

It’s the most familiar way I know to create lace shawls. Graph out the lace motifs, have a brown craft paper cut out of the size and shape of the entire shawl, and then start moving the lace motifs around until I come up with something that is pleasing. Since the background paper of the shawl is brown, and the lace motifs are cut out of white graph paper, I get a better idea of the impact negative space has on the motifs.

On Ravelry, I’ve posted my request for test knitters via the Free Pattern Testers group for the Forgotten Love Socks. Pop on over if you’re interested.

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Yarn Rascal swept the Golden Paw category Friday evening by winning two Golden Paws in one 6 hour period.

Friday I had emergency oral surgery. While the end result was successful, the process was difficult and long. I rate anything dental related on the same enthusiasm scale as getting in a bathtub filled with sea snakes. Add the phrase oral surgery and it has the same effect on my central nervous system as the thought of spending an evening in the reptile house at the Bronx Zoo when one of their asps has gone missing. (“Really, it’s just a baby asp with the cutest little deadly face….”)

No sooner did I arrive home then the Novocaine wore off and the second part of fun time began. I can only speak for myself here, but why do they call medicine for pain “painkillers”? I have had “painkillers” that have made me extremely sick and not touched my pain and I have had ones the make me very sleepy and don’t touch the pain. At no time in my life have I had any medication that stopped the pain.

Friday evening’s “painkillers” was the sleepy-didn’t-touch-the-pain kind. After I took the medication I decided to sit down and work on a small section of a Shetland Lace piece I’m playing with. My thinking was if I concentrated on something intricate it might take my mind off the explosions of pain in my mouth. So out came my Shetland yarn in Cobweb weight. The lightest of the light lace yarns. The kind that snags easily and can become a knotted mess if I breathe on it wrong. Right along side the Shetland yarn came Yarn Rascal. Shetland is his most favorite of all yarns. He was besides himself with delight that I took it out of the yarn vault.

I didn’t get deep into the Shetland Lace piece before the medicine hit me. Between the surgery, the pain and now the medicine I felt very tired. Without thinking I laid my wooden needles, the Shetland Cobweb Yarn, and the small piece of knitted lace on the table beside my knitting chair and went upstairs to bed.

It probably wasn’t more than 5 minutes later when Yarn Rascal appeared in the bedroom doorway thumping his tail for all he was worth. When I look back on it now, I can see he was besides himself with happiness and did everything he could to convey that to me. I remember lifting my head off the pillow and mumbling something like “eeeese” meaning please, but I could form the pl sound because it was too painful to do so. I also remember a clicking sound, like wood needles make when knitting. Yarn Rascal has this habit of when he has lost all self control and is doing what he should not be doing, he whines, thumps his tail wildly, and whines again as if to say “please, someone help me.” He was doing that in the doorway. My last thought before sleep over came me was “Oh noooo….”

The Skipper found the disaster. Yarn Rascal had decorated the living room, stairway, and hallway right up to the bedroom door in Cobweb yarn. It was draped everywhere. The Skipper said it looked like something we’d do for Halloween. The wooden needles were just outside the bedroom doorway. They were size 3, one of the sizes I never have enough of. Much to his surprise, The Skipper also found his crossword puzzle pencil that he was searching for. It was Yarn Rascalized, meaning it was covered in teeth marks and looked like something a beaver might leave outside one’s door.

This is all that is left of a full ball of the Cobweb yarn. The chances of me untangling what remains is zero.

shetland yarn rascal

And so Yarn Rascal gets a Gold Paw for his work with the Cobweb yarn and he earns a second Golden Paw for daring to touch and then destroy The Skipper’s Crossword Pencil. The really bad thing about the pencil is Rascal had to climb onto the dining table to get it. Now we have to figure out how he’s doing that.

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knit socks secret love wide shot

The Skipper’s Socks are finished and on his feet. None too soon either, as it has turned chilly.

knit socks secret love twisted stitches

Knit from the toe up, the inspiration for these socks was the work and art of the blacksmith. Imagine a walk on a cool, early Autumn morning as the misty countryside starts to awaken. The sound of metal ringing against metal. In the distance, wisps of grey smoke curl and drift from a forge. The blacksmith is already at work drawing and bending hot metal into ornate shapes destined to become a decorative element for a wrought iron gate.

In these socks, I wanted to capture the firmness of the vertical repetition of the wrought iron gate and the strength found in its twisted and curved decorative shapes. The twisted stitch pattern forming the side panels of the socks is the decorative element. The plain ribbing on the instep, the front and the back of the leg is the gate. The easy sewn bind off is intentionally used to echo the texture of the twisted stitch panels.

knit socks secret love cast off

Later this week, I will be searching for test knitters. The pattern is written for sizes 8.5 (9, 10)” / 21.5 (23, 25.5) cm circumference. Both the leg and foot length can be adjusted for an individual fit.

I am happy with these socks. They came out just as I had pictured them. The yarn is MadelineTosh Sock in the Aura colorway.

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