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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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