Friday, December 31, 2010

Put a Pin in it, 2010 is Done!



The year finished with a bang. Thunder and lightning, tornadoes (in the same storm system but not locally), and finally ice. It was an ideal day for hanging around the house, knitting a bit, and making major progress on a few straggler work projects.

If all goes as planned, 2011 will begin in much the same way.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Outta My Way

On Sunday I made my way over to my LYS’s annual pre-inventory sale. I have been long overdue for buying sweater yarn, and a 20% off all knitting yarn opportunity was too much to bear.

The store was insanely crowded, even within the first 15 minutes of opening. I found the yarn I needed for sweater #1, which was a DK weight. But then I needed to pick out a good Aran weight for a cabled sweater. This proved to be more problematic, partly because the selection of Aran weight yarn is much slimmer than the other departments. But mostly because a woman wearing a large floppy hat was camped out in that section and totally in the way. If she were buying project amounts I’d suck it up and move on. But according to her, she can’t read patterns, so she’s worked out a way to knit using only single skeins. Something about combining about 40 different single skeins of complimentary colors in a stockinette or garter... and the problem she had with using variegated yarn when her rows were 162 stitches... I don’t know. I was attempting to find a yarn in a color I liked, appropriate weight, of a type that would hold up to cables, and in a sufficient quantity to make my sweater—which involved math... and really she was annoying the hell out of me, both because she was sitting on the floor smack dab in the middle of where I needed to be, and also because she felt compelled to explain her creative process to me while I was trying to think, so I absolutely did not appreciate Miss Chatterbox-in-the-Floppy-Hat shoe-horning her psychic energy into my head space.

Despite her, I was able to come away with two different sweaters worth of yarn.

First up is Putting Down Roots from Inspired Cable Knits by Fiona Ellis.



For this sweater I chose Rowan Felted Tweed in a burgandy for the main color and a gray for the accent. I bought all the store had in the main color, which forced me to choose a mix of dye lots. Hmmm. When I cast on, I’ll make a point of alternating rows from different dye lots to help disguise the differences. With that, and the fact that the yarn is heathered, it should do an adequate job. From here out you’ll see this sweater referred to as Brewing Day.



Second is Gathering Intentions also from Inspired Cable Knits.



Judging by the photo, it looks like the sweater could stand to be lengthened slightly to suit my taste and style, so I purchased an extra ball, and plan to add a cable repeat to the body.
The yarn I chose for this project is Plymouth Tweed. This project is Sailing the Hudson Bay.



I can’t wait to cast on, but both of these will have to wait a bit as I make progress with my current projects.

Socks for Sis III are at the heel turn stage.



One sock of Socks for Unc I is at the heel turn. The second in that pair still has a long way to go on the cuff.



The first of socks, Peat Harrow, was nearly done, but it appeared to be a bit short so I took it to knit group for confirmation. Yep. Currently tinking back an entire toe decrease.



Then there’s Fjalar.



Yep. An actual sweater project I cast on for about a month ago, but abandoned at the cast-on stage because it required more concentration to do the Viking cable pattern at the waist than I had allocated. But I picked it up again a few days ago and have at least been knitting one or two rows a day since.



Not much, I know. But in preparation for the Christmas holiday weekend we rented a number of movies. While I highly recommend the Millennium Trilogy movies in original Swedish with English subtitles, I absolutely don’t recommend them if knitting is your goal. We watched the first and second in that trilogy. The third, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is currently playing in some art houses, and not released on DVD yet. When it is, I’ll be the first in line to rent it. And no, I have absolutely no desire to watch the American version that is in production.

So that’s it for knitting projects for now.
A Quick Knitting Tool Sewing Project

With five socks on the needles at once—and four of the five on dpns—I have found keeping the dpns together with their respective projects and firmly in their projects to be a challenge. (Several times on the Gulf Shore trip I accidentally pulled the dpns off the sock projects trying to remove a sock from my knitting bag.)

Here’s one solution that’s fast, inexpensive, and effective:

First, take a length of wide sewing elastic and two wooden candle cups. The elastic can be purchased at most hobby or fabric stores. The candle cups are sold at hobby stores as well.



Cut the elastic to the proper length (determined by the length of your dpns), and sew into a loop by machine sewing a zig-zag over the overlapping elastic edges.



Next, sew a pair of straight lines about 1/8" from the each edge at the ends where the candle cups will be seated to hold the cups in place.



Insert the cups.



Insert project and done.



Those dpns aren’t going anywhere until I give them their marching orders!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crafting Medicine

It happens that one of my sisters has an entire wardrobe and accessory drawer devoted to the Christmas holiday. We’re talking holiday earrings, Christmas sweaters, and even (especially) Christmas socks. I am not that way, but she is, and since she is the sister who appreciates hand-made things, I accept this as one of her endearing quirks.

A few weeks ago, she decided to get into the attic of her garage, and on her way down, the ladder slipped and fell, and she dangled then fell onto the concrete floor below severely breaking an arm as well as the ladder. Fortunately nothing else was injured except her pride, but due to the type of break, she is cannot wear a cast. Instead, her arm is sort of wrapped up against her body. This means she cannot wear her holiday sweaters.

On December 18, I was walking through Hobby Lobby searching for two small items, when I happened to spot a package of battery-operated LED flashing lights that are meant to be inserted through a T-shirt for decoration. That’s when it hit me. Not only could I make her a holiday-specific shirt in a size she could wear (size 2x men’s has been working for her, with the good arm in one sleeve and the bad arm under the main body of the shirt), but I absolutely had to make this for her. I had no choice.

I called her first, to make sure she wanted a “tasteful” Christmas shirt. Then I spent the next few days shopping for all kinds of doodads and baubles. On Thursday morning, the last of the glue had dried and I ended up with this:



All told, this project probably cost under $30, including the base shirt, thanks to finding things on clearance, and on Christmas close-out sales.

Off to deliver it.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Officially

I bit the bullet. After mulching leaves for 2 hours in 31°F weather, I am officially done with fall.

As for the rest of the day, I have:
  • Knitting (check)
  • A fire in the fireplace (check)
  • Lima beans & ham in the slow cooker with plans for a pan of corn bread later (check)
and most importantly perhaps
  • A mug of steaming Irish coffee at hand. (check check check!)

No matter what the calendar says, I say it is officially winter.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shopping Hyper-locally

Ever since I dug my quilt frame out and started hand quilting on my new winter quilt, I’ve been wishing I had a nice pin cushion I could dedicate to this task.

I’m not without pin cushions mind you. I just lacked a dedicated quilting pin cushion that was sturdy enough to use. Here’s a few of my antiques:



My standby pin cushion for the last fifteen years or so has been this one:



that I received as registrant gift during an IOLI convention. Might have been the one in Ann Arbor.

But I use this pin cushion for my basting needles for clothes sewing, and I would rather not pick through playing a guessing game of what kind of needle is X based on the appearance of the eye. Nor do I enjoy tracking the pin cushion down as it floats from project A to quilting project B.

No. I needed a pin cushion for quilting. And being a crafty kind of gal, I had high expectations for myself about the cushion’s general appearance. It needed to be arty, funky, and well... me.

Given the abundance of projects already on my plate, I decided to think on this for a week or so. Design? Fabric choices? Filling? Options? And then...

while sorting through my sewing thread rack looking for just the right color of brown for my new robe, I spotted this:



laying right there in plain view, where it has been since we re-stocked my craft room after Caper’s convalescence period a little under a year ago.

I bought this while on a press trip at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky in May 5, 2007. (That was the morning following the Greensburg tornado, in case you’re curious how I can possibly know the exact date.)

This is appropriate on so many levels. It’s of a size that won’t be easy to misplace, and yet light enough to not weigh down the quilt stretched in its frame.



Yeah, okay. So it technically it wasn’t a local purchase. But given how many years it has gone unused and forgotten, I think it should qualify by default.

And frankly, when it comes to quilting, I can use all the helping hands I can get.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Overheard in Shreveport LA, December 10, 2010



“What you have to understand, is that Yankees just think differently than we do!”

I’m thinking that there’s no one in the world who could pull off that look. So they may have a point...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Travel Knitters Knit Even in the Ugly



We are an unstoppable force.