Monday, December 24, 2012

The Worker Bee's Christimas Knitting

Even a worker bee like me needs to do a bit of Christmas knitting.  This year I made a bunch of fingerless mitts using Sue Brady's Basic Fingerless Mitt pattern. This pattern makes a very stretchy glove and I found that I could use any weight of yarn between sport and worsted. 

A lot of these gloves were made with fingering weight sock yarn held double.  I knit with strands from both the outside and inside of the skein at the same time, which looked especially nice in the self-striping yarns.  

I found these nice tags in a a stationary store, and the stamp from the dollar bin at Michael's.

I used up a lovely sport weight alpaca for the gloves on the left, and some lambswool on the right.  The pattern for the grey glove is Cheryl Niamath's Fetching.

They had these cool glove blockers in the dollar bin at Target.

In between the knitting and the rain, the cats and I have enjoyed a few moments in the sun.  Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may you have warm hands in 2013.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cats and Shawls

I've been cranking out some shawls in my downtime.  Louie the Cat is modeling Cameo, a pattern so fun to knit I had to make two of them.  Louie is modeling my second version of this shawl: this one was made with a variety of fingering weight scraps and has a beaded lace section.  I applied the beads to the stitches with a tiny crochet hook, one method outlined in this tutorial.

 The pleasure of this shawl is that it's knit almost entirely in garter stitch and requires very little attention.  It's perfect autopilot knitting.

My original Cameo was knit from Kroy sock yarn and some vintage fingering weight wool crepe.  I'd been saving the pink and blue Kroy for awhile, waiting for the perfect (non-sock) project. This shawl was a gift for my friend Catherine.

Even the lace is easy to knit in this pattern, and the results are pretty nice.

Bunny says it makes a nice pillow too.

Catherine gave me these great lace weight color cards, which were in her grandmother's weaving stash.  I love the color gradation, and I'm looking for a shawl pattern where I can use them together.
Right now Stephen West's Spectra is a strong contender.

 In October I knitted this free shawl pattern for my friend Bernadette's birthday.  It has bits of silk, alpaca, lambswool, and other nice yarns. 

 I'm a sucker for stripes these days. 

I made a really basic shawl from some special hand dyed yarn I bought at a fiber fair last year. The yarn has a beautiful hand and and I love the luminosity of the colors.

 If you've had enough shawls for now, here's one more cat: Mr. Bob.  I came home from shopping and left a bag out for the cats.  You'd have thought I'd brought home Disneyland.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Some Knitting

I haven't been sewing, blogging, nor reading blogs much lately: the time demands of work have ruled most of that out for the present.  I do, however, continue to knit.  I look forward at the end of the day to holding the needles and fiber in my lap and zoning out: making my mind a blank and conjuring some mental and physical rest.

I knit this shawl some time back.  I wanted a nice shawl to take to Europe in May, and I opened up my purse and bought some really nice yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a luxurious laceweight  blend of mohair and silk,  and I knitted it together throughout this shawl with a strand of Plymouth Happy Feet, a merino and nylon fingering weight yarn, to give it substance.  The results are like wearing a cloud.

It drapes beautifully, although it also sheds like a beast.  I'll carry one of those sticky lint rollers when I wear it if I have to.  Actually my solution is to wear all grey with it and not worry about the loose fibers.  The pattern is Granny Smith, a free pattern on Ravelry.

More recently, I've been knitting this top-down raglan cardigan.  I had a hankering for a classic sweater,  maybe with pearl buttons, that  I could wear to work.

After looking through a bunch of patterns on line, I remembered that I had this old pattern book from the 70s that has basic raglan recipes for various weights of yarn.  It's amazing how these basic resources continue to come in handy.

I had this "vacation yarn" that I brought back from Florence.  I went to Europe determined to bring back some yarn, and on line I found reference to a wonderful yarn shop a couple of blocks from the city center,  Campolmi Roberto Filati. The shop doubles as a warehouse, and it was full of beautiful yarns.  The only problem was that I got there 10 minutes before they closed for lunch. Though the ladies who work there told me to take my time, I didn't want to hang them up too long.  I quickly grabbed a sweater's worth of merino wool from the clearance bin for my cardigan.  I love this pale aqua color.

I also brought home some balls of novelty yarn for weaving.

 While one of the ladies was ringing me up, I spied this beautiful mohair, and she wound off a scarf's worth for me.  It has flecks of shiny stuff throughout, and I'm considering patterns for it: perhaps Citron or Futur Simple  or Riverrun will show it off nicely.

Sometime soon I hope to dust off my sewing machine.  In the meantime, I'm using my knitting needles to keep my hands in fiber.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


As they keep saying on Game of Thrones, winter is coming.  To help some folks prepare for the cold season, I made these hats for a charity hat drive on Ravelry, and was able to do a bit of stash-busting of odd skeins of wool and to try out some of the dozens of free hat patterns available on the site.  I kool-aid dyed the light blue and the violet yarn from a reclaimed sweater I've knit a couple of other projects from already.  Most of the other hats were made with worsted wool held double.  These were fun and quick to make, and then they went into the mail.

Seeing all these hats flying off my needles, Michael decided he wanted one too.  He picked a dark grey wool from my stash, and a motif from one of Alice Starmore's Fair Isle books.  I used the stitch count from the Strib hat pattern, which I'd made as written in the variegated yarn for donation.  It calls for a 96-stitch cast-on, and I substituted one section of ribbing for the various ribbing sections in the pattern.  The motif was in a 12-stitch repeat, and so all the math worked out neatly.

Here's the finished hat.  It's reminded me how much I like color work, and it was very satisfying to whip out in a couple of days. I knit the color work section in a very peaceful couple of hours on a Sunday morning.

I asked my son if he wanted a hat too, and he picked the same grey, but with no motif.  He's a minimalist.

I'm already happy with my winter hat, which I made a couple of years ago from the Columbia beret pattern (also free) which I made in red.  Now I'm thinking I may want to knit myself some nice gloves, and I'm considering these.  Yes, gloves with birds on them.  How perfect is that?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are We There Yet?

I frequently get about 75% of the way through a project when I just run out of steam.  As usual, I hit a wall with this project over the last month.  It took me a long time to piece the one-more-block I needed to go on, and then the embroidery lagged until I got sidelined with a cold, and with some unexpected free time, I finished the embellishment. 

I started to wonder if I could get away with making this a 9 vs 12 block piece.  I already had misgivings over my original plan to put an image of St. Francis in the middle of the blocks.  I also liked the size of nine 8-inch blocks, and began to see that three more blocks weren't going to add any significant elements to the piece.  

I then recalled that I have a St. Francis medal (alongside one of St. Claire) in one block, and I moved that one to the center.

I found some possible sashing fabric: a brown paisley, some shiny fabric for a thin inner border, and an outer border candidate in gold and tan.

I'm pretty much resolved to spend the rest of this year sashing and piecing these nine blocks.  It will probably require some embroidery on the sashing and the blocks may need some tweaking: for example that large sunflower patch in this month's block needs to be reduced or toned down.  

Now that I have a new plan the "are we there yet?" feeling is somewhat at bay.  We'll see what construction challenges lie ahead as I tackle the rest of this project.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

August CQJP Block

One more block in this project is done, four to go.  This one felt like it didn't require as much stitching as the others, probably because of the machine embroidered patch.

Here's a close view of the top portion of the block,

...and here's my Sheaf Stitch, this week's TAST, in blue pearl cotton, at the bottom.

I added some French knots to the patch with the seagull to infuse a bit more blue into this corner.

Louie doesn't quite fit into the sewing room cat bed, but like Cinderella's stepsisters faced with the glass slipper, he tries.

I had a poem in the August issue of the on-line journal The Accentos Review.  And this is a three-day weekend.  Life is good.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

TAST: Linked Double Chain Stitch

School started this week, so I'm back to work, and stitching on the run.  This week I did try the Linked Double Chain Stitch, above in yellow, which wasn't as hard as it looked at first.  I did get a rhythm going, and can imagine doing long seams in this stitch.  I also outlined the cone flowers (?) in the central image, and added some French knots and lazy daisy stitches the adjacent seam.

I stitched the butterfly in some thin crewel yarns, and added a few more French knots for seam embellishment.  I'm hoping the long weekend next week will give me some time to finish this block and to piece the last four blocks (can that be right?) for this project.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bistro Aprons

I made another batch of bistro aprons for my daughter the cook.  Her aprons take a beating, so a new batch was in order.

I can get each side of a double-sided apron from a yard of fabric.  I gave measurements and instructions for single-sided aprons in this earlier post. For the double-sided apron, make two sides, line up rights sides together, and stitch around the edge, leaving a small opening through which to turn it right side out. Then simply slip stitch the opening and attach the ties.

I tried to give each apron a dark side, and I also positioned darker fabrics toward the top, where my daughter wipes her hands.  Piecing different fabrics allowed me to use up some fabrics that were less than a yard.

I got to use up some fun black fabrics.

This apron has a Madonna panel on one side.  Perhaps she'll provide some protection from burns and cuts, or insure tasty outcomes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I've made some progress on my August block, though it's so cloudy here it's hard to get a decent picture.  Across the top I stitched a vine and added beaded cast on stitch flowers.  

I used Pekinese stitch to edge a patch with an embroidered seagull.  I've got to go back and finish picking out the stitch and tear medium behind the seagull

The August block gets a boost from a large piece of black work embroidery Debra machine embroidered.  So far, so good.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Weaving a Rag Rug on the Rigid Heddle Loom

I warped my rug with a couple of weights of crochet cotton.  Size 3 crochet cotton (the Aunt Lydia's brand is commonly available) is a great warping material.  Since I only had about half of what I needed, I interspersed it with some lighter weight crochet cotton just to see how it would work.  In retrospect, the size 3 (which I think is also known at #10)  is the perfect weight.  Note to self: stock up.

The numbers: 170 warp threads in the 7.5 dpi heddle, 58 inch warp length.  In the future I'll need about 2 balls of the Aunt Lydia's Size 3. 

 For the weft I used 2.5 inch fabric strips.  Quilters may have a few of these around the house.  Join the strips (and avoid knots) by applying glue stick to 1-2 inches of the end of one strip and overlapping it with the next one.   Let it dry 20-30 minutes and then fold in half along the length and wind onto a shuttle.  I chose a palette of blues and yellows.  I'm not sure how much i used, because I have an endless supply of 2.5 inch strips.

In this rug I alternated two passes of the fabric with two passes of worsted weight ("kitchen") cotton.  I used less than a ball of Sugar and Cream for this rug.

The whole project is beaten with a comb.  The heddle isn't strong enough to pack the layers together.

When laying down the rows, twist the fabric at the edges.  I only remembered to do this at the end.  When beating with the comb, I found that I could only really pack in the rows after changing the shed (the position of the heddle).  I found myself working the immediate 4-6 rows, packing them in, while adding new rows.

In the photo above you can see that the new rows are more loosely packed than the previous rows.  They'll gradually get worked down after newer rows are added.


The finished rug is 20 x 25 inches.  I tied off the warp threads in groups of 4,  In the future I might add additional passes of the kitchen cotton and turn the hem to the back.  I washed the rug to make sure it will hold up to delicate machine washing, and it came out fine.