Tuesday, 29 May 2012

for example ...

... my current preoccupation with Danish triangular shawls with tails long enough to tie around one's waist. Although I'm not really one to wear grey myself, I am completely enamoured by this one, knit by raveller pinneguri. So of course I can't wait to cast on. I'm doing some careful swatching first, Brooklyn Tweed Loft in meteorite above and Rowan felted Tweed DK in camel below, both knit on 4mm needles. I have a tendency to block the life out of my knitting as if everything were lace, so might try these again and treat them a little more gently.

Did I mention the huge swathe of garter stitch that comprises some 90 per cent of this shawl after that lovely lace edging is done? Garter stitch - my least favourite stitch to knit. Hmmm, I haven't told myself about that either.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

endurance knitting

I don't think much about what I am about to knit. I think a lot about what I am going to achieve, what the final product will be, not so much about what it will take to get there. How many thousands of stitches lie between me and the object of my knitting desire.

Honey cowl - 27,723 stitches and I'm almost halfway there. Is there a cure for knitting foolhardiness?

Friday, 25 May 2012

babette's feast [of colour] part 2

Comments: Given how labour-intensive this project is, it amazes me that 762 people have crocheted their way through it before me (and that's just on ravelry) - truly a testament to its appeal.

To start with, yarn: the pattern calls for 17 different colours, and refers to them as yarns A through H, J through P, and R and S. And yarn substitution - yes, I did, as have many others. Out of the (currently) 1800 projects on Ravelry, only 250 have used a Koigu yarn (Premium Merino, the recommended yarn, or Painter's Palette Premium Merino). Seventeen skeins of the Koigu would set you back about US$230 so it's no surprise that people have used many other yarns. Crocheting completely from stash, mine was free.

On then to choosing what yarns to substitute in - I guess that if you are going to purchase yarn and can find a range with 17 different shades (and a good colour program, that is, the different colours go well together) that would take some of the guess work out of things. But if you are going to pull 17 yarns out of the cupboard (as I did), umm yes, there's a lot of guess work. I tried to get a grip on the overall colour scheme, I really did, by printing out and enlarging the blanket outline and buying 17 markers and colouring in the blocks. But no, it overwhelmed me. This was something that I only managed to get a grip on by doing.

What I learned: yarns A and B are contained in each of the 10- and 12-round blocks, and all but one of the 8-round blocks. And two rounds of A are recommended for the border. So if you are choosing your own colour scheme, these yarns are going to be prominent.

Unfortunately, not realising this, I designated self-striping yarns for A and B which I don't think are suitable for this project. They don't work too well in crochet and when used in the smaller blocks, the rounds are not long enough to accommodate the colour changes. Result for my blanket was that some blocks that contain the same self-striping yarn bear no resemblance to each other and there is little uniformity across blocks that contain that yarn. Also, my yarns, although all fingering weight, did differ in weight and texture, so that made my squares less regular.

Having said all of which, there was only one block, 12-1, that totally did not work and had to be re-crocheted (and of course, it was one of the largest). I didn't at all like the five to six rows that were all a similar pale shade, and didn't like the effect of the colour change in the self-striping yarn, from pale pink to dark brown suddenly. So I redid that one, utilising the inner part of one of the blocks that I accidentally duplicated (despite my best efforts to work methodically through the list of blocks, I still managed to crochet three of the blocks twice over. And completely missed two of the two-round blocks and had to fill them in after I had started seaming.) Again, I attempted to consider the whole blanket and the overall colour scheme and which colours were called for, and again I was totally overwhelmed and just grabbed the ones closest to hand. Worked out fine.

I also didn't follow the directions for the border - I chose two light colours, pink and yellow, and used these for the first round (and a little more, until they ran out actually). I swapped between the two in order to not be crocheting a pink border row across a block with an outermost pink row, and vice-versa for the yellow. Then I crocheted the rest of the second row and all of the third in a dark but bright yarn (Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn) and then a row of blue-grey.

For all that, the blanket only weighs 429 grams and I only managed to completely use up a few balls of yarn out of the 21 that I included.

This is a project that you really need to have a plan of attack for! I chose to crochet the squares yarn by yarn, that is, I started by crocheting every block that contained yarn A, followed by every block that contained yarn B and so on down the alphabet. For me this had the advantage that once I had finished all for the blocks containing yarn A, I could put it away and that was one less ball to carry around in my project bag.

I didn't weave in the ends as I went, nor did I seam as I went so yes, I had a long end-weaving session and an even longer seaming session, followed by more end weaving, but that was ok for me. My initial reason for not seaming as I went was that I thought I might rearrange the squares a bit but as the blanket came together I was so overwhelmed by the overall schema that I dropped that notion very quickly. Stick with the schema!

And an observation, the pattern is actually laid out in a spiral, although I don't think that the current colour lay out highlights this. It might be interesting to repeat a colour as either the centre or outermost round that would trace a spiral through the sections. Just an idea.

There is also a gallery of each of my individual blocks, should you like to examine them more closely!

Verdict: It's wonderful, but I do wish that it were bigger. Would I do it again, in a heavier weight yarn? the question really is, could I do it again? I'm not sure.

babette's feast [of colour]

I fear that Babette would have a tummy ache.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Babette Blanket by Kathy Merrick.
Size: Ah, there's a reason this is not called the Barbara Blanket - it's tiny!! Mine measures 84 x 76cm which indicates that I didn't achieve the gauge recommended by the pattern (which gives a finished size of 109 x 101.5 cm). Usually I wouldn't be so concerned with gauge on a project like this, although I am a tad disappointed that it didn't come out larger.

Yarn: Lots of them!
So, twenty-one separate yarns.

Hook: 3.25mm for the motifs and 2.75mm for the edging. 
Stash/recycle content: Oh hooray, all of it! Yes, crocheted entirely from stash. Yarn previously purchased for something else, yarn left over, yarn given to me and yarn bought at the thrift store.
Start to finish: 9 March 2011 to 24 May 2012 - actually not so long. It felt like longer ...

I'm so desperate to get a photo of this finished project out there, and I have so much to say about making it that I need some more time to think: to be continued ...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

hooking on the edge

No, not an exposé of the seamy side of Seattle crafting but more in the vein of Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet. I am a very happy crocheter and have almost finished the edging on my Babette blanket. That means that I have finished all of the squares, woven in all of the ends, seamed them all together and woven in those ends too.

Maybe later today or tomorrow!!


Ok, I know that barkcloth has nothing to do with dogs but really, there aren't many situations in which a female can 'woof' without there being a negative connotation (which I have now invoked in my blog post but anyway ...) I bought this wonderful piece of fabric at an estate sale on Saturday, along with some books about lace, block printing, woodcut printing, samplers, a candlewicked bedspread and rather dilapidated but irresistible pin cushion.

I love estate sales. (Quick note for non-US readers who may not be familiar with the phenomenon, as I wasn't before we moved to Seattle: estate sales are the sale of the contents of a house that takes place in situ so you get to stroll through someone's home where everything is for sale.) I love the opportunity to enter houses that I would otherwise perhaps never have visited, I love to get a glimpse of other people's collections and peruse their books, wondering if they were ever read.

Of course, estate sales mostly occur after someone has passed away or moved to long-term care and no longer has any use for their worldly possessions. And of course, seeing as many of my books and household objects have been purchased at estate sale, it leads me to wonder what will happen to all of my belongings one (very distant) day. Will half my yarn stash still be sitting there? How many of those textiles and art books will be there, collected but still unread? Time to get knitting and reading.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

silver bells

... and cockleshells! I do love Kate Davies' Betty Mouatt Cowl (from textisles issue 2) and have had several different plans to knit it since the pattern became available, including an grey/brown version in Brooklyn Tweed Loft (have purchased the yarn for that) and wondering how it would self-stripe in Noro Kureyon Sock. Or in Schoppell Wolle Zauberball, colourway ' schokocreme' of which you can see a small portion above.

Thing is, the Betty Mouatt Cowl is knit from the outside in, outer edge to centre that is, and finished with a  whole lot of grafting. I am not so opposed to grafting, but I do want the centre of the cowl to be pale and since I cannot calculate how to end up on pale yarn at the very end of the project, I have decided to knit the cowl from the centre out, starting with a provisional cast-on (I'll use Judy's Magic Cast-on). As such I have had to rejig the chart to be upside down, a swatch of which is pictured above, knit on 3mm needles. Not sure whether to go down a size.

Now I just have to decide whether I want to cast on the full 546 stitches for the larger version. Working from the centre out may obviate the need for grafting, but that's a cast-on of 1092 stitches ...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

your opinion please?

I think the prognosis is good.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

the honey cure

Will it actually work?

I've heard it said (ok, my friend Kathie told me - I'm holding you to this) that the madelinetosh Honey Cowl design is the remedy for variegated yarns. I actually didn't think that this Fiber Optics Yarn Foot Notes in 'Black Coffee No. 9' that I bought at Rhinebeck was going to be such a problem ... it looked fine in the skein. Ah, a disappointed knitter's famous last words.

So, obviously this yarn never worked out as Line Break which was its initial manifestation. I didn't like the stocking stitch variation and in garter stitch, once it was stretched out, it just reminded me of camouflage which is one of my least favourite looks.

As the original pattern is written for a dk weight yarn and I want it to be a big, double-loop kind of cowl, I have cast on 330 stitches on 3mm needles and have so far worked seven rows. That's some 2300 stitches already. This had better be efficacious knitting.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Official Kittyville Hat by Kitty Schmidt, kindly available for free.
Size: There's only one size. The pattern calls for an aran-weight yarn and I knit it in something lighter to size it down for a six-year old birthday gift. 
Yarn: Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in shade 893 (0.7 skeins) and a tiny bit of Debbie Bliss Angel in shade 15006.
Needles: 4.0mm and a 1.75mm crochet hook. Oh, and a medium size Clover pom-pom maker! 
Start to finish: Quick knit - 9 May to 12 May 2012. 
Recycle/stash content: All of it - the Cascade 220 was given to me by a friend and the Angel came from Goodwill (99c).

Comments: Fun to knit, great result. The pattern is a bit clumsy but I'm guessing that is to make it an easy knit for those who would be attracted to wearing a kitty hat. I'm not personally but it was perfect to knit as a birthday present. I made a few changes - I knit the ears in the round and did paired decreases (k2tog and ssk) at the very edges of each side of the ears. Likewise for the decreases on the ear flaps which would be nicer if knit all in one with the hat instead of attached later by picking up stitches. I also added the fuzzy inside of the ears by crocheting a triangle from the Angel and sewing it on (also helped to reduce any inadvertent resemblance to a devil hat).
And the pom-poms! I haven't made pom-poms since I was a child and then I used a piece of folded cardboard. Which is what I could also have done this time but why let the opportunity to purchase a Clover gadget pass you by?
Verdict: Purrrr!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

oh hooray

I finally sewed something. Finally finished sewing something. I actually did a huge amount of sewing and pattern alteration last year, all of which is yet to produce a finished project. It will, eventually, but in the meantime it's great to have completed something small. Small and finished.

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Oliver + S bucket hat, available for free.
Size: L which is to fit ages six to eight.
Fabrics: The main fabric is by Estelle of Fortune Favours the Thrifty and I received it in the handprinted fabric swap. The lining is some black and white toile de Jouy that I have had forever.
Start to finish: well, I completed it on 11 May 2012.
Recycle/stash content: Yes, handmade hat from handprinted and stash fabric - more reason to hooray. 
Comments: This was fun to make. Took longer and was a bit fiddlier than I expected but that was probably just about getting back into the sewing thing. Good clear instructions, I will happily sew from Oliver + S patterns again.

Verdict: I've got little brother's version all cut out.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

april reading

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo - too graphic but otherwise a good read. 
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - ravenous reading, I devoured them.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

actual crafting in progress

It's true, it's not the stork. I'm very aware that finished products often just show up in this space with no previous mention of the idea or the process. (Ah, I'm also aware though of many ideas and a bit of process that never end up as finished products but that's a whole other story ...) Thing is, I really would like to show more work in progress, so here goes:

Above - a snapshot of the work space directly in front of and to the left of my sewing machine. A total mess, true to form. Bottom right is the crown of the Oliver + S bucket hat, recently removed from the sides (at far left) because apparently I still cannot sew an half-inch seam. This pattern is available as a free download by the way - bonus. The fabric is by Estelle of Fortune Favours the Thrifty and I received it in the handprinted fabric swap. The piece was just the right size to cut out the hat pattern pieces and then the sides a second time because I botched the first ones up.

Under the crown is a printout of the Babette crochet pattern, yep, just lying around. I have almost finished my Babette! All of the seaming is complete except for one of the 12-round motifs which I want to redo because I didn't like the way the colour combination came out. Then, a lot of ends to weave in and a border.

Centre of the picture is my new Odille skirt, a linen/rayon blend with a wonderful print - blue and white check with red flowers and birds. I bought it on sale at a consignment store and am in the process of making it fit me. I was in the store and saw this skirt, a US size 6. I then shopped around, tried a few things on and could not get this skirt off my mind. So I bought it. I'm a US10. So I have taken off the waistband, let some of the gathers out, added a couple of panels to the lining, cut a new waistband, interfaced it and there it sits.

And there on top of the skirt lies the interfaced brim lining for the hat. I'm using some black and white toile de Jouy that I have had for years. Would you believe that this brim and the waistband for the skirt were the first things I have ever used interfacing on? I had some iron-on interfacing in the cupboard; it had been there for so long that I was concerned that the adhesive might have decayed but no, stuck well.