Saturday, January 28, 2012

Enough - maybe , probably.

I think I have enough yarn, I think I do, I think I do, I think I do. Do you think that if I repeat this mantra as I knit there will be enough? And sorry, seems I am having a flashback to the little train that could. Today I have progress of a good kind on the  Rosebuddie blanket, the dress is nearly finished and I am loving the vintage details in its construction, there is an actual finished object with photos, and a new toy was loaned to me. Now I want one of my own.
Here is the 'first' corner on the Rosebuddie blanket. I say first in a slightly tongue in check way as I have knit the edging up to and around the corner once if not twice before on this very same blanket, so there have been corners before. Last time I realised I would finished the blanket with an enormous amount of yarn left over. At which point I frogged the edging and added a few more repeats of the next-to-last lace panel. I had weighed the yarn I had left just before I began the lace edge, and had 49g. I weighed the yarn again after I reached the first corner, and I had 38g left. Now to me that means a side takes 11 grams of yarn, and if I have three sides left to knit I will use 33g. The celebrations consisted of me sitting in my knitting chair, smiling to myself and checking and rechecking my maths just to make sure. Inside I was all happy and warm, even more so this morning when I layed out the corner for a photo and noticed how pretty it is.
 Wednesday went well, I sewed the vintage dress pattern as planned. I made minor adjustments as my waist is not in the same place as the waist of the pattern, and oddly had to shorten the skirt as the hem was nearly to my ankles. That felt a bit frumpy so the hem now sits just below my knee. I loved the little construction details, like seam binding. In a recent Opp shop purchase I had found a wheel of vintage cream and orange floral seam binding so bought it for the princely sum of $4. The vintage pattern provided three options for neatening the seams, pinking, hand overcasting or seam binding. Seam binding isn't used here in New Zealand, or sold but as I had this to hand I decided to use it. I did practice some economies and over-lock the skirt seam allowances. I loved the effect of the seam binding so much I didn't want to use it all up in the one garment. I also like the weird mix of modern overlocking with vintage seam binding .... some historian somewhere will be very confused by that mix.
 Because the dress was designed in a time when seam binding was common the instructions were written to allow very precise and neat finishing of the inside edges. I didn't quite know how this edge would work out but followed the instructions and I'm pleased I did. Look so neat, the way the seam binding fits together where the button fly at the front and the neck facing meet. There were also instructions for hand stitching a button hole, something I can do and have done, but this time I went for machine button holes, I wanted to wear this dress this month, and hand stitch button holes take forever to work.
 This is one more project off the needles, Dark and Twisty. Little wristers in sock yarn, cabled and ribbed. Little cub has been wearing these most days, despite it still being summer and warm, so these should get a lot of wear come winter.
 Now this is the toy that I was loaned, a wee darning aid. At first I didn't quite understand why this would be any better than darning by eye, and hand and using a mushroom or egg. But I love playing with knitting and sewing toys so I dug out a old knit swatch and pretended it had a hole in it.
 Wow! I love this, I want one, I really do. I dont' darn, much or often or even like this but I want one of these. This little gadget make darning a very even square patch easy, I was impressed by the clever little hooks that lift and turn the warp so you can just slide the darning needle across instead of weaving up and down through all the threads. Now this darn breaks many of the rules given in old books, especially where they suggest staggering the edges so the darn blends in better, but I like it. I have all sorts of ideas about using this to decorate knit or not knit things. The back is neat and tidy to, but didn't photograph well. I imagine if there was a hole I could either neaten the edges by stitching them to the darn, or trim them away, or both.

Tomorrow the cubs go back to school and Bear and I both return to work, until now one or the other of us has been at home for childcare purposes. Tomorrow is the first standard week of the  working year for all of us. That means today is all about making sure the cubs are clean, tidy, washed, and ready to go to school. There will also be baking as things are prepared for lunch boxes, and books are labeled, shoes polished, bags emptied of the fun holiday stuff and filled ready for school. Excuse me as I go and be a parent, instead of a Knitter.

na Stella

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Messing about

Seems like I have been messing about with lots of different things the past few days. Little cub has been invited to more birthdays, and like before these friends play the ukelele, and have seen her ukelele bag and the one we gifted to C ... so let it be known that they would love one of their own. Because it is never easy finding great gifts  - Little cub and I decided Bella gets a bag ...

and Caitlin gets a bag as well. The plan was to make them different but not so different that they were hard to make. Like the others I traced around the ukelele and added seam allowance straight onto the denim. I ironed fusible web onto one side of some bright colourfull fabric left over from a previous project - I always keep good sized scraps. Then I  cut out their names in letters then ironed the letters onto the front of the Uke bag. Then I zig zagged over the raw edges  to finish them nicely. Little cub chose the colours, based around one friend liking green and the other friend liking purple .... the threads are left over from previous projects.

I also made significant progress on my Rosebuddie, I  knit 3/4 of the way through chart, on addition to the complete repeat I had already worked. This left me with 49g of yarn - which I hope will be enough to complete the lace edge with. I've calculated how many stitches I have, and how many repeats that will allow me to knit around the edge, and adjusted the stitch count by two stitches to make things all match up nicely. This time I'm liking the way the eyelet boarder between the blanket body and the edge is working out -now that I'm p2tog rather than K2tog.  
Rosebuddie, this time with nice eyelet lace edge

The vintage dress pattern I bought to make myself a dress has been opened, carefully unfolded, checked, and the instructions read through. Everything is there, and it is well used but nicely looked after. I Googled how to use vintage dress patterns, and was encouraged by the number of people out there blogging  like this info. On Sunday morning, out buying Denim for  Ukelele cases I found this lovely gold and chocolate floral at Global Fabrics and decided that I was brave enough to make it into a dress. My usual taste in clothes runs to darker and plainer, but I must have been feeling a tad risky. The print is a very stylized old gold floral, kind of arts and crafts tonal print. Still am it seems as I've cut out the dress and have it pinned awaiting basting for fitting. More recently the fabric I have bought with plans to sew specific things has just ended up in stash, this time I really want a new dress, especially after making 5 for little cub. I usually make my own patterns so toile rather than baste and fit. Subtle difference being that a toile is adjusted and discarded in the process of making the garment fit, and a basted fit is achieved by cutting the garment in the final fabric with checking for size and allowing for alterations before it is completed. I was in town today and saw a special on little pretty vintage style summer cardigans .... so thought I might head back to buy one to go with this latter in the week.
Rose gold and chocolate brown

The other project that made its way onto and then off the needles are these little chickens and eggs. The cubs both love them, the one with the blanket stitched wings is by little cub. She knit it in the round - her first magic loop knit project and a successful one. She had started one earlier that was knit flat, but lost interest, seeing then knit in the round was enough to make her dig out her knitting and ask me to show her how to make one. The chick pattern is adapted from Fuzzy thoughts, and the eggs from Frankie.
Chicken or egg?

I'm off work again for three days this time, and if my plans go well I will have all day Wednesday to test fit and complete the dress ... ready to wear to work. Tomorrow there is some serious play date-ing at my house followed by the Ukelele girls birthday party.

Take care - na Stella

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Decison made

I finally made a decision about completing or frogging the edge of Rosebuddie. In doing so I discovered that I really can't follow instructions sometimes, first I completely got the yarn requirements mucked up (I'm not sure how I did that), and second I made a chart reading error that changed the way the lace worked. Let me explain.
A few days ago I dug out the blanket and thought that I'd better finish knitting the edge up to the next corner. I had weighed the yarn remaining at the last corner, and by knitting to the next corner and weighing the yarn again I would be able to work out how much yarn the edging would consume. I'd been avoiding this project for at least a week, so the chart had become a distant memory. I looked at it with fresh eyes.
The little dot in the lower right corner of the K2tog square

As I looked at the chart I wondered why there was a little dot in the lower corner of the box with the k2tog symbol. As soon as I realised the dot was there I realised what the dot meant, the stitch was to be purled, not knit .... So I knit the next pattern repeat following the chart exactly, purling those two stitches together - just to see what would happen. I liked what happened, the connecting stitches between the blanket body and the blanket edge formed wee eyelets. When I p2tog rather than k2tog both sides of the eyelets were edged with little chains.
Bother, I liked the pairs of chains, so finally the decision was made. I was going to frog and completely reknit the boarder as charted, so undo the one and a half sides of border I had already knit.
P2tog = Chain, K2tog = bumpy mess.
At first I carefully slipped   row at a time off the needle and frogged carefully back to the stitch that was edge stitch of the blanket body. That took forever, so I got brave and slipped 5 or 6 rows off the needle and pulled the border stitches free of the blanket body as I slipped the stitches on the needle.

Frogging the slow way
Then I realized that I could just pick up all the stitches along the edge, mostly as I had knit then rather than purled them so they sat at an odd angle and were easy to see. Then it was just a matter of raveling, frogging the lace border back to the second corner, at which point I weighed the yarn, then I frogged back to the first corner and weighed the yarn again. For this size blanket it takes 9 grams of yarn to knit the boarder on one edge, there are four edges, so 36gram required. And yes I know that the blanket will be larger if I knit more body repeats, so I will need more yarn to knit the edge - its all a guesstimate at the moment. 
Frogging the quicker way

Here I am all ready to go, and at this point I checked the yarn requirements and discovered that I had read 1000-1650 yards as if it was meters. I didn't need 1000 meters, I only needed 914meters, I had 850m, so in effect had plenty of yarn, enough that dropping a needle size should save me the 65m I was missing.
Ready to go again.
So here I am, frogged and ready to go, the yarn broke so I now have two balls of yarn rather than one. No worries as chart D is a fairly dense lace so plenty of scope to weave in ends there.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Still thinking about it

I'm still procrastinating,
28g is enough for a second wash cloth
So much so that I finished the wristers (sorry no photo yet) and the wash cloth. I tend to enter my project details in Ravely and one of the sub categories provides space to record how much of a skein was used, so I weighed the remaining yarn ready to enter the information. The washcloth used 23 g of the 50g of yarn, meaning I had 27 g left, More than enough for a second cloth. As I'm still procrastinating I started a second cloth, immediately, besides what else would I do with 27 grams of cotton linen yarn? I might be procrastinating about the blanket but I'm still knitting.
Two more knit journals
I've also been procrastinating by making more books, these two are knit journals, so have nice fountain pen friendly pages printed in a knit proportioned grid. The dark grey one is for me, and the animal print a gift. You might notice that the two books differ where the covers attach to the spine. I'm using 4mm thick board because I like nice stiff covers on my books, covers that don't bend. Good for knitting and working in ones lap, nice and stiff for writing on and sturdy enough to live in my knit bag. I'm working out how much extra needs to be allowed for the 'french-groove', that little ditch between the cover and the spine. There is a little bit of artistic choice here, how much larger than the pages the covers should be and how deep and wide the groove should be. Different cover materials also shrink with the glue and allowing 10mm might result in a narrow mean groove with one kind of paper and a wider more generous groove with a different paper. I think if I cut the covers 6mm larger than the pages, and allow twice the thickness of the cover board plus 6mm I might have the formulae right for the papers I'm using. The next one will be the test.
Tidied away
As part of the procrastination I tidied up my craft storage last week, and now have a drawer devoted to book and boxmaking.
Seven more book blocks
Inside I now have seven more book blocks. Book block is the term used to describe a set of pages sewn together ready to be covered. I'm coptic binding the book blocks but instead of coptic binding the covers in place I insert the book block into a hard covered case and paste the flyleaves in place. I like the way the coptic binding allows the book to stay open at each page, but also like the look of a book with a journal style cover with a square spine and french grooves. Some of these have plain pages, most have a knit grid. I'm planning most of these as gifts for birthdays that will occur during the year. Making the covers is the really fun part, so having seven book blocks ready is nice, a little bit like having bookmaking stash.
Vintage wooden darning mushroom with spring band
Today we drove the cubs up to Waimate so they can spend the week with my Dad. On the way back Bear and I stopped in Oamaru and had a look around a few antique shops, I found this neat wee darning mushroom in turned wood in one of the shops. There are no makers marks, and unusually this one has a little fitted clamp that will hold the fabric in place whilst it is darned. I am repeating to myself that I do not need to collect these, I'll  just have a few interesting and nice ones.
1940/50 and perhaps 1960,
Then we headed to the south end of Oamaru where there is a Historic area, lots of Victorian themed cafes, galleries, craft shops and one shop 'Retro-Funk' that specialises in mid twentieth century items. Bear noticed there were patterns for sale, vintage ones. Little cub is wearing the four dresses I made using the last vintage pattern almost all the time, so we had to get this pattern for her. Little cub has been asking if the next dress could have a collar, and this style has a collar, is the same brand (Butterick) and is in the same size, so should be the same nice fit. The other pattern dates from at least 1950, or earlier going by two newspaper sheets that are tucked inside. The original owner has traced off the front of the dress and drafted a shawl collar on newspaper which is dated June 1951. I'm wondering if I'm brave enough to sew one of these vintage styles for me. I like the idea, they look pretty, and these two dresses look shapely and yet timeless. If I find the right fabric I could just try one, and see how that goes. First step should be to toile the pattern in calico to check the fit, so that might be my project for next week, unless something else distracts me. I'm back to work this week, but on leave again for much of next week before the cubs go back to school next month.

I think I'm ready to pick up the blanket and knit .... perhaps my procrastination stage is nearing its end? I'm off to dig the blanket out of the basket and see how I feel about it.
Hope my entry into work for the new year is gently, and that yours was the same.

na Stella

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


As I'm knitting my way around the border of the Rosebuddie blanket I'm increasingly faced with a dilemma. I started knitting with the understanding that the pattern calls for 1000 - 1650 yards (914 - 1509 m) and I have 160g of 2 ply hand spun Perendale that is some where around 850m. So I selected needles one size smaller and knit the smallest size. There are a few places where this pattern can be increased, working some of the charts once, or twice, and in each case I chose to knit the charts once.

Rosebuddie corner

Now I find myself having knit the lace edge border along one edge  with 71g of the original 160g left. I've started to knit the second side with plans to weigh the remaining yarn and see how much yarn a side takes. My feeling is that the border won't use over half the yarn, especially as it around 8 stitches wide. My Dilemma is do I finish or do I frog back to just before the border and add a second repeat of the last chart before the border. I suspect the yardage required has been rounded up to match that typical of skeins of yarn ... sometimes it would be nice to know how much yarn would remain once the item was knit - but then given I'm already modifiying this without first knitting it I really can't ask too much of the designer can I?
One side of edge done and 71g left
Once I realized that I may have grossly erred on the side of caution and might have considerable yarn left, and missed the chance to make a larger blanket ... well my enthusiasm for the project waned. Well not waned, but I began to get more enthusiastic about other things and less so about the knitting.

Procrastination via tidying up
One of my favorite procrastination tasks is to tidy up. Bear has been tidying up all week, the cubs rooms, the hall cupboards, both living spaces ... the garage ... all in preparation for painting the bathroom. I completely understand that, some jobs require the kind of commitment that one can only make when one has got ready, and for Bear and I that often results in a cleaning and tidy spree. This rather large chest of drawers is a Wellington. So called after Field Marshall Wellington, who had a chest like this made to carry all his 'stuff' when out on campaigns. There are two flaps that lock into place down each side and stop the drawers from opening when you move the chest around. Not that I could even think of moving this with drawers in it, it s made of Rimu, old Rimu so hard and solid and heavy, and is 1400mm wide, 700mm deep and chest high. This beautiful plain and serviceable chest which dates from the early twentieth century holds much of my craft 'stuff'. I avoided my knit-dilemma by sorting the contents of the drawers. I now have two drawers of bookbinding 'stuff', and a drawer of drawing 'stuff', and a drawer of stamping 'stuff', and the rest are devoted to materials for spinning and sewing and knitting. Before I had drawers of mixed 'stuff'. I've even added labels to the fronts so I can find particular  'stuff' without opening up each and every drawer to look for it. The tall wooden stand is my skein stand, where skeins are hung to dry.
CotLin washcloth in Garn
Another favorite procrastination trick is to knit on something else, knowing that I dug around in my knit project basket and found a washcloth to finish. This only took a 15 minutes and now its done and not longer a procrastination project.

Dark and twisty number two
So I dug around again and found another languishing project, the second of a pair of dark cabled wristers. I sometimes wonder if Knitters purposely have projects that are standing by just for when the main project is in need of a little separation time? I figure I have another night or two procrastination knitting, and maybe even some procrastination spinning or plying before I have to start a new procrastination project or deal with the second edge of lace and make a decision about frogging or having yarn left over.

So .... how has your week gone? Any procrastination in your life right now?
Na Stella

Friday, January 06, 2012

Not just knitting

Hello, earlier today Bear asked me 'have you blogged recently?', I had to say not and explain that the things I had been doing and making were presents and I couldn't really blog them without giving the game away.Then I realised that while I have been busy making things that I really can't show here right now, I have been knitting - so I should blog -  just a little bit, and that there were other things that I could blog as well. There is a blanket nearly finished, a mindless washcloth sort of project in a lovely orange cotton linen garn (yes garn not yarn), and bookbinding as I prepare myself to teach bookbinding at Unwind. Bear has been tidying up, in preparation for painting the bathroom and as part of that I've been tidying up in a craft way, making things nice so they can be used. There was also a crafty day last Monday, where K and N generously shared their stamping and scrapbooking materials, and tools and expertise ... where they both introduced me to ink and paper and colour and shape and ... Ok yes I knew about stuff like that already I was just avoiding adding a new hobby. As a result of that crafty day I may have added stamps, artist grade pencils and stamp pads to my stash .... what can I say, but that I am easily lead astray and K and N did an excellent job leading a few of us further astray than we imagined we could be.
  Rosebuddie is nearly done, well as nearly done as having four of one hundred repeats of the edge lace done. I'm not sure if I'm like most knitters but once the end of a project is in sight I tend to focus on that project until it is done, something about being so close to done that it is quite exciting to see the work nearing completion. I had a wee moment when I misread the lace for the edging and repeated a [yo, k2] instead of just the [k2], which gave me an extra stitch, but once I'd sorted that out and amended my ways and knit the edge correctly there was no trouble at all with the stitch count. Funny how a single extra stitch can lead to all sorts of problems in a lace border.
My 'mindless' project right now is a washcloth, in Garn, a Danish yarn that is half cotton and half linen. I like this stuff and wish I could easily get more of it, the linen adds a little something to the cotton, so its not like knitting string and I know the linen will give this softenss and durability as it is used. The dusky orange isn't bad either.
My lino-cut frog stamp was used today, and appart from a little contamination or
dust somewhere it shouldn't be giving my frog a few warts (which frogs sometimes have) worked well. I may have to fine tune the shape of his hands  and head, and body and tummy and ... well the whole of him but that is part of the process just like knitting. He (or she) is a frog in progress and will eventually have the words knit -knit - frog and maybe even a yarn type border to edge them. I suspect my imagination runs ahead of my ability but without such goals then I'd never do anything. The pages sitting behind the frog are printed with a knit graph, in proportion to the width and height of a knit stitch - so ideal for recording knit projects.
The frog stamp may or may not be in this ... a knit journal that is covered in blank brown paper all ready to be customized. And yes - it really is covered in brown paper, the old fashioned parcel wrapping  kind. Part of me wants to add string and a tag ... but I've leave that to whomever ends up with the journal to do if they want.
One of the traditional gifts around here at Christmas is a tin of biscuits, in my childhood there was only one kind, a Sampler. A sampler tin had a wee stack of about 20 different biscuits, some chocolate coated, some with creme fillings and my personal favorite those candy pink creme filled wafers. About 20 years ago the tins seemed to change and were filled with an assortment of Danish biscuts, no cream fillings but lots of little buttery short biscuits in nice shapes sprinkled with sugar. Now-a-days (gosh I'm feeling old with words like now-a-days) the tins seemed to be themed, with the advertising critter of choice, in this case Cookie Bear. Now I like tins, and boxes, there is something nice about having tins and boxes to tidy things away into and keep things safe in and that fit little collections of tools and materials that are useful. This tin was a good size, slightly smaller than A4 and about 6 cm deep ... but Cookie bear had to go, I'm sorry he is cute but isn't really the style of tin I wanted to use.
So I found some frog wrapping paper, white pva glue, craft knife, and spent a few hours transforming the tin into one I could live with. A few layers of water based sealant and look, a tin I'm happy to use. I even covered the 'nutritional information' printed on the base of the tin with brown paper. I learned a few things, like trimming paper whilst it is still wet with glue is not a good idea, and not to panic if bubbles form as they disappear as the glue dries. And that like decoupage - with a few applications of a clear sealant all sort of little rough bits are smoothed away.

Don't worry, I'm still a Knitter, and not likely to stop any time soon, the things here are things that enhanced the knitting, not replace it.

take care ... back soon, with knitting,  promise.

na Stella