Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Baby Gift

Dear Mom,
My next door neighbor is expecting her first baby in about 8 weeks and we know it is a boy. His mom and dad are older than the average first time parents (40+) and they are thrilled. I was thrilled that they chose to share the gender when they found out, rather than keep it a secret, so I could start planning the baby's knitted gift.
Knitted baby blankets are probably worth the effort because they get used up and the recipients won't grow out of them, but I don't have the time or stamina to churn one out right now.....even though there is a yarn at the shop that is calling to me. (So far I've stayed strong. And I am trying very hard to avoid that corner of the shop.) Maybe I should have given in, because I then proceeded to hem and haw over exactly what I should knit. Kinda like when you are denying a craving, and no matter what you eat, you still want whatever it is you are craving. I am still thinking about that yarn as a baby blanket.
However, with some encouragement, I finally decided on this.
But even after making the decision that this would be it, and even after buying the yarn (Berocco Vintage), I still had issues. There were things about this pattern, as written, and the practicality of it that were holding me back. And this is where, sometimes, I frustrate myself. Whyohwhy can't I just sit down and knit what the instructions tell me to knit?
What you see here is a heavily modified version of the design. As written, the garment is knit in pieces and sewed together. I decided to work in round. The only seams are in the sleeves.
I was also completely hung up on the fact that the poor mother would have to undress the baby to change his diapers. It's been a Long Time since I've been in that stage, but some things are just not forgotten, and difficult diaper changes is one of theme. I decided that an Exit was needed.
About halfway through the body section, I short rowed some ribbing over most of the back stitches, placed a couple of button holes in there, and bound those stitches off. I then proceeded to cast on the same number of stitches and continue on, in the round, from there.
I've knit this in the 12 month size, in hopes that it will fit just right when cold weather returns next fall and winter. Assuming it ever actually LEAVES. Enough already! 
I think I will purchase a black and white striped onesie to wear underneath these knitted long johns.
Because his parents are bicycling enthusiasts, I sketched bikes onto shrinky dinks and made the buttons.
I hope they like it.
I hope my timing on the sizing works out.
I probably should have made a blanket.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Weaving Weekend

Dear Mom,

Saturday's weaving class spilled over into Sunday. Eight hours bent over a loom is enough to cripple a person and we all needed more time to finish. So back we went on Sunday.
In my last post I showed you the yarns I'd chosen. I didn't need to use all of them (but I did use up all of that Downton Abbey yarn).
This was definitely a 'don't think about it too much' project. After demonstrating how we would be weaving and letting us throw a few practice picks, Linda wove off the remaining bit of the sample and we got our first look at what, exactly, we were there to weave.....a triangular shaped shawl.

photo before trimming the fringe

We then set about sorting and selecting our yarns. I had already wound mine into warps so I was able to go ahead and start dressing the loom. I had never dressed a loom from front to back. Doing it this way let us randomly place our yarns and reposition them if we chose to do so. It is a rather spider web-y mess on the front end, but that sorted itself out. It helped that the warps were only 2 1/2 yards long, too. It was mostly because I didn't fully understand how this was all going to work that I was able to turn off my brain and not over think the placement of my yarns. I just went with what I hoped was an even distribution of the different yarns I'd chosen. I am very happy with the result!

This is how the weaving looked on the loom, near the end. Frankly, if I hadn't stopped after just about every other pick to admire and stroke what I'd just woven, I may have been able to finish in the 8 hours.  It was just too dang pretty not to and I was just stunned at what was happening on the loom. I did it, but don't ask me to explain it.

There were two other weavers in the class with me. We all had different colors and types of yarns- hand spun, hand dyed, commercially dyed and spun, mohair, boucle- and each shawl was beautiful.

Definitely a good project for stash busting, or using those small skeins of hand dyed yarn.
The only down side to this is that Donna Reed, my Baby Wolf, is not wide enough to do this and make a wearable scarf. BUT, I can see using this random front load trick to make a rectangular shawl or scarf.

You can just imagine ( or maybe not) the condition my house is in today after my absence for most of the weekend. The last thing I should be doing is sitting here, but I couldn't wait to show you this latest pretty thing.
Off to scrub, dust, vacuum, helps that this is a sunny day. It makes me want everything to sparkle, and thankful that even though it all needs cleaning, that I have it to clean.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finished as planned and a Preview of Saturday's plan

Dear Mom,
As planned,on Tuesday evening I was able to finish the little knitted shawlette. I blocked it on Wednesday morning and here it is on the blog today!
Elle is modeling it with a felted hat I made years ago. By happy accident, the colors in this shawlette are     perfect with the hat and will dress up my navy peacoat!
The yarn is Footlights, from Blue Ridge Yarns, color Wild Cherry. The interesting thing about this sock yarn is that it comes bundled in 4 mini skeins of coordinating colors. Enough for a pair of socks, but I thought the yarn and colors were too pretty to hide in my shoes. I purchased 2 bundles- I wasn't sure about the specifics, but I knew there was a scarf or shawl in there and 2 bundles would guarantee enough yarn for something decent. I searched on ravelry and decided on this pattern. I used one of the colors from both bundles for the solid portion of the shawl and then alternate the three remaining colors for the striped portion. I knit until I ran out of yarn- or more specifically, until it didn't look like I had enough of a color left to work a stripe and bind off.

On Saturday, weather permitting, I am taking a weaving class. I have only a sketchy idea of what I will be weaving ( a shawl, I think) but I do know I will learn how to dress my loom from front to back, and that this is supposed to be a good stash busting project. I dug through my abundant stash for single skeins, leftover bits, and hand dyed/handspun skeins that were really too small for any serious knitting projects.
Olive helped.
I decided on this combo and wound the warps last night.
If you look closely at this blurry photo, you may notice that right there in the middle of the group, near the top, is the yarn I ordered for the Downton Abbey knitalong. Actually, it was the Downton Abbey MYSTERY knitalong. I knitted about 1/3 of the project before I faced the truth. I did not like and would NEVER wear the gauntlets that this knitalong was creating. No how. No way. And I do not think pretty lace knitting should ever be hidden in a variegated yarn. So there. I quit. The yarn, hopefully, will be happy and pretty in what ever it is I am weaving on Saturday.
Also, left of center is the last of the copper pipe dyed handspun. I've already used some of it to weave this scarf.
I'll share the results of my weaving class- good, bad or ugly.
Until then,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Saturday was for Sewing

Dear Mom,
On Saturday I sewed another Schoolhouse Tunic. This one is the shorter "shirt length" on the pattern. I've decided that my ideal tunic would be somewhere between this pattern's tunic and shirt lengths and I will make adjustments next time. Because there will be a next time with this pattern.
I love this orange gingham check, but wasn't considering the challenges of matching the pattern when I purchased the fabric. Mostly I did okay, but I am critical of the point where the shirt fronts are attached to the skirt.
I wore this with a navy t-shirt underneath and a blue ceramic pig pin. ( Yes, I accessorized!)

Then, while my machine was still set up and while the ironing board was still out, I acted on another creative idea. Back in January I received a catalog that is geared to outdoors-y pursuits. I don't always look through catalogs that find their way into my mailbox- what I don't see I won't want- but I did glance through this one and saw an interesting hooded sweatshirt that was embellished with embroidery and appliqu├ęs. It had a pretty price, too, though. Knowing there are plenty of fabric scraps and buttons in this house, I decided I would try customizing my own sweatshirt. A lucky day at the thrift shop had me finding a tuxedo shirt (more on that in a future post) and a zippered GAP sweatshirt.  I think I purchased both for less than $10.

I cut out some flower shapes and used my pincushion and a juice glass to trace circles onto my fabrics. I raided my button jar, choosing orange, green and black buttons. I tried to limit myself to oddly shaped or single buttons that wouldn't be of use anywhere else. But before sewing anything onto the shirt, I put it on and marked those strategic locations where I definitely did NOT want a flower, or a button. No Bull's Eyes, thankyouverymuch.

I am not an applique artist, but I wasn't going for a real polished look here, either. I am dressing up a Goodwill sweatshirt and making it a little bit more fun.
My goal today is to finish a knitting project- just a few rows left, but they are long rows. While I do that I am mentally working on picking up the stitches for a button band in a way that covers the picked up edge. I think I know how I want to do that, but won't know if my idea works for sure until I try it.

That's all. Be warm. It is winter out there today. Fire in the fireplace and sit and knit time!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Re: Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode Finale

Dear Mom,
I tossed and turned all night.
I think I've been through all 5 Stages of Grief  in the last 11 hours.

January 5, 2014 is the Season 4 premiere in the US.  Another year of waiting and avoiding spoilers.
Downton Abbey, how do I love thee? Let me count the days.....


Thursday, February 14, 2013


Dear Mom,
First, Happy Valentine's Day!

Next, what a productive visit we had to the quilt store. It was a whirlwind. - Especially since we were cutting it close, time wise. Lucky for us the Young Lady's after school activity was cancelled and she rode home on the bus. Thank goodness we were spared the need to kick up some gravel in the parking lot when we left the quilt shop, and then fish-tail our way into the school parking lot.

So, here are a couple of dress fabric/cardigan sweater yarn combos I now have in my sewing and knitting queues. (I think an extra set of arms would be a good thing right now, but then the dresses and sweaters would not fit.)

Combo #1.
A strong possibility for Easter.
I draped the fabric around Elle and then added the sweater in progress on top of that for a better idea of How It Will Look:
Tights have been ordered. If I ordered the right colors, and once I decide which color to wear, I will show you. And I have black danskos.

Combo #2.

I've been admiring This Sweater for quite awhile. I've had the yarn for it for a month or two. I will make the body in a rusty heather and make my birds blackbirds.
Here is the yarn with the fabric I purchased:
Black tights. And I have some rusty red tapestry dansko clogs that will look c.u.t.e. (or stupid).

I also got fabric for two more tunic tops, but I will share those another time.  I have an idea for one of those tops that involves a thrifted mans' tuxedo shirt. It could be awesome or it could be an epic fail. Stay tuned.

And lastly.
Last night, with my friend (formerly known as ConnieWhoNeverHeardofBobbySherman, but who will henceforth be Sassenach) and I fueled our Outlander/James Fraser obsession and went to see the Black Watch Pipes and Drums and Scots Guard performance at the Palladium.
Bag pipes, drums, Highland Dancers, Men In Kilts.
There were Men In Kilts in the audience, too. Sassenach and I discovered that our gushing teenage selves were not buried too far beneath our MarriedWithChildren exteriors.
I took a stealth photo at the end of the performance using the Museum setting on my camera ( no flash, no noise). We were alone in our orchestra box, so I wasn't disturbing anyone and there was very little risk of being caught. The resulting photograph is blurred, but I'll just call it a misty water-colored memory.
The performance was moving and inspiring. The bagpipe music was haunting and beautiful. Included was a tribute to our Armed Forces and the performance started with God Save the Queen and the Star Spangled Banner. What a treat. An evening to fill the well being of my soul.

Time to get enough housework done and get those fabrics washed and dried so I can start sewing!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Patience is Rewarded

Dear Mom,
I bounced all over the place this weekend. 

I finally sewed a pair of lounge pants for the Young Lady. The flannel she picked out and we purchased has been in the closet for so long that.... well, let's just say it is a good thing that fabric doesn't have an expiration date and the Young Lady is done growing. Riding high on the success of my Schoolhouse Tunic, I felt brave enough to sew them. They were Easy! She loves them! We went to the fabric store and bought fabric for another pair.
The pattern is from Sewing Green.
While at the fabric store, I bought replacement buttons for one of My Hero's blazers. Somehow he lost all the buttons on one sleeve, which meant replacing the buttons on both sleeves and the front so they would all match. Another project which probably took 30 minutes to finish, but a a long time to start. Tom is happy to have his blazer back. 
Jared Flood's Alpine Tweed from Ann Budd's Top Down Sweater Book

 I continued knitting my sweater.  And suddenly started knitting a dishcloth. I have an urgent need to knit dishcloths. My supply of dishcloths is looking pathetic due to the fact that about half of them have been chewed up by the garbage disposal.
I also have a craving for sewing dresses and tops with matching hand knit cardigans, which was fueled by this newly discovered blog. Sometimes the sweaters on my  needles isn't just a sweater- it becomes a whole life. What I might wear with it, how I hope I will look in this fantasy outfit, where I will be when I wear it. Lots of times this sweater's life has nothing in common with my real life. But then I've slipped into a habit of wearing jeans and too casual tops. I want to believe I can be just as comfortable and look nice at the same time. Once Upon a Time I knew how to dress, how I wanted to look, and had the body and confidence to do it without thinking twice. Lately, the figure in the mirror doesn't match the 22 year old I am on the inside. I embrace my gray hair, the need for glasses, and some of the wrinkles. My 82 year old left knee and the very stubborn extra weight? Not so much. 

(I am considering renaming my left knee Mr. Bates, because I often have to walk down the stairs one step at a time like he does.)

So a trip to the quilt store for some pretty fabric is in my almost immediate future. Maybe if I sew the dress, knit the cardigan and pretend hard enough, I can pull off a new-for-me, quite individual, not-blue-jeans look. And not feel stupid when I do it.


Olive is enjoying our sunny day today. I am too. And it is just warm enough to open the front door and let the sunshine come in through the storm door. Olive is watching the quiet cul-de-sac.

And Barks an Alert! at ???


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Feels like I was knitting this one forever

Dear Mom,
I don't know why, and I know I wasn't, but it feels like I've been working on this sweater For.Ev.Er.
At least the sleeves felt that way.

But the Gansey for My Hero is finished! I wove in all the loose ends yesterday and took pictures of it this morning, out in the back yard, in my pjs, robe and walking shoes.

Olive helped.
This is just like the gansey I knit for the Young Man. Except bigger. Remix yarn, color 3991.
My hope is to make time to triple check my numbers and write up the instructions for this sweater in the next week or two.

This sweater is worked in one piece (no seaming!) from the bottom up. It is knit in the round to the underarm where it is divided and front and back are then worked flat. Once the shoulders are united, the sleeves are picked up at the arm opening and worked in the round down to the cuff. Fairly simple and straightforward.  A classic drop shoulder gansey.
And although it was created for the males in this house, I think this is really a unisex design. I might want to knit one for myself, extra big, in a nice wool. And maybe put pockets in the sides.....

such a Good Dog.... isn't she getting big?
Next up....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

And some sewing, too

Dear Mom,
Lots and lots and lots of knitting here, but I did finish a sewing project.
This is the Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated.  I was able to start and finish this in a day. It took me about 9 months to work up the courage to actually start it, though. Lately most of my sewing attempts have left me vowing to Lift the Presser Foot and Back Away from the Machine. Thankfully, this pattern, the instructions and the final result have restored my faith in my sewing skills. My Home Ec teachers, Mrs. Roos and Mrs. Goodwin, would be proud.
I have fabric for another tunic. And plans for others after that....I can't stop thinking about repurposing an old lace tablecloth as the fabric for one of these- wouldn't that be a pretty summer tunic?

More ideas than time.