Sunday, January 31, 2010

'Nittin' Notes: 2

I'm getting into the Valentine's Day frame of mind.How 'bout you?
My Mum has established a tradition of lively Parcheesi with my kids and their cousin Sovann. That's why I chose the board as a backdrop for a progress check on Sovann's Winter Warmers. I really need to get going on these, before it isn't winter any more... It's time to start the heel flap.*********************************
The other project, you may recall is Ian's Dapper Chap Vest. I don't have enough of one color to make it in one solid color, so I needed to stripe or something. This is the photo I posted the last time. It was taken at night with just my bedroom lighting, no flash.This is a better look at the colors, taken in the southwest-facing dining room in today's afternoon sun. I love the way they look together.I made b&w photocopies of the vest, and used Ultra Point Sharpies to color in some possible designs. And yes, I was inspired by Charlie Brown to incorporate zig-zags. But there was also straight stripes and argyle to choose from. Then I polled the 4 males in the household: they each picked a different one! But it's Ian's vest and he chose the design seen on the bottom right.
I had to change the hem a little, because I couldn't make it work. I tried it over and over and over and I guess I just don't have the experience to understand and visualize what I was supposed to do, so I finally just threw in the towel and made a hem I could live with. It added length, which is fine, since the Dapper Chap himself is about 6'3" and probably not done yet!Working with the 2 colors together is a bit cumbersome. (BTW, I have no idea what I've done to make this text underlined. It happened to me once before, and I don't how to reverse it. I know, my ignorance is showing again.) As I was saying, you have to keep track of the yarns and not tangle them. I didn't try this part riding in the car in the dark. And since there will be 2 more times that I'll change colors for 16 rows, I'm dreading it a little. The carried yarn has to carry over long stretches and it's a constant challenge not to allow it to pull too tight when you pick it up again. I didn't make the colors overlap at the diagonal interface on purpose. It was a serendipitous effect that I didn't "fix" because I like it. And then the other issue (Oh look, the underlining has stopped! How brilliant of me!) is that the carried yarns are subject to getting caught on things. I thought I had a solution: twist the carried yarn with the working yarn every so often. I found that made the carried yarn show through. It might be an interesting effect if done deliberately, perhaps in a "planned random" pattern to give it a tweedy look, or a very regular way to look like a dobby pattern, but that isn't really what I want, and is more thinking than I want to do and I've already made this pattern a little complicated.
So that's all on knitting for now, I'm close to adding the blue, and I can't wait to see how it looks, so hopefully by next time, I will have the sock finished (hope so, as I'll probably see Sovann next w/e), and the blue incorporated.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hide and Seek

Do you ever "hide" things from yourself? I do it all the time. Not intentionally. And I don't enjoy the seeking. Yesterday, I hid at least 2 things from myself. I didn't lose them. To me, that implies that they are irretrievable, like dropping your berth key into the Caribbean when on a cruise, or washing a receipt in your jeans pocket, or say, whatever happens to pens and pencils around here. No, I know that I merely misplace items. You see, I'm always tucking things somewhere for safe-keeping. I could give you a list of things that are very safe, some of them have been for years. This is enabled and exacerbated by being a pack-rat and clutter-bunny. I am agonizingly aware that if everything had a place and was in it, then one thing out of place (mis-placed) would be glaringly obvious. Sigh. So, yesterday, I hurry-scurried to get my camera out of its case to get a picture of the cardinal at the feeder, and I haven't seen the case since. I was at work and my desk is relatively neat and un-cluttered, and there is only a limited area that I move about in, so go figure. I bet I spent 10 minutes, retracing my steps and searching, searching, to no avail. But I'm sure it'll turn up.............won't it?
The more exasperating (I know, not a word, really) happened last night as I wanted to get started on my craft embroidery project and photo my progress and make a glorious and impressive post. I can't find the kit! Now mind you, I photographed the kit Tuesday night, so I have had it at hand recently. Last night, I looked everywhere. Well, obviously not everywhere. Just everywhere except the "mis"place. I'm feeling quite incompetent and frustrated. It is early Saturday morning as I write this, and I am hoping that the new daylight will bring a fresh perspective, and I'll find my kit. (Yes I know this post will say Friday. That's because I uploaded the pictures last night, but was too peeved and exhausted to write, so I saved as a draft.)
In the meantime, I'll show you what I have photographed already, though it's not much, certainly no doing.
So here is the cardinal whose picture I captured. Look, bare ground! We lost most of our snow cover to rain early in the week. You can still see a bit of a snow bank where the plow cleared the parking lot. Here is the gorgeous kit from Posie (Alicia Paulson). My heroine. I couldn't get started until I'd been to Michael's where I got some polyester batting. (Sorry, Alicia. She calls for wool or cotton, being no doubt a natural fiber purist. I'm not so much, but aspire to it, I suppose....) Oh, and also, an iron-on transfer pencil, which I've never used before, and was rather looking forward to. (If I could only find the darn kit!)
And so, in the absence of a beautiful crafting/stitching post, I will use birds, birdfeeder, and filling feeder as filler. These pictures were taken January 8, and saved for such a time as this.
Not a great pic of a cardinal, because of the tree behind it and the gathering darkness of a winter afternoon. Now you know why I was trying to get a better pic yesterday.
I've been calling these little birds sparrows, but a visitor to the office yesterday told me they are finches.
Here is where I keep the birdseed, just inside the front door at the office. That's my green pea coat. (Not a London Fog). I crack myself up.

Et voila!Happy finches!

Me? Not so much. Really want to find my camera case and embroidery kit.
Next: 'Nittin' notes update.......

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I "Heart" Crochet

Do you remember my last post about trying to come up with a crochet project? I still want to make the heart garland...that was little crocheted hearts attached to a garland or twine or something with little clothespins, which I have. Still love that idea, still might do it. Yesterday, I was perusing the DMC website, you know, the cotton embroidery floss people. As it turns out, they make crochet threads too. Makes sense, but can't say I knew that. Well, they have the cutest heart garland here, with a free instruction sheet. I sure hope that link works; I wanted to lift the picture, but I don't really know how, since the link is a PDF, not a jpg. I could only get this teensy one from the webpage.They show the garland used as shelf edging, and I'm dying to make some.
But here's what I'm working on now. It's called Heart Runner, a filet crochet pattern in the book I showed you last time.I'm using South Maid size 10 crochet cotton and a size 8 steel crochet hook. It calls for a size 9, but I couldn't find mine. It's no doubt stashed with an abandoned project somewhere, or destined to be lost forever down in the couch cushions. My gauge came out too big with the bigger hook, but who cares, it's a runner! I guess my runner will just run big. Here are the first 4 rows of the first half. You work from the middle out and then return to the middle and do it again. This is really quite easy to do, if you can count. As it turns out, I can't count.
Along a different vein, let's talk cooking/baking......... Have I yet whined that I don't much like to cook/bake? I am mainly drawn to crafting/home dec blogs, and I find that most of them feature recipe posts now and then. Sometimes, I skip the post altogether, because, well, it just doesn't much interest me.
But something has happened. I watched "Julie and Julia" last Thurs with my Mum. I got it PPV and then discovered I could watch it as much as I wanted for 48 hours! So we watched and watched, and laughed and delighted. And now, besides wanting to go to Paris (but that's not new), I want to read the book "Julie and Julia", and get "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and try harder to enjoy cooking. The pictures below? No, I didn't make the cake. Mum did, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This is just me getting started, by at least putting food pictures on my blog.
And besides I love this plate, and my red kitchen counter.............................
And don't strawberries give January a little color?
By the way, it snowed again today. It's a fullish moon and so bright reminds me of that line in "A Christmas Carol": "And the moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below."
Stitching next, as in embroidery, and I'll really try to post tomorrow.............

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Progress, I think

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee! Chick-a-dee! Chick-a-dee-dee-dee! Have you ever seen these little stuffed birds? You squeeze them and they play a recording of the actual call. I love them. My dogs do too. Tucker especially. You can really tell he is a bird dog(Cocker Spaniel); he gets sooooo excited at the sound of the bird call. He has even learned how to bite down on it to make it call. Sometimes if he gets excited about something else, he even runs to get the bird as if making it call expresses his excitement. I read that a good bird dog has a "soft mouth" and can retrieve a hit bird for the hunter without damaging it. I swear it's true. Tucker runs around with this in his mouth, and really keeps it in near-pristine condition. (Okay a little slobber on the "feathers" but nothing like some of his other toys.)
Well this little bird told me you were all dying to know how my knitting projects were coming along, so here is Sovann's first sock, as it looked in the morning sunlight on Saturday. And here it is finished and the second one started this evening
And this next picture credits Elizabeth Zimmerman for how the second sock will look better than the first. I should have checked with her before I struggled with the first heel. Well, the second will go better. I also figured out that my cable cast-on was not a cable cast-on. In fact, I don't know what it was. I watched a video tutorial and learned it, thinking it was a cable cast-on, but it wasn't what EZ called a cable cast-on. What I did (whatever it was), seemed too loose and floppy, but when I tried a correct cable cast-on, I found it was too tight, even though I tried it 3x, trying very hard to leave it loose. So I started the second sock with the cable-imposter cast-on, this time purposely snugging it up a bit, and it came out just fine. I just wish I knew what to call it. I guess Knitting Without Tears can only be achieved if one consults EZ before beginning!
Now this little bird, being used to having all the attention, insisted that we check in on the Dapper Chap Vest (aka Kim Wagner's "His Quilted Vest"). Well this is how it looked at Saturday morning's photo shoot. It is knitted from the bottom up, and I was using acrylic for my poor wool-allergic Ian.Well, no longer. I'm switching yarns. I've ripped it out and knitted up a gauge swatch with the Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% Cotton/50% Acrylic). With a little math, I'll be able to make the switch, since this knits up a little smaller than the brand Kim uses in her pattern. I looooove the feel of this yarn. Very soft and smooth. And the subtle elasticity is easy on the hands.
And yes, these skeins were in my stash, so I'm not violating my vow to knit/crochet stash only. I don't have enough of the stone (that beige/gray color on the left) to knit the whole thing in one color (I don't think), so I'm going to knit stripes into it on the lower half, and hope that that leaves enough of the stone. It it doesn't make it, I'll have to come up with a plan B, which will probably involve buying another skein of the stone in the closest-matching dye lot. Or more stripes?I just had a funny thought. Wouldn't it be something to knit a zig-zag stripe all the way around, a la Charlie Brown.. If you knew my Ian, you'd know that he'd wear it, and proudly too, and before long, his friends would want one too!
Tomorrow, the crochet update.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Now it gets ugly............

I pulled out my embroidering and cross-stitching things. I never did a lot of it, but I'd like to take on a project. If you've been over to see Mary Corbet's work, you'll see why my appetite has been whetted for a real worthwhile project. Here's something I made years ago. It's called Enchanted Alphabet. I think it was a pattern line called Lavender and Lace, but I'm not exactly sure. I really ought to mat and frame it.........
I thought I had an unworked pattern from the same designer somewhere, but I haven't run across it yet in the archaeology project that is my crafting stuff. You can tell by the wrinkles in the cloth what a jumble I've let things be in.
I had to buy so many colors of DMC floss to work the Enchanted Alphabet, but I didn't use any of them up, so there they sit, wound on the cards and stored in the box for years and years.
So, you see that I have some supplies that could get me started on a project.
Now you see the ugly truth about my disorganization of my supplies. No wonder I don't have an ordered thought in my head about what kind of project to start on. I am publicly vowing to turn over a new leaf and treat my things with more respect, organize them and put together a plan for stitching up a project.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

OTH: Crochet Projects

Fresh snow is so pretty, n'est-ce pas? I took this picture on Wednesday morning before I got in the car to go to work.
I made this the other day, in a not-very-inspired attempt to have a crochet project. I think it's cute and all and will make a functional dishcloth. But it was done in no time and there I was again with nothing OTH....
So the next thing I tried were these facial pads....And they're cute and all, too, but not much fun to make, really. I must have weak crocheting muscles in my hands, because I always feel like I'm wrestling when I work with worsted weight cotton. I don't mind cotton thread at all, which is good because I think I need to make a finer fabric to use for facial pads. I tried one of these, and found it a bit too rough. I'm going to try washing them in a net bag and see if they soften up a little.
I thought about making some crocheted snowflakes, starching them and using them in my sunny dining room and dangling them in sunny windows to decorate for our post-Christmas pre-Valentine wintry January. But it's already Jan. 23 and all I've done is favorited a bunch of free patterns in Ravelry. And since I'm always slow to be prepared for the next holiday, I figure I should probably be thinking about Valentine's Day. Maybe I'll try a Sweet Heart Garland like Cassi Griffin's on Craft Stylish? And look at these, here. (Warning: time vortex!) That may be another fairly quick project, though and I really want something that challenges me and even kind of takes my breath away, when I look at it and watch it come along.
I once took this book out of my local library. Then again a year or so later. I haven't made anything yet, but I finally bought the book on ebay, and I think it's time to commit and dig in!
It's Better Homes and Gardens Romantic Crochet. Interestingly, when I googled it today I found that BH&G have (has?) another book called "Romantic Looks Crochet", with fashions in it. Ooooh, very intriguing. I'll be scoping ravelry and google to find pictures of the garments and maybe reviews by others who have the book. Maybe it needs to be in my library? I have a good impression of BH&G publications so far, so I tend to think it's worth checking out.
Peruse it with me:
This bedscape is a stitcher's dream. The bedspread is made from panels (linen, I think?), embroidered with Jacobean-crewel-inspired ornated floral motifs, then joined with hand-crocheted lace insertion and encircled with lace edging. The pillows are crazy-quilt inspired with patchwork, applique, cutwork and embroidery techniques.
Note the red transferware, couldn't resist including this photo. Or maybe it was the cake.
Those dishes deserve this gorgeous filet crochet runner.
Don't you want to be on this picnic? In a simple but pretty sundress; peasant-style bodice with a drapey, flowy, fullish skirt. Barefoot.(Ignore the snow outside....) That motif is a thistle! I love that motif - I think I have a little Scottish, several generations back, in my family, and the thistle is Scotland's national flower. Did you notice the teacup and saucer in the pic with the book? It's English bone china, Thistle by Colclough. Mumsie gave it to me. Isn't she sweet?
So. Any of these or the many other projects in the book would be suitably meaty for a long-term challenging accomplishment. I'm leaning toward the filet crochet runner. I loooooove the bedspread. It would give me an embroidery project and crochet to work on. However, I think as long as I have dogs, who sleep on beds, that is really not a good idea...... And since I need them to keep my feet warm :), I don't really entertain the notion of not allowing them up on beds.
And there are the crisp and fresh-looking crochet-lace-edged cotton hemstitched curtains. Oh, I guess I didn't post a picture. What do you think I should work on? Post a comment and we'll see if anyone's reading this :).
Here's why I take in my geranium urns for the winter...........

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

'Nittin' Notes

There 'tis. A project OTN. And stash-bustin' too."What am I lookin' at?", you may ask, ending your sentence with a preposition. And no, ending a sentence with the word preposition is not incorrect, as it is a noun, and serving, in my case, as the object of a prepositional phrase.
It's the beginning of a sock. Can you guess for whom they'll be? (Betcha thought I'd end that sentence prepositionally.) If you guessed that adorable little boy in the picture, you're right. That little boy isn't so little though. He's 11, soon to be 12, and tall and lanky for his age, and his feet are as big as mine (Ladies 8.5 shoe). His mother is from Cambodia, and while he looks a lot like her, he looks quite a lot like his father, who is also my brother. He is my nephew, Sovann, and I am his Auntie. Sovann is a charmer, snowboards after school, and loves to read Calvin and Hobbes. He has a precocious grasp of irony in humor, and likes to hang out with his cousins, my boys. It occurred to me that there is somewhat of a tradition of home-made socks in the family by way of my grandmother, who literally knit them by the garbage-bag full and handed them out liberally all winter long. She died before he was born, and now I'll take up the task of making sure he gets a pair of hand-knit socks, by golly.I took this picture of the start of the 1st sock yesterday, and by last night I turned the heel. I've raced down the foot during both legs(pun not intended, but welcomed) of my commute today and may get to closing the toe tonight. The yarn is Red Heart I think, all acrylic. The green is called Dark Sage, and the red is Cherry Red. The dpns are Takumi bamboo by Clover, size 3 US.
And here is another project I'll be getting underway, if when I do up a gauge swatch, it appears that I'll have enough to finish the project. I'm not real good at these estimates, but at least if I need more yarn, I'm pretty sure that this yarn isn't discontinued, yet. I'll check before I get underway.
My boy Ian, dapper chap that he is, likes to wear sweaters and vests under his school blazer. His school has classes in 2 different buildings, and he scoots back and forth during the day through the snow and wind on a hillside off Portland's Back Cove looking out to the Atlantic Ocean. (Just a little geographic and climatic orientation to those newcomers who may assume I am alluding to the balmy but damp climate in Oregon; I am in fact referring to the cold and snowy city in Maine.)
And so I got this great pattern from KnitWitKim on Ravelry. She's in Indiana, where the winter wind is as cruel as I've felt anywhere. She calls this "His Quilted Vest" and she has done it up in Blue Sky Dyed Cotton. I originally planned to use cotton, but will first try acrylic for the warmth. Ian gets actual hives wearing wool. Poor kid. What a world of woolly warmness he will weather the winter without.*

* You caught me on the preposition thing. I had to. (There it is again.) I abandoned that principle for the allure of alliteration.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Sources of Inspiration..........

What shall I write about today? I've been continuing to ponder my knitting, crocheting and embroidering projects. (And trying to ignore sewing -- too many obstacles at the moment...I'll bore you with that another day.)
I am gradually getting some ideas, and will trickle those out in the next few days. I wish I could figure out how to blog ahead of time. I tried it once and had a post or two stacked up to share as I went into a busy week. Then I found that as I posted them, they displayed with the date on which I had created and saved them and not the date on which I hit "Publish Post". So it looked like I posted 3 times in one day, and not once daily for 3 days. Does it matter, I suppose not, I just want it the way I want it. Don't you? I thought about writing the post in Word and then cut-and-paste on the day I want to post, except that the time-consuming part of posting is uploading the pics (a real drawback in Blogger if you ask me), and besides I edit my writing to accomodate where I am able to place the pictures. (I am such an amateur at this, it's amazing I stay with it. There's something to be said for being stubborn.)
In the meantime, I want to share some New Things I have, and am drawing inspiration from.

Do you remember my early Christmas present? Well, what better way to heat the water than with the brand-new electric teakettle Jeff got me for Christmas? I LoVe It!

The other night after I chilled my feet practically to frost-bitten at a hockey game, (I know, don't say it...), I came home and heated a full pot, filled the hot-water bottle and made a cup of hot chocolate, put on a flannel nightie and a bed jacket, and snuggled in bed with TCM on the tube. Let me tell you, that kettle heated my water soooo fast. And by the way, if you have never put a HWB in the foot of your bed, you really should try it. It was still warm in the morning! I love discovering old-fashioned utilitarian items, that can't be outdone by anything new. (Like the humble wooden clothes-pin, or a wooden kitchen spoon, or handknit wool socks.) Along with a tea-pot cozy (or cosy, for our friends in the UK), I want to hand-knit a HWB cozy. I collect vintage patterns for both items, but haven't made any yet....why is that?

The next two items I bought with "birthday money" sent me by loved ones. If you've read my ravings about Victorian Trading Company, then you won't be surprised that I shopped there. I love flannel nighties, and think they get a bad rap for being un-sexy. I think that while they may not be alluring, they can be feminine and dainty, and really very pretty. For a long time, VTC has carried a white ruffly nightgown called the Anastasia, which while very pretty, just wasn't quite what I was looking for in a nightie. Then they added a charmer made of pink rosebud flannel, and I remember thinking that they'd have gotten me if it were blue. When I was a wee little thing, my mother made a pink rag doll with yellow wool hair and blue button eyes, to look like me, and the only garment I really remember her having was a little dress (nightgown?) made from the classic blue rosebud calico, with a light blue binding at the neck, sleeves and hem.

Well, now VTC seems to have expanded their clothing line and perhaps with their own label, which I think sums it up: The Hopeless Romantic. What else are we if not that?

And so now, they bring us the Bonny Blue nightgown. (How do you like that? "Bonny Blue", right out of GWTW!) I bought it and I love it. The flannel is really thick and soft. The print is beautiful. The buttons down the front are little round pearls, and there are pintucks around the neckline. The sleeves are called poet sleeves, so you have to be careful not to drag them in the jam when getting your tea and crumpets in the morning, but so far I have managed them. Now that I know how lamb-y soft the flannel, I just might be going back for the Rosebud............

The second gift I got myself with the B'day $, as if the Bonny Blue weren't enough, was this book of vintage knitting and crochet patterns: A Stitch in Time, by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford.If I've given you the impression that I'm all about Victorian fashions and sensibilities, then I've given you too narrow a view. I love the fashions of the thirties and forties. I am a sucker for a bias-cut silk gown in 1930's movies. Classy Claudette Colbert and Slinky Jean Harlowe and Sweet, Spunky Myrna Loy were definitely stylin'. Did I forget Ginger Rogers? Talk about glamour...........Maybe I should devote a post to this book, someday. If you get a chance to leaf through it, you'll drool. You can't even get it on Amazon. I had to order it from the publisher, from the Knit-on-the-Net website. If you are a Ravelry member, you can do a search and see lots of pictures from the book and the versions various knitters have made. Get your tea and curl up with your laptop; it's a real treat to see them!