Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting and Watching....

and Wishing....

 and Wanting....

 and Sipping....

 and Savoring....
and Reading....

and Dreaming....

and Designing....

What about YoU?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Latest Projects, Part Two (and a teeny tiny announcement)

This is just a little beginning.  Poor Marie Rose has a Peek-a-Boo Sacque and Bootees, but no Bonnet to match!  And being a discriminating newborn, she no doubt wants her headwear to match her outfit.  I still haven't met her, but I hope to soon.  After all, it will be difficult to be Favorite Auntie if we don't get some bonding time in.
I am adapting another bonnet pattern to have the same stitch pattern as the Sacque and Bootees, and while this is relatively simple, it has its little challenges as well.
The real news is:

The Chiloquin Mani-Mitts are done!  I finished the right mani-mitt and decided that I had not only done it a little differently than the left one, but I had done it better.  So I had to take apart the left one, unravel almost half of it, and do it over!  I think it fits better now.  I was about to wrap them and send them on their way to Chiloquin, but guess what?  A.C. from Chiloquin is on her way here.  So much the better!  I look forward to a hug and a visit. 
 How cute is that little pincushion in the upper right hand corner?  It is vintage, and a homemade  craft.  Inside is a tin can of some sort, like tuna fish, maybe.  The lace edging is soft, like cotton, not stiff and scratchy, like the yucky nylon stuff you find now.  The bottom is covered with a round piece whip-stitched on by hand with neat, little stitches.
Well, now my teeny, tiny little announcement.  I am going to post the patterns I adapt on their own page. (See the tab above.)  In case anyone wants to give something they see here a try.  They will, of course be free, since I am entirely amateur, have no test-knitters or test-crocheters, and have no experience writing a pattern.  That being said, I will do my best, and welcome questions and critiques, deal?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Latest Projects, Part One

I have already missed 3 birthdays in early March.  Fortunately, everyone who knows and (presumably) loves me expects that.  I think I am going to sit down and make a simple little pair of handwarmers (wristwarmers/fingerless mitts/fingerless gloves?).
Aside:   Does anyone volunteer a neologism to make talking about this category of handwear easier?  We should have a contest....I'm entering "Mani-Mitts".  I just have to sell the idea on Ravelry to make pattern searches easier.)
So, one evening with a couple of hours of classic movie-watching ahead of me, I assess patterns on Ravelry, pick one that has the look I want, the weight of yarn I want to use, and beginning swatching the stitch pattern.  Before I know it, the movie is over, I have ripped out a few swatches, perhaps chosen another pattern, perhaps changed my yarn, googled some technical question on crochet, watched a YouTube video on "how to.....", sketched out some kind of stitch diagram, convinced myself that the pattern-writer's math is right/wrong.  Like Thomas Edison, I now know 200 materials that will not function as a light bulb filament, and I am sitting (figuratively) in the dark.  For the next few days I obsess, refine what I want, and make and rip out what is slowly becoming a prototype of an item which no longer resembles any of the patterns I consulted (except vaguely), and I have done enough groundwork to re-invent the wheel.  Side-tracked much?
This is what I ended up with.  One (so far) Chiloquin Mani-Mitt.  The giftee will know why I'm calling them Chiloquin. (Because that's where she's from and I like the name.)
As it stands now, I am about halfway done making the right mitt. That should only take me about 2 more hours, since I can just do it; all the thinking through is (mostly) done.  Whew!
But in all fairness, I want to acknowledge that my inspiration that got me started was Wendy Cozby's Pattern, which I found on Ravelry called Crochet Hand/Wrist Warmer.
The yarn is a little more green.  It is Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Seaspray.

And now, there are two more birthdays to catch up with.  And the April birthdays to get started with.
(That yarn is also Lion Brand Wool-Ease.)

On another note, this is the view out my kitchen window.  Reminders of warmer weather.  Swings in the back, lacrosse net for shooting practice (on the right), fire pit in the foreground.
The picket fence on the left encloses the neighbor's back yard around the corner from our house.  The Y-shaped craggy tree at the end of the fence is an apple tree, one of the few left from when the neighbor's house was the only one around, and my yard was part of a saltwater farm apple orchard. (See pics of the farmhouse and barn and backyard in pics 11-13 of this post.)
This view shows a closer look of the apple tree and behind it, those golden shrub-sticks looking all barren will be forsythia!  I am reminded of this because I saw some forsythia blooming in the house of another blogger (in a warmer climate, obviously).  A few days ago, I saw and heard the most brilliant cardinal perched in the branches of the forsythia.  He's been singing his heart out the last few days, no doubt trying to find a lady love.  If Spring eeever gets here, I will get a good pic of that forsythia stand and share it here, (about the time the rest of you have moved on to the bloom of your roses, hydrangea, peonies, etc.).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Like I needed more fabric in my stash....

I stopped at Marden's  on my way home from church yesterday afternoon. 
It is a chain of stores here in Maine, which stocks surplus and salvage goods:  clothing, some furniture, dry (boxed, bottled and canned) foods, home décor, small appliances, you name it, you never know what will be in stock this week.  And the prices are deeply discounted. It's kind of like a treasure hunt, and you can spend more time than you intend to...  I went in to rummage through discontinued yarn.  They always have a lot of yarn, but I tend to forget to check there.  Yesterday, it occurred that since I am lamenting that Bernat is no longer offering their light-fingering-weight baby yarn, that maybe Marden's would have some.  Nope.  They had less yarn than I have seen there before, and can you believe it?  I didn't buy a single skein of what they did have.  Nothing appealed to me.  There were lots of novelty yarns, the type whose mere existence irritates me.  I don't believe it deserves to be offered up as "yarn".  It should be called "wacky craft goods" or something.  How many uses can you dream up for something with dyed rabbit fur puff-balls worked in at periodic intervals?  Unless you have the "fashion" inclinations of say, Lady Gaga or Helena Bonham-Carter.  I hope I'm not offending you, but I think you've probably surmised that my fashion sense is solidly conservative and old-fashioned.  Avant-garde for me is to wear something that is both boldly-patterned and brightly-colored.  Wearing white slacks or shoes before Memorial Day and after Labor Day makes me feel devil-may-care. 
I consoled myself in the fabric department.  They were selling remnants @ 50% off.  Most were in the 1-2 yard range.  Hmmm....just right for making baby clothes.  I am also quite conservative when it comes to baby clothes.  I agree with Michie' (see her gorgeous blog), who opined in one of her posts that she didn't like the clothing to overwhelm the baby.  I don't care for prints to be loud or large or busy.  I love color, but I like it to be soft, and often, pastel.

 I like the trend of using more "muddy" or muted colors.  (Have you seen how Alicia dresses Mimi?  Brava!)  I love simplicity of form, but with judicious touches of detail, like embroidery, tiny bits of piping, and definitely tucks and smocking.  Oh, and fabric-covered buttons on a simple sweater, yummmmm....
For the special-occasion, heirloom type things, you can't beat Michie' or Jeannie Baumeister.

You can see that I found some fabrics I can embrace...they are mostly plain-weave cottons, like for quilting, but I was pretty picky to stick with things that were smooth and soft.  The peachy-pink solid is a fine-wale corduroy.  The one to its right is the palest gingham I've ever seen, you almost can't tell it's gingham---it seems to be like...ramie (remember that stuff?)  and it's very sheer, so will likely do best with a batiste lining (as it isn't as silky as you'd like next to a little'un's skin).    Some of them feel a little like lawn (the posy pinky one on the left above), and one (blue flowers on white in the first picture) has a twill weave and is brushed like flannel.  The little packages of buttons were 2 for a dollar.
Now I need some patterns!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Finally Finished!

Oh, I can't believe how long it took me to get these things finished!  I'm afraid Marie Rose will have outgrown them, and then they'll only be useful to her as doll clothes.
 The little sweater, or sacque, as it is called, is called the Peek-a-Boo Sacque.  I found the pattern on Ravelry, which linked me to a website generously offering vintage baby garment knitting and crochet patterns.  (Win!)  Many of the patterns are available in matching sets of garments, but this one was a stand-alone.
 I had to devise a coordinating pattern for the booties.  I adapted and modified another vintage bootie pattern.

 I'm mostly happy with the result.  I'm working on a matching bonnet now, but dared not wait to get these out the door.  Details on my Ravelry page.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Odds 'n Ends

I recently had a new little garment to wash out and block, and while I was at it, I blocked the scarf below, which I knitted months ago, and tucked away, without weaving in the ends or adding the buttons.
 I still need to weave in the ends and add buttons.
In that same post, I talked about trying to learn to knit in the Continental style, although I have always knit in the English style.  In my recent projects for Marie Rose, I knit up a swatch to check my gauge, English style, and then for comparison, Continental style.  After blocking:
 This is the English style.
 And here's the Continental.  You can see that it is definitely looser, and a whole lot less regular.  I concluded that I'll stick with English style and only carry yarn in my left hand to make Fair Isle knitting easier.
 Here they are together.  Same number of stitches and rows.  Vastly different results.  I used sz 2US ndls, and the yarn, as far as I can tell is no longer available.  It is Bernat Baby, which is a fingering weight.  A few years ago, I bought this yarn in white, ivory, pink, blue, yellow, lavender and green.  I have 1-2 skeins of each, and I don't think I'll be able to get more.  Bernat has many baby yarns, but not fingering weight.  I like the fingering weight, because it gives me such fine, delicate results.  The recommended needle on the label is a sz 3, but I like a little tighter fabric,  think it gives firmer, finer feel to garments.
Here is a swatch of Caron Simply Soft.  I love the color and took this picture as I think it would make a darling little girl's cardigan sweater to go with dresses made from the above two fabrics, n'est-ce pas?