July 2010 Archives

Blink And a Week Goes By

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At least that's the way things seem for me right now.  I'm sitting on the high end of Friday scratching my head and thinking Wasn't it just Sunday? It hasn't really been almost two weeks since my last blog post, has it?

Uh, yeah, it has.

So what have I been up to?  My life at work seems to have a lot to do with making lists and crossing things off, so I'll share the list...

  • I put a warp on my rigid heddle loom.  I'm doing a log cabin motif (not really anything like what you think of when you think of log cabin associated with the quilt block) using a solid olive cotton yarn and a contrasting variegated yarn with a white background stock.  It's going to become hand towels for my powder room.
  • I bought an inexpensive punch embroidery kit from JoAnn's to make a little something for Ms. Z.  I'd tried this a long time ago, forgotten how fun and easy it is!
  • I've knit a bit on my Noro lace weight scarf.  Still like it.  Onward!
  • I'm warping the ginormous dobby loom in my weaving class with this incredible variegated purple warp that is destined to become not one, but two, two whole throws.  Pretty excited about this one.  It's going to be very similar to the gamp blanket I made for Z, but all one yarn/color and at 14 ends per inch instead of 12
  • I've been making Grapefruit Gimlets and working on figuring out what's going to hit my martini glasses next.  Am actually contemplating a classic cosmo.  

Probably the best thing I have done all week was a trip to JoAnn's that I took with my little girl.  We're gearing up for a third birthday in a few weeks, and it's hard for me to ignore the fact that my baby is now most definitely out of the baby stage.  In order to give John a little break, I decided to take her with me to pick out the cotton yarn for the rigid heddle project.  I figured this was likely to make me crazy (she refuses to stay in the cart any more and likes to run everywhere), but if I want to encourage her crafty side to show up sometime, I needed to start sharing with her a little more.  

So after walking in the store and finding an inexpensive US flag that she could wave as we wandered (always good to find a diversion) we had a nice trip.  She helped me pick out my yarn (I'm getting good at making color selections fast now), grabbed up some sock yarn that she thought was neat, helped me select the hoop for the punch embroidery project (bright! pink! plastic!) that will likely also become it's frame and then took a long time inspecting all the spools of thread -- even picking one up off the floor (that she hadn't dropped) and making sure it got back into the display (she has these strange moments of needing order).  I enjoyed watching her with the thread display.  She was so clearly fascinated with the rainbow of colors.  She touched without pulling anything out.  We may have to come back and explore that area again.

She followed that up with a sweet little moment last night.  

Where are you going, Mama?

I'm going weaving.

Like my blanket?

Yes.

I want to go with you!

Almost broke my heart to leave her there, but three year olds and a heddle threading project don't mix.  But maybe when I start weaving... 

From Our House to Yours..

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Happy 4th of July

A Little Punchy

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While I don't normally go for pre-packaged needlework kits from craft stores (I'm skeptical about thread quality in these things, and if you're going to invest hours upon hours on an embroidery project, higher quality materials are more than worthwhile), a recent trip with Ms. Z turned up this sweet little punch embroidery kit.  The promise of "fast" and "easy" and "all included but the needle" along with the enthusiastic encouragement that only an almost three year old can provide resulted in the little box and a needle dropping into my cart.  

As I opened it up, I was reminded of some needlework kits from the 80's that my mother got that I remembered were called "Russian Punch" (I suspect they were really "Rush n' Punch" -- but, hey, cold war was on and Russian seems a much more interesting origin).  I'd love to know if the needles were the same.  All I can remember is that, at the time, I had a devil of a time with that needle.  

But this little kit lived up to its promises.  It was in fact both easy and fast and I enjoyed watching the texture come to life.  In addition to that, it came with more than sufficient floss -- something that is often not the case with these kits. The back is rather hideous looking,and I will never win any awards for my embroidery skills in general (the words should be stem stitch, but midway through the "w" I decided that it looked abysmal and switched over to back stitching) but I'm fine with the final result.  Even better, it went over well with Ms Z -- who took it to show her father and only gave it back when I traded her the box and promised that it would be on her wall after I found a frame.

Given that it was simple, and I have no idea of the half-life of a child who likes her mom's needlework is, I managed to procure the frame mere hours after finishing it, as well as another kit with a different butterfly.  And no doubt there will be some more Googling tonight for other punch needle kits or patterns that feature Z's favorite flutterbys.

Nicole in Stasis

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I realized that while I've mentioned being done withe the knitting for Nicole, I never actually produced any proof.  Here she is, pinned to my blocking board, in a picture I took in early June.  Pretty, isn't she?  They yarn looks lovely blocked out and the color is a perfect summer neutral.

Poor Nicole, why has she been in stasis for so long?  I'm trying to decide what I wan to do wit the closure issue.  Apparently, I am just slightly bigger than I estimated (particularly in the bust area -- apparently motherhood has left me with a bit more up top than I remember)...and Nicole is a bit tighter than I really like (not at all the fault of the pattern -- just the fault of my measuring assumptions).  So I'm trying to decide if I could get away with a ribbon lace up instead of buttons.  I'm a bit worried that that is going to add a little too much "tavern wench" to the look.  So Nicole is waiting while I do some thinking... and work on losing a little weight.      Losing 5 lbs would probably do wonders for Nicole -- and me!

High Line

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Julie and I did something that we haven't done in what seems like forever: we searched out a yarn store and met for some shopping and chatting.  At one point in time, it seemed like our mission was to visit every possible store in the Chicago metro area.  There was always something new to see. After a while, though, that changed.  There's really only so much yarn being made, and it becomes harder and harder for any individual store to raise the novelty factor. I think it's been several years since we actively trolled a yarn store together, but last weekend we wanted to get together, and the best option looked like a yarn store. Julie found Knitch in Downer's Grove -- notable for the presence of an espresso machine.  It turned out to be a lovely store.  And while we didn't get coffee (which, if you know us, is the most surprising part of the day), I did bring home a new project and the new Rowan (which is fabulous!).

The project is this:

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The High Line cardigan from Takhi's newly published Urban Organics book (there are actually several nice pieces in this book, making the purchase price a little more reasonable).  And the yarn is this:

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Takhi's Good Earth Cotton, a cotton tape yarn with a lovely hand, in a peachy neutral called "adobe".  The sweater is worked on US 10.5 needles in a K1, P1 rib, making for simple knitting.  I swatched by knitting up the front left portion of the sweater and my gauge appears pretty much on target.  To be honest, I always have a hard time really estimating gauge on a ribbed fabric, and while it looks about right, what really convinced me was that the texture and density of the fabric seemed "right" for the yarn.

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The feel of the fabric is soft and sproingy and I was pleasantly surprised to find that knitting this yarn is very easy.  The tape format gives it a little more elasticity than you normally expect from cotton and I like the ribbony texture that is visible in the fabric.  The left front knit up in no time at all (in fact, I've already cast on for the right front).  The one bit that makes me particularly happy is this:

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A tubular cast on.  While it's more effort than a long tail, the look it creates for a K1 P1 fabric is so polished looking that it makes it seem negligible.  It's probably my favorite cast on in terms of the beautiful finished look it creates.  

I've chosen to make the medium size sweater -- its only a 36" bust, but for this sweater, 40" would be way to much easy on me, and since it only buttons at the neck, instead of all the way down, it should be good.  I'm hoping that I can get it knit in time to enjoy it as an end of summer piece -- I think it would be just perfect for when it's a bit too cool for a sleeveless top, but I'm not quite ready to pull out the fall garments yet.

Could it be(ad)?

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Really, it was only a matter of time, don't you think, before I posted something on beads.  I actually think it's kind of amazing that I'm made it through almost 8 years of blogging without having actually executed a beaded knitting project.  Not that I haven't thought about it, mind you, but you have to find beads and beading needles and then get motivated to string 5 kajillion of the little buggers on some unsuspecting yarn.  And then, once they are there, you have to schlep them around.  

But then someone goes and posts something that reminds you of something else you did a long time ago (which reminds me that I still have no gallery page... sigh) that you liked and wanted to make for yourself someday.  But you never made a second version because you are terrible at knitting any project more than once. But that something takes the original project and mixes it up a little bit by changing the orientation and adding beads.

And suddenly the project is much more interesting.  The something of which I speak, in case you haven't clicked on the links, is the Eventide Scarf  as knitted by the Yarn Harlot.

I almost managed to avoid this project by trying to convince myself that I didn't have any appropriate yarn.  Then I remembered the Sundara fingering silky goodness that I had used to start a Brandywine shawl with.  I hand't gotten very far when I abandoned it (it's a perfectly lovely pattern, I just had doubts about my need for another triangular shawl when I hardly wear the ones I have), but I love the yarn and think it would look quite lovely in that crossed stitch.  So the whole "don't have the yarn" problem was solved.

Then it became a "I don't have any beads" issue.  That was solved by finding www.whimbeads.com -- a veritable cornucopia of beads of all flavors.  Unable to decide and worried if I selected only one color it would be not so good when it arrived, I splurged and selected several tubes to test against my shawl sample.  Bead problem solved as well.

But not I have one final problem to surmount: which beads?  I pretty much go back and forth between all of them... though the variegated tube may be leading the pack by a hair.

Any opinions? I  still have a little bit of knitting on my current sweater project to go, but I'd love to hear other people's thoughts!


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