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Friday, November 30, 2012

November's FO

What a Month for Projects

Knitting that taught me a new method; knitting which turned to crochet; crochet that turned to cash; pillows everywhere...

First Knitting in Decades Teaches New Style

 When I was a wee thing, ok I was never wee but I was young, my mom taught me to knit. The method, I now know, that she knew and passed along, is called "Throwing" and it means you release the right needle to put the yarn over the stitch. Over the years, this has resulted in almost everything I have started being quit in disgust as I watch the needle slide out of my hard-won row of stitches. Unable to figure out a solution to this problem, I taught myself to crochet !~! Neener neener neener, knitting needles.

Seeing a million pretty knitted items, thanks to the Interwebs, and learning about circular needles, I decide to give knitting another try. You see the start of it above. Nice wool, pretty color altho taking its pic on a contrasting color fabric woulda made a lot more sense, amateur blogger alert !~!

I taught myself Continental knitting wherein one controls the yarn with the left hand like in crocheting and dips the right needle to catch and finish the stitch. Oh my, what a huge difference in speed and amount of hand and finger movements necessary to complete a stitch. The rows, which are not discernible anyway when knitting in the round, literally Flew.By. I knitted around that circle of 66 stitches until the small skein was finished. By then my fingertips were sore and my brain was singing softly and contentedly so I tried it on. It's supposed to be a cowl. But it rolled up so slickly and smoothly, it looked like a yarn necklace !~! I frogged it and wonder what I'll do with the yarn.

Iris's Wrist Warmers Take Shape

I bought the yarn from a woman on my Knitting Paradise forum, seven small skeins in three colors. It's a very soft wool and so I decided to gift Iris (younger daughter who lives a block away) with some warm woolen wrist warmers for the upcoming winter which altho not freezing here can be wet and cold.
Wrist warmers for Iris Autumn 2012

Wool of the Andes in Wheat and Grass

So that project is unfinished for the month. Better step it up. But, you see, here's what happened...

New Yarn Finds its Way to Hand

Reading the Classifieds one evening on the aforementioned Knitting Paradise, I saw a picture of the most gorgeous yarn I had seen in months. And it was OnSale for only, ONLY, $20 for the two 50gm hanks. I had never seen or heard of KPPPM by Koigu and the colors just reached out and grabbed me by the crochet hook hand. So I ordered the two skeins. When they arrived I couldn't believe two things: how soft the yarn felt against my skin, and how small 50 gms really is... I delicately unwound the hanks and made two loose balls out of them and began with the other circular needle. I just knit each stitch, not trying anything fancy yet, and was doing increases on one end in order to achieve a V-shaped piece when finished. The knitting was slow, tedious and fretful.
During the process of achieving that paltry offering I had dropped stitches, frogged at least two dozen rows and re-knit them, knit once down the side for a dozen stitches and couldn't figure out what was happening. Not at all the joyous experience I knew could be had with yarn for which I paid an arm and three-quarters of a leg. The kicker: Ormond said to me one afternoon as I sat dejected, "Aren't quilting and crochet enough for you?"

Well, I thought about it and decided that perhaps they were. So I frogged it, rewrote the pattern in crochet instead of knit and off I went. By the end of the Next Day I had the completed Cowly Scarf in my hand and around my neck she went. Who loves her crochet hooks more than a puppy loves a bone ?~!

Meet my new best friend, Cowly Scarf. I have worn it for everything except shower and sleep since it came off the hook. OK, I blocked it but it was overnight and I was sleeping so it really doesn't count as away from me time. I have never had anything made of such fine wool and I am hoping there is a lot more of this in my future. Our weather took a decided turn for the worse and I am so glad to have this gem to keep the chill off my neck.

My First Cowly Scarf Sale

A dear friend purchased a Cowly from me during the worst of the rain on Wednesday. She closed her eyes in amazement when she held the delicate fibers up to her cheek reddened by the brisk wind between her car and our door. The colors are different but the feel is the same, the weight and drape too are just gorgeous. She loves it.
In progress...
Finished, blocked, awaiting pick up by Jen.

Pillow Factory in Operation

I began advertising my stuff on an Etsy site and so i cranked up Pillow production. There are a bunch of the cutest pillows in California hanging out on my sofa awaiting new homes.

Pillow Factory in full operation in what used to be a kitchen !~!
Caps in the  upper left corner are, in fact,
all mine including the aqua jester's hat with tassels.
Everybody should have one and wear it at regular intervals in public.

So ends November with two more Cowlies, one completed and one three-quarters of the way to complete, lots of quilt blocks, some hand quilting on my latest nine-patch with sashing, two more 50gm balls of Koigu in a delicate light green to play with.... Lucky me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cowly Scarf Comes to Life

One False Start

Circular needles and the Way I Learned to Knit

As a youngster of five, my mom taught me to knit in what I know now is called the "Throw" method and involves letting go of the right hand needle to draw the yarn over the stitch. This method is the only one I had ever known and so when I began to knit Cowly Scarf it is the stitch I used on new circular needles. It was hard; the pattern I developed proved very simple and easy to do so the problem was in my technique.

I saw a young woman knitting on a tv show and she never let go of her needles to move yarn around and she knitted so dang fast I nearly couldn't follow her hands. Determined to find this  interesting technique, I went web crawling.

Enter Continental Stitch. This method/style of knitting involves controlling the yarn with  my left hand, just like crocheting at which I was pretty good, and dipping the right needle to pick up and then transfer the stitch. Quick, neat, easy peasy, efficient, unknown to me at.all. So I begin to try it. Took me no time at all to realize why sport coaches would rather have a child who'd never held a tennis racket than one who has developed habits. Oh boy, did  Fingers not want to do anything other than what they had learned fifty years ago, never mind what Brain instructed them to do.

Dropping stitches and trying to retrieve them mostly unsuccessfully and becoming frustrated day after day, I worked at Cowly in the stumbling way I knew. At the end of a week I had the progress you see above. A Week !~! Ormond asked if crocheting and quilting weren't enough and maybe I could get thru life without learning to knit well. I pondered that for a bit, frogged Cowly and found a 3.75mm 5/F steel crochet hook and began again with the same pattern only with my trusty friend, Boye. In less than two full days I had a completed piece and she looked just as I had seen her in my dreams.


Her V-shape is unmistakable here 

Here I am working the edging that went all the way from one corner of the V edge to the other to help stop the rolling. The next photo shows her pinned and dampened to Block.
I am very happy with the way she turned out-just as I saw in my vision. I have written up the pattern-it's very simple. If interested, leave me a comment or send an email and I will get it to you. After blocking, she drapes just perfectly and feels so luxurious next to my almost always cold neck.

Mmmmmm. Soft fingering merino wool from a lady on Knitting Paradise forum. Sah-weet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pillows, An Easy Quick Method

An easier and quick way to make a nice pillow is to take a piece of fabric with a neat picture or great design and back it (put a backing piece of fabric) with something pretty too.

I have made one this evening for showing. I began with a piece of upholstery fabric with a wolf on it for my friend Phyllis. Not happy with any thing i had for backing I made a piece of fabric by sewing together little squares but you could just use a single piece.

Lay the two pieces of fabric with the right sides together...
Put right sides together and pin it around three edges.

Pin around and then stitch up three sides. Turn right side out and Stuff with old t-shirts or towels shredded, the guts of an old couch or bed pillow that still smells good, polyfill stuffing they sell at craft and fabric stores altho this is the most expensive option, use plastic bags like the ones from the grocery store.
Stuffing, edge already pinned together.
Then turn under the edges of the opening and pin it across.
Pins running along the edge we're going to stitch.
Then find a nice matching or contrasting thread and overstitch it all the way around so no one knows which side you stuffed it from.
Viola !~! Pillow ready for gifting.

Finished pillow.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Process... as per Cheyenne's Request

By special request:

My niece, Cheyenne, asked how I make pillows, expressing that they might make good Holiday gifts. I say, "They're Great Gifts anytime !~!"

So in the interest of spreading around what I know,
let's do a little pillow-building post here.

First, pick the fabrics you want to use in your project. Ideas can come from many places-nature scenes like sunsets provide beautiful combinations of colors that we can copy with our yarn picks; we can ask our recipients what they like or what will match the decor of their house or the room the pillow is designated for; close our eyes and pick some pretty ones; consult color theory or wheel. Try this fun toy. Fabric dyers have already done the homework and produce palettes that blow my doors off. I use all kinds of colors and patterns and solids in my stuff. I know no names of designers only what pleases my eyes and makes my heart go pitty-pat. You follow your heart.

After the fabric pull comes the basic design-I'm figuring that for an eighteen inch square pillow with nice borders I'll need a four-square patch for both front and back. So.. eight/eight and a half-inch squares with sashing and/or borders.

Traditionally the center square is red. I have used many different colors for my center squares over the last few months and have loved the look. My favorite throw, on my lap as I type, has several different center squares and the design interpretation depends on them.

Cutting station. Self-healing mats, rotary cutter, plastic rulers with markings.

Modified Drunkard's Walk to help maintain a straight seam.
Layers of painters' tape.
Blocks begin to take shape.

Growing blocks.
That's all for today. I will add the next post as I get further along in the process.

Cheyenne, Auntie Loves You.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ormond

How old are you again ?~!

I still don't believe you. Thank you for many years of birthdays with no obligation to find the gift or card that you will appreciate. The best year of all was when we were in some store and looking at cards and you picked up one, read it, handed it to me and said, "Here, if I ever bought you a card, this is what it would say." I read it and as I turned emotionally to thank you, you said, "Ok, put it back now, let's not waste trees." I think I loved you most at that  moment in time. So we've never exchanged gifts, the single morning greeting suffices.

I like that in a man.

Iris and Ormond head out on his motorcycle.

Piper wants to look like her hero-she succeeds, no ?~!

Note the baby doll tucked under his arm, we were on a walk with Ginger when the other guy had trouble with his VW, so Ormond gave him some advice that worked. Baby dolls notwithstanding. 

Between us we've got lots of hair.
Note his Obama t-shirt. We're good for another four years

Happy puttering in the yard belying his chronological age.

Happy Birthday, Ormond, may there be lots more to celebrate in our own quiet way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Phyllis's Second Flimsy Finished Yay !~!


Modified Drunkard's Walk: many layers of painters tape create an edge up against which runs fabric to maintain uniform seam allowance. Sounds good in theory-what's with my inability ~!! Ah well, perfection's not the point, having fun is and I am so - off we go.

Strips wait their turn.

First row of strips in place on some of the blocks. 

New workspace - ironing board cloth atop two layers of already quilted fabric makes soft surface for my forearms and the iron can be used anywhere the cutting mats aren't !~!

After some time spend actually planning this one out ahead (usual mode = improv all the way) I enjoyed watching the blocks generate themselves. Truly that's how it feels. And then to complete the sashing last night too was a Finish I wasn't expecting.

Lotsa love tied into this piece.
Memories, old and recent, captured.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Workspace

From Kitchen to Sewing Center

When I began quilt-making/sewing/fabric art a couple months back, I set up on the small round table in the kitchen. We eat at our desks in the living room so the table wanted a chore to do-I can oblige...
Previous machine-Brother CE4000-gave up ghost and was replaced by Singers: 4411 and 2277. Simple and solid, they have both worked well in the last couple months.

As my efforts got more involved the space I needed grew and soon I was taking up most of the counter space and all the available floor. Well, as the chief cook and bottle washer, Ormond felt pushed right out of his kitchen. True, dat.

Iris realized that the space configuration contributed to the physical problems I am having. We rearranged the kitchen and Ormond designed and built an L-shaped counter top thirty inches deep on the long side.
Getting there.... Under the auspices of the Tiki de Duke, which guards my home.

The hanging rack which Ormond built a few weeks ago has become a wall piece hinged for easy loading.
With the new arrangement, I have more space to iron, cut, sort, fold, create, recreate, tear apart, put back together, design... Ergonomically.

Many thanks to my husband of nearly thirty years. 
His skills make my life easier in many many ways.