Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogging? No. Busy? Yes!

I may have had a major case of timorous writers block, but I certainly did not get bottled up on the crafting front. Hats, neckwarmers, a scarf - even a New Year's trip to Toronto - they all kept me busy. There are a couple of other items in the works but this will do for now.

ThorpeThorpe by Kirsten Kapur

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in South Shore and Lilac (trim)

Once you get past the clumsiness of the 4 stitch cast on, the pattern really flies off your needles.

Instead of braiding the ties, I went with I-cord and mini poms to finish. There's a matching striped garter stitch scarf in progress.

Leftovers Hat and CowlLeftovers Hat by Karen Boykin (Ravelry link)

Yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky in Natural and Malabrigo Chunky is Dusty Rose

Why “Leftovers”? Because this hat was created from the yarn that remained after I knit the November baby jumper and socks.

This hat is paired with the Dolores Park Cowl by Parikha Mehta in the same colors.

Anne in BSA PoppyAnne by MK Carroll

Scarf is crocheted in Blue Sky Alpaca's yummy cotton in the Poppy color.

Admittedly, I simplified the pattern a bit by repeating rows 2-3 instead of proceeding to row 4. Get the pattern. You’ll see.

Columbia BeretColumbia Beret by Sarah Pope

I made a few small modifications to this well-written pattern. Since I used a slightly heavier weight yarn and size 9 (5.5mm) needle, I cast on 72 instead of 84 stitches. I also did 7 increase rows instead of 8 and grafted the remaining 12 stitches at the top.

I opted against the large bow in the pattern in favor of a small crochet chain twist bow. I also used purple ribbon to decorate the garter stitch brim.

Almost Ruffled by Laura ChauJust Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau

My friend Lisa Mendez gave this beautiful fade-dye turquoise to grey yarn. I've been waiting for the right project for at least 2 years when along came Ruffles.

Although you'll be working 3600 stitches by the time you finish, you'll be so pleased with the result, you won't care. Mostly.

KB at Lettuce KnitSpeaking of Laura Chau, I actually met her during the Boxing Day sale at Toronto's Lettuce Knit. Only problem is that I didn't realize the person ringing up my two skeins of Fleece Artist was, in actuality Ms. Chau. I even had her call a taxi for us. It was not until we drove off that my friend bellamoden told me what was what.

Yikes! did I feel like a goof. I thought about calling to apologize - not for being mean or anything because I was not. Just like, "Hey, I love your patterns. Sorry I didn't recognize you."

Hmm. Thank Jeebus for second thoughts. Pathetic fangirl decided it was best to leave well enough alone.

Now, for this feline interlude.
"For me, every day is boxing day!" - Rocky

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

FO: Baby Girl Gear

FO: Jumper w/ matching socks
Patterns: Baby Jumper (off-site) and Toes-ty (off-site) baby socks
Yarn: Malabrigo chunky, 1.5 skeins in dusty pink; Lorna's Laces bulky, .25 skein in natural.
Needles: Size 9 US dpns and 20" circular
Mods: The jumper pattern called for much bulkier yarn and size 17 US needles. I cast on the number of stitches for size 3 to make up for the change in gauge. I also repeated the 3-row garter pattern at the top of the skirt decreases. Lastly, I secured two perfectly matched buttons to the straps.

No major story here. The baby jumper knit up in a matter of 2 or 3 days, as did the little socks. Except, well, I did make three of them.

You see, my gauge was way off on attempt number one because I used size 10.5 US needles and the sock ended up 25% bigger than it ought. It has taken on a second life as a catnip toy, hence the 3 days: make one, oops; rest a day, then make two.

In truth, these items were finished and delivered nearly one week ago. I've been slow to the blog because of hurried attempts to make a hat from the leftovers, which were plentiful. Although I finished the hat (much to the chagrin of my right arm and left wrist), I ended up pulling out the neat grafting and frogging the top off. I simply couldn't reconcile myself to the shape. It put me in the mind of a tea cozy. The problem? I did not decrease soon enough. Once my limbs recover, the fix will be in. Again. Believe it or not, I started my decreases too soon the first time around. Sheesh!

Happy Tuesday, friends.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book 'em, Franklin!

Karen B. and Franklin H.I am in luff with this man's intellect, twisted wit and emotional clarity. Yes, I could gobble him up because he's beyond adorable but that's beside the point. Today is the day for titters, tee-hees, guffaws and outright belly laughs, courtesy of one Franklin Habit.

Franklin continues the book tour in support of his just-released collection of sketches and short essays entitled, "It itches." This is a little book (only 6" x 6") with lots of humor and heart. It perfectly captures the oddities, foibles and sometimes obsessive nature of our fibery pursuits in a way that only Franklin can.

Although this is his first book, Franklin has been making us laugh for some time now as he chronicles the exploits of an imaginary cast of characters, including a saucy sheep named Dolores and Harry, the often gullible skein of yarn. While the book features neither of this well-known duo, there is an amazing thread of fiber humor that keeps you turning the pages. My current favorite is a re-imagining of conversations and thoughts of historic figures as knitters. Marcel DuChamp. A megaphone and boa constrictor. Ha!

I caught up with the author at Chicago's Loopy Yarn. Hopefully, the tour will be in your neck of the woods sometime soon. I know Franklin is in London now and set to cruise back on the QE2. Too bad I'm not travel-sized like Harry :o)

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Holding Pattern

I seem to have been going about this the wrong way. Literally. And that's why my neckwarmer in progress looks like this:

Aspen, ripped again
My design sketches show a row of buttons on the left, front but it did not fully dawn on me until this morning that I'd been approaching the knitted realization of the sketches from right to left (beginning of row) and not left to right (end of row). The lesson here is that, while you may picture it one way, it cannot be created that way (head > desk).

I've been at this for the past two weeks, in one way or another, with very little to show for my efforts except for scribbled pattern notes (with the requisite strike-throughs) and arrows pointing to other parts of the page. As the yarn begins to show signs of wear after being knit and ripped and re-knit several times, so does my patience with my ability to execute these particular design choices. Oh, and before anyone asks, the first item of business was the creation of two carefully measured gauge swatches.

Could lack of sleep or the pressure and pain behind my eyes be playing tricks on my inner deconstruction vision? If it's not a bout of the galloping sinus crud, my biggest fear is that alpaca released into the air by frequent frogging might be sparking some kind of allergic reaction (cue the screeching "Psycho" violins).

Thus, here the balled yarn sits, gored by a pair of size 17US needles and awaiting new orders. In the meantime, I think I'll knit an adorable little jumper (free Blue Sky Alpacas pattern) for my neighbor's new baby girl. After all, Malabrigo chunky hath charms to soothe the savage breast.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!
Who wouldn't love a paper or plastic chomping, lamp tipping, door / cabinet / drawer opening, stubborn, sweet, curious, loyal orange and white neurotic kitty like you?

You may be 12 years old now. Maybe you can't jump on the counter nearly as often as you used to. And yes, you've gotten very picky with your food choices of late. But you still manage to find your way into bed and snuggle next to my head, then my feet. And you still manage to wake me up at 3:45 for the morning feeding. And I still manage to love you to bits, my belly boy Nikita!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cotton is for...

...every item I've made since this summer apparently. Not complaining about the outcomes. I mean, the Moderne in Mission Falls 1824 cotton will always be close to my heart. I enjoyed how, what was to be a hooded baby blanket, turned into an impromptu traveling cap and neck warmer for a good friend. In fact, this most recent entry picks up where the erstwhile hooded blanket fell off - right down to the colors I'd already picked out.

I used the Mason-Dixon Knitting kimono pattern (pg. 23) as inspiration for this sweater, primarily with regard to shape and one-piece construction. Understand that I crochet with much less direction in mind than I have when I knit. What may have started as a crochet translation of this cute little knit with the crossover fronts and a side tie became a boyish pullover with a slit front. The only thing remaining vaguely the same? The number of cast on stitches and the shape and relative length of the sleeves.

FO: Cole's crochet sweater
There's a viking helmet hat to match but I gave that to the boy's parents as my sort of promissory note to deliver on the rest of the ensemble. At just a little over 1 month old, this outfit is definitely one he'll have to grow into.

Aspen yarn with 5 small grey and black glass buttonsMy turn? You betcha! I've been working on some sketches for a neck warmer that would be the perfect fate for 3 skeins of steel grey Aspen, the bulky wool / alpaca blend from Classic Elite Yarns. I've got 150 yards in total which should be plenty to knit something warm and attractive. Plus, I can finally press these grey and black glass buttons from Moving Mud into service. These came home with me more than two years ago. They make a nice feminine counterpoint to the bulkiness of the yarn.

In case you're wondering, even with all these Mission Falls projects, I've only begun to make a dent in my 1824 Cotton collection. The seller was going out of business and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Right now though, it's time for the warm and cozy yarns.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mile 24

The Chicago Marathon was held this past weekend. This fall tradition brought over 45,000 runners of all skill levels right past my home. See, I happen to live along the last leg of the 26.2 mile course. You reach my pad, the race is almost over!

Relevance? I'm simply trying to draw a parallel between a coincidence of habitat location and the difficulty I'm having in drumming up sufficient motivation or stamina to go the distance on three half-finished projects.

One of the items in question is a sweater for this little guy, barely one month old. I already gave his parents the hat, thinking that would spur me toward the finish line having made the commitment and all. This crocheted gem will be over-sized to ensure longer wear opportunities. Or maybe, it'll be a perfect fit by the time I actually finish it. Laugh with me.

I started the toddler mitts (also half done) months ago - like it wasn't even summer yet - because I observed how another neighbor's child likes to put socks on her hands like mittens sans thumbs. I figured I'd just knock out a pair of fingerless mitts so she'd be able to pull something on but still do fingery stuff which is sort of a problem when you're using socks. She's almost 2. I'm aiming for Christmas. Yes, Christmas THIS year.

And wouldn't you know it, another neighbor had a baby around the same time as the child above was born - same week, in fact. In my head, I'm already thinking about which Debbie Bliss patterns would best showcase the peachy colored cashmerino in stock that was just waiting for a little girl. Argh! Must. Stop. Wheels. Turning.

I'm out of control, of that there is no doubt. It's not that I buy yarn and patterns with wild abandon. My major flaw these days appears to be project paralysis. So tell me, my peeps: is there a cure?

By the way, have you heard about Aspen, a yarn new this Fall from Classic Elite? The yarn is temptingly soft as a baby's bum super chunky wool / alpaca blend and it comes in a small palette of tasteful, subdued colors. I already have a couple of ideas for cute designs...

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Friday, September 19, 2008

FO: Dynamic Duo!

La Cabeza Grande on FlickrThis twosome may not have a fancy car or a call signal to light the night sky, but this cap and scarflet do have the power to chase away the chill during the coming autumn nights.

Made from 5 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 cotton, the double-crochet cap and scarflet combo hit the right notes when it comes to softness and comfort next to the skin - all without over-heating the wearer.

First came the scarflet. This was originally intended as a hooded baby blanket (login required) for a newborn until I started fooling around at row 12. I couldn't help but notice its scarf-like appearance. I decided that the baby would get something else and that this would be the perfect gift for a friend leaving town this weekend.

FO: Crochet Cap and Scarflet
The matching cap with its little visor stays truer to its original intent. My only real changes involve stitch and color substitution that mimic the pattern of the small scarf.

How to:
Following the baby blanket instructions, chain 108 stitches. I did 16 rows of the 3-stitch pattern, alternating 5 colors in a 5 row pattern. Bind off, place one end over the other and tack on two buttons at opposite sides of one "flap" to secure the scarflet (see below). Instead of separate button loops, I used the existing chain stitches as a fastener.
FO: Crochet Cap and Scarflet
I'm contemplating whether or not I'll still make the hooded baby blanket. I've got oodles of yarn left, so one is likely to see any manner of things fly off the hooks or needles for the little ones in this complex.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mail Call and Miscellany

Let's review.
Mea culpa, y'all. I have been remiss in sharing a few of the goodies that arrived at my door over the past few weeks. Let's start with the new books and wind up with a couple of gifts.

Gaughan Vol. 3 and Malabrigo Book One
I'm not sure how, but I was able to find the somewhat elusive Volume 3 of Norah Gaughan's (offsite) design series for Berroco (above, left) shortly after it became available to the public this summer. Just as she's done in other collections, Ms. Gaughan has managed to innovate in a space that has become a little bit too "same this, same that."

Some of my favorites of the 16 designs in Volume 3 include the Eastlake Sweater and the Assemblage cardigan, with its deeply textured collar and cuffs. For me, Strawberry Hill is the one sweater that has me wondering how the heck Gaughan even conceived of this design. It is both structural and fluid, while retaining quite a bit of visual interest. I'll never knit it but snaps to Gaughan for the eye candy and inspiration!

Malabrigo, Book One (above, right) seems to have a different mission altogether. According to Malabrigo's Tobias Feder, designer Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton named each of the 17 designs after Uruguayan cities and towns. While they do not achieve the level of high concept design, the very approachable sweaters, vests and accessories do a decent enough job of showcasing Malabrigo yarns.

Finding publicly sharable photos of the designs has proven a bit difficult, but if you're a Raveler, you're in luck (Ravelry links). Carmelo, the design pictured on the cover, is a heavy favorite within Ravelry. I tend more toward the hat-scarf-mitten combos myself, with Mercedes riding my fave wave. I also like Arapey, the one lace shawl in the book, with its faint arrowhead motif.

One thing I noticed is that almost all of yarns used in Book One are solids or nearly solid. While Malabrigo certainly has a respectable depth in solids, I think some attention might well have been paid to their rich palette of painted multi-color yarns. It's hard to find designs that do justice to handpaints - especially in garments. Perhaps these yarns will show up in a future folio.

I wanted to embrace this book as something special because I'm such a fan of the yarn. Sadly, nothing "blows my hair back." Color me disappointed with the freshman effort.

Treats from a sweetie.
Gifts from a friend!
You know how it goes with this online knitting community. We met in person just last month, though we found our way to friendship through blogging long before then. KnitPastis said something was on the way but gave no hint as to what it might be, except to say that it was handmade.

I opened the pink tissue paper and fell instantly in love with my Amy Butler fabric knitting project bag. I'm totally digging the pale and darker striped blue background with the brownish gold leaf motif scattered here and there. Enough for me? Most definitely. Not for this petite person who believes in having dessert everyday. My "icing" was two balls of Crystal Palace kid merino in a lovely shade of deep pinkish red. Such an unexpected, but completely appreciated, gift to brighten the day.

And then there came a giant thud!
I haven't been making the blog rounds lately. It's not because I've taken a sudden dislike to crafting. Oh, no. The reason is much more self-serving than that. I can't open Bloglines without feeling the pull of temptation.

I don't watch network or cable news, so I subscribe to several national and international sources to fill my news junkie needs. Unfortunately, the nasty business of presidential politics has become too extreme for me, with the lies, accusations and seemingly willful ignorance of too much of the voting public. Lately, I've become so infuriated with each story I read that I have called a halt to its constant consumption.

My thoughts (and my stomach) are churning, churning. I have this low hum of irritability and agitation that is not conducive to my well-being. So instead of reaching for another antacid and a sedative, I think I'd best let sleeping cats lay and stay away from the political cacophony.
Nikita, Sleeping On A Sunny Afternoon
Pax wobiscum

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On Walkabout

First, it was off to Glenn's Diner for a leisurely lunch.
Smiling at Glenn's Diner

Simple SneaksThankfully, the sunshine prevailed over the rain clouds allowing for a little exploration of this neighborhood around Montrose and Wolcott.

Section of the mural on the side of a now-shuttered Italian restaurant:
Villa May Mural

Chalkboard at the cafe inside the Lill Street Art Center. Sadly, no pie was consumed so I think a return trip may be called for to rectify that.
Viva La Pievolution

By the time I was headed south on Lake Shore Drive, you could tell the clouds were returning for rain, round two. I admit that I held the wheel with one hand and the camera in the other. Warning: do not try this at home!
Driving LSD
By the way, I've made a couple of attempts to knit again but 2 inches of lace hardly rate a show and tell. I know this is a crafting blog but, hey, creativity and vision can come through the eye of the camera, too. One of these days, I vow to play with yarn again!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Karen See, Karen Do

This week's thunderstorms and tornadoes (and the resulting power loss) showed me that I had a few kinks in my emergency system. For one, I had no cooler to load with ice and possibly save the contents of my refrigerator. A trip to Target was in order.

Now, I do not frequent Target. Nothing against the store, mind you. That just means I was a bit disoriented when I walked in. It must've been fate that led me to the SmartyKat ScratchScroll! I saw this the other day on Stumbling Over Chaos and thought it was adorable. Who knew I'd be headed to the store within days and that would be the first thing my eyes landed upon.

The tag says you should let your cat discover the lounger on his own. Maybe Rocky's real name is Christopher Columbus?

Rocky and The Lounger
Next time, I think a couple of book reviews are in order. Hasta luego!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

FO: Sticking To My Guns

Several weeks ago, I made myself a promise. Yes, I've made lots of them but this one I actually kept. I decreed that there would be no new projects until I finished this shawl. Only then might I even consider other suitors. Now that the hooks are put away and the steam iron's cool, I'd like to present my version of Eva's Shawl:

FO: Crochet Lace Shoulder Shawl

FO: Crochet Lace Shoulder Shawl
Back view, eyelet rows

Crochet lace shawlDetails and Modifications
450 yards bellamoden laceweight kid silk
450 yards malabrigo laceweight merino
Size H(5.0mm) and K(6.5mm) crochet hooks

I must've really had my stupid hat on the day I started this shawl. Aside from mentally making all the treble crochets (TC) into double crochets (DC), I had a devil of a time with the fact that 'Ch Sp incr' was not an instruction to chain 1, then work 2 DC into the same stitch. The designer meant something altogether different. Stupid hats are invisible, by the way.

I was into the eyelet row by the time I decided there was no way for me to fudge it any longer. Version one had to go and, as you know, ripping back fuzzy yarn has its downside.

Enter Take Two and my "aha!" moment. Once I paid closer attention to the pictures (thank the deities for those) and re-read the pattern from the beginning, a reasonable facsimile of Eva's Shawl started to take shape. Once you're beyond the foundation rows, just think "double crochet two rows, eyelet one row."

The only real addition I made was to the two-row border, which is essentially alternating chain stitch openwork. My third row adds a feminine frill of double crochet scallops. If you like the look, add the following instruction to the border:

Row 3: (optional) Ch 4, work 4 DC into next 'Ch Space' to end of row, finishing with a Ch 4; DC into turning Ch from previous row.

Enjoy your weekend. Chase butterflies like these two.

Was That A Butterfly?

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Michigan Avenue Photo Safari

CanCan Mannequin - bodice detail, Michigan Ave, Chicago
There's nothing soft, warm or nurturing in this Coca-Cola can creation displayed on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. But is it creative? Inspired? Of that there is no doubt! From the pull-tab corset to the crimped fan of the aluminum skirt, my mind wanders all about trying to figure out, "What did they do here? How did the artist figure that out? How much ended up on the cutting room floor before this metallic confection emerged?

CanCan Mannequin - skirt detail
Questions, questions. Isn't that the beginning of the entire creative process? The dress forms are the result of the retailers association's collaboration with local artists and design students to create an eco-friendly public art installation that stresses reuse and recycling of materials.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

A Fallen Woman

falling off the face of the earthNo, your feed reader isn't on the blink. I haven't posted since late June. If it seems I've fallen off the face of the Earth, perhaps it is because I have.

I'm back in the shop for repairs (or something like it). I've scarcely purchased any yarn. The books and magazines that cross my threshold tempt but do not inspire me enough to action. Those projects that do get started sit so long that they've irretrievably crossed the invisible divide between "In Progress" and "Unfinished." The longer I wait, the harder it is to start again. My only creative pursuits these days involve photography (Flickr).

I definitely think I'm still falling.

[Edited to add] I very much appreciate your concern and support. I do feel lost and rootless and I suppose that's some of what I'm really trying to convey. Even the intensive rehab program is on hold until I readjust my expectations of my wellness potential. Just a bit wonky is all. Retooling core definitions of success and of self is disorienting work.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lacy Crochet Shawl

Eva's Shawl - Crochet Lace
bellamoden kid mohair and silk lace (Pretty In Pink) + Malabrigo lace merino (Floral)
The pattern is called Eva's Shawl by milobo. Always fun to see how others have done this project on Ravelry.

I've stayed fairly true to the directions, though I've simplified them a bit for my taste, as they are written using UK terms such as treble crochet which in the US is really a double. I've also rewritten the eyelet row since I kept getting caught up in the weeds of growing frustration: "But what does that mean? That doesn't make sense!"

At which point, I put the pattern aside and started crocheting with my instinct instead of my logic. I find that I really rather like this pattern much better that way. I'll share more details of the modifications at the end of this project.

By the way, I am keeping up with my exercise regimen (treadmill, sit-stands, balance) like a good rehab patient. Thanks for the encouragement. Happy weekend, all!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

FO: Natalia's Moderne Baby Blanket

How right you are! Ripping is much better than the substandard item gifting. Despite the brief setback, I actually finished my crochet version of Mason-Dixon Knitting's Moderne Baby Blanket a few days ago. I've been busy (which I'll explain momentarily) so no blogging. First, the blanket.

The Layout
Moderne Baby Blanket - the plan

The Results

FO: Moderne Baby Blanket

11 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in 6 different colors (Chicory, Lintel, Grape, Phlox, Chili, Peony)
US size I (5.5 mm) crochet hook.
Finished dimensions are 38" x 28"

Pattern modifications
You probably know that the Mason-Dixon log cabin blanket patterns are written for knitting. No beef against the knit version of Moderne since I made one before. But now, time was of the essence. Besides, it seems that crochet and this 1824 cotton were made for each other, as evidenced by the way I was able to smoothly use the hook to grab and manipulate the yarn with ease.

The other thing going for me was my absolute willingness to be kinda loose with the math and let the blanket take shape, with the entire thing based on the outcome of the foundation block. The first block in the original knit pattern is essentially a 36-stitch block.

When substituting “single crochet” for “garter stitch,” remember that the single crochet is taller than garter stitch. That's why I did the foundation block as 28 rows instead of 36. The size of the remaining color blocks is determined relative to the foundation block size. Use the Mason-Dixon pattern as a guideline for when to turn the piece or pick up new sections until you are comfortable with your color plan progression. I did a two-color single crochet border in chicory and lintel.

Other stuff...
I finally started the Rehabilitation Institute Chronic Pain Management program. Yes, it kicked my butt for the rest of the day and I was none too willing to go back for more activity today. I did it though. I'm told several forms of exercise are required daily.

I suppose that, between the army of therapists and doctors, the chances for improvement in my physical condition are significant. There'd better be or there will be hell to pay!

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Friday, June 20, 2008


I was just cruising along on the Moderne baby blanket, absolutely determined to hit the finish line this weekend. Sometimes, in a rush to complete a project, you consciously or unconsciously overlook things that are less than quality. "Oh, I can block that into shape. It won't be a problem." You know what they say about denial.

It's just that, after nearly 3 inches of this crap, I couldn't let it go any longer. No amount of squishing, stretching or looking at it sideways would change the facts. The stitches had to be undone. Thankfully, I had a willing helper.

Tangled Up In Pink
"Let's see what happens when I grab this..." - Nikita
Seeing his antics as I ripped out my early morning work made the undo much less painful. I'd rather lose a couple of hours work than hand over a gift, knowing that it was less than my best.

By the way, I was only 4 inches from finishing the blanket.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Momma Sez...

I had a head-->desk moment when I realized that I should have asked the mother-to-be what she wanted with regard to stitch lines or no stitch lines. She agrees with the majority of your comments: no color block delineation, if you please. And so it is. The blanket looks much better in real life, but hopefully you get the idea:

Moderne Blanket - in progress
This is a shot of the unblocked crochet version of the Moderne Baby Blanket in progress. I tried to correct the colors, though you still don't quite get the lovely, muted flavor of this Mission Falls 1824 Cotton palette.

What you see above is the nearly complete center piece of the blanket or approximately 18 x 20 inches of single crochet. The finished blanket should measure about 30 x 38 when all is said and done. This should not pose a problem because I've barely put a dent in my stash of this cotton. Goody for me since I want a throw for myself at some point!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Baby Blanket, Stat!

I hadn't seen Natalia for months. In fact, up until a week ago, I didn't even know she was pregnant. And not just a little either, as evidenced by this photo taken during the World Wide Knit In Public event in downtown Chicago.

Natalia organizes World Wide Knit in Public Day - Chicago, 2008
The young squire is due to make his appearance in July. That's why it became imperative that I come up with a gift and a color palette that suited both the mother-to-be and my crochet-only situation. Thanks to Mason-Dixon Knitting, the answer came in the form of the Moderne Baby Blanket (Ravelry), except of course substituting crochet for knit. Brilliant! Finally something I can do with all that lovely Mission Falls 1824 cotton I picked up for a song awhile back. Here's the layout:

Baby Blanket Layout
A = Chicory, B = Lintel, C = Grape, D = Phlox, E = Chili, F = Peony

The only thing I can't decide? Should the colors simply flow one into the other (left) or should there be delineation between the color blocks (right). It's working up pretty fast (thank you, crochet!), but there's still plenty of time to let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crochet In Progress

I tried knitting a little bit. You know, just to test the shoulder stamina. Bad idea. I can't keep my hands still though, so I found an attractive, simple pattern and some surprisingly soft hemp yarn and kicked things off with a 15-stitch chain.

Boteh Scarf
Shake your Boteh!
Although the pattern calls for a skosh over 400 yards fingering weight yarn, I'll have to make do with 280 yarns of DK weight allhemp6LUX. After I've made the body of the scarf, I'd love to have enough left over to do the edging, as this gives this fabulous summer piece the perfect finishing touch. I checked Ravelry (account required) to see the flavors of Boteh in the wild. Only a handful appear to have used contrasting yarn. I think that, for this particular scarf, same-color edging maintains an elegant simplicity. Oh, imagine this one in the slubbed, subtle sheen of silk...

Birthday Haiku Contest
Just a reminder for those who have not yet entered: I am giving away FREE YARN for my birthday! All you need do is post a 5/7/5 English-style haiku in the 'Comments' section by midnight (CT) May 30, 2008. I'll select 3 random poets to receive goodies from my stash.

Go on. Get creative!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm sorry if my last post gave the impression that I'd dislocated my shoulder. I did not. Instead, I suspect I aggravated the already torn ligament that keeps the ball joint in the socket. I thought I was doing myself a favor by sticking to small projects, however the intensity applied to completing them proved counterproductive. Time for a good, long rest of the right arm.

There must be non-crafting things I can do. What a perfect time for reading; something that does not involve politics (makes my blood boil) or medical research (makes me depressed). I just got handed a book that's been on my list for some time now: "Lamb, The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal". I can also take a walk around the neighborhood and become acquainted with the settings beyond "intelligent auto" on my latest camera.

Courtyard Trees In Bloom
Trees blooming in the entry courtyard
Sadly, this one-armed business leaves gardening off the list. Good thing about perennials, though. They let me enjoy the proliferation of pink columbine from the comfort of the bench in my wee garden.

Pink Columbine bloom
Once I do pick up my needles, it will be to Learn the Continental Style of Knitting (warning: video starts automatically!) . Old dog, new trick? What? I can do it.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Pop Goes The Shoulder

It's a disconcerting sound and feeling, that "Oh, crap!" popping twinge of something anatomically out of place. When you're this|close to finishing another little doodad, you just suck it up and deal with the consequences later. I might have been pushing a bit too hard but I think this headband was worth it.

FO: Beaded Headband
10 grams each of light blue (2137) and navy blue (2625) Cascade Fixation
Approximately 50 clear size 3/0 seed beads
Size 5 US circular needle

Cast on an odd number of stitches, based on the size of your head and the amount of negative ease you desire. At 22 inches, my noggin's a bit bigger than average. My aim was for the headband to stay on (but not cut off my circulation), so I hit on 95 stitches as my magic number. Your mileage may vary.

I joined the stitches and knit the first row. Next came 7 rows in seed stitch, all in color A. Switch to color B, knit 3 rows, adding the beads in the second row. Yes, I used the crochet method to place the beads.

Switching back to color A, knit two rows. Reattach color B and use both colors, create a mock rib in a "knit 1, purl 1" pattern for 5 rows. Lastly, using color B, repeat 7 row seed stitch and bind off in pattern. You'll end up with a headband that's roughly 2.5 inches wide.

There are many variations possible such as number of colors, bead placement, border pattern, etc. Put your own mark on it. I'd be interested to know what you come up with if you don't mind sharing. Whether you have short hair or long, this is a perfect little accessory to keep you looking sporty chic and pulled together throughout the coming summer months.

I checked my stash of Cascade Fixation left over from a previous knit-along. This won't be the last of the instant gratification headbands. I just need to either learn how to involve my left hand more by knitting in the Continental style or hold the yarn and needles less tightly.

By the way, Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate, be their children scaly, furry, feathered or smooth.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Ah, Spring!

Spring, 2008
Can't you just hear the birds sweet songs and feel the warming sunshine upon your face as it beams through crystal blue skies? Welcome to the first storm of Spring '08, where some areas to the north of here expect upwards of 8 inches of snow.

While I wait for things to clear up, I'll continue to beaver away at my second Monkey sock. The hand rash has cleared by and large, thanks to a prescription cortisone ointment, so finishing at least one thing seems reasonably in order. Happy stitching, all!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

FO: Easy Glamour

Those of you who maintain a blog can hopefully relate to the real or imagined pressure to "feed the monster." I am absolutely in awe of those craft bloggers who have something to say - and seemingly a new project to show - nearly every day. How do they do it? Makes me feel as though I'm somehow inadequate. Eh, well. Perhaps, these be my issues alone.

As I was going to say, in an effort to keep you visiting my outpost, I figured I needed a hat, stat! Something quick, beautiful and useful. That's why I turned to my size K crochet hook and some chunky stash yarn to produce this lovely, glamorous duo.

FO: Crochet Hat and Neckwarmer

2.5 skeins Malabrigo chunky (104 yards) in the color Water Green
Size K (10.5 / 6.50 mm) crochet hook

The hat pattern is based on my own recipe for top-down crochet hats. One day, I may write it down. It's just something I've been using ever since I figured out how to crochet when I was still in the single digits. Next, I tacked on a vertical shell-like stitch called Twig from The Crochet Stitch Bible, page 81.

FO: Crochet Hat and Neckwarmer
The scarflet or neckwarmer is straight Twig for 17 or so inches, then I do a kind of short-row to extend the right side a bit. Sew on a couple of appropriately-sized buttons on the left side and there you have it: Easy Glamour in less than two days.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Noro, My Love

WIP: Noro Silk Garden Cardigan
Just think. Twenty skeins of Noro Silk Garden (color 224) have been sitting in my stash ever since Stitches Midwest 2006. I seem to recall elbowing my way past a gaggle of stitchers looking for a half-price bargain in two giant bins of Noro. When I came up for air, I had two 10-packs of this yarn that I'd heard about but never touched. Once I finally did feel one of the skeins, I was left thinking, "All that effort, for this rough, veg matter laden yarn?"

So it sat for a year and a half while I toyed with other, softer fibers. Then came the cold, snowy one-two punch of January winter and, along with it, a bright idea for a warm, simple cardigan. Top, down raglan with long sleeves. Something I could wrap around my shoulders when I didn't feel like increasing my monthly donation to ComEd.

I changed my mind about the yarn as it began to form fabric. It seemed to soften in a way that was not at all apparent on the skein. My Noro had found its special purpose.

After knitting almost to the shoulders, I toyed around with the collar - just to cut the boredom at bit. Should it be plain old ribbed or something more exotic with pattern and multiple colors? I picked up stitches at least four times, trying a variety of things. I came back to earth and settled on ribbing with iridescent beads and the slightest of ruffled edging. Not too little, not too much. I think even Goldilocks would be pleased.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

FO: Let's Make A Deal!

FO: ZigZag Scarf - frontI was determined not to do it. After all, it's something that I'd avoided for at least 3 or 4 years but this time was different. This time, the cold winds got the best of my usually overly-warm radiant heating system. This time, I found myself wearing three layers and two pairs of socks to bed.

Friends, it was time to turn on the heat! I also found myself longing to start a new pair of socks. The only way I would concede defeat to the weather and my "new sock" desires? I had to finish at least one WIP.

I chose the ZigZag Scarf from "Knitting New Scarves".

zigzag scarf finished Details
ZigZag pattern, page 122
2 skeins Cascade 128
Size 10.5 US needles
Finished dimensions 6" x 58"

The most complicated thing about this scarf was the intarsia, or color-block knitting. As you know, with any multi-skein technique, there is a tendency for yarn and knitting to get tangled around one another - even if you carefully twist one yarn under and over the other as you carry it along. As the scarf got longer, I threw it over my left shoulder to keep it out of the way. I also tried to remember to turn my work only one of two ways as I worked right and wrong side rows. Not perfect, but it really did help minimize the twist-up.

Will I knit this pattern again? Oh, it's quite likely I will. Part of the fun of this is picking interesting color pairs and watching them intertwine with one another.

I said something about a sock, didn't I. I'm calling it Chewy Monkey. Relax. It's the "everybody's-done-at-least-one" Monkey, knitting up quite beautifully in Chewy Spaghetti sock yarn. Yum!

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