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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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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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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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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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just So Random

You know how we casually toss off the phrase, "stuff happens?" Today's post is all about small things and random encounters as I skip across the Web.

The first "small things" belong to my neighbor's newborn baby boy. Even though it took approximately 3 weeks off and on to knit the earflap hat with matching socks, I'm sure he'll graduate in no time to bigger and better things - in probably less than 3 weeks time!

Jaeger merino baby items
Two- color hat and socks made from Jaeger Matchmaker Merino

Here's another way to get small: Nikon's small world and the obvious companion piece, The Micropolitan Museum. There are so many interesting - and usually unseen - parts of the world around us. All we need is a little help in opening our eyes to them.

A word, if you please. Where do you go for your fix? You might find a new source or two in "A Logophiles Delight!"

Quilters already know about fitting small squares inside larger squares. See how commonly understood principles of logic and design meet harmoniously in "Layers of Meaning."

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pretty In Pink

Way back in October '06, I knit a beautiful dusty pink Debbie Bliss jumper for a baby who, at 2 weeks old, was still a mite small for it. The months have flown by and I'd sort of forgotten about the sweater and matching socks. Apparently, baby Olivia's mom didn't. That's why she recently sent pictures of her sweet babe sporting one of her favorite handmades.

Olivia in pink sweaterPretty in pink
Isn't she?
Pretty in pink
Isn't she?
(Psychedelic Furs - 1986)


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Action Figure!

Every now and then, I get to see the recipients of my handknits modeling their gifts. Today I bring you my neighbor's little girl, AnAn, in her fetching pink action mode sweater with matching bonnet:

So different seeing it in 3D. And so much more satisfying -- especially because little ones still believe they can fly!

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Crack In The Fortress of Solitude

While I'm still working on realigning my chakras and finding my centering, creative muse, I thought I'd do a brief picture share. After all, you guys really pitched in to make the final product decision possible, and I thank you.

Ten day old Luxy Rae cooed this evening when presented with her very own "Flower Power" kimono:

(Click to embiggen)

Details, details:
(Click to embiggen)

Pattern: Debbie Bliss' Special Knits
Yarn: 350 yards Catalina Baby Pima alpaca / cotton blend
Needles: size 5 and 6 (US)

With the exception of the reverse-engineered sleeves, there were very few modifications. Since this was not a fitted sleeve cap, I picked up the stitches around the arm hole and knit each sleeve from the top down on two Addi circulars. I made sure to include the paired decreases just as if they'd been knit from the mustard border on up.

The other minor change had to do with the embroidery. I opted for French knots as anchor points (4 mustard corners and green center) for each flower, instead of the chain stitch specified in the pattern.

(Loudspeaker in the distance interrupts: "Clean up broken glass in aisle 2. Now, people!")
That's me. Gotta go.

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