Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have You Ever Knit Something Just So You Could Make the Yarn Leave Your House?

I bought the prettiest yarn at the Hemlock Fiber Festival this year. Something called bouclé. Bouclé yarn has these little ringlets in it, which I found made it very easy to accidentally create or lose a stitch.

Now this teal mohair merino on the left was soft as soft could be. But the bouclé on the right turned out to be a fight. I've never knit with bouclé before, and am not sure I want to do so again. I'm thinking I used the wrong sized needles for this type of yarn. But, in the end, a lovely hat and scarf came out of it. 

I am running out of models, so Greta had to pose for this picture: 

This hat and scarf are for our friend Edie. I think this will go with her QVC coat that she wore here last week for a visit.

Merry Christmas, Edie. We hope you have a lovely lovely holiday.

Like Knitting with Drum Sticks

I had to have some surgery a couple of weeks ago, and on the night before I left, I sent this snarky note out to my colleagues:

My husband says I cannot take my computer to the hospital, so unless you want to describe your requirements for a knitted hat, you should seek out Will, Nantha or James if you need anything on Friday or Saturday.

Admire me, if you will, for figuring I'd be working again on Sunday. But one lone colleague responded with a request.

Oh CRAP! Someone wants me to follow a pattern! I can't follow a pattern. And there are cat ears on this cowl. Cat ears.

Nonetheless, I tracked down and purchased the pattern. And then I mulled. Buy the yarn used in the pattern? mmm... Finally I went into the basement and brought up my yarn stash. And lo and behold, I found this yarn:

This yarn is vintage Jaeger Natural Fleece, 1 ball is 100g. Ultimately, it took 3 1/2 balls to make the hooded cowl. It says hand wash,do not tumble dry, dry flat out of direct heat and sunlight. 10 cm = 15 rows, 10 1/2 stitches, US 13 knitting needles.

I have, like, 10 balls of it. I think I could make Donna a coat, there's so much of it.

Note to Donna:

Do you like wine colored yarn?

Note from Donna:

...I love wine... And the color wine

All right, we're in business. So I figured I'd better practice first. I've never knit with size 15 knitting needles and super chunky yarn before. So I found some more big thick yarn in my stash.

The blue and mixed yarn are a vintage Tahki Yarns Baby Yarn. Gauge is 2 1/2 stitches = 1", 4 rows = 1 inch. The purple didn't have any labels on it, but it looked about right.

ohmygosh, knitting with those big needles was like knitting with drum sticks.

As it turned out, the purple had more stretch to it than the Tahki yarn, so when I washed the finished cowl, the purple seemed inclined to head in a different direction. But heck, it's a great big cowl and you wrap around your neck, so I don't think anybody will notice.

Here's what the practice cowl looks like all finished up:

All right, enough big needle big yarn practicing. I pulled out the pattern and made the hooded cowl.

And in the end, it is... well it's a big cowl with a hood. It's biggest advantage from my perspective is that it hides your double chin, if you happen to have one. I think I look like Little Red Riding Hood with a bad-ass attitude.

Donna, I hope you have lovely holidays. If you'd like me to knit up and attach the cat ears before I send this out, let me know. Thanks for all your help this year.

There's No Mistaking Steeking

Good news! I've learned a new skill. Well, I've observed and lightly participated in a new skill.

I made a hat. And I made a cowl. But, I was under the influence of some post-surgery medications when I made the cowl. So, there was an issue with the cowl. I was using circular needles, and I messed up the circulation, and before I knew it, I had a cowl that looked like a big ol' headband, wrapped around itself at least five times. Un-redeemable.

I took it to my friends Denise, Channyn, and Linda. And Channyn said, "You need to take that to Georgia, or take it all apart and start over." It is rare for Channyn to pass on a project, so I knew the situation was serious.

So I took it to SewGreen, a lovely new charity in the 19th Ward in Rochester, NY. Georgia was out working on another mission, so Patty helped me instead. She looked at my troubled cowl and said I would need to steek it. Steeking is laying out the scarf and crocheting 2 lines up the width. Then you cut it between the two lines (after prayer... prayer is useful at this point). Then you straighten out the project and use the same yarn with a tapestry needle and sew each side, and then you sew the two sides together. It sounds a little horrifying (the part where you cut it), but in the end it did work out.

Patty showed me two youtube videos. And it all looked simple enough, except that I don't know how to crochet. So Patty did the crochet. And Patty did the cutting. And then it was my job to do the sewing. Unfortunately, this was such dark, thin yarn that I really couldn't see what I was doing. At one point Patty considered undoing my sewing, but I think she realized there wasn't much holding me back from breaking out the staple gun. So, it isn't perfectly sewn together, but it will hold, and it looks lovely.

This cowl and hat are now ready for my sweet friend Leunora. I gave her a hat and scarf this summer, but they were not the right color for her. Baby blue. Leunora is definitely a fall colors sort of person.

Leunora's hat and scarf are made from light, fluffy maroon bunny. The sunlight in the picture below is making it look redder than it actually is. Should washing it be necessary, hand wash it in hot water, treat it ever so gently, and lay it out to dry. Do not put it in the dryer or the washer, unless you have a Barbie Doll that you want to wear this.

Here is my giant squirrel modeling Leunora's gift. I have run out of models and must now resort to dressing the statuary.

Leunora, thank you so much for your support during this hideously awful year of 2015. You are one of my wildest friends, and I loved spending time with you.

Here's a picture that shows the color better:

And Patty, thank you for helping me with the steeking, I literally could not have done it without you,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Those Girls

Last weekend, I went back to knitting with my friends Channyn, Denise, and Linda. Those girls, they are so sweet.

So, Linda and Denise were working on this project:

Of course, there's a story that goes with it.

It seems that three years ago, Denise's, Channyn's and Linda's family went on a family vacation to New York City. Channyn cannot leave the house without seeking out a yarn store, so she found one and was looking at some mighty fine yarn for a project she had been longing to do for some time, a shawl.

Now, Denise, well, she takes a lot of ribbing because whatever Channy does, Denise either wants, or wants to do, or both. So if Channy makes a nice cowl, Denise wants to wear the cowl, and Denise wants to make the cowl, and she is inevitably convinced that her cowl is never as nice as Channy's, which means she goes back to wanting to wear Channy's cowl. I swear, last week I saw Channyn eat the insides out of some puff pastries, and Denise ate the outsides.

So of course, Denise wanted to make the shawl too. So she picked out yarn. And somewhere in there, Linda was pulled in, Linda who had at that point, three years ago, knit one cowl. The shawl has beads embedded in it. Channyn commented that the bead part would be kind of tricky, but Linda insisted she was up for it. So Linda bought yarn and beads as well. 

Channyn came home, made her shawl, and moved on to other things. Channyn is our master producer. Linda slogged away at hers, periodically making mistakes and mailing the shawl to Channyn so she could fix things and send them back. And last week, we all got together with our assorted projects. Note that I am not making the shawl, as it would end up looking round or muddled in some other way. Like Channyn, I am a producer, but I have rules like, "If there are too many stitches, munge some together with the knit together technique," or "If you drop a stitch, find something that will snag onto it and drag it up through the knitting and then sort of knit it back in."

So, looking at the picture, Channyn's is the grey and wine colored one at the bottom, Denise's is the purple and off-white one on the upper right. And Linda's is the brown and turquoise one on the left. I'd say that Linda has maybe one more long day and hers will be finished. Denise, maybe three more long days,

The dynamics when we are all on a knitting frenzy is amazing to behold. Linda slogs along, counts her stitches, comes out with too many, can't sort it out, lifts up her shawl and throws it at Channyn. Channyn fixes it and throws it back. Denise slogs along, drops all her stitches, and throws it at Channyn. Channyn fixes it and throws it back. There's quite a bit of whining, and a certain amount of cussing on the part of the throwers. Well, heck, if that's how it works, I'll try it too. So I haul out one of my projects that has a hole in it, throw it to Channyn, and lo and behold, she fixes it and throws it back. In the meantime, Channyn is knocking out another project filled with cables. Channyn is so good at this, she doesn't even need a cable needle to do cables. 

Whoops - just saw this note from Linda on facebook. I am "lol"ing all over the place:

So I was super super super careful knitting, got through another set of repeats and was finishing the first row of the next repeat. Made it to the center where I am supposed to have 8 stitches remaining........ and I have 9. I tried to throw it across the room, but there was no one there to catch it.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Shelby's Blanky

My friend Shelby has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month. She went to the hospital to have surgery on her back. She was supposed to be out a day later. And, instead, they gave her one of those nasty antibiotic-resistant viruses and held her captive for weeks. They let her go from the hospital to a nursing home. And then she went home. And then she got sicker and went back to the hospital (a different one, as Shelby is a bit bitter about the whole experience, after all). And then they transferred her to another hospital. And finally, two days ago, she was sent home. But, she's not allowed to see the likes of me, the immune-suppressed.

I wanted to make her something that would comfort her. So, I've got this dandy lap blanket. When I first learned to spin, it took me quite a while to get to a point where my spinning was worthy of knitting. I finally got over the hump, and my mom knit my son a baby blanket from my handspun. I had never dyed anything before, so I dyed the yarn with Kool-Aid. My son, being a manly sort, gave up the blanket pretty early along, I suppose because it was made from bunny, and manly kindergartner's don't like to appear toting fluffy bunny blankets. So I took it over, and whenever I go to the hospital, I pack it up and take it with me. Now I am looking at it and thinking perhaps I should wash it, as it has been to the hospital a lot, first for when my Mom and Dad were there, and then for a couple of trips myself. Goodness, it may be imbued with hospital cooties.

Back to Shelby... I inherited my Mom's friend Shelby from my Mom, and Shelby now lives maybe two blocks away from me, and so I got to thinking that her lap blanket, which is also very bunny, should be dyed with Kool-Aid. So last night I hauled down to the basement and lifted up the craft microwave and followed the directions from How-To: Kool-Aid Dye with a Microwave. Here it is, drying on the rack:

I have some regrets about having lifted the craft microwave up to get it set up; my back went out. But it seems better today.

Anyway, Shelby, I know I should have dyed this to match your red couch, but in all honestly, I think most people who receive lap blankets from me store them under the couch, as my craftmanship isn't necessarily display-worthy. It's all about the snuggle, if you ask me. Also, I wanted to make it the same color as the one that my mom made so you would think of her when you use it. My mom really appreciated your friendship, and so do I. Thank you so much for helping us through our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Without friends like you, it would have been so much harder.