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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Persevering

Despite the distraction of a very tempting little wheel in the house I am still making progress on the Feather and Fan Shawl. I am forcing myself to knit a minimum of 2 rows every day. That doesn't sound like much, but as I am nearing the outside edge of a very large circular shawl, the pattern rows (one out of every 4) take me a full hour to do, and the plain rows aren't exactly quick either. 1,272 stitches per round.....and growing. 16 more rounds and then a crocheted loop bind off.

Oh. And it looks like I may run out of yarn. 8-X

Monday, December 26, 2005

Ode to Little Gem2

Little Gem2, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

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I love your smooth spinning, the ease with which your treadles glide, your quick no-hands-necessary stops and starts, and your sealed bearings. I love your beauty, your pretty finish, your attractively turned post, and your no fuss design. I love your practicality too, your portable lightness, your convenient and protective carry case, the way you take up no more space than necessary, and your willingness to fold up and go with me anywhere. I love your big, no-rattle bobbins and your sliding flyer hook. I love your double treadles that allow me to sit straight and use both feet at once sparing me back pain and chiropractor bills. My lovely new wheel, you are truly a GEM. Welcome to the family.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Still Plugging Along

I haven't dropped out of the knitting universe. I'm still knitting on the Feather and Fan Shawl from "A Gathering Of Lace" and, with all the other busy-ness this time of year, progress is slow. It doesn't help that there are now 1176 stitches in each round. It shall not beat me though, I have perseverance on my side. In an effort to spur myself on I dragged out a few wardrobe possibilities that will coordinate with the shawl and did a photo shoot.

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The shawl doesn't look like much in this heap, but trust me, when it is blocked and the lace pattern shows, it will be lovely. I'm at row 161 of 190 and trying to knit a minimum of 2 rows per day. At that pace I will be finished in a little over 2 weeks. If I can slip in a few extra rows here and there it may make its debut sooner.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hippo Song

Catchy little hippopotamus Christmas tune.

http://soe.hyperchat.com/newchat/u/yummy/~soe/hippoFAQ.htm

It was recorded by Gayla Peevey way back in 1953. Check it out. It should put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Flock Of Cookies

When do cookies come in flocks? When they are Sheep Cookies of course! No, no....not made of mutton. These are regular sugar cookies in the shape of sheep.

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They are part of a gift for the exchange at the Spinners and Weavers Guild Christmas lunch tomorrow. The other part of the gift was purchased earlier.

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The candied citron bits are to add a bit more of a festive touch......in case the recipient decides to pawn them off on holiday guests.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Whole Lot Of Spinning

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting much about knitting this past little while. That's because I haven't been knitting much. I've been busy with this:

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That's 783 metres (approx. 856 yards) of 2 ply Coopworth wool, weighing 651 grams (approx. 1 pound, 9 ounces). I'm spinning it up at 11 WPI (approx. a worsted weight) in preparation for making an Aran cardigan for myself.

This batch (there is another 2 pounds not yet spun) is being prepared for it's post-spinning bath. If it doesn't bloom too much in the washing it should work out perfectly for the pattern I have in mind.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Table Runner

I finished the weaving of this Christmas Table runner at least a month ago, but the other weavers in the guild had to take their turn on the group warp and it was just cut off the loom this week.

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I really struggled with this one. Not due to the weaving itself, which was quite simple. No, I struggled with the old loom. The back brake was not holding for me and I had to get up every couple of minutes (no exaggeration!) to roll the warp back again.

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It is as hard to photograph as a black dog on a dark night! The whole appeal of this pattern is in the raised "tree" detail which is hardly showing up in the photographs.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sample Bear

Another little bear made from leftover scraps of handspun wool using the pattern in the Spring 1995 issue of "Spin Off".

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He's two tone because I ran out of the first, blue yarn. I think it still turned out well though. The eyes weren't crossed when I first embroidered them. That happened when I did the soft sculpting....it pulled the eyes down and inward. He looks like he needs a little bee on his nose or something. The nose and the whites of the eyes were done with needle felting. I didn't think the black pupils would show up on the dark colored wool with out that addition.

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's About Time!

Well, I finally got myself a round Tuit enabling me to accomplish a few things around here.

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You can get your own round Tuit here.

With this lovely Tuit (did I mention that it was one of the rare, round ones?) I was finally able to get around to posting on this much neglected blog.

Using the Tuit I finally found the time to hem a handwoven tea towel that has been languishing in my sewing room for weeks. All it needed was the hems! Please excuse the garishness of the color. It's the first weaving I've done in years and was part of a group warp used by the guild. The other (experienced) weavers were sensible and worked their towels in various versions of a plaid. I thought for my first weaving I had better just stick to straight weaving, no need to complicate things by adding in a few color changes. As it is I made enough mistakes. Who cares? It still does a mighty fine job of drying dishes.

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I was finally able to photograph this little, handspun, hand knitted, string jointed teddy. He's been finished for more than a week but photography was delayed until I got a round Tuit.

EDIT: The pattern for the little teddy is found in the Spring 1995 issue of "Spin Off". I did a little soft sculpture shaping on the face, which was rather pointy and "rat-ish".

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I also took a comforter in to be cleaned, mended a shirt, and got my Christmas cards ready for mailing. Vacuuming is next on my list, and with the round Tuit, I know that it will happen.

Just think what this round Tuit could do for you if you kept it in your knitting basket. Why, there would be no more unfinished objects! Every project would be finished on time. You'd learn all those new techniques you've been meaning to try. Never would a sweater remain in pieces, waiting for blocking and seaming. No, you would have a round Tuit right there handy to take care of these things.

Better go get yourself one, quick! I hear they are quite hard to come by.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

AWOL

I've been a little neglectful in my blog posting lately. No good excuses, just didn't have much to say and was a little on the busy side.

Last weekend we helped our daughter and son-in-law move into their new home, packing up the moving truck at one end and unloading it at the other. Unfortunately the carpets were being cleaned upstairs so all the stuff had to be taken into the basement suite and moved upstairs over the next few days. Here they are, the happy couple on moving day.

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Yesterday was spent putting up our Christmas tree. This year I had some help. Thanks Jordon! I really enjoyed the time we spent together.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sock Yarn As Art

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Picture taken through a kaleidoscope.

And with a toy as intriguing as that could I stop with just one photo? No way. I went on to take over 30 more (thank goodness in this age of digital photography not every photo taken must be printed!).

These are a few of my favorites.

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Close up of a basket.

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Two different violets.

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Another basket? It's hard to identify the object in some of the photos.

New Baby

It's been far too long since I had my last baby.....so I bought one!

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Okay, so maybe she is not a "real" baby, but she does make a great model/mannequin for my handknits. She is a lot easier to care for than my first three children, and she costs a lot less too...just $14.99.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Camel/Silk Baby Socks

I had (just!) enough of the handspun, 3 ply, camel/silk laceweight to finish this little pair of baby socks.

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The natural camel color might be a little odd for a baby item, but I like the slight color variations the natural fiber gives and didn't want to mess with overdyeing them. Besides, I think it gives them a bit of an antique, "heirloom" look.

They are 4 inches long. I asked around at the Knitter's Review forum for suggestions on a good size for newborn-ish babies.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any cookies?

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I spotted this cutie in the Sears catalogue and just had to pick her up. She'll be perfect for the spinning guild's Christmas gift exchange. Don't you just love the socks? I'm sure they must be handknit of handspun. ;-)

If anyone knows of a source for sheep shaped cookie cutters, speak up. I'd love to fill this with sheep cookies as part of the gift.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Spinning Straw Into Gold

After spinning up the camel/silk blend last night and gazing at it's golden loveliness I felt quite like the princess that spun straw into gold. Rather fitting then that I would come across this quiz today and be numbered among those who are "most likely to discover a hidden talent for spinning straw into gold.

HASH(0x8bdc808)
The Traditional Princess

You are generous, graceful, and practical with both
feet planted firmly on the ground. You tend to
be a little on the old-fashioned side. You
value home, hearth, and family life and love to
be of service to others.

Role Models: Snow White, Maid Marian

You are most likely to: Discover a hidden talent
for spinning straw into gold.


What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla


I love this picture. Too bad she isn't spinning or knitting. Oh I know....she's not sewing a flag. No, she is doing the finishing work on a knitted afghan made from handspun vicuna. It's for her knitting chair/throne dontcha know?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Spinning Camel

What a lovely gift! Louise, a friend from the spinning guild, gave me about 1/2 an ounce of a beautiful, soft, lustrous camel/silk blend. What a pleasure it is to spin. Because I don't have a lot of it I'm trying to spin it ultra thin so I will have more length. If it works out as I hope, I DO have a small project in mind.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Round and Round

Knitting, knitting and more knitting and yet I seem to be getting nowhere. The blob of tencel lace doesn't look any larger despite the fact that I am knitting quite a bit on it every day (now that the Craft Fair stuff is out of the way). I'm now working round #123 (of 190 rounds total) on the Feather and Fan Shawl from GOL but I won't bother with a photo. It looks much the same as it did last time....maybe a little larger, but it is hard to tell with it all bundled up on a circular needle.

This is certainly an exercise in perseverance.

I've ordered the Shy Sheep Vest pattern. The knitting won't be started any time soon though. I'm thinking I'll probably spin the yarn for it. Fitting hey? Handspun sheep wool for a Shy Sheep Vest? Something like that is bound to be popular at guild meetings and spin-ins!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bear Necessities

In answer to Lizz's question about patterns for the bears...(posted here so I can provide direct links):

There is no real pattern Lizz, they are needle felted, not sewn. You can buy an instruction booklet that gives the basic "how-to" but the personality and individuality just happen during the process.

You might be interested in reading my older posts about these bears.

Bear #1,
Bear #2

And HERE is the source I used for supplies.

More For The Sale

I also made these for the Chilliwack Craft Fair coming up on the 17 th of November. They are "Timmie Cozies", just like the acrylic ones I made last year, but these are made from handspun wool. If the craft fair attendees can figure out what they are I think they will sell okay. I'll try to keep one ON the cup for display.

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Other items that I am also taking to the fair:

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the Nick of Time

I managed to finish the handspun socks with little time to spare. They took longer to knit than I had expected. Here they are, posing with (the back of) the Gnomy Hat made of the same wool. Toasty warm and comfy!

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And here they are, all steam blocked and ready to be labeled for the Chilliwack Christmas Craft Fair.

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The labeling. Now there is another enterprise that took longer than I expected! Still, I was done before bedtime last night and everything is packed up ready to be inspected by the Standards Committee this morning.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gnomy Variation

This is a "Gnomy Hat". I was going to say it was child size since it doesn't even come close to fitting my fat head but I just measured the wig stand and her head measures 20 inches. According to the Craft Yarn Council of America that is the standard women's size.

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The basic Gnomy Hat pattern is in Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Knitter's Almanac", page 69. Instead of inserting a ping pong ball in the tip as Elizabeth did, I extended the point some and knotted it. I knit it of hand dyed, handspun 2 ply wool. I didn't dye the wool myself, but I did spin it from purchased, sprinkle dyed roving. I combined one ply of the hand dyed and one ply of natural, brown wool.

I am also knitting a pair of thick socks from the same wool. I hope to get those completed today as they are destined for the Chilliwack Christmas Craft Fair and the guild Standards Committee must have them to "approve" by tomorrow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Grandnieces in Cupcakes

Two cute little grandnieces received their surprise packages.


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Ashlyn looks happy with her Strawberry Cupcake Hat.

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And Isabella seems pretty darn pleased with the chocolate one.

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And the amazing thing is they both kept them on and continued to play!

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....which of course pleased this Great Auntie . (Great Auntie....that makes me sound ancient doesn't it? *sheesh*, it sounds older than "Grandma".)

PS - sorry about the large pictures. For some reason I couldn't get these into my photo editing program to crop and resize them.

EDIT: I should point out that these hats were altered to be smaller, and fit a younger child, than the original pattern measurements. I used a tighter gauge and reduced some of the depth in the "icing" portion.





Saturday, November 05, 2005

100 Rounds

100 rounds finished and 89 (increasingly larger!) rows to go.

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Feather and Fan Shawl from "Gathering of Lace" done in 100% 2/8 tencel in the "Majesty" colorway.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cupcake HELP

Suzanne left a plea for help with the Cupcake Hat in my comments and Blogger is having a hissy fit today and won't let me through to my own comment page so I'll answer her here.

Suzanne, are you familiar with the "knitted on cast on"? If not, follow the link and familiarize yourself with how that is done. The nubbles on the Cupcake Hat are time consuming but, once you understand it, quite simple. All you are really doing is casting on 4 stitches using the "knitted on cast on" and then immediately binding them off again. This is done in every other stitch in the round. So:

*(K1, CO 4, BO 4) repeat from * around.

CO = cast on
BO = bind off

If you, or anyone else, would like further clarification write to me using my email address, which is available on my profile page, and I'd be glad to help. That way I'll have your email address and will be able to respond to you directly.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

All Saints' Cookies

The day after Halloween. Too much candy hanging around. Either your kids brought home too much, or you didn't give out enough, but the sad fact is you are faced with a mountain of sweets. Time to make "All Saints' Cookies" (named for the day after Halloween, "All Saints Day").

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(The shiney spots you see on the cookies are are crunchy, peanut brittle like toffee bits.)

These yummy cookies (my own original, just thought it up today, recipe) have a delicious peanut butter and toffee taste due to the unusual ingredient (Wunderbar* and Crispy Crunch* candy bars).

*Apparently these Cadbury brand bars are only available in Canada.*
Canadians, be proud, raise your cookie and say "Eh!".
Those outside Canada could try other crunchy style bars. Sorry.

All Saints Cookies
Cream 1 1/2 c. shortening, 1 1/2 c. brown sugar, 3/4 c. sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Add 3 eggs and beat well.
Combine 3 c. flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp. salt; add to creamed mixture.
Stir in 1 1/2 c. chopped nuts and 3 c. of coarsely chopped candy bars. (I used Wunderbar and Crispy Crunch.)
Drop by teaspoonful onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F. for 8 - 10 minutes.
Cool slightly before removing from pan. Makes 8 dozen.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Our Butler

Last year (when she was an irresponsible adolescent) we had to lock her in a back room during the Halloween trick or treater hours. This year she has taken on a whole new attitude.

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This year Shelby is waiting patiently by the door. She informs me of approaching gremlins with a soft "woof" and then when I open the door she goes outside to greet the visitors.....gently and quietly.

So far she has received numerous pats, lots of smiles, several proclamations of "Goggie" and two big hugs. And she has taken it all in good humor and seems to be anticipating the next little one's arrival.

Happy Halloween

It's pouring rain and the wind is blowing. At 3 pm it is already looking dark and dismal outside. Not a happy night for all the little trick-or-treaters. I have 150 mini-treats (those teeny little things cannot be called candy bars!) and I am likely to get only 15 goblins at my door. Good thing I have several big gobblings (not a typo) living here.

My first trick-or-treater came via the internet. Monkey is all dressed up in his first Halloween costume. Go tell him how good he looks.

Last Peek

This will probably be the last time I can pin the Feather and Fan Shawl out far enough that you can see current progress in its entirety.

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From here on out the needles will be too short to stretch the work out completely and it will start to gather and bunch up. I'm not likely to thread it all onto a holding cord and take it off the needles just to photograph it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Strawberry Cupcake

Yet another cupcake. I'll probably still make two more. They are easy, in-the-car projects. I have another "strawberry" one on the needles with plans for a second "chocolate" one. But I'll cease to bore you with a picture of each.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Training Needles Off

Look at me. I'm a big girl now! See? No training needles.

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I managed to get far enough using the bamboo skewers that I was able to change over to two Addi Turbos. It turns out that I just happen to have TWO Addis in that one particular size. (I think it was a purchasing mistake, and not an extravagant overindulgence on my part.)

Round 32 is complete, and I've sewn a single bead to the very center of the shawl. I will also put a bead at the end of each of the large petals, and one in every loop of the outside edge. I love the way the beads look in my Peacock Feathers Shawl and thought I would do it again. Not a LOT of beads (too heavy), just a few as an accent.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Crossing My Fingers

Finally! I've gotten over the row 15 hurdle. I've started the Feather and Fan Shawl from "A Gathering of Lace" many, many times. It wouldn't surprise me if it was in excess of 25 times. Each and every time I lost it before the fifteenth row was complete. I'm sure this was due in part to my choice of yarns. I'm using an ultra slippery, laceweight, handpainted tencel.

I was given several good hints for starting a circular shawl, from the helpful knitters at "Lace For All Seasons", and I am now finished the first 20 rows.

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One person suggested that I start the work with the needles laid out on a pillow, only picking them up just enough to knit the stitches. The pillow can be rotated to the next needle when necessary. Another person said they used a folded towel. The pillows I had available were too fat and rounded so I went with a folded tea towel.

I still wasn't having any (lasting) success though, until someone wrote to say I should try knitting the center portion on bamboo skewers (the yarn slides less) and then once I got it going I could transfer the knitting to the regular needles. Even with this final hint it took me another couple tries before I got it right.

When I first looked at the picture close up I thought perhaps I had made a mistake as it looks a bit wonky, but I dragged out the book and as far as I can tell the shawl in the book looks the same.

Hopefully my luck will hold and I'll be able to get far enough to justify a lifeline. Once I get the center petaled flower done it gets much, much easier (and quite boring I hear).

Whose Chair?

Back in July of 2004 I told you about our resident chair thief.

At the time the perfect solution seemed to be to drag a wicker deck chair into the living room (trying to ignore how out of place and shabby it looks) place the dog's blanket in it, (well, no, that blanket isn't hers, its actually stolen from her boy) and to let her know she had her own chair to sit in. Sounds reasonable right? (If a dog having their own chair in the living room is reasonable.) But no. Look what has happened.

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She claims MY chair is just the right size, covered with comfy, hardwearing (if garish) fabric, and has a nice gentle gliding motion perfect for afternoon naps. She only decides to move if I seem to be about to sit on her.

Chocolate Cupcake Hat

With readjusted proportions (and flavors), I present the second in what might become a series, The Chocolate Cupcake Hat.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Vanilla Cupcake

Yesterday I whined to my daughter about my difficulties in doing a circular cast-on for a lace shawl with slippery tencel yarn. Things were not going well to say the least. She wisely told me to put the tencel down, take a break, and go knit one of these:

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In case you can't tell, it's a Cupcake Hat. Mine is a little wonky because I purposely knit at a tighter gauge so it would fit a smaller child, but then neglected to adjust the length. My icing portion is a little tall.

You can see the original proportions and find the free pattern here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Shape Shifter Cushion

Sometimes it's best to just give up on a project-gone-horribly-wrong and take the scissors to it!

And I mean that in a nice way. This was to be a lovely, lace accented cardigan for me.

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As you can see, it is no such thing. It is now a cushion for my knitting chair. It is hard to tell from the photograph, but this is made from Shape-Shifter wool. This yarn has an ability to grow and change shape all by itself and in ways that all the swatching in the world (and washing of said swatches) can not prepare one for.

I did the swatching. Lots of swatching in fact...four different needle sizes worth. I washed the swatches, gasping in amazement at how the "super" (and I use that word loosely) wash wool expanded, never to shrink back to its post wetting loveliness.

"That's fine,", I said, "I'll just alter the pattern and incorporate the post washing changes." Much, much math was done. I had it all figured out. I knew how many stitches less to cast on, how many pattern repeats would fit into that newly calculated stitch count, and how many rows extra I had to knit to get the same length as stated in the pattern. In theory it sounded great.....in theory. In actuality things were not going to develop quite as I had planned.

As I knit I had my vague suspicions, niggling little doubts in the back of my mind, but I chose to ignore them. I had done all the MATH after all, things were going to be fine. Unfortunately I had neglected to calculate one thing. I was knitting with the most elastic, springy yarn I had ever had on my needles.....a distant cousin to Cascade Fixation perhaps? Certainly it was spun from the backs of Shape-Shifter Sheep.

This (ex) sweater is knit in one piece to the underarms where it is then divided for fronts and back. A lot of time and a lot of knitting takes place before you reach the underarms of a seamless sweater for a gal my size. I spent all that time. I knit all those stitches. And then I divided for the underarms and Whoa! What happened here? Time for a reality check. With the knitted piece no longer scrunched up on a circular needle there was no more denying it, this was going to be far too large. Gynormous in fact. *sigh* *whimper*

Did I crumble? Did I lay down and die? No, no not I. I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to (steek, cut, and graft) I know I will stay alive. (My apologies to Gloria Gaynor.)

Those readers who have been with me since the beginning of this blog know the story of the birthing of the "Cushion Foot Socks". I used the same technique again. This time though, instead of a failed cushion becoming a pair of socks, I am working in reverse and a failed cardigan is becoming a cushion. Sorry, I did not document this project as well as I did the socks.

As I stared dejectedly at the Never-To-Become-A-Cardigan pile of knitting I remembered the socks and wondered if this too could become a resurrected wonder. "Why yes, YES!" I thought, "It matches my chair perfectly. Could it not recover my old, tattered cushion? Of course it could!". I neatly put everything away and went to bed for it was late. I then tossed and turned all night as visions of cushion possibilities danced in my head.

The next morning, bright and early, I wrapped, I measured, I sewed and I hacked. I wrapped the cushion with the preknit fabric, marked the overlap and took it to the sewing machine. After sewing a vertical line to stay the fabric I boldly set at it with the scissors. Tossing aside the extra width I covered the newly cut edge in a row of crochet, sewed buttons under the button band (which I had wisely chosen to incorporate in the cushion design), mattress stitched a seam at the bottom and grafted the stockinette portion at the top. Walla! No longer a failed cardigan, we now have a successful, Shape Shifter Cushion.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Poinsettia Shawl

The Poinsettia Shawl makes its debut.

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It's 48 inches square. I think I would have liked it to be a little bit bigger.

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It's not quite large enough to wrap around and have a casual tie at the front.


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It is made of my own handspun, a 2 ply, laceweight, wool/mohair.

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Here it catches a few rays of fall sun. These two pictures of it draped over my spinning wheel are the most accurate colourwise.

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Wanna see it close up?

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