Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carnivale and how I celebrated Earth Day

Friday was Earth Day and I had been inspired to recycle and reuse something. My wedding dress from a previous marriage was hanging up in the hall closet in a plastic bag just taking up space. Since we have become involved with the SCA, I was inspired to modify the dress and give it new life and get more than one use out of it! ;-)

It's not totally period because of the zipper and the princess seams. The zipper shows as just a line at the back and isn't out there screaming its presence. The seam, a little more obvious. The original dress also came with cap sleeves and lace, along with lace along the neckline. Here's a poor pic of the original:
So I took off the sleeves and carefully removed the lace pieces off the neckline on Friday. I then changed the neckline into a more square one. I think I'm going to lower it a bit more. I reseamed the sleeves and then it was set. After filling five pots and getting them up to a boil we filled the bathtub with them until it was about four or five inches deep. Added some iDye (three packets), I had already salted the water so it just needed the dress. In it went. That was a bit of a breath holder, was I about to ruin a dress? It soaked for half an hour on one side with some stirring around. Then it was flipped and the other side was on the bottom and not floating up. Those air bubbles can be difficult to get out!  Another half an hour soak and some more swirling around. It was definitely looking a dark green wet. The dress was moved into a garbage bag so it could be taken out to the washer (we have a front loader and I really don't know how to get it to work for something like this. I added just a bit of soap and let it go through a delicate cycle, then on to the dryer for a similar cycle there.

I needed sleeves and had a cream color fabric in mind for them, but was going by a stash of fabric that had been donated by Debbie for the goodie bags. There was a black polyester with butterflies that I had pulled out (Angela was snatching all the other colors that was just enough for making the sleeves. Brandon cut them out and sewed them up for me. I sewed three ribbons on each sleeve and corresponding spots on the arm holes of the dress and we were ready.

I had a dress for Carnivale:
 I had my chemise underneath and my Tudor style shoes on. Hair up too. I need to work on a hair covering. Caterina has the suggestion of adding a cotton velvet trim at the hemline to give it a bit more length and make it more period. Then add some rings on either side of the zipper to then cinch the bodice down more and give support (I was wearing a bra under there). Also something about a gold belt kind of Empress style to also add as support.
Helping Sharon remember how to knit. She had learned as a child but was having problems remembering which stitch was which and tensioning. I showed her a way to keep the tension even and gave her 'bumps' and 'legs' as a way to remember her stitches. ;-) 
 Brandon's masked that he formed and cut from vegetable leather, then scored and hand painted. Very nice!
 His linen shirt that he sewed a lot by hand.
 His lined cloak based off an Italian extant one found.
The mask competition to show other people in their garb. You can also see that Brandon was wearing his kilt hose with his pants. (Andrea at the bottom right won with her peacock mask.)

Carnivale was a lot of fun. I didn't do any of the classes, but chatted with people. The feast was impressive with the number of courses served as well as the quality of the food. I had rabbit for the first time too! 

The feast had the added fun of a 'civilized food fight'. It was started by another table (we had their son at ours) with the arrival of a wooden bowl with a scrap of meat and cheese and the appropriate pun (I can't remember what it was). We then had to come up with a return with the food we had available. It kept the conversation going and laughs at both tables. We look forward to doing it again in the future.

After dinner there was more dancing and Brandon was kept busy with that. He'll also be partnering for the dance demo at Faire in the Grove next weekend.


A couple weeks ago Sara posted a picture on her blog and the first one who could identify it would win some stuff she picked up in San Francisco when she was down for TNNA. Easy-Peasy!  When you have two currants in your front yard flower bed, and they are one of the earliest flowering so that you know spring is coming, easy to identify.

Here's what ours looked like a couple years ago (didn't take pics last year of it, and we cut it back so much smaller this year):
What Sara sent as the prizes:
 All together
 Little sheep clips.
 Little memo pad with the sheep and then pink sheets.
 Spiral notebook with knitting kittens.
Inside the notebook the lines are caused by the ball of yarn that ran away from the kitten.

Thank you Sara!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

My handspun Easter Basket:

First up were the Chocolate Easter Bunnies:
Slightly different because I read the instructions one way the first time and the way they were intended the second. First is on the right, second on the left. Matching button eyes. I used handspun Shetland from my Primitive Fibers Bundle.
Took the nesting bowl pattern and kind of followed the large design. I was using a different weight yarn (lace to light fingering.  I started out with the Icelandic, the grey and then used the Norwegian, the dark brown almost black.  I tried hand felting it but wasn't happy with those results, so popped it into the washer and then let it dry on an upside down bowl in the sun on the patio table. Both of these from the same Primitive Breeds bundle (Finn - Pretty Thing Cowl, Gotland, Icelandic - bowl, Norwegian - bowl and Shetland - Chocolate Bunnies).
Remember the Kool-Aid dyed alpaca-merino-silk? Here it is knit onto one of those plastic Easter Eggs. I knit 95% of it then as I got to the bottom, popped in the egg and worked decreases. I used Judy's Magic Cast On and then kitchener stitched it closed, so a seamless egg. ;-)  Sorry about the blurry pic, much better in the bowl below.

I wanted to do another egg, but I really should have been working on my Aeolian Shawl and Brandon would have been saying I should have been working on my dress for Carnivale.....

(More about how my Carnivale dress was my "Earth Day" dress, in that I was recycling, tomorrow.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Giant Step Back

I started working on my Azul Aeolian Shawl last week. It started out really well, even with how time consuming putting on all those beads. Things were going well. The this weekend I started struggling. I wasn't having problems with the charts and even was doing the 9 stitch nupp. I had done the suggested four repeats of the Yucca chart, but looking back could have doubled that number. I then hadn't read for the shawlette that I only needed to do one Agave chart and had done both. At that point I was sure I had enough yarn, I think I was less than half way through the ball and ready to start the edging charts. I negotiated myself into doing the Alternative edging because it had twelve less rows to do. I started the edging yesterday but then couldn't build up excitement to progress. Usually that close to the end I get on a roll and am excited to have things get done so I can see the final project. That wasn't happening.

Today I should have jumped in and started working on it, but found myself going through emails, Ravelry, Facebook, reading blog posts, anything other than knitting on this project. I had also kind of set myself up that I needed to finish this project before doing work on the other stuff for this month. The Teddy Bear doesn't count because lace shouldn't be done at knit night. ;-)

Here's were things were this afternoon:

 Closeup of half the shawl
 Close up of the 9-stitch nupps

Then I realized that I wasn't excited how this shawl was coming along. It was getting heavy with all those beads. It was then I realized that I needed to frog and start over, but maybe not today.  So in about ten minutes I had this:
 the beads
 the yarn pile
all rewound back up into a ball 

So tonight, I'm going to try out an Easter Rabbit out of some handspun Shetland. Tomorrow is spinning during the day and back to the Teddy Bear at knitting. Thursday I'll try to get started again and see if I can get it done over the weekend. I also need to get some sewing done, somehow.....

Was I crazy?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spinning quickie

I'm almost afraid to say anything in case I jinx myself. ;-) Spinning has been going well so far this year. Things aren't taking forever, like they seemed to last year, to get spun up. Last week it was the Icelandic Single. This week its the alpaca two ply. I got the alpaca from Chris at Upstream Alpacas.  I had gotten to feel her undyed fiber at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (she shared lovely dyed stuff from her Etsy store in our World Wide Spin in Public goodie bags) and so knew I wanted to spin some of her stuff for my Fair spinning. (If I could, I'd buy her lovely dyed rovings every month!)

Here's the one ounce of rose-grey I spun:

127.8 yards of lace weight. Still need to do the whole wpi stuff for both. ;-)

I've started organizing the World Wide Knit in Public event for this year. We're going to have needles along with our destash/trade yarn table. So we can hopefully get anyone started who may be interested in learning how to knit. Cindy's roommate was getting a piano which necessitated her to relocate her stash. Thus a bit of reorganizing. Two things came out of it. She cleaned out her needles that she isn't using and her fiber samples that she decided she wasn't going to spin up. We have a whole bunch of needles thanks to Cindy and Terrie donating straight needles. I went through the bag of fiber samples and shared with Debbie, Carol, Tracy and Angela. I still ended up with a nice haul. ;-) There's cotton samples, camel-silk, alpacas, and various wools in different states - dyed, washed, and in the grease. There's three I'm not sure their exact wool, so hope that Shelia can identify for me. (She also went to SOAR 2009 and got the same goodie bag so should have a good idea) (If you went and know, please let me know!)
Here's what the samples look like:
Planning to spin the pygora and then the polworth. The Plants to Dye For group on Ravelry has tempted me into trying out dyeing with Black Beans. Yup, you get the dried ones and soak them in water. Prep your fiber with alum and then after the beans have soaked, you put your fiber in the liquid. Some people do it with the beans still in there and put it under the beans. Not sure how I'll do it yet. The blues that come out are really pretty. 

Currently working on my Aeolian shawl with beads. 6/0 beads instead of the 8/0. I just finished the Agave chart and need to do the 'Final Agave Chart' before moving on to the Edging charts. The beading really slows things down and there are a ton of beads!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Icelandic Single and Kool-Aid Dyed Socks

This month I'm doing my "Fair" spinning. Yarns that meet the requirements for the State Fair, but that I hope to be able to enter one or more for judging at Black Sheep Gathering and then the county fair. My first one I had hoped to be a thicker more worsted weight yarn but the fiber didn't want to cooperate. ;-) It was full of hay and other veggie bits and then kind of neppy. The fiber? Icelandic roving with both the tog and thel that I picked up during the Seattle-Portland Yarn Train Crawl at Urban Fiber Arts:
I ended up with 247 yards:
 On the bobbin
 Off the bobbin, soaked and washed and twist set
Showing the strands. It's surprisingly soft yarn even with the tog.  What to knit with it after all the Fairs?

I had a different sock planned in my queue but last month as I was going through my Christmas bin I found another pattern - Twists and Turns. I thought it would be great for the intended yarn, my Kool-Aid overdyed Lion Brand Sock-ease. Formerly Cotton Candy, I dyed it with Cherry, Tropical Punch and Black Cherry. The yarn came out a bit more orange-red than planned. Then because of the yarn wraps to hold in place, there were lots of places where dye never reached. At knit night they said it looked fine and to keep it that way. It bugged me, so I over dyed again with Black Cherry after I completed the socks.
Yesterday we had a break in all our rain and had a sunny day. We took the dogs for a nice walk, but didn't have the camera. Since it wasn't raining today and I had the camera outside for the sock photos, plus the yard was freshly mowed....I was able to see that my violas were blooming:
Which caused me to discover that the Bleeding Heart is getting ready to burst forth into blooms:
The Asian Pear is also loaded in blooms and hopefully will become future fruits:

At least one Mason bee has come out of its tube, hopefully its also laying larvae in one of the other tubes over the season. Still have five others that need to come out, but we're back down below 60 degrees again and some areas got snow last week.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fixed it, finished it, and made another

Last month I had mad Leeloo an I-Matey Dog Coat is what they call it. She wasn't thrilled to be trying it on with the needles still in the project, even they weren't poking. So at first it seemed as if it was long enough, but as this shows, still a little short and in need of more decreases:
Since I was trying to get kilt hose and shrugs done, I put it aside to fix at another time to be determined.  Sunday afternoon, I decided it was a good time to take out the ribbing and try to tuck up the tummy area and add some length. The frogging went really well, thankfully, so it wasn't that difficult to pick up the stitches and start adding decreases. I didn't have a definite plan for them, just kind of added them in along the way. I took it down to sixteen stitches and then picked up stitches for the ribbing. I might have been able to take the back length maybe half an inch longer, but I would have had to start the decreases sooner to really tuck the tummy area. ;-)
You can see some of the decreases and how it narrowed down and that there is definitely more length to the back.

Still a little bulk at the tummy, but her legs are in the way, so it bunches there. I'm fine with it though. I also rolled her collar, but it doesn't have to be that way. I need to try it on her with her harness on. I want to see if I can steek a hole for her to wear the harness underneath and the D rings come up through the hole.

I cast on this shrug after finishing the one just before midnight on March 31st. April 1st start time, and with errands on Friday, not a lot of knitting time. I did knit, not steadily, Saturday and before bed thought I might have a bit more to knit. Sunday morning when I picked it up, I realized that I really should just go ahead and do the ribbing. I bound off and had to dip a couple yards into a second ball. Means I have two balls to do another project, and I have a beret pattern in mind to send along with the shrug.  Here's the shrug I've decide is going to Bailey:

Here's what the shrugs all look like:

I like that with a change of needle size and yarn I can get a different fit, and have something for different ages. ;-)

Sunday morning I wanted a quick little project, so I grabbed the Abstract Fiber BFL Sample I spun last month. I used up the two samples that had blues and just touched the Smith Rock part while binding off, so I have another Barn Raising Quilt block:

There wasn't enough of the Smith Rock sample to do a complete Barn Raising block, so I rewound the ball and set it aside. I had already wound the sock yarn for this month and while going through last year's Christmas projects bin I found a pattern that I planned to use with a different yarn, but thought it would work with this one. A couple of cast on attempts and before bed I had the ribbing portion done. You'll have to wait for a finished sock for a good pic of it.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Knitting time

"Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter."

I have my spot on the couch with my side table that I knit in while watching TV at home. I can have a drink nearby, but I'm a 'no crumbs on my yarn!' kind of knitter. There have been accidental dribbles of coffee, but those all wash out thankfully! Recorded TV shows or movies are favorites. While I don't eat while knitting, watching cooking shows can be a substitute for food. I have light coing from a side window, a good torchiere lamp and if that's not enough, a table lamp on the backside of B's computer desk behind me.

Since I'm unemployed, between household chores of dishes, laundry and housecleaning, I knit. As mentioned I try to make gifts for family for birthdays and holidays. So this is working right? This year, though I'm going to try to get some sewn projects mixed in with the knit. ;-)  Look for those soon, I hope.

Wednesday nights are knit nights at Whole Foods, so knitting gets done there along with the socializing. Sometimes it can be difficult to get knitting done that requires concentration in this type of environment, so something that doesn't take a lot of attention can keep frustration to a minimum. Another friend has said that her former knit group had a rule against doing lace knitting in group. Something about having to rip out too often from mistakes made in knit group.

Book signings at Powell's have also seen me knitting on a sock or the current project. It always surprises me when someone there will say - "oh, I never thought to bring my knitting with me! What a good idea!" Are these just casual knitters? What kind of knitter does this make me?

There have been a few car trips where I've let the DH drive so that I could finish knitting a project, but in general I prefer driving so that doesn't happen too often. I'd love a chance to knit on a train, but no train trips in our future for awhile. I learned how to knit after I was no longer taking long plane trips, so no chance to knit on them or pick up yarns from faraway places. Darn!

I've seen those cute little bags that look like first aid kits that are for 'emergency' knitting you can keep in your car. I understand the thought, I guess if I liked to knit what they call vanilla or plain socks that something like that would be good to keep in the glove box.  My problem? I want to enjoy my knitting and just going around and around like that can be boring. If I had something more 'interesting' in the kit, it wouldn't stay in the kit, because if I started it, I'd want to finish. Then would have to find something else to put in there. So easier to have a bag that goes with me 'just in case'.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Something to aspire to

"Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make bu can admire the result of those that have."

I have been meaning to learn how to double knit. Marnie MacLean had shown on the Knitty Gritty show how she double knitted the fingers of her Lake Park Gloves. When I went to look at the directions the show was sharing, they didn't include the double knit part. :-(   The shorty finger gloves are popular and great for gifts, so really want to learn ow.

I've also have seen a potholder to learn on at Then there little sachets in the latest Last Minute Gifts book. These are much smaller and I can use up leftover worsteds.

The other skill I'd like to learn is entrelac. Michele has created some pretty patterns using entrelac for cowls. I also watched Judy Becker make a pretty shawl using this technique.

I remember when I thought I wouldn't ever knit socks, now I've learned that there really isn't anything in knitting that can't be done, you just have to have the desire to give it a go. You may stumble and have to start over a few times, but there's usually someone around that has already done it and can give you a boost. That's what knit nights are for, the socializing and the ability to turn to someone and ask for a little assistance because they've already done it before. Then share the knowledge in the future with someone else.

What have you wanted to learn how to do, but haven't found time, or someone to help?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shrugging out of March

Or "It's a wrap!"

I had hoped to get three shrugs done in March. Those the shawl and then the socks seem to suck up time in their own ways. I then tried to get a shrug pattern to work for ten and eleven year old girls. I cast on with the recommended needles, said no way was that going to work. Tried on the needles three sizes larger and still wasn't going to work. I even thought I'd add in the motif pattern on each side to increase and that threw other numbers off and all of this took a couple of days earlier in the week and kept me from getting all three done.

I put that pattern aside and went with the one intended for the adult. It went really well, even with adding a couple extra increases and lengthening the body. I imagine that if I wanted to I could try to spice it up, but its a nice simple little shrug that will keep her warm in the spring or fall. Could be used in the other seasons I'm sure too.

I used a ball and almost another one out of my three leftover ones of the Berroco Love It! I'd used in my February Lady Sweater. I'd gotten these in one of Susan Pandorf's destash sales she had last year. I think I can get a hair out of the leftover ball and a smidge.  Here's the shrug that I'm currently thinking may go to Bailey, but may go to Keisha. It was originally intended for Keisha but looks small, but when I see her next I may decide it would fit her. Trying to be flexible here!

I had given my stepmother, Linda, my Sunflower Tam for Christmas last year. After being told by the DH that it wasn't my shade of yellow, I thought doing a shrug out of the remainder might be a good use of it. The original pattern called for a bulky yarn on US 10-1/2 needles, so I made cakes out of the two skeins and then knit from each of them, holding each strand together. I think this took a semi-solid yarn and made a heathered one because of how the light and dark parts of each came together. I polled a few friends that I thought would have similar arm size to get their measurements and decided to do a couple extra increases on the sleeves. I also thought it looked way too short in the body, who wants a shrug that lands in the middle of their boobs? So increased in length there too. I'm also on the look out for a cameo pin so if she wants to 'close' the shrug she can use that. Here's Linda's:
I still have yarn leftover from this too. I see another hat for the leftovers. Hats just seem to be good uses for those oddball leftovers sometimes, don't they?

Wildcard makes for thought

"This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create." With ideas to do wordless, a video, a podcast.....all stuff that I'm just not in to doing. Call me stodgy that way. ;-)  I did have a photo idea yesterday that if I remember might have been fun/cute, but I needed to use PhotoShop to do it, and I've forgotten what the idea was....I'm getting old and forgetful.

I had been doing the posts the day before to take off the pressure of getting one out in a timely manner. Yesterday though was the last day of the month and I had a personal deadline I was trying to meet. I did! I got two shrugs done, one in I started and finished yesterday!

Lorajean had commented via Facebook about my organizing post that it must be why I'm so productive. I think in the last few months why I have been so productive is because I'm knitting things for five different groups. ;-) Two are similar in that they are sock groups using your stash and doing your own sock club. So I'm knitting a pair of socks each month. When I'm not insane and knitting the DH a pair of mile long kilt hose (even if done on large yarn!), I average about a week to do a pair of socks. My only rule with a sock pattern is that I have to enjoy it. If I don't then the second one would never get done. This helps a lot! If I'm trudging along on the first one, putting it down a lot, then it gets evaluated as to why. If I can't get over the 'why', its frogged and another pattern is found.

One of the other groups is a shawl group. I'm again only using stash and dipping into my handspun yarns so extra special. I have a lot of shawl patterns in my queue and this is helping to get them knit up! I'm not sure what I'm going to do at the end of the year with a dozen shawls, but suspect that some will become gifts.

Which leads to the Christmas monthly make ahead group. I went through the people that we gift to and tied things in my queue to a person and then used the themes that the group came up with each month to decide when to knit them. For March, the two shrugs I finished at the last minute are both for that group. There's monthly prizes if you knit for the theme, so I also get entered into the drawing. (The shawl group also has a drawing)

The 12 in 2011 is to get you to knit something each month. They don't care if you use something that you're using in another group. So for March I'm doing that because the shrug I planned for the nieces gobbled up a few days trying to decide if it was going to work or not, until I decided to go with this other one. I'm using it to get items that don't fall into the Christmas gifts, checking there's three items left to do that are gifts. Everything else are items that I've been meaning to do for myself, but haven't because I've been knitting for everyone else!

I'm being 'selfish' this year and making sure that a portion of my knitting is for me or my family that I get direct feedback saying they appreciate my efforts. Sure people have said when they have received and item that they like it, but do I get pictures of them wearing them?  Not so far! Though Judy has told be several times since Christmas how much she has been loving her dishcloths and how they don't sour like others do and that she'd love to get more. That kind of feedback will get her more.

So I really think I'm being more productive because I'm participating in these groups and trying to meet these deadlines. They're artificial deadlines, but I try not to treat them that way. (Why I was up until after midnight getting a shrug done - it was done before, but I had other things to wrap up after it.) There aren't any knitting police that are going to show up if I don't make the deadlines, but I like the sense of accomplishment in knowing that I'm getting stuff done.

Oh! I am also doing a 12 in 2011 for spinning. It seems to be helping there too. I've had a much easier time with getting things spun up and even able to not have to worry about spinning for the rest of the month if I needed to knit, or do some little side spinning. This next month I have fair spinning so a number of one ounce projects that I'll see how much I get done.

Hopefully these groups help me grow in my knitting skills as well as my finished projects pile for me as well as for family members!