Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Gift Updates and Other Trivia

I am very happy to report that my handmade holiday gifts met with much enjoyment - Madison looked adorable in her party dress (and being a complete idiot, I forgot to take my camera with me, and therefore have no pictures to show) and also LOVED her knitting dinosaurs; my Dad called to say how much he loved the Intricate Stag pillow; and my little felted Xmas Trees were enjoyed by all who received them. Thank you, everyone, for your appreciation and for being part of my life - I am very fortunate to have such wonderful friends and family.

I am still working on the Delft Pillow for my mom, which wasn't intended to be a Xmas gift. I took it with me when I went down to see her over the holiday and she was pleased with how it looks so far in it's current half-finished state. While the linen and cotton aren't the easiest things to work with for a stranded design the finished fabric is very appealing - it's more upholstery fabric-like in feel, than knitted, which certainly suits the pillow idea very well.

As the Delft Pillow is not exactly conversation-friendly knitting I started a long-pondered new project to have on hand for those times when my mind needed something more, well, mindless. I have long loved Amanda Blair Brown's Fringed Stripe scarf from Interweave Knits, but was not crazy about all that 1x1 ribbing together with intarsia in 7 colours. But I also had some luscious but no longer available vegetable-dyed alpaca yarn in just the right number of colours to do the scarf with. I finally took the plunge and started in the fringe sections.

Much to my surprise, the fringe sections are knitting up with surprising speed so I am feeling less trepidacious about actually finishing the whole thing. As I am short, I don't intend to make the scarf the entire 96" length specified so that helps speed up the knitting as well. Instead of making the fringed section approximately 20" long on each end, I am going with about 16", and keeping the center intarsia section at 50" as specified. That will give me a more manageable 82" in length; better suited to my pipsqueak stature, I think!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All the best.......

I'm a bit off this week on my blogging schedule, it seems. It's such a treat to be on vacation for a couple of weeks and I was having too much fun to remember what day it was, and simply forgot to post on Sunday as usual. But, today, on Christmas Eve, I wish everyone the very best, whatever holiday you celebrate (or not). I am so grateful for my family, my friends, and for the wide, wonderful, and woolly community of knitters out there. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

My holiday knitting wasn't extensive this year, but it's great to see one of my gifts already in use. I gave my friend Bonnie one of my felted Xmas Trees, trimmed with vintage buttons, and she promptly realized that it made a perfect festive hat for her Ugly Doll, Poe. The tree is from Mason-Dixon Knitting - Outside the Lines (their 2nd book) and is easy easy easy, and so cute when done. I made several of them, each in a different yarn and with different buttons. By all reports Poe is extremely proud of his new hat, and also to hear that he would make a guest appearance on this blog.

Once they were all done, the Prehistoric Pals for Madi were also really cute. (Some of them looked really odd while in process; it wasn't until they were all complete that they really got cute. If you try the pattern, be patient.) They all benefited from a trip through the was to felt them slightly after they were stuffed and all the details added. The pattern is very easy to knit, if a bit fiddly with all the finishing, but not nearly as much so as I feared. I'm glad I chose a wool yarn instead of cotton as I originally planned to use; all of the seams and joinings would have been harder to do neatly without the forgiving nature of wool, and they certainly wouldn't have been able to be felted to help smooth away a lot of the little irregularities.

So instead, I chose to use cotton (and linen) for my next project, the Delft Pillow from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2008 issue. Mom has been wanting some pillows for her couch, as it's a bit too deep to sit on comfortably without a little extra cushion behind her back, and she loved this pattern when I showed it to her. She had some Manos del Urauguay Cotton Stria yarn left over from a vest I made her some time ago that was a perfect shade of blue for her room, and I had some natural flax coloured Euroflax Linen yarn in my stash, which looked great with the couch, so we were all set on yarn without having to shop for more (not that I ever mind shopping for more!)

The pillow is constructed in an intriguing way so I'm very glad to have an excuse to try it out. The first step is an i-cord, which then becomes the piping along the bottom edge. The stitches for the pillow body are then picked up along one edge of the i-cord and the pillow is knitted in the round from there up, with a corded edge running up each side. This makes for a very tight turn on the edges of the pillows so it requires the use of 2 circular needles to work the pillow. This was really making me crazy; I have never liked the 2-circular needle method for socks or other things, so I finally switched to using a 60" needle from my Knit Picks Options set, and doing something like a Magic Loop technique.

Knitting stranded patterns in non-wool fibres doesn't make for the easiest or most forgiving knitting, but so far I'm very happy with how it looks. I made a sample using the design for the back and put it through the wash to soften the linen (which I am using doubled to match the weight of the cotton yarn) and it looked good enough to go ahead with the whole pillow. Now that the pillow is about half-way done I am very happy with it. I've just bound off and cast on for the opening in the back, which will later on be closed with a row of small buttons.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Next on my list of things to finish for Xmas are a flock of knitted dinosaurs for my niece. The pattern is Prehistoric Pals from Knitting at Knoon (there are lots of cute toy and children's garments patterns on this website) and is much easier than it might first appear. There are lots of small pieces and sewing involved, but the shaping is simple and well thought out. I used Galway knitting worsted for all the dinosaurs. At this point I have completed three of the four dinosaurs, with one still to go. The last one was what was called a brontosaurus when I was a kid, but is now something like brachiasaurus.

The snowpeople I made a while back, using a free Knit Picks pattern, were finished in a way I hadn't thought of trying before. The bodies were knitted, stuffed, and then felted, so the stuffing provided a little resist and allowed the felting to keep it's shape a bit better than an un-stuffed body would have. After finishing the stegosaurus it seemed that a little felting wouldn't hurt this little guy, either. The polyester fiberfill stuffing showed through the knitting a little more than I liked, and the details, such as the spikes along the back, could use a little more firmness. So I decided to risk a little felting on the finished stegosaurus. This photo is before felting.

This one is the "after" shot. The difference doesn't appear to be that big on the photo but it's just what I was after. The knitting tightened up and got just a little fluffier at the same time. The seams are less obvious, and the pikes along the spine really firmed up. The legs are a bit sturdier, as well.

To do the felting, I put the entire, finished dinosaur into a zippered pillowcase protector, and added it to a load of laundry set to hot wash/cold rinse, with laundry detergents as usual for a load of wash. Once the load was done, I took the dinosaur out of the pillowcase and shaped it a bit (tugging the spikes into nice points; shaping the face and tail, etc) and let it air dry.

While they are in process the dinos don't look like much; I got lots of puzzled looks from my fellow commuters on the ferry while making them! Here's the T Rex before the legs and face were done (who knew that a T Rex head was shaped almost exactly like the heel of a sock?). In the first photo on this post he's in the background; done but not yet felted. He's in the washing machine as I write this post.

Once all the pieces are together, and the eyes embroidered, the dinos really come together. They're very cute in a slightly goofy way; I think they will be perfect for a dinosaur-crazed three year old, don't you? I think this fellow is just asking for my little niece to take him home and play with him.

Monday, 12/15 - A quick addition to yesterday's post. The dress for my niece appeared to have been lost in the mail (gulp) but mercifully turned up in a pile of other packages from my sister-in-law's family in Wales. The dress not only fit, but Madi loved it, so there is hope that she will actually consent to wear it come Christmas Day!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Instead of concentrating on knitting over the past week I focused on a sewing project - a holiday dress for my niece, Madison. I had some fabric remaining after finishing a project for myself - a beautiful magenta crinkled metallic/cotton, and a magnificent piece of re-embroidered lace I had acquired at a fabric shop where I had formerly worked. Madison is a very girly girl so I think the deep pink tones will be a very pretty colour on her for the holidays. I managed to squeeze the bodice out of the lace, and it looked beautiful over the magenta crinkled metallic. (Sorry; I cannot manage to get that photo to turn right side up so just imagine that its facing the correct way!)

My first intention was to make a ruched ruffle around the lower edge of the skirt, but determined it would be too heavy for the dress. Instead, I made a rose out of one of the bias strips I had cut, added some buds dangling at the end of a bit of covered cord, and had myself one fine little party dress for a 3 year old.

I used a pattern I had already tried out - Burda 3025. I made the dress more or less right by the pattern, with a few exceptions. I left the lower edge of the sleeves ungathered to make a more ruffle-like sleeve, and added a self-fabric piping around the neckline and the waist. As the lace could possibly be scratchy as well as bulky, I replaced the back buttoned facings with a full lining in the bodice. I also used thread loops for the buttons instead of attempting buttonholes through the lace.

I was busting to get the dress done not only to mail off to my sister in law, but even more importantly, to share at the annual Sew group Holiday Party. Since I don't get to too many of the Sew group meetings any more (I live too far away to get to most of them) I never miss the Holiday Party.

And so, with dress in hand, I made it to Menlo Park for my Sew Group Party, and a good time was had by all. It was terrific to be with my friends - I have known many of them for over 20 years now, and they're the best group of friends anyone could wish for. As my contribution to the gift exchange game I included a scarf I had knit with fringe along the sides (I was told by one person that this blog was checked for clues as to what I was bringing, but still managed to surprise a few people. Now now I know to be discrete in my pre-holiday blogging!)

And now I get to look forward to my Knitting Group party on Tuesday (I know, the social whirl is just unending) and my more recent but no less wonderful group of friends. And if any of you are looking at this post for clues for that gift exchange you're not going to find them!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Most of my knitting activity this past week has focused on my ongoing stranded-knit project, the Intricate Stag pillow, which since it's intended as a Christmas gift does come with a certain time limit attached to it. Considering that it is also a thank you for my Dad's gift of 2 kilos of beautiful ready to spin roving from New Zealand, and that he gave me this wonderful gift at least 2 years ago it might be mentioned that my timing is already a little off, but that's the way gift giving can be in my family. We all make stuff, and make stuff for other people and each other, and I think it's fair to say that everyone in my family are either poor judges of how much time projects take; procrastinators; involved in too many projects at one time; or simply have no sense of time. Actually, for most of us, it's all of the above all of the time.

But I am pleased to say that my modifications to Norah Gaughans' Intricate Stag Bag (available through the Knitting Daily Pattern Store)have vastly speeded-up the process. I am knitting the pillow in the round rather than back and forth (a real sanity-saver when doing stranded knitting) and adapted the border designs to be something more interesting, and have also adapted them further to make this interesting diamond design on the pillow back. I have just worked past the deer panel in the center of the front and am now winging it on the opening in the back, which will have a buttoned flap to allow the pillow insert to be removed for washing, etc.

The chart is much easier to do than it might appear (assuming that one is knitting in the round as I am; it would be a nightmare to do from the backside in purl if done in rows). I have a handy magnetic chart board from Knit Picks that makes it very easy to follow the chart - I highly recommend this little gadget. It also helps a lot to photocopy the chart, enlarging it too a more easily seen size. The zigzag background is very rhythm, and would have progressed much more quickly if I was actually capable of counting to 2 on a regular basis.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little things

I've been working on a bunch of small things, mostly as holiday gifts. I downloaded this Snow Man pattern from Knit Picks web site and had a lot of fun making these little things. I used oddments of other yarns left over from other projects, added mismatched vintage pearl buttons and embroidered the features. The hat is felted separately from the bodies and sewn on later. The scarf isn't felted at all.

The felted tree behind this little guy is from the Mason-Dixon Knitting-Between the Lines (the 2nd book). It's knitted as a very simple cone; I changed it to knit form the top down so I could use any amount of yarn as long as I left enough to bind off with.

I sewed some vintage black pearl ball buttons with a rhinestone set into them all around the tree as decorations/lights. The tree gives me no end of delight, as the rhinestones sparkle beautifully in even very low light. More trees are in the works.

I also made Grumperina's new Tretta Hat pattern, with a few minor modifications: I added beads on the cast on (every other stitch) and put three beads on each leaf all around. My alpaca singles yarn was too fragile to handle sliding the beads along all the way through the hat, so I put the beads on one ball of yarn, and only used that ball for the beaded rows. It made for a lot less pushing of beads along the yarn, and made for a break-free knitting experience.

And lastly, I have gotten started on a pillow for my Dad and stepmother, using yarn I spun from the wool he brought me from New Zealand a couple years ago. It's based on Norah Gaughan's Intricate Stag Bag from Knit Scene; it's a simple matter to change it to a pillow. I'm knitting it in the round : i can't imagine knitting the purse in back and forth rows, given the complexity of the stag portion of the design (I'm barely into row 3 of the stag portion, so it doesn't show yet in the photo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Magical time with friends

What a great way to spend a Sunday - an afternoon with my knitting buddies, along with heaps of yarn, loads of cookies and cake, lots of laughs, and a fun project to work on together. Christy had recently asked me if I would do a little workshop for the gang on the Magic Ball knitting technique, which is what I have used in the 1,000 Petaled Lotus chair seat project. I was happy to oblige, and today was at long last the day to get together and have a blast making up our own personal Magic balls.

(Needless to say, there are endless jokes, insinuations, and other ribaldry that can be had on the subject of magic balls, and in the interest of maintaining a high tone in this blog I will restrain myself from making them. As all of the jokes we could think of were already made during the workshop the fun has pretty much worn off anyway. )

First came the obligatory indulgence in cookies and cake, coffee and tea. The ladies all sat very politely through my lecture on what the Magic Ball technique actually is and while I showed my samples. They had great questions and were an excellent class. The fact that several are former or current schoolteachers might account for their excellent behaviour. They even took notes.

I had a bunch of books out for inspiration - all of my treasured Kaffe Fassett books; books of charted designs for colourwork knitting; colour theory, etc. I can still remember vividly the first time I saw Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knits - it was in the early 1980s, and I can honestly say that the book changed my knitting - and my life - forever. Stephanie brought some of her own to share as well.

I had asked everyone to bring yarn to contribute to a mutual pile to work from, and clearly, there as a group we must own a lot of yarn if the contents of this pile represents only the oddballs and scraps we were all willing to contribute. We started to consider how much money spent on yarn the pile represented but gave it up quickly; none of us could count that high.

All of us are handspinners, some for many, many years like Christy, Stephanie and Cathi; others of us for less time, but handspun yarns are perfect for this technique. Magic Balls look best best when they have lots of yarns with some subtle mixes of colours, like tweeds and heathered tones, and handspun yarns are so often beautifully irregular and rich in mixed shades. All of us have oddments of early spinning experiments that might not look good on their own but that mix in beautifully in a nicely shaded magic Ball. We had plenty to work with; as Kaffe says himself "If in doubt, add 20 more colours..."

So after a wonderful few hours spent with some of the best people I know, we all had a wonderful Magic Ball to kit with. It's great fun to see how we can recognize each others' Magic Balls just by the colours we each favour and use a lot, and agreed that sometime it would be fun to try this again and have each participant use a colour range deliberately outside of our personal comfort zone. Another workshop for another time.

Thanks, ladies, for spending your day with me! And to those who couldn't make it, you were missed, but we will try it again another time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bits, pieces, and other thoughts

At long last the election season is over. While I can easily express my pleasure at the end of this long ordeal I have no words for how I feel about Barak Obama's election. It is the first time I have been genuinely excited and enthusiastic about a president. I'm still trying to take in the enormity of it all, and feeling very emotional about the great shift that has just taken place in the national psyche. Change won't happen overnight, but just in having such an unlikely candidate (as he himself said) prevail shows that change has already occurred.

So what have I been knitting this past week or so while so much was going on in the polls, the news, and elsewhere? In the absence of a big project I have been making scarves using batches of yarn I inherited from my Sew Group friend, Laurel, after her passing a year or so ago. There were lots of different yarns, primarily in the fuchsia/magenta and teal colours she loved so much, and in a variety of textures and fibres (lots of cotton, silk, and rayon blends) and while there was lots of yarn there wasn't any more than a ball or partial ball of any one thing.

I started with the magenta and fuschia batch, and made a lengthwise-striped scarf in seed stitch. I left a long tail at the beginning of each row, knitted across in seed stitch, and then broke off the yarn at the end, leaving another long tail. I did this on every single row, working anywhere from 1-4 rows in any single yarn or colour, and alternating the colours and textures as I wished. I knotted the loose tails together with an overhand knot every time I had 4 tails to secure them. The seed stitch does a wonderful job of blurring the edges between colours so the stripes have more of a woven effect. The scarf is about 65 inches long, not including the fringe, and each row took approximately 7 yards of yarn. Any length of yarn not long enough to go into this scarf went towards scarf #2.......

For scarf #2 I also knitted lengthwise and left long tails for fringe at each end, but used a simple basketweave stitch to play up the woven effect. This scarf is more of a decorative,, scarf in place of jewelry length of about 54 inches long,not including fringe. Once again, I changed colours and textures anywhere from every 1 to 4 rows. I forgot to check how many yards I needed for each row on this one.

By this time I had lots of yarn left, but most of it was in lengths too short to do a lengthwise scarf like the two above. The same was true for the teal yarns. Laurel had used a lot of these yarns for necklaces that she used to make, combining lots yarn into twisted ropes that were embellished with beads and such. Many of the yarns I had from here were already cut into 1 1/2 - 3 yard lengths. So how could I make scarves using such short pieces? I didn't want lots of knots on the back side of the scarf.

My solution was to knit a scarf the short direction as is more usual, but I left long tails at the beginning and end of each row as I did above, creating a fringe along one long edge of the scarf. I knotted the tails for fringe every 2 rows for this one. This scarf used up all of the scraps of magenta and fuchsia and was done in garter stitch, with a single back-and-forth per colour or yarn. I only needed a 1 1/2 yard length to do each garter stitch 2-row ridge. I don't have a detail of it, but in the first photo in this post it's the scarf on the far left.

For the teal yarns I did the same thing but made a slightly wider scarf using seed stitch once again, and once again varying the number of rows with any one yarn either 2 or 4 rows. I still leave a tail on one side at the beginning and end of each row, even if it is the same yarn. I'm knotting the tails every 2 rows for this one, as for the other side-fringed scarf.

mixes, so I repeated stripes of each of those yarns in somewhat regularly spaced intervals (in the In both the magenta and teal side-fringed scarves I am creating a repetition of sorts to help tie all the disparate colours and textures together. In each case, I had some chenille yarns that were fairly noticeable in theteal scarf you can see the dark navy blue chenille and the bulkier turquoise chenille in the photo at left.)

I used size 7 needles for all of these projects, and used up a lot of stash yarns to boot. As a pleasant bonus, I also like the finished scarves! The magenta ones are outside being blocked right now as can be seen in the first photo, but should be ready for action by tonight. I'm hoping to finish the teal one in the next couple of days. This is great sports knitting, needless to say!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Progress and Change

The 1,000 Petal Lotus Chair seat is taking shape at long last. I've completed the main pieces for the backrest and really love how it's looking so far.

While I've shown the lotus pieces just pinned on the chair previously, here's what it looks like now that the slipcover consists of an actual front and back....

... and from the side, with the black and white checkerboard forming the gusset around the edges....

...and from the back with the two back panels completed. There will be some sort of button band joining the backs in the future but that will come much later.

I'm so excited to have this much done, and how it looks! A lot of the decision-making about how the whole thing would be constructed was answered by getting this far. From here, I will be knitting an open tube down from the bottom of the backrest to cover the metal bar which connects the backrest to the seat. From there, I will attach the seat cover and make some sort of skirt from the edges to the floor, design and details of which are still TBD. Once the whole thing is together the button band will be added down the entire back. I've got a slew of vintage mother of pearl buttons that I'll use for the fasteners. So that's my progress so far. The idea and design have changed frequently and probably will continue to until it's done.

Lastly but by no means least - Tuesday is Election Day here in the U.S., so please - VOTE! Whatever leaders, causes, and ideals you care about, just be sure to cast your ballot and make your opinions and your voice count. As for me, I'm sure looking for change.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Since I missed another post last week I've got a lot of catching up to do! I finished the Simple Yet Effective Shawl from my last post, and it's really nice. The Noro Kureyon sock yarn does soften with washing, but I still wouldn't say that softness is one of its virtues but it's soft enough to wear. The pattern is as easy as it gets, and in the self-striping yarn is endlessly entertaining as the stripes change as the triangle gets wider. Of course, it would also be wonderful in a non-striping yarn.

It's somewhere between a scarf and a shawl in size (a shawlette?) and will be a nice colour accent on a grey winter day. Not that the 80 degree plus weather we're having in the Bay Area is even close to grey, but sooner or later wintry weather will arrive and a little warmth will be appreciated.

I've gotten a little side-tracked from the 1,000 Petal Lotus chair slipcover, but I have completed most of the backside of the chair back. I'm using the same magic ball technique as I used for the flower design on the chair seat and the front of the backrest but am using a very different colourwork design. The flower was knitted in a stranded technique, while the more angular stepped design for the back is being done in intarsia.

While the stepped design for the back is very different from the organic, curvilinear flower, the basic idea was to keep the same feeling in having a warm-coloured centre surrounded by the cooler blues and purples of the petals/steps. The hope is that the back will be a more abstract, geometric interpretation of a flower, while the front is the more literal version. Does it look like the idea is working?

Because the steps are more rigid in the number of stitches and the shapes, the individual colours in the magic ball make larger blocks of colour rather than a painterly flow from colour to colour. Once I get the second half of the back done I will start sewing the pieces together and figuring out the actual construction. I'm really looking forward to seeing what this ends up looking like in the long run!

And lastly, and ongoing and seemingly endless project is drum carding a big bag of alpaca that my friend Cat gave me some time ago. It's a beautiful creamy/beige-y colour that will eventually have some undyed silk noils and maybe tussah silk blended into it, but the first task is simply to card the raw fleece into manageable batts. I washed the fleece some time ago (it was pretty dusty) but am only now getting around to carding it. I neglected to weigh the whole fleece before starting so I'm not sure how much I have in terms of weight, but that big stack of batts there on the table is about half of the fleece. I am astonished at the quantity of alpaca that continues to come out of the single grocery sack.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Charity begins close to home

My batch of hats and mittens have been delivered to Afghans for Afghans for their current drive to help kids, but I've had a few reminders in recent days to not forget friends and organizations that are a lot closer to home in my charitable efforts. Most distressingly, I heard from one of my knitting buddies that her husband has just been diagnosed with lymphoma, and as she described it herself, life feels pretty unfair right now, and I have to agree with her. But in the face of events in which I can do so little to help, I do what knitters have always done - knit something. I've gotten a chemo cap started and hope to finish it this week, but if anyone reading this has time to spare for some good thoughts for my friend and her husband it would be greatly appreciated. I'll post more on the pattern and yarn I'm using for the cap later.

I also am very active with the local historical museum, which is facing some tough times this year with reduced funding from the city as well as other challenges posed to everyone with the economic mess that is affecting us all right now. I am making as many items as I can think of to donate to the annual fundraising auction that will take place in early November. The auction will have a food theme, as we are also publishing a cookbook to sell as another fundraiser, so I'm making things like aprons (sewn, not knitted) as well as the string market bags I blogged about last week. They turned out very well, and I had enough of each solid colour to make a striped one, which turned out to be my favourite in the end.

And as a change of pace, I started a simple triangular scarf using Cosmicpluto's Simple Yet Effective Shawl, which is a free download from her blog. While the pattern was originally written for a heavier yarn, she recently made a version from Noro's sock yarn which looked great. I have a skein of the yarn in my stash which I had bought thinking that it might end up as a scarf rather than socks anyway, so it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.

I'm not a big fan of self-striping yarns, but every now and then they are fun to play with, and the triangle shape is fun as the stripes will be very different as the triangle grows. This might be a gift or might not; it remains to be seen, but it's a lot of mindless fun to knit on right now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I've often thought of making some sort of knitted mesh bags for taking to the farmer's market or grocery store but haven't gotten around to it until this past week. Spurred into action by a combination of seeing the Monteagle Bag pattern on the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog (it's a free download); remembering I wanted to make something more to donate to the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum's annual fundraising auction; and lastly, remembering I had 2 balls of J.P. Coats Royale Quick Crochet Thread in my stash (thanks to my friend MmmmYarn - thank you!) I finally sprang into action and got started on my bags.

While I did start off using the Monteagle Bag pattern, I must admit that I found myself defeated by the left-cross right-cross double-wrap drop stitch stuff and gave up without much of a fight. I dropped far too many stitches than were intended and this made for a real mess, let me tell you. I ended up winging it and working up my own pattern starting with a garter stitch square, then picking up stitches around the circumference and doing a fairly simply double-wrapped drop stitch with garter stitch rows in between. This made for a nicely meshy bag that wasn't too stringy and not too crazy-making to knit, either. I finished off the top with an attached i-cord border and an I-cord strap.

As can be seen by this photo with the bag full of several pounds of carrots, potatoes, and red onions (farmer's market stew for dinner tonight - yum) the bag can stretch to hold a lot of stuff! I've finished one out of the cranberry coloured string and have now embarked on a 2nd in a more neutral beige. Each ball contains about 400 yards and was 8.5 oz at the start, including a cardboard core; I used more than 1/2 of the ball of cranberry so I am guessing there will be enough of the beige to do a 3rd and final bag in a stripe of both colours for a total of 3 bags.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Muddling through

I missed a blog post last week, unfortunately - after years of being more or less manageable, my chronic migraines have suddenly gotten all out of whack again, so I have not been feeling very well for a few weeks now. And as a result, I've been taking some new medications to try to get control of the situation again and they've had me feeling a little loopy, I must say, so I just never managed to get to the computer and get my thoughts out there into the blogesphere. But while I am still definitely not feeling quite myself I have gotten out of the migraine cycle, where one headache kicks off another, and another, and another..... It will take a little time but I'm sure I will be able to get back on track in the near future.

And I learned an important lesson. At one point I was taking a medication that had me very decidedly muddle-headed, and as can be seen by the unraveled mess in the photo above, this was definitely not a good time to attempt to knit even a simple lace pattern. I was doing okay while in the straight, unshaped portion, but as soon as I hit any kind of shaping at all it was all over.

So what is this lace I am knitting on? I finally faced up to the fact that the Teal Leilani was not going to work, and then got entranced by a pattern from Knitty called Hey Teach! that I saw progressing on several blogs, and it suddenly dawned on me that a much more fitted style like this might work for my limited yarn supply.

Once again, the gauge of this pattern is much larger than what my yarn can do, so I would need to do a lot of reworking, but I thought that if I did a provisional cast-on for the bodice, at the beginning of the lace pattern and knit the entire bodice,and see how far my yarn went, it would give me a very good idea if I really had enough to knit the whole sweater. If I was happy with the results of the bodice, then I could pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on and knit the remainder of the body from the top down. If need be, I could even leave off the sleeves for more of a vest-like garment.

So I started with that back and had no problems, and then knit the 2 fronts together, and had oodles of problems as evinced above with all the unraveling, but got passed them eventually. The shoulders were knit together as I usually do, and blocked the whole bodice pretty severely to open the lace out. After sewing up the side seams I removed the provisional cast on and picked up all the stitches to begin working the remainder of the body downward toward the hem all in one piece,with no seams. There's no doubt no - I have plenty of yarn.

And as an end note - I finished the 1,000 Petal Lotus Chair back and both pieces are blocking now. The two pieces will be part of a slipcover of sorts for my sewing room chair; now I need to figure out what to do for the back and lower portions of the chair to say nothing of how to actually construct the darn thing. But I sure do like how it looks so far!