To continue with what I accomplished on my vacation - I finished two projects that have been hanging around for a while, and I am so happy! Neither was intended as a Christmas gift but I'm glad to have finished them now any way.
First of all, I completed the long-awaited vest for my Mom that was a challenge project with my Knitters & Spinners group. I'm always amazed at how much better things look when all the finishing work is done, and this vest was no exception - especially all of the bands, buttons, etc. The armhole edges and front bands are all done in simple garter stitch with a needle size 4 US needles (the main vest knitting had been done on size 6 for the plain areas and size 7 for the stranded sections). The beige main colour yarn (Touche by Berocco) is very smooth but loosely twisted and almost string-like and I'm a little concerned that it will snag and stretch easily, so I wanted the bands to be good and firm.
I had intended to do a folded under hem for the lower edge, but after some experimentation determined that a hem would add far too much bulk. Since the vest was knitted from side to side rather then bottom up, and also had lots of garter stitch ridges it didn't curl at all on the bottom, so all that was really needed was something very simple to just clean up the edge.
So I picked up stitches all across the lower edge as if I was going to do the hem, and then bound off in knit on the first (wrong side) row, leaving a single garter stitch ridge on the right side. It worked like a charm.
The only blocking that was really needed on the vest was a vigorous steaming with a concentration on the chenille areas, which are also the stranded parts.
Buttons were a little challenging - the greens are all greyed/blue greens and I couldn't find anything in a toned-in colour that worked. I ended up with some antiqued pewter look buttons in a simple knot shape that were perfect.
And doesn't Mom look great in her completed vest! Zoey the gigantic Labrador Retriever thinks so too. All of the dart shaping that I did worked out really well and is well worth the trouble to do to get such a nice fit.
The other project I finally finished is the Bunad Mukluks from Folk Style by Mags Kandis/Interweave Press. I loved these boots right from the start, and was especially intrigued by the idea of the suede slipper soles being dyed to be a better colour than the usual chamois tan. However, the designer/Interweave provided almost no information about what dye they used or how they did it other then to dye with "fabric dye according to package directions. " I couldn't locate any fabric dye that sounded like it would work, and I certainly didn't want to risk a dye that might bleed if it wasn't thoroughly set (black footprints through the house just didn't sound like a good idea at all). So I tried RIT due, and sure enough, they did turn very nice and black, but also became twisted, rock hard little hunks that were also 2 inches shorter than they had been before. Sigh. Luckily, I found a new pair of soles by Fiber Trends at Patternworks that came in a perfect grey colour that didn't need to be dyed to look good with my boots.
As described in an earlier post, I substituted Cascade 220 for the yarn, and knitted a wide stripe on the leg to use as a base for the embroidery. (They look dark grey in this picture but are actually a dark purple with lavender, grey, and crimson trim.) I used duplicate stitch to work the floral design before felting, and then added a little surface embroidery and some beading after the felting. The soles are cross-stitched in place and I added silver beads to the ends of the drawstrings at the top of the leg rather than the tassels from the original pattern. Now that I have solved the problem of the soles I am thoroughly happy with my boots and have hardly taken them off since I finished them! My advice for anyone who's as puzzled by the dying problem as I have been would be to buy your soles first, and then choose yarn colours to coordinate with the soles, rather than the other way around.