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.