Sunday, February 22, 2009

Finishing things

With lots of rainy weather and and a damp chill in the air over the past week or so it has felt like a great time to finish things and to work on long-neglected or protracted projects. I have accordingly spent the last few days concentrating on projects that were close to being done but just needed a bit of a push to get them over that last hump.

The Delft Pillow is the most noticeable product of my self-imposed industriousness, and it is in fact now completely done. I even had an old pillow form lying about that turned out to be the correct size. The pillow came out much smaller than I expected - it's only about 13" square including the i-cord around the edge, but it's still big enough to be a respectable pillow. Aside from using cotton and linen for the yarns, my biggest change from the pattern was to make the back sections overlap by a couple inches; otherwise no matter how many buttons are on it once the pillow form goes inside it will gap terribly if there isn't some sort of overlap. I added an i-cord border and crocheted loops and buttons.

I've also made considerable progress on the Alpaca Fringed Scarf, and while it isn't exactly finished it's a lot closer to it than it was last time I blogged about it. The solid, unfringed center section is now at 46" with a goal of 50". The trick is to use up as much of the yarn as I can while still leaving enough for the fringed section at the end. I know the light apricot colour is the smallest ball, due to a small error in initially making that stripe 16 stitches wide instead of 14 stitches. I weighed that ball after finishing the fringed piece at the beginning and know that I need about 7 grams of yarn to make a comparably long fringe for the end, and I've got 23 grams left right now. So I'm going to keep going on the solid portion until I'm down to 7 grams on that one colour. The fringed section goes pretty fast as each stripe is 14 stitches (or 16, in the case of the light apricot!) so once I reach the fringe I'm going to be so close to done I can taste it. And it's about time; I wouldn't say I'm sick of this project yet because it's been the right thing for me to be working on as of late, but I am definitely getting pretty ready to finish this baby up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

After a long delay....

....the Delft Pillow is nearly done! Over the holidays I got to within striking distance of the end of the charted design, but for a variety of reasons ended up putting the project aside worked on simpler projects for a while. Just yesterday I pulled it out again to see how far I really did have to go to finish it and was so close I sat down and got going again right on the spot. I finished the charted portion of the pattern this morning and am now on the final stretch. I have just commenced the devilishly difficult 3-needle-i-cord-bind-off (if you count the dpn that is used to move stitches around it could be considered a 4-needle bind off, I suppose) but as this marks the end of the journey I shan't mind it a bit, or at least as much as I would have if this was the beginning.

This has been a challenging project for several reasons. The charted design is part of it; it's not something that can be memorized like a traditional Fair Isle type of stranded design, but with the help of my magnetic chart minder from Knit Picks it wasn't too bad to follow. It still wasn't exactly TV-watching knitting, but was manageable in quiet times and even on my commute. The bigger problem was my choice of yarns. Using inelastic fibres - cotton and linen - made for very hard-on-the-hands knitting, especially the linen. I used Euroflax sport weight, doubled, and the fibrous strands were easy to drop or split, in addition to the lack of elasticity. Also, the unique method of knitting the icord around the edge of the pillow required either 2 circular needles, or a Magic Loop variation (I used the latter). I found this to add a significant additional annoyance factor to the knitting which slowed me down a lot.

While the knitting was definitely a challenge for all these reasons, the finished product is turning out very well, and I'm happy with it in spite of its difficultness (is that a word? It fits what I mean so I'm using it anyway). While I can't promise to make this again anytime soon - and using wool would definitely have made it easier - I am very pleased with it and more importantly, I am quite sure my mom will be happy to have it on her couch at long last.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the bag

While I really am still knitting on my Striped Fringe scarf, the progress is so incrementally slow that if I blogged about it again it would be hard to prove that any progress had indeed been made. I am still enjoying it, and the simplicity of it suits my pace these days, but to blog about it again at this point seems pointless - agreed?

So what have I done that might be of any interest to my friends out there? Well, I did a little sewing just before the end of the year so please let me present a new knitting bag!

Someone in my Sew Group (sadly I can't recall who it was) made this bag and it was so obviously perfect for a knitting bag that I promptly ordered the pattern - the Birdie Sling from Amy Butler. I had an oddball assortment of decorator fabrics and quilting cottons all in some combination of yellow, blue and white. I've been collecting them thinking that some day I'll have that blue and yellow Giverney-style kitchen I keep dreaming of. It's still possible that that will happen but I decided not to wait for it, and just go ahead and use my fabric stash for this bag.

The pleats in the bag body give it a full shape that will hold oodles of yarn and/or a big project. The pattern doesn't include a fastener, but I added a magnetic snap on the inside to hold it closed (they're very easy to put in).

I had to shorten the strap due to fabric constraints, which I did in the center of the strap, but the next time I make this bag I'll shorten it at the end that attaches to the bag. The strap flares from a wide bottom to a much narrower area where your hand would got to carry the bag. By shortening it at the top I ended up with a much larger area of the really wide part,which gets in the way a bit in getting into the bag, but otherwise I really liked the pattern.

I added piping on a lot of the seams and a pocket on one outside edge. There are two roomy interior pockets, one of which is large enough to hold a knitting magazine, for example.

I had so much fun making the bag that I added a small zippered bag with a clear vinyl pocket on one side to hold knitting gadgets (sorry, it's from a long-discontinued pattern).