Thursday, June 30, 2005

Take a Look at This

My daughter is getting to be quite the knitter. Take a look at the baby romper she just finished. I'm so proud of her!

On To The Booties

The Leaf and Lace baby sweater is complete. I think it turned out very well.

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I've also designed and knit a coordinating hat. It's based on the bonnet pattern included in the Beehive layette directions, but in an updated, cordless style as per safety recommendations.

"Drawstrings or cords on children’s clothing should be removed. Children can strangle when drawstrings and cords get caught around their neck or on other objects."

I haven't yet knit the booties. They too could use a bit of redesigning. They have the traditional tie-cords around the ankles. I plan to revise them to be more like a sock, with a ribbed band hidden under a lace fold-over cuff that matches the sweater. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 27, 2005


We have house guests. Chatting and knitting at the same time led to this:

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Do you see it? The mistake in lace. Sure it's a simple lace pattern, but it is still LACE and an unpleasant thing to have to frog or "tink". There are a LOT of stitches in one row and the mistake was four rows back. I didn't want to "tink" it (un-knit one stitch at a time). I also didn't want to "frog" those rows (pull out the needles and rip it back) as the chances of me picking up all those "knit-two-together" and "yarn forwards" correctly was next to nil. I decided to do the classic dropping-several-stitches-down the necessary distance and then reknitting them back up correctly (why has no knitter yet come up with a cutesy, yet descriptive term for that maneuver?)

I was desperately afraid that I would make a mess of it. Before dropping the stitches back I took a very good look at it, analyzing where I had gone wrong and exactly how many stitches were involved. It turned out I only had to drop two stitches back, but they had to go down four rows to a place where I had knit several stitches in a row instead of doing a "P1, yon, sl1, k1, psso". The description sounds confusing and difficult, but really it wasn't. Thank goodness the alternate rows on this pattern are relatively simple....not straight purling, but no worse than a 2:1 rib.

All is well that ends well, and I have everything back on the needles and looking great. Onward ever onward. The push is on now to get this little baby outfit done before I am seduced by the arrival of this little temptress. My order was placed today. How long do you think I have before it arrives?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Progress Report

The Leaf and Lace Baby Set is coming along nicely. No tragic frogging incidents this time.

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I missed my own Blogiversary. I've been blogging for one year as of yesterday. It all began HERE.

Friday, June 24, 2005

New Mixer

My old mixer packed 'er in. It was down from its original 5 speeds to just one....and that one speed worked only sporadically. It was not the kind of appliance you wanted to rely on to whip cream for a house full of dinner guests. I have company arriving tomorrow so I went out and bought this:

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It's a Hamilton Beach model #62605, a small hand mixer that I can stuff into a drawer, but it has a powerful 200 watt motor that can handle thicker doughs with out going up in a puff of smoke.

This mixer has a retractable cord which is something I really like. A useless innovation listed as a "feature" on the box is the "bowl rest" which supposedly allows you to rest the mixer on the side of the bowl. I don't care too much about that, as long as the darn thing doesn't topple over when I put it down on the counter. Not listed as a "feature" but certainly a nice change from my old mixer, this one stands firmly on the counter on its flat base. The added weight of the more powerful motor may be a factor in its stability. My old one had a tendency to topple over when the beaters had dough clinging to them.

I was amazed at the power of this little mixer, but somewhat disappointed with its range of speeds. It is listed as a "6 speed", but in reality ALL the speeds are FAST. Low speed is what my old mixer would have listed as at least medium. When this new one is set to "high" you had better run for cover! I would list it as a FRAPPE. Unfortunately it would be more use to me to have what my old mixer called "fold". You know, the setting you would use to mix milk and pudding powder without redecorating your kitchen in that charming "speckled chocolate" finish.

UPDATE: The Hamilton Beach model # 62605 died an untimely death in December of 2012 while gallantly trying to cream butter and icing sugar in the preparation of the holiday shortbread. R.I.P. Hamilton Mixer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Leaf and Lace Set

I always like to have two baby sets on hand for gift giving, one suitable for a girl and one for a boy. Over the past several months two nieces have had babies, and with both babies being girls I have twice given away the girl set. The sweater intended for a boy sits and impatiently waits its turn while I knit yet another lacey set for a girl. (Lacey sets are more fun to knit anyway.) This set has no intended recipient in utero. I just like to be prepared.

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This is the yoke section of a pattern called "Leaf and Lace Set for 3 Months" from an ancient old Beehive booklet, "Nursery Styles for 3 to 12 Months". I've had it since I was in my early teens. I see the pattern booklet has gone up to $3.25 USD. When I purchased it it was 65 cents Canadian.

This pattern has defeated me several times. I tried knitting it when I was around 14 years old, just for something to do, then later when I was having my own children I believe I tried to knit it each time I was expecting. Every time it ended in failure. I always got as far as the leaf design, and then one way or another lost the whole darn thing when I started on the lower, lacey part. I was a less experienced knitter back then though and seem to be doing fine this time. Never-the-less, THIS time I have run a "life-line" after the leaf yoke.

Each row in the lower lace part takes a LONG time to knit. There are 315 stitches in each row! Look how closely they are packed together on that needle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Reluctant Tencel

I bought approximately 8 ounces of laceweight tencel at Fiberfest a few months ago and it is resisting all efforts to make it into something useful. The idea at the time was to knit a shawl. I tried a few different designs and a variety of needles sizes but it all came out looking like multi-colored string. It was just too much effort for the lack luster results I was achieving.

I then tried a crocheted pattern with a little more success, at least it looks less like string, but I am still not entirely happy with it. It may yet be frogged.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Boring Tank Top

Boring pretty much sums this one up. It was boring to knit, and it is not too terribly exciting to wear either. This is the Shapely Tank Top done in plain, boring, white mercerized cotton. I made a few changes to the basic pattern. I lowered the front neckline, starting the cast off at the same level as the armholes.

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I made the back neckline lower too, starting it at the height the pattern suggested for the front.

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There is nothing really wrong with plain, boring clothing. In fact, I tend to wear plain, solid colored t-shirts and tank tops all the time and will likely get a lot of wear out of this one. It's just that plain, white tank tops are easy to come by and I could have bought something similar and saved myself some time and money.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Free Cushion Pattern

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I knit the original in my own handspun wool (250g at approx. 9 WPI), but the pattern could also be made with commercial knitting worsted as long as you can achieve a GAUGE of 15-16sts over 4 inches of stockinette stitch. You will also need a 14 inch square pillow form, 4 large buttons and a tapestry needle for sewing up. *note* Knitted piece is designed to be slightly smaller than the pillow form to achieve a slight stretch and “full” appearance to the finished pillow.

CAST ON 50 sts with 4.5 mm needles (or whatever size you need to achieve the gauge).

Rows 1-3: Knit across.


Row 1: K1, * K8, P2. Repeat from * across to last 9 sts. K9.
Row 2: Purl across.

Work in Pattern Stitch until piece measures 32 inches from beginning, ending with a wrong side row.

Purl 7 rows.
On wrong side: P8, * K2 tog, yarn over twice, K2 tog, P6. Repeat from * across to last 2 sts. P2.
Next row: P9, * purl and knit into the double yarn over, P8. Repeat from * across, to last stitch, P1.
Purl 6 rows.
Cast off knitwise on wrong side.

Block finished piece 14 inches x 34 inches. Try knitted piece on pillow form, overlapping ends and pinning sides together. Sew seams, including sides of overlap. Sew buttons under button holes (centered on purled stripes).

This pattern is provided free for your personal use. If you would like to share it with friends please send them around to my blog to say hello.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Suspiciously Similar

Doesn't THIS look an awful lot like my Handspun Cushion? Heck, they even used a yarn called "Homespun". I must say, when I saw it my jaw dropped.

Did they copy me or is it just one of those "reinventing the wheel" situations? It is a rather simple pattern, and I guess it would be rather arrogant of me to think that no one else could have thought of something similar. Still, it gets me to wondering how often the "big" designers (those who make a living at it) peruse the internet looking at the blogs of "no names" to come up with fresh ideas. I guess that's understandable though. I mean how many times have I seen a simple pattern, liked the idea, but then went home without purchasing it only to adapt the idea to my own needs and supplies at hand?

I am currently making the mate to my Handspun Cushion and double checking my notes as I go. The pattern will be available here on my blog tomorrow or the next day.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Gathering of Lace

A new addition to my knitting library.

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I am SO spoiled. And thrilled.

I have been looking around the internet and in local yarn stores for quite some time now. What I have been searching for is a good shawl pattern. Most of the ones out there really don't appeal to me. I have a large skein of hand dyed, lace-weight tencel I would like to knit into something lacey. I don't know if tencel works for that kind of thing or not. I would imagine it would behave something like crochet cotton, you know, lacking the "fuzz" and softness of an alpaca or kid mohair but perhaps having a shimmering, smooth beauty similar to pearl cotton? Anyway, there is no harm in giving it a try. I'm also in the midst of spinning up a huge bag of wool/mohair rovings. It is relatively soft and fuzzy and is plying up to about a fingering weight. I think both of these yarns will find themselves knit into something from the new book. It is cram packed with fantastic lace patterns. The only problem now will be to decide which one to make immediately (as "immediate" as current WIPs will allow of course) and which ones to put on a never ending "must do" list.

Of course that is saying that my first foray into intricate lace doesn't have me tearing out my hair and blubbering inconsolably. I've knit lace before, many times in fact, but nothing that approaches the complexity of the patterns from this book.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Flowering Plants

There is an event taking place in the world right now that is so significant that perhaps you might want to mark the date down for posterity. Moments like this one come along rarely and should be noted.

Ta Da!

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Yes, TWO plants blooming at once in MY care and neither of them a recent addition to our home. I mean, I've had blooming plants before, in fact, the deep purple African violet in the picture was featured here way back in December of last year, but they usually come home from the store blooming and within a week or so they are bloomless and barely hanging onto life itself. These two beauties have been brought back from the brink of death to their former bloom-a-licious selves. They are not only flowering, but they have grown large and healthy looking. Amazing.

I think my problem with plants is a tendency to put them where I think they look nice instead of where they actually get enough light. The deep purple violet refuses to bloom on the kitchen table despite it's lovely BLUE glazed clay pot bought specifically to coordinate with the kitchen. No, this violet figures it deserves to be in front of the big living room window. Now I understand why I pass by the homes of successful plant lovers and the windows are crowded floor to ceiling with plants. It's not for the effect, although it can look quite impressive, it is done because that is the only place the darn things will grow.

Maybe it's time to install a bevy of bay windows?

Anyway, I celebrated my newfound green-thumb-ness by purchasing this:

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I then placed it in my peach colored bathroom where there is very little light. You know, peach colored bathroom, peach colored miniature potted rose? Do you think it will thrive or will it soon be joining its comrades in the front window?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Quivet Hat

Another project off the needles and into the FO files. This is an handspun quivet toque destined to don the head of my spinning teacher's brother's head. She spun the quivet, most of it many years ago, and I knitted the hat to replace a similar one that he had literally worn out.

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Both my husband and my son tried that hat on and loved it. Neither of them would allow themselves to be photographed for my blog. Darn camera shy models!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Handspun Cushion

I spun and plied the yarn, designed the pattern, and knit the cushion. Obviously this labour of love will take a place of honor on my living room couch. I'm working on a companion one now. It will be similar, but with a different stitch pattern.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cotton Sheep Pullover

It's finished. The sheep-like cotton blend pullover is off the needles, sewn together and washed.

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I designed it to be worn over summer tops when the night air turns chilly. It is so comfy and soft I am sure it will become one of my favorites.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Three New Items

While I was up in Prince George I had a chance to shop a bit and I came home with an enamel canner (aka dye-pot) picked up at a "Value Village".

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I haven't done much dyeing yet. I shoved a small amount of commercial yarn in with another guild member's dyeing wool a while back, but it was just an experimental thing. I also tried a little bit of Kool-Aid dyeing with reasonably successful results. Because the Kool-Aid was a food safe project I was able to do it in casserole dishes in the microwave.

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I'm working on spinning up enough fingering weight wool/mohair to make a shawl. I am doing that with undyed fiber with the intent on dyeing the shawl after it is knit. I figure that way I can use any leftover wool on another project without being locked into the color of the shawl.

While up North I also found this wine gift box (aka spindle case) at a "Winner's" outlet.

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I drove a member of the Chilliwack Spinners and Weavers Guild home from a meeting and she gave me an Inkle Loom. It needs some repair to the tensioning device but otherwise seems sound. I did a little inkle weaving way back in grade six (over 30 years ago). I also have an instruction book and set of cards for card weaving. Some day, when I have a little more time, I'll figure out how to use the Inkle Loom for tensioning a Card Weaving warp.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Baby Pictures

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We just returned from a trip to Prince George to visit relatives and fawn over the newest arrivals, two beautiful baby girls shown here with their proud mommies (our nieces).

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Have you ever seen such a relaxed newborn?! (16 days)

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Here she is, a little less relaxed,expressing her distaste at being dressed (on a hideously HOT day) in a hot sweater and hat just so the paparazzo great aunt can get a picture for her blog. Oh the things a celebrity has to endure!

You might remember the lavender baby set from a post back in March.