Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Where's blue when you need it?

The Choose Your Own Adventure Pi Shawl KAL at the EZasPi Yahoo Group/ has me intrigued. I would like to join in on this one, it will start in April, just about the time I finish up the baby socks. I envision a summery wrap knitted in cotton thread and swirling with lace patterns.

My stash diving excursion netted 4 large balls of crochet cotton in shades of white, creamy white and almost ecru. I also found balls of blue, variegated blue, pure white and black. I think that will be enough thread, and if I want to add a color, I can pick up another ball, or maybe arrange a swap with my partner in crime, Lady Alwen. I hear she’s on a stash reduction diet, and if she needs some eggshell white or variegated blue and white crochet cotton, we could swap at the April meeting.

I knit my first swatch yesterday, using 2 strands of thread and #6 (4.00mm) needles. It’s a bit heavier than I wanted, I’m trying a single strand today. As you can see, I didn’t think ahead, and ran into biasing on my sample. I’m not sure if the cotton will bias in the round. Today’s sample will tell.

I thought I might tea dye when I was done, to even out the shades of white. I remembered I had an extra box of blueberry tea, and thought I a light blue pi shawl would be nice. I can hear you all laughing now. As you can see, it didn’t end up blue at all. I got the berry color, not the blue. It’s a light pinky-mauve color. When it was wet, it was pinker, overnight it dried to an even more amazing shade of smashed berry. Definitely not my color. Now I’m intrigued as to what other colors I can get from tea. Will green tea dye my thread green? What about chamomile or mint? I googled tea dye, but didn’t find any references to colors, just techniques.

By the way, I am not slamming Bigelow Tea in any way. They have wonderful tea with an amazing range of flavors. Vanilla Hazelnut is my favorite, and my DH has been drinking Cinnamon Stick for years. However, it is rather unfortunate that Blueberry Harvest tea does not dye cotton thread blue. My bad.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I got my Opal prize skein!

Soxie sent me Opal yarn because my blog was listed in the March newsletter. I think I got the better part of that deal, the yarn is gorgeous! Opal 4 ply sock yarn, Mosaic, color 1116, a beautiful creamy white and gray pattern. I am going to keep this one for myself, perhaps a hat and fingerless mitt combination.

Also propped up my latest pair of baby sox for the Longest Line Contest. They are 32 sts, Cervinai Calzetteria, leftovers from a pair of socks for my DD.

Keeping babies warm, from their heads to their toes!

Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm Back!

Miss me? I got the flu that morphed into pneumonia for DS, and fought a fever for 3 days. I’ve been knitting, sleeping and not much else. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I hope I can pace myself to get some of the important stuff done today.

I took 3 more hats to the LYS Saturday. My DD, DSIL, and DS came for a birthday celebration. After lunch DD and I delivered the hats while the men stayed home. DD made 2 hats for the cause, a nice surprise. I didn’t get a picture, but she did a fine job. She knitted them flat, then sewed a seam that was much nicer than anything I do. Whew, talk about the student outpacing the teacher. I am proud of her in many ways. I love my kids, but I also like the adults they have become.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Knitting for babies and peace

I'm knitting for peace today. Read about it here: peacefleece knit for peace. I know I can't change the world, but I will refresh my soul and focus on peace and compassion while I knit.

I'll be knitting hats for newborns today. I went to the Saturday knitting social at my favorite local lys, and D said one of the hospitals is low on hats; down to the bottom of the drawer.

Well, there's simply no excuse for cold babies in this town while I still have functional fingers. So I bought pink and blue dk yarn, and have 3 hats done so far. I plan to finish the 4th one and bring them to the lys.

Here's a link to Michelle's Preemie - Newborn Booties and Hat pattern I use for babies. It is well-sized and very basic. I like to cast on 72 sts in #4 dpns, 2x2 rib for 3", switch to #5 dpns and 3x1 rib for 3". Decreases start with k6, k2 tog, and go down from there.

Then, just because I wanted a challenge, I altered Grumperina's hat, Odessa, found on It is a real beauty, but I'm not sure if my version is stretchy enough.

I'm knitting for babies and peace today. If you can, add your good intentions to the universe.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Welcome to my frog pond

When a knitter says she had to tink her work, I know she undid her work one stitch at a time to get to her mistake. When a knitter frogs her work, she slips it off the needles and unravels it completely. When the yarn gets sent to the frog pond, it sometimes comes back as something totally different.

Tatters can only tink, never frog. Each double stitch has to be undone in two passes, and opening a closed ring can be a huge challenge. My tatting never gets sent to the frog pond. I snip it off and start over if I don't want to tink back to my mistake.

But I don’t know what to say about my bobbin lace. My little bookmark was started in November ’05, to demonstrate bobbin lace in a museum in Kalamazoo. I was talking too much, and my worker pairs got confused. When I got home, I tinked it 3 times before I had to put the pillow away for Christmas dinner.

I ‘ve been tatting for Lisa, and thought a quick bobbin lace bookmark would be a nice change of pace. (I realize as I type that ‘quick bobbin lace’ is an oxymoron, especially when I’m fumbling with the bobbins.)

I tried again on the little bookmark, but nothing worked. I finally grabbed the scissors and snipped my threads off the bobbins. No frog pond here. I can’t use the thread on my bobbins, and there’s nothing to be done with my little scrap of cloth stitch, either.

This is the first bobbin lace project I’ve had to scrap, and I have mixed feelings about it. I feel like I should have given it one more try, but on the other hand, it’s only thread, and I certainly have no shortage in that area. I’ll move forward now. I’ve picked the pattern I want to try, printed it on heavy blue paper, and covered it in clear contact paper. I’ll wind my bobbins tonight, and perhaps I’ll have a successful beginning tomorrow.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

These boots are gonna walk all over you

I love the way this skein of Opal (Farbe 19, Partie 115) is working up. The colors are not conventional baby colors, but I wouldn't hesitate to put them on a baby of mine. I remember getting so tired of dressing my babies in pastels.

I'm knitting with size #1 dpns and casting on 36 sts. I like 3 rounds of stockinette stitch, it keeps the tops stretchy for chubby legs. Then k2p1 rib until I have 25 rounds from the beginning. Heel flap on 18 sts for 15 rows stockinette stitch. Turn the heel, pick up 8 sts along the gussets, and decrease every round until you are back to 36 sts. I continue the k2p1 rib on the instep, and after 15 rounds, I decrease down to 8 sts for the toe.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How beautiful a day can be…

Here’s another of Lisa’s cards graced with a tatted bookmark. It makes me hungry for spring weather and time in the garden!

I got this bookmark in the swap at the March meeting of our Lace Group. I think B. did a wonderful job, I love the butterfly, and check out the colors in the tassel.

You can read all about the swap and see more bookmarks on Alwen's blog. I wanted the Rainbow Wave bookmark she tatted in quilting thread, it is so tiny and precise! Alas, I did not get to choose, and was almost last in the random part of the swap. I’m not sad, though, because B.’s is so unique. Now I can study the technique she used to attach the butterfly to the bookmark. I may try something similar on one I’m making for Lisa. It certainly adds a spark of color and interest.

Technical tatting stuff: The bookmark pattern is ‘Curds and Whey’ (p.12) from Mary Konior’s “Tatting with Visual Patterns”. The butterfly is tatted with size 80 thread, an old fan pattern that’s been used in many different settings. (including this Snow Angel). B. used a solid color for the chains and variegated thread for the rings, adding some nice color changes in the butterfly.

I’ve been absent from the lace group for a few months, it was good to see Alwen again and share our knitting projects. The lace group easily tolerates our current fascination with knitting, we have managed to entice a few members to try some socks.

I’m still knitting baby socks for the Longest Line Contest. I won’t say how many pairs I have, but I’ll have to find a bigger box when I mail them in April.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Never Be Afraid to Sit Awhile and Think

Even with planning and years of experience, sometimes tatting just doesn’t work right. I finished this bookmark, but it is not going anywhere except the bottom of my bits and pieces box. Trust me, under the card is the corner, and it looks just plain silly.

When I worked with Lisa, I had a bit of paper on my bulletin board that said, “Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.” Should have sat a bit longer on this idea. I like the motif, however, and will try to fit it into a bookmark similar to the previous one.

I’ve been busy with my son, who is sick with pneumonia. When he was 3, I looked forward to him getting older, I thought I wouldn’t have to worry. When he was 13 I worried even more, there are so many ways a creative teenager can get into trouble. Now he’s 23, on my couch with pneumonia, and I still worry. It’s even worse because I have to let him make his own decisions about doctors, work, medicine, and stuff.

When I decided to have kids, I foolishly thought it would be a temporary assignment. Just 18 years or so, I thought. Wrong. They can leave my house, but I will never stop being their mom. My kids will never be too old for this mom’s love and concern.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More Tatting for Lisa

I finished another bookmark, a second version using size 30 thread. The major difference is the ends, I made a slight change to the picots on the outer chains. I like this version much better. Now I can use my end threads as part of the tassel, no hiding thread ends!

The tassel is only 12 threads braided together, very flexible and will fit inside the card with little additional bulk. I will add the same tassel to the other bookmarks when I starch them. I think the bright yellow (Cebelia #743) looks good with these cards. The next bookmark will be lavender.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tatted Bookmark with Card, Version 2

I got the box of cards from Lisa on Friday. They are gorgeous! I am in love with the beautiful colors she uses and the way she embellishes with little bits of ribbon, buttons or grommets. Even though I am a tatter and a dabbler in bobbin lace, I don’t like to fiddle around much. It has to work the first or second time, or I’m done.

I tried a second bookmark pattern, this one in #30 thread. I knew this green would almost match one of the greens she uses in her cards, but I only have this color in #30. The finer thread means I’ll have to use heavier stiffener, but I like the pattern and will be able to use more colors from my #30 stash. This bookmark is au natural, I haven’t stiffened it yet, just had to share right away.

I still haven’t decided if I should put a tassel on these bookmarks. I wonder if it would be too bulky for the card, but my son says bookmarks need a tassel to hang out and make the page easier to find. I’m inclined to agree.

(Now comes the technical tatting talk, please bear with me.)

This pattern started from ‘Tatting with Anne Orr’ (edging #36, p. 27) but soon morphed into something different. I decided I would make two passes, attaching the chains, and create a cluster of 4 small rings in order to be similar to my previous pattern. Then I lengthened the outer chains, just to add a little flair. I discovered I had to do a shoelace tie after the first ring in each pair in order to get the ball thread into the proper position for the next chain. I could have just crossed my threads, but I opted for the SLT for stability. I could use 2 shuttles, and solve the problem that way. That would create the opportunity for an interesting 2 color variation. Oh no, more distraction from my knitting!

All my rings are 6p6, the inner chains are also 6p6, and the outer chains are basically 8p8, open to additional picots. My friend, Alwen, uses picots much better than I do. She says, "Look at that bare chain, it’s just crying out for more picots." So, Alwen, if you can suggest a better chain, I’ll go for it in my next one.

I’m not neglecting my socks, I knit a little, then tat a little. The bookmarks are a welcome diversion, especially since I know Lisa is happy to have them.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Cotton Socks for Summer

There's been some discussion on the Socknitter's list about cotton socks for summer. I finished 4 pairs of Regia Cotton Surf socks in May 2005, and wanted to show how they have lasted for the past 9 months.

First I must confess, I wear my socks without shoes in the house, and even scamper out to the mailbox with no shoes. I wash my socks with all my regular laundry, cold water and in the dryer. My socks have never been hand washed and laid flat to dry. They wear their wrinkles proudly in the drawer, but straighten out nicely on my feet, and behave in my shoes, when I remember to wear them. I do not knit heirloom socks, I will mend or toss when they get holes.

I can see the colors on the feet have faded some, but the cuffs are as bright as new. When I knitted them, I was concerned that the cotton might not have the same memory as wool socks, so I knitted them in a variety of ribs. The red are fluted ribs, and the others are moss rib, seeded rib and Harris Tweed rib, all knit with #0 needles at 8 - 9 sts/inch. I don't think I needed to worry, Regia Cotton Surf knits up much like other sock yarns I've used. Because of the ribs, these are the best fitting socks I have, they still hug my foot and feel the best of any I've knitted.

I hope this helps. I love my Regia Cotton Surf socks! I've never knitted a sock I didn't like, I send them to the frog pond till they behave!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tatted Bookmark

I resolved my bookmark distraction with very little problem. I found a pattern I liked in Rebecca Jones' book, 'The Complete Book of Tatting' on page 68. I made one change to the chains. I added two picots and joined to the previous chain on the sides, but did not join the end chains. I didn't want the chains to be floppy, and the bookmark passed inspection.
All rings are 6 p 6, or 6 j 6, all picots are separated by 4 ds. There is a tiny ch4 that goes from one motif to the next. That's all there is to it! The bookmark you see is in size 20 thread, and 1.25" x 4" long.
I couldn't fit a tassle or braided tail, darnit, so I had to find my needle and hide the thread ends. That's okay, it fits inside the card nicer without a tail.
Now I have the first bookmark done, I can measure the remaining thread on my shuttle, and know how much to wind for the next bookmark. A perfect carry-along project for the month of March. I'll see how many I can get done for Lisa. Between socks, of course.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Time Out for Tatting

Danger, Danger! I feel a major distraction coming on! Something is pulling me away from my socks! Lisa, it's all your fault!

My friend Lisa makes cards. She says she is not crafty, but I disagree. I love her sense of color and style. For a 'non-crafty' person, she manages to make cards that are more beautiful than any I see in stores. Lisa makes more cards than she can possibly use, so I accepted her offer to take a few off her hands. I respect her crafting, and I wanted to repay her somehow. I offered to barter with her. I said I would knit her a pair of blue socks, or make some tatting for her cards.

Tatting? Yes, I have been known to tat on occasion. I have a web page on geocities with tatting patterns and projects I've created over the past 8 or 9 years.

Lisa replied last night, saying my cards were in the mail. Even though the thought of warm toes was enticing, she opted for some tatting. Lisa mentioned that in her rubber stamping magazine, they have some cards that have a bookmark attached inside, and it slides out. She asked for a few bookmarks, please. Not too many, just a few.

Now I'm rummaging through my bin of thread, looking for a few good colors, trying to locate an empty shuttle. Anyone who tats knows how tricky that can be. If a shuttle is even close to empty, it is usually attached to a project that is only 1/3 done.

At this point, I'm thinking of size 20 thread, about 1 1/2 x 4". #20 is heavy, but will hold its shape nicely with a bit of spray starch, rather than heavy duty stiffeners. I will probably have a braided tail, just because it makes it easier for me. No ends to finish that way. I will probably do a variety of sizes and colors, and let her tell me which ones she prefers. I'll be meeting her for lunch this month, so I want to get started.

I know nothing about rubber stampers, so if anyone has a link to the card with a bookmark like she described, I would be forever greatful!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Baby Sock Du Jour

Welcome all Opal Chatters! I woke this morning and discovered my blog is listed in the March newsletter, so I've updated my blog with my latest and greatest baby sock. The socks are knitted in Ladybug, 36 stitches and size 1 needles. The yarn is left over from my dd's birthday socks. I like k2p1 rib for these baby socks, it fits nicely on my needles, doesn't disrupt the color pattern too much, and should help the sock stay on little chubby feet.

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