Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Feeling Stabby?

Some time ago, before heading off to a sheep & wool festival, I promised my sister that I would not take up a new hobby. The new hobby she had in mind was spinning. I think she was envisioning a living room already spilling yarn and fabric off of shelves would then be stuffed to the ceiling with fleeces and batts, a spinning wheel in front of the couch. And I have not taken up spinning despite the huge temptation.

While at Rhinebeck several years ago Purlewe and I happened into the Woolen Whimsies booth. The owner was sitting in a chair and vigorously stabbing an implement into a piece of fabric stretched on a frame. I have a huge affection for all tiny tedious needlework. I was fascinated. She asked if I would like to try it and I bit. They had great starter kits for sale, but I was feeling a little strapped for cash. I took their info, thinking that this would be a great Christmas present and passed it on to my mother. Christmas came and there was no kit, disappointed.

Fast forward to the next fall, I bought the kit for my mother to give to me. I even feigned surprise when I unwrapped it.

Wrong side

So, this is obviously not spinning; I have honored my promise. This is Russian punch needle embroidery.  The supplies are embroidery threads of which I already own an obscene amount, a smallish frame and the needle tool...all taking up very little space. Punch needle embroidery looks like miniature rug hooking.

Right side
Turns out stabbing the needle repeatedly into the fabric is completely therapeutic and LEGAL! The tool is dangerous looking and fortunately there has not yet been a craft related injury intentional or unintentional.

I love how this turned out. Bet this technique would make for some really cute Christmas ornaments. Anyone have a source for primitive Christmas designs? I think all my job rejection rage and angst should be channeled into craft. I could end up with a heap of cute!

Finished embroidery

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Towering Inferno

After a patch of knitting where all of my projects were on US 3s or smaller I really needed something that would be at a bigger gauge. All my needs were met with this sweater. I was unnaturally attracted to this yarn, in fact a little obsessed. My typical color choices are blues and greens, not OMG red/orange. This is my friend Sherry's color and part of me expects her to leap out from behind a tree, tackle me to the ground and run off with my sweater (oranges and vivid reds have that effect on her.)

This yummy yarn is Maxima from Manos de Uruguay in you guessed it, Fire. What a pleasure this is to knit with. Soft and warm, without being heavy, it has great drape knit at a slightly larger gauge. I knit the body on US 9s and the cowl on 10s. The pattern is Idlewood by Cecily Glowick McDonald. This is a breeze to knit and it was really nice to have a good basic sweater that let this yarn shine. I love the huge, over-the-top cowl...something I have not sported in a few decades.

This sweater is just the mood elevater I needed for the end of winter. It makes me ridiculously happy, in fact.

I am planning on knitting this again, maybe in another unusual yarn for me. Did I hear someone mention tweed?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I Learned from Neiman

Neiman by Ann Weaver
Reynolds Whiskey in Light Grey (031) and Raspberry (131)

1. I kind of like crunchy yarn.

2. Grey is a much more complicated color than one might think.

3. I swatched, but did not wash and block the swatch. Next time I swatch for a sweater, I will. My sweater grew a bit in length. Fortunately tunics are coming back. And if I had washed and blocked my swatch, I would have been knitting on US 1s...cray cray. The sweater would have been scrapped before it began.

4. Short rows are not just for heels. Short rows at the neck line saved this from being Flashdance Fair Isle. Love this design, but really wish that designers would keep in mind that just because a girl is big doesn't mean that she has linebacker shoulders or a melon head. My boobs may be bodacious, but my neckline doesn't need to be bigger than anyone else's.
5. Ceiling fans and Shamwows really speed up drying time when blocking. And when the cat wads up your sweater to make a nest, the sweater is dry enough to wear.

6. Finally, I really wish that I had purchased lots of Whiskey while it was more widely available. Think I will be haunting the destashes on Ravelry. It is really too bad that Reynolds is no longer in business.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kitty Litter

Last year, I made one of my kitties for my sister to give as a baby shower present. Kitty was of course a huge success. Another friend of the mother-to-be contacted me and asked if I could make a bunch for her as presents for an upcoming babyboom.

I, as a matter of course, procrastinated. And the last few months have been really lacking in any artistic mojo. I almost procrastinated my way out of the thrifted wool sweaters that are my main component.

I use the felted sweaters as the upper body of my kitties. Thrift shopping for cool wool sweaters is really getting hard. Everything is nasty acrylic and ramie, bleh. And I have a hard time, when I find a nice wool sweater, justifying felting something in perfect shape that someone could wear out of the store. I did manage to find some that were interesting and fortunately made nice soft felt.

Ajax was pretty interested in all the bits and pieces on the sewing table. Nothing got carried away.

When I first developed the pattern, no real practical thought was given to construction. This has been a real source of frustration with every single one I have made. Finally, while watching a nature program on giant octopuses, this odd solution presented itself...really, truly odd.

So, here are my wee babies, turned right side out, stuffed with fluff and tarted up. I love that they all are different and unique.

And for the most part made of recycled materials.

Happy Earth Day!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Snow Day

Today was the second largest snow storm in Philadelphia's recorded history. We got over 2 feet of the fluffy white stuff.

I love my city in the snow. Everything is so quiet, only the sound of people laughing in the streets and the scrape of shovels on the walks.

Rittenhouse Square is magical in the snow. The square was packed with squealing children learning the rules of snowball warfare and dogs bouncing and frolicking in the new snow. I wish I could experience that pure joy rather then just watching and appreciating it.

When I came home from my walk through the streets, I saw the unbelievable. There was a raptor hanging out in the ginko tree in front of the house. Wish I could have gotten a better shot of him, but the damn batteries in my camera were dying and he flew off just as I returned with fresh ones.

Ajax has been chattering away all day. He is very concerned about all this white stuff on the deck. The drift against the door is so deep that the poor thing has to stand on his hind legs to see out the door.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Blue Skies

This the shawl that I knit for my church's Harvest Festival Silent Auction. I am happy to say that the church raised $13,500 for Steppingstone Scholars. Steppingstone Scholars is a Philadelphia based organization that helps under-privileged children prepare for college.

The pattern is the Lavellette Shawl, which I first saw when my friend Andrea did a test knit (RAV link) for the pattern. It was an easy lace pattern and made a very elegant piece. I used one skein of Tess' Superwash Merino Lace Weight. I think of the color as being Virgin Mary Blue, but my Catholic friends have corrected this Presbyterian girl. Oh well.

Most importantly, I chose it from my stash because it reminded me of Nan Somerville, the force of nature that started the Harvest Festival and ran it for 30 plus years. Nan passed away this past year and left a huge hole in our congregation. Her daughter, Margaret, stepped into the breach and did a brilliant job organizing this year's festival. This blue was one of Nan's favorite colors and I know she would have approved. And then asked me, "So what are you going to make for next year?"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Picots, Please

When I first became aware of the Landscape pattern I only knew it as a huge shawl, not a scarf. As a shawl, I had zero interest in the pattern...endless stockinette, endless seed and moss stitch... ick. Then Marissa the Marvelous started knitting the scarf version. She was using lots of Koigu millends, some of which I had enabled the purchasing. I'm a good friend like that.

We were having coffee one afternoon and she was knitting away on it. I had never done picots before and was a little fascinated by them.
The pattern calls for picots on every other row. Marissa, who thinks that more embellishment is always better, was putting them on every row. I too became a little obsessed.

She kindly and trustingly let me wear her scarf one afternoon. I loved it. She pried it out of my hands before we parted company. And I began planning my own.

I dug into my cache of millends and selected a bunch to mix together. I started knitting, randomly switching yarn and using a Russian join for the transitions. Love that Russian join!!
Mine also had to have a bazillion picots. Knitting them is so much fun! Particularly in Koigu, because you are always looking to see what color they are going to be. This is one time where surprise in knitting is a wonderful thing.
I love my little insouciant! My friend, Suzanne, thought it was pretty cool, so I made on for her too. I cannot wait for her birthday! This time I upped the needle size a smidge and hers has better drape.
You would think that after all these picots that I would be done. You would be wrong...Bring'em on! I have been eyeballing the Boneyard Shawl's (Rav Link) picot edged version for some beautiful alpaca lace weight that I scored at Rhinebeck. Now I just need to be disciplined enough to get my Christmas knitting done before I cast on. I'll let you know how that goes...