Thursday, February 28, 2008


Often knitters talk about growing as a knitter---trying new techniques, new colours, new ideas. Not very often do we talk about knitters growing.

Megan 'knitting' while lounging under the knitting machines desk, circa Nov/Dec 2006. Note the bag of green stuff between her legs....that's the alligator I just posted about, LOL.

Megan 'knitting' yesterday. She has decided that this green project is hers, and she asks me to sit with her and knit quite frequently. Charming at 4pm, not so much at 10:30pm. And trying to figure out how a non-verbal child is saying "Knitting"? It's a very similiar sign to the ASL for 'Popcorn'. LOL.

The crazy thing is, she's making almost as much progress on it as I am ;)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Okay, my birthday was more than 6 weeks ago (and my mom's was last week and I haven't called her yet because it's been crazy here). I got NINE knitting books! Three from my parents, they ordered them and had them shipped directly to me from NABS. I got the box and thought "I'm pretty certain I haven't ordered ANYTHING from anywhere and what is NABS?" Once I opened it and saw the books and the card, I realized it was Needle Arts Book Shop(pe?). I was thrilled, because before Christmas I told my ma that books would be great this year, cause of the Cdn dollar, and I made out a big list, based on NABS website. I got NOTHING at Christmas :( But then just before my birthday the box came :) I'll write about those ones later.

Then, on my birthday, I opened the present from my MIL. It was "Knit Lit, Too". I've read the first one, but my library doesn't have the second one, so this was a nice gift :)

But, the day before my birthday, I got a 're-introductory' offer from Crafter's Choice Book Club. I had been a member, but somehow the address change when we moved never actually went through. I kept thinking that someday they'll find me and send me another great intro offer. Sure enough! And, because I don't buy many knitting books, and it's been so long, LOL, there were quite a few in the little catalogue that I wouldn't have minded getting....for $1 each. Now, usually with these offers they smoke you with shipping charges. Not this time. Take a look at this bounty:

I rarely pay full price for anything, and all 5 books came to $15.13. Total. That's right, under $20 for five knitting books, and they aren't all from the back dusty corner. Okay, sure, I have to buy I think, two more books in the next two years. But I think that's do-able :)
In looking just at these books, and thinking about others I have gotten from CCBC, I notice some small errors in the books. Is this how they sell them cheaper?

I'd love to do book reviews like Grumperina does, but having scanned a few things since getting the scanner, I know how long it takes! So, I'll just do a mini-version.

"Knitting Beyond the Edge" by Nicky Epstein. I have the first book of the series, and this is the third. The first one is a great introduction to life beyond ribbing and garter stitch, but I think alot of people were clueless as to how to use the edgings. This book is divided into more specific things "Necklines" "Collars and Cuffs" "Corners". Many of the designs are a little over-done for me, and often girly-girly. Perhaps it's because pale pink and purple were used a lot. And, alot of the cuffs and collars look like those fake collars you're supposed to put over a plain blouse to 'freshen' it up and update look like they were plunked onto a plain sweater with no thought of how to integrate it. And, if you just open the book to say, page 82, and start might be in trouble. It just says "Cast on 82 sts...." Well, doesn't that depend on the yarn, and the size of neckhole, and......yes. You have to go to the back of the book and see the section on 'standard' necklines for the book and how to modify it to fit your gauge/pattern/yarn.
So, I'd say, the book is great for inspiration, but if you need hand-holding while you knit, you're going to be in trouble. If you want to try something, I'd recommend doing the sleeve first to try the pattern, see how to modify it for your gauge, etc, before committing to a big neckline.

"One Skein Wonders" by Durant (sorry, the dog is asleep in front of the bookcase and I don't want to disturb him). I love this book....and it annoys me :) With each pattern, there is a line drawing of the item.....there is a photograph section in the middle of the book for all the patterns. But while the patterns are arranged by yarn weight/type, the photographs are quite random. So, it's easy to get sidetracked! And nothing is modelled on a person, which is both good and annoying. There are lots of hats, scarves, some socks, purses, etc, and a few really neat patterns, like a diagonal wrap front baby sweater. Also, because the patterns are submitted from yarn stores around the US, some of the yarns are rather obscure. But, for small projects, substituting isn't a big headache. There's a few things I want to make for certain. But I have a problem. I used to have a lot of odd balls. I've Freecycled a lot, and lately only buy yarn if I can get enough 'for something'. So, for example, there's a great scarf for Noro Kuryeon. But I have five balls. I don't want to take one away then find a project later on for 5 balls, LOL. Nor do I want to make matching-poo hat, scarf, and mitts. But I do still have enough I think to make some quick projects and use up stash. That's my goal for this year. Cough. Again. Cough.

"The Ultimate Sock Book" by Vogue Knitting. While I wouldn't call this the "Ultimate" sock book, it is quite comprehensive, with a great range of patterns. I wasn't expecting the literature section in the front on the history of sock knitting, and on designing. While I don't see me knitting many of the socks, there are some that I will :)

"The Elegant Knitter" by Gina Macris. First off, I noticed some errors in yardage needed. The patterns say something like 2 skeins, 108yds each. Then, a few lines down, the "total yardage" is given and it's some other number that seems randomly choosen. Two skeins of a 104 yd skein does not equal 334 yds. Even I can figure that out.
None the less, there are some nice patterns in this book! A neat felting technique, sort of like tie-dyeing, a short row scarf that's cute, some mitts, gloves, dog sweaters, etc. Not huge projects, but mostly nice. There's a couple where I shake my head, but perhaps I'm not elegant enough. There is a large techniques section, so even a beginner knitter can use the book.

100 Knitting Projects by...blame the dog. When I got this, I kept thinking that the sweaters on the front looked familiar, especially the model in the background. A LOT of the patterns are from Patons--from leaflets and booklets. A lot of the Patons models are used on the TV show "Cityline" because someone from Patons used to model on CityLine. Many of the other patterns are basics from Red Heart, Sirdar, LionBrand, and Twilley's. Now....I'm happy to have the Twilley's patterns after seeing them for years in the Ram Wools catalogues. However...there are no schematics and usually only one artsy photo, not always showing the whole item. But the biggest pet peeve of this book is how the yardage is given. Say, for a long red scarf in Patons Allure. They'll list "71 1/2 ounces of fun fur, scarf shown in Patons Allure, Ruby Red". Couldn't they even just say 20 1.75 ounce balls? Or give the yardage? I have no idea what 38 1/4 ounces looks like. Especially if you want to substitute--the weight of the yarn is meaningless, you need to know more about the length of the yarn. I can understand generic patterns that don't patronize a specific yarn, giving BOTH ounces and yardage, but the way this book does it is annoying. However, I know ALOT of crocheters substitute like this becuase they seem to work with very simliar acrylic yarns, and 43 ounces of Red Heart Worsted is going to be very similiar to 43 ounces of Patons Canadiana. But I'd just like to know how many balls as well so I don't have to convert first to grams, and then divide.....Oh...and then, back to Twilley's....I wanted to compare two patterns for tank tops using the same yarn. One pattern gave the requirement in ounces, one in grams!!! No schematics either. But, all in all, this is a good solid book with a wide range of patterns that would be great for a new knitter building up a library.

If you have any specific questions about the books, let me know!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Christmas Past, and Past, and almost Past

I started this in July/Aug 2005 for Huey. He knew I was making it, and sometimes asked when I was going to finish. Awhile ago, I thought it was time, and got out all the pieces. Somehow, while hiding in the bottom of the basket, the alligator ate his own leg. I was so ticked, I put him back in the basket. I finally decided to tackle the reptile and show him who's boss, and I finished him as a surprise for this past Christmas. I was really pleased with the buttons, although I'm not sure what the yarn tail hanging out is. Man, it took a lot to stuff this sucker though!!

It's a pattern from LionBrand. I used Homespun for one of the colours and Bernat .....something....I actually bought enough yarn for a slightly different coloured one for Lucy. Anyone want three balls of two different green Bernat yarns?

For new pictures, see here!

Not Christmas, but Winter

Argh. I asked Rob to download the recent pictures off the camera card last night and he did, but he started at one picture newer than the picture I actually wanted. So I wonder if that picture is hiding in some folder somewhere.

This is the 'winter' dress I made for Lucy and Megan. I was going to do a Christmas fabric, but thought they'd get more wear out of a winter fabric. Well, they've worn them to the two Christmas parties, and that's it! Lucy wants long sleeves.
Same pattern as the Hallowe'en dress. These ones actually have the button sewn on though!

This is a diaper cover to go over fitted diapers, made using PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) and FOE (fold-over elastic) binding. I'm not getting a snap press, so I used very wide hook & loop tape. It's too big, but works good. I've since made two pocket diapers (a cover with an inside lining--one velour, one microfleece--with an opening to put in soaker pads), and a fitted flannel diaper that I'll show later cause I did something really neat with it. I do still knit! I'm just doing lots of little things like mitts, hats, finishing up old stuff....I've got two 'big' projects on the go that I'd like to finish up (okay, one is barely past the first couple inches), but instant gratification is calling me :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not Christmas, but Still Old

I started working on these pajamas back in the fall (and I finished them just in time for the Chicken Pox in mid-Jan.). I bought a bit more fabric than the pattern said cause FabricLand flannel is not as wide as 'normal' brand flannel. But the cutting lady didn't know A) if I needed extra to allow for shrinkage compared to what the package said to get and B) how much extra to allow because it's narrower. So 'we' guessed. I washed it up right away, and got cutting pretty soon.
However....I knew this was a one way fabric but somehow forgot that when I laid out the pants pieces! Huey would NOT have upside down skulls on his pajamas. Not even when I said that if he looks down, then they're right side up. Argh. I cut more pieces the right way. Then, I laid out the top and found I could use the legs for the sleeves, but I'd still need a bit more fabric for the body of the shirt.

These are raglan sleeves, and from a knitter's perspective, it's done wrong. LOL. There is a seam on the top of the arm, neck to wrist, as well as under the arm. So each sleeve is two pieces. Perhaps this allow for better layout/less fabric when cutting, but it seems silly to add a seam where one isn't needed. You don't notice it in the patterned fabric, but you would on a solid.

The ribbed cuffs were another new thing. The instructions perplexed me, but I muddled through. For the pants, he likes the cuffs snug, so I wrapped the ribbing around and measured it that way. But for the neck (and sleeve cuffs), I just went with the pattern pieces. The neck turned out huge. I re-did it, and it's still pretty loose, but he actually likes that. LOL. I made a size 6-8 (he's 7 1/2), and they fit decently I suppose. He's actually smiling in the picture, and wore the pajamas for more than one night, all through the night, so I guess they're a success?

Pajamas have been a good way to practice sewing AND have an end result that's usable. I don't want to make pillows or purses or aprons; things I won't bother using, so these have been a good option. I highly recommend it for new sewers. The flannel is ALOT easier to work with than the rayon I used for the flowered dress in the fall! OMG, I thought I might never sew again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Christmas Stuff

Really, I'm not TRYING to stretch Christmas out as long as possible. Between chicken pox, colds, no naps, an 'import pictures' menu that is now MIA.....
I can't even remember what I"ve shown and what I haven't. I still can't find the awesome warm plum stripped mittens. I might rip apart the matching slightly felted hat and make more mitt/fingerless gloves with it. I made real mitts to go with the turquoise hat/almost mitts (so, I can wear a real mitt on the left hand, and an 'almost mitt' on the right hand, LOL). I've just made two "Thorpe" ear flap hats. I made Huey some mitts out of the black/grey/white yarn below, and a pair of mitts for Megan with Classic Merino in hot pink. And I thought I was being a good mom when I made mitts with 25% wool yarn before! Nothing but 100% wool for my kids now! Me, well, that turquoise was about 50% wool and the lack of wool is okay because the strand of glittery gold makes up for it, LOL.
Every year, the one side of the family does a gift exchange game. It gets very heated and exciting, LOL. I thought, this year, I'll make some clogs. The pink ones went over good on the other side of the family, and this side is even more appreciative. I used the Sean's Sheep Armytage from Wal-Mart, about two balls for the orangey pair, and a little over two balls for the white/grey pair. Uh huh. More for the smaller pair.
Felting is fun. Felting is not an exact science, and not for those who thrive on exactness. I made the orangey pair first, using the woman's large (9-10) size. They were a touch small on me, and although some of the girl kids have almost adult size feet (at age 8?!), the game is really for the adults. So, I thought, I'll make a pair using the man's large size, so they should felt down to be a ladies' large. Right?

Well....felting is fun.....they did turn out VERY thick and substantial. I used 8mm needles, just like I did with the Headwaters Wool pair from last year, and the Lopi pink pair from the other Christmas party. One strand. They aren't too fuzzy, almost a blend of Headwaters and Classic Merino. I'll use the yarn for felting again, but if I'm going to make clogs again, what size?! LOL.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not Much New

Those mitts I posted two posts warm and cozy? I can't find them. I looked through our three baskets in the closet, and unless I'm confusing them with the matching hat, I can't find them! But I did get a pair of proper mitts made in the turquoise yarn that I made a hat and the 'half' mitts from.
I'm disappointed you can't see all the colours in that Baby Surprise Jacket photo. The one strand stays grey, the other one changes pink, white and purple.

I'm still really behind in posting my FOs.....even stuff from Christmas! I'm just doing little things for the most part, so they do add up quickly. And I got 9 books for my birthday!

And I really wanted to share more, but I don't remember what and Nina is coming to see Megan who is asleep, so I've got to clean!