Monday, November 22, 2010
Yup. Notice that some of your socks are wearing thin, but don't have actual holes. Think to yourself, this would be an excellent opportunity to try mending them using duplicate stitch, to see how it lasts. Throw the socks in the "almost forgotten but will eventually be finished" drawer because you don't have time to go down to the stash to find the leftover sock yarn bag.
Wait for time to pass. How much time depends on how many kids you have, if you work full time or not, if you have a puppy, how cold your house is...
One day, open the drawer and root around for a needle gauge. Find the above-mentioned socks. Say, "Wow, these just need to be darned and they'll be like new!". Forget about the needle gauge, go get the leftover sock yarn bag and your coffee. In 20 minutes, darn the socks and put them back into rotation. Presto! You've freshened up your sock drawer without having to make a whole 'nother pair of socks!
You can thank me in sock yarn :)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The first pair of thrummed mitts I made (the second link above) were for her 60th birthday. While knitting the mitts was not an issue for me, going to the farm store to get the kit was! OMG, it was only 3.5km, but it was the longest, iceyist drive on a country road that I've done. Totally outside my comfort zone. But for Auntie Pat, everything was INSIDE her comfort zone!
While cleaning out her laundry room, my cousin found a shoebox of dye materials of her mom's. Now, I remember gathering moss, flowers, walnuts, etc with my aunt and cousin, but the contents of this box were commercially sold natural dyes. Well, I do suppose a box of goldenrod would not have lasted long, nor survived the three moves since she had stopped dyeing yarn. LOL. I was the blessed recipient of the shoebox. I felt honoured to have her materials and knew I had to step outside my comfort zone and learn about dyeing and make something to honour her.
I came up with the idea of a pair of thrummed mittens again, which really were her signature pattern (along with thrummed slippers). This time though, I would dye the fleece myself! And then, I thought a bit more about how this could honour my aunt. What if I could do a raffle and raise money for her favourite charities in her memory?
I started searching around for a source of fleece. I needed only about 2oz, and thought I had found a seller on etsy.com from the Ottawa area (where my mom and her siblings spent the summers). But she fell through. I asked on Freecycle and was told there was some at a thrift store in Oshawa. Not too close, but Meg and I went. There was nothing (except Meg's figure skating dress!). Turns out the lady thought I wanted doll's hair. Finally, I asked in a group on Ravelry.com made up of people from this region. One kind-hearted lady responded and blew me away with her generosity!
This big ball of white fluffy roving is from Heidi, owner of "The Sheep and Spindle" a home based business of fleece and spinning stuff. It's 4oz of Corriedale, total softness, that Meg hugged all the way home. As soon as I opened Heidi's profile on Ravelry, I knew she would be the one....her profile picture is of her late dog and although she was part Border Collie and part unknown, I think the unknown part might just be some Golden Retriever!
The other items in the picture....POISON!!! OMG. There's a jar of cochineal! If you don't know what cochineal is, take a moment to check the link :) The other package I don't remember off hand...silver something I think. And at the bottom is madder and something else. There's also alum and a few other things. I think there's going to be a lot of red roving in my future ("Red Rover, Red Rover, we call Tracy over"....).
So, here's the deal. My aunt's favourite charity was Lion's Foundation of Canada, Canine Vision Guide Dogs. I also associate Golden Rescue with her, and if you're in the Bancroft area, Auntie Pat was a founding member of the Bancroft and Area Recreational Canine Club and I'm sure they'd appreciate donations too. If you donate ANY amount to these three groups in memory of Auntie Pat (that's her website), let me know by leaving a comment here or an email to me at tracykm at yahoo dot com. Please, if you leave a comment here, include your email address if you don't have a Blogger account. Please also include which charity, and an approximate range (ie...up to $25, $25-$50, $50-$75, more than $75). It doesn't matter if you did your donation at the memorial service, online in the summer, or right now. I'll put everyone's names in a hat, and draw a winner for a pair of brown thrummed mittens (if brown's not your thing, we can work something out). I would like to do the draw on her birthday, December 7.
Now, go hug your favourite dog, sheep, or aunt :)
Thursday, November 04, 2010
While still hanging on the machine, the knitting is very squishy and condensed, but once off the machine, and given a little steam, it opens up beautifully. In the picture below, you can see the 'long' stitches peeking through--these are the stitches that get tucked for two rows before getting knitted (tucking means the yarn is laid across the needle, but it's not knitted, and once it is knitted, the yarn float is knit with the stitch).This picture, below, shows the "ribber bed" side before I stretched it out. It doesn't look like ribbing because the stitches on the other side don't get knit on each row. Even stretched out, like above, the fabric maintains a "double sided" feel that you just don't get with hand knitting. Both sides look great, it's plush and squishy but still open.However much I loved it, I wasn't thrilled by the gentle drabness of the yarn. Here's a case where a boring yarn and a repetitive stitch design add up to ho hum. I love how grey can both be a casual colour (grey sweats) and a dressy colour (grey wool flannel suit). But this 'shawl' was looking more like grey sweats than a dress suit. It needs a more interesting pattern, and although it's a cone of yarn, I might actually hand knit it!
The other yarns in question are MUCH more special. From left...a skein of rayon, textured yarn, about 400yds, from Grand River Yarns (bought at K-W Knitter Fair, 2007), mohair-wool (80-20), 658yds, from Wellington Fibres (the label, website and email on the label spell it Fibre, which seems really odd to me but the web address works and that's how it's spelled on the website too). I went there at the end of May, 2008. I kept meaning to blog about that trip, the place is REALLY cool. Then, the Yarn Harlot wrote about it, with even more great pictures. Maybe I did blog about it then...I'll have to go back to see, LOL. The yarn on the right is Skacel Merino Lace, "shrink resistant", 1375 yds, bought at K-W Knitter's Fair Sept 2008.I know the rayon is not a big skein, and destined to be a scarf, I guess. Although I wear shawls now, I'm not really a scarf person; they just don't seem necessary with jeans and a t-shirt. So I think I'll knit it on the machine just so I can get it done quickly and out of the stash.
The other two yarns....The mohair does have several colours in it, but it's still pretty tonal (with the exception of the gold). I'm not sure how elaborate of a pattern it will tolerate. It might be perfect for the pattern I tried with the grey yarn. The Skacel though...it's got a lot of different colours in it, pinks, browns, yellow, reds....it's going to need something very simple. Maybe a semi-circular shawl in stockinette but with a very ornate border done by hand. Or maybe not a shawl at all, maybe it wants to be a very fine sweater. Although after working on that red tank top in the summer, I'm not sure if I want to assemble a sweater in fine yarn (I have a white cardigan in pieces, waiting since March or so....).
Part of the problem is that I don't often get to hand knit with awesome yarns, and so I really enjoy getting to do that. But on the other hand, if I use the knitting machine, I can enjoy wearing/using the final product so much sooner.
I'm not sure I'm 'practiced' enough to use the good yarns on the machine, and I do have some Christmas knitting I have to crank out. I'd really like to try using the tuck rib and do short row wedges. Has anyone done this? I have a lot of fine, but boring yarn that I could knit up into shawls, scarves, etc. So, I think I can do some more practicing before going for the good stuff! LOL.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Halloween has never been the most happiest holidays at our house. I think first went trick or treating when he was 3 1/4. I know when he was 2 1/4 I was a week away from delivering Lucy, and I'm pretty sure we didn't take him out dressed up, but went out a little later to show him the decorations and pumpkins. I don't believe in taking kids out until they can understand it a little, and walk further than one block. With Huey, that took a little longer than other kids :) Between his perfectionism, his low tolerance for frustration, and the Canadian climate, we rarely got through a Hallow e'en without tears. Until this year.
Lucy had a few ideas running through her head. She finally decided on Tinkerbell. I did not want to purchase an over-priced skimpy piece of poorly made costume that Disney thinks is acceptable. We surfed the web and decided to create our own pattern. I carefully measured and drew a fabric layout, and we bought 1m of "Halloween Satin" from FabricLand, for $3.99. We got some light green organza, and found an end cut of ivory organza that was probably a drapery fabric. It's hard to see, but there are 7 green petals, then 7 green organza petals staggered (it was supposed to be just 6 petals, but ahem. The design engineer wandered off before everything was laid out). Under that is the cream organza, cut shorter, just for extra "petal slippage protection". LOL.Lucy did not what shoulder straps of any sort. But how to make the dress stay up, and keep her warm? She found some "velcro" adhesive dots in my sewing stuff. We used them at the points, stuck to a pale pink shirt we found at the Salvation Army (for $1...brand new, high tech kid's athletic shirt!). That didn't work too well, so I got some double sided clothing tape. She's got several shirts on the above picture, actually.
I started with hemming the petals, as this fabric frays terribly. It looked awful. We decided to zig zag the petal (and top) edges to create a frayed, petal texture. So much quicker too!
I bought two pairs of white nylons at the dollar store to make the wings, but then found wings at Value Village for $3.99, so the nylons went on her legs. She wore pink leggings, and over that the two pairs of nylons and that's how she got the perfect pale pink legs. I also knit her a shawl on the knitting machine (as a way to try out a new technique!). For her bootees, I got a suede skirt from a thrift shop ($6; was a little more than I wanted to spend, given how short it was), and found a pattern for fleece bootees but used the suede for the bottoms. She wore them over her shoes. I made the pompoms :)
Meg is easily persuaded to dress up in anything. Last year she was Spiderman, just because we had the costume. She had a lot of ideas this year, but then we were looking at costumes and found this figure skater dress on the rack...for $1. How could I say no? We even found purple skate guards to match, she had purple 'bike' shorts underneath, and I made her purple legwarmers. Some purple earmuffs would have been a good idea. Ooops. LOL.And Hugh. What would he come up with this year? He gets big ideas that are just so difficult to execute or wear. He said he wanted to be a jar of peanut butter. WTF? LOL. How on earth do you make a peanut butter jar costume?!
I started out looking at hoola hoops. WAY too large. Thought about using piping of some sort. Then, while I was looking at yarn at the Sal. Army, Meg found these really large (18") embroidery hoops (2 hoops is a set). For $1. Hugh and I went to FabricLand together to search for peanut butter material. He really wanted something shiny, like the jar, but the fleece was on sale ($6.99 for a meter of solid), and it's warm and easy to work with. One meter was sufficient. For the label, I remembered my old projector...put a picture under it and it enlarges it onto the wall. We just happened to actually have a jar of Kraft pb, although it was creamy, not crunchy. So I just moved it around and used the letters in the French and English words to get most of the letters for crunchy. Then, while colouring, he tells me it should be Chunky. A quick search on the Kraft site showed it is Crunchy! Phew. I traced the bears, Kraft sign, and letters onto white Bristol board, he coloured it out, and Daddy glued them to the green Bristol board. Getting it attached to the fleece was tricky. I used safety pins, but would have preferred about 100 staples.
The hat/lid. We had some ideas, but not until we got working did it come together. We used the left over fleece from Lucy's bootees, and some foam core board, fastened to a tennis hat. After Friday's school party, I got a package of peel and stick vinyl from the dollar store and 'laminated' the label, which gave it some great shine and a bit more oomph. We were worried about rain/snow for Halloween, but it cleared up. Everyone loved Hugh's costume. You know you have a cool costume when even the teen aged boys are excited by it!
Overall, the costumes are not really cheaper to make on our own; it's the little things that add up, like wings, stick on crystals for the face, etc. But the satisfaction of being able to say "We made it ourselves" is priceless. This was probably the BEST Halloween we've had! You can't put a price on that either!