Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Bit of Luxury

Actually MORE than a bit...

 First—angora--7 lovely little skeins (each is just a third of one once!) but enough I think to make linings on 2 pretty little muffs. Not this year.. The girls are just 2 small to understand muffs, (and besides at this age (under a year) everything goes in their mouths...

But next year, a little bit of simple stranded work (blue and white) lined with the blue angora will be a pretty little accessory for the girls. I made a muff for Miss B(now a grown up teenager) when she was 3 or so, and it was a prized possession. I had a rabbits fur muff as child, and my daughter used it, too.

Soft, warm muffs are part of the family childhood memory—and the twins will share the memory.

Then there is this—Noro cotton and silk... 9 skeins in all, 8 pastel polychrome, and one solid skein for a bit of trim. When I picked them up, I focused on the mostly pink color blend, and thought they would be good for the girls.. but I have gotten greedy—I think these cotton and silk skeins are going to turn into a t shirt like top for me.

Finally, not luxury—but still shiny and luxurious, 10 skeins of silky rayon. This kind of rayon make lovely little purses--(and every little girl loves a shiny purse to put her pennies in) The green is likely going to be a yoke on a top for me. I have lots and lots of DK (and even lighter weight) cotton. A two toned  top, with lace above and solid below is a style of top I have liked all my life.

Meanwhile, I have been working on my 3 view polychrome project that consists of 3 hats and a cowl. Hat 1, (yellow)  is knit flat.  Hat 2(blue)  in the round, (with a lining) and the cowl will be double knit (and in yet another combination of solid and polychrome. )

 The lined hat was an experiment. It's too small for me, and my bowling ball head.  It fits HEAD (HEAD is just 19 inches or so) so there will be two sizes (small and large) in the pattern. This hat has a flat square top, (vs the 8 armed swirl that creates what I like to call a pagoda top—I still haven't made a tassel, (and I do think it needs a tassel!) to finish it. The tops are interchangeable--at least for an advanced knitter.

 I will start the double knit cowl today—and as soon as it is finished, start a scarf for my SIL.

It is interesting to see how using high contrast colors vs subtle colors changes the look of the stitch pattern. I tend to like high contrast colors, but sometimes, subtle is best. Which do you like?

Truthfully, I like this stitch pattern so much, I think I would like it done in knits and purls, with out any color work--but I am not sure it would work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Day Out and About.

My friend Theresa was a dedicated teacher for years—and found she just couldn't turn off, and relax watching television—so for many years, she read and did other thing—but didn't bother with the box--(an other idiom that bites the dust, like dropping a dime, TV's aren't boxes any more)
But now, some 20 years later is catching up on the Law & Order series--the original series. 

Yesterday we did a L&O walking tour. Theresa came up from Richmond, and we hit the road. First a train ride to Brooklyn, (we took the A train!) and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. Did I mention the weather was perfect? Clear sky’s, with just a few high clouds, breezy, and in the low 60°'s (circa 14 to 15°C) perfect weather for a walk.

The bridge offers views of the skyline, and it is a wonderful experience all on its own. It's a bridge that bridges building techniques.. half of the bridge is hand built –with blocks and tackle and men and ropes, and half is machine (steam engine) built. It linked what were 2 great cities, (Brooklyn and NY)
Today, each of these boroughs are still large enough, that if separated, NYC would be the US's largest city, and Brooklyn number two.

I think Theresa was a bit surprised by how busy the path way was--(and it was!) but it was still possible to stop and get great shots (not me, as always I carried my camera, and never thought to use it)

Across the bridge, we walked besides City Hall (enclosed in a park) and up to Foley Square. There they loomed—the famous court house steps, --and up we went to take photo's here too.

The huge stair case is largely closed (one of those obsessive safety detail that have sprung up all over NYC in the past dozen years) but it was still possible to get pictures of the columns at the top.

I pointed out some building (one with fancy fenestration) that are often seen in the background, and the anchor like structure (sculpture) in the park across the street--(another background feature)We walked up to Hogan Place to get some shots of the office building that houses the DA's offices, too.

Then off to Katz Deli for lunch. I have never lived, or shopped on the lower east side, and while I like NY deli food, I had never been to Katz—To me, its a tourist location. But the characters, (and the actors that played them) in L&O like it, so off we went—The food was good, the service fine, and Theresa thoroughly enjoy what she called a NY experience. It's a bit expensive—but if you think of it as half meal, and half theater, its not that expensive. You do get a lot of entertainment. We didn't look for stars (I never do) or celebrities, so we didn't see any. But one of the waiters came over and made us feel like we were celebrities—which was good-- Theresa (and I ) only had half sandwiches—She enjoyed her's—and was almost sorry she didn't go for a full one.

Late in the after noon had us at Madison Square Park and the Appellate Court –I remember there being a court room there that was used for the interior court room scenes—but either I mis- remembered, or for some reason, it wasn't open—but we did get to see the Appellate Court—a beautiful court house, and magnificent court room (and this court room was used occasionally in the series). And that was the end of our L&O tour.

I was exhausted, and my knee's cried in misery—too many subway steps for them—but the pain will pass, (has largely already) and memories of this wonderful day will remain. Next time I post, some progress on my polychrome knitting, and some photo's of my luxurious Stash EXpansion (SEX!).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Knitters are the Best

I have some friends who are new knitters, and I give them yarn all the time—I knit for them too, making socks or hats, or scarves or what ever they need or that I think they need.

I've given away needles and other stuff too. Why not? I have a huge stash—no make that,  a SABLE, I might as well share it now, and not wait. But giving away yarn is casting bread on the water—it comes back seven fold!   (a SABLE is Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectency)

Last night I was with Monica, a knitting friend from the LIC knitting group –a group she never attends anymore, (she lives across the street) and one I haven't attended in months now.

One of her friends mother, who both knit and worked in a yarn store, has now that she as given up knitting, and gave her SABLE away. So Monica ended up with boxes and boxes of yarn.(very big boxes, in a very small NYC apartment. 

She culled the yarns she wanted. And the rosewood needles, and other stuff, and made a very small dent was made in the piles of yarns.

Last night Monica invited me, and another friend over, too. And while I went home with a tall shopping bags worth of yarn, and Miss O, did the same, the yarn is still piled high. A third person is coming later in the week –She put dibs on the merino wool (I grab 1 small bag, (7 skeins/each 110 yards )in a beautiful green—not enough for a sweater, but then, I like vests better--)But there are massive piles or merino left--in sweater sizes quantities.

The best yarns I found are at the ends of the spectrum. I found a big bag of Wendy's Peter Pan yarn—a nice grade acrylic—in a real clown barf colorway..Oops, I mean a real vibrant polychrome. A project was started with the first of 9 skeins, a hat perhaps, or small sweater—and a bit of Lion Brand wool ease in there, too. The project will be frogged, and the eight + skeins will be plenty to make a pair of sweaters. for the granddaughters.   
I might pair this yarn up with Lion Brand's Bonbon mini skeins, and break the polychrome up, with  stripes of solids... I am thinking VERTICAL stripes—I-cords—similar to the ones I used to make the flower stems in this sweater.(made some years ago for another granddaughter.  Maybe ending with pompoms—or not pompoms, but something else.. I'll tell you more about the other end of the spectrum next time I post.. and other fun stuff.

Meanwhile my second little polychrome project is well underway. I know it doesn't look it from here.  This boring blue is a lining (to a hat naturally) the color work comes next. Colorwork I have already started --just a half dozen rows, but.... This is an improved project. The prototype had some flaws, (include getting moth eaten) and this hat will be an improvement.

I sew, and one of the things I like about sewing patterns is 1 pattern will often have 2 or 3 view. A basic dress might be shown with a collar, and with out, or with sleeves, or with out, or some times with 2 or 3 different sleeves.

I have an idea—1 chart, 3 projects, a simple hat, (knit flat) a lined hat, (knit in the round) and a cowl, (in double knitting) Not really as set, but 3 ideas for how to use a polychrome yarn—for 3 different skill levels.. Done in 3 different colors; different solid colors, and different polychomes. In each case, about half the directions are “follow the chart”--so making the chart (done) was the main part of the pattern writing. The other major part is knitting the samples. I am midway through sample 2, and sample 3, the cowl, has the least work required--(no top!)

But with this influx of new yarns to my SABLE, I better get my fingers working!  I have all this new fiber to knit up. And the holidays are coming--and I have nothing knit.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Polychrome Yarns

Or as they are more commonly know in the knitting world, clown barf yarns.You might never have heard that name before, but you know exactly what I mean.  

And yet in spite of that name, we all once in a while fall victim to loving skeins of it. It's worse in the early years, when those bright colorful skeins look so wonderful and  we are unsure of what color we want.

There are new colors and kinds and weights of clown barf all the time. They look so pretty in the skein, all the colors in such pretty harmony. Even seasoned knitters, who have disaster after disaster with polychromes, are still sometimes suckered into buying another skein (or two, or three!) every once in a while.  If they are not suckered into buying these skeins themselves, the receive gifts of them from well meaning friends, who present them with single skeins of them as gifts.

We love they way the colors line up in the skein. We keep thinking we'll get those pretty, balanced pools of color when we knit them up.   Then when we do finally take them to the needles,  what looked so pretty in skein—the beautiful ombre, the colorful skein, becomes, in very short order, a pile of clown barf. YOU know exactly what I mean.

So what to do with those skeins? Toss them? (Never!) There are solutions. Ravelry has a group, (for everything) but one especially for these yarns. You can, depending on the color patterns and how they are printed—knit scarves or hats that self stripe, or self pattern into something like a argyle type design.
Sometimes, things work out--but the results often seem more suited to a child garment rather than an adults.(That is one of my darling granddaughter, when she was 6 or so, modeling a Meg Swanson design.--Knit circa 2005)

Another option is to pair with a solid color. Narrow stripes of polychrome, paired with narrow stripes of a solid can create a beautiful design. Using polychromes in stranded knitting can work, too. Though long colors runs that self stripe are more suited.

Here are some tricks for picking the solid yarn.
1—the solid yarn should not have any color in the mix. Sometimes, this means, only white or black are are available for coordinating solids.

2—the solid yarn should be about the same color value as the polychrome—Pastels match best with other pastels, mid tones match best with mid tones, dark colors match best with dark tones.

3—try for high contrast. A colorway of red violet/violet/blue violet and peach, is best matches with a yellow (yellow being the contrasting color to violet) A color way of blue, blue green, green goes best with a coral (the contrasting color for blue is orange, for green is red, for blue green, a reddish orange or coral—which can go pastel, (and still be seen as coral, or go dark, and be sort of a brick-ish red.)

Other options (and other rules!) can be found in Margaret Radcliffe's book The Essentials of Color Knitting. (a treasure trove of ideas!)

Once you have your matching solid, you have to decide: should the polychrome predominate, or should the solid? I tend to like the solid to predominate—but that is my taste and choice.

What do you think? A good use, or not? More on this bit of knitting tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hats are Finished

 After looking all day Friday, I realized that I didn't have any more Red Heart white yarn.

A lot had been used up making a prototype hat (the Milk Maids bonnet) and what little was left (which was likely, but not positively, enough) was used for some swatches.. and even if I undid the swatches, the yarn was cut...

So off I went to the local box store (AC Moore) and quickly found the right yarn (Well actually it Bernat, but..) and while looking for some drab colors of sock yarn (I am easing my S-I-L into hand knit socks.. once he is addicted, I know brighter colors will be fine, but for now, grey, or navy, or forest greens are preferred) I found one I liked—but they only had 2 skeins (Kroy, color way eclipse—a self striping yarn of greys, blues, and white) but... they also had this--Meadow Colors.

Do I already have some skeins of this yarn? I don't think so, or if I do, its a duller version of the color way. Do I need more sock yarn? Hell NO! What with knitting sweaters and hats and stuff for the babies, and hats I have designed, socks have gone by the wayside. 

I have completed 2 pairs of sock this year! That is, in 2014. If you go back 12 months, the number increases to 3. 2013 wasn't much better, but 2012—a dozen! And some years before that, more than a dozen in a 12 month period.

So I am not knitting socks like a fiend, but I am still buying sock yarn as if I were.

But enough of my foibles. The Hats. 

Here they are. Off, they are simple triangles, and simple candy corn. Refold, and you get a somewhat squarish shape of a baby bonnet. On HEAD, (who is really a woman’s small size head, they become cute little caps, that cover the ears. On the girls, they will be less stretched, and the top of the hat will stick up a bit more. But even on HEAD, they look like candy corns.

Of course, I now have a huge amount of acrylic yarn.. The white might find its self paired up with some solid red and green, and an Christmas ombre (red white and green) to become Christmas stocking for the girls.

My DD and S-I-L live in a small (2 bedroom) apartment, and DD has laid down strict orders for the holidays. 1 (per child, or 2 in total) toy as gifts, per household. So Grandfather (and wife) and Grandma (and husband) , and the other Grandpa, (and wife) and I, each can only give 1 toy (or 1 set of toys). This is still a lot of toys, (4 toys for each girl—not counting what ever their parents buy!).

We are not limited to only 1 gift. I can make hats, or mittens, or Christmas stockings, or buy earrings, (the girls have pierced ears) or clothing or put money in their savings account. The limit is just on toys.

Hats are definitely on the list, and maybe Christmas stockings, too, and earrings, and of course, a set of toys!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Corn-y and Sweet!

(from yesterday)

The yellow stripe (and a third of the hat) done.

The next row will start the orange middle of the corn kernel, and by the time I get to the white portion, the hats will have so few stitches to work, they will be a snap to finish.

Meanwhile,  my DD still has complaints, No Hair hat (cabbage patch kids style) yet, no pompoms, yet. Her complaints got me thinking. Next up, (or maybe not next, but very soon!) some pompom hats... I'll knit a mesh, and cover it with pompoms—for some wild and crazy hair... the girls will have pompoms galore! I have the Clover pompom makers, (in every size but the jumbo pompom) so making the pompoms will be easy (or at least easy-ish) and this will be a fun hat set of hats to make up.

First up, I’ll make a couple of dozen pompoms, because even with the clover makers, these will take some time.. And I will need dozens and dozens... (I think the hats will end up with pompom pony tails, too)

At the same time, I'll be working on my color work hats (the samples to go with the pattern I wrote up last month.) Busy, busy, I will be. Likely the pompom hats will get written up too—because I think they will be too cute for words.

But getting back to the hat at hand--the basic shape of the candy corn hat, (unlike many I have seen) is a classic candy corn shape. 4 decreases per round, to make a steep sided triangle. This shape is very similar as I pointed out to a flat toe shape, OR an one style of after thought heel shape. The scrap of paper shows, how, when pulled open this shape makes a sort of square and will easily cover the girls ears, with out coming down so to low on their forehead.

So maybe by tomorrow, the hats will have a complete orange stripe, (and I'll be ready for the white and the finish-) Or maybe I'll get distracted, and get less done.. but I will still be easy to have them finished by next week.


Here it is tomorrow—and I never posted yesterday! But I did get started on the orange stripe of the candy corn hat, and with every round it gets more and more like a hat. Clearly, the white germ of the corn kernel will stick up a bit from the girls heads.. but that is fine. It will just serve to accentuate the candy corn shape.
I also took a moment, when I didn't feel like knitting, to weave in the ends from the cast on—I didn't do the same with the tails from the color change, but I will, and likely before I finish the knitting. The rounds are going faster and faster—about ½ of the stitches have already be decreases and it will only get faster to knit a round with each additional decrease.

I like the look of finer yarns, and the details you can get with smaller stitches, but knitting with a worsted weight yarn is so much faster.  And while I love wools and natural fibers, I also love the clean bright colors of these Red Hear yarns. These are not the colors of a real corn kernel, but they are a perfect match for candy corn. These hats will be sweet delights when they are completed.

My head is still to big to be a good model for baby hats, but its does show how the hat will fit--with the sides of the kernel coming down over the ears. No ties, because modern thinking has made ties a safety hazard, but the fit will be snug enough the hats should stay put.  Though not if Miss C has her way... She is not happy wearing a hat, any hat, and will do her best to remove it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Socks Were a Success

I baby sat two teething darlings last night when their parents went out to celebrate their 2nd annivesary. The girls were generally good, but had their cranky moments as teething babies will do. Miss C has two lower teeth, (no upper) but Miss J has 4 teeth—both of her upper and lower eye teeth, and is working on more.

I noticed after my summer bout of sickness, that I was much more sensitive to the cat –and had allergic reactions ever week after I visited—so I have been taking an allergy pill each week before I go visit. I forgot yesterday, and spent this morning with itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, and sniffling.

But the good news was the socks seem to be a perfect fit. The Chinese Long Tail cast on is stretchy enough, the sock height is right, and so is the foot. So Yay! This morning I wove in the tails and trimmed them—tomorrow they will go back to my S-I-L permanently.

I get delayed in starting the candy corn hats—I have (of course!) yellow, orange and white yarns.. but the orange yarn (Lion Brand Wool) was a pumpkin orange (actually a very attractive orange color) but not candy corn orange.

Smiley's Yarn (my local yarn store) was having a sale this week, and nothing on sale came in three appropriate shades, so the hats are being worked in the fail proof Red Heart—which comes in every color of the rainbow, and then some. The girls will get proper wool hats for the winter (December, January, and February) but for now, acrylic candy corn hats will do.

I looked through Ravelry  and didn't find a pattern I liked, so I am winging it.

First off, a pretty cast on—because I want something pretty to frame the girls faces. Channel Isle fit the bill. Then a few rows of garter, a natural go with for the Channel Isle cast on, and something to prevent a rolled edge. (I really don't like rolled edges). I worked the garter bit flat, I know the tricks about wrapping and turning, (and have used them) but when the garter stitches are needed at a cast on edge, I think it's just as easy to work flat, and sew the mini seam.

The shaping will be simple—4 decreases ever other round, to make a steep sloped triangle –not to dissimilar to the shape of a french/flat toe on a sock. A simple triangle, when worn, will change shape, (similar to the second image) and the sides will come lower on the head than center front.. so these hats will cover their ears..

Currently the girls have their Daddy's Little Deviled Eggs Hats, which fit their heads, but don't cover their ears.(and are wool) Not covering their ears is not an issue when cold days are in the 50°f (or about 12 to 15° c (I didn't look that up—I am just guessing—but I know I am close to being right)--but soon enough then will need more.
(Those are their puffy petal sweaters—made to fit for the moment—and now quickly becoming croped and ¾ sleeved!)--

My DD want cabbage patch kids “hair” hats.. but these are a lot of effort for heads that are still growing—maybe next year, when their head are closer to full sized. But they will get some sort of mock hair hats for christmas. I am just not sure which—maybe a viking helmet type hat, with braids.

And a bonus—one of my UFO's (a pair of secret socks) got a few rounds work –So my knitting mojo is coming back.. and the next few weeks should result in a number of FO's.

(The photo's of the girls are courtesy of their grandma, Lynne--from last weeks visit to the zoo)