Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Training for the Olympics

Anyone knitting for the Olympics? Although I tend to knit during the Olympics, and especially the winter ones, I've never actually signed up for anything official on Ravelry, but this year I am a member of Team Canada, I've got my project tagged with all sorts of official things and I'm ready to go.

I will be moderate in my knitting. The challenge for me will be to not get carried away! No hurting of the elbow or wrist! No knitting into numbness.

I am making the Popcorn Cloche, a hat which I should certainly be able to finish in 2 weeks without injury.

This old pattern is knit flat, but I will knit it in the round. And I kinda doubt I will finish it with a ribbon around the brim. I got some green Rowan 4 ply wool just before Christmas and I'll use that doubled. I did a very quick and dirty swatch today and that seems like it's going to work.

I'm also entering the WIP event -- I think they should have called it WIP Wrangling, but I believe it is WIP Dancing. And the work in progress that I shall be tackling? My Colonnade shawl... It makes me heave a great sigh just thinking about it, but perhaps the thrill of the Olympic competition and all the chit chat on Ravelry will make me persevere. In moderation, of course.

All this starts next Friday, February 7. Until then I will plug away at Elaine's second sock. It would be great to get that out of the way before the games begin.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blanket show-off

My denim quilt/blanket is finished. I realised when I was putting the final touches on it that I should have "signed" a piece and sewed it in, but I didn't. I do have little tags I sometimes sew into knitted garments, but they seem so little. So, it is an unsigned piece as yet.

The whole thing. I think of this as "upside down" but it really doesn't matter

You can see where I unfolded the cuff of a pair of capris

Here I need to tell a story: I wanted to put this pocket from that same pair of capris in, but I also wanted the piece to be long(ish) so I cut (thoughtlessly!) from quite far down the leg, and by the time I'd got to the pocket, my straight line had led me perilously close to the edge of the pocket. If I'd started higher up, I could have got more fabric outside the pocket. There was also a rivet in the corner of the pocket, and I didn't want to wreck my friend's machine by getting that under the foot. Anyways, a moment of despair followed. Finally, I just cut the edge and rivet off and sewed right through that dang pocket, fancy embroidered stuff and all.

A nice square corner, with the other pocket 

The whole pocket with rivet

That khaki piece on the edge is one of the major causes of wonkiness and unsquareness

Green geometric bit! Love it

Things look straight in the narrow view, but in fact they are not

I'm very happy with it, and various people have sat with it over their laps in recent days, so we can call it an all-round success, I think. Funny story: I went to our local stationer's/art supply store to get a skein of embroidery cotton for the ties. What do they cost, $2 or so? This shop only had packages. I was offereed 16 skeins for $18 or, for another dollar, 105 skeins. Since 16 is already a lifetime supply, and that was the good stuff, I went against my thrifty nature and passed on the 105, which were identified only with "Made in China."

My sewing is now on hold because I don't have a machine, but I am plotting to get one of those rotary cutters and hit the thrift shops to search out gigantic pairs of faded jeans. I have knit a sock and have planned my project for the Olympics. I'll report in on that this coming week.

Monday, January 06, 2014

New hobby, old idea

Once upon a time, about maybe almost 10 years ago, I found the Gee's Bend quilters. Undoubtedly, via Kay at Mason Dixon Knitting, who translated a quilt into knitting. (This was novel at the time; she's done it a zillion times since then, I think.) My favourites of the quilts were the work-clothes quilts, all faded jeans and overalls, pocket shapes showing where the quilter had laboriously picked them off.

I was smitten with the idea of making one of these, and so I began hoarding old jeans, despite the fact that I don't really sew; and I don't really sew, I think, because I've always had hand-me-down machines that messed with me: funny tension, weird ways of bobbins, just frustration from start to finish.

This Christmas my friend was between houses in Toronto and left her shiny new sewing machine (and her serger, a complete mystery object) with me. I had a teeny frustrating second with it right at the beginning, and abandoned it for a week or ten days till she returned. She decided that a new needle was the answer, and said would I like a regular needle or a denim needle! Oh, indeed, sewing denim, could I really? Would that work??

I unearthed the heap of old jeans and started log-cabinning. My limit, obviously, was the length of a pant-leg, so I ended up making 5 squares and somehow having a gap that was not really square-shaped at all, which I filled with strips, in the bottom left here.

The two rows are not yet sewn together, and I have to figure out some sort of backing. We have 2 pairs of black jeans: really faded and not very faded. At least 2 pairs of blue jeans, probably 3, as well as the teeny bits I cut off a pair of jeans the kids wore when I made 3- or 4-year-old Elaine cut-offs! Brown and khaki and a couple of other bits. I didn't pick the pockets off, so there are 2 in there, fancy lady-jeans pockets with embroidery. The single bit with pink stripes, the gold and blue swirls and the bright green and black and white geometric bits were treasures found at the Textile Museum sale, in the tent where you could fill a bag with scraps for $2. I know some of the jeans have spandex in them, but mostly it's all cotton. I think.

My work space is not ideal, so you get the black and white carpet peeking out under the quilt. The iron is downstairs and the sewing machine is upstairs, plonked on a table where there is not quite enough room. But this whole thing has taken me only a couple of days! I have to sew that big seam and back it and I am done. I will get some embroidery floss, I think, and tie it here and there to hold it together. Then I think it will be a beach blanket? Maybe Arthur will want it on his bed? I thought of making it big enough for our king-size bed, but even I have not hoarded enough jeans for that.

So exciting.

We were talking about me actually getting my own machine, but I'm not sure that, having made this thing I've been thinking about for so long, I would make much else! I would love to be able to make clothes that fit me, but these straight seams and winging it with the cutting might be my limit. Will ponder this. I do have the offer of someone's mom's machine, which maybe I could try, with my new-found confidence and experience.

And I've knit half a dishcloth!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

I finished a sock

I finished the dragon-skin Harvest Dew sock.

This looks like a Christmas stocking, all short in the foot. I can assure you, that's a size 13 sock, draped over a rounded chair arm. Really, it's long!

Great detail on the top of the foot. It gives you a bit of fun in that last, long slog to the toe.

The very exciting texture. Because the slipped stitches pull things in a bit, and because Arthur has really big feet, and because I perhaps foolishly used 2.75mm needles instead of the called-for 2.25mm, it really ate up the yarn. Alas, shortly after I turned the heel I weighed the remaining yarn and had just about 50 grams left. Minus most of a foot, now. So the "mate" will be a bit crazy. But, heck, one day, when Arthur starts worrying about matching socks, I might start buying 150 or 200 grams of the same sock yarn.

I also finished and mailed off my sister's scarf:

It's got 2 and a half balls of fuzz in it, so it is quite long. Long enough to fold around a neck, at least.

On to the next task, then!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

14 WIPs in 2014?

I saw a New Years blog and was reminded of the cute 21st-century practice of doing 8 things in 2008, 13 in 2013 and now 14 in 2014. We certainly never tried to do 97 things in 1997, I'm telling you.

Do you suppose I have 14 works-in-progress that I could try to finish up in 2014? Let's count, shall we? The links go to previous blog entries about the project... some are quite old!
  1. second mitten
  2. green sock (one could count the second sock in here, I suppose)
  3. Elaine's socks (and she for sure gets two)
  4. the cotton shawl with the miserable edging (sigh)
  5. Malabrigo scarf
  6. Botticelli
  7. Sunday Best
  8. that beautiful golden shawl you might not have seen but I have knitted about an inch on it
That might actually be all the things actually on needles at the moment. Some are easily doable. Okay, all of them are doable in the next 12 months if I put my mind to it.

Then there are the fantasy knits: I have a sweater's worth of Rowan 4-ply wool. I have many balls of sock yarn, dishcloth cotton, denim, and still more Felted Tweed that now I want to make fingerless mitts with. I belong to a couple of groups on Ravelry that have monthly challenges/knitalongs and would love to join in. I will make no promises about those things, though I have pledged to make a dishrag for a swap in January.

If I finish one or two of those things a month, I'll get them all done by the end of the year. Some will take a week and some could take several months. Perhaps I shall start by putting them all in lovely bags and finding all the bits and patterns and missing balls of yarn.

Or perhaps I should just keep this list handy and soldier on. Yes, probably that would be best. And really, as soon as I find the camera, I'll take pictures.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Here we go with 2014

Happy New Year to you all!

The kids have been off school for more than a week; we've done Christmas and a three-day trip to Montreal. Last night a rollicking party, the highlight of which was finishing a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle we'd found under the tree when we got back from Montreal. The fairies who checked the lights were on and brought our mail in left it for us. No pictures just yet, though.

Today I hope to clean up the house a wee bit and perhaps knit on a sock or something! I resurrected an old project for the train trip, and also have two socks and a mitten I want to finish right this minute. The old project is my Malabrigo scarf thing and is now super old (as are, it seems, most of my WIPs) as I think I last wrote about it in 2011. I'll just, what did I say, "polish it off." Right.

Other super-exciting knitting news: I learned that my sister-in-law was visiting Boston just about the same time I learned about The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine, and I prevailed upon her to pick up a copy for me! So now, of course, I have a dozen other things I want to knit right this minute.

Maybe a New Year's resolution should be, Just cast on everything and it'll all get knitted up in a year or six...

Just give me a moment and I'll get some photos of all this stuff up.