Friday, December 19, 2008

Hat and Mittens to Match the Blanket

Ari is almost out of this hat so I've started a new one. He looks really cute in it

Pattern: Convertible Cloud Helmet by Elanor Lynn, size 3-6 months. Now almost outgrown.
Materials: Needles sizes 8, 9 & 10
Yarn: Karabella Supercashmere in yellow, 15% of 2 skeins of Koigu KPPPM quadruple plied

Monday, December 08, 2008

Silk Boucle Scarf for Meghan

I would like to show my appreciation for someone who really made a difference. Thanks to her my knee replacement surgery and recovery therefrom was made so much more pleasant and even more importantly, speedier.

So, I spent weeks, while still too hazy to knit well, looking at patterns in various books and magazines. I decided to make a scarf because I don't know Meghan's foot/shoe size, so socks were out. Silk is a good choice when you don't know if the wearer likes wool! I looked through my stash (thank goodness for Ravelry!) and
found a particularly special and favorite yarn. I only hope she likes lavender, actually!
I experimented with the yarn, trying out all kinds of needle sizes and stitches before choosing #7 needles and a k2p2 stitch. I love the way the ribbing is rounded. It has an elegant and contemporary feel to it, too.
Yarn: Jade Sapphire Daisany in lilac, a 100% silk boucle, variagated.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Charity Knitting

The Stettenheim Stitchers have done it again! This year we made 2 whole afghans for the Sanctuary Project for the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. The afghans are given to children entering the foster care system. We are very proud of making the afghans from start to finish so that no one else has to piece them.

The afghans are just gorgeous. When Hudas first lays out the blocks together I just don't know how they will turn out but after Rhona patiently crochets all the blocks and strips together they bloom into gorgeous handicrafted works of art.

Many hands are responsible for the lovely blankets. One Fiber Fairy contributed the yarn: Dorothy, Wendy, Helen, Joyce, Hudas and I make the blocks. [Disclaimer: I haven't made many this year]. Hudas designs the layout and Rhona crochets the strips together. My main job is to put in all the ends and then crochet the border. Since October, as I recover from 1 total knee replacement, this has been the perfect project 'cause I can't concentrate very well yet on my more elaborate projects.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lacy Cotton Shawl

Knit during 100+ degree weather in Scottsdale, AZ during the 2007 AJL Convention.
Materials: 6 skeins Adriafil "Flower Fantasy", 50g, 125m; 87% cotton, 13% nylon
Color: Bagno/Bain [Bath] #50, Lot 1
Source: Marion S.
Needles: #11 and #8
Gauge: on #11 36st to 1' (not an inch!)
Stitch: Garter stitch throughout
Started out as a triangle shawl, knit from from the wide edge and decreased. However, at 30" wide, it became evident that the shawl was long enough and, more importantly, there wasn't enough yarn to knit down to a point.

However, the drape is just lovely and the dimensions are perfect for a generously shaped woman. And, there's a charming little flounce effect at the bottom.

Cast on 290 st and on next row doubled the yarn (for some body). Knit double for 6 rows.
In next row, begin the decreases:
Row 1: K 1 (or slip or do whatever edge stitch you like), ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1 (or edge stitch of choice)
Row 2: K (with whatever edge stitch is preferred)
Continue until the work measures 30" then change to #8 needles. K 8 rows (more if a wider neckbanc desired) then bind off very loosely.

Thanks to my sister M.A. for suggesting that our sister A.M.S., would love the shawl for this year's Christmas present. She is the excellent model above and served as my plucky photographer!

Copyright by Elizabeth F. Stabler 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Slow Time

I haven't posted for a while because I am recuperating quite actively from total knee replacement surgery. On October 8, I was the benficiary of a new left knee. All is going well but I don't have the time, energy or concentration at the moment for knitting or other crafty activities.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Spinning Class with Judith MacKenzie McCuin

The North Country Spinners held its biennial Fibre Fallout last weekend. It was just wonderful. The organizers worked very hard to ensure that we all had a great fiber weekend. I had a chance to learn from two great teachers, Judith MacKenzie McCuin and Lily Chin. This entry will be about Judith M.M.'s class for two simple reasons: a. I have photos and b. it came first.

Judith is a wonder of information and fiber wisdom. Among the many subjects, Judith talked about different wheels and how to use them. Judith emphasizes that because it's so hard to change ones habits, it's imperative to get to know how to adjust the wheel to be able to spin and ply a variety of different yarn.

We experimented with a number of fibers, the first of which was Shetland. It was my most successful attempt of the day -- I actually succeeded in spinning and plying (back on itself) a short length lofty yarn. Judith joked that she'd like 50 pounds of it, please, as soon as possible! We learned how to draw fiber from superwash merino across the top of a fan created by the open sliver. To make it a harder lesson we were given up to five colors of superwash to play with. I am not terribly adept at this and will have to practice a lot.

Judith talked about making appropriate yarns for the intended object. For example, for socks, a good, round yarn is needed. To achieve this, a three ply works best. The photos are of Judith's three strand plying technique. I also have little videos but don't yet know how to transfer my camera's videos.

The first photo of Judith's hands is how NOT to ply 3 strands. The second is how she holds the strands so that all three ply evenly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A New Grandson

Little Ari arrived last Wednesday, August 13 at 1:40 pm, weighing 6 lbs 14 oz. He is thriving and will soon be big enough to wear some of the items knitted. He is already using the burp cloths, baby genius burper that he is!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Kimonos for the Baby

These are the three little kimonos I've made for my grandbaby's layette. Two have ribbons already. I'm waiting to see whether it's a boy or a girl before putting the ribbons on the white with green and turquoise spots.
I keep wondering how comfortable these really are for a baby because the garter stitch one is particularly bulky. I used the Mason-Dixon pattern, One Piece Baby Kimono by Cristina Shiffman. Because of the bulk of the garter stitch version I adapted the pattern for stockingette, as I showed on my June 15, 2008 post.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Baby's Cross-over Coat, A Legacy Pattern

In 1973-74 I made the same sweater pattern for my daughter as I'm making for my first grandchild. My sister also used this pattern to make a white sweater, tho' for whom I don't remember. I made this in a basket weave stitch for my son. The pattern was in the 1973 Mon Tricot magazine for babies and children.
It is a wondrous feeling to be able to make this for the next generation.
In the French pattern, the buttons are meant to be at the baby's back but no one I ever gave this sweater to buttoned it that way.
Used: Almost 2 balls of Debbbie Bliss in Baby Cashmerino color #340017, a chartreuse and #5 Addi Turbo lace needles. Originally I'd started on #3, then moved up to #4 before finally getting the right gauge on #5's. Very time consuming. But, I did want the sweater to fit a baby, not a doll.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcome to the World, Little Margot Eve

Two little sweaters for my dear friend's new baby grand daughter, four weeks old tolday.

This is the class Elizabeth Zimmermann February Sweater or Sweater on 2 Needles. I used a stash yarn I'd had and loved for years. It's perfect.

The bottom sweater is my stockingette version of the Mason-Dixon Baby Kimono in kitchen cotton. I hope this will be handy during the summer months. I tied up the present with the other yard of the ribbon for use as hair ribbons.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guild Challenge for 2008

Every year we have a "paper bag challenge" at the guild. This year we received about 2 oz of CVM, California Variegated Mutant also knows as California Red. I've spun it before, having bought a sampler package from The Bellwether in Washington State which included an ounce or so of CVM. She doesn't offer these samplers any more but I found it a very useful way to learn about different sheep breeds.
The fiber Jenny bought from a NJ was softer but still had a few second cuts. It isn't a particularly soft fiber but the red hairs m hairs and creamy color make it intriguing.
The skein, 62 yds and between 1.5 and 1.75 oz, is one of my many "orphan skeins" from such experiments. It'll probably be great for rug hooking.
I spun it on my new Golding "birthday spindle", a 1.21 oz sterling silver ring spindle which is a dream to use -- like all of Tom Golding's spindles. For plying I used the Tracy Eichheim 2 oz "Starlite Comets" spindle. The hook is quite small but works with thick yarn surprisingly well. This is a trusty, great spindle to work with.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Burping the Baby!

I've experimenting with the Mason Dixon Knitting pattern for a "burp cloth" -- the Baby Genius Burp Cloth.

This is the first one, using the pattern suggestions for one ball of kitchen cotton -- about 95 yards and #8 needles. It made a loose fabric, wider than long. I'm concerned that it won't be impervious enough for the purpose intended, nor long enough to cover the "burper's" shoulder adequately. Some babies are mighty good burpers.

So, for the next two (only one is photographed) I switched to #7 needles, which resulted in a 11" wide cloth. I used 3 balls of 95yd Lily 'n Cream in adorable pastel stripes. (see my Ravelry site for details). One is 15" long and the other is 16" -- no reason, just what worked out in terms of color repetitions. The fabric is properly dense yet drapes nicely.

The yellow and ombre striped version (#3 here) is my favorite so far. I'm using Bernat Cottentots from my stash and it's just perfect. I frogged what I'd knitted on #7 needles because the fabric wasn't drapey enough. And goodness knows, it certainly has to drape over the shouler. The loosely plied yarn makes a denser, thicker fabric. And, it's much softer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Spinning Wheel "Launched"

Finally, after a year, I have a spinning wheel again in the city. I bought this lovely Lendrum from Elisa, a fellow guild member. She was so sweet and threw in extra bobbins and a big bunch of fiber. We finally got the wheel into town last weekend. I took it out of the box last Sunday morning, all eager to assemble it but the big knob was stuck -- probably the finish on the bottom of the knob adhered to the finish on the wheel. Happily, on Monday morning the super was able to turn it for me. When I got back from work I put it together. It's so easy and logical. The double treadle is very comfortable. I like the way the orifice hook is built right in so you don't have to go fishing for it. I must say that it does spin fast and that I had to learn not to sit too far back.

Elisa included a basket of cool accessories. There's a fast flyer (bottom left of basket) for cotton and silk. Towards the back of the basket is the jumbo plying head (plus 2 jumbo bobbins). The most exotic and intriguing is the quill head -- at the very back of the basket. The metal spoke is protected, thank goodness, by a plastic sheath. I watched Jenny spin paper with it at a guild demo and I can't wait to try something like that.
I was even able to produced a skein this week. I'm thrilled with the ease of this wheel. I chose some Black Welsh Mountain Sheep fiber, bought some years ago. It's a very challenging fiber -- greasy still, short, wiry fibers and very rough. It'll be great for rug hooking. I washed it last night in hot water with a little synthrapol. In the last rinse I put a little lavender oil and hair conditioner.

Plying was a little more tricky -- as Alden Amos told us, plying is a whole different kettle of fish from spinning. I'd spun very tightly but after some fiddling, was able to get the right amount of twist. And, wonder of wonders, I produced a balanced skein. My usual trick is to underply but I may have finally overcome this tendency.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A New (to me) Yarn Store I Adore

I've just returned from a 10 day trip -- mostly business but some vacation, too. Of course, I managed to visit 3 fiber-related emporia in three different places! First I'll tell you about Knit One in Pittsburgh. You see, I live mainly in Manhattan but even when I'm in NJ for weekends, the lys are fairly small, sometimes even tiny and cramped. Knit One, by contrast, is in a large -- even vast by lys standards -- wonderfully warm and welcoming space. Stacy, the owner, has succeeded in creating a user-friendly space that is a knitter's heaven as well as haven. Yarn is arranged by weight and then by type. So, baby yarns, sock yarns and novelties, etc. are grouped together. In addition to the shelves lining the walls, there are also stand-alone units in a charming array of styles. What I also loved, and what The D.B. took advantage of, is the inviting seating in various arrangements throughout the store. Tho' chock full of different yarns, the store is tidy and organized which really makes a difference to the self-reliant shopper. I couldn't think of a yarn that wasn't included in their collection. We ended up spending hours at Knit One when we meant only to shop for about half an or so. It's also possible to drop in with your knitting and hang out -- we saw knitters do just that while we were there.

The best part of the whole experience was the individual attention available to yarn shoppers. Rochelle was on duty when we arrived. She is so very welcoming that we felt right at home immediately. Rochelle took me on a yarn tour of the store, showing me how the yarns are arranged. Because she's so yarn-savvy, she helped me find just what I was looking for -- easy care natural fibers for baby knitting. I had the privilege of speaking with Stacy, too, when she arrived and really enjoyed our conversation. Although I love my NYC lys, I confess to being smitten.

Knit One is in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, just "up street" (Pittsburghese for "up the block") from where The D.B.'s father lived and on the same block as a now-closed family-favorite special occasion restaurant, Poli's. Pittsburgh is a city of steep hills, which the natives take for granted. Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill's main drag is no exception. It all adds to the atmosphere.

Don't miss this store if you're even vaguely close to Pittsburgh. In fact, I told someone yesterday to urge her knitting daughter to find a college she likes in Pittsburgh just so that she can have a good lys! How's that for a college-finding criterion?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mystery Lace Pattern

I just found this photo and I don't think I ever posted it. It's dated September 3, 2006! And, I can't remember where I got the pattern. Oh well.
Does anyone have a clue?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My first Christina Shiffman One-Piece Baby Kimono

Here's the little kimono I made in April and gave away in May as a new baby present. I love the ribbon which I found at AC Moore. Before using it I tested it to make sure it didn't run. I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the ribbons, actually.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Variation on Christina Shiffman's One-Piece Baby Kimono

All I have to do is sew it together. I love how it turned out. I prefer the stockingette version because garter makes a pretty bulky version which seems out of proportion for a tiny baby. Not that they can move around so easily -- and do so love to be swaddled. The thinner fabric appeals to me more.

My adjustments
1. Because garter stitch is horizontally stretchier than stockingette, I cast on 10% fewer stitches (36) and increased evenly across the last of the 4 garter ridges to achieve the 40 stitches called for.
2. Chain edge stitch for all edges that will not be part of a seam. See the sleeve edge and front edge below.
3. To prevent the sleeve edge's rolling over, knit the last 6 sleeve stitches in garter rows. Begin on the 7th sleeve increase. Of course, the last stitch is the chain edging.
4. Back of neck. After the 8th and last sleeve increases are completed on both sides, on the next WS row: 1 edge stitch, knit 5, purl 28 , place marker, knit 20, place marker, purl 28, knit 5 , 1 edge stitch. Increase the knit stitches between markers by 1 on each side every second row until there are 26 stitches between markers. On the next row, bind off the center 20 stitches, using a purl bind off so the bind off chain stitching will be on the inside. My own preference -- can be ignored if you don't care about that detail.

5. Front edges. I used the optional YO (yarnover) increase to make this cute column of holes, (a.k.a. "lace") before a garter ridge of 4 stitches, the last of which is the chain edge stitch. The yarnover is on the RS row and purled on the WS row.

6. Bottom edges: On the last 2 rows of the front edge increase (39 stitches on needle): RS, knit 34, YO, knit 3, chain edge. WS: Begin bottom garter edge: 1 chain edge,* knit 6 (including the YO), k2tog*. Repeat *xxx* 3 times. There are now 36 stitches for the edge. Continue with chain edge until there are 4 ridges. Bind off as desired. Sew together.

More Tricks
A. Chain edge stitch for all outside edges because my edges are awful otherwise
B. For garter version: edge increase: with 2 sts left, pick horizontal yarn between sts, leaning left; k1, chain edge
C. Bind off for sleeves. To avoid the gap between the 3 stitch decrease sections. Cast off first set of 3 stitches as usual. For the next 7, k to last stitch, keeping the yarn in back, pick up last stitch as if to knit, place it back on left hand needle, wrap yarn around stitch on left needle and turn the work, pick up wrapped stitch as if to knit, DO NOT KNIT IT, knit next stitch, bring the first, unknitted stitch over the knitted stitch and proceed to next cast off.
D. I figure out how to increase by dividing the number of stitches ultimately desired by one more than the number to add. So, 40 divided by 5 equals 8. That means, every 8 stitches make or increase 1 stitch. This will center the increases, leaving the same number on either side. If the total doesn't divide so tidily, distribute the "carryovers" evenly over the row. For example That is: 42 divided by 5 is 8 with 2 left over. So, decide where in the row to knit 9 (twice) before increasing.
E. I haven't figured out the formula for decreasing but I'll let you know when I do.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Plying the Koigu

Jenny Backriges and Aldos Amos have both emphasized how different plying is from spinning. Well, they're right. Even with an already-spun and plied yarn, I found it challenging to get an even ply. But, it's good enough and it will look lovely as blanket stitching on the baby blanket (see previous post).

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Layette Blanket Almost Finished

Well, I've finally finished the main part of this project. I used 6.75 balls of Karabella Supercashmere Bulky. Of the seven skeins used, 3 had joins in the middle. Considering that this yarn at full price costs $55 per skein (not what was paid, thank goodness), and is only 81 yards long, this is totally unacceptable.

My daughter bought the yarn and asked me to knit this pattern for her, from Linda Morse's Luxury Knitting. I followed the directions for washing the blanket, putting it in a mesh bag and washing it with cool water on the delicate cycle. I even followed the book's advice to put it in the dryer on low for 5 minutes in the bag. I lost courage and took it out at 3 minutes, tho'. What had been a rather grayish yellow cleaned up beautifully. The hand is incredibly soft now and feels luxurious. I'll snip all the joins after I add the blanket stitch border.

Initially I used a #10 circular needle but at the rate I was going would have needed 2 more skeins to complete the project. Using a #9 needle instead I was able to get to almost the dimensions called for. My blanket is 26.5" x 31" .

Now I have to do the blanket stitch border. I don't have the directions from the book and am somewhat concerned about all the joins unless I use a very long tail. My daughter chose the Koigu KPPPM colorway from my stash. Although Kersti, a dk weight is called for, I don't have any. This week I wound the two skeins together. If the ply is too loose, it won't work. This weekend I'll run the doubled skein through the spinning wheel. The color in the photo above isn't really true -- on this monitor it's too blue.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Layette sweater

I’m not sure whether I bought this sale yarn at the Yarn Loft (in Sparta before it burned and moved to Newton). This is a pattern I first made for my daughter when I was pregnant with her in 1973. It’s a great little sweater for new babies as it can button either in front or in back. My daughter has rejected it as she doesn’t like the acrylic yarn. No problem, actually as this yarn isn't very soft. But, it will make a great baby prsent for a colleague who’s having a baby next month.

I really do love this pattern: Baby's Cross-over Coat in Mon Tricot, 1973. It has five variations and I plan to make them all!

Materials: I'm using a ball of King Cole Big Value Baby Dk, 316.0 yds in white and #3 circular needles.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dyeing Self-Striping Yarn

October 27, 2007 North Country Spinners Workshop, taught by Tricia Weatherston

The dyeing peg board with 1/2 of the dyed yarn.

The single sock with the afterthought heel just begun and the leftover skein

Tricia led a wonderful class. She is well-organized and very patient -- and remained unflappable for the four or more hours of teaching. She'd also worked out the design of the dyeing peg board in the top picture. A number of already mixed chemical dyes were set out for us to work with. The variety was quite good but I hadn't a clear idea of how to use them, never having done so. That;s why I decided to use a familiar rainbow palette.

Tricia demonstrated how to wind around the pegs to achieve different lengths of color bands. After painting a section, we wrapped it up in cellophane wrap to keep in from bleeding its neighbors. Some bleeding -- see the yellow parts of sock -- had fortuitous results, creating orange from the blending of yellow and red. The dye was set in a microwave.

I was lucky to be working with some very experienced dyers -- Jean S., Jill W. and the owner of a yarn store who also dyes some of her own yarns. Because of their experience with dyeing, they used fewer colors and instead concentrated on mixing gradations of shades and tones of two or three. But, I'm pleased to have learned the technique. I've volunteered the sock, yarn and dyeing board for use at the Guild's display at Garden State Sheep Breeders. When I retrieve the board I will play with this technique again.

I'm just now finishing the sock -- a plain tube of 64 stitches with an afterthought heel. This is my first attempt at this heel, also known as a peasant heel. The sock is small and the fabric is dense. For a stretchier sock I'd use a #2 needle for the KnitPicks sock yarn for dyeing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weaving at Peters Valley Cont'd

My first exercise on the second day was a balanced weave, meaning that the weft threads would be the same number as the warp threads. I measured inch by inch and only achieved the goal as an average of all the six inches. As you can see on the sampler, or "book" as Sarah Saulson calls it, this section didn't hold up so well, not maintaining its structure at the edges where it was pulled.

Here are two views of my first twill weaves. The fuschia is fine acrylic boucle, tighly beaten and doesn't show up the structure so well. With the blue warp I chose, I used weft thread colors that harmonized.

Here's my "book", to be read top down. The first leaf was cut off, (see yesterday's post) so the book is a record of what I did on the second and third days of the workshop. Left photo shows the front and the right the back.

The seventh section down, gold and black, was an exploration of unexpected weaving materials. It was really fun. My goodie bag contained black tulle with gold dots and six 12" lengths of gold cord. I worked out how to cut the length of tulle into one long strip, which I accomplished with only a few minor glitches. Fran, the helpful and knowledgeable studio assistant, suggested I spin it. Great idea. So I whipped out my Golding Spindle and made a tulle yarn. Spinning it intensified the black and "popped" out the gold bits. I began weaving this at around 7:30 and continued the next morning. Some of the tulle pokes out, at Sarah's suggestion. I'd just had the gold cord and loose tulle bits hanging over the selvedges so that added just the touch needed. I thought the regular stripped structure somewhat ironic considering the materials.

We also learned to read and draft patterns. Sarah demonstrated software and introduced us to Marguerite Davison's classic pattern book. I'm glad I took notes on the drafting because it helped me with the drafting homework assigned for the last day. I didn't remember until I was in the shower Monday morning. Eeek. So, I furiously wrote out the pattern on the drive up. In a panic that I wasn't understanding it, I asked Marsha to pull over so I could grab my notebook. The D.B. was laughing -- nay, e'en howling in delight -- because she'd never known me to forgePublish Postt to do my homework before.

The magic of the whole experience was how natural weaving seemed to me. I think I may have some deep physical memories of all the weaving I'd done as an eight year old at the Phillipstown Manor Restoration (it's name in the mid-50's when my father'd been their business manager). It may be that I felt very much at home working with the loom as a machine. It seemed very logical and easy to use. I figured out tricks by myself that a more experienced weaver had to have Sarah show her, which surprised me. There's a very appealing rationality to the craft. Now, I only hope that I can find an affordable loom before I forget everything I learned.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Learning to Weave

This weekend at Peters Valley I took the three day workshop taught by Sarah Saulson, "Adventur0us Weaving.". Although I'd learned on a real (antique, actually) loom when I was eight years old, I haven't woven seriously since. There were four students and a studio assistant, so we each got a great deal of individual attention. I love the way Sarah teaches -- it really works perfectly for me. First she explains the topic, then she allows us to explore for ourselves and finally we discuss it as a class. It's the first workshop at Peters Valley during which I haven't felt stressed or overloaded. Although I've really enjoyed all the workshops I've taken, I do appreciate the feeling of mastery I've come away with this time. My fellow students were all either art students or working artists. A most inspiring group.

Here's my loom with the warp. The first day we learned to dress the loom. It took so much time that I didn't have time to weave much besides the toilet paper. Sarah says her students enjoy this way of filling up the warp until a usable, even warp is reach.

The studio was open after class was over so I was able to get going on my first actual weaving. It's plain weave, experimenting with different beating strengths. It was cut off the loom to demonstrate the effects of wet finishing. It shrank in height more than width. The more tightly beaten sections shrank more.