Saturday, November 28, 2009

branching out!

On Friday, instead of fighting the crowds to save a couple dollars, I got together with my friend Catherine to get a little embroidery lesson! She's fantastic with embroidery and I just bought pattern for embroidered felt ornaments, so I wanted so advice.

We met at a coffee shop and I showed her my fabric and quilt block pattern that I'm going to use for a wall hanging for my mother (more to come about that!) and she showed me a bunch of embroidered pieces that she'd made over the years and now plans to make into a quilt. We got some coffee and looked at some books she brought - one was a book that had stuffed animals and dolls in it and right on the cover was the doll that my grandmother made me when I was a kid! what are the chances!?! After that we got down to business and started making ornaments - mine was from the pattern, which I ended up having to freehand onto the felt because I couldn't get anything to transfer it well, and hers, because she's all artistic and can just draw things, was a bird based on some old school ornaments in one of the books. Mine was supposed to be nearly all satin stitch which seemed kind of difficult, and also kind of boring after looking at all the stitch patterns that she'd used on her stuff. I ended up just doing whatever I wanted to and didn't worry about filling in the spaces with solid color. Before we knew it, it was like 3 hours later! I didn't feel like I got a lot done there - embroidery always takes longer than I think it will! That evening though, I finished it up. And I love it! I wish I'd take the time to do stuff like this more often - diversify my craftiness a little instead of always letting my knitting win!

Monday, November 23, 2009


When I was blanching my swiss chard over the weekend, I noticed that the water was turning a fantastic shade of red so I decided, of course, to dump some yarn in it! duh. I put in some vinegar first for acid, then put in a skein of Lorna's Laces fingering weight that I'd never been crazy about the color of - it's called Aslan and it's kind of off white and tan. It got sort of red-ish, but not really what I'd imagined, so I cheated and put in about 8 or 10 drops of red food coloring. It turned out pretty great - much better than before. Of course I now have one skein of the original color and one of this red. I suppose that means I can make two fingering weight hats, or maybe do a striped sock with alternating bits of the original and the new red! I'm downright brilliant-ish!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

harvest in November - whaaat?

I dare you to find a more beautiful vegetable! Bright Lights Swiss Chard

So beautiful I almost can't stand it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cookie is Cool!

Correction, she's really cool! Yesterday's class was fantastic!

I walked in and Cookie was sitting up at the front table futzing with her camera and in my head I was like "whaaaaat? this is crazy!" but everyone just seemed so calm - they were sitting there knitting or whatever. I guess I didn't expect everyone to be standing and screaming like we were in the same room as the Beatles, but inside I kind of felt that way! There were only about 13 people in the class which was great because we all got personal attention! First she talked about all the calculations you have to go through before casting on - it was fantastically mathy! Oh, within the first hour I felt like I'd gotten the best tip ever and it wasn't even about sock design. Someone asked her what cast on she used, and how to make it stretchy - she uses the long tail and talked about how sometimes you'll hear that you should use a bigger needle to cast on so that it's not so tight, but that all that really does is make the stitch taller, when what you're really aiming for is more space between the stitches. She showed us how she just puts her thumb on the needle when she's casting on to create a little extra space between each needle instead of cramming them up so tightly next to each other. Duh! that's so intuitive, but it never hit me before! She also taught us how to "scientifically calculate" the "suckage" of different pattern stitches and figure out how many stitches your sock really needs to be - just because you normally do a 64 st sock, doesn't mean it'll work for everything. She showed us how to take a stitch pattern and chart it out to see what it does and how to combine things to get the number of stitches you need - and even how to expand or shrink a stitch pattern proportionally to make it do what you want and fit the target stitch number. Then she showed us how she designs the fantastic cuffs that she does - where they flow into the stitch pattern. Then we all picked stitch patterns and graphed them out and calculated our socks and she came around and talked to each one of us and gave us advice and told us different things we could do - she was so sweet and helpful and totally remembered all of our names and the stitch patterns we were doing. it was amazing! I feel like I copped out a little by picking a pattern that I ended up doing around the whole sock, instead of incorporating multiple patterns (although that is often more difficult to make work because the stitch numbers just might not be right and it's easier to combine columns that you can manipulate easier) and then I also tried to design a snazzy cuff, but when she looked at it she didn't feel like the stitch pattern had enough really strong lines to warrent it, and recommended a 1x1 twisted rib, so I switched to that (which is very pretty - I fell in love with it the first time I did one of cookie's socks.)

We all ate and knit for a few hours then she went over how to decided on where to divide your socks for the top of the foot so that the design flowed nicely - this is where I realized how much she remembered about what each of us was doing. She went through everybody's socks up in front of the room by drawing out the design patterns on the wall (pretty much all by memory - like saying "ok, Chris is doing something that has some alternating yarn overs on the edges, like this, and then increases and decreases in the center of a 5 stitch knit background, and it's a 9 stitch repeat") and suggesting where to split based on the repeats and how to make the edges look perfect and intentional. Oh, it was just great and I learned more than I really thought I would! Plus, it was so cool and informal and people could just ask questions and talk to her like she was a regular ol' person.
Oh, and while we were knitting she came around and took pictures of all of our handknit socks that we were wearing (Emily - I was wearing your Taylored socks, so you'll be famously documented!) and took pictures of what we were knitting! Here's Cookie taking a picture of MY sock! whee!

What a great day!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ready Eddie!

Sock Innovation book - check. Stitch pattern chosen from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns (what else?) - check. Malabrigo sock, lettuce, wound - check. Size 1 Knit Picks Harmony needles - check. camera - check. I think the only thing left to do is paint my nails - it just seems right for such a hand heavy day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

lunchtime yarn binge

I'm taking a class for work all week down in Springboro and I tracked down Wooly Bully yesterday after lunch - it's a little LYS only 25 minutes or so from my house, but I'd never been there before! Today I packed a peanut butter sandwich so I could eat it on the road and spent my lunch hour yarn shopping! whee! It's such a cute little place and has a lot of yarns that I hadn't seen elsewhere. I got two skeins of Mirasol Miski (100% baby llama) for an Opus beret,This one is a pretty blue, with bits of purple

This one is navy, but it's hard to photograph.

And 3 balls of this Queensland Sugar Rush, just because it's made of sugar cane fibers and I don't have anything in my stash made of sugar cane!

and it's soooo shiny and purple - so why not? Oh yeah, not to rub it in or anything, but I'm going to be in the same room with Cookie A on Friday! woot!