Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Second Hitchhiker, with Beads!

This weekend I flew to North Carolina to pick up my older son and his car, then drive back home together. The son formerly known as Tuba Boy in this blog (who should now be known as Mandolin Boy) did a 10-week internship in the Chapel Hill area at the place where his stepmom works. It was a great experience for him, and I am so happy he had the opportunity!

It also gave ME the opportunity to visit my own stepmom, who I had not visited since Dad's funeral trip. I was rather anxious about going back to where Dad used to live, but the memories were mostly good (she did get me a bit weepy when she kept trying to force memorabilia on me. But it was good to see my family and many of Dad's old friends.

Most important to THIS blog, however, is that I took along my Beaded Hitchhiker, since it was small and would fit in my small luggage. I enjoyed the conversations that the project started on the plane and in the airport. A couple of nice elderly women described complicated projects they used to make, and one assured me that arthritis had not stopped her, though she now crochets mostly. That's good, too!

I got to the end of the first skein while on the plane, and continued on while chatting with relatives until I had 42 points on the shawl. That's how many the original instructions called for, and sure enough, it was a good size with 42 points.

I then decided to add a sawtooth border to the cast-off edge. I didn't have any knitting books with me, so I made one up. I'm sure it's very similar to a lot of patterns in books--I am not THAT creative, but I did make it to where each edge had a bead on it. I will write down the pattern at the end of this post. Anyway, here is how the two edges compare. They aren't the same, but they work well together.

The two edgings on the shawlette. Left is part of the original pattern, right is what I added. Each has a bead at the tip.
 Of course, even with figuring out the pattern, it didn't take too long to finish the edging, so on Sunday I realized the WORST had happened! I finished the ONLY knitting I brought with me! I was glad I brought my Kindle. But I sure could have gotten a lot of knitting done on my 12-hour car ride yesterday (Mandolin Boy drove yesterday, and I drove today, only 8 hours or so).

Finished product, folded in half

So, here is the finished item. The colors came out oddly when I took the picture at my stepmom's, but I tried to correct it. At the end there were some pools of orange, but I like them, so i kept them. I didn't straighten out the points, oops. Let's see, how about another picture?

Here is is outdoors and more spread out.
I like the way it looks with more points on it, at least from a distance. You can't tell the size difference so much. I am very impressed with how this particular sock yarn worked out in the Hitchhiker. It really made a nice even blend of the greens and oranges. And the two colors of beads I used also were perfect. They were the same muted green and orange. Really love this item and can't wait to wear it. 

What does it look like on, you ask? Well, I think I will be wearing it a LOT this fall. I happened to have on a coral outfit Sunday, so I put it on.

Suna looking haggard, but with a nice shawlette and a shiny shirt.
Wow, those wrinkles, that giant nose, those droopy eyes (another thing I inherited from my Dad is sagging eyelids), those bunny teeth--I was obviously pretty darned stressed out and not at my shiny, perky best, even with the shiny shirt on. But, isn't the Hitchhiker nice? I love the way the edges curve, and I love having the points on two sides. The smooth edge makes a great side to aim at the neck, too. I really look forward to wearing this often!

What's Next?

Well, I need a big project, since I finished the Shadow vest, and I need a small project, since I finished this one. I have things all lined up, or mostly.

My big project will the the beautiful Reine from the Brooklyn Tweed Wool People vol. 3. I've already got the yarn, Loft by Brooklyn Tweed in the Snowbound Colorway.

Yarn and pattern
I am sure that most "connected knitters" already know about this pattern and this wool, but if you don't know, the wool is from American Targhee-Columbia sheep and spun in the US in an old mill. I love that. It has nice irregularities and flecks in it. The cardigan has cabled edges along the front and pockets. There are really simple but classy looking purl ridges along the cuffs and on the shoulders. I'll be honest. I just want a bunch of cardigans to wear.

I also want more of these little drapy scarves. I ran across a pattern on Ravelry that I thought would be cool. Little did I realize at the time that half the people on my Ravelry friends list had already bookmarked or were making it (or so it seemed), including most of the people I used to knit with. Oh well, I may be the last on the bandwagon again, like I was with Hitchhiker, but I will make it anyway. It's Unleaving from Knitty's First Fall edition. It is also garter stitch but with a nice lace edging. I now just have to decide which sock yarn I want to make it with. I might just pick one of the ones with silver in it. Not sure, though. I will have to chase zillions of young adults out of the yarn room to find something! I do know I want a semi-solid, but don't want to use my brown one due to planning to use it as an edging on the fall shawl I am also still plugging away on.

Now that I am no longer "competitively" knitting, I don't know what's popular with all the knitters who hang out together or spend a lot of time reading blogs, hanging out on Ravelry, or participating in email lists. I realize that I am just fine with that--I am knitting what I want to, when I want to. I am not trying to make the fanciest or hardest thing--I am making things I think I will enjoy making and use when I am done. Whew. I think I have attained my own "gold medal" for knitting enjoyment.

And yeah, I am watching the Olympics, even if I am peeved over the "Ravellenic Games" thing. I just am no longer into competitive knitting!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Silken Shadow

It was a good knitting weekend, since my friend Pouri (mom of our house guest Elmira) was here cooking amazingly delicious Persian food, and she also knitted a bit with me. She was trying to make a simple-looking cable scarf, but the "free" instructions from Michael's were all in prose, plus she wasn't familiar with American knitting abbreviations and terms. It was slow going. I KNOW if I'd had a graph, it would have been easier for both of us!

Because I had knitting friends, I got a lot done--so much, in fact that I actually managed to finish something! It only took me a month to make the Shadow vest out of Shibui Heichi (raw silk). Here's a nice photo of the yarn.

You can see all the extra colors in the yarn. And dog hairs. Thanks, Scrunchy.
The yarn looks great in seed stitch, and it has a really nice rustic texture. However, it is a bit hard to knit with. You really have to tug to get the yarn to go all the way through the stitches, as I think I mentioned before. I think I managed to make adjustments so there aren't any big ugly holes. The small amount of yarn in each skein meant a LOT of ends to weave in, too. I may actually end up dabbing Fray Check or something on the ends to make sure they stay put.

After I finished the vest, I took a picture of it, which was spectacularly unsuccessful. It's a rather large three-layered rectangle, and you can't see the nice row of cables going up the side, either. Here it is, against one of my now-traditional loud-patterned tablecloths.

Shadow on the table. Hey, there is my foot!
Well, that's just not a great looking item. It does show you just how much seed stitch this thing entails! I sure am glad I knit continental! So, I guessed that, even though it was 100F outside and it is the blazing middle of summer with incredible humidity, I was gonna have to put it on and get photos.

My dear spouse did try to take some pictures inside the house. While I look smashing, other than my giant humidity hair, you can't really see the garment.

That's me in skinny jeans in a blurry vest.
So, we reluctantly went outside and stood in front of the neighbor's garage door to get better photos. Now you can see the vest. I wanted side views, too, so maybe the cables would show up.

Side view. Can't see the danged cables because of my arm. Why do I have arms? Oh I need them to knit.

I look so festive. I like how the vest hangs, so it does not look so square.

Why yes, this IS the front view. Ah, do I feel a little nip of fall in the air? Why no, I don't.

The back. Wow, my hair is long, and wow, it looks like I have chicken legs, just like my son does in his skinny jeans. Only his legs are a lot longer.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Rusty Shadow vest. I was about to pass out from the heat, so I also hope you appreciate the sacrifice I made.

With that project over, I am actually STILL plugging away on the second Hitchhiker shawlette. I usually work on it in the car or at meetings. Next weekend I am going to North Carolina to pick up the older boy, who's been there all summer doing an internship. I will also be visiting my dad's dear widow, Flo, so I predict lots of knitting time. Since I'm flying, I will just take that small project with me. I probably mentioned already that I am going to give her one of my place mats.

I did finish weaving the two jewel-toned place mats in my second batch of mats, and am starting one of the yellowish sock yarn. As I do these next three mats (repeats of the first bunch), I am trying to figure out what size I want the matching napkins to be. I could make little 10" x 10" napkins (I have some that size that I bought in Mexico), or I could make bigger ones. I have to practice actually making a square!

The weaving is improving. My edges look a lot better on this batch.

So...what's next in knitting? LATVIAN MITTENS. That yarn is sitting over on my dresser LOOKING at me, so I better make up four cute little Latvian colored wool balls and get to work on those. I love the color and patterns so much! I know I don't have lots of reasons to wear mittens. But I sure do love to make them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Made Place Mats!

I finished my lovely sock yarn place mats on June 25, but never shared photos. What a slacker blogger! They came out pretty good for someone who's still learning. And we have been using them on the table ever since! In fact, we like them so much that I have warped the loom with more red yarn and am making additional matching mats.

I did a particularly bad job taking pictures--why I felt compelled to put the busy place mats against an even busier table cloth for photography is beyond me. So, your eyes have been warned!

A place mat!
This is a special edition Opal sock yarn. It really went well with the red, I think. The next one is more subtle, but I happen to still like it, with its consistent red dots:

Little red dots
This was my first one, and I thought I'd like it best, but instead liked it least.

More stripes
Everyone liked this last one the best, but it's too short--I ran out of warp. So, I am going to give this one as a gift, and have already woven two more using this Regia Kaffe Fassett sock yarn to be the place mats.

Jewel Tone Stripes
I think the hemstitch edging looks nice, so I am doing it on the next batch, too. I'll end up with 8 place mats, so we can have company. After that, I plan to make matching napkins. I will have plenty of sock yarn for that, since they will be a bit smaller. By that time, I think I will be tired of the red warp yarn and ready to move on to another fun thing, whatever that may be.


I have not forgotten my knitting, and in fact have made good progress on the Shadow vest in Heichi. It just does NOT photograph well, so imagine acres and acres of rust-colored raw silk seed stitch, and you will have a good idea of what it's like. I'm on the right front, and when that's done, all that is left is to knit the substantial collar, which is what turns it into a garment rather than an awkward mass of fabric.

The Heichi yarn is sure expensive. Each $14 skein knitted about 3 inches of body! So, I'll have to be careful with the vest--it's an in"vest"ment. The only problem I am having is that the yarn is so textured that sometimes my purl stitches don't pull all the way down, so they end up loose. And every little uneven bit is very obvious in the field of K1 P1. I think it will get better in blocking.

And Teaching

I am proud to say that my latest two knitting students are doing well. My coworker Stacie is still powering through a brown garter stitch scarf, and the summer resident Elmira has even learned to purl--she made a rectangle!

Her first finished object
In addition, she is making a really pretty garter stitch scarf out of some wool/cashmere multi-colored stuff I could not figure out anything to knit from. The colors are pooling in a really interesting way. I'll have to get a photo. She has the yarn to make a K1 P1 ribbing scarf next. She likes knitting, which make both me and her mom happy. It's nice to all sit around and knit! I'll miss knitting with her when she moves into her own apartment in September.

I hope two posts in a day make up for a month with nothing! Keep knitting, crocheting or weaving, friends!

Latvian Fun

My friend and colleague, Mike, went to Latvia on vacation, to visit his former exchange student. I knew there was a strong fiber arts tradition there, so I was very excited to find out what kinds of things he'd discover (also he discovered beautiful scenery, castles, museums, churches and monuments...but the fiber stuff was what I was mostly interested in).

I got a taste when he posted this picture to Facebook:

Learning to weave in Latvia
Someone's learning to use an inkle loom! Later, when he came back, he showed me some amazing photos of exquisite weaving, many pieces with gorgeous crocheted borders. There were also some really cool crocheted lace outfits, and wonderful traditional knitting. I sure appreciated those photos! And to prove how much they value knitting, check out the plane ticket he's holding here:

Air Baltic, they love knitting
Yes, that's a two-color knitting schematic on the border! You have to love a country that values its crafts so much!

My surprise when he got back to work was this:
A box!
What an intriguing box! That shape is familiar! What's on the back?
Seeing that made me happy
Hooray! It's a genuine Latvian mitten kit! How cool is that?
Inside with translations of motifs
Inside the box was a lovely card that translates all the traditional motifs and what they mean (the swastika was a GOOD thing in the olden days). On the right is the instruction booklet, which tells you exactly where the original mitten came from that the pattern's modeled on.

And of course, there is lovely, rustic two-ply wool to knit the mittens from! Won't that be fun? I am looking forward to stylish new mittens in the fall. Mike also got a kit for our boss, who is also quite the knitter. What great gifts.

And on Another Continent!

Mike is not the only friend to go on a cool vacation. Sylvia went to Ecuador and spotted this:

Loom action!
This guy is weaving so quickly that his hand is a blue. I have a similar piece of fabric from Mexico. If you look carefully you will see he is also wearing a hand woven belt.

It's so nice to have friends who remember your interests and share what they see with you!

Now to write another post about my knitting and weaving. I've been so busy DOING stuff that I haven't had time to write about it!