Forest Canopy Shawl

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I haven't done a lot of lace knitting, only a few simple projects (Baby Fern Lace Cowl and Beaded Eyelet Rib Socks) so when I decided to knit a lace shawl I searched on Ravelry to find an easy pattern. The Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence was perfect. The instructions are well organized, excellently written and error free. In addition, she provides a short tutorial on lace knitting and provides a number of helpful suggestions. For me, the most useful suggestion was writing the instructions for each row out on a separate index card  to help keep your place in the pattern  - almost as good as a "lifeline". When I purchase a pattern I prefer them to be in books or magazines and I rarely buy only one but I made an exception here and I'm very glad I did.

I had such fun knitting the first shawl and so loved the result that I knit three more! My sister, mom, mother-in-law and a crafting swap partner were the lucky recipients. I'm ready now to work a more complicated lace pattern, however, I've got to make sure and keep one for myself.  

All of the shawls went out during the rush of the holiday season and I apologize for the blurry photos.

Yarn:  Alpaca Sox by Classic Elite Yarns
Color:  Nor'eater (1857)
Size:  57" x 23"
Needles:  7
Note: Worked to 259 stitches before edging

Yarn:  Amazing by Lion Brand Yarn
Color:  Ruby (201)
Size:  Forgot to measure :(
Needles:  7

Yarn:  Tosh Sock by Madelinetosh
Color:  Cobalt & Tart
Size:  51" x 21"
Needles:  7
Note: Worked to 243 stitches before edging

A Knitting Performance

Saturday, December 03, 2011
Knitting Nation
Have you ever been to a knitting performance?  Well, I hadn't until I took in  Liz Collins' Knitting Nation  Phase 8 - Under Construction at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston during a day long performance on November 30th.  The ICA's current exhibition  is Dance/Draw (thru 1/16/12) and Knitting Nation's presentation engaged the theme through eight knitting machines stationed at various levels of scaffolding and the lines of finished knitting draped among its framework and pooled onto the floor.  

Knitting Nation is part ongoing collaborative performance and part site-specific art installation project and you can get a lot more information about the project over at the web site of Liz Collins

As a passionate knitter, crafter and artist I was intrigued and inspired by all of this and took video to capture the noise and movement of the knitters.   At the beginning of the video you see Liz Collins and a volunteer knitter working to repair one of the machines that had gone down from the constant usage.  This was a knitting project and performance that was very different and interesting.

QR Code - The knitting project that didn't work

Sunday, November 06, 2011
I'm not positive, but I think this is the first post I've written where things didn't work out (it's not that this doesn't happen on a fairly regular basis but I don't usually spend the time to detail it!)   During the summer I was downloading and exploring apps for my new Android phone and one of them was a QR code reader.  A QR code is a type of bar code that can cram a lot of data information into a pattern of squares.  Companies and retailers are using them to provide additional information about themselves or a product - usually by directing you to a web page.  To use a QR code reader, you point the camera of your phone at a QR code and the image is scanned and the data is interpreted.  Below is a QR code which is a link to my ladynthread blog:

The crafting/design side of my brain immediately started thinking of different projects where I could use a QR code motif - maybe a bag or a scarf ?  Translating the QR code into knitting seemed interesting so I started with worsted weight yarn and knit one stitch for each white and black square.   I  experimented using intarsia knitting on the corner squares and for the long left and right vertical edges but the bulk of the design is knitted with the stranded method.

The knitting is 'ok',  a little ragged in spots (hey, it's a first prototype!), but unfortunately the stitched "squares" were mostly  "V's" formed with the stockinette stitch and the QR reader couldn't read it, except for one time where the light and the angle must have been perfect,   Using a fingering weight yarn and making each square of the QR code a block of four stitches might make it readable or maybe cross-stitching would work.  Printing to fabric transfer paper is probably the most straight forward approach, but for now, the whole idea is shelved until further inspiration.

A New Job!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I've started a new job at Framingham State University. I love this job! I'm the Laboratory Technician for the Fashion Design & Retail Department. I'm responsible for sewing machine maintenance, supply ordering and providing instructor support for all of the Principals of Construction classes (for me, the best part). I'm also learning how to run an old Meistergram Monogram machine and figuring out database requirements for the Costume and Textile Collection.

I'm still knitting, crocheting, sewing and crafting but the blogging is backlogged and will probably happen with a rash of posts the first day I find a few free hours.

In the meantime, take a moment and check out the details and upcoming events of the Fashion Design and Retailing Program at FSU.

Kindle Cover

Monday, August 22, 2011
I love my Kindle 3 and because I carry it around a lot I needed a protective cover. Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive. So I decided to design my own. The pattern is a very quick crochet with little seaming (only the bottom needs to be stitched closed). The lining is optional and adds slightly more structure and protection.

Kindle Cover Pattern

A Couple of Cute Baby Things

Monday, August 15, 2011
Here are a couple of cute baby items from two great patterns. Both the patterns were a dream to work - with very MINOR notes (how rare is THAT?)

I used Berroco Comfort Sock yarn (#1811 Hari Hari) for both these items and unfortunately it wasn't the best choice. I didn't realize that this yarn is a self patterning sock yarn and the repeats didn't work the best with these items.

BABY'S FIRST SOCK (pattern here)

In addition to the yarn choice there are two minor notes:
  • After working the repeats of the foot, my measurement from the back of heel came closer to 3½" than 3". A couple of other bloggers noted this same discrepancy so I suspect that it's a typo rather than my knitting.
  • These socks are for an older baby (I'm guessing 6-12mos), not a newborn. They may be the first socks that don't look like booties but they won't be baby's FIRST socks!

    Update: Here's my granddaughter Natalie modeling them (along with Little Lamb Sock Critter. Natalie is 16 months so I'm bumping the age estimate for the fit up to 12-18 months.

    SWIRL HAT (pattern here)
    VERY cute hat! It's the perfect hat to bring the baby home from the hospital in. It's also an extremely well written pattern with sizing from Preemie to Adult. Again, the self patterning of the yarn didn't work well here.

  • Trellis

    Sunday, May 22, 2011
    I fell in love with this baby sweater as soon as I saw it. It’s known as Trellis and it’s a free pattern at I made it for my friend Heather who was expecting her first child. The yarn is Rowan All Season Cotton (60% cotton, 40% acrylic) in color #236 scarlet. Heather knew her baby was a girl but I chose this gender neutral color so the sweater could be easily passed down to future siblings!

    My notes:
  • Ribbing - The ribbing was written to be worked in seed stitch with the same size needles as the body. Seed stitch is not a true ribbing so its choice is decorative rather than functional.
         Unfortunately, the ribbing rippled once the body of the pattern was knit. It wasn’t bad enough to start over (and a fair amount of the rippling eased with blocking) but I did switch to needles two sizes smaller for the sleeves and front pieces.
  • Back/Left Neck Shaping – The setup for the right and left neck shaping doesn’t result in both being knit exactly the same and as written is a little awkward. By changing the last row of the back to the following – Next Row [WS]: Work in patt as set for 18 st, BO 11,work in patt to end place remaining stitches on st holder – I was able to work the Left Neck Facing using the same instructions as the Right Neck Facing.
  • Sleeves
         1.   In order for the seed stitch of the sleeve’s ribbing to align with the seed stitch of the sleeve’s cable pattern, the first row needs to start with a purl instead of a knit. This is not noted in the pattern and should be errata.
         2.   The top of the sleeve uses a portion of the cable pattern from the body and the underside of the sleeve is reverse stockinette stitch. This design feature is not explicitly stated in the pattern but only mentioned as purls in the two startup rows of the sleeve, so I started purling all of these underarm stitches and this resulted in a purl garter stitch. Because my sleeve wasn’t matching with the pictures (pictures ARE an integral part of a pattern!) I had to stop and figure it all out. I’m ambivalent about apportioning blame here. The pattern is listed as “tangy” (meaning for advanced knitters) but I believe it still should have been noted that the additional stitches of the sleeve’s underside are worked in reverse stockinette stitch but I’ll concede that this may be an assumption that advanced knitters are suppose to be able to make.
         3.   The increases for the sleeves were made on the wrong side with M1’s and made holes on the right side. – (and if you have followed me this far into my notes, I’d love for you to leave a comment just saying hi!) – Tim Gunn’s rule to “make it work” always echoes in my head so I used needle and thread and sewed among the stitches to close the gaps. If I make this sweater again, I’ll look into other types of stitch increases. I'm thinking purl increases on the right side should work.
         4.   From the reading of other blog posts about this sweater many knitters chose to pick up the sleeve stitches and knit the sleeve from the top down (so they could avoid sewing the sleeve in). However, I couldn't figure out an easy way to do this and make the cables run in the same direction as the body of the sweater, as well as figure out the right spot to put the increases.
  • Collar – The collar is the area that gave me the greatest agony and angst. The collar is knit in two sections with stitches starting from the left and right plackets. The instructions call for knitting the two sections, grafting them together at the center back and seaming the collar to the body.
         Instead of having to seam the collar I decided to knit into the edges of the body as I knit the collar. I really had no idea how to achieve this (I was just tired of seaming!) I picked up a stitch in the body of the sweater at the end of a row and then, in order to keep the same number of stitches, worked two stitches together at the beginning of the next row. That worked and looked very good on one side but “funny” on the other, so once again, I fiddled around with needle and yarn to make it look more like the other side. Next time I would just seam the collar.
         The difficult part for me, and the technique that I didn’t get right, was grafting the collar(see photos at bottom of blog post). I’m very comfortable with grafting, but it’s always been with two stockinette pieces. I’ve never grafted seed stitch and it took hours of research on the web to find an approach to the problem. The answer is to knit a swatch with one row (the one that will be the grafted) in a different color of yarn and then to use the swatch as a “map” for the grafting. Below are pictures of my swatch and the collar edges which need to be grafted. There were two problems with the grafting, one was keeping the stitches turned in the correct position (once off the needle, they wanted to twist) and the other was the difficulty of looking back and forth between the swatch and the collar and remembering where I was and what I needed to do.
         I never did get it exactly right. At some point I decided I would follow the example of Navajo weavers – I would make the mistake intentional so I didn’t offend the gods.
  • Shoulder Seams – I chose the three needle bind-off for the shoulder seams. I like the structure that shoulder seams provide and I’m a big believer of putting them in. This is pure personal preference and grafting the shoulder seams is certainly a possibility but it would involve the same process as the collar (making a swatch) and after my “issues” with grafting the collar this wasn’t a consideration for me.

    I have a love/hate relationship with this sweater. I love the design. I hate the pattern. With its cables and shawl collar, this design is cute sophistication but there was a lot of frogging, Macgyvering and redesigning because of the pattern. So I don’t know if I’ll make another one until I have resolved some of the knitting techniques. However, I have a feeling when Heather sends me a picture of Anna wearing it I’ll forget all the pain and problems and fall in love all over again.

  • Notebook Covers - Valentines 2011

    Friday, February 25, 2011
    Every Valentines I make a little gift for the girls in my life. For Mother's Day, Sarah sent me a cut of fabric with this adorable heart print -- I just had to find a project for it! About 3 months before February 14th, I start trolling through saved links, Google searches, craft books and any other inspirational source I can think of to find just the right idea to convert into a handmade valentine goodie .

    The quest this year culminated with the idea to cover mini-notebooks with the heart fabric. I found the perfect size (3¼" x 4½ ") notebook at Staples and backed each cover with muslin. I stitched across the top and bottom when turning the flaps. Very little fabric was needed for each cover and I still have plenty of this adorable fabric left over for another day!

    Little Lamb Sock Critter

    Thursday, February 24, 2011
    This Little Lamb Sock Critter pattern is free over at Lion Brand Yarns. I was attracted to it because of the textured pattern of the body and the interesting way the technique for knitting a sock heel was used for the face and head. However, I knew from the beginning I was going to have to make adjustments because the original pattern looked more like a rat than a lamb. I made two lambs and gave both away but I'm in love with the finished results and thinking about making one for myself!

    Pattern Corrections:
    There are two errata to the written pattern:
    1) When working the leg of the lamb Row 17 is actually the right side and not the wrong side.
    2) The pattern has both written and charted instructions but the written instructions for Row 4 of the body is blank - it should read: (K1, P1) 7 times, K2, P2, K2, P1, K1, P2, (K1, P1) 5 times.

    Update: Since this post, these corrections have been made on the Lion Brand pattern page.

    My Changes:
    These are the things I did to morph a rat into a lamb:
    1) I did use Wool-Ease Yarn but I substituted the color "Natural Heather" for "Fisherman".
    2) I used 9mm safety eyes.
    3) I embroidered a V nose in place of a felt circle (see photo for placement).
    4) I cut the size of the tail exactly in half (instead of casting on 16 stitches, I cast on 8).
    5) I made no changes to the knit pattern for the arms and ears, however, the biggest change in the whole pattern was how I attached them,.
         a. Once the ears were knit (and before attaching it to the head) I stitched them closed by "layering" the front and back. By this I mean I didn't press the ear together and stitch it - I pushed 1/2 of the circle a little lower than the other and then stitched closed, this reduced a great deal of bulk. After that, I stitched the ears flat to head so that they hang down the side of the face (see photo for placement). It's the ears that make the lamb look like a lamb and not a rat. So pay attention to the ears (unless you want a rat!)
          b. I did not stitch the ends of the arms closed before attaching. In fact, I stitched them down to the body in a skinny oval at the side of the body. This change to the arms doesn't really make the lamb look less like a rat but I liked it better and felt it matched the look of the legs.
         c. I didn't stitch a straight line across the lower edge of the body just above the top of legs (to allow the lamb to sit). This was personal preference only.

    Ravelry Project Page - Little Lamb Sock Critter

    Baby Fern Lace Cowl

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Almost a year ago I took a yarn hand-dying class at Mind's Eye Yarns in Cambridge. Along with a couple samples, I dyed 4 skeins of sock yarn (see photo below). I finally got around to knitting something with one of the skeins!

    The pattern is the Baby Fern Lace Hood/Hat/Cowl by Allyson Ryan and it's a free pattern over at Ravelry

    It was a fast, fun and relatively easy to knit once I made the stitch change noted below.

  • 117 stitches has a 13 times repeat not the 16 noted in the pattern. (This has been corrected in the latest available version of the pattern.)
  • The pattern defines a SSK as "slip 1 stitch purl wise, knit next stitch and pass slipped stitch over (left slant)". but that definition is really for a sl1, k1, psso. I chose to do an actual SSK but an "improved" version which is: "Slip one stitch as if to knit, slip the next stitch as if to purl, knit the two together through the back loops". This is also a left slanting decrease, lies flatter and was easier to execute with this pattern. (This has been corrected in the latest available version of the pattern.)
  • I used a long-tail cast (essentially a knit row itself) so I started the beginning garter stitch section with a purl row rather than a knit row and eliminated row #8 before starting the repeat.
  • I did a regular bind off but went up a needle size. Both the cast-on and bind-off were loose enough.
  • Finished blocked size (you must block this pattern!) was 18" circumference and a height/length of 26".
  • The yarn is a Superwash Merino/Tencel blend.

    I'm going to knit a pair of socks with one of the remaining skeins but I welcome any suggestions for the other two skeins as well as the two little samples.
  • Quilts for Haden & Natalie

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    Mostly I knit and crochet but I also sew - it's really about "making stuff"! This past fall I was out on the West Coast visiting family and went to two local fabric shops (think local yarn shop, in other words, not a Joanne or Hancock Fabrics) In each shop I came away with fabric to make quilts for grandchildren.

    Shop #1
    Maisonette in Oceanside, CA is a wonderful little shop which doubles as a photography/art studio. It was here that I got the idea for the quilts (not hard, they had a sample prominently displayed!) The quilts take only a yard of material each for the front and the back. Rockets and moons for 4½ year old grandson Haden, encouragement from my daughter Rebecca that he would love it for Christmas and the project was just too perfect to pass up. Double bonus: I also found heart buttons to add to my stash for possible Valentine projects.

    Shop #2
    Fabric Crush in Seattle, WA is a bright and well organized local fabric shop located in an historical building in the Wallingford area. Double bonus: They are right next door to the yarn shop Bad Woman Yarn!! It was here that I found the fabric for another quilt, this time for 9 month old granddaughter Natalie. Big thanks to Sarah who prevented a potential disaster by pointing out that I needed to buy a little more than a yard of this fabric because the print was not multi-directional.

  • I cut a cross grain binding of 2½" to give a 1/2" border.
  • On Natalie's blanket (the green one) the backing fabric is a flannel and it is a little thicker and "snugglier".
  • I tried a iron-on batting and I shouldn't have. I don't use iron-on interfacing when sewing garments because it can make the fabric stiff and leave glue traces -- the same principle applies here. Luckily, I didn't have have major issues washing out the adhesive but I was lucky and it did mean I washed the fabric twice (I had prewashed the fabric before sewing)
  • I quilted all the layers together by tying knots 5" apart with a coordinating color of Pearl Cotton #5. On a baby/toddler quilt 4" apart might be better so I'll keep any eye on how they wear.
  • These quilts were my first attempts at mitered corners and it went very well. I viewed a couple of websites and videos for the gist of how to do mitered corners but it was this video and it's proclaimed "no snouts allowed" that put the professional touch on them! What's a snout on a mitered corner? I have no idea how to explain it but watch the first minute of the video and she'll show you (she has lots of cool toys too!)