Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Creeping up on Easter weekend...

Dear Blog-

I am beginning to suspect that if I don't post here soon, either my husband or my sister will begin beating me about the head and shoulders with sticks. Me sister keeps emailing and asking, When are you going to post, When are you going to post? Blah, blah blah! Heck, when was the last time you updated YOUR blog, you old bat? And every time I walk past the computer DH has brought up my blog and has it showing the web counter.

You, Dear Blog, know by now that when I write, 'And tomorrow I'll post pictures of the buttons...' that although I may have the best of intentions at the time of writing, I am basically the blog equivalent of, 'Of course I love you, and of course I will respect you in the morning!' And in your all-forgiving way you, well, forgive me my little white lies and my good intentions.

The truth of the matter is that I did whip out the camera the next morning, and spent a frustrating half hour trying my darnedest to take pictures of the #*(@#)& buttons, posed in situ. However, the camera refuses to focus on the buttons. I get nothing but light colored blobs. This morning I figured I would give it another go, and realizing that the camera won't focus on the buttons against the dark wool of the sweater because it is reading the sweater and not the buttons, I put some white things to either side of each button and tried again. Eccelente! But now I have blurry but detailed photos of the buttons. I give up. Just take it on trust that when I say I finally have found the right buttons and they didn't cost the earth, and that it was a long and desperate search, THIS TIME I am telling the truth. I will still mean it tomorrow.

My other issue, of course, is that if you don't hear from me in a while, it is because I am knitting on a deadline, and every spare second is spent working on whatever it is that I have to have finished, nay should have finished a week ago. Or a month ago would have been best. The White Queen's Bag in the last post was one of those things, then I had to dive into this lace moebius and get that done as a demo for the shop, and now I am within spitting distance of finishing the vest that is my current bane of existence.

The lace moebius is from The Treasury of Magical Knitting by Cat Bordhi, and is called the White Lace Moebius. Though mine is obviously not white. I am still adhering to a strict yarn diet (only one ball of yarn purchased this year!) and living off of stash. So when I went to start this thing, I looked in the magic stash cabinet and found a lovely, mossy looking ball of Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool. In I dived, all the while wondering what I had bought that yarn for originally, and why I had never made whatever that might have been. The yarn is lovely to work with, and doesn't have that nasty silk smell that so many silk fabrics do. As I worked on, I realized that, Hmmm... Lynn gave me this ball to make something else for the shop as a demo. Which I never did. Hey! Maybe Lynn will want THIS as a demo for the yarn! Thank Merino she did, because I did need a second ball and didn't want to break the yarn diet for it.

White Lace Moebius

Once that was finished, I knew that I needed to next make the Chinese Red Vest from Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle. And look! (Or as the Italians say, Ecco! Not to be confused with the French Ecoute! which means, Hey! Listen up! I have no idea what the Chinese say.) Look! In my yarn cabinet I have some, um, mossy green yarn that has been in there for ages. I bought two bags of it at half price years ago when I worked at the Evil Yarn Shop. In my fevered shopping frenzy all I could smell was yarn and I bit. It was only when I got home and had calmed down a bit that I realized that A: The two bags were NOT the same color, one was slightly tweedy, and B: Each bag had only 880 yds in it. Which means that you can't really do a darned thing with either of them, because they are either too much yarn for a project, or not enough. And to top it off, one of the bags has only 9 balls, not ten.

So when searching in the magic yarn cabinet for something to make this vest with, I looked again at these, and decided that with some careful knitting and making the smallest size, I could make the tweedy version work. I swatched and dove in.

Now, a note about swatching in general, and particularly (for me) when working patterns from this book: Cheryl Oberle and I knit on two different time/space continuums. I can never, NEVER get that same gauge she gets when working with the same materials she uses. This was meant to be a dk-weight yarn on size 4 US needles. I ended up getting gauge on worsted weight yarn with size 6 US needles. And I am a loose knitter! Always, always do your gauge swatch.

So picture me happily knitting along on my vest. I've got gauge, I am maintaining gauge, the vest is coming along, and life is good. Time to attach my next ball of yarn. The yarn I am using is Filatura di Crosa Luna, a merino yarn. Handwash. It won't spit splice. No matter how hard you try. The ends just untwist and you are left with a mess. Ok, I'll do a Russian join. Only, the yarns just untwist and it looks like a mess. So I knit the two yarns together for about 8 sts. A little bulky, but it works. And then the yarn ends start slipping out of the end sts when they think I am not looking. How can a wool yarn possibly behave this badly? No matter, I'll do what I need to do, and then when I finish I will just have 90 million ends to weave in and secure. Oh, Joy! My favorite part!

Picture me knitting along, it is going pretty quickly, I can see myself getting this done in a timely manner and it looks nice. About halfway through is when I realize that THIS is the yarn that I only have 9 balls of, not 10. Oh, POOP! I don't have time to restart the thing! I pray to Merino, who is really letting me down with this one. I finish the body. I finish the front bands. I tear out my gauge swatch and work the neck band. And then run out of yarn. With the collar and the armhole openings yet to go.

I'm obviously having to resort to the second bag of yarn. The one that is NOT the same. I tried working the collar in one row of one, one row of the last curly remnants of the other. Visually it works, only it takes a LOT of annoying acrobatics with the yarn and the edges look sloppy and I am not happy. So yesterday afternoon I decided to hell with this, and just knitted the collar in the second yarn. And finished one arm opening in the same way. I am HOPING against hope that either the light will be so dim that no one can tell, or that it will look like I did it on purpose.

AND!!! To top it off, when I bought buttons for the sweater, I tried several kinds. One set were small plain rhinestone shank buttons. That will work quite well with this vest. Only I bought 6 buttons for the sweater, not 7 buttons for the vest. And on going back to the shop, I see they have no more. Really, Merino, we have to talk! My faith is weakening. So my current thinking is the six rhinestone buttons with a different button on the top buttonhole. And the odd yarn for the collar and sleeve openings. Am I going to look like the pathetic woman who can't afford at the moment to buy yarn for this project, and had to make do? Or am I going to look like the clever designer knitter who adds clever designer knitter touches? Only time will tell.

Anyway, here is the vest, with one armhole opening to go, ends to be woven in, blocking to be done, and buttons to be sewn on. (So in its current state it looks like something in a Knitpicks catalogue. Oops! Did I say that?) If you look at the collar on the right side of this picture, can you tell the color difference? I also moved the button loops over to the right side. The pattern had them on the left as that apparently is more traditional. Not being a traditional Chinese myself, I prefer them on the right side.

Red Chinese Vest

Do you begin to see a pattern here? I make the White Lace Moebius in mossy green, and the Red Chinese Vest in mossy green. Both white and red clothing make my face look like a tomato.

Needle Felting
So last week I go in to the shop to teach a class on 2 dimensional needle felting. And my student (usually this class is full!) brings in a needle felted gnome that she made in a workshop at her kids' Waldorf school. It was so danged cute, and I have always wanted to learn to do 3-D needle felting. So I showed her the techniques for 2-D, and taught her the bits that needed teaching, and while she worked on designs on some felted bags she brought along, I started making a very flat gnome. She guided me through the bits that she could remember from the class, I guided her through the bits that she was working on her bags, and we had a fun two hours playing needle felting. And then I came home and finished him off after a couple more hours of working away. DH named him Gordon, and here he is:

Then the next day I decided that if one could make needle felted gnomes, then one could also make needle felted crones, and so was born Norma Jean.

Gordon and Norma Jean

Then I searched out an online tutorial on making a needle felted bear, and I am well on my way to obsession with this new (to me) craft. I have found an online source of romney roving, and after I check out a second local source today, if I have no luck I will place an order.

Yesterday on my travels I went to a shop I had heard about from time to time over the years, to look for romney roving, or maybe corriedale, but something rough that needle felts easily. This is a spinning shop mainly, so obviously they should carry a variety of rovings. One would think. I go in, and ask the woman if she carries any romney or corriedale roving. I don't carry brands, she says. Those aren't brands, I point out, but breeds of sheep. I know that, she says, but I don't carry brands. I have some nice roving here that is American wool. But do you know what breed of sheep it is? No, she says, it is just American wool. Ooookay... I really was looking for some dyed rovings. Well, I have some dyed rovings over there in that box. But that is merino (or so the sign says in big letters) and I don't want merino, I want something rougher that is going to felt faster. Well, those are not quite merino, she says. What do you mean? Well, they are one step down from merino, but still pretty soft.

Needless to say, I left empty handed.

And as a final note, I should tell you about the surprise my sister sent me. A copy of Yarn Harlot. Just as I am probably the last person on the planet who started reading Harry Potter (except for my sister, who still refuses and has no clue what joys she is missing), and I am also the last knitter on the planet to read the Yarn Harlot books. I do have a good start into this one, tho, and am enjoying it. I am loving the funny parts, the contemplative parts I am finding an little too self-conscious, but then I find that is true with many writers. Here it is, posing with my tea mug. You have to read what the mug says...

This is our knitting guild mug, and that is a whole 'nuther story.

Well, I have to go clean house so that I can finish the danged vest. Talk to you, well, talk to you sometime later. I won't promise when...



Post a Comment

<< Home