Sunday, September 27, 2009

The insistant hat.

I didn't mean to. It was looking at me. It kept calling me, "knit me, knit me, knit me." I kept turning away; it kept waving its bead-like fibers at me. I would hear it in my sleep, "you know you want to." I dreamed of little purses, little mitts. I hid it in the bottom of my project basket. It peeked out of the basket's handle. I told myself that I was only going to wash it, to set the twist. I washed it. It leaked lots of purple-tinged dye. I hung it to dry and set. It waved at me as I passed it in the hall. I took it down, put it back in the basket. It whispered "hat" and I was done for. I immediately saw my daughter in an aurora-striped woolly hat for the winter. I started it Friday night and finished it Saturday at noon. I tweaked the pattern so that I could have enough for a stem on top. The hat wanted it.

This is the handspun that I made recently. Half merino wool and half soysilk, it spun up "sticky." The color progression was interesting, but the fiber did not want to slide past itself. I have to say that I have mixed feelings about how it knit up as well. It is noticeably heavier than wool alone, and has a less-soft hand. It has a slight sheen from the soysilk, but has less elasticity as well. The hat came out well, but I don't think I'll spin more of this voluntarily. Besides - I have a soy allergy and I think this stuff gave me a slight rash. Thankfully, Rose has no problems.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rose is 1!

Yesterday, Rose turned 1. I can't believe its already been a year. She went from a smallish nursing baby into a big talking, nearly walking person. You forget how quickly this happens as you go through the daily stuff of their first year. It seems like everyday takes 4 times as long and then you look back and time has flown past you. An example of time and relativity?

I woke up early to make her a special necklace to wear for her birthday. Nothing too fancy; just a crochet chain and some small flowers. I put it on her and she hardly took it off all day. We didn't get too many pictures yesterday, which I am kicking myself over; we were just having too much fun playing together that I lost track of time and it was suddenly bedtime. I'll take more today, but before the visit for checkups at the doctor, as grumpiness will ensue.

I'm just tickled that the first thing she played with was the necklace. It was nice to start her day with something that I made for her. I will never again make anything as great and grand as my kids, but I can try to make things for them to show them how much I'm grateful that they're here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Basic Roll-Brim Beanie Pattern

This is the pattern for the hat that I make the most. I took the best of about 7 patterns that I liked and tested it for every size listed. I have made it in stripes, ridges, plain, etc. I've even tie-dyed one. Fits newborn-large adult. If you make one, let me know! Featured in an earlier post as Badger's Beanie. (Pardon the really basic pattern, but I wrote it originally for a very beginning knitter.)

Pattern for Roll-brim Beanie (knit in the round)

  • Gauge: 4 sts./in. (Row gauge is not such a big deal in this small project.)
  • Suggested needle size 7, or as needed to maintain gauge
  • Sizes: 13", 15", 17", 20", 22.5", 25" (newborn, older infant, toddler, lg.child/sm adult, med. adult, lg. adult.
  • Hats will stretch quite a few inches, and rolled brims allow for some growth.
  • I cast on using the long-tail method, which I recommend as it gives a neat and elastic edge.

  • Worsted weight yarn - approx. 90-150 yarns depending on size. 100-120 yards will do all but the largest size.
  • Needles: 1 16" circular and one set of 5 dpns (double-pointed needles) except for the 2 smallest sizes which will have to be knitted on dpns only, one 12" circular and dpns, or likes socks on one long circular using the magic loop method, or on 2 circulars.
  • Stitch marker
  • Yarn needle
  1. Cast on 50 (60, 70, 80, 90, 100) sts., place marker, and join making sure the stitches are not twisted. You will slip the marker at the end of each row.
  2. Knit in plain stockinette for 18 (20, 24, 28, 30, 32) rows.
  3. First decrease row: K8, k2tog until end of row.
  4. Knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 3) rows.
  5. Second decrease row: K7, k2tog until end of row.
  6. Knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 3) rows.
  7. Third decrease row: K6, k2tog until end of row.
  8. Knit 2 (2, 3, 3, 3, 3) rows.
  9. Fourth decrease row: K5, k2tog until end of row. (Switch to dpns on this row, placing joins between dpns after a k2tog st. Knit with 5 dpns or on 2 circulars to reduce the tension on the joins between the needles. This will help prevent laddering between needles. You will have to slip your stitch marker to after the first st, or place a point protector on the back end of the dpn after the last st. of the row to keep your place.
  10. Knit one row.
  11. Fifth decrease row: K4, k2tog until end of row.
  12. Knit one row.
  13. Sixth decrease row: K3, k2tog until end of row.
  14. Knit one row.
  15. Seventh decrease row: K2, k2tog until end of row.
  16. Knit one row.
  17. Eighth decrease row: K2tog across row.
  18. Cut yarn, leaving an 8" tail and, using a yarn needle, pull tail through the remaining stitches twice. Pull tail through center to the inside of the hat.
Weave in ends, trim, and roll brim to desired length.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Appliques cut. Big surprise project started. And stuff about my Granny.

Well, I spent all of yesterday morning cutting appliques for Rose's cold weather shirts. I've got 4 of Badger's shirts from when he was 1, and 3 that he outgrew more recently. Two shirts are going to be simply modified, all the others are going to have applique. Holding them up to her, it seems that Badger was enormous in comparison, so I might have to break down and buy her two from the resale place. The larger three will be wearable as dresses for a while.

I have also started the big November surprise project. It took a lot a swatching because I'm not using the yarns called for in the original pattern. I will say, however, that it begins with a mobius.

I want to tell you about one of the women who began my love of craft. My granny was my mother's maternal grandmother. She was my great-grandmother as well as my godmother. She was tiny. She was 5' in 2" heels. She always wore heels; even her house shoes had 2" heels. And she made everything. I don't know if she made the dress in the photo, but I wouldn't be surprised. She crocheted and embroidered and loved to cook for all of our family. She also made the best pickles in the world.

My mother says that she had her own business when her children were small custom making clothes for wives of some of the oil men here in Texas back in the 1930's and 1940's. All I ever knew was that she had the best clothing and shoe collection that I had ever seen. And costume jewelry, lots and lots of costume jewelry. I remember that she would let me look through her closets and let me try on all her shoes. I would find the matching purses and parade around her house. She made much of it and it was all exquisite to my child eyes. I remember her embroidering and crocheting, me sitting fascinated in the seat next to her. She would tell me what she was doing and what of it her grandmother had taught her. I guessed that she must have sat nearby watching like I was then.

She had a tiny tea and dish set made of pressed cobalt blue glass that she let us eat and drink out of and have tea parties with on her back porch. That's where she kept the pickles. She never stopped canning and pickling and she had rows of shelves filled with pickles, jellies, and canned fruit. When we were over for dinners, she'd send us to the back porch to pick out which pickles we wanted. My brother Nick invariably picked beets. Packed in pint jars, these beets were sweet and sour and spicy and deeply red. Nicholas could eat a jar by himself in one sitting and ask for more. He'd have to be told to stop. I usually went for the Three Bean Salad or the bread & butter pickles, but the beets were pure heaven.

She was the sweetest person that I ever knew, the kindest and funniest older person in my life. She always had the best family gossip, which she'd tell me as I washed the dishes and she drank coffee at the kitchen table. She was also an ardent feminist, served on her local board of education, fought for voter's rights, fought like crazy with my great-grandfather and told me that I could be whoever I wanted to be. She would have been 100 this year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Busy with small projects

Sorry its been 8 days since I last posted, but I've been making lots of small projects this week. The first 3 photos are an amigurumi blueberry muffin that my friend Rasmey asked me to make for her little girls. I improvised the pattern except for the way that the bottom edge of the muffin was turned. I was inspired by the cupcake pattern from Ana Paula Rimoli's blog. I have to admit that it was more fun thinking that the blueberries kind of looked like buboes - plague muffin. Badger liked it so much that he asked for a strawberry one. The next photo is Rose eating the crocheted strawberry. I modified the strawberry pattern from the book Tasty Crochet, making it smaller to fit on a muffin. Rose decided it was hers and proceeded to scoot around the room making yummy noises. Needless to say, I'm making another one for Badger as he is not interested in a soggy one. The last is a steering wheel cover that I knit to replace the one that I crocheted and put on 2 weeks ago. The synthetic didn't withstand Texas heat so well and stretched and shredded quickly. This one is made out of Lamb's Pride Bulky Yarn in the Forest Shadows colorway. It is 85% wool and 15% mohair. It was a little slick at first, but is better now that we've used it for almost a week. Don't look too close, as it looks like I need to dust the dashboard.

I will post tomorrow about sewing projects, knitting projects, and one of the women that inspired me to craft.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Giant pile of fabric!

I have finally finished overcasting the edges of all of the fabric that I need for the make and make-do project. This does not include all the polarfleece. Four different types of polarfleece. Two days of nothing but overcasting, so that all of the fabric can be washed. It's a lot of fabric. Now, I get to do 4 loads of laundry to wash all the sizing out and pre-shrink it all. Woo-hoo!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Badger's Roll Brim Beanie

Man! 3 days and done! Badger's roll brim beanie is finished. Check out the decreases on the top. Mmmm, swirly. I made this out of Swish worsted superwash merino yarn from Knit Picks. The colorway is called Lava and is so pretty. I was concerned when Badger picked out the yarn that it was going to be a plainish gray heather. Its a beautiful almost brownish purple with sparks of burgundy, gold, blue, and green. The images on the website and in the catalog don't do it justice. So now it's onto another make and make-do project (this one secret until after mid-November - its a present!) I did, however, get to overcast a large pile of fabric for all of the sewing. Yay!

Yarn made. Next!

Here's the finished skein of Karaoke fiber. It's actually yarn now. 105 yards of worsted weight barber pole merino and soysilk. Andean plyed (2 ply). Enough for a hat. (yay!) Its really soft, slightly thick-and-thin and looks like beads in a row.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hat Junkie

It's an illness. I'll be the first to admit it. I am a hat junkie. Instead of doodling, instead of making swatches of new yarns, I make hats. I just can't stop. This is just a small sampling of the many hats I've subjected my children to. Mind you, Badger's come up with at least half of the ideas for his hats himself. There are many that are also mine, but many, many more of my children's that I haven't even posted yet. Mwahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Badger's Watch Cap

Yay! It's done and I'm already on to his next hat. Man! He looks like a snaggly little longshoreman. (You can see a small part of my stash in the background.) Badger is a hat kind of guy. I started making him a pile of hats when he was 3 and now that he'll be 6 tomorrow - a new hat! You can check me out on ravelry for pics of others that he has (name: badgersmama) including a squid, pineapple, turtle, bee, and many more.

What I did this summer

Besides making various stuff this summer, I spent 8 weeks volunteering as a knitting instructor for our local library in Austin. Katie, pictured above, also started taking crochet lessons from me and is continuing through the school year. I had a blast doing this! There were anywhere from 10 to 16 students - both kids and moms - every week and we went from beginnings right through projects that they chose themselves. Katie, her mom Kathy and I met before class to learn crochet and amigurumi construction. She is a fast and natural fiberista.

I have to admit that I was unsure of what to expect of my teaching. I am fine working in small groups of 2 to 3 people, but I really am uneasy with big groups. After some trepidation, I got there and was happily surprised by everyone's enthusiasm. Yay! I would definitely do this again in a heartbeat, and would encourage other fiber artists to volunteer every now and then. I know that the work that we do is time-consuming and we are often protective of our skills that we have spent so long nurturing. However, I gained so much from helping others to develop their passion for knitting and crochet that I feel a spark of renewed energy for my projects and my craft.

I want to thank all of my students, but most of all I'd like to thank Stephanie at the Twin Oaks Branch of the Austin Public Library for giving me the opportunity to have so much fun! Thanks to you all and I hope to see you all again soon.