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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Bionic Bunny



Saturday at work a Dad came in with his young son. The little boy was holding a stuffed bunny toy ~ or to be more succint ~ what was left of it. This bunny looked like a cross between 


the Scarecrow after the flying monkeys had at him in the Wizard of Oz

 and the Fife player in the iconic Civil War picture.


OMG.  I was speechless. The dad had done a good job with the blue yarn, sewing the bunny.  His grandmother had tenderly wrapped him in white gauze. I looked at the little boy and told him that I would mend bunny but that I had to keep him to do it.  The Dad told him that they would find something else for him to sleep with.  It was their first time being parted.  Are you tearing up yet?  My heart just melted.


I worked on Frankenbunny as Julie dubbed him for the better part of the day. I probably put about 7-9 hours into mending him. I was determined to get the bunny back to the little boy so he wouldn't spend another night without him.


Some spots could do with a bit of darning. Other parts, duplicate stitch to reinforce frayed stitches. The back and one arm needed new pieces completely. I added new stuffing where needed.


By the end I was humming the theme to "The Six Million Dollar Man".  When I called the Dad, I said, "Are you old enough to know the show "The Six Million Dollar Man?" He did. I said, "We have the technology and we did rebuild him".


We met at the shop. His Dad had prepared him that bunny might look different. The Dad asked how much he owed us, and I told him "nothing". He was floored. I asked him to accept that it was a heartfelt good deed. You can't put a price on a good deed.

You know, I always write about how I'm a selfish knitter.  I rarely knit for others: the occasional baby gift and the holidays.  While working on Frankenbunny, I did not think about knitting anything else.

This whole situation touched my heart.  How blessed am I that I can repair this bunny and restore him to the little boy for more adventures?  I could do something really meaningful with sticks and string.

It made me think differently about the Otto bears I gave recently to my friends children.  Maybe one day those bears will be as meaningful to them and I'll have a place in their heart like they do in mine. When we knit for someone else, we are really giving a piece of ourselves manifested in a sweater, hat, or socks.  I don't think I'll think about knitting for others the same way again.

Click here to read Julie's wonderful blog post about Frankenbunny.

Friday, June 26, 2015

1, 2, 3, go OR 1, 2, go?



Eleanor is really enjoying knitting the Yowza Weigh it Shawl 3 it is a completely "mindless".  In fact, she can't wait to wear it because she loves how the Tahki Monet (Aran: 52% Cotton, 40% Acrylic, 8% Nylon, 60 yards) is working up.


She finished the the Anytime Cardi for her great goddaughter. We chose black buttons so the buttons wouldn't fight with the yarn.


Cornelia finished the front of her Customfit sweater.  We checked it against the measurements in the pattern and they were correct.  I used a filter on the picture to give you an idea of the gorgeous color of her Malabrigo Worsted yarn (Aran: 100% Merino, 210 yards). The pictures just haven't been doing it justice.


Having finished the front, she is onto the sleeves.  The color is more vibrant than this.  We had a refresher on the Make One Left/Right increases. There was the question of how to interpret the increase repeat. "Increase every 5th row." She was working an increase, working rows 2, 3, 4 and working an increase.  It should be work an increase, work rows 1, 2, 3, 4, then work an increase. Her increases were stacking too close together.


While she was in class, she noticed the new Fibers Entwined Project Bags (a/k/a "Laura Bags).  Mary liked it so much I had to order her one. 


Mary brought a future knitter with her.  We have her an Alpaca stuffie to play with.  Good to get her acquainted with the different animals.

 
Mary is working on her first block from the Building Blocks class I'm teaching at Westport Yarns.


She continues to make progress on the wedding garter for her daughter-in-law to be. I hope her daughter-in-law appreciates that Mary is knitting this on a #00 knitting needle.  That is love.


Michelle finished sewing her CusomFit sweater.  She absolutely loves the fit.  The only thing she would change next time is the length of the body.  She chose cropped (for a summer top) and would choose mid hip next time.  She has to pick up and knit the neck next.


She finished the Chloe sweater gift in Cobasi Plus (Worsted: 55% Cotton, 21% Nylon, 16% Bamboo, 8% Silk, 177 yards). This is a great yarn.  I knit my Stella Dolman Sweater in it.  It really holds its shape.

For those of you in Stitch and Chat who were wondering, yes, this was two weeks together. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Say Hello to my Little Friend


The only teddy bear toy I ever knit came out cute, but was a huge pain to knit.  Two ears, two arms, two legs, a nose, the body. So many bits and pieces.  Then stuffing and sewing them all on, and evenly? Annoying. Cute bear though.


Then I became aware of Otto the Polar Bear. Otto is knit all in one piece, stuffed as you knit, no seams. I knit these two little Otto bears for my friend's children. The one on the left was knit in Berroco Comfort (Worsted: 50% Nylon, 50% Acrylic, 210 yards).


The rainbow bear was knit with Noro Matsuri (DK: 87% Cotton, 13% Wool, 159 yards). At the shop today, one of my co-workers taught me how to do the satin stitch.  She suggested eyelashes.  It looks like she's got false eyelashes. I like it though, totally adds character. Each bear took less than one skein.


And this picture makes it all worth while.  It doesn't get any better than this.


I remembered the head band I knit while taking a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone.  It made a perfect sash for Daisy (now named).

I don't often knit for others.  Having something I knit so clearly loved and appreciated right away is a rewarding, wonderful feeling. Almost makes me want to make more things for other people.  Almost. At least for this little girl.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Stitch and Chat This Past Week



Eleanor was back from her trip to Europe.  Her knitting project was Churchmouse Color Play Mohair Scarf perfect for trains, planes, and automobiles. She said, were she to knit it again, she would make the color blocks even.


She was seaming the Anytime Cardi for her great goddaughter.


Eleanor is near the end of the front of her Car Pullover and running short on the blue Zara (DK: 100% Extrafine Merino, 136 yards). I put out a search request to stores near us. 


She loved the Yowza Weigh it Shawl 3 that Allison plans to knit.  She is going to knit it for the summer in Tahki Monet (Aran: 52% Cotton, 40% Acrylic, 8% Nylon, 60 yards).


Allison came in wearing my Destinations Top-Down Pullover in Rosa (Aran: 100% cotton, 93 yards).  It looked great on her. She inspired Eleanor to knit one in Indigo blue Rosa.


She was making progress one of the fronts of her Customfit sweater.


and worked the kitchener stitch across the ends of her Burberry Cowl knit with Zona (Aran: 35% Cotton, 28% Wool, 26% Acrylic, 11% Nylon, 119 yards).
_____________________________ 

Wednesday at Stitch and Chat, Michelle was swatched and ready to begin Zohars Multi Task Scarf knit with Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets Zohar's Socks (Fingering: Fingering: Bamboo, Merino, 420 yards).

She sewed the shoulders of her Customfit Scoop Neck pullover.  I really like the design elements she chose, 3/4 length sleeve, deep scoop neck, high hip in a cotton yarn.

and she finished her Houston top in Berroco Origami (Worsted: 58% Acrylic, 16% Linen, 15% Nylon, 11% Cotton, 98 yards).

Eileen was off in the bobble/cable pattern of her Little Emilia Poncho .  We also discussed the difference in English patterns of yfwd (yarn forward), yon (yarn over needle) versus the American yo (yarn over). Little subtle cultural differences in pattern writing can really throw a knitter off.






Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Crisis of Gauge, a post filled with angst, torment, perseverence, and success.

Ever since the Kent Needle Arts Retreat, where I took a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone, I have become obsessed with gauge.

For years I have knit Continental style and for years my gauge has always been extraordinarily loose.  If a pattern calls for a 7, you will probably find me knitting it on a 4.  It's ridiculous.  The idea that I could actually get the gauge on the recommended needle by switching knitting styles boggles my mind.  It also really upsets my (knitting) apple cart because:
  1. Knitting English style is not my strength; I haven't developed a fluid style.
  2. English style is slower than Continental.
  3. I like my stitch definition better with English.
  4. It means swatching a minimum of twice to allow for comparing both styles.
Being in the midst of this "aha!" moment, I needed to knit something right away English style.


I had swatched and started Jimmy's Baby Gift Sweater Set with Seedling (Aran: 100% cotton, 110 yards).  To get the gauge of 4.5 sts/1" while knitting Continental, I was on a #4 versus the #7 the yarn calls for.


Since it was a small baby sweater, I wasn't too bothered starting over.  These two swatches were knit English. The top swatch was on a #8 (#8!) and was 4.5 sts/1". The bottom swatch was on a #7 and was 5.14 sts/1". Not only is my gauge tighter knitting English style, it was so much tighter that I had to go up a needle size to get gauge.  This is positively unheard of in my knitting.


I knit the sweater (Jimmy's Baby Gift Set), English, on the #8, gobsmacked all the way.  So  here was another observation.  When I knit Continental, it's all about rows because I move swiftly across the stitches.  Knitting English, it was all about the stitches. I was conscious of every.single.stitch. 


I've been on a quest to see how different knitters carry their yarn for English style. While at Westport Yarns Sit'n Knit, I was swatching for an Entrelac pillow.  There was no gauge to speak of, it was more about stitch density so that you wouldn't see the pillow form through the knit stitches.


I went around the table, taking pictures of different ways of carrying yarn English style. I'm trying different ways until I find the right one for me. The teacher becomes the student.


Along the way I found a knitter who knits tight, Continental style.


The bottom of the bottom swatch was Continental on a #4 - 4.75 sts/1". Remember I mentioned the knitter that knit tight Continental?  She pulls the yarn tight after each stitch.  I think that's what I was doing on the top half (of the bottom swatch) on a #5.  The top swatch was knit English on a #6 to achieve the same gauge.

Different parameters apply to this project.  I want it done faster and I don't want to have to think about it, so I opted for Continental on the #4, pulling it tight after each stitch. By the way, the pillow is knit with Noro Kureyon (Aran: 100% wool, 110 yards) and will be a class at Westport Yarns in July.

And I think to some extent this is what it comes down to.  When looking for speed in completing a project that has a deadline, if time is short, I'll opt for Continental.  Otherwise, I'll continue to try my hand with English. Either way, I think I'll swatch both ways to continue my research.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New England Springtime Fashions

Cornelia and I traded colloquialisms before we got down to the business of knitting. It was 49 degrees, cold, and rainy this morning.  I  mean really, really cold. I knew it was a cold night last night because my dog wanted to sleep under the covers.  Cornelia told me the origin of the expression "three dog night". It's an Australian expression. On really cold nights, three dogs were called into the bed to keep the owner from freezing to death.

I wanted to share the origin of hushpuppies, which I had just learned the night before but she knew it already. Hushpuppies (for those of you not "in the know") are deep fried balls of cornmeal batter. This expression goes back to the 1800's in the Southern United States. To quiet barking dogs, people would throw the cornmeal balls to them and say "hush puppies". I love learning the origins of expressions.


Given our freakishly cold day, Cornelia had the opportunity to wear her Confidence Pullover.  She never thought she would be wearing her sweater until the fall.  Knitting this sweater was a great experience for her. She loved the sweater from the moment she saw the sample.  The details fell into place - loved the color, the yarn, the sleeve length.  The pattern was easy to understand.  Finally, having it professionally finished made it all come together.


She is enjoying working her customfit sweater.  When she reached a particular row count all the stars were in alignment.  The number of rows she completed = the number of inches completed = number of rows worked since last decrease.


Allison was wearing two finished knits, her Hitchhiker and Susie's Reading Mitts. Hitchhiker was knit with one skein of Madelinetosh Pashmina (Sport: 75% Merino, 15% Silk, 10% Cashmere, 360 yards). Susie's reading mitts were knit with Rowan Lima (Worsted: 84% Alpaca, 8% Merino, 8% Nylon, 160 yards).


She was well into her Burberry cowl knit with Tahki Zona (Aran: 35% Cotton, 28% Wool, 26% Acrylic, 11% Nylon, 119 yards). She started it over Memorial Day weekend, it was a good car project.


Allison is back on track with Customfit sweater knit with Skacel Kid Paillettes (Lace: 42% Mohair, 40% Polyester, 18% Silk, 136 yards) . She was originally knitting both fronts at the same time.  That wasn't working for her. It was hard enough to follow one side, let alone two. I agree with her, as much as it is convenient to work them at the same time, I find I skip decreases.

She wanted another mindless project, she discovered the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 4 on Ravelry knit in Yowza Whattaskein reckless colorway (Worsted: 100% Merino, 560 yards).


I was working on an Entrelac pillow in Noro Kureyon (Aran: 100% wool, 110 yards), for the store. I think the long color repeat will really look beautiful.  I was merrily knitting along when I came to a knot. The knot broke up the color repeat.  


I wound off the skein until I found the same part of the color repeat. Since Kureyon is 100% wool, I was able to work a felted join/spit splice which minimized the number of ends to weave in.



Karine was ready to bind off the sleeve cuffs on her Pride and Prejudice sweater.  She tried Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off and didn't like how it looked (she had used Jeny's surprisingly stretchy cast on). We tried three more bind offs until finding one that worked.  The book we used as a resource was Cast On, Bind Off by Cap Sease.  

As for today's weather, remember the New England, "If you don't like the weather, stick around and it will change.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

If you have to ask the question...



Michelle is knitting her second customfit sweater with yarn from her stash.  It will be a 3/4 length sleeve cardigan in an aran weight cotton blend.  She said that the pattern is so simple, she doesn't have to worry as long as she keeps track of her rows. Since we took her measurements for the first customfit sweater, she only had to knit a swatch and pick her design elements.


She is finishing Houston top in Berroco Origami (Worsted: 58% Acrylic, 16% Linen, 15% Nylon, 11% Cotton, 98 yards).


While she was in Florida for the winter, she took up needlepoint.  This adorable pillow is going with a knit blanket as a baby gift.  Her needlepoint stitches are perfect.


Eileen wanted to learn how to make lilliput crocheted flowers from Nicky Epsteins Crocheted Flowers book. She hadn't crocheted in a while so this served as a refresher for what she knew and then she learned a few new stitches.


Well done, wouldn't you say? She is going to use flowers instead of buttons with snaps underneath.

Eileen is knitting Daisy #238 QK ,an adorable sundress in Cottontail (Aran: 100% Cotton, 90 yards).


She began knitting the Little Emilia Poncho . She had to learn how to make a bobble. I have to say, she is not loving the whole bobble business. I agree with her, they are not my favorite.

We had a mini debate: bobbles versus cables. Eileen, myself, and Lois (who hasn't made them but has joined the anti bobble team) prefer knitting cables over bobbles.  I know they are apples and oranges. It was a thing to debate. Elizabeth and Mary like making bobbles.  In the future when faced with a bobble, I will place a bead.  I will not bow down to the bobble. Join the debate, leave a comment.


Mary swatched for the Building Blocks afghan class and got stockinette gauge a #7. This was quite unheard of for her as she is a very loose knitter and never knits to the pattern gauge specified. That should've been a red flag for us.


During class she tried a #5 and didn't like it.  The knitting in the picture above was on a #4, and she isn't happy with the stitch definition.  Also, she got off pattern with her seed stitch and it turned into ribbing. She's going to try it on a #3. High marks for perseverance.

This past weekend she locked herself into room with do not disturb sign in order to be able to concentrate on the wedding garter she is knitting on 00's with linen. It's the only way she can work uninterrupted.

Linda's Etched Rio Wrap was too short and she wanted my help to take out the bind off row.  She even wore a purple shirt to soften me up to take out the ribbing for her.


Lois' husband's sweater is proceeding one stitch and chat at a time. It's slow going doing a mens sweater in stockinette and can get a little boring. The long-term goal is next year's golf season.

Elizabeth swatched for Windward in Cephalopod Bugga (Sport: 70% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 400 yards) on #0.

She was finishing her Mitered Square Afghan, working the border when one skein of Silk Garden Chunky ended with blue/purples and the next skein began with browns. She asked if we thought it would bother her having the color change abruptly like that.  She didn't want to go through all the work of knitting the afghan only to be bugged by the border not being fluid in the striping of the yarn. We all agreed if you have to ask the question, you know the answer.  Survey said: rip it out and redo.  Tough love, baby. That's how we roll.