Saturday, July 9, 2016

2016 NC State Fair Projects: Crocheted Baby Sweater

This is my 3rd year to enter items in the North Carolina State Fair. Last year I got a 2nd prize for a crocheted baby sweater so I decided to enter this category again. 

The pattern started out as "Karen's X Stitch Sweater." I followed the pattern through Row 8; Row 9 begins the X stitch pattern. After doing the pattern for a few inches, I decided (1) I didn't like doing the stitches (too fiddly for my taste), (2) I didn't like the look of the stitches (too much effort for the results), and (3) even if (1) and (2) weren't the case, any distinctiveness of the stitches was lost in the busyness of the yarn textures and what was the point? So starting at Row 9 I changed the X stitch to the V stitch that was presented in Row 6. 

This brings up an interesting situation. In the state fair's competition categories, there is a separate category for items that are the maker's own pattern. At what point does a change in someone else's pattern make the pattern more yours than theirs? 

One of the requirements when submitting an item in the clothing contest is to include the name of the pattern on your entry form. How do I handle this case? Do I say it's Karen's pattern until Row 9 (plus the last 3 rows of the sleeves)? Is it a hybrid pattern of Karen's and Carolyn's design? Hmmm...I may have to contact the judging office on this one.

The sweater took less than one skein of Stitch Studio by Nicole's "Picnic" in variegated colorway "Strawberry." It's a 100% acrylic yarn that is soft and squishy that makes it a good choice for baby items. The yarn label suggests using size G/6 crochet hook, but I used a size F/5 instead. The original pattern calls for making a yarn tie and inserting it into spaces around the neck area as a closure. Instead, I included two chain-4 loops on the right edge and sewed two red plastic heart buttons on the left side to close the sweater.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Off the Stove: Eggrolls

Usually my posts deal with fiber projects, but today's is a culinary project -- homemade eggrolls. I haven't made them for years, but this week I got the urge. And they turned out just as easy and delicious as I remember.

For the meat I used a small chunk of pork roast cut in very small pieces. The rest of the filling included bean sprouts, chopped cabbage, sliced spring onions, chopped carrots, pickled ginger pieces, and soy sauce mixed with a little cornstarch. The eggroll wrappers came from my usual grocery store. Mix everything together, sauté for a couple of minutes, and fill the wrappers according to the package instructions.

I fried them in a shallow amount of coconut oil until both sides were browned then drained them on paper towels. The package of wrappers made 20 eggrolls. I had more filling left which I'll probably eat later with rice.

Ta-da! Ready to enjoy:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Still on the Hook: Crocheted Christening Gown

I'm about halfway through a piece I plan to enter in the 2016 North Carolina State Fair in October--a white cotton thread crocheted christening gown. The pattern I'm using is for the gown on the cover of Christening Sets to Crochet by Kay Meadors.

I'm using Lily 18th Century 100% Mercerized Crochet & Bedspread Cotton that I found in my stash. I think it's size 10, but it feels softer than the size 10 balls of Knit-Cro-Sheen I have stashed.

Not sure when or how I acquired it as the thread has been discontinued. The labels say the skeins were bought at Woolworth's for $2.79 each; it's been many years since I have shopped there.

I still have to reach my desired length, add sleeves, make the buttonhole band, and add buttons. I have 3 skeins and each skein has 450 yards. I'm on my second skein so should have plenty of thread to finish the project. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Off the Needles: 2 Little Lacy Scarves

More using up my stash, this time knitting up some small amounts of yarn that I bought at past fiber events.

Little lace scarf 1:

I started knitting this lace pattern scarf over a year ago, made some mistakes, and put it aside. Last week, I determined to finally finish it. I've mislaid the identifying label, but, based on the feel of the beige yarn, I think it's a natural color alpaca, probably purchased at a past Carolina Fiber Fest event.

The asymmetrical lace pattern is "Juliet Scarf" from Knitting Little Luxuries by Louisa Harding (Interweave Press, 2007, pgs. 80-3). The finished piece blocks out at 5in/13cm wide by 36in/91cm long.

Little lace scarf 2:

This scarf is knitted from 2 skeins of hand-dyed angora rabbit yarn (106 yarns total) that I bought a couple of years ago at Carolina Fiber Fest from Marlene Cicalese. She hand-dyes and spins fiber taken from her angora rabbits. She sells her yarn online at The blue shades are mixed with purples to create a fluffy thick and thin yarn.

The pattern is adapted from the "Raindrop Scarf" pattern by Laura Hein Eckel in Lace One-Skein Wonders, edited by Judith Durant (Storey Publishing, 2013, pgs. 152-3). I cast on fewer stitches and used only one repeat of the motif so the finished scarf is about half the width of but about 14 inches longer than the original pattern.The finished scarf is 3.25in/8cm wide and 54in/137cm long.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Off the Needles: Knitted Silk Shawlette

Here's another project using yarn I bought at this year's Carolina Fiber Fest. I love the feel of silk when wearing the scarf I knitted with silk yarn I bought in Vancouver, so I was on the lookout for more silk yarn while shopping. I discovered a lot of yarn that blended silk with wool and other fibers, but finding pure silk was a challenge. The yarns in this project are both 100% fair trade silk yarn from Sheepish Creations. The black yarn was a skein of 214 yards of single ply silk, and the turquoise was 114 yards with tiny sequins threaded throughout the skein. 

The pattern was super simple: I cast on 150 stitches with the turquoise using the picot cast on method. I knitted in garter stitch until I ran out of yarn and then switched to the black yarn and knitted until I ran out of that yarn. I cast off using the I-cord cast off method. I love this cast off for shawls as it gives a very nice edge that holds it shape. The final piece is approximately 10 inches/26 cm high and 37 inches/94 cm wide.

 Because of the texture of the black yarn, I stayed with garter stitch rather than knitting in a fancier stitch. Also, when wearing the piece, the black scrunches up and becomes a background for the turquoise so any lacy stitch would be lost in the folds.

While both yarns are thicker than the yarn in my silk scarf, they still drape nicely and feel great against my neck. The silk provides enough warmth without the itchiness that I sometimes feel with wool. I think I'll find this perfect for those cooler days when just a bit of neck coverage is needed.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lemonade from Lemons: Chair Repair with Mod Podge

My late cat Anya loved to scratch vigorously on the seats of two porch chairs, leaving unsightly and scratchy patches that I had been covering with towels.  I considered getting rid of the chairs, but other than the damaged places, they were in fine shape. Recently it occurred to me that the damaged areas might be repaired if I could find some way to permanently cover over the bad spots.

I realized that I already had the two materials I needed to cover the torn up spots: Outdoor Mod Podge and a piece of handmade decorative paper (a leftover from a purchase from A C Moore for another project). After several applications of the Mod Podge on the top and bottom of the chair fabric and the paper that I cut in irregular shapes, the chairs now look much better and are more comfortable to sit on. According to instructions on the Mod Podge bottle, I  may have to reapply additional coats in the future, but, since the chairs are on a screened porch, that will probably be a long time from now.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Off the Needles: Variegated Cotton Scarf

Another stash busting project using a yarn that I have no clue of when or where I acquired it. I suspect it must have been something I got at a discount, but there is no price or store name on the skein wrappers. The yarn is Classic Elite Yarn's "Seedling" from the Verde Collection. Seedling is a worsted-weight 100% organic cotton yarn, and my skeins are in handpainted colorway #4564 "Paradise." (This colorway appears to be no longer available.)

The pattern is "Chenille Diagonal Lace Scarf" from Knitted Shawls, Stoles, & Scarves by Nancie M. Wiseman (Martingale & Company, 2001, pp. 20-21). I made mine longer than called for in the pattern because I wanted to use up all the yarn I had on hand.

The piece worked up very quickly as there are only 40 stitches to cast on and only 2 sets of two-row repeats. I would have finished even sooner if I had settled on the pattern at the outset. I started out in crochet with a couple of unsatisfactory results that caused me to abandon the efforts after I had worked up one skein. (Out with the trusty ball winder...) Then I switched to knitting with two more aborted attempts before going through my library and found the pattern I finally decided on.

I find I do this a lot so it's good that I'm a fast knitter and crocheter. But I hate that I waste so much time starting and redoing before reaching a successful conclusion with a project. I suspect that this is a problem caused by impulsively buying yarn (often in only small quantities) with no plan in mind. Later it becomes a struggle to match up the yarn with a suitable pattern that will accommodate the yarn on hand. Or maybe I'm just extremely indecisive and can't decide if I like or hate a design until I'm far into it. I did confess the other day that my most useful craft tool is my ball's just the trick for taking apart failed projects.