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.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Off the Needles: Lavender Shawl

Just finished this shawl and it feels so soft and cozy. Too bad it's getting too warm in North Carolina to get much wear in the coming months.

The shawl is knitted using yarn I bought at this year's Carolina Fiber Fest. It's a lavender superwash sock fingering from The Fibre Studio. The pattern is "Camilla Shawl Light" from Madder Anthology I by Carrie Bostick Hoge (Madder, 2014, pp. 52-3). The pattern called for 575 yards of fingering weight yarn and my skein held 560 yards, so I was a little anxious that I might run out of yarn and have to bind off early. However, I actually had a little yarn to spare...even enough to knit an extra row after the last decrease row.

The pattern calls for casting on 401 stitches using the long-tail cast on method. While I love the appearance of this method, it's a pain in the neck to figure out how much yarn you'll need to allow for. Too much and you waste yarn with an extra-long tail; too little and you don't have enough stitches and have to start all over again. This seems to be a common conundrum among knitters so I turned to my copy of Cast On, Bind Off by Cap Sease (Martingale, 2012) for help. Sease presented several ways to calculate the length needed and I chose this one: "wrap the yarn around the needle once for every stitch. Holding the yarn at the last wrap, pull out the needle and add a few extra inches before making the slipknot." This worked almost too well -- I ended up with about a 4-inch tail...not much yarn waste, but maybe shorter than I would have liked for some projects. Next time I use this method, I'll be a bit more generous with those extra inches.

I finished with an I-cord bind off that wasn't called for in the pattern. From knitting previous shawls that called for this type of bind off, I knew I would like the effect better. When a pattern, such as this one, calls for binding off loosely, I find that I still bind off too tightly even when I use a size larger needle. The too-tight bind off doesn't give the shawl's top edge enough stretchiness which keeps the piece from draping well. It also puts some strain on that last row of knitting which can lead to broken stitches, especially in thinner yarns. But when I use the I-cord bind off the edge stays stretchy enough plus I like the finished look that this bind off method gives the piece.

Wet blocking the shawl:

Closeup of the pattern:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Vintage Tatting Shuttles

I scored 4 vintage shuttles at the North Carolina Regional Lacers Spring Lace Day this weekend, including my first "pumpkin seed" shuttle. None had any identifying manufacturer's marks. All have tight points and are in excellent condition. If not for the thread left on them, I would have thought they had never been used. I paid $9 for the entire lot. I'm a very happy tatter!wink emoticon