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.