Thursday, 21 February 2008

Sew Boring....

I know it's bad form to be whinging again already but I am bored as a very bored thing with stitching together the 126 (ish) squares that I've crocheted so far for the Babette Blanket. (small sample pictured here)

I finished making the squares on Monday and since then I've been blocking and stitching the squares.... and I've got about 36 to do before I'm done....


And worse still I know that I have to do it all again! The pattern as written creates a 40 x 43 inch throw and I want something more substantial -- so when I've (finally) finished sewing these squares together it is back to the hook for the second half.

For the second half I have decided the Babette will be a secondary project to be worked while watching tv. I will also try to block and sew the squares together as I go along because I don't think I could face another 3 - 4 day sewing session.

I have a love/hate thing with the blanket so far. Sometimes the quirky colours amuse me and other times I think it's an uncoordinated mass of garish colour. I think both are valid viewpoints!

A few of you asked what yarn I'm using. Well, 15 of the colours are Indigo Moon Vancouver Series sock yarn, and 2 of the colours are Dream in Colour Smooshy yarn. I really love both, the colours are fab (regardless of what you think of them combined, individually they sparkle) and the yarn is great to work with and oh so soft when washed. And conveniently, both are superwash so perfect for a blanket.

Apart from the blanket I really need to find a pattern to get my teeth into. I've got another crochet project lined up but I'm waiting on the yarn for that. (Crochet projects are like buses, you wait forever for one and then....)

I've ordered a couple of lace shawl patterns that look interesting - but they haven't arrived yet.

I joined a 'Year of Lace' club from a yarn shop in Calgary -- but I just found out that isn't shipping until the END of March (rather than the beginning as I'd assumed). (You may well wonder why with my ever increasing glut of laceweight I'd feel the need to join a lace club.)(I think it's because the shop is in Calgary and I lived there briefly.)(And it is yarn.)

So, all of the babbling to say I'm feeling the need to be inspired. There are lots of projects I want to do - but none are singing to me right now. Oh well, I'll know the project when I find it.

Until then I'll be sewing.....

Friday, 15 February 2008

Hooked by the Hook

This week I've mostly been crocheting.

Way back when I discovered the world of fibre on the internet (last April) one of the patterns that caught my eye was the Babette Blanket from Interweave Crochet. (It's now available to buy as a single pattern.) I loved the burst of colour and it immediately reminded me of crocheting granny squares out of Phentex(!) when I was 11. (Now Phentex you will recall was the most artificial of all yarns and unpleasant to touch-- but it did come in every colour imagineable and I had a vast supply of leftovers due to my mother's Phentex slipper obsession.)

I got distracted by lace knitting but almost a year later it seems the right time to tackle the Babette.

I toyed with the idea of carefully selecting colours and creating a blanket in muted (or at least related) tones. But somehow - the idea of a blanket in haphazard rainbow colours kept calling me back.

The end result won't be an elegant throw casually thrown onto my sofa, I expect it will live in my blanket box most of the time. But I imagine that when I'm a little under the weather, or need a bit of cheering up it will be what I curl up with on the sofa.

Being me I couldn't face deciding what colours to use in each square so I (geek alert) created a little randomiser spreadsheet that mapped them out for me. Some of the squares are surprisingly pleasant combinations of odd colours - others - not so much! But I'm hoping the overall effect will work.

In Other Business
A few people have very kindly nominated me for a Make My Day award. The rules say that I now need to pass that award on to 10 others. After careful consideration I've decided that I'd like to pass the award on to the lovely people who comment on this blog. It amazes me that people take time out of their busy day to see what I'm up to -- and even more so when they add a few words on what they've read! So thanks -you all Make My Day!

And I've been tagged by a 3 or 4 people -- one requires me to divulge 5 facts, the others 7. And in doing so I am tagging all of you readers/commenters to do the same on your blog! (By the way - for really interesting 7 facts check out Fleegle's responses to this tag!)

Soo Facts
1. I come from a big family. 2 brothers, 2 sisters, 5 nieces, 1 nephew, 62 Aunts and Uncles (31 by blood, 31 by marriage), and 65-75 first cousins. I should know how many cousins I have but I can never really remember how many kids my mom's oldest brother had (I never really knew him).

2. My father's mother (I called her Mamie) is my hero. She was very poor, married incredibly young and had 18 children. She was funny and feisty (you have to be I guess to keep all those children in line) and she had an amazing capacity to love. She died 19 years ago and I miss her still.

3. I love humous (and indeed hummus).

4. I make big decisions (moving country, changing jobs) quickly and based on gut feeling. However, ask me what I want for lunch and I can be paralysed for ages by the options.

5. I play the piano and sing. I do neither well but that doesn't stop me.

6. I can be sort of obsessive about things (bet that's a surprise to those of you who watched Lyra take over my life) and I can be very single minded. But oddly, I am also easily distracted. And once I'm distracted, whatever it is that I was obsessed with is forgotten and it's unlikely I'll ever get back to it.

7. I hate fruitcake.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Lemur Puppet Patterns and Stuff

Thanks so much for all the lovely comments on the Forest Path Stole. To quickly answer some of the questions:

I think the stole can be made narrower by removing one lace panel from each of the tiers. It would be pretty straightforward with some tweaking of the placement of the panels required (this makes more sense if you are looking at the pattern – honest!).

Making it shorter is very simple, just reduce the number of tiers – and the pattern gives options to do this.

And – errrrr - thanks for the kind offers to let me finish up the hibernating FPS’s out there – but I think I’ll pass for now!!

As often happens when I finish a big project I’m at a bit of a loss about what to tackle next. And my knitting this week reflects that.

The first thing I did was pull out the hibernating Melon Scarf and faff around with some border options. After two or three unsatisfactory attempts I remembered Gen saying before Christmas, “It looks great like it is – I don’t think it needs anything else.” And I looked at it, with non-knitter, non-Victorian Lace Today eyes and saw what she meant.

So I cast it off.

It is a very simple scarf, made just a little bit more special by the sheen of the SeaSilk. Here it is wrapped around a vase of tulips which are meant to imitate my head.

One skein of Handmaiden SeaSilk, pattern from Victorian Lace Today.

Then I turned into a hat machine. This was driven by two factors: a need to knit up some stash yarn, and the fact that the last hat I made which little

Mads claimed as hers does not in fact fit her. While
she’s wearing it, it slowly slides up her head until it is perched precariously on the top of he

r head. Apparently because I made it, she insisted on wearing it anyway. (How cute is she? She wins handknits for life!)

So I pulled out some wool left over from the great poncho
knit-athon of 2004(ish) and started knitting hats.

(The great poncho knit-athon began when I responded to a casual comment from Caroline that she loved a poncho she’d seen in Liberty. “I could make you one” I said. And then Susie, Gen and Mads (who was 5 and had no idea what a poncho was) chimed in with “Could I have one Sooby?” And thus began 2 months of poncho knitting. I didn’t even like ponchos.)

The purple hat and the grey hat with cables are from the Harlot’s ‘Unoriginal Hat’ pattern. The other three are even less original hats made up by me as I went along.

The linen coloured hat was meant to have cables all the way up the hat, but I got distracted and missed the second cable so rather than rip it out I decided to leave the one cable in and call it a design feature. I expect this is how all the great designers work.

While churning out hats I came across some Rowan Big Wool left over from the cardigan I made for Gen for Christmas. Keen to use up more stash I pulled out the Kim Hargreaves Heartfelt book and knit up Cherish for Gen.

However, when I handed it over to Caroline yesterday I got the distinct impression that it might never actually make it to Gen’s wardrobe as Caroline seemed quite taken with it.

The most random project of the week was a request from the Caked Crusader for a jumper for a very old, very worn, and very well loved lemur puppet named Merf. Apparently, Merf was a childhood favourite of the Caked Crusader and her brother and has now been handed down to the Caked Crusader’s nephew. He is showing his age and the Caked Crusader thought a new jumper might spruce him up a bit.

Designing for a lemur puppet took a bit of thought, mostly due to his sticky out arms and lack of a neck. A bit of fiddling around and I came up with the red jumper. Being an overachiever I immediately cast on for the black version. And as an inspired afterthought I crocheted a dapper scarf to be worn with either.

I’d offer to write up the lemur puppet pattern but I don’t expect there’s much demand.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

The End of the Path

On Thursday I finished the last of the squillion of miles of seed stitch edging and cast off the Forest Path Stole. WooHoo!

The edging wasn't quite as evil as I feared it might be. It was mindless knitting and once I got going went reasonably quickly. There was a heart stopping moment after I cast off when (for the hundredth time) I muttered about the inelasticity of the cast on edge. I attempted (possibly with a bit too much determination) to stretch it to match the width of the rest of the stole and the yarn in the cast on edge ripped apart! Eeeeeeeeek.

A bit of emergency surgery later and all was well again. In fact, a bit better as the repaired edge had a little more stretch in it.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve blocked lace at this stage I lose my faith in the process. I look at the unblocked lace and think it’s disappointing and worry that blocking won’t be able to save it.

Ha! Wrong again!

I love the finished stole. It is huge, and oh so light and airy.

Pattern Details:

Forest Path Stole – available as a single pattern from or in The Best of Interweave Knits.

I used just a smidge over 6 ounces of Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk in Cinnabar on 3.25mm needles.

Unblocked the stole was an impressive 24 inches x 58 inches.
Blocked it is a staggering 34 inches x 84 inches!!!!

The stole can be shortened fairly easily by simply working fewer tiers of lace panels.

The pattern is really well written so if you are worried about tackling entrelac – don’t be. The directions for each step are clear and easy to follow.

The pattern suggests using stitch holders for all stitches but the live ones, but in the end (after trying a few methods) I found keeping all the stitches on a FLEXIBLE 24inch circular needle was the easiest. A flexible cable is key – I used a KnitPicks Harmony circular needle.

My only issue with the pattern is the cast on edge. The pattern suggests a knitted cast on – but that has never produced a very stretchy cast on for me. For some reason though I stuck with it – with disastrous results as you read above! If I were to knit the pattern again I’d find a different cast on.

The knitting did get repetitious – 3 lace panels over and over and over - but the final result is definitely worth perservering. The Lily of the Valley (the nupps panel) was my favourite, and for no reason that I ever understood the Birch Leaves panel was my least favourite. All three are easy enough to get your head around and before you know it you won’t need the charts at all.