Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The End of Socktoberfest

I seem to be ending Socktoberfest on the right foot so to speak. Or maybe both feet? I started the month off by finishing some socks and I'm ending the month with some finished socks.

Pattern: just a plain old stockinette
Yarn: Shade Garden from Lisa Souza. Pictures don't do it justice, of course. It really is aptly named since it reminds me of a garden in a forest with dappled sun.
Needles: Size 0 which are my favorite for socks.

Now, I need to find some lace to do. I haven't done much lace because I've been wanting to start Hidcote, but I don't have the yarn I want to use yet. But maybe I have something already in the stash for Mountain Peaks. I've got to find something because it is now almost

Since November is also my birthday month, I've treated myself to a few things. Now, I am on a yarn moratorium and I haven't broken that, but I did need a few things. I've ordered this book, for example. (Be sure and click on knitter's thumb-through.) And I got a couple more books yesterday. Believe it or not, I'd never seen the Rowan magazines up close. I've always thought they were a bit on the expensive side, but they truly are more like books than a magazine, aren't they? And a lot of pretty stuff. And the Adrienne Vittandini book is really great. Not that I could probably ever afford to actually use the originally intended yarn for any of the stuff or anything, but the designs are pretty and classic. Lots of cables and lacy cables. I also got a new ballwinder because my old one sucked. Who was the brilliant person who made a ballwinder with exposed gears?! Anyway, the new one has the gears all covered and can make a slightly bigger ball. The orange thing is actually a swift. It's interesting because I've never seen a metal one, but it seems to work pretty well. I played with it yesterday, so I think it will work. My inlaws brought me something cool for an early gift, too, but I'm not going to show that until I have a couple of details about it to share.

And I am so happy that the World Series is over. House, MD is back tonight! Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Polymer Clay Snowman Buttons

Polymer clay is a wonderful thing for crafters and knitters can use it to make customized buttons for their garments. I am going to make buttons for the snowman vest and I'm going to show you how I do it. Almost every polymer clay book out there has the same technique (called "caning") that I'm going to use. It's taken from glasswork and you can use it to make many very detailed, nearly identical buttons.

The first step is to match the blues for the buttons. These are the colors I wanted to match. I used blue and white to match the left and blue and a little black to match the dark blue. Easy. I then made up larger amounts.

This is how to make the snowman face. I started with a hollowed out tube of white and added white and black strips for the smile. I then added more white and strips for the eyes. Then I rolled the cylinder to make the snowman face.

I then added two white body cylinders.

I surrounded the snowman with light blue and then dark blue.

Then, I rolled the cylinder down to about the size of a dime.

It's ready to be cut.

And we have buttons. I cut about 25 off the cane and I poked holes to sew them onto the vest and cooked them according to package directions.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Undervalued Craft

The Yarn Harlot had a wonderful post the other day about how even knitters undervalue their own work. If someone tells us something is gorgeous, we often reply, "Thank you, it was easy." I often get asked if I sell my work and I just tell the asker that I do it for my own enjoyment. Instead, I really should tell them that my work would be undervalued and I wouldn't sell my work to someone that undervalues it. I mean who would pay over $100 for a pair of handknit socks? But I put about 10 hours into a pair, (I think my time is worth at least $10 an hour) plus the cost of yarn. I've been thinking a lot about Stephanie's post and why knitting is undervalued along with other crafts.

Someone will pay hundreds or thousands for a painting or sculpture. So why not knitting? In my opinion, it's because our craft is something that in past centuries and even just a few decades ago had to be done. It's something that's worn. Women had to knit and to sew in order for their families to have clothing. Sweaters and clothes were necessity and even if women made the most beautiful embroidered garments or knitted sweaters, it still came down to necessity. We didn't have closets full of cheaply made, imported clothing. Each family member might have had a couple of work outfits and maybe one nice "Sunday best" outfit. They wore the clothes until they wore out, beauty was merely a plus.

Today, cheaply made socks and sweaters are readily available. (You do know you can buy socks at Walmart, right?) Somehow many people think less of handcrafted garments because they can get the latest brand name at the store and pay what I think is an outrageous amount and their brand garment (often cheaply made) will hardly last as long as my sweater. I know exactly how well my garment is made and how well it's put together.

A lot of women think knitting or sewing is old-fashioned and don't want to do it for that reason. They also think less of handcrafted items because of that reason. I often get "I wish I had the time for something like that." (I do get that even from knitters on occasion.) They say it in a way that makes my time seem less valuable because I do manage to find the time to do something I enjoy. I'm a mother, teacher, chef, maid, chauffeur, and occasional seamstress among other occupations. My time is actually quite valuable which is why I make the time to do something I enjoy. Something where I can express my creativity. And if someone else doesn't value my work, then who cares, I value it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

WIP Wednesday and Vogue Knitting

Thank you for all the comments about the snowman vest. I'm really pleased with it and I'm almost done. I would have finished the neck/button band last night except that I finished row 5 and realized I had to unknit back to the beginning of row 4 because I forgot the button holes. I still have the embroidery to do as well as the buttons. I have my polymer clay for that and I hope to take pictures of the process because it's actually pretty cool.

I've also been working on this:

It's the Hex Coat from Knitting Nature. This is the front and there will be hexagon medallions along the indentations, hence the name. It's working up fairly quickly as it's mostly moss stitch, once I'm finished with the front and having to remember when to increase and decrease, the back should go really fast.

And onto the new magazine. I have a love/hate relationship with Vogue Knitting. I usually love several of the designs in each issue, but they are usually done in very expensive yarns. I mean the new issue has this and this. I could substitute yarns if I had to for those and probably be quite happy with the results. But this shawl. The color and the sheen are just gorgeous. And it would also cost me a bit to make it as it is. I could do it; just get a color or two at a time. Treat myself. My birthday is coming up after all, but I really don't know about spending that much for one shawl. *Sigh*

Friday, October 20, 2006

I cut my knitting!

Firstly, am I the only knitting blogger on the east coast NOT going to Rhinebeck this year?

Okay, here's what you've been waiting for. This is a pretty picture heavy post, so some of the pictures may be small, but you can click on any picture for a larger view. (If I wasn't lazy, I'd even look up how to encode it so the picture pops up in a separate window. Sorry, I am lazy.) Here's the before picture. Ready to be steeked.

I ended up doing Eunny's hand-sewn steek. It seemed to have more hold than the crocheted one for my first steek. Here is the ready-to-be-cut sleeve opening. I finished the sewing and I immediately got my little scissors because they are incredibly sharp and not so big, so I could really only clip a float or two at a time.

The sleeve opening completely cut.

And the vest completely cut.

And the cut edge and my helper. (Okay, I actually did this process completely sober, but I did opt for a little refreshment afterwards. After all, I did cut my knitting.)

Okay, that really wasn't so bad.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WIP Wednesday

Okay, so what did I need the scissors from Monday's post for?
Halloween costumes, of course. 'Tis the season. Luckily I only have one costume to make this year because the other one still fits. Renaissance princess costumes. It's cloudy and I couldn't get Photoshop to cough up the exact shade of royal purple (imagine just a little more red, not much, just a little), but you get the idea. The front is done. I hope to have everything else done by the weekend. Wish me luck. I'm notorious for waiting until the last minute and I still have two whole weeks. I'm sure I just jinxed it.

The first snowman vest is ready to be steeked, so I won't show that to you today. I'll do a photo essay of the process. There's just something that goes against the instincts about steeking. I mean I'm going to be cutting my knitting, something into which I've put hours of work. That's just insane.

I have a question for experienced steekers out there. Given that this is my first steek, (we're not counting the tiny swatch that I did so I could crochet a steek and cut it up which did work very well), should I have a drink first or should I forgo the alcohol? I'm afraid I might need some sort of fortification for this process. I'm cutting my work after all. Okay, I am cutting my work, so perhaps it should be done sober. Hmm, the dilemma.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Be sure and read the text in the lower left of the picture. How ironic is it to need a pair of scissors in order to open a pair of scissors?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

WIP Wednesday

One sock is done:

I'll give you all the specs when the second one is done.

I've also made a little progress on the Snowman vest.

I'll be starting the armholes soon. Not sure how it's all going to work out, but I've always been a fearless knitter. I'm not going to be scared off just because I'm supposed to cut my work.

Also in the works, but not pictured, the same spinning from last Wednesday. I've also been spindling some silk. And I really need to get started on Halloween costumes, so I'm not sure how much knitting will be done in the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What a Day for a Fiber Festival

Yep, folks, that's mud. That's a lot of mud. After about two days of rain, Montpelier was pretty much under three inches or so of mud. Some of the vendors weren't even able to be there, but of course, silly fiber fanatic that I am, I showed up. (Thank goodness for rain boots!) The mud didn't stop me from finding a few things to take home.

I got sock yarn from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. (Don't say that I didn't need any more sock yarn. I know that I didn't need any more. Really this is the last for a while. Okay, not counting the stuff that I ordered and is in Felicia's dyeing queue. No more.)

And a bit of fiber. Apparently, this was the fiber fest for natural colors.

Clockwise, starting in the lower right corner: the creamy stuff is bombyx silk, the brown stuff beside it is llama, the gray stuff in the upper left corner is alpaca/merino and finally the tan shiny stuff is cashmere silk (so very soft). I'll get to spinnning some of it sometime. (Just like I'll get to all the sock yarn sometime.) This is the last stuff until I use up a bit. Really, I do have some self-control. I do.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Eccentricity and Sock ?s

I'm always considered the odd woman who knits whenever I go to my kids' classes or the library or wherever. I've never seen anyone else knit in public outside of fiber fests and knitting groups. I know it has to happen, I've just never seen it. But I persist in taking my lace and socks into public and working. I've also occasionally taken my spindles out and about. And I always get attention and it's funny because boys around 10-years-old or so usually show the most interest in the spindles or my knitting. They will ask questions like "is it hard?" or "how does it work". Women will occasionally ask what I'm doing, but have little interest in the technical side of it. They'll usually comment that they couldn't do that. I've learned it rarely does any good to actually ask if they'd like to learn. My thinking is that if someone really wants to learn something then they will make a nice effort. Most of them know where to find me and can guess I'm more than willing to teach.

Girls, especially pre-teens and teenagers, usually glance at me, but will rarely ask anything. Although occasionally, there is one who is genuinely intrigued and curious, but it's not the norm. I wonder if most girls just think it's old-fashioned and don't want anything to do with it and boys don't have that stereotype to deal with. Who knows, but Wednesday I took my spinning wheel into the front yard while the kiddos were playing. School buses and cars did actually slow a bit to glance and see what I was doing. I know a couple were trying hard to glance without staring. Now I have no doubts I'll be considered the neighborhood eccentric. I'm okay with that.

So, anyway, Lolly asked these question in relation to sock-making:

When did you start making socks? I took knitting back up about two years ago and after working on a huge stockinette scarf and making a couple more scarves, I just had an inexplicable desire to make socks. So I picked up Knit Socks! from Betsy McCarthy (it's the one shaped like a sock). The kitchener was what gave me the most trouble. I think I have it perfected now.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time? My first pair was the Starter Socks in the above book in Cascade Quattro. They didn't hold up very well because I wore them continuously and they didn't have any nylon in them.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed? I love Trekking. The colors are just so neat the way they are never exactly the same. Also, Lorna's Laces. And I recently discovered Lisa Souza's handpaints. Gorgeous stuff and so soft!

How do you make your socks? I knit them on DPNs. I am a DPN girl and probably always will be.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? Definitely heel flap. I've tried both short row and afterthought heels and I just don't like how either fit my foot. The flap is the most comfortable to me.

How many pairs have you made? 20 pairs (give or take a pair or two).

Enjoy making socks!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WIP Wednesday

Well, it's Wednesday and that means WIPs:

Some of my WIPs are now FOs, so there's not a lot. The snowman vest hasn't really progressed much so there's not much point in showing it. But I can show you the new socks I started in Lisa Souza's Shade Garden.

Sometimes, I can play with Adobe and get something that approximates the real color. Not so with this stuff. It's just too rich with too many lovely colors. A lot of what looks black in the photo is actually just a little black with some lovely deep purples, both blue-purple and red-purple. The name is just so fitting. It reminds me of a dark, cool garden with deep greens and other colors with just specks of sunlight peeping through.

My other WIP is actually spinning. It's been a WIP for quite a while since I'm spinning it laceweight.

It's merino from The Fiber Denn. I plan to Navajo-ply it to maintain the color changes and hopefully someday I'll have enough for another Landscape Shawl. I love lace, but I sometimes love something simple just to show off lovely yarn. (Notice the above socks are just plain old stockinette. I just couldn't bring myself to try and make a pattern compete for attention with that stuff.)

I figured I should practice a bit since I agreed to be part of a spinning demonstration at our local library in a couple of weekends. This weekend is a local fiber fest though and I am looking forward to that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Socktoberfest and Wool Peddlar Shawl

First of all, I'm starting off Socktoberfest right. I finished up a pair of socks that had been languishing on the needles for several months after I got "socked out" by doing so many socks in a row. They are in Trekking 109 (I think) on size 0s and they are done in the Slipped Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. Here they are:

I also got some lovely new sock yarn from Lisa Souza. I've been envying her stuff for a while.

Do I even need to say how these pictures just don't do it justice? From left to right: Mars Quake, Berry Poppins, Sky Drama and Shade Garden (which is probably the least like real-life; it's the one I've started with and I'll show you progress on Wednesday. Gorgeous stuff!). And do I need to point out that three of the four skeins have purple?

And my finished Wool Peddlar's Shawl:

The color is a bit more accurate in the close-up:

Pattern: Wool Peddlar's Shawl from Folk Shawls
Needles: size 7
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss in Concord Grape

So this brings me down to just two shawls: the Forest Path, which is going to take forever and the Moon Dance which still needs a bit of spinning. I now have the perfect yarn in mind for the Hidcote Shawl, but I won't have it in hand until sometime in November. And I don't really want to get anything else started before then. Oh, well, I guess I can work a bit on the Forest Path and all the vests and coats and socks in the works. I might even get my WIP list down a little more.