Monday, February 26, 2007

Socks and Stupid Groundhog

My first toe-up sock is just about done. I'm to where the ribbing starts, but I've started the second sock so I can get it to the same spot and make sure the ribbing has the same number of rounds. (Just in case the two skeins had just a little difference in yardage.)

I might just be a convert to toe-up socks. These fit very well, snug just the way I like them, and I think I'm happy with the toe-up heel flap.

I'm not happy with the groundhog or the weathermen right now. It actually looks like the weathermen might have been smoking something been just a wee big off in their prediction of 1/4" of ice for Sunday as of Saturday night. I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, does this look like 1/4 of an inch of anything to you?

Nope, more like 6 inches.

I thought the silly little groundhog said "Early Spring". Hmph. Hard to believe in December, when the weather was an unseasonably warm 70 degrees, I was wondering where my snow was. I'm so over the white stuff now. I'm ready for spring and daffodils and birdies making a nest in our nesting box. Yet, still chilly enough for all my pretty socks.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Non scholae sed vitae discimus

I've been neglecting my knitting a bit lately. I've done a little with polymer clay, but mostly, I've been reading. It's actually the polymer clay that got me reading. Let me explain. When I want to learn how to do something, whether it be a language or craft, I have to know everything about it before I start. I'm not the type to take an immersion course in a language, but rather I have to learn from the building blocks up. I have to learn the part of speech, the endings, the words, I need to know quite a bit before I'll attempt to read or especially write the language. It's probably why I did much better in Latin than French. My French classes were all centered on speaking the language immediately. "My name is...", "I am ... years old", "How are you?", etc. I was never good at making sentences because I never learned the building blocks; I like seeing things in a systematic way on paper. When I took Latin, however, I guess because it's considered a "dead" language (though it's very much alive), it's not taught as an immersion course. You learn the parts of speech and how they work together. (Latin has also given me a better understanding of my own language.)

That brings me to crafting because although crafting is a creative endeavor, I learn a craft pretty much the same way. When I wanted to learn how to spin, I didn't just pick up a spindle or wheel and go at it. And I didn't take a class. I read books. I read all the books on the subject I could find. I had to know the "theory" behind it. I read about how the first spinners probably just rolled plant or animal fiber along their leg and discovered they could make a stronger fiber. They began to tame fiber animals because they realized they were a renewable clothing source. I had already read about how the Romans spun with spindles and dyed their own wool from a paper I did in college. I finally picked up a spindle and it seemed to come naturally to me. I bought a wheel which I put together myself because I had to know how it worked for myself. As for knitting, I've been spending the last couple of years doing lots of different projects so I can understand everything about the construction of knitting. I have a sweater in my mind that I would like to design and I think I finally am just about ready to do so. I have the building blocks, so now I can use my creativity.

So now, polymer clay has brought me to reading. I have tons of polymer clay books on how to make things and the things that fascinate me most are the miniature dolls. I love miniatures and I want to make more. So far, I've only made one. I dressed her in a Victorian Style and it's really the style I want to dress more dolls. So, I've been doing a bit of reading about the Victorian Era, a lot about the fashion of the time – I have books and books of the fashion plates of the time, but also about the time itself. It's probably the most fascinating period of history for me (and I love history). Granted, I probably wouldn't have cared to live in that time. I would probably have been one of the first to jump on Amelia Bloomer's bandwagon because those dresses must have been darned uncomfortable and cumbersome to wear. Yes, they are gorgeous, but I am really glad I only have to look. I just love the novels that come from Regency and Victorian England – the Brontës, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens are among my favorites, but I also like a few others. I don't know what it is about that time period. In some ways, it seems very romantic, but I know that's only a modern take because the coal dust alone in the city must have been horrible. Add to that the horse dropping and the fact that a very small percentage of the population were able to take real regular baths...

Yet, it's a time period that continues to fascinate people and I just need to know more about before I'll feel a need to make more dolls. Since I have nothing to show today, I thought I'd tell you what I've been doing with my time. And maybe soon, I'll have a few dolls to show off with my knitting.

Note to Wordpress bloggers, I've tried commenting on several people's blogs today and the comment has never shown up. When I try to repost, I get a duplicate comment message. I don't know whether it's me or WP because I don't seem to be having trouble with commenting on Blogger today. Anyway, it is driving me crazy because I don't know if some sort of comment moderation has been turned on or if my comments are just getting lost in the ethernet. Other people's comments seem to be showing up. If someone can explain via email, feel free!

--- Thanks for the explanation, Chris. Apparently, I've offended the WP gods somehow.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

WIP Wednesday

My progress on the Forest Path Stole:

I'm to the second rectangle on Tier 5. Coming right along.

Progress on the toe-up sock:

You may not really be able to see but that's the Oriel pattern from SKS. I think the yarn is competing with the pattern, but I sort of like it. I'm about to start the toe-up heel flap from SKS. This is the Apple Laine yarn and good news is that I don't seem to be having any allergy issues with this yarn. And that's really good because it's a heavenly yarn with wool, mohair, a little bit of silk and nylon. Really nice to work with and I think I might have to be on the lookout for when Sheri gets some more in.

What else have I been doing? Inspired by Jen, I decided to make some bread. Okay, I didn't grind my own flour (Jen's mill looks pretty cool though) and do it all by hand; I used storebought flour and dug out my bread machine, but this is what came out.

It's made with stone-ground wheat flour from Bob's Red Mill with honey for sweetener and a few slivered almonds thrown in. So much better than storebought wheat bread and I know exactly what's in it - no high fructose syrup, no white, stripped flour. I think I might try making more whole grain breads. This one turned out so good, delicious.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Knitting Seed Stich Backwards

I've made a bit of progress on the Forest Path Stole; I've nearly finished the fourth tier. Whenever I work on something like a heel flap on a sock or entrelac, instead of flipping back and forth, I'll usually knit backwards. Basically, if I had turned the work, it would be purl stitches, but instead I'm knitting to the left needle instead of to the right. I have a tutorial here about knitting backwards. Now, for the FPS, I've been turning it every row for the rectangles because my tension is a little off with the laceweight knitting backwards, though that may change as the stole grows. I might start knitting backwards. But for the side triangles with the seed stitch, it's really a pain in the bum to knit a couple of stitches and turn. So, I will knit from the right needle to the left instead of turning my work and here's how I do it. (Depending on how the current row is set onto the previous row, it could be used for rib as well.) I've used a worsted white yarn so you can see it better than laceweight.

I'm in the middle of the row here, working to the left needle. I'm at what would be a purl stitch if I had turned my work. With yarn in back, insert the left needle through the top of the stitch on the right needle and yarn over from back to front.

Pull the yarn over through the stitch and take the old stitch off the right needle, leaving the newly-formed stitch on the left needle. You have what appears to be a knit stitch on this side (it would be a purl stitch from the other side.)

The next stitch would be a knit stitch from the other side. With the yarn in front, slip the left needle into the back of the stitch of the right stitch so that the needles are coming through the stitch the same way.

Yarn over from front to back.

Pull the yarn over through the stitch and take the stitch off the right needle. And it appears to be a purl stitch from this side.

I hope this tutorial is helpful. Let me know if it makes sense (or doesn't). You just repeat to the end of the row, then you're ready to knit as usual from the left needle to the right. No turning necessary! I'd recommend practicing on a heavier weight yarn to get the hang of it before trying it on the stole.

In other knitting news, I've started my first toe-up socks and I might be hooked. I did a provisional cast on because I already know how to do that. It's pretty cool being able to try it on as you knit it and being able to maximize the yarn usage. We'll see how the backwards heel flap in SKS works out.

Lots of ice on the ground here. About two inches of solid ice. When we backed the minivan onto the two inches of ice on the drive, it didn't even compact at all!. And it's pretty much impossible to get the stuff off the drive now without about a ton of road salt. Yuck. We still haven't had a good snow. A bit of snow and then lots of ice. I guess I'm pretty much over the whole wintry thing by now. I'm ready for spring.

Edit: I hate when my updates still haven't shown up in Bloglines hours later even after manually "pinging" the feed several times. Argh!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Foxy Lady Socks and Goodies

My new socks:

The yarn: Cherry Tree Hill in Foxy Lady colorway from The Loopy Ewe (Just tell Sheri I sent you ;-)
The Needles: Size 0 DPNs
The pattern: My own really. I cast on 80 and used a 3X1 rib and since I didn't want to mess up the lovely striping pattern, I decided to use a forethought heel from Sensational Knitted Socks instead of my usual heel flap. I prefer the heel flap, it just fits my heel better, but I think if I just remember next time to put a few extra rows on the cuff whenever I do a different heel, I'll like it a little better.

I'm about to try toe-up socks for the first time. Don't know what pattern I'll be using, but the yarn will have blue in it for Project Spectrum.

My new goodies from Birdsong and the Hidcote KAL:

Yes, that's a bar of Ghirardelli Dark which is my absolute favorite chocolate in the whole world. (I don't eat many sweets anymore, but don't ever ask me to give up my chocolate!) The little pink pillow is a flax seed and lavender-filled eye pillow which will probably find it's way into my wool baskets when it's not in use. A few hard candies (really good) and of course, a magnetic chart keeper from Knit Picks. I was so upset with myself when I placed my last KP order because I forgot to order one of these. I now have one and it will be put to good use with the Forest Path Stole.

The snow/ice is melting a little, on the roads at least, and I might even be able to actually get out of the house tomorrow. Plus, new socks and new goodies. Life is good.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

WIP Wednesday and Polymer Clay Continued

Actual progress has been made on the Forest Path Stole. One and a half whole rectangles. I'm on tier 4. All while listening to my new Norah Jones CD.

I know lace usually looks like crap before it's blocked, but this shawl really seems to. You just can't tell anything about this one, but trust me, it's going to be gorgeous. I love the magic of blocking. For anyone interested, I'm using a circular needle to hold all the rectangles not currently being worked. I'm working each rectangle with a DPN and one of the circular needles. The first rectangle (on the left) has been completed for the tier and the left needle is being used as a stitch holder. The second rectangle is only halfway done and I am using a DPN and the right needle to work it. When it is completed, I'll move it over to the left and work on the next rectangle. It does make more sense if you're either working on this shawl or done entrelac before. (Speaking of which, I not only want to work on my entrelac socks from Knitters', but now I also want to do Eunny Jang's socks from the new Interweave!)

I will show the Snowman vest, I promise, just as soon as I finish all the fiddly embroidery.

For now, I'll amuse you with more polymer clay. To use the molds, choose your color and condition it. Press a small wad firmly into the mold and carefully remove.

You may have to do this more than once to get it right. Carefully trim off the excess and smooth. You can sand and polish after it's been baked. You can make a shank at this point by just taking a small bit of clay and poking a hole in and flatten one side. You bake it separately and glue it onto the back of the button using superglue.

You can decorate the buttons before baking with artist's pastels (the soft kind, not the oil kind) or with powders.

I've used Jacquard Pearl Ex Powders. (Yes, that Jacquard.)

You just dip the tip of a paintbrush into the powder and "paint" it over the clay. Bake according to clay package directions and paint with a varnish for the clay to keep the powders from rubbing off later.

(Edit: I've had a couple of questions about care, so here you go. As long as you handwash your sweaters, you shouldn't have to remove the buttons. If they aren't varnished, acrylic paint and the powders will probably wash off eventually, but varnish should protect the button. I personally would not run the buttons through the washing machine - though they might be fine on cold - but definitely not through the dryer.)

I also meant to have some of the buttons fired and to paint them with acrylics, but I'm suffering from yet another cold and it's kicking my butt, so that will have to wait until another post. I just can't seem to stay well this winter.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Polymer Clay Button Molds

You can use polymer clay to make unique buttons. There's a tutorial on the sidebar for caned buttons, but these instructions are for making molds. First you find a button you like.

You can also use rubber stamps, jewelry, sea shells, or other items, just something that will make a clear impression. Then you condition your polymer clay by rolling it your hands and playing with it until it's pliable and soft. You then press the button firmly into the wad of clay.

Carefully remove the button and you have a mold.

I apologize if this is a little blurred; it really is hard to get a clear picture sometimes of the mold. You now "fire" the clay (which is really at a low temperature in your oven) according to package directions.

Pretty simple, huh? Wednesday, I'll continue the tutorial with how to use the molds to make buttons and a few tips on decorating them.

There is a little knitting going on. I've finished the second snowman vest except for sewing the buttons on and all the fiddly embroidery, so I'll get to that sometime soon. And I've just finished the heel of the second CTH sock, so I'm on the home stretch there. Finally, I'm picking Forest Path back up this evening and figuring out exactly where I am. I'm going have progress for next week's KAL update!

Stay warm! (We're expecting a bit more snow tonight.)

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Friday, February 09, 2007


Here's my Valentine present. My husband said I couldn't open it until Valentine's Day, but I had to see it and take pictures, right? And I also had to do an allergy test (which I'll explain in a minute). All of it is from Sheri at The Loopy Ewe.
Shaefer Anne in Raspberry Mocha and J-Knits in Tampa:

And Apple Laine in Blueberry (I don't have much blue in the stash):

Now, the Shaeffer and the Apple Laine have mohair content. I have a minor sinus allergy to mohair. I know I can probably never spin it or knit with 100% mohair (and I always take an allergy pill before sheep and wool festivals/shows), but I did have to see if the 25% mohair was going to affect me. I had both yarns sitting near my face for a couple of hours yesterday and no breathing problems, so I think I'll be okay. Knitting with it will be the real test. I hope I'm okay with them because the AL and SA colors are so pretty and vibrant. (Although I guess since it doesn't seem to be a life-threatening allergy, just watery eyes and runny nose, I could take allergy pills while knitting it and then it shouldn't be a problem on my feet.)

Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I'll be preparing for my polymer clay button demonstration at my March Knitting Guild meeting. You guys will also benefit as I'll be doing a couple of tutorials on my site as well. I'll probably be breaking it down into making molds and decorating the buttons. You can already see a tutorial on making caned buttons on the sidebar. I love polymer clay; it's great stuff. It's just harder to get all of the related equipment out than for knitting, so I don't play with it as much as I'd like.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

WIP Wednesday

The second snowman vest has been steeked:

Cutting your knitting the second time around isn't nearly as difficult. The Smirnoff wasn't even required. (You can see the process of the first vest steek here.) All I have left is sewing the shoulders and making the button and armhole bands. Oh, yeah, and all the fiddly embroidery. Do you notice that the vest has all the colors of this round of Project Spectrum - blue, white and gray? Not planned, but pretty neat.

And the current sock:

I was originally planning to make my usual heel flap, but I loved the way this was striping too much to break it up, so I did a forethought heel. That's why it has taken me this long to do the heel; I was putting it off. Forethought heels aren't my favorite, not that they are any harder than the sock toe, but I'm just not as familiar with them, so it took more concentration than I wanted to give. I couldn't quite get an accurate red this morning, but this red doesn't have a bluish cast at all; it's quite vibrant, but not blindingly so. The darker reds and grays really do tone it down a bit. I really do wish a picture would do it justice.

Now, I hope to finish the vest in the next couple of days and move onto the Forest Path Stole again.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Ten degrees. That's what it is this morning. That's pretty darn chilly, even for February. I know I was wondering where the cold weather was a few weeks ago, but man, ten? With a probable high of 29. I'm really glad I had a sock making kick last spring because I have enough wool socks. Well, you can never really have enough handknit wool socks, can you?

Well, this week has started off better than last week (well except for the lovely cold sore on my lip. If you've never had them, let me just tell you how unattractive they are. But even the cold sore is sort of left over from last week when I had some sort of wicked stomach bug or food poisoning. Compromised immune system and all that.) Anyway, I did have a point, didn't I? Oh, yeah. I won the Laceuary Survival Kit from the Hidcote KAL. Basically, if you posted before the end of January, you were entered, and the random number generator spat my number out. Cool, huh? I'll definitely show you the goodies when they arrive.

And I'll have more goodies to show soon. I sort of placed another order with The Loopy Ewe. But it's my Valentine's present, so it doesn't really count. Hey, I'm not a member of a stash-along, so I won't feel guilty! (But seriously, I'm going to finish a few pair of socks before any more sock yarn!)

I'll have a WIP to show tomorrow and no, it's not the Forest Path Stole, but I will pick that back up very soon.

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Friday, February 02, 2007


I'm a project starter. I begin a lot of projects. A lot of times, I'll begin something and just work on it exclusively until I finish. Other times I'll work on several projects at once, usually a pair of socks, a lace project and maybe something else. Other times, I'll start something, get tired of it, start something else, get tired of it, start something else. And I'll end up with seven or more projects in various stages of completion in the sidebar. I don't think I've ever ripped anything never to start again (though Madli was close). I'm usually very selective about my projects and do only what I really, really like. I don't do many sweaters, so there's not the problem of them being out of style by the time I finish them. I make shawls and socks. They are sort of neutral.

I'm also a finisher. When I get too many projects going at a time in various stages of completion, I'll feel an overwhelming need to finish a few of them before starting anything else. Often when I finish one of these finishing cycles, I'll be at a loss as to what to do next because I've finished several things in a row and I don't have anything else to do. I'll usually spin for a couple of days to get my bearings again and decide the next project in the queue.

Right now, I'm on a finishing cycle. I really want to finish the second snowman sweater and the Forest Path. We'll see how long it lasts.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


July 21, 2007!!

Go here if you really don't know what this date means yet :-) I need to start re-reading a few books.