July 2008 Archives

Progress on Hat #1

Hat Progress

The hat I'm working on is coming along nicely. This is the photo of where it was on July 29. The photo below is what it looked like as of last night. I'm about to start the decreasing. All of the cables will meet together at the center.

This pattern really isn't difficult. The purl into the front and then back stitch was the most complex, but only because I had never done it before. The hat has a number of cable and twist stitches. They make the knitting much slower, especially the twists. I'm not entirely sure that I see the point for them. I'm not sure that I see how that is effecting the resulting pattern. But I'm sure the designer put those stitches there for a good reason.

I'm guessing that I will be finished with this in another couple of days. There are only 26 rows left. Yay! Then I get to move on to the next hat. I have a series of four that I'm working on.

Another Hat Update

Purl Front to Back

I'm really enjoying this hat pattern that I'm working on right now. I'm learning new stitches and having lots of fun with the cables.

The latest new stitch is Purl in the Front and the Back. This is a purl-wise increase. I found a lovely little YouTube video that shows you exactly how to do it. It was much easier to watch someone do it than try to step through screenshots or a description in a book. I'm so glad that so many talented knitters have taken to the web!

The one bit that the woman forgot to mention is the little "plop!" that happens after the second purl. You do your regular purl, but don't take the original stitch off the needle. Then you move the back and go into that same stitch, bring your yarn around the back needle and pop it under the back of the stitch. When you do it correctly, there is this little "plop!" that the yarn does as the second purl appears on the right needle. You then take the original stitch off the left need and you have 2 purl stitches. FUN!

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

Beatrix Potter is one of my all-time most favorite artists, authors, farmers, environmentalist, animal-lover and all around kick-ass ladies. Her life was really amazing, especially when you think about the time in which she lived. She was from a well-to-do English family. She didn't get married until much later in life. She earned her own living by writing her "little books." And she helped preserve the Lake District in England with all the farms she bought and helped to form the National Trust.

Growing up, I had many of Beatrix Potter's books. I enjoyed them greatly. As I got older, I learned more about the woman behind the books. On a trip to England a few years ago, I was able to visit her house, Hill Top, in Near Sawrey in the Lake District. I was able to see first hand some of her beautiful paintings of flowers and animals. She had such a wonderful eye and was able to capture the beauty of nature. Some day I'm going to make a quilt that resembles the one at Hill Top.

I have a number of crafty projects in the making that use Beatrix's illustrations and drawings. Today I will leave you with two wonderful books. Sadly, both are out of print now. But a quick look on Amazon.com shows that they are still available from a number of used book dealers. The authors do a wonderful job of translating Beatrix's work into yarn and needlework. I have a number of projects in the queue from these books.

Like, Tubular Man

I've started working on a new hat. It calls for a special cast on, the double rib tubular cast on. Casting on in any way other than the standard long tail causes me a bit of stress. I have to get out one or two books and read up on the method and then try it a couple of times before it really takes.

Ysolda, who designed the hat I'm making, luckily has instructions for this cast on method. I tried to follow the instructions in The Knitter's Handbook and I just couldn't make sense of it. Even Ysolda's Long Tail Tubular Cast On left me scratching my head.

Luckily, she also has instructions for a Stocking Stitch Tubular Cast On for 2x2 Rib which is "a bit time consuming but probably the easiest method." Me liked the sound of that! So far it's taken me two tries, but I think this is going to work.

Ysolda does a much better job at walking you through the steps than I could. But to sum up, you use some waste yarn to cast on 1/2 the number of stitches you want to end up with. Then you stitch 4 rows in your project yarn. Rip out the waste yarn and pick up those live stitches on the bottom. You then have 4 rows of stockinette on two needles. Then the fun really begins. You take a third needle and stitch off of one needle, then the other. Alternating purl and knit so you end up with the rib. This gives you a double thick little tube at the end.

Stocking Stitch Tubular Cast On Detail

The beauty of this cast on is it makes the edge much more stretchy. Which is exactly what you want for the edge of a hat. The standard long tail cast on tends to be rather tight, at least how I stitch it.

The only trouble I'm having is that this is really, really tight. Maybe it's the yarn I'm using (Debbie Bliss Stella) and it is really to thick for the size 5 needles. I'm not sure. But it's so tight that I snapped the tips off a set of new double points that I got just for this project. I was not amused. I stopped at ImagiKnit yesterday and picked up some addi double pointed needles and I'm loving those. And I don't think I could break these metal suckers if I tried.

Stocking Stitch Tubular Cast On

I've just completed the second row. I'm starting to get the hang of stitching on 4 needles. Though it does feel a bit like I have a porcupine in my hands. Things are starting to loosen up a bit, which is good. I do like the feel of the yarn (it's hard not to like 60% Silk, 20% Rayon, 20% Cotton) and I love the color.

ImagiKnits in San Francisco


I needed some yarn for a couple of hat projects I've decided to start. Rather than trek over to Noe Valley, to Noe Knits, where I usually go for yarn, I decided I'd try one of the other shops in the city. I went over to ImagiKnit in the Mission/Castro.

How is it that I have never been there before? What a lovely store. It's been awhile since I've seen such a wonderful selection of yarns. Their bins go from floor to ceiling. And they are organized by gauge, so as you walk around the room they go from thin to thick. The first room is all wool and animal fibers. The second room seems to be all non-animal, e.g., cottons, silks, bamboo, etc.

I was able to get a lovely collection of yarns for the hats. I also picked up more needles, as I only had one size double pointed needles. They had a lot of brands of needles that I had never seen before. I was able to pick up a pair of addi double pointed (which I can't wait to use). I did get a pair that turned out to be more of a flexible plastic than I realized. Sadly, I've already broken off the tips of two of them (this cast on for the hat is rather tight). I'm not really amused.

I will definitely keep these guys in mind the next time I need supplies. They are on the corner of 18th and Sanchez. There were a number of Muni lines that run right along there. And I was able to find street parking at 6:00 without a problem. Yay!

(Photos from the ImagiKnit website. Next time I'll remember to take some shots.)

In The Beginning

I've been making needlecrafts for a long, long time. I can remember working on a little cross-stitched owl as part of a workshop for my Girl Scout 6th Grade Event camp out. This was the same camp out where it rained the whole time and I got a nasty ear infection from sleeping in the platform tent. In any case, the little owl is long gone. But I still remember the rat's nest of knotted yarn that was on the back.

My mother still has a small, framed unicorn needlepoint that I did in elementary school. At least, I know I worked some of it. She may have finished it. At some point I'll have to get a photo of it. I still have a large unicorn needlepoint I started in middle school. It's two-thirds done, but I haven't worked on it in decades. Someday I will finish it though. I'm determined.

Unicorn Needlepoint

My adventures in knitting started much more recently. I know my mother taught me to knit when I was in elementary school, but it just didn't take. Two dear friends of mine taught me to knit at the Adaptive Path holiday party in 2005. I still have that first piece of knitting, just to remind myself how far I have come.

First Try

I love this piece because you can read it like a timeline. It starts out with the drunken, in the dark knitting. Then you can see where I start to get the hang of it, but I get cocky and there are some random yarnovers. Then I go to visit my mother and I transfer the work to her smaller needles. And then she teaches me how to purl and the piece ends in stockinette.

So for anyone who thinks they can't learn how to knit, keep this in mind. 3 years ago I was doing work like this. It just takes practice and patience. Though I suppose that is the case with most things.

Wireframe As Art

In the fall of 2006 I had a wild idea for a poster at the IA Summit: Wireframe as Art. Wouldn't it be funny to make a craft version of the deliverables we information architects and designs slave over with our computers? So I set out to make a knitted wireframe, a quilted one, and a cross-stitched site map.

I started out with the knitted wireframe. I found a simple wireframe I had created for an actual client and used that for my template. I decided that I wanted to do it in shades of gray, just like a real wireframe. How hard could knitting in multiple colors be? Turns out, it's rather hard.

Knitted Wireframe, Take 3

The biggest problem I had was keeping all the yarn straight. The piece was long enough that I didn't want to carry the colors across the back the whole time, especially since there were a number of them, and they showed through on the white background. I ended up putting little balls of color in different glasses and knitting from there. It made it slow to turn the work, and meant I was pretty stationary when I was knitting.

Knitted Wireframe, Take 3

It took me about three or four tries before I found a system that worked. And I did get better and faster at it. It also helped that the wireframe was simpiler as worked my way up. I started with the footer and moved towards the global navigation.

4:30 PM - Halfway Done

My old camera phone was pretty crappy, but you can see it definately started to come together. I was working on this until the 11th hour. I was knitting it when I got to Vegas for the Summit. I had just finished it and blocked it on a pillow in my hotel room just before going to the opening reception.

The cross-stitched sitemap was much easier, probably because I knew what I was doing. I don't have a photo of the making of the cross-stitch, but here's the finished pillow. Kate made a site map moblie of the same map.

I also don't have any photos of the construction of the quilted wireframe. This one was also pretty easy and I made the top of the quilt in just a few afternoons. Rather than piece the quilt, I heat-and-bonded the fabirc strips to the background. I wouldn't make a regular quilt this way, but since this was so small, and would never be washed I figured it would be okay. I was also running into a time crunch.


Doing the actual quliting was a bit trickier.

American Craft Show

I was very sad to have missed the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason earlier this month. It sounded like it was to be a great time. The website says this year was the "first annual," so I'm hoping they'll be back next year.

I just learned that the American Craft Show will be at Fort Mason on August 15-17. It doesn't sound as cool-slash-hip as the Renegade Craft Fair, but sounds interesting none the less. Much more craft as art.

Admission is $12, a two-day pass is $18, but you can save $2 by buying tickets online. I'm thinking of going on Saturday.

Rustic Celtic Cable Scarf

I love making things for people I love. I realized back in March that I had yet to make anything for my darling E. I made encouraged him to look through some of my knitting books to see if there was a scarf pattern he liked.

He chose the Rustic Celtic Cable Scarf from Knit Ponchos, Wraps & Scarves by Jane Davis. It's the third cabled scarf in the book, the most complex. Did I mention that I have never knitted cables before?

Rustic Celtic Scarf

The next time we were at Michael's Crafts, E picked out some Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn, in a lovely dark green heathered color. (Pay no attention to the color in the photos. My camera phone apparently doesn't like to capture dark green.) I also got a pack of cable hooks. I tried knitting this with two strands of the Wool-Ease on size 15 needles (which is what I thought the patterns said). It was WAY too big. So I switched to a single strand and size 8 needles. It's coming out much more reasonable in size.

This is the first time I have ever done cables. The first row was a bit challenging (read: I kept ending up with a twisted mess). Then I realized I was suppose to use 2 cable needles. Heh. Much, much easier now. The scarf is coming out at 7 inches wide, while the pattern said 10. I may end up making it longer so it can wrap more times, since it's estimated to be about 18 inches shorter than the original at this gauge.

Cable Detail

I knitted on this a lot when I was at my grandmother's in April. But it does take some focus so I haven't worked it in awhile. It is lots of fun though. I see why so many people enjoy knitting cables.

Erik's Cable Scarf

Rustic Celtic Cable Scarf:
Started March 30, 2008

Wear It With Pride

My order from CafePress just arrived. Yes, I really am this geeky.

746.43

It's a knitting bag with the Dewey Decimal call numbers for knitting books on it! Heeheehee. Totally cracks me up!

I also am now one of those consultant/web geek types that has stickers on her laptop. Of course, I might lose some cred when they realize it's knitting instructions.

K1P2

Knitscene Magazine

My copy of Knitscene Magazine arrived this Saturday and I am just thrilled. There were a number of patterns in it that made the decision to get it easy.

The first is the Opulent Raglan sweater by Wendy Bernard. I love the shape of the neckline and the little touches such as the slightly ruffled sleeves.

Next there is the Ahlstrom Bodice by Lou Schiela. Again it was the shape of the neckline and the lovely shaping at the sides.

Lastly the cute and adorable Kimono Socks by Star Athena just made me giggle. I seem to be much better at collecting sock patterns than actually making socks (seeing how I've yet to even cast on my first pair). But these are just so fun.

Of course, I have no idea when I will actually get around to making any of these. And I don't want to think of the cost of buying that much yarn. But it sure is fun to think about and pine for them.

The Row Counter Bracelet

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I forget how I came upon Denise Sutherland's Free Row Counter Bracelet Instructions. It may have been via the Craft Magazine blog, or rather their Twitter, since that is how I read that blog. In any case, I found the pattern and decided it would be a fun thing to make. Have I done any beading before? Not unless you could the seed beads I used to put on safety pins and then attach to my shoe laces in 4th grade. Yeah, I didn't think you'd count that.

I headed over to Beadissimo in The Mission (which I just learned closed) and picked up some beads from a big trunk of beads they have. For something like this, why spend a lot of cash, right?

I got out a towel to put the beads on while I was working on them, found some needle-nose pliers in the tool chest, and went to work.

Stringing the first beads.

The jump rings and clasp took a bit to get used to. I wore my cross-stitching magnifying glasses to see things a bit better. Those rings were tiny!

Attaching the jump ring

I was surprised at how quick it was to put together. It was great fun heating up the pliers on the stove to melt the stretchy line for the seed beads.

Finished Row Counter Bracelet

Unfortunately, I made the bracelet a bit too long. The beads are heavy and they really hang from my wrist. I find that rather than wearing it, I line it up on the table in front of me when I'm knitting and use it that way. Though, honestly, I picked up a little kacha-kacha counter that I use more often. The bracelet is still neat though.

Knitted Dishrags

I can't quite remember how I came upon this site now, but The Purl Bee has lots of neat ideas for quick projects. I got inspired by the pattern for the Wedding Washcloths.

I ordered two skeins of the recommended yarn, Blue Sky Alpaca's Skinny Cotton, 100% organically grown cotton. I got one skien in clay and the other in seed, both of which are undyed colors. This yarn is wonderful. It has a lovely feel to it. I think it would make a great sweater.

On a whim I also picked up new needles, a pair of addi Turbo circular needles. OMG! I am so in love with these needles. They are smooth, soft, get warm as you hold them, and boy are they fast! Pretty much everything I'm knitting these days are now on these needles. They aren't cheap, but they are really well made.

Here's the first dishcloth shortly after I cast on. I used the stitch markers since I tend to zone out when I'm knitting and they help me remember that I have to change stitches.

Beginnings of a Dishrag

It took me just over a month to do both of these. We had a flight to New York, NY for a wedding and that really helped to speed things along. It was so nice to fly with such a small project. It easily fit in my bag and it felt good to feel like I was really making progress on something.

Set of Washcloths

Since these were for my own use, I decided not to take the time to block them. They are dishrags after all, they are just going to get wet and stretched. If I were to make them as a gift I probably would go through the effort of making sure they were square.

I finally got a chance to use them today, and they are so much fun! The yarn really holds the soapy water. And I love how it feels all squishy in my hand. I've since read someplace that using recycled/reclaimed yarn makes the best dishcloths. (Also deals with the guilt I have of using new, organic yarn for something has lowly as dishcloths). I think I'll go down to the thrift store and buy a few old sweaters and unravel them when it's time to make the next batch of cloths.

Wedding Dishcloths:

  • Started May 25, 2008
  • Completed June 30, 2008

A Blog Is Born!

Yesterday was day two of the BlogHer conference. During the lunch break, I wandered out to Union Square to get some fresh air and I hoped a bit of sun. Across the square I saw the sign for Needlepoint, Inc. I have been past this shop many times. But in my seven years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area I had never been. I decided to fix that.

I wandered up to the second floor and found myself in a rich, full world of floss, yarn and canvas. The shop is packed to the gills. One whole wall is nothing but floss and yarn. The display of silk threads is dazzling, so many shimmery colors, from floor to ceiling. I wandered through the shop, looking lovingly at the hand painted canvases. They were works of art in and of themselves, before a strand of thread was even woven into them. And then I saw them... the quilt of Beatrix Potter characters. And I lost all sense of reserve. I'll post separately of what I picked up.

I walked back to the conference, giddy with my new purchase. But really, what was I thinking? Yet another project for me to work on? I barely have time to work on the things I've already started, yet alone take on a 10 panel needlepointed quilt.

And that's when it hit me. I needed another blog. (Yes, still another project). I'm very poor at recording the work that I do. I often make things for others, and after I've gifted them I have nothing to look back on. And perhaps there are others you might be interested in my craftiness.

So... there you go. I'll be filling out the site as quickly as I can. I'm torn between wanting to work on this AND any of my many crafting projects. If only I could type and stitch at the same time.

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  • One woman's adventure with yarn, fabric and needles.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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