Sunday, September 15, 2013

Baby Poncho

Babies don't wait for my schedule.  I have not been knitting this summer. I discovered that one of my coworkers is pregnant. I learned in late August that she has never had anyone knit anything for her. I felt duty-bund to correct that situation.
I've actually made two items for her, but am showing only one right now. The pictured item is a poncho, which seems unusually appropriate for infants. A poncho can work really well with the straps of a car seat.

The second item is a deep rose-colored shrug. I will show that in my next post. This will be my first attempt at killing (steam blocking) acrylic knits. I expect the poncho and the shrug to look smooth and drape nicely after that.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tatting class project

The tatted project shown, is Rhapsody, from a pattern written by Yarnplayer, Marilee Rocklee. She is a great tatting resource. Marilee has an online Shuttle Tatting class that I am taking. Although I taught myself the basics of tatting years ago, I'm only now getting serious about it. This course is great for reinforcing my skills and taking them to the next level.
The project shown, Rhapsody, is quite pretty. I've made it in a pumpkin-colored thread, Lizbeth size 20.
Given the heatwave we are having, tatting is perfect. It's small and fits in my pocket. I almost always have a shuttle in my pocket these days. It's a nice change from knitting.
I may make this motif in a number of colors to give away.

Looks like October

This in my rendition of a vintage tatting pattern from a 1944 pattern book. The color scheme was accidental. I had shuttles loaded with black and orange thread. I like this sample well enough to plan a project for a Halloween item.  My tatting has improved over the past month. Although I am a self-taught tatter,  I recently started an online tatting class to tie my knowledge and skills together. I've learned everything piecemeal, which is frustrating. There is no standardization in tatting. Next post, I will show a project from the class.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Handles for Old Crochet Hooks

Those are not pens. Those are fine steel crochet hooks shown in the photo. This is my solution to the problem of losing small steel crochet hooks. I have a couple of these floating around. I've had them for years and have no idea how I acquired them. None. Most likely, I got the hooks in a collection of other knitting needles and crochet hooks that I have acquired. Some were given to me and I once or twice bought assortments of tools on eBay. 
Generally, I don't do much crochet. I certainly haven't done any crochet with fine cotton in many years. These hooks have been languishing in drawers or pencil cups.  Until I learned how to tat.
Tatted motifs are joined by drawing a thread through a tiny loop called a picot. A small steel crochet hook is the BEST tool to perform this function. Yes, you can use the pointed "pick" end of some tatting shuttles for this purpose. You can also go bats**t insane in the process. (It works for larger thread/larger picots.)
Small steel crochet hooks, in their naked state, tend to get lost. I drop them. The cat helps me drop them. If I put them in a bag, plastic or fabric, they tend to poke right through the material. Irritating.
It is perfectly possible to buy crochet hooks with large, "ergonomic" handle and neat little caps. You will also pay a fortune for those hooks. A barenaked set of steel hooks costs about $7.00-$14.00, depending on the number of hooks. The same set of steel hooks in plastic handles, suddenly costs $60.00. Not happening. My current solution is to ransack the ballpoint pen supply in my household, substituting steel hooks, for the ink cartridge. So far, I've found two or three casings that work with the hooks. Eventually, I might trim the hooks down to make them retractable. That's a future project. For now, I'm happy that the hooks have a nice handle, are easy to see and can be clipped to a pattern. They don't poke through bags nearly as much, now. One casing, not shown, uses the pen cap to cover the hook. I love inexpensive solutions.

Return to Tatting

This is my tatting set-up. At the moment I am just sick of knitting. That seems to happen every so often. 
Last summer I finally, finally got serious and taught myself to tat for real. After a good nine months of neglect, I've picked it up and am making some progress. Of course, we're talking about...expensive progress. I just had to buy  few more tatting books. Worth it.
I've finally discovered the world of modern tatting patterns. The newer sensibilities are much more to my taste. One reason I didn't put any effort into tatting before was that the designs were just dreary, and old patterns tend to be written out in long hand. 
I like charted knitting patterns and the same is true for tatting patterns.
The photo shows one of my two tatting boxes. Both boxes are metal lunchboxes. One box, not shown, simply holds my balls of various cotton threads. The box in the photo, gets all the action. The storage compartment is filled with my tools, tatting shuttles, scissors, pins, tapestry needles, and small steel crochet hooks. I have fitted the lid of the lunchbox with a cork board, to use in arranging or blocking pieces.
At the moment, you can see a completed bookmark pinned out, made from a pattern by Tat-a-renda. I liked the look of just the first two rounds of the pattern, so I omitted the last round of the pattern.
My current sample, shown pinned at the lower left corner, i s  trefoil edging. I'm making that to use up the thread left on the shuttle from the bookmark. Thread used is a size 20, Lizbeth Cotton cord. The cord is a variegated mix of pretty blues and violets that looks great until you actually use it in a project. Just as in knitting, variegated cords aren't suitable for all projects. The color distribution looks better in the trefoil edging than in the bookmark. Complicated pieces will be made in solid or tonal cords from now on.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Augustine Cowl

 I have a fairly new coworker named Bonnie. She was hired last Autumn to replace someone who relocated to another state. A few days ago, I found Bonnie is tears at her desk. Her daughter had been deployed to Afghanistan and was en route. The travel time is about 48 hours total. It broke my heart to   see Bonnie in such distress, but I am relieved to report that her daughter arrived safely. She will be away for about six months.
 Yesterday, I wore a knit scarf to work. The pattern is called Augustine and is shown in detail above. The triangular scarf  is knit with a fingering-weight wool sock yarn, KnitPicks' Imagination. The color is called Looking Glass. Bonnie admired the scarf and I offered to make something for her. I had already planned to make something, planning for have it ready for her birthday or Christmas. In other wordsplenty of time.

I should KNOW better by now.  Don't try this at home. I think from now on, I will keep my mouth shut and knit things as a surprise, on my own terms.  When I asked Bonnie what she might like, she told me that she wanted fingerless gloves, in off white. No problem.  Somehow, that changed into a green  infinity scarf to be completed by St. Patrick's Day. Today is February 27th. There goes all my free time for the next 2 weeks! 

The green yarn that I will be using is also from KnitPicks. The color is called Frog Prince, now discontinued.  The yarn can be seen in the small photo above, taken from a previous project.

The Augustie pattern has a real bonus in that it expands wonderfully due to dropped stitches. I haven't done a pattern like this in a long time. I am hoping this is a VERY quick project.