Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wonder What I Can Make With That Bow?

Growing older isn't so bad when you've got grandchildren and pistaschio cake at the party.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Project: Thread Pillow Edging

We've got a family wedding coming up, so I edged a few pillow cases as a gift (shown on a pillow). Most people nowadays like more than two pillows on a bed, and I always pick up a few white cases when I see them on sale, and keep them in my gift drawer, so I was able to make these without any extra expense.

I like a fairly narrow edge on pillow cases. I sew them to the seam where the hem ends, because I've tried many different techniques and stitches, and find that the bigger edgings, or those put on the edge of the pillow, tend to get all scrunched up and messy. This is a 10 stitch pattern I got from a woman I babysat for when I was in hgh school, so it's probably in the public domain by now (45+ years ago). I have it in my fingers, but I wrote it out on a slip of paper at the time, and called it "Rose's Towel Edging." I have no idea if it really has a name or where it came from.

This is the first time I've edged a pillow case in anything but white or ecru. The bridal registry showed a comforter set in browns and golds, so I used some Knit Cro-Sheen from the thread bag, in a burnished gold tone. I feel like such a wild woman. Next, I may try sky diving!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Pattern: Crochet Flower Bouquet Coin Purse

Here's the pattern for my daughter's coin purse.

Materials: #5 cotton crochet cotton in white, or two strands of thinner cotton; small amounts of cotton thread of any color or weight for flowers (or use all one color, such as all violet or all yellow and orange)

#0 steel crochet hook.

4" plastic zipper, tapestry needle.

Ch 31. SC in each loop of starting chain. (30 stitches). Second round: SC two times in first loop of starting chain, and, without turning, work a row of SC along other side, working 2 sc in opposite end of starting ch. (64 sc). Third round: Sl in first stitch, continue in the round, working sc in the back stitch. Fourth round: continue to build up sides of purse, working in the round but in both loops of each stitch, until purse is as big as you desire. My finished purse is 5" by 2 1/2". Fabric should be very tight and firm.

The edges may begin to curl. Don't worry.

When basic purse is complete, turn it inside out and wet thoroughly. Blot in towel. Use your fingers to stretch it out flat. Leaving it open, as pictured here, leave to dry for three or four days. All the curling will be gone, and it will be flat and smooth.

Use that time to make flowers out of any colors you desire. I used every color I had except greens, tans, and black. The purse shown has eight or nine colors. OR-- embroider flowers on fabric using lazy daisy stitch (much quicker and easier).

Flowers: You will need 35-50 flowers for one side, and double that to encrust both sides with flowers. Each flower takes about five minutes to make.

Leaving an 8" tail, chain 4. Slip st to form ring. Round 1: ch 4, sl s in ring, six times. Round two: insert hook in first loop to left of sl s, work 6 sc in loop; move directly to next loop. When all loops are finished, sl s in center of ring between last two loops, cut thread leaving an 8" tail, move both tails to center of circle on same side. (See picture for finished flower)

Finishing: Using tapestry needle, thread both tail pieces through needle and, using holes in fabric, sew each flower securely to purse, bringing tails to the outside and securing under flower. Ends will not show, as flowers are very close together. A small dot of color will appear inside purse. Flowers should be just a few holes apart. Hold hand inside purse to make sure you are not sewing through both sides of purse! When entire side of purse is covered, run your hand over flowers to look for empty spots and add flowers as needed.

Sew zipper to open edge of purse, using white thread (I used nylon thread). It should be invisible. Cut six 12" lengths of thread in different colors, thread through hole in zipper. Holding thread tightly, make a knot at end of zipper pull. Separate thread into three sections and braid tightly. Knot end of braid tightly. Cut off, leaving 1" tassel.

This Week OTN, and Some Good Books

I should be working on all my unfinished projects, but couldn't resist playing around with the Latvian weaving charts. Here is a picture of some socks I started with the sport-weight cone yarn. Don't ask me what I'm going to do when I get to the heel, because I just don't know. I don't want to wimp out and stop the pattern at the heel. It depends on how ambitious I feel when I get there, I guess.
Last week I read a very interesting book--Threading Time: A Cultural History of Threadwork, by Dolores Bausum. The first chapters are particularly good, tracing the importance and significance of textiles from the creation story, through the spinning and weaving traditions, down to the present time, with particular significance to the role of women in making the "fabric of society."
I also worked my way through a stack of McCall's Needlework issues from the '50s that a relative found in her basement. This magazine really has no parallel in present-day knitting magazines. I sure wish this was still being published, along with Mon Tricot. I used to buy both regularly, and still have a lot of copies.
All this reading material has made me think a lot about why we knit, and what we knit. Like so many of you, I make things for other people more than for myself. Threading Time brought home to me how almost holy it is to create clothing for the family--how it's a labor of love and significance. McCall's Needlework seemed to understand what most of us want---many patterns for children, men, the home. I'm getting frustrated with knitting magazines that have multiple patterns for teeny-tiny cardigans and maybe a pair of socks or some lace. Lovely things, but not things most of us are willing to pay $7 an issue for. Doesn't it seem like the world is getting more and more narcisisstic, just when we need to be the opposite?
I don't want to get on a soapbox here, but there's got to be a reason why we enjoy making dishcoths so much. A mundane, simple thing that can be so beautiful and fulfilling.
I also am continuing to read through Anita Shreve's books, and just finished A December Wedding and have two of her others waiting in the wings. I also read Joy Fielding's book "The First Time," about an estranged couple who decide to make a new commitment to their marriage when the woman finds out she is dying of ALS. A tear jerker. LOL
My efforts at creating patterns from things my grandmother taught me to knit and crochet are continuing, and I hope to finally have some of them up in a few days. I don't want those things to die with me!
Hugs to all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Project: "Box-O-Yarn"--Latvian Hat

Here's my snow globe, wearing a hat I just finished from the same family of yarn I used for the library book bag below.

I found a wonderful book at the library by Joyce Williams, titled Latvian Dreams: Knitting From Weaving Charts. The book contains charts for more than a hundred traditional Latvian weaving patterns, and a number of beautiful, incredibly elaborate sweaters made by the author.

Latvian knitting is usually done at a much smaller scale, and I plan to do it properly some day, but I couldn't resist trying out a pattern in worsted weight yarn on this hat. Again, the colors are not true in the picture, as what looks like white is really a tan color, and the red is sort of a rust color.

I just used my usual 84 stitch hat pattern, with a rolled edge. The pattern was a 12 stitch repeat, so I continued that into the decreases with seven pie shapes of 12 stitches each, decreasing down, to make the crown.

Next, an attempt at matching mittens.

I'm smitten with these charts. I can see lots of projects, both in knit and crochet, in my future. Wouldn't they make great pillows? Or a tiny purse? The book has elaborate borders, too, and charts that can be used in combination. Prepare to be bored with all things Latvian in the months to come.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Project: Trash and Treasure Yarn--Table Pad

I came across this old Coats and Clark pattern booklet when going through my box of patterns. All the items are made by crocheting over cotton clothesline with three strands of yarn. There are three baskets and some trivets, along with placemats and a rug. I made one table pad for my daughter to match the cloths I'd made her a few weeks ago, using one strand of blue variegated yarn, and two strands of white. I only had a small hank of unused clothesline in the basement, but my hardware store has similar line on a big roll that one can buy by the yard, so I hope to make another pad and a bread basket for her as a gift, using my scraps of blue and white.

This is the first time I've tried the technique of working over clothesline, and it was extremely quick to make and took less than one ounce of each color, but, unfortunately, the directions were very hard to follow. In the end, after ripping a few times, I just eyeballed it. Unfortunately, one side is a tiny bit bigger than the other, if you look closely (don't look closely LOL). I'm anxious to make the bread basket now. I can see how this would be a good way to make a rug, too, as it adds a nice bit of heft to the items. (Although there were no instructions about weaving in those thick ends of fraying clothesline!)

I hope you all had a good weekend. Hugs and best wishes to all.

Friday, August 8, 2008

First Project: "Box-O-Yarn"--Library Book Tote

This is the first project made from the "Box-O-Yarn" I bought from a classified ad. It's a book tote, and in this picture the tote is loaded with SIX BOOKS, with room for a few more.
The colors are much lighter in person than in this picture.
I noticed that one of my sisters was carrying her library books back and forth in a plastic grocery store bag. That’s the kind of thing we handicrafters take note of when planning our Christmas gifting. It’s so nice to see a need and know the perfect way to fill it with a handmade gift.

I’m not a color person, so it was great to find a collection of remnants in this box that someone else had bought to be used together in some project. I assume that this yarn was initially used in an afghan design, as there were five or six complementary colors of the same brand of yarn (none had bands), kept together in a plastic bag. So that part of my design work was done for me. Luckily, the bag of thread I bought a few months back also contained a nice set of pink wooden bag handles, just waiting for this color scheme. What more could I ask? I had everything I needed for this Library Tote.

I experimented with a number of stitches, both knit and crochet. It was important that a book bag have a flat bottom, and that it be strong, and not very stretchy. I also didn’t want to line it. Crochet seemed like a better choice. I also wanted something seamless, as sewing together a thick fabric often is hard to do and looks messy. To achieve this end, I started with a crocheted oval and then built up the sides in the round from this base, joining each round with a slip stitch and then another sc stitch to mark the beginning of the next round. This is not a pattern stitch that works in a spiral, so it was important to keep each row flat and distinct.

The good thing about this pattern is the thickness of the fabric produced—the stitch results in half the fabric being composed of three layers of yarn—and it’s also an attractive alternative to stripes. The bad thing: the pattern absolutely eats up yarn at an alarming rate. By the time I had finished one pattern repeat, it was clear that the sand color wouldn’t last for two more repeats, and the taupe was not far behind. At that point, I should have added a fifth color, but nothing seemed to look right. I had a fair amount of the pink, and quite a bit of plum, so, as I worked on that second repeat, my mind was working away at what to do. I realized that the thickness of the fabric would change if I abandoned the long stitch design at the top. This wouldn’t really matter as much near the top of the bag, where strength wasn’t so crucial, but I didn’t think it would look right. So I experimented with half-double crochet stripes, which I knew would result in a nice diagonal effect.

The big drawback, obviously, of using someone’s leftovers is that you have a finite amount of any one yarn. The challenge is not to run out, but not to waste a lot, either. Some people can make things with that crazy quilt look, and it’s charming. I’m not one of those people. Unless I stick to some definite design, my odd-ball projects look like they were made in an elementary school art class. I think this tote looks nice, and hope my sister likes it, too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Whoo-Hoo! Beautiful Cone Yarns--$1.25

I found these cones today at a church rummage sale. Both are from Mexico. The turquoise has flecks of other colors and is a light worsted/heavy DK (knits up on a #5 needle), and is almost four pounds. The pink is sport weight and knits up well on a #3 needle. The cone weighs 1.75 lbs. Both are wool blends, according to the descriptions on the tags that were attached.
What luck! I was so happy to have some money left in the fund. I paid $1.25 for BOTH, and also bought a Louisa Harding pattern book for a quarter. There is easily enough of the turquoise to make a sweater (it is a bit scratchy, but someone gave me a tip in a comment that washing with hair conditioner will soften up scratchy wool, which worked like a charm when I tried it on my Nun's socks).
I'm doing the happy dance. The best find yet. And I still have $3.40 left.