Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who's Got the Button(s)?

I do. Today, after knitting with friends in the morning, I went to Silk Road Fabrics to buy some buttons for some long-languishing projects. Snowden came to help me, for which I'm very grateful. She has an excellent eye for such things, good taste, and, if you're looking for someone to paw through a bucket of 1940s Mississippi River shell buttons, she's your gal. Thanks, Snowden!

After looking at some cool matte metalic buttons shaped like Mongol shields, and some nice rounded rectangle buttons that faded ever so slightly from dark to light, I chose these translucent metal-edged buttons for the Whitfield Jacket. I like how the lines across the button could be used to parallel the vertical lines of the jacket. And, the semi-see-through nature of them allows the darkness of the yarn behind to peep through. It was hard to decide, though.

For the Samantha Dress, I went with these pinkish translucent buttons with little purple dots on them. At first I was a little leery of mixing purple and pink, but they work for some reason. Very feminine. As Buddy Cole responded when accused by the lesbian softball team he managed of designing uniforms that were too "girly": "As if anything can be!"

So now it's on to sewing these on. I'm no quite ready for buttons on the Whitfied Jacket, but I'm going to try and tackle these with Samantha this afternoon. Snowden walked me through her version of doing so, an illustration of which I found here.

I placed them on the garments just to see what kind of what they'll look like. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Board, Wires & Pins

I finally had time to sit down and start blocking my sweater. I've been waiting for weeks to do this. I'm glad I waited, though. It was so easy with my new blocking board! I set it up on my coffee table and was able to sit on the couch while I spun the board around. So much easier than the back-breaking position I usually took, hunched over towels laid out on our spare bedroom floor. Then I got Jeff to help me move it to an open place on the floor. I loved having the little lines to line things up on -- it was as simple as poking pins at the intersections and counting squares. I think I'm going to like this.

I just hope that I steamed effectively. I used the little attachment for fabrics, holding it just above the knitting and steaming like crazy. It got damp, but not really soaked like I'm used to -- which I suppose is the point. The thing is, I did this just a few hours ago and it's already starting to feel dry. Did I steam it enough? Anyone have experience blocking with a steamer? I've done some with an iron, but it's just not the same. I'm afraid (and probably needlessly so) that I'm going to take the wires out and it's going to spring back to it's original dimensions. I didn't have to stretch it too much in the blocking -- not at all vertically and just about an inch horizontally. It' not exactly correct gauge, but this is as close I could get.

Still haven't gotten around to shopping for buttons for this or the Samantha Dress. At this point, I'll probably have to wait until the weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chairman of the Board

As of today, I'm the proud owner of a brand spankin' new Sew E-Z Board, direct from the Ohio Table Pad Company. I love that name. So regional, so descriptive, so down to earth. All they do is table pads, darn it -- and they do 'em right.

I'm really looking forward to doing some blocking on this thing with my new steamer. Having the board marked out in little square inches will make blocking to the proper dimensions a breeze. Or so I expect. Now no more excuses for not getting Whitfield blocked and sewn up. Well, I'm sure I can come up with some, but I can't blame it on lack of a good blocking surface. I think my days of blocking on the guest room floor with beach towels may be numbered. Yay.

While in Tulsa at my conference, we had an event at the Philbrook Museum of Art. A highlight of my week was getting to stroll through the grounds and getting to enjoy the gorgeous gardens -- still quite colorful as the landscape slipped into fall. They even had a few cotton plants tucked into a little corner with their puffy bolls still attached. Yours truly spent a little too much time eating and dancing to enjoy any of the indoor art, but I do hope that I'll get a chance to visit again. If you ever get to Tulsa, go there -- if for no other reason than to see the building and the gardens. They are splendid.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Knitting on the Road

I got to visit a yarn store during my meeting up here in Tulsa. Loops is a great place -- friendly, knowledgeable staff, a wide range of yarns, and more knitted samples than I think I've ever seen in an LYS. They also had a wall of featured garmentst with photographs of finished objects, patterns, and the actual yarn used for the items all lined up in little cubicle columns. Very cool effect.

I got out of there with a skein of bright red Cascade Heritage sock yarn, but the damage could have been a lot worse if I'd lost control. Do stop by if you ever find yourself in The Oil Capital of the World. It's worth it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Several actually. I spent a big chunk of this damp and drizzly day finishing the seams and hems on the Samantha Dress. The hems are made with a clever construction. Eyelets along the bottom form the center of the fold, such that when the hem is sewn, the eyelets form little jags across the bottom. The jaggedy edges along the bottom hem (shown here) are broader than the ones at the neck and at the sleeves, because I misread the directions earlier. Still, it doesn't look nearly as Wilma Flintstone-y as I'd feared.

But it took a lot of time. I wish I'd been smart like Julia and knitted the hems together as I went up. It would have saved a lot of time. But by the time I remembered, I was halfway up the dress.

Now all I have left to do is get some buttons and sew them on. The word on the knitting street is that Silk Road Fabrics is the place to take care of this in Austin. I've never been there before, and sadly for me, it's closed on Sunday. So I plan on making a trip there soon for buttons for both Samantha and Whitfield. I'd also like to wash this dress to make sure it doesn't fall apart during the process. If something bad happens, I'd rather it happen to me than to the recipients.

I dug up my Cordovan socks for some knitting Saturday morning, and ran into an awkward moment when I couldn't remember the simple 4-stitch motif from the Charade sock pattern. It's one of those things that I could do in my sleep several weeks ago when I put this down, but Saturday morning all I could do was stare at it. Weird how that works. I used my phone to get to the pattern and had to laugh at the simple steps that had slipped my mind.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I Got (Clang) (Clang) Sssssssteam Heat!

Come on union, get hot!

Wearying of waiting for handknits to dry from full-on Baptist total immersion blocking, and not happy with my iron's ability to spew hot water vapor, I ordered a Bissell Steam Shot steamer -- and it arrived today. I'd gotten a recommendation from my good friend over at Very Pink, but the model she recommended was harder to find and this seemed like a good alternative. It comes with more attachments than a backsliding Buddhist. Can't wait to give it a try on the Whitfield Jacket.

Oh my word. I've just turned into one of those Youtube haul video people!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

17 Going On 19

I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do. Or just wiser would probably work. Or someone better at math. While working this pattern, I'm required to execute two 3-needle bind offs attaching the front panels to the back. The problem is, following the pattern as well I could muster, I came up with 17 stitches on the front panels and 19 on the back shoulders.

The Law of Binding Off With 3 Needles states that the number of stitches being joined shall be the same. I double-checked the pattern and double-checked, even using a calculator to find out what the problem was. I still came up with 17 and 19. So I tinked back the front panels from the live stitches that were resting on waste yarn and altered the decreases so that the front now had 19 stitches instead of 17. I worked up the nerve to email the designer to find out what's up. Timid and shy and scared am I of things beyond my ken.

I also managed to pick up and knit the neck edging on the dress. Like many things on this garment, I think it would be better executed in wool instead of cotton. This splitty yarn is driving me nuts. However, for the little one that's going to be wearing it, I still think it's the best choice.

On to the sleeves.

Postscript: I just heard back from Kate Gilbert, the designer. She apologized for there being a mistake in the pattern (I'm still not sure that's the case), and she offered some hints as to how I could manipulate the situation should this ever arise again. Talk about gracious and helpful. I just love knitters.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


I knuckled down today and finished the second sleeve of the Whitfield jacket. Perhaps I put a bit too much knuckle into it, because a tendon on the back of my right hand is a bit achy. Don't tell Carson Demers. I really paid attention in the class he taught at the Sock Summit about knitting ergonomics. I've got the theory down -- I'm just having trouble with the application.

I needed to get back to the jacket, after having been cheating on it for a while with the Samantha dress. I find it a bit uncomfortable to switch back and forth between projects, and it took me a few hours to get back into the groove with the larger needles. But I plowed through and finished the second sleeve today, listening to the light rain that's been falling off and on. The pitter-patter has even been masking the dull roar created by the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which is taking place about a mile from my house. So now it's time to do a little blocking. Hoping to get to that tomorrow.

A nice side-effect of the return of the rains is a spring-like early fall. Drought-tolerant plants that have merely, well, tolerated the last eighteen arid months are desperately trying to make up for lost time and get a little action in before the winter. Below are some examples that I photographed during a gap in the rain today. From left to right are some Fall Aster, Mexican Sage and a white crape myrtle from my front yard, and a Belinda's Dream Rose from the back.

I'm amazed at how the yard has transformed from dusty gray-ish green and brown to vibrant green and bright blossoms in just a few weeks. Glad all these things got this last hurrah.