Tuesday, September 27, 2011

October Leaves

Just a few days ago, I wrote that I was hoping to get these done before October. Um, well, they’re done!

I did modify the thumbs a bit to make them wider. I had a lady with lady thumbs try them on, and she reported that they fit fine. They’re still very snug on my meaty thumbs, but the stitches don’t distort like previous pairs did on me. I inserted four stitches evenly around the thumb in the midst of some even-numbered motifs, making them odd-numbered. I just had to remember where they were – which wasn’t as hard as it sounds – and had to deal with two extra stitches in the draw-through at the end.


There were fewer long floats in this pattern, so I didn’t have to catch the yarn as much. Consequently, the caught yarn doesn’t show through as much as the last pair. I did have a bit of a blocking issue – I’ve made the left glove slightly longer than the right. But another blocking should get that fixed. And a few places my gauge freaked out for a stitch or two, but overall, I’m very pleased with these.

My next project is a quick one, requested by my friend Jene. She has asked a bunch of her fellow knitters to make hats for the boys in her nephew’s unit in Afghanistan to keep their heads warm during the upcoming winter. I’m using some Berroco Vintage (a nice acrylic, wool, and nylon blend – washable!) in a color called Cracked Pepper to make a Stephen West design, Windschief. I’ve made a bit of progress already, and hope to have it done in a few days. So far, I like it. I may just have to make one for myself.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

To the Upholstery Hostelry

I was out of town last weekend, so today was my first chance to see about getting a piano bench cushion made out of the Big Dotty fabric I finished up a few weeks back.

upholsteryshopThere are a couple of upholsterers in my part of town, but I settled on The Upholstery Shop, mostly because it had some good reviews on Yelp. Based on my experience so far, all those people were right, and I’m really glad I chose them.

Veronica, who helped me this morning, really listened to what I wanted and clearly explained some options. She came up with an ingenious solution for attaching a cushion that still allows for opening the lid to the storage area – a few thin straps running from the bottom of the cushion and under the lid, fastening with velcro. She suggested this when she noticed that there was a bit of clearance on the front and back edges when the lid is down. Genius!

We chose a green canvas fabric for the backing that matches the darker green in the fabric I knitted, and she’ll make a pillow with my giant swatch to match. Veronica really listened to my questions and answered them patiently. Oh, and her prices were very reasonable. She was a complete joy to work with. I wish more business transactions worked like this. I can’t wait to see them – stay tuned for the unveiling in a few weeks.

IMG_4096Since my last post, I haven’t been knitting regularly, but have managed to make a bit of progress on the second of the pair of  October Woodland Winter Mittens. I’d say I’m a little over halfway done with the body. I’m really liking the patterning on the back of this – perhaps more so than on the first. I especially like the little darker leaves along the cuff. But I’m going to have to quit dawdling if I want to get these finished up before October.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Leafy Greens (and Browns, and…)

I was going to wait a bit before posting mitten progress, but I was able to get most of one mitten done in a weekend! It was so addictive, and I didn’t have much else on my plate, so I was able to just knit around and around and…

Before I knew it, I was done. I’ve made these with the cuff in the large size (only 4 more stitches in circumference) and the body in the small size (about .5 inches shorter. Not much difference, really). I’m going to start the second mitten before adding the thumbs – I still need to think through how I’m going to make the thumbs wider.

This is a beautiful design. It seems realistic and abstract at the same time. The dark background gives the impression of stained glass, especially in the pattern that runs across the palm, while the leaf pattern on back of the hands is very tapestry-like. The color scheme is more to my liking – lots of green and brown. Very October-ish. Ah, October – only a little over two weeks away. I sure hope it’s cooler than it was today. We’re still over 100 in the afternoons. But the light is starting to take on that fall-ish quality, which is one of my favorite things about this time of year.

I’m so looking forward to rain and coolish, if not downright cold, weather. In the meantime, close your eyes, relax and listen to this rendition of Autumn Leaves by Nat King Cole. It helps a bit.

Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cushion Squooshin’

Amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it. Just two weeks ago I decided to re-tackle the piano cushion that had been lurking at the back of mind – and in a cardboard box -- for three years. And today, it’s all over but the upholstering.

I finished knitting it yesterday afternoon, and last night I washed and blocked it. First, I wet it in the sink and knocked it around a bit – I’ve always heard that linen softens up a bit when treated roughly, so before popping it in the machine I whacked  it against the side of the tub a few times. No need to call Flax Protective Services – it seems to be just fine. I’m not sure if it expanded or fluffed up the fibers any, but it doesn’t look like it hurt anything, either. One thing that is quite apparent – the colors weren’t spun the same way. The light green yarn was noticeably thinner. I hope it’s not too noticeable in the final product.

It’s just the size I wanted it to be – this time. As you can see in the picture, it’s quite a bit larger than it’s former version. And I never even had to access the second ball of yarn in the non-white colors. My plan is to take the fabric and my piano bench to a nearby upholsterer and see if this can be turned into a fitted cover with just a thin padding underneath. I’d like it to be sort of elasticized around the top, because the seat lifts up for a shallow storage area. The example in Mason Dixon Knitting shows a cushion tied to the bench, but I’d like to avoid that if possible. I’ll see what the upholster can do. It will be a few weeks before I can get around to that project.

So in the meantime, I’m tackling the 3rd pair in the series of 6 Woodland Winter mittens from my Knit Picks kit. I was originally going to do the March mittens, but since October is rapidly approaching, and because the pattern is my favorite, they’re the ones on the needles now. The leaf pattern is just starting to appear. I’ve got a bit of a plan for modifying the thumbs so that they aren’t quite so narrow. And, I’m not catching floats nearly so often – I’ve been a bit dismayed at how much they’ve shown up in the previous two pairs I’ve made.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Knitting on the Road

This weekend, we’re visiting my in-laws’ in the north Texas town of Granbury. I had a hankering to visit a yarn shop, but, since Dot’s closed several years ago, I’ve had to drive to Fort Worth – which has at least one great yarn store. But I didn’t want to roam that far afield.

alpacasSo I plugged yarn into Yelp!, and ran across Artèfactz on the square right here in Granbury. It’s one of those shops  that does a lot of things – from art glass to baby clothes, but the whole upstairs is dedicated to the fiber arts, with an especially local spin on things. Apparently, the area is crawling with alpacas and those who love their fibers, as this little tableau attests. There were examples of hand-spun alpaca in the store, and even some hanks of Buffalo Gold from nearby Burleson. And, for such a small space, there was an amazing variety of yarn, books and other knitting accoutrement.

locallyI bought some heathered Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine sock yarn in a colorway called Peat Mix, because you can’t ever have enough green sock yarn. Not exactly local, but in the spirit of things. The shop owner told me that Artèfactz was part of an association of arts groups and stores that do demonstrations on the square in the evening on the last Saturday of each month. She’s says a lot of spinners show up and the fiber fairly flies around the square.

Looks like we picked the wrong weekend to come to Granbury. I’ll definitely be sticking my head in the door on future visits.