Archive for March, 2007

Blue and Green Beads

March 17, 2007

I got this nifty new book called Making Polymer Clay Beads by Carol Blackburn and was blown away — so cool. For my first project, I used her instructions for “Rorschach” beads, sometimes called Natasha beads. I followed her directions step by step, except that I used a turquoise-to-yellow Skinner blend rather than a solid black. Irritatingly, I spent a couple of hours conditioning crumbly clay and only thirty minutes or so putting together the beads, but they are cool! I extruded some of the leftovers to make little accent beads…then hit Michaels for some others. Voila! The results:

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If the clay had not been so hard to condition, I should have made more — as it was, I only got 8 beads out of the cane, which isn’t very many.

I wore this to work last night and someone thought they might be glass! Fun.

Pants

March 13, 2007

Once we knew that Louise Cutting was coming to town, I thought it would be good to try one of her patterns. The One-Seam pants seemed like something I’d wear. This is my second pair — the first were just testers made out of something random in my stash. These were made from a really nice poly I got from the Cloth Merchants last fall in Tulsa.

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In general, I like this pattern. Louise’s instructions talk you through several fitting steps — I think I didn’t do something right, since I needed to do pretty much all my usual elastic waist pants fitting tweaks once they were sewn together. I scooped a little out of the front crotch and lots out of the back. When I marked the waistline, I wound up taking off about 2 inches all the way round.

They swish very nicely and are very comfortable.  I’ll probably be making more soon.

A Little Drama

March 11, 2007

I made a sweater. I only do this about once a year, so it’s a big deal for me. I got the book Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan and knew by the end of the day that I had to make the Hex Coat. Not as crazy as it may sound — I had been shopping for a long sweater/coat and finding nothing but crappy acrylic in boring colors, so this was actually a piece I wanted in my wardrobe.

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The yarn is Peruvian Sierra Aran from elann.com in Sangria. I’m not great with wool — it tends to itch — so I got a ball, knit a swatch, and wore it under my shirt for a few hours. Not bad.

I started knitting Thanksgiving weekend and finished in time to wear to the ASG meeting first Tuesday of January (I know, I’m slow with pictures). I’ve worn it a lot since then, hoping to get somewhere near parity on knitting vs wearing hours. I can’t believe how many compliments I’ve gotten on it.

I made a couple of changes. First, I knit the body in one piece. No side seams to sew, and every row has a little shaping on the end to keep it interesting. I also dropped one hexagon worth of length. At the time, I had knit to the armhole and the body reached my knees. I should have eliminated at least one more, since the body has stretched quite a bit with wearing. I like the loose gauge, though, since I tend to run hot and a more solid fabric would be too hot to wear indoors. I should also have shortened the sleeves a couple of inches. As for sizing, I made the medium, with a finished bust size almost exactly matching my measurements, since I wanted this to fit close. I think the diameter is perfect. I considered bust short rows but decided that there was so much stretch that it wasn’t necessary. Probably a good call — there doesn’t seem to be a great need, and with the stretching length, the chances that I’d have gotten them in the right place are slim.  I also sewed a bit of twill tape to the shoulder seams to keep them from stretching, which seems to be working — the shoulders stay where they’re supposed to.

Please forgive the goofy look in the picture.   I use the remote on my camera and it has a delay that’s just long enough to let me get antsy.

Socks

March 4, 2007

I love to knit socks. This came as something of a surprize, since I don’t like to wear socks (they require shoes and I’m not that big on shoes). But they’re small, experimental and there’s just something magical about turning a heel. They shouldn’t work, but they do — every time!

I was working on a sock in a nice pumpkin color, an attractive rib stich and a reasonably good yarn from Knit Picks, but I hated it. Can’t really explain why…but I’ve been working on that same sock (yes sock, not pair) for the better part of a year. So, I decided to switch projects to see if I could get back into it.

The next yarn in the sock stash…well, actually the only yarn in the sock stash…is a green Elann Esprit, which is the Elann.com version of Cascade Fixation. I love Fixation/Esprit, but it seems like a lot of the people writing on the sockknitters list hate it. So, for all you googlers out there who might be looking for inspiration on this yarn, these are my thoughts. And my socks.

I love the way it is mostly cotton, so doesn’t ever make me itch. I like the way it feels a bit like terry cloth. Although it does knit up a twitch thicker than many sock yarns, I don’t find it bumpy or uncomfortable and it still fits in my shoes. I also enjoy knitting with it — the fact that the cotton stretches amuses me endlessly.

It did take a couple of tries to figure out what stitch patterns work best. Basic stockinette ends up a bit nubby, in a good way, but this means that patterns that rely on the difference between knit and purl don’t really show up. I think this includes cables. For example, my first pair used an embossed leaves kind of stitch from the Leaf socks in Socks, Socks, Socks, which was a lot of work.

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My second pair used the Gull Wing Lace pattern from Socks, Socks, Socks. Lace works better:

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Even better is a Diamond Lattice stitch from Vogue Knitting:

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Another good stitch is the Leaf Vein Insertion from Knitting on the Edge:

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Generally, I look for patterns that rely on yarn overs to “draw” lines. Otherwise, Fixation/Esprit is great stuff — you should try it!