Sunday, January 31, 2010

Felting and Give Away Reminder

I've never felted anything before.  Intentionally, that is.  I've had my share of laundry accidents with an errant socks or two.  Not pleasant memories.  And after taking so long to knit something, it's a little hard to throw it into a washing machine full of hot water.  In fact, every fiber of my being screamed, "No! Not HOT water!"

The two balls of Noro Kuryeon arrived last week and Saturday I finished the handles for the French Market Bag.  A couple of people on Ravelry had mentioned that they would have liked the handles a bit longer, so I added a couple of inches to mine.  According to the websites on felting that I consulted, knitted items tend to shrink more lengthwise so I thought two more inches ought to be just about right.

As you can see in the picture below, what I ended up with was a large, rather shapeless bag.  What the pattern calls for is a large square, knitted from the center out.  At the point where you have 200 stitches on your needles you quit increasing, and that next part is the sides of your bag.  I continued to knit up the sides two inches past what the pattern called for in order to increase the depth of the bag.


Then I filled up the washer with hot water, took a deep breath and threw it in.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  After five minutes agitating in the water, it seemed as if it were getting BIGGER rather than smaller.  I kept checking it every few minutes, and after 15 minutes I could see the stitch definition disappearing and that it was getting smaller and firmer. Those websites were absolutely correct; there was dramatic shrinking in the length, not so much in the width. 

I spun out the excess water, then stuffed it with plastic bags to shape it and set it on the heating vent to dry (a suggestion from my LYS).

And after:

I love it.  It's thick and soft.  The yarn has a lovely hazy look to it, like autumn colors seen through a mist.  Did I mention that I love it?  It's just the right size for a take along knitting project, with plenty of room for a pattern book and a notebook.  

Pattern info:
4 skeins of Noro Kuryeon color #185 for the body
approx. 3/4 of an additional skein for the handles
I used the original pattern for the body, but added 2 inches of depth and 2 inches for the handles


As I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to chase away the mid-winter blues by celebrating my 200th post with a surprise package give away.  Anyone who comments this week gets their name in the pot.  I'll draw a name tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Design Wall Monday::200th Post

It's been a while since my last post, I know.  January and February are not my favorite months.  It's not really the cold but the dark and gloomy weather that gets to me.  This afternoon, as I was driving home from school, the sky lightened just a little (there may even have been a faint patch of blue) and I could feel my spirits lifting.

Despite the general gloom, I have been doing a little bit of sewing.  On my design wall today is this rail fence quilt that simply won't let me quit on it.  I've sewn all the strips, now I just need to join the strips to finish the flimsy.  I've put it aside I don't know how many times to work on other things, and each time it calls me back.  It's gotten to the point where I'm not sure I even like it any more--I just want to get it done. 

I've also been doing a lot of knitting.  Somehow I've managed to get four partially knitted socks on the needles in the past month. How did I ever acquire four sets of needles?   I finished a pair yesterday and promptly started a new one.  I'll post pictures of those when (if!) the sun ever shines again.

My LYS had a sale on New Year's Day (40% off!) and I bought 4 skeins of Noro Kureyon with no plan for what I was going to do with it.  I toyed with the idea of another scarf, but I have plenty and so does my husband.  I searched around the internet and found a pattern for the French Market bag.  It looked very simple and really suited to the rustic nature of the Kureyon.  Unfortunately, four skeins didn't go far, so I had to order more.  Once the yarn arrives, all I need to do is knit the handles and then felt it.  It's my first felted project, so I'm not sure what to expect.  Any advice would be welcome. 

I have a hard time believing that this is my 200th post.  I started reading blogs a little over three years ago and I found so much inspiration in the many blogs that I read.  My daughter encouraged me to start one of my own and I've had a lot of fun writing it and meeting people from all over the world.  The blogging community is very special to me. an effort to throw off this January gloom, I'm going to celebrate my milestone by having a 200th post giveaway.  If you comment this week I'll put your name in the hat and draw a person to receive a surprise package.  It'll have some quilty stuff and some other goodies.

You can check out what others have on their design wall this Monday by reading Judy L.'s blog Patchwork Times

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Days

We're on the second day off from school today because of the weather.  While one unplanned day off is a lark, a gift from the heavens, by this, the second day, the joy is beginning to wear a little thin because I know the start of next week will be extra hectic without any lesson plans and preparation.  But, oh well, that's Monday and today is only Friday and I've still got two whole days to go before I have to deal with it. Seize the day, right?

Back at the beginning of December I was seriously tempted to join the Civil War Tribute quilt block of the month club at the LQS.  I don't have the best track record when it comes to BOM's, as I wrote about here.  I loved, loved, LOVED the pattern, but I wasn't sure I wanted to get involved in yet another long term project, and I certainly didn't need to buy any more fabric.  However, after scouting around on the web, I found a source for the pattern alone.   It was a little pricey (okay, a lot pricey), but I'm considering it a late Christmas present.  The directions look nice and clear, so I'm going to organize my civil war fabrics and get started on it.

The other night I read a post from Connie on Cootie Bug 2's blog about the snow suits that children wore back in the '50's and early '60's.  Where I grew up, in a suburb of Cleveland, everyone had a two piece snow suit.  The jacket part was just a parka as most kids wear now, and the leggings were made of the same thick material.  They were like overalls, with straps that went over your shoulders and little stirrups that went under your shoes.  You shoved your feet down into boots that fit over your shoes.  They were a trial to put on and even more of a trial to take off, but they did keep you warm.

The first day after Christmas break when I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom got me up, fed me breakfast, and got me into my snow suit for the walk to school.  I've never been a morning person, so I was running very late, and my mom kept warning me that I was going to be late unless I hurried up. We lived in a neighborhood almost a mile from my school.  There weren't many kids at our end of the neighborhood, so I usually walked by myself. 

I remember that it was a very cold, clear morning and the snow was up to my knees. Some people had shoveled their sidewalks, so I was able to make pretty good time past their houses.  Other people hadn't, so there were long patches where I had to wade through the snow. 

The walk to school usually took me about 20 minutes, but as I trudged along, it seemed like it was taking a long time, and remembering my mom's warnings that I was going to be late, I kept trying to speed up, but it wasn't so easy walking through all that snow.  At some point, it occurred to me that I didn't see any other children walking along, the way I did most days.  By the time I got to the big turn in the road where I usually met up with some of the other kids walking to school, there was no one. 

I was really worried now, sure that somehow I had dawdled along too much and I was going to be late to school.  Really late.  I tried to hurry up, and all the time I kept imagining having to walk into my classroom in front of everybody.  Would I get sent to the office?   

I hurried along, through the dip next to the big ravine, across the street, then up the big hill next to the stone wall.  There were no other kids.  None.  All I could think of was how much trouble I was going to be in.

I hurried through the schoolyard which at least had been plowed, and got to the back door of the school.  It was locked!  I couldn't imagine why they had locked the door.  Was this something they did every day after all the kids got there?  I peeked into one of the windows, and the classroom was empty.  Where was everybody?  Was there an assembly? 

I walked around the side of the school and tried the front doors.  They were locked too.  Now I was really confused.  What was going on? I just stood there, unsure of what to do.

Just then, the door opened from the inside and Mr. M., our janitor, poked his head out.  "Go home," he said.  "There's no school today." 

The walk home seemed much shorter than the walk to school!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Design Wall Monday

I finished sewing the blocks for the Ohio Star Thursday and then on Friday, during a New Year's sewing day with my sewing group, I got them put together.  All I need to do now is to put on some narrow borders.  They will be white, and then just a narrow binding in some more of the Turkey red.  It's pretty simple, but I like it that way.

I'm feeling pretty good about getting to this point; this is a quilt which I've intended to make since I saw an exhibit of antique quilts at our local art museum.  It took me a long time to get it started, and I'm glad I finally got to see it through.

I love the crispness of the blocks.  There may be a tiny chopped off point here or there, but the square in a square method makes a very neat Ohio Star block. I intend to hand quilt this with something fancy in the setting squares.  I bought a book about antique quilting designs a few months ago.  Now I just have to figure out how to draft one to fit the blocks.

You can check out other quilter's design walls (or design couches, as the case may be) this week by checking out Judy L.'s Patchwork Times.

Over the weekend I watched Netflix movies and knitted away on a baktus scarf.  It's another project that I've been meaning to do.  The pattern is so ridiculously easy--just garter stitch--that it made an ideal project to while away my last weekend before school started again after Christmas break.  This is made from a single skein of Rio de la Plata kettle dyed  merino sock yarn which has been in my stash for a long while now.  The yarn is so pretty I was reluctant to do anything other than just pet it from time to time.  And I had read on Ravelry about its tendency to felt and didn't think socks would be the best use for it.  Knit in garter stitch on US size 3 needles, it worked up beautifully, although you can see that the colors started to pool in one part there on the lower left of the picture.  It's about 46 inches long, and about 10 inches at the widest point.   It's a nice thing to be able to drape around my shoulders or wrap around my neck without too much bulk. 

Many people in blogland has been looking back at their completed projects for the past year and making resolutions about the number of projects they expect to complete this coming year.  It made me a little curious to see what I had done.  Looking back at my blog posts this year I discovered that I have done lots more than I thought I had, despite the fact that I usually feel that I'm working at the pace of a drowsy snail.  I finished some older UFO's that had been nagging at my conscience.  I started two new bed-sized projects, and I finished them.  I started quite a few smaller things, too, and managed to get those done.  Of course I've got lots of UFO's sitting around, but I'll keep plugging along on them, and I'm sure I'll get them finished some day.

One thing I've learned about myself this year is that I am a process quilter (and knitter).  My joy is in the making of the thing, rather than in getting it done.  In fact, the closer to completing something, the more my interest seems to wane.  How about you?  Are you process oriented or results oriented?