Saturday, July 23, 2016

Upcoming .....

Great things are coming.  Great things have already occurred.  One great thing was my church festival is over.  It's always a lot of work and a lot of joy and a lot of weather worry.  We had help when it was needed.  We experienced joy before during and after the festival.  We had 3 days of good weather, hot and humid but no rain. 

Upcoming things include online classes.  Eventually each class listed on the different pages will be available online.  A local high school teacher and I are teaming up to learn this online process.  I will post updates as they occur.  First up will be some Tunisian crochet.  I offer how to do the stitch and how to tame the inevitable curl.

I'm also looking to do more designing.  I will keep you abreast of where to find the patterns or post them here if they are free.  I will also be revamping previous patterns.

For now we are having a heat wave complete with high humidity.  Small children, the elderly, and those who are not working at 100% are asked to stay inside.  I'm taking advantage of this to finish a project that I needed done before July even started.  With the bright sunny days, I have plenty of light.  This is something I didn't have back in April and May.  I'm working on repairing an heirloom tablecloth for a friend.  I finally (with help from Wanda and Jane, thanks ladies) found the correct thread size.  Now I have good light and can get this work done.  I'm finding the getting older eyes do not work so well in all levels of light.  Maybe I'm not as young as I think I am.....

Thanks for sticking with me through the long silence.  I did actually write but was not willing to post them publicly until I could edit them.  There is a series about when I was a child and Wilbur Wabbit.  Do any of you know about him or is he a local phenomenon?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Swatches and their uses beyond the obvious

Swatches beyond their obvious use of finding the gauge you are getting with a particular yarn and hook or needles.  I would love to do something other than the afghan idea and the few ideas presented in April.  Not all of these are my own ideas.  Years ago I did a search for ideas.  Those ideas sparked new ones.  Other people gave me ideas.

1. One square equals one coaster.
2. One square, along with some felt and stuffing, and you'll have a pretty pin cushion.
3. Two squares and some felt for padding will produce one potholder.
4. Two large squares can travel along as a handy beach bag.
5. Two small squares stitched together, then lined with felt, and you'll have a handy home for all those loose needles.
6. Two motifs, tied with ribbons at the sides and shoulders, can be a vest for a favorite doll.
7. Make three tiny squares of fine crochet cotton, stitch them together into a strip, and you'll have a gift for the family bookworm.
8. Gather all your knitting worsted yarn scraps together, make four squares to cover that "seen better days" sofa pillow.
9. Four squares equals an eyeglass case-- 2 squares on each side.
10. Sew six squares into a two motif by three motif rectangle and you'll have a table mat.
11. Nine tiny squares will make a doll house afghan. The best yarn to use here is one strand of three-ply needle point yarn.
12. Nine four-inch squares can cover the side of a slightly worn, but oh-so-handy tote. Eighteen squares and you can cover the whole thing!
13. Nine squares is also the right size for a seat cushion for the dining room chairs.
14. Sixteen squares in rug yarn makes a nice bathroom rug. Figuring four squares by four squares, you can make it larger, if you like.
15. Twenty squares makes the perfect welcome mat. This is four squares by five squares for a nice rectangle to fit by the front door.
16. Thirty-two is about the right number of squares to cover the old backing on your rocking chair. Figure a four by eight block rectangle; be sure to measure the chair as rockers, of course, differ.
You have now found a home for 122 squares.

What to make with even more Squares:
1. 4 squares (4" each) made from cotton yarn and whip stitched together makes a dishcloth.
2. Take 2 - 12 inch squares whip stitched together on 3 sides. Make a braid 30 inches long. Attach the braid to the top edges where they are joined and you have a Bag for the beach or as a book bag (lining would be nice).
3. Whip stitch together twenty four 5 inch squares together (6 by 4) and fold in half width wise. Sew along bottom and side. Make a chain cord to weave through the top and you have a heating pad cover.
4. One 7 inch square folded in half and crocheted across the bottom and side and you have another eye glasses case.
5. 6 squares stitched together into a cube shape and stuffed make a baby block toy. I like to place a big jingle bell in the center of the stuffing before closing the last side.
6. 2 squares in cotton yarn and whip stitched together on 3 sides with a draw string through the top makes a soap saver/soap on a rope.
7. Take 6 squares in cotton yarn and whip stitched together 2 x 3 and you have an absorbent pretty hand towel.
8. 12 small squares make these granny-square-slippers.
9. 42 squares make this groovy squares poncho.
You have now found a home for 99 more squares.

A Chest Full of Squares
Have even more Squares? Here’s more ideas!
1. With 64 squares, all the same size, you can make a cardigan. Need it to fit a variety of people? Vary the size of the yarn, hook and size of square. Keep them all the same. Add a collar and button band as desired.  See this post granny-square-baby-cardigan

2. With 6 squares, 5 sewn together in a strip that is then joined and the last one sewn to one long edge of the ring. And you have a hat.
3. With 9 squares sewn together in a long strip, you have a scarf
4. With 30 tiny thread squares sewn together into a long ring, you have a fancy lanyard for a convention name badge or scissors.
5. With 19 squares and some lining fabric, you can make a rectangular tote bag, 6 on each side and the rest are the gusset. Line for stability. Add purchased handles or strap.
6. A variable number of squares or rounded squares to fit your window, make a chevron shaped valance to add interest to a window that doesn’t need to be fully covered.
7. A cotton square 8 or 9 inches in size makes a great dishcloth.
You now have found a home for at least 175 more squares that you can make.

If you have only a few swatches that you have made for other clothes, such as sweaters, most likely they are the same color family as clothes you already wear.  Try adding patch pockets with the swatches or elbow patches to ready made clothes.  Make a cell phone case from two of them.  Make a change purse from one or two and a zipper.

What ideas do you have??  Post them below in the comments.  Links included are ones I have made and they are well written.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

FOs and gifts

I have actually finished things.  Some are for classes.  Some are personal.  Some are for guild projects.

A few years ago, I started a shawl called "Flower of Life Chain Shawl" found on  I thought I had posted about it.  This is just chain and slip stitch in crochet.  I was using an unnamed sport weight wool yarn.  I had 4 big balls, yardage unknown either total or per ball.I started with a D hook, got impatient and after a few rows, moved up to an E, got impatient again and moved up to an F.  I did the last 6 or 7 rows with a 4.00mm G hook.  Yes I had to make the distinction.  G hooks come in 4.00 and 4.25mm.  Depends on who makes them.

Yarn: unknown brand, 100% wool, sport weight.  Fabulous violet color
Since my yarn was sticky*, I didn't want to make fringe or tassels with it.  I'm not really a fringe or tassel person but this shawl calls for it.  I next thought of purchasing tassels such as I had used in my day job a while ago.  However, I needed 55.  Purchasing that many tassels was exorbitantly expensive and would have not lasted through washing anyway.  I also was unsure of the color for tassels since the shawl was a definite violet purple.  I settled on a beaded tassel with some council from my husband.  He agreed with me.  Color choices that I ran through with him were black, white, grey, violet, rose quartz, jade, silver, gold, copper.  Most were not really seriously considered.  I took the shawl with to the store to pick, really the only way to do this.  Stores don't mind since they  want satisfied customers.  I really thought the silver would have been good.  One looked tarnished next to the shawl.  The other silver was very bright and looked close to white.  Again not something I was looking for.  None of the colors I saw did anything for me.  Then I saw some called iridescent.  The color reminds me of an oil slick on a black macadam road, dark rainbow-y coloring.  I was unsure but drawn to them.  I kept them on the shawl as I continued my shopping waiting to see if they grew on me or were growing less and less right.  I got all the strands of size 6/0 beads they had.  I went out the next day to another store to purchase more after I determined what I had gotten would not be enough by half.
A close up of the bead tassels.  3 strands 25 beads each for an approximate length of 3".  Bead gallery beads from Michaels in iridescent colorway.

Another FO is a babbling brook pillow.  I designed a lace pattern for a lace entrelac class for the Lebanon Valley Knit 2Gether  Guild meeting.  The pillow case was done and only waiting for a pillow form.  This will be going to the Guild for sale.  It's done in neutrals that don't match my decor.  I need only to insert and seam one side.  It's all but done.

Another FO is a snow and ice scraper mitt.  Despite the weather where I live, the calendar says it's May and that this particular item, now that it's found again, won't be needed for 6 months or so.  This is also another Guild project and will be going to them also.  This was done and only needs a scraper, but had been misplaced.  I also found in the same place the felted cell phone case.  It was completely done and just waiting for delivery.

Last weekend was Mother's day in the US.  My children (OK they are adults and have been for a while) got me combination Mother's day and birthday gifts.  My married son and his wife got me a shawl pin, hand carved buffalo horn into the shape of a calla lily.  To go with this they also got me a hand knit shawl from Lithuania.  Both gifts go to support small businesses.  Something I am behind wholeheartedly.  My other son got me some plants that remind me of my own mother and when I was younger, African violets and flowering cactus.  My mother could grow vine houseplants and African violets.  Other houseplants didn't last too long but these......  The African violet that was there when she died had been with her for more than 20 years.  It was beautiful.  The flowering cactus is beautiful and is reminiscent of the ones we had for years before the kittens chewed them and made themselves dopey.  The kittens have grown into adults and are now middle aged.  I also hung it in a more inaccessible location.

*Sticky yarn is not something that has glue or sugar applied accidentally or intentionally.  It means instead that the yarn will most likely felt and wants to cling to itself.

Monday, May 2, 2016


What to do with all those swatches?  We all know as a good knitter or crocheter you have been making swatches.  A proper sized swatch is about 5 to 8 inches square.  Some of us have also started sweaters or other large projects that for whatever reason have been abandoned.  I know I have a few.  If you don't want to frog your project and deal with the ramen noodle* yarn, you will probably have left it sit there unloved.

Does this seem to also relate to granny squares?  It should.  Squares are amazing for so many things.  Granny squares are not just the ones that were ever so popular for centuries.  Google granny squares and you can come up with hundreds of different patterns.  There are books upon books of granny squares, old and new.

If your projects are usually the same color family, you will have an easier time.  But even if they aren't, you can still put together a unique and completely charming project.  It is best if the swatches are the same size, but even that can be gotten around by adding a frame or border around the edge.  By using one color for the border you can make them all not only the same size, but you can make them all cohesive, like adding the black border to the old granny afghan squares.

Joining the swatches/squares can be just as fun.  There are the old standards of slip stitching them together, single crocheting them together, or sewing them together with your choice of method.  Whipstitch was my husband's grandmother's favorite.  I like that one and the mattress stitch.  Please don't use a sewing machine.  The yarn gets caught in the feed dogs and jams.  The thread can cut the yarn over time.  The yarn gets caught on the presser foot.  It doesn't look nice because you usually can't get the tension loose enough.

Ok.  Swatches and Granny Squares.  Check.  All the same size.  Check.  Joining method picked.  Check.  Now what can I make????  The list is almost endless.  An early post here is about a cardigan for a baby.  Afghans come to mind but that is a no brainer.  Don't need that many afghans?  If this is what you love to make anyway, here are some ideas.  Donate them to your local Warm Up America project, hospital for cancer patients to use during chemotherapy treatments, hospital or maternity home for underprivileged babies, animal shelter for them to have a comfy corner in what amounts to a concrete jail until they can be adopted.  Seam small ones together in a variety of ways to make eyeglass case, soap saver, scrubbies for dishes, wash cloths, hats, cushions, pillows, tote bags or purses.  

What are your ideas??  Post below.

*ramen noodle yarn is the crinkly curly yarn isn't straight after ripping out.  This is worse the longer the project sits in the knit or crochet state.  Winding into a long hank, tying in at least 6 places, and washing by hand (soak for at least an hour in water with a rinseless wool wash) then hanging to dry can fix some of this.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ease -- What is it? Do I need it? How much do I need?

Ease.  It can mean the difference between sausage casing and drowning in your clothes.  Ease is theEase.  It can fluctuate between sausage casing and drowning in your clothes.  Ease is the difference between your measurements and the finished size of the garment you are making.  When you look at a pattern in a magazine, you will almost always see a sizing chart and a finished size of the garment.  Usually a small is a 30 – 32 inch bust in commercial patterns.  If you see the finished measurement of the garment for small is 36 inches, you know there is 4 inches of ease.  What does this ease do for you?  1.  It aids you in putting on the garment by giving you room to maneuver in putting it on.  2.  It causes the garment to fit in a pleasing manner.  3.  Positive ease as used in the example allows the garment to skim over your supposed trouble spots. 
What happens if your ease is 0?  Zero ease amounts to sausage casing for most garments.   In a couple of examples it is still too much room.  Zero ease in sweaters and skirts will make them difficult to put on, difficult to wear and difficult to remove.  No ease will show every bump, every bulge, every hollow.  It’s never pretty.  Zero ease in garments like socks and swim suits have the opposite effect.  These are too big still.  Socks will puddle around your ankles and sag into your shoes.   Swim suits.  For those of you who have worn the old wool swim suits or cotton swim suits that someone made you, you know how they sag when they get wet.  Droopy suits when leaving the water is an unsightly problem that can lead to embarrassment.
Hats, socks and swimsuits have negative ease.  Negative ease means that the finished measurements of the garment are less than your measurements.  You want your hat to hug your head.  If it doesn’t hug the head at some point, it will fall off or sag into your eyes.  Too small though and the hat will slide up the head to perch on top.  You want a sock to hug your foot.  If it doesn’t it will pool in your shoe and be uncomfortable.  You want a sock to be 10% smaller than your foot to fit well.  Swim suits need even more difference, 15 – 20% are numbers I have heard.  I don’t know if this is accurate or not.
Cardigans can have up to 10 inches of ease.  It really depends on the design, what the designer intended for each size, and the wearer’s preference.  If 10 inches of ease were used in a pullover, the wearer would look like a child wearing his or her parent’s clothes or the stereotype of the boyfriend sweater.  Comfy as this might be, it probably won’t be the most attractive item to be worn.  Of course, if the clothes are this big, it might not be so comfy if you have to keep pulling it back on your body.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weather and Knitting

Last post I had been complaining about the warmth.  Sort of.  The day after posting, the weather turned back to the norms for March and my area.  This means cold and damp with temps in the 40's and 50's.  It's been cloudy and damp feeling.

I opened up my cedar chest to get out a WIP.  Ok this had been an FO.  However.  It's my mobius shawl.  I had finished it a year or more ago.  It was just stockinette stitch.  It curled.  Alot. I blocked it, with steam.  It still curled.  I blocked it with misting.  It still curled.  I wet-blocked it.  It still curled.  I tried the steam again with a wet press cloth.  It still curled.  My 12" depth curled to 4".  It also stretched quite a bit, due to my bind off method choice.  It made a nice cowl twirled 2 or 3 times around my neck.  This was not what I wanted.

So I decided to pull out the binding and add.  I had a ball and a half of the same yarn leftover.  I added all of it.  I used seed stitch. The amount of yarn I had gave me approximately 3" of depth of seed stitch.  I bound off using the Russian Bind off but knit through the back loop.  It's not so stretchy that way.  This is a good thing.  The seed stitch also firmed the edge up a bit.  You can see a picture of this shawl on the knitting class page at the Mobius knit class.

I started this post mid March and being unhappy with the weather in general and the state of my WIPs.  It is not the last third of April.  My WIPs have stayed in their chest.  I have finally gotten all the parts aligned to take some pictures for the pages of classes.  I'm still working on this.  My peach tree bloomed 2 1/2 weeks early.  My apple trees are blooming right now.  My lilac bush is starting to blossom, 2 weeks early.  My locust tree is leafing out and it's a month early.  It's been warm, up to 80+ some days.  The result of this weather is a severe lack of motivation to knit or crochet.  I'm slogging through some of the have to be done things.  Share your ways to keep motivated on your projects.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Warm Weather, Weeds and Knitting

The weather has become unseasonably warm in my little corner of the woods, 80*F today give or take.  Courtesy of the rain that fell early in April, ALL the chives in my garden are up.  I have to wonder what I have to do to get rid of them.  I've been digging them up.  I hack off their flower balls.  And still they come.  I'm hoping my dog will give them nitrogen burn but even that is a lost hope.  They are flourishing in the yard where they escaped to.  I have to get some of my other herbs in but will wait just a bit yet.  I can't wait for my tomatoes and other crops to be ready to go in.

In addition tothe weed chives (yes I can call them weeds.  No restaurant could use this many), my beds are full of crab grass mixed around my iris and tulip and hyacinth.  There are some weeds I can't identify.  My dandelion are missing.  Dandes are tasty with hot bacon dressing.

I'm going to have to dig out my yellow delicious apple tree.  Not only is it laying on its side but the trunk has split.  I thought hubby was not seeing correctly but I was wrong.  I also found out finally why it kept falling over.  The root stock is such that it needed to be staked at all times.

Yes all these things are growing rampantly while I have been knitting and designing.  I finally have all my patterns for classes written.  I'm working up samples.  What's the one thing I have not been working on?  I'm glad you asked.  The advent shawl/scarf times five for the ladies of my family for Christmas.  I seem to have a terrible work habit.  I will get back on track.