Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer Knitting and crocheting, aka Getting Ready for the Holidays

Summer knitting and crocheting

Once the flip flops and beach apparel have been created, it’s still too hot to knit or crochet large items.   It's also probably too hot to think too hard for patterns.  Quick and simple to complete projects are great.  Now is the time to think of what you might want to gift to co workers for the upcoming holidays.  Now is the time to think of what you might want to craft for your decorations.

I offer the following ideas.  All are small and won’t make you much hotter.
1.       Decorations for a specific holiday or year round appeal.
          a.      Crochet wreaths
          b.      Snowflakes
          c.      Holly leaves, knit or crochet
          d.      Nativity figures
          e.      Mini mittens, hats, sweaters, socks
          f.       Ice skates
               g.      Easter Eggs
          h.      Butterflies
          I.       Acorns
          j.        Pinecones
          k.       Autumn leaves
          l.        flowers
2.       Amigurumi Christmas animals and people
3.       Hats mittens, cowls, mitts, socks
4.       mug rugs, mug hugs (keeps a  hot cup hot longer or cold drinks cold longer, depending.  The rug will also keep the sweat from running down to stain the tables or the heat from leaving a mark.)

All of the above ideas are available in knit or crochet ideas.  Patterns are available all over the internet.  Search for the item, either knit or crochet and free pattern.  You will be amazed at what you find.

I wrote this before the summer was much of a thought.  Summer was a hope at the end of the winter that never seemed to want to end.  At I type this update, today's high temperature was 80.  Yesterday it didn't make it above 74.  This is the end of June.  For the past 30 years or so, it gets HOT, as in 90+, and is very dry at this time of year.  So far we have had a very wet late spring and early summer.  I'm not minding the larger projects yet.  But be assured, these ideas will be needed soon.  I think.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Babies Part 2

After realizing that I had issues following the directions for the baby surprise jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann, I ripped it out. The directions have a resting row every other row.  I didn't see that part and did all the action every row.  Had I continued with the way I was going, I would have ended up with a very short wide sweater that would fit no one or some poor baby who had a really oddly shaped body.  So into the frog pond I jumped.  Rip it, Rip it, Rip it.

Over the years I have learned to not be precious about my work.  It is only sticks and string or a stick and string, depending.  When I create clothing or household items, I fully expect them to be destroyed over time.  Well, the household items at least.  I try to take care of the clothes so they last, but I don't go overboard.  I still go barefoot, or sock foot in winter.  This tends to wear out the soles but at my age (I'm old enough to not want to change) I can decide to wear shoes in the house or not.  I can decide whether or not to let my dog and cat sleep on an afghan I created.  But back to the baby conundrum.

I found a baby sweater 20 years ago called the 5 hour baby sweater on the fiber gypsy website.  See 5 hour baby sweater here.  This has been my go to when brain cells fail to find something else or I run short on time.  I have done it very plain for boys, very lacy for girls, as written for both genders in a variety of colors both solids and variegateds and even a couple of tonals.  Right now, I'm working it without the eyelets at the neckline in an acrylic (I do short stints with cotton gloves as I have a sensitivity to synthetic fibers) in the color carousel print with blue bunnies at the neck and the waist.  Carousel print is a rainbow with white that is barely there colors.  It's the kind of pastel that makes you wonder at times if there is actually color there.  My mother would have loved it.  The blue is a sky blue color.  The bunnies are being done fair isle and are my own design.  

The baby sweater has matching bonnet, booties, and a hood variant.  Links to these are on the page for the sweater directions.  

For my nephew's baby girl, I'm not really sure what I will do.  Possibly she will get a bsj now that I know what I did wrong.  I have highlighted the book to show that this resting row is there.  

What do you do for new babies of your acquaintance?  Do you have favorites or go to patterns that fit the bill most of the time?  Share the name of the pattern and book or website.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Babies, Babies and more Babies

It seems like everyone is having babies or just had a baby.  I love to knit and crochet for babies.  Why??  Simple.  Babies don't complain if you dress them up in silly hats or outfits.  Babies don't hold definite opinions about colors.  They are small people therefore their clothes are small and quick to finish.  Everyone OOOhs and AAAhs over anything made for a baby.  

How do I know babies don't complain?  I have not ever seen a baby fuss (unless it's the 15th outfit you put on him or her in the span of 2 hours) about what they are wearing.  People usually smile and talk in pleasant voices when dressing a baby in something made especially for them.  This makes the baby feel loved and secure and they are happy.  Now I won't speak for the kid at age 17 when you whip out the baby pictures at a family gathering and play the remember when game.  

So all this to say a friend is going to become a grandma soon and a nephew will be having his first child with his wife right after.  Another friend recently had her first grandson arrive.  We have had a rash of first birthdays in the family also.  So I guess you could say babies have been on my mind recently.  

I thought about what I wanted to do for each of these new people coming into the world.  Then I looked at my time lines.  Hmmmm....  The church festival is in 3 1/2 weeks.  Baby shower 1 is the weekend before.  Baby shower 2 is the weekend after.  There is set up for the festival.  There is a new boss at work to get settled in.  A layette is out of the question.  A blanket is also out.  I still have one that didn't get finished for one of the year olds.  What is quick???  So good old ravelry to the rescue.  I plugged in just what I had in my library to narrow my choices.  I looked through the pages upon pages of choices.  I disregarded things on really fine yarn.  My final choice?  A baby surprise jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  Worsted weight yarns on medium sized needles should go quickly.  I found some baby prints yarn in worsted weight acrylic.  New moms usually don't want to take time to hand wash wool these days.  I'm set.  I can do garter stitch in my sleep practically.  

I had thought I would like to do the new zoo ring stack toy from Crochet World was on my radar for my nephew.  But then I remembered how long the jungle one took that I did.  I'm better off with the BSJ from Elizabeth.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Dilemma for all of us with actual weather

At first glance of this post's title, it seems I'm picking on certain geographic areas.  I'm not really.  I fully acknowledge that there are some areas of the world where the weather doesn't make a huge change between seasons in temperature.  Other areas make great changes from high noon to midnight.  This is a  gentle nudge in my daughter's in law way as well as The Knitmore Girls, Gigi, Jasmin and Genevieve.  All these lovely ladies come from southern or south central CA  where the weather is a balmy 55 - 60 in the winter and 90 or so in the summer with cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean or so I understand.

This is for the areas where there are definite cold and definite warm to hot times of the year.  Where I live, the temperatures fluctuate from lows in the winter at more or less 25*F to highs in recent years during summer at 100*F more or less.  I know there are areas where the hot temps routinely go into the 130*F range.  Death Valley in California comes to mind.  I know there are areas where the cold temps routinely go down to -80*F.  Central Alaska comes to mind in this instance as well as Siberia and some of the central Asian countries in the mountains among others.

Now for the dilemma I have.  I knit for myself mainly with wool for winter.  I do cottons and linen for myself for summer knits.  As we all know, when storing your knit or your crocheted items, they need to be clean.  Otherwise we run the risk of our fluttery "friends" coming to call and having a munch or worse some furry little beasties.  When we pull out our clothes in the autumn, we may find instead of winter woolies, Swiss cheese.  If you knit and crochet with synthetic fibers have no fears, the moths won't eat them, but you still need to make sure you store clean things.  The mice won't be as discerning.

Now the big question is to block or not to block.  When I sent in my swatches to be assessed for the Craft Yarn Council's Correspondence Certified Instructor's Program, I blocked all of my swatches.  Most were perfect but a few needed a bit of oomph to get to the correct finished size.  Those that needed a little help shrank back to the original size in shipping.  I'm not sure if it was the temperature changes or the jostling or what.  Either way, do I want to do blocking now or when I pull them out of storage?

What do you do???  Do you block before storing or not?  I'm leaning to not unless I can be persuaded otherwise.  So let me know your reasons either way.