Sunday, March 30, 2008

Soothing stockings

Everybody knows that the northeast has been pummelled by a worse winter than we've had in 100 years and that we're still having snowstorms while the rest of the country is growing flowers. Such a stressful season needs some soothing activities to keep us all sane! My stress soother is socks...

I'm making good progress on my Plimoth Plantation over-the-knee stockings.


The yarn is harsh but the pattern so far has been easy to follow. I'm almost finished with the first of the pair and I think it will use up the entire cone of yarn. I have a second cone for the second stocking. I love the shaping and the mock seam down the back!

Wouldn't these be lovely in a very fine white cotton/silk?

When I slipped on the ice and sprained my wrist, I couldn't handle the increases and decreases of the Plimouth stockings while I was wearing the ace bandage. I started a pair of mindless ribbed stockings in soft Regia yarn. This stitch and soft yarn was easier on my wrist.

Candy Apple Stockings:


Now I'm going back and forth between the two. I can't wait to see the pair of Plimoth stockings in their full finished glory. I hope we have another now storm soon so I can knit all day!

I'm feeling achy and tired today - coming down with several things at once. This wouldn't be happening to me if I was Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris doesn’t have normal white blood cells like you and I do. His white cells have a small black ring around them. This signifies that they are black belts in every form of martial arts and they roundhouse kick the shit out of viruses. That’s why Chuck Norris never gets sick.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It seemed appropriate - Slytherin gloves

I don't think I've ever shown my Slytherin fingerless gloves, but in honor of this morning's brief snowstorm, another winter knit seemed appropriate for blogging.


I made these for a friend of mine, who dresses as Professor Snape basically all the time. They are my own pattern which is very simple, and my own Slytherin snake graph, which I'll post when I am feeling not so achy and tired as I am at the moment (coming down with something).


The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino - black of course - two skeins and size 3 DPNs I think. Size 3 is pretty much my favorite size needle for mitts and gloves. I just get in this place where I always use the same needles for things. I use 1.5 for socks all the time. Size 8's for hats!

On Monday, I had to drive to the coast to present at an educational meeting and as I was wandering lost (as is my common practice), I saw a yarn store in a small strip-mall by the road. Charlotte's Web! Wow. I'd always wanted to visit this store - the only one in my state I hadn't been to - so I was very excited that I had extra time before my meeting. (I have such a bad sense of direction that I often go way early to places just to allow for the aimless wandering and re-tracking that is inevitable)

I loved this store! It had more than I could explore in an hour and was full of yarns I can't find anywhere else. But best of all, the woman at the counter was so friendly and nice. She talked to me like I was a friend: "what are you working on?" "How is that going?" and she was like that with everyone who came in. Pretty soon we were all laughing and talking.

Before I knew it, several skeins of Malabrigo lace weight had jumped into my basket! I got this colour for myself:

Then I got a dusky green/brown for a vest for my sister, and picked up a couple more skeins for a swap with a friend - in a velvety deep blend of colours that are stunning. After collecting some pattern booklets in a desperate attempt to find ways to reduce the stash I keep inflating, I had to wander on...Far too little time.

Time for me to take Tylenol and crawl under the comforter... {{{groan}}}. I have some nice mint water and Aunt Dimity and the Duke to comfort me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jackie's Acorn Hat

My plan for March was to post only about crochet, but my new winter hat is finished and I'm excited to show it. "Winter hat? you ask, "Isn't it spring in March?" Oh, ha ha ha.

Here is some weather - yes! another snow storm! - from out my door yesterday...


So you know I need a new winter hat! I lost my last one, my Top-Down Silk Garden hat in a snow storm (it probably got buried under a snowbank while I was shoveling) and a good friend in Seattle mailed me another skein of Noro SG to try again...


I call it Jackie's Acorn, because of the design and use. Its for walking Jackie the Corgie and his brother, Teddy, and because of this, I wanted it to come down over my ears....


I used short-row shaping to make the sides and back just a bit longer than the front. The crown has an upside-down acorn shape so it will stay on over my long hair that I coil into a bun up inside. There is a falling leaf lace pattern, and a bit of colour added with some left-over bits of sock yarn from my Regia candy-apple stockings.

The Jackie's Acorn Hat pattern is available now.

Finishing my hat was exciting, but yesterday was double-exciting because I finally went to Webs in Northampton, Mass! Today is my birthday and I was treated to a stash-enhancing trip. All I can say is that the real-life shop is 10,000 times better than the website and that if you can get a chance to go there, do. On second thought, don't, because I want all the yarns for myself! I concentrated on picking up yarns that I can't find around here or that are expensive to buy from online vendors. Webs gives you 25% off full-priced yarns if you buy a certain amount, and their full-price prices are lower than online prices to begin with.


Here you see a cone of lace-weight silk from an odd-lots bin (it was less than $10) and a cone of lace-weight merino-tencel. Hand-dyed misti alpaca lace-weight, Shibui sock yarns, Fiesta Baby Boom sock yarn, two pure silk skeins, and two types of hand-dyed silk and wool. I also picked up some Eucalan in the new 'grapefruit' scent. What you can't see here (because she reads my blog) are the birthday gifts I added to my basket for my knitting friend!

The Webs warehouse out back is another world, with bins and bags of well-known yarns at 1/3 the usual price or less...


I got enough yarn for four sweaters: Lavold chunky alpaca for the Drops swing Cardigan, Laines du Nord Green Cashmere and Silk (20 balls) for a spring sweater for me, Some Debbie Bliss aran tweed (the butter yellow yarn) and a bag of Debbie Bliss Cotton & Silk for a little cardigan from her Pure Silk book.

and, finally, the patterns:


The top books are new spring designs from Debbie Bliss, Rowan, and Dale of Norway. The single patterns: A little doll for charity knitting and the Valley Jacket from Webs designers (the girl who rang my items up was the designer of the jacket), the one-skein wonder from Glampyre (I know - I'm years behind on making this), and *finally* a Cookie A sock pattern - Thelonius, and lastly, a St. Seraphina shawl, the Pemberley - not a challenging pattern, but I couldn't resist the name!

So there are the spoils from my very aquisitive yarn trip yesterday... today I am off on a search for vintage pattern books. I guess self indulgance is the theme this weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

so many little time

I succumb to the lure of the new book so often that I think I should open a library in my house! This has been a life-long weakness, and even in my most penurious moments my inner compass has passed up other extravagances for a really good read! All of this excuse-making is only to explain why I've ended up recently with two books that really shouldn't be on the same bookshelf:

crochet books 08

I've had The Crochet Stitch Bible for some time. Its an invaluable resource; well laid out, a logical progression, and that fabulous covered spiral binding that allows the book to lay flat and yet doesn't catch on yarns.

I recently bought the newer book, Super Stitches Crochet. My money could have been better spent. The stitches, while they appear to be in a sort of order are hard to find when you're looking for something specific; familiar names of common stitches have been changed; and the binding is annoyingly tight so that the book does not open completely and if you try to open it wide enough to hold down with one hand, the binding breaks...

You can guess which one I prefer! I had expected - an unrealistic expectation it seems - that a new stitch book coming out so soon after the first, would show different and perhaps unusual or obscure stitches. Wouldn't a publishing company do its research and say "gee, a crochet stitch dictionary came out not too long ago. What can we do differently for the crochet market?" No, not so.....

This is the Crochet Stitch Bible:

crochet bible

Lovely stitch, yes? Somewhat unusual and unique.... very vintage-looking.

And here is the new book, Super Stitches:

crochet stitches bk

It's the Exact. Same. Stitch. Even the diagram is an exact match. Only the colour has been changed. And the green sample hasn't been blocked.

Oh, I would expect some overlap of stitches - the commonly used ones, the most fundamental stitches needed for crochet. But all the decorative and unusual ones???

Still, in spite of more overlap of contents than is really desirable, there are some differences. And given my book-obsessed nature, I won't be returning Super Stitches. If it has even one unique stitch, I can convince myself that I need it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March is for Crochet

I've heard a rumour that March is National Crochet Month and if judging by the many, many people worldwide who are joining the fun, I'd say its quickly becoming International Crochet Month!

I love crochet. It was my first needle art and the one I have best mastered. My first finished crocheted item was a little tiny lavender and gray sweater for my Ginny doll, a doll that looked just like me. I went on to make capes and blankets for the American Girl dolls, but that first acomplishment was the best.


Since in my opinion, everyone needs to know some crochet, I've spent some time looking thrugh my antique books for fast, easy and gorgeous patterns to share with learners. These patterns would work particulary well for charitable giving, I think. The beauty of these patterns is that they are so easily adaptable and could be personalized in so many ways - a change of yarns, of embellishments, experimentation with colour....

For my full article on this subject, see This Week in Ravelry Vol #7...


1921 Crocheted Winter Cloche
from Needlecraft Magazine

crocheted hat

Materials: 1 and ½ skeins of tan yarn, ½ skein of dark tan yarn, and crochet hook No. 3 (no further specifics were given. The No. 3 hook might indicate a 3.0 mm hook, which would be a US D hook)

Instructions: Using the lighter shade of yarn double, make a chain of 3 stitches. Join.

1. Six dc in ring.

2. Two dc in each dc (working in both threads or veins of the stitch).

3. Dc in first dc; 2 dc in next dc; repeat.

4. Dc in each of the first 2 dc; 2 dc in the next dc; repeat.

5. Dc in each of 3 dc; 2 dc in next dc; repeat.

Continue in this way, having one more double between increases, each row, until there are nine doubles between; then work 18 rows plain, or without increase, and break the yarn. Turn the work and make the brim, using the dark tan yarn, double.

1. A dc in each dc, join and turn.

2. Ch 1, dc in dc increasing in 6th and 7th dc of preceding row, alternately.

3, 4, 5. Dc in dc without increase.

The rim may be made wider, if desired, by working more rows, say 5 plain rows instead of 3. Turning at end of each row gives the rim a different effect from the body of the hat. Break and fasten the yarn; turn up the brim.

For the ornament: Using the lighter shade of yarn, make a chain of 12 stitches; a treble in 3rd stitch of chain and each following stitch of chain, 10 trebles in all. Break and fasten yarn.

With the dark tan make a chain of 5 stitches; a treble in 3rd stitch, 2 more trebles on chain, turn; 3 trebles (chain 3 for first), and repeat until you have 24 rows; sew this strip around the light center evenly, and fasten the latter to the side of hat, leaving the border free.

A very pretty little pull-on and easy to make. It made be made larger or smaller as required.

1916 Men's Muffler
vintage muffler

1916 Infant's Hood
infants hood

and a couple of really novel designs:

A Crocheted Garter Purse - not a purse in garter stitch, but a purse attached to an old fashioned stocking garter so that you can strap it around your thigh and hide your precious coins away!
garter strap purse

A Traveling Work Bag that you carry over your wrist. The crochet thread slips through the little hole in the side so you can bring your crochet with you and be industrious where-ever you go!
antique work bag