Monday, December 7, 2009

Alpaca raglan sweater and a new plate

I've been both knitting and rosemaling this month.  Someone asked me to paint a plate for his wife for Christmas.  I agreed with some reservations, but the plate is finished and I'm glad I did it. It didn't take as long as I thought it would and it got me back into rosemaling again, before I put the paints away for the holidays.  It was good to get that table cleared off finally this morning.

So first, here is the current state of the Alpaca sweater. 


I bought several skeins of Alpaca in April 2008. The seller had a lovely scarf done in grey, tan and natural.  I wanted to use those colors, but for some reason I bought black, two shades of grey, 2 shades of brown and the tan and natural. Then the next year I bought some more, because I didn't think I had enough to do a complete sweater and it was too much for a scarf and hat.  (These are undyed. They are the color of the animal.)


I did a gauge swatch last year thinking I might use it for the Ivy League vest, but decided not to. When I started again this fall, I did another gauge swatch, and this time tried a color pattern I found in a book by Alice Starmore.  I liked that, so started the sweater out that way.  The part that is below the armholes is the pattern from her book with a wider area of natural.  But at that point I realized I didn't have enough of those colors to finish the sweater and would have to incorporate at least one more color. So I added in the brownish-grey. At this point I used the construction method of the Dale of Norway Sapporo raglan sweater that I did a few years ago. I liked how easily that one went together and it is comfortable.  It's a bit tricky getting the first rows and the decreases going right, so it's easier if the pattern is simple-thus the plain stripes. Now I am hoping I'll have enough of the light tan/beige to finish the yoke. If I do it will be just plain from here on. If I have to add in another color--well I'll cross that bridge when I get there-if I have to.

And second, here is the plate I just painted.  It's 18", so one of the biggest I've done.  I needed to talk to my teacher about pricing and discovered Friday that she was teaching that day, so I went in to the class. I've missed several classes over the years I've taken from her and she has always said I could make them up any time, so I knew it would be okay to show up for the last class of the year. 

rosemaled plate

It was helpful to have her advice for finishing the plate and she also helped with some of the outer linework. I really need to practice that more, so I can do it myself.  I'm going to make a New Year's resolution to paint more next year.  The design in this plate is inspired by one by Marlys Hammer, from whom I took a class last year.

This is probably my last post here before the holidays.


So Happy Holidays to all!! 


See you in 2010!  We are going to have to think when we write the date next year and stop before we put 2 zeros down.  I'll bet most people will be writing 200 and then squeezing a 1 in between the 00's. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I went to Angora

Clearly, the process we started in Michael's back yard is going to take a very long time to produce wearable results.  (See previous post)


So I decided to go to the source and skip the part where I do it myself.  I went to Angora.  You may or may not be aware that Angora is the old name for Ankara, the capital of Turkey. The Angora goats, cats and rabbits all originally came from this part of Turkey.


I went there with my husband and have some pictures I plan to put on the web, but that part hasn't been done yet.  You can see some of them on my other blog. Ceci's Travel blog 


Our hostess took us to a village about an hour and a half outside of Ankara. It's called Bey Pazari and resembles an Alpine village. We did lots of shopping there buying things made right there in the shops by the people selling them. I took pictures and even a video of weavers operating looms. We also saw hand-made jewelry. And in one shop there were some dolls. Since I collect dolls I had to take a look and bought one more. This one is helping to wind a ball of yarn from a skein of Angora.  I think she needs a partner. She is wearing a shalwar, a loose fitting baggy pant.  I was told this was a traditional costume and later saw some women demonstrating in a restaurant wearing this type of garment.


And in the same shop I found this beautiful shawl made of Angora.

Angora shawl-back

It's not knitted, but I'm not sure what the technique is. I need to do some research.


And I finished the sweater that I started in September.

white V-neck

This was a free Ravelry download. It's called Mystique and was written by Patrizia Steadman.  I had to shorten the sleeves, as I would have run out of yarn, but I think the shorter sleeves work fine with this sweater, which is designed to be worn by itself. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The blind leading the blind

If you have come here looking either for information about the visually impaired, or about washing fleece, go back to your search results. This site won't help you with either one.


Truly none of us knew what we were doing. We are competent knitters who have never processed fleece before. We meet every Tuesday for knitting and fun. This Tuesday we had been "invited" by one of our members, Michael to partake in the fun of washing some fleece. Most of us had never even seen raw fleece before. Some years before Michael had acquired two Angora goats, who live in Montana and are tended by her nephew. Once or twice a year she gets the fleece from the two goats "Scruffy" and "Mr. Clean."  We were soon to learn how they got their names. Though I'm not so sure about Mr. Clean.

After a some fortifying coffee and yummy home-made cinnamon rolls we headed out to the back yard to get started. We were met there by piles and bags of dirty fleece.


Here's a close-up. Lovely, hunh?


Michael's husband had set things up for us. (We were told he had to work that day. Likely story!) 1663

We donned gloves and started by pulling the vegetable matter out of the fleece. This was a bit tedious. We threw piles of matted fleece in the trash bin, thinking it was beyond hopeless. Here Iris, Jody and Ann are diligently working at the piles of fleece.

When we had a pile ready, we put it in a bin and added hot water and a squirt of soap.


After a measured (not) amount of soaking Michael and Jody dumped it out on the grass, thus assuring a soggy wet spot in the middle of the yard.


Can you tell from the photo above who is the smartest in the group?  Yeah the one who knew to wear rubber boots.  On the other hand perhaps it is me. I had the foresight to bring a camera and designate myself the official photographer, thus keeping a safe distance from the mud.


Second or third washing. It's getting cleaner.


Half an hour and more washings later. Still cleaner.


Add another 2 Tablespoons of soap, Iris.  Perfect!


Ann and me, transferring the fleece to a clean bin.  "Hey give me back my camera!"  By this time we had several bins going. We had decided to skip the first tedious step and just throw the unpicked fleece in the hot water.

At this point someone suggested we should let it soak longer.

Time for lunch!

Now we are in familiar territory.


Michael knows how to cook and the rest of us knew just what to do with her lovely buffet.


Squash bisque, grapes, chicken salad, croissants, cheese, crackers and tapenade.  (Now you know why we agreed to do this.)

All too soon, it was time to return to the fleece.


When it looked like this we decided it was done.

1682Here is what the first batch looked like spread out on a screen to dry.

1683We had several batches going by this time.1687 Michael spinning the fleece before setting it out to dry.


Michael and Jody are pleased with the day's accomplishment.


Would you have thought it would come out this white?


Michael's husband showed up later, no doubt feeling guilty about having been "at work" all day and set up some window screens because the one we had set up wasn't anywhere near enough space.


And for comparison, this is what we started with. Actually this is one of the piles we didn't process.  Michael is already planning another "luncheon" for next spring.

Michael and Jody carded some of the cleaned fleece and they say it is beautiful. I don't have pictures, so you'll just have to take their word for it. I'm interested in finding out how it spins up, because I came home and looked up websites that gave detailed instructions and exact temperatures necessary to process Angora. It sounded very complicated and I doubt I would have had the confidence to try if I'd read those first. So--I hope to have an update some day on what happens to this fleece next.


And Michael, check with me before you schedule the next "luncheon."  I want to be there. I'll bring my camera again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Three more finished projects and a new one.

I think I need to come up with better titles for my posts--next time.

So it's been a busy month. I've been working on a number of things, but I do have some photos of finished knitting projects, so I'll start with those.

Here's a shawl I started in Indiana in July. Jim dropped me off in West Lafayette at my mom's after the family reunion and drove home. I forgot to get my knitting bag out of his car, so had to buy a new project. I bought this at River Knits, the yarn shop in Lafayette. The repetitive nature of this pattern made it a good one for traveling.


Then I picked up this twisted rib and cable pullover that I had started last winter and put aside for most of the summer. I had the back and sleeves done, so did the front and put it together and here it is.


It hasn't been cool enough to wear it yet. We've had a very pleasant and warmer than normal month of September. Today it is cooling off though, so perhaps soon. I did wear the shawl once.


And this one is finally almost finished. I am putting on the 5 coats of polyurethane now. I'm using the same stuff we used on our floor earlier in the year. I did the border and then "antiqued" it by wiping a little yellow ochre all over it. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out and am trying to decide where I can use it.


And I am currently working on a new pullover using yarn I bought in St. Paul in April. I got 8 balls of this Sublime on sale at Borealis Yarns. It is so soft. It's merino and silk, I think. I should check that I guess. I just love working with this yarn. This pattern is going very quickly. I now have 7 1/2 diamonds finished, but I took the picture a few days ago when it wasn't so far along. It will have long sleeves.

02-together now

It's a top-down design (obviously). I found the free pattern on Ravelry. It has a little lace pattern at the side seams and the diamonds down the center. The rest is a 3 X 1 rib. The lace designs break up the monotony of the rib. I do the rib for a bit, then pay attention and do the lace pattern, then more rib, etc. It makes the rows seem to go by quickly. Also this is the first time in a long time that I have worked with yarn this heavy. It's a DK weight, which is a bit heavier than the sport wt, that I did the twisted cable sweater in.  Although I think all of these were done on #6 needles. 

You can find more details about these projects on my Ravelry projects pages.

I have also completed a sock, but since it's only one, it doesn't count as a finished project.

We are headed to Ghana October 20, so I may update my travel blog next with photos from Africa!

Well, that's my September update.


Oh wait, I was at our Scandinavian Fest on Saturday. I wore the merging colors vest and got lots of compliments on it, which was nice. But One woman looked at my nametag and recognized me from Ravelry!!  That's the first time that has happened. I know people in real life who are also on Ravelry, but this is the first time anyone at a non-knitting event recognized my name (and possibly the vest) as someone she'd seen on Ravelry.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gauge Swatching

I almost always make a gauge swatch. There are several different reasons that I do this, which I thought I would share here.


Sometimes I buy yarn without a specific project in mind. The yarn in this first swatch is some I purchased in Osaka. It was inexpensive and I like finer yarns. I thought I'd make myself a one-color sweater out of it. After getting home I started looking for patterns for sweaters using finer yarn. I didn't find a large selection, but did think that some of the ones in Ann McCauley's book, Together or Separate would work. So I bought the book, which I knew I liked and tried swatching the yarn for one of the sweaters. The twisted cable stitch was the pattern I thought would work. But it didn't. I'm not sure if it shows well in the photo, but the yarn was just too fine and hard for this stitch. I try to remember to add tags to my swatches so that when I go back to them later I will know what size needle I used.


I gave up and tried adding the teal yarn, which I had on hand and tried a stitch motif from another book. This I liked much better and so I kept looking for more 2 and 3-color patterns that I thought would work with this yarn and ended up designing my own sweater, which I blogged about earlier, so that's all I'm going to say about that here.


This next swatch is made from the yarn that was recommended in Ann McCauley's book for that twisted-rib sweater. It's Nature Spun sport. I made a swatch with that yarn to check the gauge, but also to practice the pattern. I'd never done the twisted or Bavarian rib stitch before and I wanted to get the hang of it before casting on for the sweater. I started with a #5 needle as called for in the pattern, but switched to a #6, because it was coming out a little small. After doing the sleeves I am still afraid they are coming out too small, but it's a rib stitch so will stretch. Maybe it will be okay. I haven't finished the sweater yet. This is in my Ravelry projects page.


The next photo shows two swatches made from the same ball, but in different patterns. I decided to do the Voyager Lace stole as a KAL and thought I'd use this yarn, but was not happy with the result, so I used the Louisa Harding cotton that I had on hand as well. That turned out nicely.  This yarn was just too fine for that project. Then I did a swatch for an Estonian Lace stole. I may go back to that one some day. When I swatch for a shawl or stole it is more to practice the pattern than for the size, which doesn't matter much. It is helpful to me if the author gives a practice motif for a swatch.


The following swatch is made from the Louisa Harding cotton, that I ended up using for the stole. I think there is a photo of that one further back in the blog. I was much happier with the stitch in this yarn. I also undid the provisional cast-on (the blue yarn above) and worked the picot edging--again for practice as that was another technique I had never done before. This one is also in my

Ravelry projects.


louisa harding

This next swatch was done for the Ivy League Vest I made from a pattern by Eunny Jang. This time I was working on checking the gauge, but also working out what colors I wanted. I had a grey in there, that I think doesn't show in the swatch, because it was actually stitched over. All the balls looked nice together, but in the stitch pattern, I didn't like the grey with the other colors, so changed it to a different color--more of a taupe-brown, which shows up on the right side of this photo. 

My vest on Ravelry.


And I have one more that is still unfinished. I am trying to decide what to do with this yarn. It is a cotton-Filatura di Crossa. I was planning to make a summer short-sleeved sweater for this summer, but the summer is gone and I haven't gotten around to it yet. I played around with patterns to see what would show up in this yarn. I also played around with knitting back wards on a small section of it, so that's the reason it has that separate 1" section.



And finally I have one I did years ago. I had bought this blue and white cotton yarn, which I think was a kit, in Holland. But when I got home and tried the motif in a swatch, it just didn't work for me. The single column of white stitches forming the stem got swallowed up by the blue. I then tried to see if I could do them by duplicate stitch, but didn't like that either. The whole thing is lumpy.  I chose a different pattern for that yarn and made a completely different sweater with larger blocks of color.



So for me there are lots of reasons beside checking gauge to make a gauge swatch. Sometimes it's just fun to play with a new yarn even though I'm not ready to cast on for an actual project yet. You can also use the swatch to find out if you will have enough yarn to complete a project, but I haven't used one in that way yet. I do use them to check how the finished fabric will behave in the washer.


Boy that was wordy for me! The next post will be shorter, I promise.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I finished the vest and finally have photos

This is going to be a short update with pictures of the finished Strickwear, merging colors vest.



It was cool enough today to wear a turtle-neck and wool vest out on the deck. I don't have a shirt that is exactly the right color for this vest.  Here's the back.


And behind me, you can see our newly painted deck railing. Last fall we had the flooring replaced and this summer we sanded and painted the railing ourselves. I really like the new look.


That's it for today, but I am thinking about doing a post on gauge swatches. My thoughts on an already much-discussed topic.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Two nearly FO's -- One Rosemaling!

I attended a two-day class in rosemaling taught by VGM Irene Lamont of Eau Claire, WI. last Thursday and Friday. I practiced for several days before the class, because I hadn't done any rosemaling since last summer or fall.


I have a couple photos of my unfinished floorcloth. I painted it in oils, which is the first time I've ever painted in oils. I have done all my rosemaling in acrylics before this. It was a little hard getting the paint to work on the canvas and it was an adjustment for me getting used to working in oils. I can't say now that I like them better than acrylics, but I can see that for some applications and styles they would work better.  With more practice I could get used to them.

Here is what the floor cloth looks like now. After it is thoroughly dry I'll "antique" it and paint a border.




And the other nearly Finished Object is my merging colors Strickwear vest. I have completed the 4 pieces. They just need to be seamed together and then a border knit on the neck and bottom edges. I'm amazed at how the two backs came out the same size even though one is knit on the diagonal. This pattern is well written.


Okay, I have to pack now. We leave Wednesday for our trip to Indiana , Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. These two projects will sit until I get back mid-July.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update for the start of summer

I should be updating my travel blog, as I have done so much traveling and have so many pictures, but it is just for that reason that that seems so daunting a task and I am trying to find time for my home hobbies, now, so here's an update on those.


First, Knitting:  I have three pieces done of the Bavarian twisted rib cable sweater, by Ann McCauley, that I started last winter after finishing the Nordic one. 

most of front and 2sleeves

I got kind of tired of doing these two cable patterns over and over, so put it down and picked up the Merging colors vest designed by Candace Eisner Strick. I bought this kit in 2008, then spent hours and months winding the yarn by hand. You need 4 balls of each of the 4 colors.  Here are two pictures, one of the yarn and pictures of the design and one of what I have done now. This is going fairly quickly, even though I do have to stop every 2 to 4 rows and change the color of one of the strands. It seems to be coming out the right size and the front and back that I've done seem to match up where they should even though one is done on the diagonal.

I took this photo when I thought I had enough yarn balled. I thought I needed 3 balls of each color. When I got ready to start on the vest, I realized I needed 4 of each color, so had to go back to balling more.1-yarn

The vest so far:

2-pieces done  You carry 4 strands together and knit with a size 6 or 7 needle. The weight of the 4 strands is close to worsted weight. You change the color strands one at a time to get the gradual change from aqua to purple.


I spent several days after I got home from Poland, Rome, Boston, Washington DC etc. working in my back yard garden. I even planted some tomatoes, lettuce, radishes and beans this year. This is an experiment. I don't know if they'll get enough sun to do well, but I am trying them this year. We'll see how it goes. The lettuce and radishes are just up. I saw them this morning.

This is taken from the deck looking down on the back yard. We had the pavers put in for the driveway beyond the black fence and arbor last fall. the boxes on the right next to the garage are filled with new topsoil and that's where I planted the vegetables. They only get sun until about noon, which may not be enough.


And here are the tomato plants, the day I put them in. The lettuce and radishes are in front of them.


And finally here is one of the pots on the front porch.


I got out my paints yesterday and did some practicing. I was going to put something in here about the rosemaling, but I don't think I will afterall, as this is already long. I am taking a class next week, so I'll update then-maybe.  :-)