Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day of rest

Yesterday I drove our eldest to a Saturday enrichment school in Layfayette. The daughter and I ran around doing errands which MAY have included a yarn shop. Last ball till May, I swear. Anyways, when there I had a nice chat with one of the workers, and she ended up asking me if I'd take over the helm for the Nordic Knitting circle there. Would I? Well, she isn't the owner and so there are still some conversations that need to take place, but I'm excited by the prospect.

Then, last night I got to fulfill my fantasy to be a flight attendant and give the safety speech. Well, maybe it wasn't a fantasy of mine, but I did apply to Delta airlines about 20 years ago and didn't make the cut. In retrospect, I'm thankful. I don't think those passengers appreciated all the work Brenda and I did for them! The venue was our church Ladies' Night, and the theme was Fantasy Island/It's All About You. We greeted everyone with a check-in area and boarded them on the flight. Mayhem ensued, including the pilot bailing out with a parachute because he had to use the bathroom! Brenda landed the plane in style, and we de-planed at Fantasy Island!

Welcome! Welcome everyone!

Mr Roarke and Tatoo were there (Joy, I need pictures!), and we all enjoyed food, a swap shop and a spa room. Then Kay Maclain gave a marvelous talk full of transparency and personal challenge. I was so pleased a posse from Rochester joined us!

Afterwards, I slept like a baby and have rested ever since, fighting off a cold my youngest is determined to share. Now, I'm ready for the week!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Please don't tell my husband: I am an idiot!*

So, I have been stalking an out-of-print Finnish mitten knitting book. I joined the Finnish rendition of ebay when one popped up on it (thank you Lilia for letting me know!), but I accidentally entered my top bid as my first one. What a fool! The box came up for me saying the equivalent of "are you really sure?" It wouldn't allow me to leave the box without answering; I couldn't copy and paste it into my translator box. I punched whichever box was blue and glowing.

Now I'm up at 3am to see if I won.

In the meantime, here is a picture of the mittens I knit my daughter. I have never embroidered before on knitwear. I freehanded it, mainly because I couldn't think how to mark on this bright material. I don't have any disappearing quilt markers -- they always seem to dry up before I use them. I did try a chalk quilt marker on the interior circle, but it didn't mark well. Any ideas?

Here is a gratuitous picture of my finished stranded mittens. Love 'em!

*In Michigan, when applying for a marriage license, applicants must swear they are not marrying an idiot. So, this could change everything.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Squared Away

New mitten up: 36x36 mitten Building Chart, to be exact, charted from a historical mitten by Jessica Tromp. Check out her site. Quite amazing the number of charts and information it contains.

I have had this in my queue for quite some time. When I finally succumbed and ordered some Evilla yarn, I knew its time had come. Kauni and Evilla yarns are both lovely Estonian milled lace weight yarns. They are natural, contain some lanolin still, and have a bit of "stickiness" to them. For a knitter, this does not mean they are literally sticky. Rather, two strands of yarn together will tend to hold onto each other and not slip past. This is a looked-for quality in yarns when a knitter is knitting with more than one yarn and carrying both yarns along the backside of the work. This is called stranded work, or sometimes, fair isle. Fair isle is a real place, one of the Shetland islands off the coast of Scotland. More places than this one has a tradition of stranded work, so it isn't always just called fair isle.

Both Kauni and Evilla have wonderful colorways available which have very gradual color gradations. That is how the colors shifted in the last set of mittens I knit. I just got a Evilla yarn with gradually changing blue colorways, and I thought, "a-ha! windows in the architecture mittens."

At first I thought I would like to knit the building in brick red. But red with dark blue windows isn't enough of a color difference. After researching on Ravelry some of the colors these mitts have been knitted in, I decided I liked the the windows and outlines in a darker color than the building color. With the colors I own, that left a nice cement gray for the building.

The pattern does not specify a cuff. I thought a nice braid and some corrugated ribbing would be lovely. Concerned that 2x2 ribbing in navy and grey would be too stark and not balance the rest of the mitten, I decided to stagger the ribbing. Maybe make it look a bit like a cobblestone path?

Here are some pictures of the cuff so far:

If you can see in this photo, the purled blue makes a nice textural square. I really like this on top of the braid.

In order for the blue and grey squares to have clean edges, it is necessary to KNIT the first row of blues and greys. The second and third round are purled for the blues, and knit for the greys. If I had purled the first rows of blues, there would be a grey strand that would pop up in the first ridge. When wanted, this is a lovely decorative technique. Bohus sweaters incorporate this with great artistry. For this cuff, however, I wanted a clean line -- so I knitted that first set-up row.

Off to tame the house, and maybe, just maybe, knit another row.
Ever get that strange feeling
that somewhere, somehow, a monkey is watching you?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Plain fun.

...or maybe fancy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I had a lovely day today! So many nice friends and relatives wished me a happy birthday -- it was quite heart-warming! My family thoroughly feted me, from my nice hand-made cards from my kiddos, like this one:

Yep. The child that choose a pink marker initially called me 60, then, realizing her mistake, corrected it in pen. Jane, watch out! She may use this one for your birthday next month, too!

When I thought about this comic mistake, though, it is reassuring, right? To our kids, or any kid, we're just way up there. Then the truth will out: age doesn't matter.

Last night I cast on the first few stitches of the "Birthday Cowl." Today it morphed into this one. I call it "Sha-ZAM!" There is a lightening bolt zigzagging down the front.

Thank you all, who contributed to a fantastic day!
My Biggest Baby

Is getting fitted for braces. Second visit to the orthodontist was yesterday.

"Where are the exits?"

"I am smiling, mom."

Making a good impression.

Caps and bands.
That's all till next time!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Tale of Two Mittens

Yesterday, I finished two mittens. Unfortunately, they don't match, but they are in the same general color family.

The first is the first mitten I have knit from Eeva Haavisto's Sata kansanomaista kuviokudinmallia. And what I really want for my birthday is that book. Please. I will gladly swap yarn, another book, mittens... Turns out it is scarcer than hens' teeth, even in Finland.

A nice lady in Oakville, Ontario sent me two patterns from the book, and this mitten is pattern 92 of the 100 in the book. I am confused, though, 'cause Ravelry has it in pictures as pattern No. 89. I knit this out of Kauni yarns, a Danish yarn milled in Estonia. The yellow/orange yarn has gradiated yarn color. The color is dyed in the wool prior to spinning. It is a 8/2 two-ply yarn. The turquoise is also a 8/2 Kauni, but a solid color.

In addition, I have finally scanned the Seattle Times Photo of us taken at the Nordic Knitting Conference and published in the October 18, 2010 paper. Here 'tis:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So... at my friend's 50th birthday party, everything got kind of wacky...

...and, Mrs. Napkinhead showed up.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Gettin' the Fur on!

So, there we were in bed last night. And I was winding the fur tape.

I know what you're thinking! You're thinking it has another name. It does. Today, I was thinking that "yarn ruff" might be more descriptive. During the Medley of Finnish Knitting Techniques at the Nordic Knitting Conference last October, Carol Huebsner Rhoades said that a Japanese woman came to the first or second Nordic Knitting conference, absorbed as much as possible and then returned home and wrote this book.

It's great! It has entrelac, stranding, fur tape, garter stitch beaded wristlets...

Anyways, over the weekend, I knit the two mittlets, got out the packing tape covered 3/4" flexible thingy and started wrapping.

Here's how it goes. Get your working yarn, and another thinner yarn that will be used for binding. You will also need a crochet hook in a smaller size that matches the binding yarn.

Make a slipknot in the binding yarn and insert the crochet hook (one loop). If right-handed, place the working yarn on the left. Wrap the fur tape yarn thrice around flexible thingy, pull the binding yarn under and up (second loop), then grab the binding yarn over the top and pull through the other two loops = single crochet stitch.

Here are some pictures that demonstrate the knitting technique:
These three pics are 1) The wrap, 2) The second loop, and 3) The final loop pulled through

After one has made a whole tape of wrapped yarn held together by crocheted loops, one can apply them to a finished, knitted piece. This book has fur tape added to the top of a knitted purse, knitted throw pillow, and these mittlets. The mitt pattern called for it to be knit flat, four fur tapes applied to the top, sewn on together, then the seam sewn shut. I knit the mitt in the round and applied three fur tapes separately.

The teacher of the Finnish Medley class recommended linen thread. It is very strong. Maybe this is just tradition? Anyways, it isn't very common, but I found a spool at Erica's.

Okay, I'm hating this photo layout. I'm going back to the largest picture to stop the words over pictures and misplaced explanations...

Fully attached fur tape (second of three).

The cutting of the ruff.

The finishing of fur tape is to steam 'em up well.

And, here's the final product.

The "finished" ruff:

Friday, January 07, 2011

You know you're a Fiber Artist when... wake in the middle of the night, pick a piece of fiber out of your mouth,
roll over and go back to sleep.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Day of knittin'

Yesterday, I had a day of knitting. Changed the top of the Molly hat posted a few days ago, and created a New And Improved Molly. Then, I knit it. The original is now the "Chrissy."

Today, I have cast on a self-design ascot, I am affectionately naming "The Secretariat." Nope. Coincidence.

New resolution: learn how to write up these patterns and link them to this page.

Sigh. It never ends, does it?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Another day, another insult

The day dawned early, with a 4:30a squirrel sneaking under the covers, shivering and complaining of alligators. Thankfully, he went back to sleep, but unthankfully, I did not.

Instead, I continued my study of the Sami peoples in the Northern Nordic countries, and the Kola peninsula of Russia. Fascinating info, and I kept being reminded of some of the folk practices of Mongolia. I emailed several Ravelry people in Norway and Finland asking questions re the handcrafts of the Sami peoples, particularly knitting traditions. Through a series of exchanges, Tuulia in Finland burst my bubble and basically said there are no knitting traditions. Sob! All knitting has come in through the majority culture of Norway, Sweden, Finland (and Russia?), and all "Sami" patterns are done by other cultures mimicking symbols from Sami weaving, or silvermaking.

Bummer. I love the vivid colors of the Sami, and am intrigued by their cultural history. Too bad I can't combine the study with my love of knitting.

In the course of the morning, I had message exchanges with people in Iceland and Sweden as well. This here internet thing is pretty fun! Life is sooo different from when I went to college in Canada and lived overseas in Siberia and Mongolia. I feel like an old-timer when I say I had no phone, there was no computer, I had no TV and the only way for communication was letters home. And yet, that was freeing, as well -- to not be tethered to an electronic gadget. I was able to do my real work.

What with the early wake-up, I was in a fog most of the day as well. Enough to insult people half-way around the world, and not operate heavy machinery. I'm good that way.

My brother-in-law opened his Christmas present late. Here is a picture of it. Oh, I forgot to tell him it won a first place ribbon at the fair. It is also encrypted with a code. Enter it, when you figure it out!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 has started with a bang

has started with a bang. I began it by knitting till 3am and managed to get the back done to the Short-Row Fair Isle. It is chock full of knitting that requires thinking, and with the rest of them pooped out and snoozing, I was able to do a short-row fair-isle WHILE decreasing at the shoulders. Kind of mind boggling. Now I just have hundreds of ends to weave in. My goal is to be done with the whole thing by my birthday. Since all I can do is dream of knitting other (smaller) projects ever since the late knit, I'm not sure if this goal will be achieved.

We slept in, somewhat, and then began the New Year together. Nice holiday. We all took it easy, but also went to a walk in the beautiful weather. It was just about freezing, but we went on a trail none of us had ever been on.

Today, we had a start of a new series with a sermon from our pastor titled "Resolve." Good reminders that things don't just happen. Then this afternoon we had our annual family meeting.

Looks like it will be a good year!