Monday, February 26, 2007

Well Underway

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I began this cardigan about a month ago, but set it aside to work on baby gifts. At that time I had finished about half of the back. Last week I picked up where I left off and after a couple of marathon knitting sessions, I've progressed as far as finishing the back, the two fronts and part of one sleeve. If all goes well, I may have a new sweater to wear by the end of the week!

I've come across a few errors in the pattern instructions for Cotton Cardigan from Sarah Dallas Knitting. The first snag I found was in the start of the garter rib panel on the left front. If you follow the instructions as written, it will not use all the stitches on the needles. I decided to do an online search to find out if there were any corrections published for this sweater. I found corrections for other patterns in the book, but not any for this one.

I did however, find many opinions and reviews that may have dissuaded me from purchasing this book in the first place had I read them. I'm glad I didn't know about them though, because I really like the items in this book and plan to knit several of them. The biggest complaint most people have is that the photographs, though beautiful, do not show the knitted items clearly. I had noticed this myself and it is a little frustrating, but not a huge problem for me.

The most troubling complaint is that many people commented on the large number of errors in the patterns. I assume they were speaking from the personal experience of knitting these patterns, but they never elaborated on what the errors were. Perhaps they were just repeating something they had heard others report. So far I have knitted only two patterns from this book. The first, a pair of mittens, was error free. The second, is the sweater I'm working on right now. Here are the corrections I've made to the pattern so far (corrections are in red bold caps):

Sarah Dallas Knitting
Cotton Cardigan

Page 22
Left Front
Row 1 K14 (19: 18: 23), *P2, K2, rep from*
FOUR times, P2, K10 (8: 12: 10).

Page 23
Shape neck
Bind off 8 (9: 9: 10) sts, PURL to end. Dec 1 st at
neck edge on next 6 rows.

Page 23
Row 1 K16 (17: 18: 19) *P2, K2, rep from*
THREE times, P2, K16 (17: 18: 19).

When I'm finished knitting this sweater, I'll submit these mistakes and any others I may find to the publisher. I think I have corrected the mistakes as the designer intended the pattern to be in the first place, but who knows? These corrections work though and result in a look exactly the same as the photographed sweater in the book.

The yarn I'm using is Cestari, 75% cotton, 25% wool. It is manufactured by the sheep and shepherds of Chester Farms in Churchville, Virginia. I like the description on the label: An all natural, very unique yarn. I'm enjoying knitting with it, but I have to be careful about not knitting too long in one sitting as cotton can give your hands more of a work out than wool. The texture of this yarn is a little on the rustic side and I really like that.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Old Shale Washcloth and Soap Sack

It's my mom's turn to receive one of these lacy washcloths. I've been giving these sets as birthday gifts to the ladies in my family. Each one I've made has been a different pattern and style. Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Pattern: Fiber Trends Bathing Beauties
Yarn: Baby Georgia, 100% Mercerized Cotton
Color: #6779 Wedgewood
Needles: US 4, 16 inch circular and double points

This cloth is knitted in the round beginning in the center using Emily Ocker's Cast On. There's a good tutorial for that technique here.

Stitches are bound off using Picot Cast Off. I love the effect, but it does take a long time to complete.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


007 Snap a Dozen Days

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Trail Riders
Damon, Texas

The month of February is best known for Valentine's Day, but here in Texas, it is also known as the month that kicks off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It all begins with the trail rides.

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In 1952, four men rode on horseback from Brenham, Texas to Houston as a way to promote awareness of the Show. Now, over 4000 riders hit the trail as a part of thirteen trail rides that make their way to downtown Houston. The longest of these rides is 386 miles. It starts in Hildalgo, Texas and lasts for three weeks. That's a long time on a horse!

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The group I photographed is the Southwest Trail Riders Association. They started their ride in Rosenberg on Saturday, February 17 and rode ten miles to Needville where they camped for the night. On Sunday after lunch, we found them on Highway 36 in Damon about five miles from Needville. It's slow going on the trail. It will take them a week to make their way to Memorial Park, downtown Houston. There they will join the other trail ride associations in a big parade on Saturday.

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Horses and wagons don't look too out of place on country roads, but wait until they get to Houston. There they will be riding in the shadows of modern day sky scrapers and sharing the freeway with thousands of cars and eighteen wheelers. It's quite a sight! A one of a kind Texas experience.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Baby Gift #3

I decided to knit the rabbit from Natural Knits and sew a receiving blanket for this last baby gift.

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Though the stuffed animals in the book are not dressed and look cute that way, I thought the one I made looked unfinished and well...naked. So, I decided to attempt to sew a dress for it. Surprise, surprise, it actually worked!

I placed the knitted rabbit on a piece of paper and traced around the body with a pencil. Then, I drew a simple dress large enough to cover this shape. Using some left over fabric from the receiving blanket, I cut out the dress and somehow bungled my way through the rest of it. I don't have much experience in sewing clothes, so I know I went about most of the construction the hard way, but it worked and I'm happy with it.

Sewing this dress reminded me of the summer my grandmother made three wardrobes of Barbie Doll clothes for me and my two sisters. She made about six outfits for each of us. Unlike me, she is a very experienced seamstress. She drew out her patterns on brown paper grocery store sacks and constructed dresses, skirts, and blouses much prettier than store bought. My favorite was, of course, the evening gown. It was pale yellow satin, strapless, with a fitted bodice and a full skirt. Underneath was a petticoat of net that held the skirt out just right. Those Barbie clothes brought me many hours of fun and now that I've had a little taste of what it's like to sew something in a similar way, I appreciate them all the more. I doubt I have all them, but if I dig deep enough in the closet, I know I will find my old Barbie still dressed in my favorite yellow gown.

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Pattern: Cat, Rabbit, and Teddy Bear from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding (dress pattern not included)
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease
Colors (discontinued): Sugarplum, Strawberry Cream
Needles: US 6
Knitting and Sewing Time: 3 days

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Baby Gift #2

Two down, one to go.

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Pattern: Amelie Dress from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding
Yarn: Bernat Cotton Tots, 100% Cotton
Main Color: Pretty in Pink
Contrasting Color: Strawberry
Needles: US 4 and 5
Size: Up to 6 months
Knitting Time: 4 days

As you can see, this dress is very similar in styling to the vest I just made from the same book.

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Flower Embellishment
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The flower was extremely easy to make, not fiddly like some I've tried. It consists of only two rows of stitches: a cast on row and a bind off row. The sample dress in the book is embellished with several flowers, but I went with the theory of less is more.

The next baby gift will also be for a girl. I have a sweet little Debbie Bliss dress in mind, but I'm tempted to knit one of the stuffed animals (scroll down for picture) from Natural Knits instead.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Picnic in February

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Last week a business trip brought us to Oklahoma. We were close enough to drive over to Edmond for the weekend to visit with Matt and meet some of his friends. He wanted to cook hamburgers in the park.

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The weather looked promising, but clouds rolled in and it was a bit cool for a picnic. By the end, we were all huddled around the hibachi for warmth.

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We moved the party to the OC student center and spent the afternoon playing guitar and singing. It was a lot of fun. The burgers were good and the company was even better.

And of course, while we were right there, I stopped in at Mountain View Weavery. I was sorry to learn that Wanda's husband is seriously ill. Because of that, she is getting out of the business and has sold her inventory. Soon the weavery will be moving to Guthrie and will be called Weavery at Indian Meridian. I was still able to shop though as nothing has been moved yet. I bought some wool for spinning.

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Dyed Corriedale on the left and Gaywool Merino Silk 85/15 on the right.

I'm going to save the silk blend for when I'm more experienced with the wheel. The colors are gorgeous, though it's hard to tell from the picture. No sunlight here today and probably not much all week. I'm beginning to get a bad case of spring fever.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Baby Gift

There have been several families at church that have been blessed with new babies. I'm a little late with a some of the gifts, so I considered giving something store bought, but John convinced me to knit something as I usually do. I'm glad I did, because this vest was a lot of fun to make.

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Pattern: Oz Vest from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool (less than 2 balls), worsted weight, 100% wool
Color: 123 Sage
Needles: US 4 and US 5
Size: Up to 6 months
Time to knit: One weekend

I didn't use the recommended weight yarn (DK) for this project, so I had to play around with the needle size and the cast on stitches. I ended up casting on the number of stitches (45) recommended for the newborn size, but working the length for the 6 month size. I used the smallest needles I could manage with worsted weight yarn without it becoming too difficult to work with. The results were just what I was hoping for.

This was the first time I have used the Lion Brand Wool yarn. I liked it and will use it again. The price is right and it's sold at a store that is closer to my house than any of the "local" yarn shops.

The vest is knitted in two pieces: front and back. It's easy enough for a beginner. The most difficult skill would perhaps be picking up stitches along the neckline and armholes. There is some seaming of course, but not too much because it's such a small project.

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The buttons on the shoulder insure that this vest will be easy to put on and take off. I robbed these buttons from an old shirt of mine that doesn't fit well anymore and isn't in good enough shape to give away. Recycling is a good thing.

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The garter stitch rows are left unsewn to create a vent. It's a nice detail.

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The next two baby gifts I need to make will be for girls. I'm currently working on a cute little dress from the same book this vest is from.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Know What He Likes

I'm married to a fisherman.

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He would fish every day if he could.

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Fishing makes him happy.

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Hand knit socks make him happy too.

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Perhaps this pair will become his "lucky" fishing socks. However, I've been told luck has little to do with it.

Pattern: 2x2 ribbed leg, short row heels and toes, worked on 76 stitches
Yarn: Online Supersocke 100, 75% Wool, 25% Nylon
Color: 0890
Needles: US 1 dpns

By the way, I just took a count of all the socks I've made since I learned to knit and this is pair number 12.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Spinning Central


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The wheel was humming last week. My spinning is improving and I tried plying for the first time. All but one skein of the yarn pictured above was spun last week. The yarn on the far right was spun when I first set up the wheel last month. Can you see the improvement? I can and it's encouraging.

I enjoyed plying. My wheel has a lazy kate on board, but I took the advice of Patsy Zawistoski and placed my bobbins in two dishpans on the floor on either side of me. The weight of the bobbins helped to tension the yarn as I plied it. The dishpans kept the bobbins corralled. The yarn had been spun for several days and I didn't have much trouble keeping everything under control.

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I thought about leaving the yarn I had spun back in December as a single, but when I saw how nicely plying balances out inconsistent spinning, I decided to give it a try. I had already skeined it up however, so I put it on the swift and wound it into a center pull ball. I then plied from both ends. This worked well also.

The only trouble I ran into was when I decided to spin up the last of this particular roving and ply it that same day. There was just enough to fill one bobbin, so I plied from a center pull ball. It was difficult to work with fresh off the bobbin like that. The ends kept twisting together and I broke the yarn in a few places where I hadn't spun it tight enough. I think next time I will let it rest a few days before I ply.

I'm finding this learning process to be so much fun!


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One of John's coworkers, Amy, gifted me with these two balls of roving. I was very excited when he came home with them. It was a complete surprise. Amy said she has a whole garbage bag of roving that her mother gave her and she wanted to share some of it with me. Her mom used to do a lot of crafting and would use the roving for hair and beards on dolls that she would make. She bought the roving from a woman in Oakland, Illinois who raised her own sheep. I'm not sure what kind of the sheep this wool is from. All of the tags that came with the roving are missing now, except for one that said the wool was from Bessie.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nature Photography

John's green socks are finished, yarn has been spun and plied and there is new fiber in the house. As soon as the sun cooperates, there will pictures. Until then, I'll share some shots taken at Brazos Bend State Park last month.

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