Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've been sewing.

I had planned to show off some baby knits this week, but my fabric came in for the nursery and I haven't stopped sewing long enough to take pictures.

crib bedding
Our living room ottomans are almost crib-sized.

Kind of like knitting, sewing is something I learned to do as a child and hated, but I think it sort of comes back easier if you have that background. Anyway, I haven't sewn from a pattern since I first learned, but since I couldn't find any girly bedding that I liked, I picked up Amy Butler's Little Stitches and decided to make my own.

crib skirt detail

So far I've made 4 crib sheets, a pillow cover, a bumper, and a crib skirt. I've got the panels for a matching twin bedskirt ready to be sewn to the muslin decking, and I'm still planning to make the changing table topper from the book and a quilt to go with the bedding.

pillow and crib sheets

The green floral and striped fabric are from Amy Butler's Lotus collection for Rowan, and the pink damask and pink floral fabrics are from Heather Bailey's Fresh Cut collection for Free Spirit. The front of the pillow is from Amy Butler's Nigella collection.

I've got lots of extra fabric, so I'll probably do a diaper bag, a window treatment and other random projects as well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stuff I sent my mom.

I'm in a better humor than last time I posted. Even though my ankle was hurting worse on Friday, for some reason over the weekend it was a lot better. Still not in spinning shape, but fine to walk on. So I was able to get a lot done around the house over the weekend, which made me feel better about other things. The nursery isn't in any better shape, but I feel like we can get started on it this weekend, which is an improvement. And I am going to sit down and make a list and order fabric for the bedding and stuff, so progress all around. Although when we went to the store yesterday to buy some veggies for a roast, we got Flashlight Girl at the checkout again. Some things never change.

As far as the baby knitting, I ripped the sweater and started knitting a smaller version, then I got an outfit that was 0-3 months and realized that the original sizing was maybe not so far off after all. But I won't need a sweater for 3 months size. When she's 3 months old, it will be June. So I can either keep knitting more of a newborn size and hope I have enough yarn and hope it fits, or rip again and knit something that has a shot at being worn more than once or twice. I haven't decided which.

In the meantime, I've been knitting a little lace. Remember I ordered the new Nancy Bush Estonian lace book, and I was sitting, needles primed and yarn in hand, on the front porch waiting for the mailman to bring it to me? Well, I have about 1,000 yards of my precious silk lace, and it seems like almost all of the projects in the book use about 600 yards or about 1300 yards. The yarn was too expensive to just use half, and I don't want to get almost to the end of a project and run out of yarn that I can't get more of. So, I'm saving my yarn until more projects get completed on Ravelry and I can better gauge what the yarn requirements are. In a moment of weakness, however, I ordered some Kidsilk Haze and cast on for a scarf from the book. I'm about 11 repeats in, now, 18 more to go. I've never knit with Kidsilk Haze before, and I. Love. It. Fuzzy halo and stitch definition -- how do they do it?

cracksilk haze
Exhibit A: Fuzzy Blob with Not-Quite-Accurate Color

In other news, I got some long-time projects completed and sent off to my mother. I felt bad for a while that these were sitting around not getting worked on. Did I not like knitting for Mom? (Who am I kidding? I only really like knitting for me. Or the baby, but that's sort of for me, too.) But then I realized that I tend to bite off a bit more than I want to chew with projects for her. I like to knit stuff that's challenging, but, geez. Maybe I should have designed a sweater from scratch for myself once before getting someone else's expectations all wrapped up in it.

Mom's Cabled Cardi

I think it turned out all right. I'm still not 100% completely happy with the neckband, but the weight of the clasps kind of pulls everything where it's supposed to be, so it wasn't worthwhile to rip and reknit again.

Mom's Cabled Cardi

I also didn't like the yarn. At all. It's Plymouth Suri Merino, and if you've been reading this blog very much at all, you've probably heard me complain that it makes my hands itch. When someone says, I'll buy the yarn if you'll make me a sweater, you kind of know going in that you're not going to be working with great yarn, but there is better inexpensive yarn out there. This was full of knots and slubby spots (there's one right in the middle of the back that drives me nuts) and I just don't like it.

The overall sweater came out nice, though. I like the design. I wish I had taken better notes.

The other project was a meditation cloth. She was telling me about how the color gold and amethyst crystals were supposed to channel energy for better meditation or something (can you tell that I was the one who always fell asleep during the meditation portions of yoga class?), and showed me her crystals and a gold placemat she had bought to use while she meditated. It seemed to me that the placemat was kind of a mood killer, so I thought maybe I could do better. So I dyed and spun some tussah silk into, if I do say so myself, a beautiful champagne-colored laceweight yarn.

Tussah Silk Laceweight

And then I knit the center motif of the Raku Suri Stole and began edging it with the Clematis Edging from Heirloom Knitting, placing a real amethyst bead at each point of the edging.

Mom's Meditation Cloth

Even though a large center motif meant that I was tied to the chart for every single row, it went pretty quickly until I started fishing through Heirloom Knitting for how to handle putting the edging around a corner. Ms. Miller recommends that, beginning about 20 stitches from the corner, you double up the edging so it eases around the curve. So, instead of casting off one stitch for every two rows of edging, I was casting off one stitch for every four rows of edging. And, if I remember correctly, there were 57 stitches on each side of the cloth, so after knitting 160 rows to turn a corner, I got to knit 34 rows straight before starting the next corner. And the edging had a 24-row repeat, so I never quite got that completely memorized, either. When life got in the way, it was easy to put down. I am in awe of the baby blanket on the cover of that book, which has the same edging around a much larger body of lace. It must have taken an age to finish.

Mom's Meditation Cloth

The decision to use real gemstone beads on handspun yarn wasn't one of my most inspired. Some of the beads had burrs inside the holes, and would snag and hang on the yarn as I slid them down, a process which, even if I had been using perfectly uniform yarn and smooth beads, I think I would have found annoying. It didn't rough up the yarn as much as I feard it would, though, and only caused one breakage.

Clematis Edging with Amethyst Beads

Once again, however, the final product turned out quite nicely. I hope it meditates well.

The next time I think I want to knit a gift for someone, though, I think I'll seriously consider a hat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm in a bad mood.


1. We found out on Thursday that we're having a little girl (yay!), but now that we know, I'm feeling even more pressure to get prepared than before, and it's overwhelming. We have nothing in the way of baby stuff. We still need to clear out the nursery of boxes from when we moved in, move the furniture around, paint, order the crib, make the crib bedding, AAH! So much! Every weekend I think we'll make some progress and we haven't made any yet. And with the holidays coming up, it's just going to get even harder.

2. I spent all weekend spinning yarn (Spunky Eclectic August Club -- Thermograph BFL) especially for a baby sweater, even though my left Achilles tendon started hurting early on in the process. (Is this a pregnancy thing? Spinning never hurt before.) I had the perfect picture in my head of this sideways-knit garter stitch yoke sweater in self-striping handspun. Finally this morning the yarn was dry and I got to start knitting, only to discover that the 1/3 month size is going to be 60 cm, or 23 inches, around and 9 1/2 inches from collar to hem. It looks big, very big. By one chart that I looked at, that would fit a one year old. Even worse, I don't have enough yarn to knit it at that size, meaning I have to rip and redesign or find another sweater pattern. So I crippled myself for nothing. And I'm not even going to knit her that many sweaters right now, because she'll be born in March, and it will be pretty warm then, and I'd be better off waiting until next winter and knitting to fit rather than hoping that something I knit her now will fit when it's cold enough to wear it.

3. After giving the baby sweater lots of glares and dirty looks, I got up and limped around the grocery store to get something for dinner, and then got the checkout girl who insists on shining my keychain flashlight in her eyes when she scans my Thank You card and saying, "Wow! That's a bright flashlight!"

Duchess says that if I'd just learn to take a good nap none of this would bother me so much. Or at least if I'd stop posing my knitting with her while she's trying to nap, it wouldn't bother her so much.