Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Inspired Projects

It was not my intention to be away from my blog for so long.  My computer has been down for a couple of weeks thanks to my cable company.  Exactly why I hesitate to make changes to ANY services we have.  Anyway, I'm back and have been busy with many projects. 
My grandson turned 8 in October and decided he wanted a pirate birthday party.  As the resident cake baker I decided to go all out on this one.  It was super fun!
I made a four layer round cake.  The top two layers are 8", the bottom two are 9".  All layers were frosted with off-white buttercream icing.  For the map, stripes, skeleton scarf and eye patch I used prepared fondant.  It came in all white so I kneaded the gel colors into the fondant for each piece.  Then for ease of rolling I used my hand crank pasta machine.  The skeleton was formed out of rice krispie treats and then dipped in white chocolate.  On the map I used gel colors and paint brush to paint on the features.  The treasure box of course is made out of chocolate graham crackers. The plastic chain and play plastic sword gave it a really dramatic effect. 

On the yarn and needle side I was inspired by a class I took with Edie Eckman.  Edie highlighted the techniques from her new books.
  She has some wonderfully beautiful crochet motifs in the Connect the Shapes book. I am envisioning a table runner and placemats with some of these interesting motifs.  I was especially 
inspired by her free-form crochet hand bag.

So of course, I had to try my own.  I used Noro and separated the long colorways by color.  What do you think?  I added a zippered and pocketed lining, purse feet, an acrylic purse bottom and store-bought handles.  The base material is plastic canvas.
On My Needles Now
Currently I am designing a Christmas gift.  My grandsons love to get dressed up.  My youngest grandson requested an orange, button-down vest.  It features an argyle-look cable up one side.  The vest will be v-neck with four leather buttons.  The button band is worked simultaneously with the piece and will "wrap" around the neck. 
What are you working on for Holiday gifts?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Head-Turner Hat

Reversible Unisex Hat
The Head-Turner Hat is knit in one piece and is reversible by turning it inside out.  Available in my Ravelry Store.
Stayed tuned for my next blog post which will be a tutorial on how to do a jogless join which is a technique used in this pattern.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Coming Soon- New Pattern

Back to Basics

During my journey through Level 1 of  The Knitting Guild Association's  Master Hand Knitting Course I realized that I really did need to go back to the basics and relearn some things that could improve my knitting skills.  As a self-taught knitter I had acquired some skills not quite up to par.  Although I have knitted some beautiful pieces that have been greatly admired there was room for some improvement.  To begin with, my cast on tension was too loose. Yes, Cast On!  The most basic of all techniques.  This is not something that had ever been pointed out to me before and so I never even thought that would be an issue!  After trying to concentrate on tension as I was casting on and trying to cast on with smaller needles, ultimately I broke down and researched how others were casting on.  To my surprise, my cast on technique was not demonstrated anywhere in the research that I found! After 40+ years of knitting I was going to have to learn a new way to cast on.  Well worth the research and effort I should say.  That turned out to be the most valuable lesson I learned during the Level 1 course.  My approach to Level 2 obviously has drastically changed.  Before jumping right into knitting all of those swatches I will be thoroughly researching each technique.  I highly recommend this course to any of you more advanced knitters who want to improve your knitting.  TKGA also has a course for beginning knitters.
Regardless if you decide to take the course or any other classes, I do feel that it is important to get back to basics if you want to be the best knitter you can be.  Don't be lazy about learning new techniques.  You spend a lot of time on those projects.  Why not make them fantastic? In the knitting groups that I attend I find that most if not all knitters are enthusiastic about sharing their knowlege and skills with others. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


On Tuesdays I typically listen to Marly Birds' Blog Talk Radio Program.  This week I had invited two friends (one a knitter, one a crocheter) to listen to the program.  As I was listening, it occurred to me that Marly and her guest were using acronyms that are well known to some knitters and crocheters, but not likely to the stitchers that I had invited to listen to the program.  There are some odd ones out there and it can be frustrating as you read blogs and listen to programs to try to figure out what these people are talking about.  So, I've made a small list of some of the acronyms that you might hear while at your  LYS (Local Yarn Shop) or when reading a blog or listening to a blogcast or podcast.
Please let me know if you have heard one that you don't know so I can update this list.
For stitch and pattern abbreviations visit the Craft Yarn Council website.
**ATK    Addicted to Knitting
CGOA  Crochet Guild of America

FO   Finished Object

Frog(ging)   Ripping out stitches

KAL   Knit-a-long

LYS   Local Yarn Shop

SABLE  Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

SEFAA  Southeastern Fiber Arts Alliance

TKGA  The Knitting Guild Association

TNNA  The National Needle Arts Association

UFO   Unfinished Object

VK   Vogue Knitting

WIP  Work(s) in Progress

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The "S" Word

Swatch.  There I said it.  Not a favorite topic among knitters for sure.  I think that most knitting teachers out there (at least in the classes I have taken) do a really good job of stressing the importance of swatching before beginning a project in order to check your gauge.  I have found though that books are bad about breezing over the subject.  Of course you always see "Take time to check your gauge".  In fact we see that statement so often that we tend to breeze over it.  It's like that note pinned to your fridge that is no longer needed but it's been there so long that you don't really see it anymore.  I don't want to bore you with the details of HOW to do your swatch and measure your swatch, but rather point out the importance of the swatch.  I learned the hard way.  I have made numerous sweaters that did not exactly fit the intended wearer.  So much wasted yarn and wasted time.  Let's say that you are making a sweater for a 36" bust.  Now follow me here.... Your needed gauge is 22 sts per 4".  That will mean that you will have a total of 198 sts across the bust line because 22 sts divided by 4" gives you 5.5 sts per inch.  Your bust is 36" multiplied by 5.5 sts gives you 198 sts. 
Now if your actual gauge is 20 sts per 4" you would have only 5 sts per inch.  That's not much right?  Only 1/2 stitch difference.  But keep in mind that it's a 1/2 stitch difference for every inch and you have 36 inches. At your actual gauge you would have only 180 sts across the bust. That is an 18 stitch difference in the number of sts at the bust. So if you ignore your gauge and go ahead and cast on according to your pattern then your sweater will be 3 1/3" larger than you wanted.

Enough of the boring stuff.  What do you do with all those swatches.  I know some knitters who catalogue their swatches and label them with the needle size, yarn used and stitch pattern.  I save my swatches however I do not catalogue them.  I plan to use my swatches to Yarn Bomb a chair.  Stay tuned for that adventure! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Knitting Before Youtube

Level I of the TKGA Master Hand Knitting program would be a breeze, I thought.  After all I have been knitting for 40+ years.  Boy do I have a lot to learn! Mind you, when I learned to knit at the age of 8 there was no internet- no youtube.  I learned the basics from mom, sister, and grandmothers, books and magazines but I do consider myself a self-taught knitter.  My earliest memory of knitting is sitting in our livingroom, my mom in the kitchen and her yelling out the next set of instructions for the simple slippers I would make.  I think today the simple first project of choice is a dishcloth in cotton yarn.  I have actually never made a dishcloth!  My first garment project was completed during a family cross country road trip from Florida to California when I was 12. 
Yes, that would be the 70's!  My needles were really beaten up by the end of that trip! Everytime I would get out of the car one of my needles would fall onto the floorboard and land halfway out of the car so that when I got out and slammed the door shut I would dent the aluminum needle.  Eventually all of my needles were dented because I took my knitting everywhere.  In those early days I also remember knitting all of my Barbie's clothes and even some of my school projects.  I remember knitting a project for a middle school social studies class.  It was a pillow cube depicting a different department of government on each side.  Anything to feed my knitting addiction I guess! Growing up in South Florida, my sisters and I were the only ones wearing ponchos and heavy hats and scarves during the winter.  So years of knitting and never a class until I discovered "Stitches", a knitting expo in Atlanta.  The first year  Stitches came to Atlanta in 2010 I decided to take some classes, the first knitting classes I had ever taken.  A whole new world of knitting has opened up to me.  With the technology available and the resurgence of knitting going on the possibilities seem endless.  So much to learn and to perfect.  So much yarn, so little time! as they say.  So many opportunities out there.  Through this blog I hope to spread my passion for knitting and pass on some of my learning experiences for those of you that want to challenge yourselves.  I will be offering some original designs and patterns and sharing my journey through the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Program as I begin Level 2.  I hope to teach, to learn, to create! Places my knitting has gone with me:  the beach, jury duty and the trial, on a cruise ship at our muster station during our drill, a baseball game, the movies, Dr.'s offices, restaurants, airplanes, cross country train trip, camping, tennis matches, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Aruba........ to be continued.