Beware the Pomegranate Popsicles

It's hot here in Tucson. I mean, really hot (though not nearly as hot as it's going to get in a few weeks, yay). So, M and I have taken to filling the freezer with Dreyer's (Edy's for those of you East of the Mississippi) Fruit Bars as a healthier alternative to ice cream. And now they come in all these healthy-sounding flavors like blueberry-acai and pomegranate. And they are tasty, but I need to warn everyone to be careful with the pomegranate ones -- they bite. Remember the light post scene in A Christmas Story? Well, these popsicles won't stick to your tongue, but they do have a nasty habit of grabbing onto your inner lip and not letting go. Ouch!

Don't say I didn't warn you! Now, on to the fiber....

Taking it slow so I don't overwhelm the blog or myself, I think I'll start with something a bit different, a weaving project.

A few months ago, M came home and said that someone at church had suggested that we get our interim minister a nice handmade stole as a going away present. M, of course, piped up and said that I could probably make him one. It would have to be something that would remind him of the southwest and his time with us, perhaps a bit over the top, and it should be makeable primarily with yarn from the stash.

And why not learn something along the way? After I pretty much decided that I wanted motifs of a saguaro cactus and our church's unique twisted cross, I figured I needed to learn inlay, specifically Theo Moorman inlay. I searched, and I read articles, and I desperately wished my public library had a better selection of weaving books, and I read some more. I even put in a call to Sandra Briney (whose work makes me drool) who agreed to let me watch her weave to see how it's done (though we never were able to actually connect). But eventually, you just have to dress the loom and play with it, right?

So I did. The test warp was two reddish shades of Valley Cotton 5/2 and some burgundy sewing thread. The cotton (sett: 16 epi) was threaded for plain weave on shafts 1 & 2; the thread (sett: 8 epi) was threaded for plain weave on shafts 3 & 4; order of the threads was 2 cotton/1 thread across the warp with four ends of cotton on either side. Winding the warp was fun (NOT!). I used the warping paddle, but the thread was so fine that it tangled terribly and made things difficult -- though I'm convinced not as tedious as winding one end at a time would have been.

Moorman Inlay Saguaro Test

Here it is -- my first ever attempt at weaving inlay. The process is fairly simple, and the possibilities with this technique are just about endless. I was hooked.

Moorman Inlay Cross

Since there was a bunch of warp left after I finished testing both of the cartoons for the stole, I decided to play. I kinda like this cross (supplemental weft is some leftover ArtYarns Ultramerino 4).

Then it was time to get down to business. I decided (to avoid having to do either of the motifs upside down, as well as to avoid tension issues caused by the difference in takeup between the ground warp and the inlay warp) to do the two sides of the stole as separate pieces and seam at the top.

The "Front" of Jeff's Stole

Here are the two pieces after washing, but before stole assembly. If I had it to do again, I would make the saguaro narrower to balance it a bit better with the cross, but all-in-all I was very pleased.

But the stole needed a back, for two reasons: 1) it was a bit light with just the single layer of cotton; and 2) how many times, really, is one going to wear a stole with a saguaro on it in Minnesota? A green stole (the color for ordinary time, which is the majority of the liturgical year) should be a bit more universal than that.

So a back it got. The original plan was for a plain green field with some doubleweave blocks of white in an offset stripe, so I wound a warp with the same greens I'd used for the front of the stole with a secondary warp of natural 1.5" wide 1.5" in from one side. But the blocks weren't to be because when I wove the doubleweave section in a twill to join the two warps I liked the look of twill so well I never looked back.

Twill Detail

Backing fabric woven, all that was left was assembly and fringing, and a stole was born.

Jeff's Gifts

Here it is on the altar, flanked by the two gorgeous stained glass plates handmade by another member as part of Jeff's going away gift (no one can say we don't treat our pastors, even the interims, well on the way out).

Jeff With HIs Stole

And here it is on Jeff. I feel so short -- this stole hangs all the way to my ankles, and on him it comes to just below the knees.

Project Details (Front)

Warp: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934 and 5398
Inlay Warp: Polyester machine embroidery thread in dark sage
Weft: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934
Inlay Weft: Louisa Harding Jasmine #6
Sett: 16 epi (cotton)/8 epi (thread)

Project Details (Back)
Warp: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934 and 5398
Secondary Warp: Valley Cotton 5/2 #8176
Weft: Valley Cotton 5/2 #5934
Sett: 16 epi (32 epi in the doubleweave section)
Doubleweave twill section: 1.5" wide set 1.5" in from the edge


Today, the United Church of Christ premiered its Internet-only ad. This is what a progressive, grace-filled, diverse and loving church looks like.

In Which a Trip Through the Olympics with Pink Socks and a Traveling Woman Leads to the Clap

First, an Olympic report: I am claiming victory, though not a Gold Medal, in the struggle. As the Canadians were barely beating the Americans in the gold medal hockey game, I was weaving in the last of the ends of the flap of the Olympic Satchel.

East Meets West Satchel
After a good long soak to relax all those tortured fibers, it got pinned out to dry. I have to admit that the intarsia section doesn't look as awful as I had feared (but note, I'm not providing a closeup pic just yet), and the stranded pieces came out great. I still need to do some duplicate stitching on the flap to add some dimension. Since I need to use the pieces to make the pattern for the lining, I either need to find something to make a pattern from then get to assembly or wait until M and I can get to the fabric store together to pick out the lining fabric so I can cut it out before assembling the bag.

Victory? I survived intarsia -- that's always a victory. To be perfectly honest, because the bag needs to be lined, I never expected that I would finish it by the end of the games, but at least I managed to finish the majority of the knitting (after assembly, there's about a mile of applied i-cord to do). And there's sooo much yarn left -- but I have a plan that maybe, just maybe, involves another shawl or two.

In other pink/purple knitting news, the Pink Breeze socks are done, and I love them.
A Cool Pink Breeze

Pattern: Breeze by Jennifer Appleby from Knitty, Summer 07
Yarn: Kollage Yarns Luscious in magenta, 2 skeins
Needle: Knit Picks Harmony 2.5mm 32" circ
Mods: added a 2" cuff; did plain slip-stitch heel flap

As I mentioned before, these magical socks fit my not-narrow size 8 feet and M's narrow size 10s just perfectly. And being cotton and short, they'll have a long wearing season here in Tucson (well, as long a wearing season as any socks have in the land of sandals). And I have mentioned on more than one occasion just how much I love working with Luscious.

And then there's the beauty I can't wait to get off the blocking board so I can wear it
Traveling Woman Shawl -- blocking

Pattern: Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Handarbeitskram by Selana sockyarn in "pink is beautiful", 1 skein
Needle: Knit Picks Nickel-Plated interchangeable, #6 w/32" cord
Mods: Increased stockinette section to 187 stitches; worked 4 repeats of chart A because I wanted to use all of the yarn. And I did use all of the yarn, plus about 1/2 yard of something else to finish the bind off.
Dimensions: 52" wide and 16" deep before blocking; 68" wide and 24" deep after blocking

I already love this shawl, and it's not even off the blocking board yet. Must wear it the first chance I get because it's nearing the end of shawl season here.

Next on the needles? A Clapotis -- I'm finally going to join the masses who've knitted and loved this pattern. Many moons ago I fell in love with some Jitterbug in Raphael and had to have it. Now, it is destined to become a Clapotis. Because I have only two skeins, it will be narrower -- plan is to weigh the ball, increase to 89-95 or so stitches (will decide when I get there), weigh the ball again to see how much the increase section took, then knit until I have just a bit more yarn than that left before starting the decreases. After reading a lot of notes on Ravelry, I've decided to start with a size 6 needle.

And, just because I can, gratuitous pictures of the stranded bits of the bag:
East Meets West Satchel

East Meets West Satchel

East Meets West Satchel

Monday is for Ends

These ends to be exact:
East Meets West Satchel - have some more ends
I finished knitting the body of the East Meets West Satchel last night (you'll have to take my word for it that I have already finished -- and even sewn in the ends on -- the strap -- right now a photograph would just look like a rolled bit of knitting, cuz that's pretty much what it is) -- today I must sew in the ends, secure and cut the steek, then pick up the stitches for the intarsia (yuck!) flap. Entering the home stretch as the Olympics enter their final week.

Of course, I lose a whole boatload of knitting time this coming weekend because M and I are going to a workshop Friday evening and all day Saturday, so I need to crank on this. Fortunately, the body pattern (knit starting with 478 stitches and decreasing over 65 rows down to 22) was a bit addictive, so I had no problem spending most of Sunday working on it while watch the Olympics (it has surprised me how easy it has been to knit this and watch the Olympics at the same time). I suppose I should admit that I have a late-night curling problem, so last night's bonus, bonus coverage of the overtime Canada-China women's game gave me the chance to finish the last couple of rounds.

[Anyone else just a bit obsessed with the curling? I have been fascinated by the sport since the first time I saw it (probably on ABC's Wide World of Sports when I was a kid). It's as least as much strategy as physical skill, which I think is probably the biggest reason I find it appealing (that, and how many other Olympic athletes are older than I am, really?). Besides, curling and hockey are the only things we get to see live here in the west. All that stuff the rest of you get to see live -- nope, not us. In fact, last night we watched much of the US-Canada hockey game live as it was happening (and nearly gave the cats heart failure when they scored that empty-netter) -- two hours later, we are watching the delayed broadcast of the prime time coverage on NBC and they break in to the bobsledding to show the end of the hockey game. I try to find it amusing and not annoying and satisfy myself with the fact that a lot of the stuff shown on the "live" prime time broadcast isn't really live anyway.]

East Meets West Satchel - body
Thought you might like to see a picture of the "pretty" side of the body -- pre-blocking, so it's all nice and wrinkly.

Pink and Breezy
Breeze in Hot Pink
Just to prove that it's not all stranded colorwork here, a finished "Breeze" sock in luscious magenta Luscious. This sock is like magic. Not only was it a joy to knit, but it magically fits my wide-ish size 8 feet AND M's narrow-ish size 10s. Now that's a sock I can love. I documented the mods I made to Jennifer's original Knitty pattern on Thursday.

Oh, and the thing that made M say "I hate you" twice in the last week? The strap for this bag starts with a 450-stitch cast-on; the body with a 478-stitch cast-on. Each time, I finished the long tail cast-on with about 16" of yarn left. Purely luck, I swear, but it made my day.

February is for Pink

Honest, I didn't plan it that way, but all of my current projects are some shade of pink or pink and purple:

Band Insertion Complete -- wider view
The East Meets West Satchel kit from KnitPicks in the purples colorway (which is really a whole lot of pink AND purple). This is the strap with the pink flower motif band insertion.

Last night I finished the 24-row insertion -- while watching Lindsey, Shani and Shaun all bring home the gold -- phew! I don't know for whom I am more relieved: myself, or the athletes who managed to live up to the hype.Band Insertion Complete -- short rows

As you can see from this picture the band is shaped with short rows to allow the bottom of the bag to widen gracefully from the handle. It's a very nice construction, and I do like the finished product, but ugh!, stranded colorwork knitted flat just isn't any fun. There's a reason that steeks exist, and I have to say that I am very, VERY happy that the body of the bag is knit in the round and steeked rather than knit in two pieces. But I'm done with that portion now, and it's knitting in the round for the forseeable future (I'm thinking after all that stranded purling, the intarsia of the flap is gonna be nothing).

That picture also gives a hint at one of the "joys" of this kind of colorwork: ends, ends, ends. Is now that proper time to confess that I actually enjoy most of the finishing process, INCLUDING weaving in ends?

Pink Thing #2

Pink Breeze
Okay, this one I confess was planned to be pink, since pink is the February color for the Solid Socks challenge on Ravelry.

Yarn is Kollage Yarns Luscious, a luscious blend of 63% cotton/37% nylon elastic, that is a joy to work with, a little heavier in the knitting than other sock yarns, and oh-so-soft in the wearing. Have I mentioned that I love this yarn? The pattern is Jennifer Appleby's Breeze from Knitty a couple years back.

Because the rules of the challenge specify a complete sock, and to make them more wearable (I wear footies to work out, and that's about it), I'm making these as short socks. I cast on 60 stitches and knit 5 rounds to get the rolled cuff. For the leg, I did two of the cable/lace panel without the garter stitches at the edge (one for the front and one for the back), and since I needed to add 4 more stitches, I added a mock cable at either side (which then splits at the gusset with one stitch going to the front and on becoming part of the heel). Make sense? I also used a simple slip stitch heel rather than the cabled one in the pattern.

Pink Thing #3

So, the bag is for knitting in front of the TV (21 balls of yarn and a whole book for the pattern doesn't make for portability); the Breeze socks are for knitting when the Olympics get too interesting to follow a chart; the Traveling Woman Shawl (pink thing #4) is resting for right now; but Sandy had nothing to knit while sitting in class or a workshop or while watching a movie, so:

A Simple Sock
The most basic-est of socks. Toe-up, short-row (probably) heel, stockinette stitch -- I can knit it in my sleep. Yarn is Filatura di Crosa Maxime Print Soft Socks.

Key-Key and Willow
That cat picture I posted before? Here they are today. Big difference, huh? That first picture was taken last September shortly after we adopted Willow (who was 4.5 months and 4.5 lbs at the time). Willow is now closer to 6 lbs and no longer has a baby face, but as you can see, she and K-Man are still the best of friends.

Back for the Olympics

Yeah, okay, it's been FOREVER, but I have my reasons (a vacation, a move, a crisis at church, a death in the family, a new addition to the family, good reasons all).

So, I am doing Stephanie's Knitting Olympics this year, and I don't want anyone to tell me the project I've chosen isn't challenging enough. It's pretty darn challenging when you consider it needs to be done in two weeks while watching sports on television.
East Meets West Satchel

This is the East Meets West Satchel kit in the purple colorway. I bought it for M for Christmas, knowing that she wasn't going to tackle it, but also knowing she fell in love with it when we first saw it in the catalog. I am looking forward to working on it, especially since my knitting of late has consisted of a lot of lace and a lot of felting (which I promise to share with the blog over the next few days). It'll be a nice change of pace to do some colorwork on tiny needles.

As you can see, I've already made myself a color card. There are 21 different colors in this thing, half of which are shades of pink and purple I could never keep straight without some help. My fingers are itching to cast on tonight.

Just off the needles (and off the blocking board):
Leaf and Trellis Shawl

Pattern: Leaf and Trellis Shawl from Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace in garnet, used approx 1145m
Needles: Knit Picks nickel-plated interchangeable 4mm with 32" cable and Knit Picks Harmony 8" DP 4mm for the border
Mods: As have many people with patterns from this book, I was going to run out of yarn if I used the beautiful border in the book, so I doodled up a very simple border which echoes the trellis pattern in the body of the shawl and allowed me to complete the shawl with 14g of yarn to spare. Also, the Silky Alpaca Lace is slightly finer than the yarn called for in the pattern, so I went down a needle size.

This is my first entry in the 10 Shawls in 2010 Challenge on Ravelry. I had originally hoped and planned to have it done in January, but it seemed to have a mind of its own (and then there was the freak eye injury thanks to one of the cats that kept me sidelined from knitting anything more complex than a garter-stitch blanket for a couple of days), so it wasn't off the needles until this past Wednesday.

I thoroughly enjoyed the knitting of this project and have become a convert to the knitted-on border idea. It's a little awkward at first, what with all that weight of the body getting in the way of working on the border, but once I was under way it was a delight. And I love the stitch pattern so much that I actually plan on making us some curtains (okay, valances and/or cafe curtains) using it sometime soon.

Next up for the 10 Shawls Challenge, Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante (aka Feministy). I already have the feeling that this will become (like my Daybreak Shawl has) a favorite:
Traveling Woman Shawl

The yarn is Handarbeitskrom by Selana Handpainted Sock Yarn in colorway "Pink is Beautiful", and I am loving the way the colors (more purple than pink, really) play in the stockinette portion of the shawl. I will probably keep this one around for the Olympics for when I need a break from colors and charts and just want to watch Shaun White flip and fly.

Check back soon for details on this:
Big Brother

And why we are now trying to furnish a massive outdoor room.