Monday, December 31, 2007

Off to the Beach

Tommorrow starts 10 whole days off from my normal paid employment. (Being female, I never say "Off work" since I tend to spend more than a few hours of my vaction time catching up on housekeeping and other chores). In about 3 more days, Thursday that is, we'll be heading off to the beach. We have rented a cabin on the ocean in Port Turton, South Australia, on the Yorke Penisula, for 3 nights. I simply can't wait.

As usual, I had my knitting projects planned well in advance for this adventure. I spent some time trying to decide just what I was going to take with me, but decided my "main project" for this free time in the sun will be a fairly simple cotton top, using the 8 ply cotton and a pattern I bought from Bendigo Woolen Mills during my last vacation. (Nice way to tie the vacations together, I suppose.) It's easy, almost entirely stockinette stitch, so 99% of it will be perfect for knitting on the long car rides or sitting on the beach, but with picot edging to give it a bit of a fancy touch. It's one of those tops you can wear alone or under a jacket or blazer. The color is a light pea green shade. Don't ask me the actual name of it, I really can't recall. Still, I reckon it will match up with lots of other colors.

When I'm sitting around knitting, non-knitters always make comments like: "You must be so patient to do that". Wrong! I don't think knitters are patient people at all. Doggedly persistent maybe, but not patient.

As mentioned, I had planned well in advance to work on this project during this vacation. Nevertheless, after finishing all my Christmas knitting, and having finished everything but the trim on the "Russian Blue Cat" scarf, I found myself at loose ends when it came to an easy, work on anywhere project. So, right before Christmas, I started casting on stitches for the cotton top. I reasoned with myself that it would be well and truly started and I wouldn't have to do all that pesky cast on, rib border counting stuff while in the car on the trip over. Yep, I convinced myself. Now, a week or so later, well, I have about a third of the front done already. That still leaves me alot to knit on while I'm gone, and I'm going to take my Alpaca jacket as well, but really, I had intended to save it.

What is it about knitting, really, that makes you more impatient to start a project than you are to finish one?

Speaking of the Alpaca jacket (I've posted pics of this project before, mentioned fondly in my UFO thread, I believe), I've finished the back, one front, and half of the other front. This is what I want to take just to switch up and give me a break from the cotton, as I much prefer working on Alpaca (or any wool) to knitting up cotton, which can be slippery and hard to keep tension on, at least for me. It is in a "counting" phase, as I'm shaping the front around the sleeve holes and the collar, so it will be great for quiet times when I can concentrate.

I might also take the "Russian Blue Cat" scarf, just to work the trim on, but that's a whole bunch of knitting up, and I'm not sure I'll have gaps of "concentration" time that big. We'll see. If nothing else, it might go along for the ride. I'd really like to finish it, cause it's going to my cousin in Texas, and I'd love to get it to her while it's still winter over there.

Knitting on the beach! I can't wait!!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ironing things out

I don't know if it's my ironing board, or just ironing boards in general, but I just cant seem to get any of the covers to fit right. I keep buying them, and they are either way too small, or they are usable, but big, and I have to scrunch them up under the "nose" of the ironing board and then wrap the excess material in a rubber band to get that all important "tight fit".

About a year, maybe more, ago, my friend Ang gave me a box of old material scraps her mom had left at her house. She knew I took these odd fits of sewing, and thought they might come in handy. Some of it was potentially usable, including a nice huge peice of organze, but frankly, a lot of it was hideously ugly stuff, looking like remnants from projects making kitchen curtains and such in the 70's, with big teapots and flowers and such on them. The only thing I had previously used a piece for was to put under my kitchen stove so it wouldn't rip or scratch the linoleum when it needed pulled out from the counter to get fixed.

When my old "rubber-banded to fit" ironing board cover bit the dust, I was ready to go out and buy a new one, resigning myself to the poorly fitting option. They are cheap after all. Just the cloth to make one would generally cost you more than the already "made in China" products. Then I thought of the "ugly kitchen fabric" that I had resigned to the "i'll probably never use" box in the shed. I drug it out and found the tolerable fabric which you can see in the picture. Besides, it's an ironing board cover, not a peice of clothing or curtains or anything you really need to worry about looks-wise.

I used the foam backing from the old cover, which I had already trimmed down to fit the "nose" of my ironing board better. I would suggest this, as the foam backing practically never dies, and as a form of recycling, it's good for the planet. I'm not the tree hugging sort generally, but really, foam takes a few eternities to break down in a landfill, so if it's not necessary to change it, I can see no reason why you can't reuse it.

But, if your old foam backing just won't do, you can buy 2 or 3 mm thick foam commercially. Find a place in your home with enough floorspace, lay the foam on the floor, turn your ironing board upside down on top of it. Trace around the edges and trim a bit. Easy as that.

The amount of cloth you need is pretty simple, just measure the length of your ironing board and add on about 5 inches (12 cms). Now, you can either make a template for your cloth cover, or just do what I did. Lay your cloth out on the floor, wrong side up, and again flip over your ironing board. Grab a peice of chalk (I'm a huge fan of common colored chalk for marking sewing projects). As my ironing board is about 2 ins. (5 cm) deep, and you have to allow for the seams, I marked the fabric with a little chalk dash every few inches all the way around the board at about 4 inches (10 cms) from the edge, paying special attention to the curvy bits. Then I just whizzed around connecting the dots with my handy dandy La Sarta electric sewing scissors (which works a dream, I hate cutting out).

I did have to purchase some thin elastic. I got 2-1/2 meters of the stuff, which for my ironing board worked out well, with quite a bit left over. Total cost from "The Bridge Agency", or habadashery here in Murray Bridge, was $.75.

I went round the fabric, ironed under about a 1/4 inch, then did the same all over again. Then I sewed down this doubled hem. I took out the elastic, stretching it out as I went, and sewed that over the hem all the way around.

VIOLA!!! My ironing board cover. I know, I know, it's not knitting....but for a change, other things can be fun too. And best of all, it actually FITS!!! When ironing, I'm not constantly trying to straighten out my ironing board cover. For me, that certainly makes it worth the effort.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jessica's Scarf and the Christmas Delimma

When I started this blog, I had the intention of telling friends and family about it, so they could drop by here and check out my "creations"...particularly my family, most of whom are in the US..... sort of as a way for them to keep track of me. I didn't invite them over for a look right away, as it was more or less a work in progress, and I figured I'd wait until I had enough on here to make it vaguely interesting.

Then I realized: Christmas is coming. Time to knit those xmas pressies quicksmart. As most of these presents were destined for winter in Tennessee, hopefully to be stuck on or draped across a deserving family member, I thought it would be a bit difficult to be posting this work for them to see. Messes up the surprise factor on Christmas morning. So I figured I'd put off till the New Year any invites. With a couple of exceptions, I've done just that. Diddo that for work, with NO exceptions. I've recently started knitting up some bookmarks for workmates, and have purchased some cotton for a few washcloths. I reckon I need 7 or 8 in all, and with less than 2 weeks left, I have exactly 2 made so far. Ah well, I'll do my best. I have tonight off, and nothing urgent to do tomorrow, plus Tuesday and Wednesday off next week. Christmas shopping is all wrapped up, literally and figuratively. Hopefully I'll be able to turn out enough.

So, along with the 3 hats I knit up for my mom, aunt and sister mentioned in the earlier post, I also sent along in the package to Tennessee this scarf for my neice Jessica. She's a teen, so I went with the novelty yarn, some really stringy stuff from Lincraft. I used 9 needles and an off the cuff "pattern" which was really just the garter drop stitch (knit 4 rows, 5th row wrap yarn around needle twice, 6th row drop the extra wrap). I had seen a similar handmade scarf on a young girl I met here, and thought it looked great! I'm quite happy with the way this one turned out as well.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Three hats and a pattern

I made these three beanies as Christmas presents to send back to the states. Started out, I was just going to make one for my mom, but as it went so quickly and I had lots of yarn bits just perfect for the job lying around the house, I thought I'd make one for my sister and my aunt as well. I used different bits of yarn here and there, but basically, all were 12 or 14 ply wool yarn, and I used some of Spotlight's Yarn Bee novelty fur yarn to trim them in, which I picked up a couple of months back on sale for something like 1.49 per 50 g skein.

The pattern was very simple. I made them on straight needles and just put a seam in the back. I suppose that is sort of the cheaters way out when it comes to hats, but I find that if I'm careful with my seams, they really come out looking pretty darn good.

The pattern went something like this:
Winter Hats on Straight Needles:
Materials: 2 - 50g balls 12 (or 14) ply yarn

1 - matching novelty fur yarn

8mm straight needles

Cast on 70 stitches,

Knitting with one strand of 12 ply yarn and one strand of fur yarn:

Knit in 2x2 rib (1st row k2 p2 to end, ending with k2, 2nd row p2 k2 to end, ending with a p2, repeat these two rows for pattern) until work measures 9 cm.

Cut off novelty fur yarn, leaving a 6cm tail. Continue on in 2x2 rib, using only the 12 ply yarn until all of work measures 26 cm, ending with a purl row.

Begin shaping:

Row 1 : K2 tog, *P2, K2tog; rep from * to end. 52 stitches

Row 2 : P1, *K2,P1: rep from * to end

Row 3 : K1 *P2,K1: rep from * to end

Row 4 : As row 2

Row 5 : K1, *P2tog,K1: rep from * to end. 35 stitches

Row 6 : P1, *K1,P1: rep from * to end

Row 7 : K1, *P1,K1: rep from * to end

Row 8 : As row 6

Row 9 : K1, *K2tog: rep from * to end. 18 stitches

Row 10 : *P2tog: rep from * to end. 9 stitches

Cut yarn, leaving enough of a tail to pass thru the remaining stitches and also stitch up the seam of the hat.

Pass tail thru the remaining stitches, pull tightly and tie off, but DO NOT cut short. Sew in all ends. Then take the remainder of your very long tail, thread it into a yarn needle, and sew up the seam. Reminder: your fur area is going to turn up, so switch sides as your sewing the seam at the point of the fur, as to keep the ugly back of the seam out of sight.

Easy as! I don't often get to sit for 3 hours and just knit, but I reckon that would have been the sum total of my 15 minutes here and there it took me to knit these up!

Progress makes perfect

I'm rolling right along on the hood scarf for my cousin. So far, so good, although the real test I suppose will be to not get the back of the hat too pointy. As I'm planning to use the "three needle" join to join up the top seam, it could get a bit tricky, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I've been taking notes as I go along, and will get the pattern on here in good time, assuming everything comes out the way I intend. Meantime, here are some pics of the progress made so far.