Monday, September 27, 2010

Up and down and back and forth...

My sister Christina has pointed out that my last post was a full month ago. And where haven't I been these few weeks? I feel as though I've hardly sat down until today, when I decided that enough is enough and I put my feet up.

I started the month with a visit to the Federal Building in Buffalo to be fingerprinted for my new green card. I learned that your fingerprints can actually wear off. Some of mine are almost gone. The officer taking my prints paused and regarded me with great satisfaction. "That's from work," she said. It didn't occur to me in time to say that it was probably caused by knitting needles. Books don't rub off your finger prints, tho if they could...

From there, we went on to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright House at GrayCliff on Lake Erie. We cruised through Cattaragus county, stopping only for Tim Horton's. We flew past the Zoar Valley which I really want to visit one of these days to it's waterfalls and old growth trees. Finally we wended our way up though Wyoming County to visit the Dancing Goat in Warsaw, where I welcomed Mara back to Western New York and purchased a skein of that Ella Ray Merino Laceweight that Chronic Knitting used for her Swallowtail. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. Eight and a half hours in the car that day and we never left New York State or went east of Rochester.

The rest of the month has been similar. I've picked raspberries in historic Egypt, giant mushrooms by Hemlock Lake and tomatoes from my own backyard. I've wandered the slopes of Harriet Hollister park. I've gadded about at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival and followed my favorite paths at Letchworth, where I must say there are too many people these days. I've knitted socks in the woods, at the car wash and on the road. I've showed off my summer knitting at the first Guild meeting. I finished the navy blue Swallowtail out of Mirasol Nuna - luscious Merino/Silk/Bamboo. Must mail it! At the Guild, I happened to glimpse 2 beautiful and perfect sweaters that Paula made over the summer out of Nuna. Very nice!

What have I not done? I have not finished the Swing Jacket or the Blue Mosaic bag. I've made a lot of progress on both but finished they are not.

The Swing jacket is almost done - just four more inches on the collar and then all I have to do is to sew the seams. I felted the blue bag. I had a disastrous adventure with a zipper which I sewed on and then had to carefully remove because it overstretched the edges. Sister Frances (not a nun) suggested the obvious - sew the zipper to a lining and then stitch the lining into the bag - brillant! Before I do that, however I must throw the bag back into the wash to calm the overstretched edges a bit. Pics below.

Puffball mushroom:

We picked this one, ate half and dried the other half in the oven for later:

View from Harriet Hollister:

Fiber Fest:

Nuna Swallowtail:

Hemlock Lake boat launch:

Letchworth trail:



Close-up after:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blues and Purples

I have interpreted the completion of the GS Catharina as a of license to start a whole host of new projects. The Swing Jacket is brought out only when mindless knitting is on the menu. It won't take long to finish it and the cold weather will motivate me soon enough. My logic may be bit shaky here, but knitting oughta be fun, right? Here is some of what I have been up to.

As mentioned in my last post, I started with playing with mosaic knitting, trying to take the technique beyond its usual geometric, crafty look. I used two pale shades of Berocco Seduce, a fine linen/microfibre yarn. One is off white and the other is a variegated blue/gray. I knit a 12' x 4.5" rectangle. I shaped one end of into a flap and sewed up the sides. The resulting fabric feels like a good linen suit jacket.

Here's a close-up. You can kinda, sorta see the mosaic pattern. Click. Click.

It's held shut by a snap underneath the button. You get to pore over your button collection for this project. Here, I've stuffed the bag with a little packet of tissues, but you can keep anything in it and toss it in your purse. Think presents!

Here's the back:

Next, I'll work a subtle variegated yarn against a bold background and see how that works out. I have some worsted weight so I'll make a larger bag. For the sake of comparison, I'll knit the same mosaic stitch pattern as I did for the small bag. I'm thinking of felting it. Hopefully it won't look too much like typical mosaic knitting, which I think rather imitates the look of very structured embroidery - okay in small bits. Mmmm..Malabrigo!

I also started a silky blue Swallowtail shoulder shawl for my elderly aunt (who is 91!)

Finally, I'm several repeats into the Handmaiden's Storm Water Shawl using 2 complimentary skeins of blue and purple Sea Silk. But let's keep that for another day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Subtle Mosaic

The book: Mosaic Knitting by Barbara Walker. A stitch dictionary of charted designs for mosaic knitting. I have only used this technique in small projects such as little bags to carry things inside another bag, ipod cases, glasses cases, etc. You could knit a variety of squares and sew them together.

The yarn: Berocco Seduce. 4% Rayon, 25% Linen, 17% Silk, 11% Nylon. A stiff and shiny yarn with no memory. I looked at it for months before biuying 2 skeins to try it out. It's kind of like knitting with a stiff flax.

The needles: 2mm / zero US. Warning: knitting stiff yarn with small needles can result in a headache, but otherwise, the result is good. There must be some yoga exercise for this.

I was warned that this yarn could be frustrating because it doesn't wind well and won't stay in a ball. I don't remember where I saw this in practice, but it came to mind that capturing the balls of yarn immediately after winding in footlets would work and did it ever! It's perfect. When you want more yarn you just pick up the thread and shake it out of the footlet. Can you read "no nonsense" on the toes?

After knitting a 4 inch by 12 inch piece, I cast off and put it overnight in a bath of Soak. I'm curious to see what that will do to it, remembering an article (New Yorker?) about some conservators who gave a bath to some medieval tapestries. They did time lapse photography so they could watch how the fibres moved and turned as it soaked. Or am I making this up?

So what's so subtle? Well, the darker yarn is variegated. You have to double click on a photo of the knitting to embiggen it to get an idea of what I'm talking about here. The variegation in the colour makes the hash mark motif in the pattern less visible, but it's still there. It's just subtler. I like that.

Hope to have better pictures tomorrow.