27 June 2006

Summer = Fair Time

The state fair is coming and I am so excited. I was practically raised at fairs. My mom is, and my grandma was, a fair judge. They judge baked goods, jams, jellies, sewing, crafts, you name it, they can stick a ribbon (or not) on it. Some of my earliest memories are of hanging out watching the fair get all set up while my mom and grandma fed me bits of cookies they were judging. They say that when I was a baby they used to stick me in the closet at one particular fair to take naps.

When I was older, I was in 4-H and I had animals so I practically lived at our county fair. I accumulated boxes full of ribbons and my grandpa and uncle were embarassed every year when I made them drive me to the fair to pick up the boxes full of stuff that I had entered.

This is a long intro to explain to you how excited I was to see that Larissa started a State-Fair-Along! I entered some things in the Oregon State Fair for the 1st time last summer (I am not a native Oregonian) and was excited to win a blue ribbon for some cookies but was disappointed at the lack of competition in many of the categories, including knitting. So was Larissa. There are so many crafty people that aren't entering things in their fairs! So fellow Americans, knit, sew, bake, make something to enter in your local fair this has started a summer. It will be fun!

I just made this skirt but it is not fair quality. It's summertime-fun-in-the-sun quality and that's all I was going for. Please forgive the wrinkles, the white fabric is linen and I have been wearing it all evening. I used some of the fabric previously seen here.
So, what will I be knitting for the state fair? After much deliberation, I have decided on this:It's the ogee tunic from Knitting Nature. I'm using Knitpicks merino style in tide pool and I am already almost done with the 1st sleeve! Pretty exciting, huh? What could be more exciting than a partially finished sleeve? A package from my secret pal! I was so excited to get this in the mail! It's 2 skeins of knitpicks laceweight merino and a pattern for a shawl. The blue yarn is Cascade Pastaza-wool and llama! I've been fondling this yarn for a while now and have been wanting some. How did you know, secret pal? The colors of both are gorgeous- just what I'd choose for myself. I also got some great chocolate and fabulous stitch markers so I don't have to use those cheap plastic rings anymore. Thank you, thank you!

24 June 2006

Finally a finished picture! (and the letter M)

It's done and it fits!! I love my corset pullover. If you like it too, the pattern is free! That makes it even better in my mind.

Yarn: Knitpicks shine sport in hydrangea. The pattern called for a worsted weight yarn so this involved a LOT of math to adjust the pattern. I love the result. If anyone is interested in the pattern using a sport weight yarn, I can hook you up.
Needles: Size 6 denise interchangeables.
Ch-ch-changes: Besides the extreme change in gauge, not too much. I made it about an inch longer (as I do nearly everything). I also omitted the cinch straps on the sides and the sleeves. I didn't wan tto make the top any "fussier" than it already is and I also just wanted to be finished. The top is pretty and doesn't need anything else. I love the lace edgings and its femininity.

Speaking of femininity, I mentioned last time that I have a solution for my too-big, super-feminine "modern bustier." I haven't yet fixed it, though. I need a little distance from it right now. I'm mad at it for being too big but it'll eventually show up fixed.

I have a backlog of pictures to share with you so my letter M is going to be a couple of things- Monolith and Mt. St. Helens. In the last week, I've been to both of these famous Pacific Northwest landmarks. Last weekend my mom came up from California and we had a girl's weekend at the beach and went here.It's Haystack Rock, the 3rd largest Monolith in the world. A monolith is a feature that is made up of a single stone or rock (what's the difference?) and this one is 235 feet tall! It's in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Supposedly, puffins live on it but I didn't see any. My mom and I had a great weekend and it was so pretty at the beach! Today, Mike and I went to Mt. St. Helens - the volcano that erupted in 1980. It used to be pointy on the top but that blew off in 1980 and covered the area in massive amounts of ash. This web site has some cool pictures of it erupting.

Today we went to the Ape Cave Lava Tubes. It's a giant underground tunnel that was created by a lava flow when the volcano erupted somewhere around 2000 years ago. It was so cool! We climbed over huge boulder piles, navigated out way around puddles and had to wear sweatshirts and long pants even though it was 80 degrees today (it was cool 42 degrees in the cave). All of this in total darkness. Well, we had headlamps and a mag light but it was still dark! When we turned of our lights, I couldn't even see my hand when it was inches form my face. It was cool. Here are the best pictures we managed to take. I have a new knitting project but I think I've posted enough pictures for today and there's really not much to show yet, anyway.

21 June 2006

Yeah summer!

Happy summer solstice, everyone! My summer started out gloriously sunny and not too hot. A perfect day except that I was at work. At least I get to work outside. When I woke up this morning, my plan was to come home from work and put on my corset pullover and take some pictures out in the sunshine. (In my mind, my days don't really start until I come home from work. It's sad, really.)

It would have been perfect.The 1st day of summer was just so pretty that it made me think of strawberries and how I had to have some. So after work I bought pesticide-free strawberries from the farmer that grew them! and that had just been picked this afternoon! They are the best strawberries I have ever had and I don't say that lightly.

So, instead of modeling my corset pullover for you, I made strawberry-mint jam with mint from my garden. It's delicious. I wish I could share it with everyone.

Meanwhile, I am busy planning my next project. I'll just say that it involves the state fair and something from this beautiful book and I'm looking forward to knitting it. Details coming soon.Something else I'm excited about is my LAWN!! This is my "L" for the abc-along. For the last few months, my lawn has looked like this. Then it was seeded and mulched and for a while it looked like the back yard was a stable with all the straw. But now, after countless hours of hard work, baby grass is starting to grow through the straw mulch. I WILL have a lawn before the summer is over! Can you tell I'm excited? Croquet, here I come.

18 June 2006

The sweater reincarnated

This post is going to be mostly pictures and few words because it's late and I'm tired.

You may remember this sweater from a while back. The sweather that I loved for many years that finally got too many holes to wear. Well, I have transformed it into this!I felted it, embroidered it with spiderweb designs and added a lining and handles. The handles are just plastic tubing from Home Depot with some orange Lamb's Pride threaded through it. I love bags.
That's armwarmer #2 in the bag. The lining is a fun comic book print. I sewed 2 pockets to the inside and I matched the fabric exactly! I was quite impressed with myself. You can barely see them in the picture. One pocket is the lady and the other is the beach scene.I finished my corset pullover! It just needs a light blocking and then you'll get a modeled pic and all the details. It fits nicely and I'm really happy with it, which is exactly what I needed after the modern bustier disaster. Sorry I never posted a photo of that, by the way. Blogger freaked out on me and then my mom came to visit (so fun!!) and then I figured out how to fix it. Details to come.

In honor of Project Spectrum, here is a beautiful rainbow of flowers. Pioneer Square was all decked out in flowers in honor of the Rose Festival last weekend. Here's an ariel view and a picture of me and my hot, tired pup.
I love Portland. I also love knitting again, now that I am reminded that I can do something right!

I hope your week is off to a great start, fabulous blog readers.

05 June 2006

I finished it. Kind of.

Aaaahhhh! This is why it was better to have my bustier unfinished in my knitting basket. It is too big!! I measured and it seemed fine but when I sewed on the fabric and laced it up it's too big.

Just when I think maybe it's not that big and I can live with it and wear it, I move a certain way and the back of the top sags unflatteringly. I took a picture to prove that it's too big and I'm not just being everly critical but Blogger isn't letting me upload pictures right now.

I'll try to figure it out in the next few days because I really want this top to work! I love the yarn and the pattern is really pretty.

I have some ideas of how to fix it but I'm not too thrilled with any of them. I thought of sewing the knitted fabric closer to the grommets inthe back but even that won't tighten it up enough. I'd have to lose the lace-up back altogether and I don't want to do that. I also could fold the the knitted fabric and sew some darts into the back but I'm not sure how that would look. I'll try to figure it out in the next few days.

Any suggestions? I'm open to anything as long as I end up with a pretty tank top that fits!

04 June 2006

Fear of finishing be gone!

It is becoming apparent that I have a problem. A serious problem finishing my projects. I finished knitting this lovely tank top ages ago but only 1/2 the fabric is sewed on.

I try to make myself feel better by saying that I knit 2 mother's day scarves and 2 silly apple cozies in the meantime, proving I can finish things. But there's really no excuse. I've had plenty of time. The sunny weather has again turned rainy and grey so I couldn't even wear it if it were done, I tell myself. Again, not a worthy excuse. I could have finished it before the weather turned bad again.

I'm afraid of screwing it up in the final moments. It's knitted beautifully, the grommets are perfectly aligned but I'm afraid my sewing will mess it up. I need to get over this. Tonight, people, I will finish the stupidly named but very pretty Modern Bustier.

Ah but the finishing will not end there. I have finished knitting all the pieces of the corset pullover. Here is the 2nd sleeve. It will not sit in my basket for weeks. It doesn't matter that I have other projects I want to work on or that I enjoy knitting more than finishing. I will finish this in a timely manner.

I must admit, though, that once I finished this sleeve, I started something else. I have a good reason. Really, I do. Mike and I took the MAX downtown on Thursday night and the thought of sitting on the train with nothing to knit was terrible so I knitted this: It is much more suited to Portland's current weather than a summery cotton shirt. Sad but true. I finished it last night but I will not start the other until I finish seaming my other things.

We took MAX to the Rose Festival Waterfront Village. A fancy name for a carnival and we went because it was the 1st night so it was free. It was grey and rainy (no surprise) but still fun! We rode the ferris wheel. I hadn't ridden one in years so it was really fun!This is the carnival as seen from the ferris wheel. It's blurry because the ferris wheel was moving.

The carnival didn't have tickets for the rides, they had a credit card thing that you add money to and gets scanned at every ride! Everything is getting so modern. I liked tickets better. One benefit (maybe) is that the ferris wheel lady forgot to scan our card so we got to go on another ride for free! We picked a spinning ride and this is Mike, mid-spin.
On a completely unrelated note, I greatly enjoy seeing other blogger's lovely pictures of their cats. You probably are aware that I have a dog, but I like cats too and even have 2 of them. but they are greatly under-represented on my blog.

Because of this my letter K for the abc-along is for KITTIES! Before you get too excited, my pictures are boring because my cats are not nearly as interesting as yours seem to be. They sleep all the time. When not sleeping, they are outside far away from the camera.

This is Gatsby.I found him on Craigs List and after a rocky start he's a happy member of our household. He was freaked out by the dog even though the dog didn't bother him and then he ran away and we didn't see him for almost 2 weeks and I felt really, really horrible for losing him. Then he appeared on our front steps and wanted to come back in. During his adventure he must have decided that the dog is better than whatever he encountered while he was gone. His favorite thing is to get petted. Mike says he's pushy and needy while I just think he's lovey and snuggly.

This is Ramona. The pest. She is the prettier of the 2 and she has extra toes on all her feet. I got her before Mike and I got married and while he did help pick her out, she lived with me. After we got married, Ramona decided Mike is a million times better than me. She's a traitor. She lets Mike do whatever he wants to her but if I just walk by her the wrong way, she hisses and attacks me. Sometimes I think Mike loves her more than me. The only time Ramona ever wants to sit on my lap is when I'm knitting and I don't want her on my lap. I'm convinced she does it just to spite me.

I don't want to leave you with Grumpy Ramona so here is something more cheery. These pretty cotton prints were on sale the other day. Check back for some sewing projects in the future!

01 June 2006

Apple Cozy Pattern

Okay y'all. The Knitorama pattern sucked so much that I totally changed it when I knit my apple cozies. There's been some interest so I'll share it with you. Materials: I used size 8 dpns and Lion brand woolease. Guage doesn’t really matter, you just want it to fit an apple. If you get to the end of the increase section and it doesn’t seem big enough, add a few more increase rows and the same number of decrease rows to compensate. This will make your cozy both wider and taller to better hold those gigantic apples you can buy at the supermarket. This will also work if your yarn is thinner than worsted weight. Don’t forget, though, that the finished product will stretch!

CO 12 stitches and divide evenly on 4 dpns. Join for knitting in the round.
Row 1: knit across
Row 2: make 1 (m1) stitch at beginning of each needle – 16 st
Row 3: on each needle knit to 1 stitch before end, m1 – 20st
Rows 4-13: Repeat rows 2 & 3 five more times – 60 st

(This explanation might help you visualize the pattern. Each dpn holds the stitches for 1 side of the apple cozy plus 1 stitch to simulate a seam between each side. So after casting on, 2 stitches on each needle are the beginnings of one side and the 3rd stitch is the “seam” stitch. On the first increase row, you increase at the beginning of each of the four sides. On the next row, you increase at the end of each side, then knit the “seam” stitch. By doing this, you create evenly rounded sides and, therefore, an evenly rounded apple cozy. If you use fewer dpns or magic loop, just place markers between the stitches for each side and follow the instructions.)

Rows 14-15: knit across
Beginning with the next row, begin knitting back and forth, not in the round! (you could switch to a straight needle but I found it easiest to stick with the dpns)
Row 16: On each needle, purl the first stitch (this is your “seam” stitch), purl 2 together (p2tog), purl to end – 56 st
Row 17: slip, slip, knit (ssk) 1st 2 stitches on each needle, knit to end – 52 st
Rows 18-25: repeat rows 16 & 17 four more times – 20 stitches (5 on each needle)
Row 26: on each needle, purl 1, p2tog twice. On last dpn, CO 8 stitches.
BO all stitches.

Finishing: With scrap yarn, sew end of 8 cast on-bound off stitches to the edge of the cozy, making a loop.

Bobble button and leaf: I knitted these as written in the book, Knitorama, so I won’t post the patterns. It’s really easy, though. For the bobble, CO a few stitches, increase a few more, decrease and cast off. Then roll or fold up the tiny knitted piece you just made and sew it across from the loop you just made. Viola- a button!
The leaf is knitted the same way only bigger. CO a few stitches, increase a few more, knit several rows even, decrease down to 1 stitch to make a nice, pointy tip and bind off. Sew it on wherever you would like to embellish the apple.