Monday, November 20, 2006

The new Gay Rainbow Hat

I love the Half-Dome hat by Jesse Loesberg in the Summer 2006 issue of My first one was a great success and I love wearing it, even if I don' fit the criteria (having a decent head of hair).

However, one really wants to improve on an original sometimes, with apologies to the originator. I'm sure Picasso didn't appreciate all the people who followed him but he had to put up with it, so apologies to Jesse right now. Anyway, what I came up with by accident started at the top instead of at the bottom and since I am not a believer in sewing up much, I knit this one in the round with no seam to sew up at the end, just two ends to sew in, one top, one bottom.

The yarn for this one is from Lorna's Laces again - like the Heavenly Camisole. It's Shepherd Sport weight again, but the rainbow repeat is done from red to purple and back to purple so it's not just a simple red to purple, red to purple colouration. The colour sections are very short too, so one gets a lot of colour over all.

My design skills need work, of course, since when I was doing the math to work out the increases, I made a tiny error and instead of increasing on both sides of a quadrant of the hat, I managed to do my increases one at a time giving me not quadrants but octrants (oh I don't think that's a word, but it looks good so I'll keep it).

Here it is on my head - it's a little small for me but I stretched it over my big head anyway, just so I could show it off. It may have to go to my grandson, who is only five. Maybe it's too big for him.

And here it is, stuffed with a towel to show the increases in a better light.

This may not be Jesse's original hat, but I like it anyway. Any questions? Ask away.

The Amazing Multi-Purpose Washcloth

When I purchased my skein of this purple Euroflax linen, the intention was to make myself a washcloth to use in the swimming pool. I had already purchased some man-made fibre and used it, but since my gay knit group always introduced the new knitters to a simple washcloth to practice their new skills, it seemed that I was the only one without one, since I wasn’t a newbie.

I wanted to do something with a challenge though and I found it in the book Knitter’s Stash ( KS)which I had already used to make the Heavenly Camisole as a Christmas present for my friend Midge. The pattern that called to me was the Dragon Scales pattern which is found in other books as well – I found it most recently in the Vogue Knitting Stitchonary, (VKS) although there was a minor variation in the knitting instructions. KS called for an SSK decrease, while the VKS called for a K2tbl in its place. Seems I must have been psychic since I was actually using the K2tbl by mistake anyway.

Since I had a full skein, it seemed logical to use as much as the yarn as possible. The original pattern called for casting on 71 stitches to make a square washcloth. That gave a 5 pattern repeat. I didn’t need the piece that wide of course, so I cast on 45 stitches which gave a three pattern repeat instead. And I knit, and knit, and knit until I couldn’t stand it anymore and cast off with probably enough to do one more 12 row repeat. But who needed it? The washcloth was already 42 inches long which certainly was enough for me to hold in both hands and give my back a good scrub.

Here you see me demonstating the wonderful length of my washcloth. Forgive the partial nudity, but I am wearing my swimsuit which seemed to be the appropriate way to demonstrate the success of my endeavour. Just forgive the not quite perfect body. You do get to see my smile in the second picture of course.

Now what makes this the multi-purpose you ask? Well the next picture demonstrates how this lovely 42 inch washcloth will double quite nicely as a small but effective scarf. The good thing is that when this cloth is washed and dried in the dryer, or ironed with a nice hot iron, the linen softens up so that it is no longer scratchy as it is in its first iteration. Apparently the linen will continue to soften over time. The only disappointment is that although one can wear it to the pool on a cool winter’s evening, after using it as a washcloth it can’t be worn home quite so comfortably.

Me on my balcony with my rather mediaeval looking linen neckcloth.

Notwithstanding, this is a great success. I am very happy with my natural fibre washcloth and its alternate use as a scarf is just gravy. Good tasty gravy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Done Doily - Morning Glorys

My mother and aunt were both addicted to doilies, but my mother liked to crochet them. I was always impressed with the amazing doilies my aunt produced using her knitting needles though - I always wondered why she didn't crochet like my mother. Now I think that she actually didn't crochet anyway - knitting was her forte and if that meant she wanted a doily she had to knit it. So knit she did.

The doily here is one I made following the Knitalong provided by KnitterguyKev in my GLBknit list. He provided the pattern eight rows at a time and since in the beginning that meant knitting very little, I was somewhat impatient for the next week's pattern because I would finish the work very quickly. Things progressed though so by week four the rows were getting longer, the design a little more complicated and the challenge harder. And it did not do to make a mistake. Unknitting when one has done double yarn overs, and k3togs was more than a little difficult with the small gauge crochet cotton I was using.

This doily was knit using number 20 mercerized crochet cotton, and size 1, 2.25mm needles. A fine piece of work and when I was knitting something else and came back to these small needles it felt as if I was suddenly in the land of Brobdinag with Gulliver, attempting to work these tiny designs when I had such giant fingers.

In any case, I finished the doily on time, pinned it out finally and sprayed it with cotton starch today, ironed it out and it now takes pride of place on our side table. And I have come to an even better appreciation of the dedication my aunt made to her craft since her doilies were at least twice as big as this one, which is only about 9 1/2 inches in diameter, not including the crocheted chain edging.

I attempted to photograph it on the oak side table, but got a terrible reflection, so laid it out on my large ottoman which gives a much better view of the work. Thanks Kev, and congratulations to the other people who also finished, especially Renate who finished first!

 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dragon Scales and Country living

Our time in the country is at an end. It was a great getaway. We saw bighorn sheep on the way up four days ago, geese flying across the lake at sunset today, and lots of little quail, their topknots bobbing, running across the roads. And up here we had plenty of time to get in some good video watching, Mystery with the Inspector Lynley series, and tonight the first half of Painted Lady, a departure for Helen Mirren, but great television. (And there's even a gay character, although as it happens oh so often, we last saw him hanging, gagged and tied by a trick he picked up. But we think there's hope. We'll see when we watch the conclusion.)

Well, away from that gory image. I also got lots of knitting done and lots of ideas thunk through. Above you see my linen washcloth, which is another pattern from the Knitter's Stash book (home of the Heavenly Camisole). This one is in a lovely soft purple, although I've found that linen is not so soft to knit. I am promised that it will soften up in the wash. I will be the most expensively washed man after my swim workouts with the English Bay Swim Club, once this is finished. Since starting it today or was it yesterday? its at least double what you see here. I've given you two pictures, just because the lighting I used in them show the patterns differently and I thought that was worth a look. The yarn is Euroflax for those who were wondering and the pattern is called Dragon's Scales, which appealed to me. I have a feeling I saw it in one of those pattern books (Barbara W?) called Dragon Skin, but I haven't confirmed that.

I'm planning to make this piece at least a metre long - or rather, as long as I can make it with the yardage I have. That way I can use it to wash my back, that being the whole point.

Back to the city tomorrow, and my yoga class tomorrow night, my physio on Thursday - all those things I do to get my back back into shape. Posted by Picasa

Me knitting

I wanted to have a picture in my profile. It doesn't seem so easy to do, but I did get one in. Now Idon't know if I can delete the picture here, but hey, why bother? I'm sitting in our friend's cabin working on my dragon scales washcloth. More to come on that soon, with pictures. It's a gorgeous evening, after rain; we had a lovely sun spell, and then, just as the sun was setting a flock of geese flew by past the trees, over the lake and back again. Silhouetted against the sky they were a magnificent sight.

I've gotten lots of knitting done here, as well as some thinking about some things I want to knit. I have an idea for a hat, I'm thinking about knitting a jacket, (which I'll have to design myself), I want to knit two hats as Christmas presents, I still have my felted clogs to think about. I may have to take knitting needles with me to Mexico so I can knit on the beach, in Puerto Vallarta at the Blue Chairs, over Christmas, or in the New Year, on the nude beach at Puerto Angel. (That should look funny.)

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

The mystery doily and the Camisole in closeup

I couldn't resist putting in a picture of my work in progress. The doily is coming along and I have knit about six more rows since this was taken this afternoon. It's looking good.

Here's a better view of the pattern detail in the Heavenly Camisole. The original was a little fuzzy, you may remember. Thought folks would like to see it again.
Posted by Picasa

Blast from the past

I went shopping at a thrift store in Pentiction today and found these. I have a feeling some older person left her house to be cleaned up and the person doing the cleaning found these and delivered them to the thrift store. They were not there the last time I visited the shop about six weeks ago. It was odd to see these old needles, although a couple of them call them knitting pins instead (how British - or probably how Canadian since we are members of the Commonwealth).

Perhaps someone has some information about these that they can share - of course Aero is still available, but not in these wonderful packages. The backs have a lock so that the needles don't fall out. I picked up a size 14, a couple of 13's and a 12 as well as one 9. Not all the needles are original, and may not even be the same size in at least one package.

Also in the store were some old circulars with rather rough metal coiled lengths between the needles - they certainly would not give AddTurbos any competition. I left those in the store, although I did buy a couple of other circs that were not quite so old. Oh, and one last detail: I paid $1.00 for the the needle in the large pack and 50 cents each for the rest. Probably cheaper than the original.
 Posted by Picasa

Balls in waiting

Here are the next few balls of yarn waiting for work. The greens and oranges are destined to be felted clogs, while the purple linen is my potential linen washcloth for my swimming bag. I'll be the best washed person in the shower at this rate. I think I'm going to start this one today, since it's a rainy afternoon. A good cup of coffee, some light over my left shoulder and I will be on my way.

The multi-coloured (rainbow) yarn is from Lorna's Laces and needs a project - something gay? Well of course, suggestions welcomed. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Speed Demon

My husband and I drove to Naramata on Friday. It's in the wine region of British Columbia and about a five hour drive from Vancouver. It was raining very heavily when we left and it was good to finally get out of the rain, somewhere about four hours away. While we drove I was thinking about how I love to be speeding just a little too much. Even though I wasn't driving, having someone slow in front of us was a real frustration. The fact that the last couple of hours were on a winding mountain road made it even more challenging for me to hold my horses.

That made me think about my need for speed in knitting too. I have been knitting a "camisole" for a friend for Christmas and it has been a little like driving a freeway and a country road at the same time. There were 270 stitches on the needle and I was knitting in the round. The back is stockinette stitch and I just roared along knitting up a storm. But then I hit the slow road, the little country lane of lace, a 10 row repeat, every row different from the last and each one bringing me up short as I slowly worked out the pattern rhythm. And then, when the rhythm was moving along, I hit the straight-away again and off I went, speeding again for just a few minutes.

Of course then I hit the point where I had to divide to do the front and back separately. The straps in front nearly drove me crazy. My need to speed was compromising my need for accuracy, and I made so many mistakes. I wanted to be accurate and it seemed that on every row I discovered that there was a problem with the row below and I had to back up or find the error and fix it from above. I'm surprised I stuck with it, but of course I had to, since this was a Christmas present after all.

But now it's finished. I had the time here in Naramata in the cabin/cottage we are borrowing from a friend where I finally had the time to concentrate, get the two sides of the front done and then got to do the back - in stockinette stitch although even there I was slowed down on every purl row.

But hey, as a speed demon, I'm proud of the fact that the sweater took me only two weeks to complete. I started it just two Saturdays ago, the same afternoon I bought the yarn, so it has been a success. Now I just need to steam block it and crochet a nice edging round the outsides - not a thing I'm looking forward to, but at least it's not going to be a really big challenge.

Now I'm off to get other things done. I bought yarn to make some felted woolen clogs, some yarn to come up with a hat/tuque design that's running through my head, and I also have my knit-along doily to work on. I just got that transfered to circular needles, which should speed things along a little bit there too. Those bamboo needles were slowing me down, although that may have been a good thing since I shouldn't be rushing a lace design.