Sunday, October 2, 2011

Trip to Pennsylvania and "Daphne and Delilah"

Well, I am back home from a week long visit in PA. Ron and I went down to visit my parents. Our original intention was to be there for the Bloomsburg Fair which is a favorite attraction of mine, ever since I was a kid. Ron has come to like it too and we were both looking forward to it. However mother nature had other plans.

 A few weeks before the fair was to begin the rain started and then the flooding. And Bloomsburg became one of the hardest hit towns in the whole state. At one point twenty five percent of the town was underwater. While it was thought for a while after the flood water started to recede that the fair might still take place, the fair board made the wise decision to cancel. This was, I am fairly sure, the first time in the 157 year history of the fair that it was ever cancelled.

We still made the trip and got to visit family and friends which was great. But we also got to witness the damage that was done. Not only were basements and first floors flooded, but some of the hardest hit houses were actually swept right off their foundations by the force of the water. Some families abandoned their houses altogether while others have started the process of cleaning, repairing and rebuilding. It was really a sad sight to see and I am very thankful that my family was spared.

On a lighter note I got to make a fun present for a co-worker of mine. Well, actually for her daughter. I had been saying for a while that I wanted to make something for her so with her first birthday coming up the time was right. I decided to make her a "Daphne and Delilah" which is a momma and baby monster as designed by Rebecca Danger. My co-worker told me that her daughter's favorite color is yellow, so I made sure to incorporate a lot of it. I actually thought that the baby monster would probably be her favorite since it it all yellow, but she said that she actually carries the momma monster with her most of the time.

 If you take a look at the original pattern on Ravelry or on Rebecca's site, you'll see that both of the monster's have pointier teeth than what I decided on. I just figured that for a one-year old, rounder teeth might look a little more friendly!

Well, I guess I'm off to bed. I have to head back to work tomorrow. While I have a little bit of that end-of-vacation blues I must say that I do really enjoy my work and it will be nice to see my co-workers again (yes, I consider myself to be one of the lucky people who actually has nice co-workers!).

LISTENING TO: Blondie - "Panic Of Girls"

One of Ron's favorite bands is Blondie. I myself have enjoyed a lot of Blondie's hits over the years, but before I met Ron I wasn't one to rush out and buy their albums. The one exception to this is Parallel Lines which was one of their most popular and one that I still really like. However in the five years that Ron and I have been together I have heard a lot more of Blondie than I would have on my own and I've come to like them even more. So we were both excited to hear the new material. The good news is that the new album is quite a nice surprise. The band sounds refreshed, full of energy and ready for the airwaves again, some three decades after they began. The first single off the album is "Mother." I've linked the video below so you can take a listen for yourself. It's hard to believe that Debbie Harry is 65!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Geet! Claude!

A few projects ago I knit what has become one of my favorite "toy" projects. It's a "Geet" monster from Rebecca Danger's awesome Big Book Of Knitted Monsters. Now granted, I am an adult man, almost forty years old, but I love this little guy! What can I say, he just has so much personality! He has gone on road trips and camping trips with us. Here you can see him on our last camping trip having breakfast...

 And later that night we snapped this shot of him warming himself by the fire...

He was such a big hit that I decided I better make one for Ron, as I think he was feeling a little left out as far as pet monsters went. So I had him look through the book and he picked "Claude." So I went to work and here's the final result...

The two of them get along well and recently went on a bike trip with us in Acadia National Park. Here they are on the way to the park in their cupholer/carseats...

And finally, here's a shot of Geet on the trail, safely strapped onto the back of the bike. He wasn't wearing a helmet, but the way he's sitting under the seat I guess that could work like a helmet?...

All in all, very fun little guys to knit. FYI, the only modification I made from the original patterns was to stitch the eyes on instead of using safety eyes...the eyes that I had would have looked too small on this size monster so I grabbed some black yarn and stitched these on in place of the plastic ones. But I think they came out quite nicely anyway!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Testing, testing...

In an effort to expand the ways in which I can post to my blog I am trying out the ability to post via email. The thought is that if this works, I will be able to post from anywhere, at any time, and hopefully that will encourage me to post more frequently! Let's see...

Sent from my Palm Pixi on AT&T

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The finished shawl...

Well, the shawl has been done for a bit now, but I just haven't gotten around to posting the pictures, so here we go. This first shot is a mostly-over-all-view of the whole shawl.

This next one is a close-up of the top edge...

...and then the bottom "point."

This last one is a detail of the "lily of the valley" pattern.

I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of the finished project and I hope it was worth the wait to see them! I have actually made 4 other items since then so I'll have lots of reasons to hop on here much sooner than later and get them posted!

VEDA HILLE - "This Riot Life"

This album is a real beauty by one of Canada's finest singer/songwriters. It came about after a year of personal tragedy, the details of which are left unidentified by Veda herself. However following the impact from that year, Veda found her attention turning to her grandmother's copy of The Hymnary, a collection of traditional hymns printed in the 1930s. Six of the final album's tracks are based on hymns from this book. Most of them as they are altered in some way, though some are almost verbatim. While she defines herself as non-Christian, she found a power and intensity in the way that these songs channel ecstatic feeling. This may all sound a bit heavy or artsy, however it is handled with such skill that there is a real sense of joy and wonderment about the whole affair. Well worth a the image below to check out "Book Of Saints."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More On The Shawl

The work continues on the Triangular Summer Shawl. The time that I've spent working on this has been busy, so the progress has been a little slower than I'd like. But unlike the previous shawl I made, this one starts at the top (shoulder) edge. So I am working on the longest rows first and decreasing my way down to the bottom-most, narrowest portion. I think that this makes progress feel slower, but in a sense I have gotten a good percentage of my total knitting done in this part.

I am just finished with the first of three charts for the main body of the shawl. After the next two charts, all I'll have to do is create a lace edge that will then be sewn (kitchener stitched) onto the lower body of the piece. Hopefully I'll make some good progress tomorrow which I have off all by myself!

The picture above shows where I'm at right now. It's interesting to see the lace in this state because it really doesn't look like much. But I'm excited to see how it looks when all is done and it's been blocked. It should be quite amazing!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

For the love of "nupps"

So I've already started my second shawl. It is the Triangular Summer Shawl from Nancy Bush's "Knitted Lace Of Estonia." I am making this as a gift for my partner's Mom, Nancy. Below is a picture of what the finished shawl will look like...

What I'm discovering with this project, and the last one, is that I'm really loving knitting lace. This is coming as a revelation to me as I avoided it for so long. I thought it would be too involved or fiddly. How would I keep track of where I am in the pattern? What if I drop a stitich? But by taking my time, learning the techniques involved and picking up tips from other knitters sharing their experience, I'm now wondering why I waited so long to try it?!

Part of what I'm really having fun with on this shawl is the inclusion of the "nupp" (rhymes with "soup"). A nupp is a bobble-like feature that adds depth and texture to the shawl. They are used frequently in Estonian shawls. In the case of this shawl in particular, it makes up part of "lily of the valley" pattern.

A traditional nupp is started on the front and finished on the back . It is made by knitting into a stitch but leaving it on the left needle. Then do a YO. Then knit again into the same stitch, then do a YO, etc. Your last stitch will be a knit stitch and you will end up with either 5, 7 or 9 loops (your pattern will tell you how many) on your right needle, all originating from the one stitch on the left needle. Then remove the stitch from the left needle and continue with the pattern as usual. When you turn your work and purl across the back you will be faced with those groupings of loops. You will need to "close" the nupp by purling all 5, 7 or 9 loops together. This can be a tricky maneuver if you've made those loops too tight. That is why you need to take care when making the nupp on the front side to not only keep the tension loose but actually pull the loops a little with your right needle. This will assure that they'll be loose enough to allow you to purl them together. Nancy Bush demonstrates how easy the technique can be in this video.

My first attempts at making nupps were not very fun. In fact it was plain time-consuming and frustrating. I found that is was almost impossible to get my right needle into all the loops. So I looked into how others were doing them and found that people have come up with all kinds of "cheats" to making nupps in different ways. Some use crochet hooks to close the nupp. Some close the nupp on the front side instead of waiting to do it on the back. Some slipped the first half of the stitches to the right needle, purled what was on the left and then slipped the remaining stitches over. These all produced similar looking nupps. But after watching Nancy's nupp lesson, I found that I was able to purl them together easily. And now that I can make them without any trouble, they have become a fun element that I look forward to. And I like knowing that I am making them in the traditional Estonian way.

Here is a sneak peak of where I am on the shawl now. I sorta sloppily pinned it out to show the pattern a bit and you can see how the nupps are beginning to form the lily of the valley pattern.

You will no doubt notice that I have two lifelines across the work. I suppose there is really no reason to have two, but it's a habit I've gotten into. When I get to the point that I am ready to add a new one, I take out the one that is further back and make it the newest lifeline. Though I hopefully will never suddenly realize that I had so many mistakes that I'd need to frog back to the second lifeline, I figure it certainly doesn't hurt to have that double protection...just in case...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Leaf Pattern Lace Shawl

Hi there! Sorry it's been a while since my last post. But things have been busy, life moves at a fast pace, time flies when you're having fun, etc, etc, you know the routine...grin. What I've been doing with myself, knit-wise anyway, is working on a shawl for the last two months and it is now finished!

The pattern is the "Triangular Scarf in Leaf Pattern" by Nancy Bush from her book "Knitted Lace Of Estonia." It seems to be way too large and triangular to be considered a scarf to me but what do I know? In any case I made this for my Mom for Mother's Day and can't wait to deliver it to her. We are heading down to visit Mom and Dad in just over a week, so it will be a little late, but I'd much rather be able to give it to her in person than mail it down.

This is the first lace project I've worked on. I must say that it made me a little nervous at first. All those yarn overs, increases and do you keep track of them all? But I found that with a little patience and practice I got pretty good at it and my comfort level increased. One thing that I would recommend is using a lifeline. It isn't mentioned in Nancy's book (unless I missed it...), but putting in a lifeline every six or eight rows was a life saver on a couple occassions.

As I was knitting along it was hard to imagine what the final project would look like. Granted, I had the pictures in the book, but my blob of bunched up yarn looked nothing like that. So I kept on knitting, keeping the faith that mine might end up looking like the beautiful piece of lace pictured alongside the pattern.

And lo and behold, it did! The blocking process was actually pretty cool and made much easier using the blocking wires I got from Knit Picks. I imagine it would have been much more time consuming and a harder task overall to have to pin out each individual point. But using the blocking wires, t-pins and some foam interlocking flooring squares that I got at a local discount store, I had it done in no time. And what a transformation! Actually I enjoyed making this shawl so much that I've already started on my next one. I'll post an update soon to show you how it looks so far. Til then...