Thursday, May 28, 2009

adventures in shawl blocking

Thank you all so much for all your helpful advice. The shawl is done, blocked, and on its way to be delivered.

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I was very tempted to buy the large Sew EZ blocking board from the manufacturer for only $60. What appears to be the same blocking board is $82.99 at Patternworks. But I didn't want to spend the money and wait for the board to be delivered and wonder where I was going to stash it afterwards. My main plan for awhile was a big piece of cardboard covered with towels to slide under the bed, and Ann is right, I would have to vacuum up some serious dust bunnies. The carpets were out of the question since they're in high traffic areas. There is a nice post on Knitting Daily about alternative blocking board options.

Then I found these locking foam mats at Toys R Us for only $22 for four of them. They give me a total of 48 x 48 inch surface to nicely pin into. There was no real label on them and I don't see them on the website. I asked an employee if they had them and they were in the bike and scooter section for whatever reason. Knitpicks sells something similar, the blocks are smaller though you do get more of them. Below is my shawl pre-blocking and during blocking on the blue mats.

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Vital stats:
Pattern: Wool Peddler's Shawl from
Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool, color #7827, 3.5 skeins
Needle: size 8 bamboo

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Deborah
wondered if the pattern was written correctly because she was struggling with it. There is errata on this pattern here. Beyond the errata the pattern was not clear to me too, I didn't understand until I ripped back a few times that when I made the yarnover increases on the center spine and either end, the yarnovers should remain outside of the pattern repeat areas. Then when there are ten additional stitches added to the ends and either side of the middle spine, the markers are moved over to add a new repeat. Lace knitting kicks my ass there's no question about it, give me colorwork any day.

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Michelle
and Mary Beth both warned me that Cascade 200 is tough to block and would sproing back, and I could definitely see how that might be as I was knitting with it. Resorting to steam blocking sections on the ironing board was definitely a back up plan but it blocked out better than I hoped for. Skipping the spraying it down blocking method, I opted for soaking the whole thing in the sink and then pinning it. I didn't go crazy with the pinning but mainly just pinned the sides.


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The Huz just called from his grandma's and she is very happy with the shawl. She said no one has ever made anything like this by hand for her in her whole life, she's going to wear it until she dies, and then it will go in the casket with her and will match her leopard print dress. I think I did good.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

shawl blocking advice needed

The shawl that I'm making for the great grandma is moving along. This is my first shawl and as I'm working on it I'm having waves of feeling like I hate lace. All the counting and oooo, what happened to that stitch is getting to me, and then everything will seem fine. The pattern is from the Folk Shawls book and is the Wool Peddler's Shawl, the yarn is Cascade 220.

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There are only a couple more repeats of the pattern before it's done, but they are very loooong rows. I would love to have this thing done by the end of the weekend so I can move on to other things, plus the Huz is going down to visit her next week.

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Could I please have some improvised blocking advice from you shawloholics? I know lace shawls need the have the hell blocked out of them. I don't have a blocking board and have toyed with the idea of buying one, but I'm not ready to commit. Is there something that I could put over my bed for the day that I could pin into that would work? The rest of the house is overrun with children and a dog. Any advice would be appreciated.

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The weather is crazy gorgeous, it's time to start eating out on the deck.

TV: I'm very disappointed that Adam Lambert did not win American Idol, it's almost as bad as if John McCain had won the election. Oh well, on to So You Think You Can Dance, which I think is a more interesting show anyway.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

common cod and the nh sheep and wool

Last weekend was quite fiberrific. On Friday night, friends and I drove down to Boston to catch the Common Cod Fiber Guild's meeting. We've been planning on going for quite some time and finally the stars aligned and we made it. The talk was about textile mills in New England, specifically Rhode Island. The topic sounded dry but was actually quite interesting, and everyone was knitting, knitting, knitting during the talk. Michelle was there working on a crazy beautiful crocheted lace scarf, and we all sat together. Bonus points, I finished my Monkey socks during the meeting.

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Vital stats
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
Size 2 needles.
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Wisterious
purchased at The Yarn Basket

Monkey socks rock. The pattern make sense since it's nicely split onto four needles. It's easy to remember and looks more complicated than it is. I will definitely be making more of these. The yarn is a repeat too, I love the color and have almost enough left over to make a third sock. Here are the socks pre-blocking on Sunday at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. Breakfast in bed and a sheep and wool festival, the perfect Mother's Day.

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There was some attempt on my part to be restrained in my fiber purchasing, but I still came away with enough Cormo to knit a sweater and a bag of various colored bits of roving for who-knows-what. The Cormo was from The Spinning Bunny at the crazy cheap price of $36.75 for 7 skeins. The kids learned how to make felted bead necklaces at the festival, so they can use the roving if they want to make more. Here is Boy Thing modeling his creation.

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On the way home we stopped at Susty's, an incredible vegetarian restaurant in the least likely location. The kids had the nachos with soy cheese like last year and I had the curried vegetables on rice, spicy and delicious.

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If you missed SNL that night, you might have missed this hysterical and raunchy song by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

fashioning felt

Between the kids vacation last week and all the work I have, the blog has been taking a back seat. I did manage a one day trip into New York and caught the Fashioning Felt show at the Cooper Hewitt. Shows like this are food for my soul. The show is obviously about felt, and is a nice mix of historical, traditional work, art, industrial design and fashion. Here are some photos from the catalog, which is gorgeous and possibly even nicer the exhibit itself.

working felt in Turkmenistan

Women working felt in Turkmenistan. It looks like hard work, but they're having fun. I made a felt hat once during a felting workshop and was exhausted at the end of the day after fulling and fulling and dunking my hands in and out of soapy water, my arms were sore. I love the wonderful texture of felt and the magic that sheep fibers can mat down into this crazy fabric.

Handstitching felt in Kyrgyzstan

Hand-stitching felt in Krygyzstan. The thought of hand crafts that are done as a collective is so appealing, none of this holed up in a studio by yourself stuff.

Andrea Zittel felt dress

A felt dress by Andrea Zittel. What can I say, it's stunning. Beautiful seamless construction and contemporary styling. Maybe she means it as statement about living today, but can't I just like it because it's lovely?

dresses designed by Christine Birkle for Hut Up

Dresses designed by Christine Birkle and Manufactured by Hut Up. These dresses really are genius. They use absolutely minimal seaming. There is a layer of a gauzier fabric like silk or cotton and strips of felt laid over it. The shrinking of the felt shapes the waists, armholes, or necklines.

Urchin poufs by Christien Meindertsma

Poufs by Christien Meindertsma, manufactured by Flocks. Wouldn't you like to own one? I would. They're knitted with gigantic knitting needles out of felt rope.

Textile stones made of felt by Pernelle Fagerlund

Textile stones by Pernelle Fagerlund. These were my favorite things at the show. They're big enough to be poufs and I love the colors. Are they little alien pods waiting to hatch open?

felt pillows by me

No, these weren't at the show. I made them a few years ago and sold a few, these are the ones that came home to live with me. I still have a pile of felt sitting in the closet, the show is making me thinking about taking it out and working with it again.

Some of you were wondering what I was going to knit next, it's Monkey socks! My sock mojo is so strong that they're almost done. This is my first pair of Monkeys and I now know why there 8995 of them on Ravelry. The pattern makes sense and is easy to remember, the socks look a lot more complicated than they are, yay for Monkeys.

While we were down visiting the Huz's grandma, I found myself offering to knit her a shawl. She jumped on the offer and says she wants yellow, so a yellow shawl will be up next. I will go with one of shawls from the Folk Shawls book. Oh no, what about all the zillions of other projects I have cooked up?