Tuesday, February 28, 2006

As Advertised…

Here are the silks I bought to do the current alphabet sampler I am doing a second time – this time in silk thread! It’s nearly all Splendor and Waterlilies.

Alphabet Sampler II

Now back to working on the first one…..

Monday, February 27, 2006

One of These Things is NOT Like the Others!

Yes, that’s right, let’s play the Sesame Street Game!

If you look at the pictures of my Kimono Blocks below, you will indeed find that ONE of those blocks is NOT like the others!

Now I wish I could take credit for spotting it – but I can’t. My friend lunchqueen had to point it out to me when I showed her the blocks! Hopefully I would have noticed it before I put the strips of blocks together….Sigh.

On a brighter note, here’s a picture of row 3 of my Alphabet Sampler, my current stitching project!

Alphabet Row 3

I am really enjoying this project! I had originally wanted to do it in silk threads, but could not find the colors I wanted. I bought an extra canvas for it and found the threads last week – so I may do two of them back to back! I’ll put up a picture of the materials soon. The silks are so beautiful! Hopefully they will be very satisfying to stitch with. It is ALL about the feel of fabric/thread/paper/silk/wool/etc. in my hands!

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Here it is, my entry in the Knitting Olympics – completely knitted, blocked, lined and ready to use!

Olympics 8

Time to party hardy in the USA section of the closing ceremonies tonight.

Congratulations to all my fellow Knitting Olympics competitors, and thanks to the YarnHarlot for sponsoring such a fun internet event! Yea!

Off to finish up some other projects…..

Friday, February 24, 2006

Into the final lap!

Sometimes the stars really do align. The ribbon I’m attaching to the top zipper and the ribbon with the stars on it are a perfect match! Go fig. It's not like I even bought them at the same time! I’ll use the grosgrain ribbon with the stars to attach the handles. The lining is shown underneath. The smaller zipper will be used for an interior pocket. There will be another flap pocket on the other side. Can’t have too many pockets! This bag/purse needs to be functional!

Here’s a shot of the interior materials:

Olympics 7

I assembled the lining this morning! I’ll be sewing it into the purse tomorrow – when it is completely dry! Yea!

This way I can listen to my music and party with the snowboarders at the Closing Ceremonies! ::checks the batteries in her mp3 player!::

Final Pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

COMMENTS, COMMENTS, COMMENTS – Plus a Knitting Olympics Update and more Kimono Blocks

Yikes! The Comments function is now fixed, so please leave me a comment if you wish! Sorry – I am clearly blog settings challenged. This is when it is good to have children with many more computer skills than you have. Coming attractions: Gallery and Instructions links!

As the Olympics draws to a close this weekend, I am hurrying to finish my Knitting Olympics project. I had a minor problem with finishing the top edge this morning. I was going to use a sewn tubular bind off – but it looked AWFUL after a couple of inches. Naturally, it took much longer to take out than it took to sew it. Isn’t that always how it happens? Anyhow, since I was including techniques to honor Elizabeth Zimmerman – the Mother of All Modern Knitting – I used an attached I-cord bind off. It looks fabulous, darling. But don’t take my word for it, looky here:

Olympics 6

It’s blocked on my ironing board. The last real challenge to finishing it on time is drying time! Will it be dry tomorrow? Saturday? Sunday???? I’ll make the lining tomorrow and hope for the best! By the way, the finished size is 10” x 14 ½”.

While that’s drying…….More Kimono Blocks!!!

First I did these two:

Kimono Blocks 3

Then I finished up this one:

Kimono Block 4

This is enough for a wall hanging, so I guess I’d better decide just how many of these I want to make. It’s always something!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More Kimono Blocks….More Waving Bye-Bye!

Here are the three Kimono Blocks I made yesterday:

Kimono Blocks 2

If I like this pattern so much, why do I keep making mistakes with it? That’s just the way paper piecing goes at my house.

Also, take a look at that pretty in pink piping! I found that nice shiny pink stuff in my stash – I know Hello Kitty would approve! This cute little Hello Kitty monogrammed pillowcase left to go find it’s new owner today. Fun to make, fun to give… Once I get my blog issues figured out, I’ll post a link with directions for it!


Now back to knitting!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Kimono Squares and Olympic Knitting Update

The Kimono Quilt class I took yesterday was really good. Here is a picture of the first three blocks I made:

First 3 Kimono Blocks

I made 3 more blocks today – pictures tomorrow, maybe.

As for the Knitting Olympics, the closer I get to the end of the knitting phase, the more work I see I have left to do! Here’s a picture of my almost completely knitted bag with brocades I am considering for the lining. It’s still going well – let’s hope I don’t fall like all those ice dancers last night! The USA ice dancers currently in second place are local folk, so I’ll be watching, cheering them on and knitting later tonight! Tanith Belbin and partner Ben Agosto train in Canton, MI, about 20 miles from me - and my Senator got Tanith her citizenship so she could compete as an American. (She's originally from Canada, which is just south of here, LOL!)

Which lining? So many brocades, so many choices…

Olympics 5

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Olympics Update!

Design decisions are now complete, and the next “leg” of the project is, too. Here’s the latest picture including the stockinette bands in orange and purple variegated yarns:

Olympics 4

It’s going well, but there’s still more work to do! More knitting, sewing, blocking, lining and finishing! Still going for the gold….

Meanwhile, before I signed up for the Knitting Olympics, I signed up for a quilting class that is tomorrow. It’s a paper piecing block with kimonos as the subject matter. Here’s a picture of the pattern and some of my Asian fabrics from my stash.

Kimono Quilt

Think that’s all? Heh, then you can’t be a quilter!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I feel like I just completed the downhill without missing a pole. Or maybe I just did my first triple axel in competition? Perhaps it’s more like I got my music on my ipod to play exactly how I wanted it as I surfed the half pipe……Whatever.

In any case, I have now completed my Fair Isle band on the purse. ::bows:: Yes, the crowds went wild here at the Knitting Olympics!

Olympics 3

Now I need to make some design decisions. Which colors should I use for the plainer bands? Should I do the seed stitched self handle, or not? No worries, this is what training is for!

I think I can finish in time, but the project must be blocked and lined before the flame goes out….

More soonish….

(The Yarn Harlot has added a countdown clock to her blog for the Knitting Olympics. Ohhhhhh…..scary…..)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Say Goodbye to Hello Kitty!

Wave goodbye to the cute Hello Kitty Pillowcases!

Hello Kitty

At Christmastime, I made three Hello Kitty Monogrammed Pillowcases for my three youngest nieces. We put their Christmas Presents inside and the little girls really liked them. After Christmas, I figured I knew some big girls who would like to have their own Hello Kitty Monogrammed Pillowcase, too! I mailed these three off today!

Hope their recipients like them.

Also, since I can’t knit too much or my hands will suffer, I completed the second row on my current stitching project:

Alphabet row 2

So many projects, so little time……

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Strength and Endurance!

OK then, here’s my second section of my Knitting Olympics bag finished.

Olympics 2

I am pleased it’s going so well, but now I am to the Fair Isle section of the piece. Doing 20 rows of it may take a few days….providing I don’t have any problems. I won’t post any new Knitting Olympics pictures until then. One note, however, with the variegated yarns and bright colors I am using, this is definitely NOT going to look anything like a traditional Fair Isle. Which is fine with me. Not your Grandmother’s Fair Isle. Or your Mother’s either!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Opening Ceremonies

Wow! Talk about spectacle! Did you enjoy the opening ceremonies? I did – at least until Battlestar Gallactica came on. Good thing that Luciano Pavoratti sang Nesun Dorma during a commercial break or I would have missed it. It was the BEST!! His voice is still so outstanding.

Now, on to my Knitting Olympics update! Here is a picture of my progess during the opening ceremonies.

Olympics 1

As you can see, I cast on to the circular needle and it worked out fine! Didn’t need the back up double points after all! I got the first moss stitch portion of the bag done. 14 rows. That is a lot of knitting for me in one sitting! Off to a strong start.

Just a few more stockinette stitch rows and garter stitch rows, then it will be time to do the Fair Isle portion. Now, just because I’m doing a Fair Isle doesn’t mean it will look like a traditional Fair Isle. Not at all! Stay tuned….color burst ahead!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Stitchin’ and Hopin’

Here’s a picture of my current stitching project:

Alphabet Row 1

I figured I would post it as I complete each row, and then the final borders. This is a canvas work project, with each square filled with a different stitch – one that starts with the letter in the box, of course. The use of gradients of color adds a lot to the piece. I choose to use a palate of peaches with a punch of violet. Lights tend to show the stitch work better.

As with all stitching projects, this one is Long Term. The completion of the grid lines, corners, letters and the first row represents approximately thirty hours of work. Needless to say, I won’t be getting a lot done during the Knitting Olympics!

Winning Strategies

I’ve been thinking about how to approach this Olympic project just as one of the athletes would. First and foremost, I need a winning strategy. That requires flexibility, commitment, drive and endurance.

I need the right tools for the job – and I became convinced that while the 24” circular needle might suffice, I didn’t want to cast on with it and then find out it was too big or stretched out the work in an undesirable way. So, calls to five more knit shops yielded a set of long doubled pointed needles, size 9. There are only 4 in the pack, and I have a strong preference for 5, so I intend to mix in my smaller size 9 double points to supplement them. I feel comfortable doing this since I love knitting with double points and do it a lot. If you are a newer knitter or have less experience with using double pointed needles, you may wish to avoid doing this. It will require me to check the “corners” even more carefully than usual. Checking the “corners” when using double points is essential anyway, so I don’t think it will be a problem. That little tug at the end of each needle is an engrained part of my knitting rhythm with double points.

Also, the original pattern called for cotton threads to be used for this project. I have chosen to use wools to make it more challenging. That presents some finishing issues, however. The final fabric of the purse should be sturdy. The wool may be less sturdy than the cotton, however, I intend to line the bag, thus giving it more substance and support than it would otherwise have. I won’t make the decision on what kind of fabric to use until the bag is complete, or nearly so.

While the lining will support the bag shaping, and hopefully prevent any stretching, that will not help for the self handles - which I could also back with lining for support, but it might look odd. In thinking about this part of the challenge I think there are quite a few choices to deal with it. I can use three strands of wool for the final five or six inches of the bag – making the fabric a lot thicker and sturdier. This might be enough to make the knitted handles workable. I may also put in a strengthener thread, just like we use for sock heels and toes.

There is, however, another solution should the fabric prove too stretchy to be useful for handles. I can make the bag without handles (stopping the knitting when the bag's proportions are pleasing to my eye) and then use a purchased plastic or bamboo handle. It would be a simple thing to attach this when I insert the lining with either tabs or ties.

Competitive Spirit

This is an important quality for the Knitting Olympics. It should keep us knitting when we have the inclination to stop, and keep us striving until we meet our ultimate goal: a finished project.

While it will be fun and interesting to read about other entrants’ progress online, it should not impact our own performance. We are, just as the best speed skating sprinter, competing against the clock – or in our case, the calendar!

Best of luck to all of the Knitters who entered. Success means you will have a completed project at the end of 16 days. That alone is reason enough to compete!

If all else fails, I can felt my project into a cell phone case! LOL

Off to do warm up exercises! I’ll be casting on tonight during the Opening Ceremonies from Turin.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pre-Olympics Training: Swatch Time!

Think of it as a triple axel! Yes, I did my swatch for my project for the Knitter's Olympics . I do swatches for garments, but usually wing it for a project such as the one I have chosen for my Olympic Event: A wool knitted purse with Fair Isle patterning.

My swatch came out right on gauge, so I had to run out today to find the right knitting needles. Because of the Fair Isle, I want to knit it in the round. I prefer to use double pointed needles, but didn’t have long enough ones in size 9. Sadly, neither did the knit shop (or JoAnn’s or Michael’s!). I compromised by purchasing a 24” circular needle in size 9. That should work for this project, which is approximately 22” around.

You know what they say: Use the right tools for the job!

Here’s my swatch and pictures of the basic pattern I am using as a start off point:


I think I’m all ready for the opening ceremonies tomorrow night!

When do I get my USA jacket?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Stitch and Chips

Stitch and Chips

Is this just the cutest bag or what? It’s my variation on a Stephanie Kimura pattern found in Bags With Style. Stephanie is coming to town next month to teach locally, so I decided I should finally make something out of her book.

It’s made from upholstery weight fabric with a quilted upholstery lining giving the bag a lot of body. All of the fabrics used were free samples I received from a friend. I substituted ribbon for the tubing called for in the pattern to tie on the handles, and lengthened them quite a bit. I think the ties add a nice touch to the look of the bag. It can be folded to use as a purse, or can hold either a project or most of the “stuff” we like to carry around.

Folded Clutch

I’ll be donating this bag and the scarf shown with it for a silent auction. The scarf is a free pattern called "Potato Chip Scarf" from Knitpicks. You can find the pattern here. One word to the wise, if you decide to make this pattern, do follow the advice to use a 32” Circular needle. I tried to make due with my 29” needles, but they were really too small.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tonight I signed up for the Knitting Olympics!
Thanks to the Yarn Harlot over 2500 knitters have decided to "go for the gold".

Basically, you choose a project that stretches your abilities. Something new, something hard, something different. Since I am a life long knitter, I had to thing long and hard about doing a new techniques. I’ve done about everything from lace to cables. Finally, I remembered how I have been totally repressing the fact that I’ve never done and fair isle. I don’t like to strand yarn behind the work much, so this should be a real challenge!

You need to start the project during the opening ceremonies and then finish it before the closing ceremonies. No way could I do a sweater or anything big in that amount of time. I searched the net for projects, thinking a hat or socks would be best, but then I hit on the purse featured on the cover of Simply Knitting for June 2005. This bag is from Emma King's
25 Bags to Knit and is also featured on the cover.

Now, as a life long knitter, I had to come up with some kind of project or technique that I had never tried before. Not an easy task - I've done everything from cables to lace. The one thing I've shied away from has been fair isle knitting. Therefore, I will be knitting a bag to look sort of like the one featured, but I will be knitting it in wool (my least favorite natural fiber and the bane of my asthma!) and using a fair isle design instead of the one called for by the pattern.

I am going to use the fair isle design published by Elizabeth Zimmerman in her book Knitting Around. It is featured in Chapter two - Fair Isle Yoke Sweater

That should make it a project truly worthy of the Knitting Olympics. It will also be a great stretch for me to actually complete it in 10 days.

Maybe I should have chosen a hat......

Here is the “Before” picture of my yarn!


Off to swatch....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Surviving Superbowl XL

It's one thing to ignore the Superbowl. It's another to ignore it when it's being held in YOUR town. That takes a LOT more work. In order to attempt to get away from at least some of the hype, I signed up for the Super Bowl event at Haberman's Fabrics. This was their 8th annual attempt to entertain us and raise money for Haven, a local women and children's shelter for battered women. Worthy cause and a fun time!

There were three demonstrations - a fabric covered bulletin board, an embellished scarf and a high end wrap. All three were excellent - although you would need a very special and black tie occasion to use the wrap. Still, it was much fun. Here are the goodies I found:

Velvet and twill

The velvet is such a dark blue it looks black - I think it would make a nice scarf! Or at least part of it. Maybe I'll finally do some rubber stamping on it first, add some beads. You know the drill.

See those nifty twill tapes? They're Japanese! I got them to run them through my computer printer and add words to them. Aren't they nice looking? I can hardly wait to try them!

The last item will probably end up as handles for a tote. It's a nice study weight and would support home dec style fabrics. I have a ton of decorator samples, don't you?

Oh, and afterwards I DID watch the Superbowl. If they're going to put on 40 of them, I might as well watch one.