Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Tis the Season...

Oh it is the season of Holly-Daze and Christmas and pushing and shoving; joy and peace...and tragedy.

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut called Weston.  When I was there, the population may have reached 2500 people.  Less than 20 miles away was another town called Newtown.  You would turn right from our driveway and come to a Y.  To the left across the bridge and then right was Georgetown Road which lead to Danbury Turnpike.  Bear right at the Y and you could go on Newtown Turnpike to Waterbury's (Weston Riding Club, now gone), Weston Jr High and now Weston High School.  There was also the pond at Phillips' where we could skate when Mr. Phillips said the ice was good.  You could drive further and come to the place where a man who owned the Empire State Building lived, according to my dad.

Until just a few years ago, Weston was the place I had lived the longest in my life.  If you limit it to one address, then Weston is still the place I lived the longest - from third grade through high school.

Slightly over a week ago a young man entered a school and killed 20 children and six adults, apparently after killing his mother earlier.  This has hurt a lot, not because I knew any of the families involved, I don't, but because the memories of innocence in a small town are now tarnished.  The whole area I lived in had been fairly innocent.  Yes there were drugs and teens did drive to just over the border in New York to buy liquor.  But people were not shot.  They died in accidents, of illness or for most, old age.  They were not murdered.  Murder happened in bad areas - slums or ghettos - places like that. 

I live in a city where shootings are, regrettably, too common.  Most are in lower income areas but they occur in higher income areas as well.  But until last week, murder didn't happen in small towns in affluent Fairfield County CT. 

Enough of that.

Knitting and stitching and spinning go on and on.  This will be a bit photo heavy so you have been warned.  Some photos are pretty poor as they were taken at night - I'll show them anyway as Photographer and Stylist are not titles I deserve at all.

Spinning - I purchased some lace hankies at Fiber in the 'Boro last October.  They were an intense fuchsia pink.  They are spun now and have been N-plied or chain plied into a nice sport weight yarn:  The first photo shows the color best and the second shows a bit more of the color variation - well maybe not.
Right now this sits on the mantle for me to look at and admire.  It's out of the cat's reach as well.

The wheel sits empty, waiting for me to make up my mind what to put on  next.  I have some more wool/linen blend to spin, lots of wool, alpaca, silks, and cotton.   It will be one of those.

Santa came early and I'm in love, again.  I've always wanted a Lark
spindle from Jenkins since I first saw one.  This is a tiny Turkish spindle.  My Lark's cross pieces are made from lilac (one of my favorite flowers) and the whole spindle weighs 21 grams (less than 3/4 oz).  With it came some fiber, a silk blend that I spun and made into a 2-ply yarn for fun and to learn how this baby works.  She works fine and is a lot of fun.
 The upper photo shows the singles and the fiber while the lower one shows the 2-ply on the spindle.  The coin is a US dime.  So the yarn isn't quite lace weight but the next batch should be. 

The April/May 2010 Spin A Long for AllSpunUp was a 75/25 mixture of Blue-Faced Leichester (BFL) and Silk.  The colorway was Ice Caves so it's shades of blues from the very pale to the dark - but these are like the ice colors - with a small touch of greens/teal to them.  I had purchased 8 oz of the fiber so half will be spun to a 2-ply lace weight.  Project to be determined based on yardage.  The other half will be wheel spun to a 3-ply for socks.  Again, pattern to be determined by yardage.

Knitting - well a lot to say and not as      
much to show here.  I'm trying to finish some things and decide what to do with others.  I finished a pair of socks last night - a Ribbed Skyp Socks out of a yarn called Sockotta.  It's a blend of equal parts cotton and wool with some nylon for strength. 

It took almost 2 full months to do these socks as each sock was responsible for a broken needle and the first one also lost a needle for me.

I think I'll change the name to Naughty Skyp Ribs.  I do love the pattern.  It's so easy to do and I will be doing more with the pattern.  I'm going to discover how the yarn wears and how it feels.  There were some mods to the pattern in that the gusset decreases were worked as for the Breakin' Hearts Socks (more later). 
 The upper photo is good for color but the bottom one - well you can see the Skyp stitch twists near the toe of the sock.  There are 3 little twisty looking stitches in the ribs of the sock, first in one rib then the other.  They are not twisted stitches however.  Slip a stitch, Knit a stitch, Yarn over, Pass slip stitch over both the knit and the yarn over forming the name of the stitch.
Normally when knitting a sock with a heel flap, one has to pick up stitches along the sides of the heel flap.  That creates a gusset.  This extra material allows you to get the sock over the widest part of the foot.  If you can see on this lower photo, there is now a curve on the heel and not the < shape one normally sees when the extra stitches are decreased out.  What is done in the pattern Breaking Hearts is that instead of decreasing the gusset stitches where the gusset stitches meet the instep, you decrease at the point where the heel and gusset meet so the decreases are on the bottom of the heel.  This makes that curve and some say the heel fits better when this is done.  I think I've shown photos in earlier posts.  These just need a rinse and blocking then they will go off to the new owner as a belated (again) gift.

Next are the Breaking Heart socks.  I'm sorry I've lost misplaced the label from the yarn.  The yarn feels great but the condition of the yarn was another story.  There were several areas where one ply had run out and not been immediately joined with a new ply.  I have no idea how these will wear but I guess I'll find out.
This photo shows the pattern a bit but the color is too red, the golds don't show.  Second sock is just at the heel flap.  You can see they are a bit big for the blocker - but they are going to someone who has bigger feet than I.  These will be off to a new owner when done.

The next pair is Gold Medal and they are worked in Wollemeise but I don't know the colorway other than it's green!
Oh, I didn't realize it was that blurred.  There are cables (3x3) with a bit of lace in between.  The pattern uses a bead in each lacy bit but I'm skipping that bit. I like these and they will stay here.  Better photos when these are finished - they are too pretty to not show again.

Next comes a fun sock for a granddaughter whenever it is done.  The yarn provides the pattern:
Other socks and stuff to show up soon.

One of my friends decided to accuse moi, along with 3 others, as enablers who caused her to purchase excessive amounts of books, magazines and patterns.  She joined a Ravelry group 13 in 2013 and coerced uh, encouraged us to join her.   The premise of the group is to knit or do 13 projects next year.  So I've listed 13 knitting projects but reserved the right to amend the list as the projects are pulled out and evaluated. 

One of these is a 2-color sock called Granada by Janel Laidman.  This is my first 2-color sock and it is challenging.  Here's where I am on the first sock.  This is just about a knee sock and the 2 photos show front and back. The photos are not great because chart as I knit split in the center of the front.  The needles didn't want to lay flat for photos.  So far so good and they do fit.  The rest of the projects will show as I come to them.
 On to other things.  Stitching.  I do several types of embroidery including counted cross stitch and other embroidery stitches.  One that I'm in the midst of is Celtic Garden which is counted cross stitch and black work.  I hope to finish it in 2013.  Each quarter is a mirror of the other so it's fully symmetrical.  This shows where I am at present.  The Celtic Knot is counted cross stitch in some beautiful variegated threads.  The black work is the filler in each block and worked in
what is called a running stitch.  Every other stitch is worked going one way then the others are filled in on the return trip.

The other stitching will be shown as I come to that project.

The last is quilting.  I'm doing the hand quilting of a queen sized quilt in the Lone Star pattern.  It has been in process since 1976 or so.  It was put up for a number of years and now it's found again and I'm working to complete the thing.  I've purchased a stencil and the chalk pencils to mark the pattern on the blue border.  I believe I'm about half done with the quilting.

I tried to find my larger photo showing the entire quilt, but I can't locate it easily.  This is showing a bit of the feather wreath in each filler part, a whole wreath in the squares and a half-wreath in the triangular pieces.

Another quilt project is not making me happy right now.  There is a story behind it so bear with me and you can input your thoughts if you desire.  I took quilting classes when my kids were small.  We made a quilt with 9 blocks, each teaching us a different technique and pattern.  Everything was hand pieced and hand quilted.  When we were given what materials we had to buy, we were told to wash each in cold water, gentle cycle, dry and lightly press.  This was to take care of any uneven shrinkage between pieces of material. 

I saw something from Keepsake Quilting, out of New Hampshire, on Facebook.  They were offering a discount on a kit called Time After Time.  The colors would work in my bedroom and I wanted to make it up and use it as a wall hanging/headboard.  Sent off my money and got my kit.  There was a roll of 40 strips of fabric cut across the bolt from one selvedge edge to the other.  The cuts were done with pinking shears.  There was another piece of fabric for the binding.  The first thing I did was to pull out the instructions and read.  Nothing about washing material, and only one place was seam allowance mentioned.  The curved edges were to be sewn with a 1/8" seam.  I called Keepsake Quilting and confirmed the remaining straight seams were to be 1/4".  The fabric was washed on gentle, dried on gentle and lightly pressed to remove wrinkles. 

The next step was to take the strips and join 5 in a light to dark sequence and repeat until all strips were used.  Done.  Cut each wide strip at 10.5" intervals - 4 blocks per strip.  Done.

Now I made a template from the drawing provided to cut 1/4 circle from pairs of these wide strips when one was turned 90 degrees from the other.  I did just the first two to try it out.  Did the 1/8" seam and assembled.  

Here's the problem.  I'm to trim the sewn block to 10" square.  This is what I have:
 Here's my problem - showing one of the uncut blocks.  The bloody thing is only 9" wide, not 10".  I turned the thing over and double checked all my seams and they were the 1/4" needed.  If I had sewn 1/8" seam, I'd have the 10" needed.

I called Keepsake on a Thursday to ask about this.  I was told someone would be in touch with me.  The following Friday I sent an email.  The Wednesday after I had an email asking what the problem was.  I told the woman what happened and said the strips went down to 1 7/8" from the 2.5" we started with. 

Her response:  We don't advise washing until after the quilt is complete. 

If I were to have done that and had the shrinkage (just with the grain) and since the quilt has pieces that are rotated, I would have had seersucker!  I would have been much more irritated then I am right now.  I asked them what would be done about this and have heard nothing, no email to say they won't do a thing, nor an email apologizing.  Nothing.  I'm ticked off to say the least. 

This kit was fairly inexpensive.  Some of their kits will cost about $500 or more by the time everything (fabric for top and binding only) is paid for - not including the buyer's time.  $300 is about average for the ones I've liked - but I didn't pay that much for this one.  I have to buy batting and the backing plus thread.  My time is worth something as well.  If I machine quilt this, which is my plan, I now have a quilt that will be 1.5" per block smaller.  4 blocks wide  makes it 6" less then 8 blocks long makes 12" shorter.  72 square inches smaller.  2.7% smaller than advertised. 

After Christmas and New Years, I will contact them again and see what they say after the crazy days are over. 

So that's the wordy entry with lots of photos.  I hope to update at least the first part of each month saying what progress I've made on what. I'll be participating in a group where the goal is to knit 13 pairs of socks for 2013 and progress there will be included. 

Wishing you and yours all the happiness, peace, and joy of the season and hopes that the New Year will bring all you wish it to.


1 comment:

Kraphti-Dez said...

Ah...I like that....encouraged you to join. {big grin}

BTW...I am looking for an affordable supported spindle. Any suggestions.