Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mud and Meadows

More squares for Si's knitted farmland:What's a farm without some mud?...and the pigs seem to love it!

There will be several different kinds of meadows on the farm. The square above, I've decided, is a field of golden bell heather. I used loop, or elongated, stitch to create texture and the illusion of raised plants. I'm also using this same technique for squares of different grains.

I needed to choose a yarn for the grassy areas and meadows of the Farmland. Although there were several different green yarns in my stash with which to choose from, when I recalled that I had a few extra skeins of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed, I realized that the flecks of color inherant to the tweed would make lovely meadow flowers. The color in the photo isn't exactly true, but it's as close as I could get.

More Farmland squares, coming soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stripy Mittens

He's got a cardigan, a hat, and socks in this ginger and blue yarn, so why not some mittens, too! With all of the snow we've been having, he really did need a pair to keep his hands warm.

Here they are, in action:
Whoever thought of putting mittens on a string to keep them from getting lost was a genius.
This is the Bold Banded Mitten pattern from Zoe Mellor's Adorable Knits for Tots. Just a slight variation: 4 extra rows added before decreasing, to make them a bit longer. I'm hoping he'll still be able to wear them next winter.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Carrots anyone?

Uh-oh. Looks like a rabbit's gotten into the carrot patch. Where's Mr. McGregor when you need him.
This is one of the first squares knitted for Silas' Knitted Farmland. I'm most likely going to have 64 squares total, and with only 10 or so completed, I have a long way to go. It's a lot of fun, though, as each square is unique. --So fun, in fact, that I had to needle-felt a little bunny to cause some trouble...
I'm basically making this up as I go along and am hoping it all comes together in the end.

I will post pictures of more squares as I make them.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The stockings were hung...

Our little holiday nook...Silas can turn the lights on and off with the switch on his right. It has fast become a favorite game.

I finally finished the third stocking. Till today, it's been sitting in my basket, all done except for about 3 rows on the heel. I ran out of green, unfortunately, and was feeling too stingy to go buy an entire skein just for 3 rows. Finally today, I looked through my stash and found another skein of Lamb's Pride in a dark green. Not the same dark green, mind you, but close enough. I guess I didn't feel like being picky, and at any rate, I'm the only one who will ever notice, most likely.

Anyways, the are all done, hung, and ready to go!
Making these stockings was an incredibly joyful experience. Here's a slightly closer look at my stocking, Stocking #3, with two different snowflake motifs. Very appropriate, given today's weather (see this post on my family blog).
Now that the stockings are completed, I've moved on to Silas' knitted farmland. This is a BIG project. I've already completed about 10 squares, but I intend on having at least 48, but most likely 64 (8 x 8), so I have a long way to go!

I'll post pictures of a few after I've blocked them.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Meet the Sheep

It occurred to me recently that it might be nice to post a picture of the sheep on the blog and talk briefly about each one. These four Romney sheep belong to Shannon, who owns the property I live on. The sheep's "house" is only about 20 feet from the southeast corner of our home.

Here's the rundown.

Bart is the sheep in front. He's got more black wool than the other sheep and we really have no way of knowing if he's pure breed. Shannon bought him at a garage sale and he was her first sheep. Bart is by far the tamest of the four. He's the only one who will let you pet him. This is probably due to the fact that Shannon led him around the neighborhood on a leash when she first got him. Bart and I have a love/hate relationship. One time, when I was trying to get into their pen for something, he pushed me over in order to run out of the gate. I am not a fan of being knocked down into sheep poo and mud and I made sure to tell Bart that as I chased him around the yard. That was a trying day for us. Most of the time though, we're cool.

Blu, the sheep on the right, was bought as a companion for Bart, and that's all I really know about his origins. I call him the split personality sheep because he can never seem to make up his mind about things. Do you want the treat, Blu? Yes. Do you want to get close to the human in order to get it? No. Will you go for the treat? Yes. Will you really go for the treat? Yes, yes...no, wait! maybe no, maybe I like it better back here. I want that treat though, but no I don't, maybe. Clearly, he has very complex emotions. Blu's absolute favorite thing in the world is the swing hanging from our big oak tree. When we let the sheep out of their pasture into the yard, he'll go stand by the swing, gently rubbing his head on it. He'll stay by that swing for hours.

Next to Blu is our little girl, Audrey. We named her Audrey because she resembled Audrey Hepburn when she was a lamb (must have been the eyes). If I had to describe Audrey in two words, it would be "trouble maker." "Escape artist" would likewise be appropriate. The two phrases go hand-in-hand. Each time she is sheered, we have to prepare for several weeks of Audrey-corralling. She's tiny enough to find spots in the fencing where she can squeeze through. Luckily, her wool grows fast and before long, she fluffs up and can no longer get out. One time, when she was not yet fully grown, she got her head stuck in the gate. It took us 45 minutes to get her to turn her head and move back so that we could slide her out. Sheep, apparently, (or at least this one) only want to move forward.

And last but not least, in the background is our young alpha male, the incomparable Azure. I should say, that Audrey and Azure are both from the same flock, so I think of them as siblings, even though they are not. They were given to Shannon only a month or two after we moved to the farm. They were considered too runty for the flock, or some such nonsense. Given the fate of most livestock, especially those considered not up to par, these sheep really lucked out. Anyways, back to Azure. He is the most beautiful of the sheep. I love the coloring of his coat. A few years ago, he broke a leg, which in the olden days would have meant a trip out to the field with Pa's shotgun. But, he survived. I cannot express to you how much it sucks trying to keep a splint on a sheep. Despite this injury, Azure still became the alpha sheep. Whenever dogs or coyotes come into the pen to threaten the sheep, Azure always stands in front as the other three huddle behind him. I'm not playing favorites, but, well okay, Azure is kind of my favorite.

That's about all. Drew still can't tell them apart, even though we've lived right next to them for over 5 years and they don't look identical. Sheep have individual personalities, just like any other sentient being, but their personalities may be admittedly subtle. And I won't lie. They're not the brightest bulbs on our little blue marble, but they are endearing. And they make wool, and lots of it, lest we forget :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Prepster (Fall/Winter fashion shoot #2)

Here's another sweater I made for Silas while I was pregnant with him, and which finally fits him. This basic v-neck pullover is "The Prepster" from The Yarn Girls' Guide to Kid Knits by Julia Carles and Jordana Jacobs. It certainly lives up to it's name! I feel like I should be enrolling him in Ivy League Pre-school. It was a perfect show-off outfit for Thankgiving.

I used Cascade 220, which is an incredibly reliable yarn, in my opinion, and works well to give this sweater a consistent and polished appearance. I remember being very pleased when I finished this project, ever so long ago (though that's about all I remember about it). I'm glad it finally fits!

Friday, November 28, 2008

And then there were two, two and a half, three...

Two down...one more to go! I rather like the look of Drew's stocking --all green and white except for the red toe and heel. My stocking will be the opposite --all red and white with a green toe and heal.

A lot of people seem interested in what the inside, or wrongside, of this sort of colorwork looks like, so here's a picture:
You can really see how thick these are. They would keep feet nice and toasty even on the coldest of nights.

Here's a look at my stocking, which is on my needles right now.
That metal thing around my finger is a Norwegian knitting thimble. I decided to try it out to see if it helped keep the two colors separated, since I prefer to hold the two strands in the same hand, rather than one in each hand. I haven't quite gotten used to it yet, so the jury's still out. It does keep the colors in order, but I find it a bit awkward, and I have to wrap something inside it so that it doesn't slide around (or off) my finger constantly. I'm not so sure I'll continue to use it or not, but I can see it's potential as a handy little do-dad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tricot Machine

Another knitter had this video posted on her blog and I just had to share. It's an animated music video unlike any you've ever seen --the entire thing is knitted, believe it or not. More info about the project is on youtube. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christmas stocking for Si

Christmas stockings are fun to make. Really! This was a very satisfying project; so much so that I'm going to make one for myself and one for dh too. After all, one stocking hanging by its lonesome just won't do. Here's the pattern I used. It's very versatile, with several motifs to choose from, which should keep things interesting as I begin stockings # 2 and 3.

We are not really into decking the halls for Christmas, but I am into the idea of homemade holidays, so making this stocking for Silas was a first step in that endeavor. I will not be making gifts for everyone because that's just crazy and stress inducing, but Mr. Silas will be getting something special, and there will be a few more handmade decorations too.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pumpkin Sprite Costume

Better late than never, here are pictures of my son's Halloween costume.
The hat ended up being a pretty tedious project. It was first knit, then felted, and then the pumpkin segments were needle felted onto it. My goal was that the needle felting would make the hat plump and ridiculously cute.

Knowing that he would never keep the hat on otherwise, I made ear flaps. And since he hated how it felt and tore it off of his head within 2 seconds, I had no choice but to line it with a soft flannel. That seemed to do the trick as he wore it for 4 hours straight on Halloween without trying to take it off once.

To complete his costume, he wore his pumpkin longies, which I had completed in early October...
...and I crocheted him a quiver to hold Chinese lanterns. He wasn't too thrilled about the quiver but luckily soon forgot that it was on.
Good little pumpkin sprite that he was, I had him pass out mini pumpkins to people we know during trick-or-treat.

This was Silas' second Halloween and the second time I've made him a costume. I love doing it, but I may have to tone it down in the future and opt for something less time consuming (I saw a toddler "mummy" wrapped in strips of old sheeting--now there's an idea that wouldn't take over a month to render!). Then again, he wears both the pants and the hat all of the time, so it's not as though I went through the effort just for a one-time deal. Well, who knows. During trick-or-treat, Silas eyed some boys who had made themselves cardboard cars and seemed really interested in them. Hmmm. Maybe next year, it will be Drew's turn to make the costume :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Head

Silas is going to be a pumpkin sprite for Halloween. This is part of his costume, a hat that I've been working on for quite some time...I'll have more pictures and info on the hat and the rest of his costume after Halloween.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Baby A" for Baby S (Fall/Winter fashion shoot #1)

During my pregnancy, as well as in the months following my son's birth, I knit Silas 4 or 5 sweaters in larger sizes, anticipating his rapid growth. He's just growing into some of these now. Because I prefer to have the pictures I post on Ravelry showing items being warn whenever possible, I haven't posted these projects, or blogged about them yet. Over the next few months, I'll showcase these as part of Silas' fall/winter wardrobe.

With that, I give you the Baby A hat and cardigan ensemble from the book Yarnplay by Lisa Shobhana Mason.
Aw, my heart just melts. This kid knows how to work the camera!

Back to the sweater. This a garter stitch pattern. It's been a while since I knit this, but if memory serves me correctly, the blue piece was knit and then the upper portion was constructed by picking up stitches along the side of the blue piece.
For once, I used the exact same yarn that the pattern called for --Rowan Felted Tweed. I usually substitute yarn, but I was so in love with the colors, the textures, the yum factor of this yarn. I'm glad I sprung for it.
The hat was slightly obnoxious to make. Have you ever made a completely garter stitch hat in the round? I felt a bit like a belligerent child being forced to clean my room every time I had to purl a row. Why do I have to do this, is it really worth the effort? But, again, I made this over a year ago, and all strife was forgotten when I completed it and put it on his little head. It's still a bit big on him...
And because I just couldn't help myself, I took the leftover yarn and made him a pair of matching tube socks. I may make another pair using the colors inversely. They are, unfortunately, a slip-n-slide experience when worn on our tile and wood floors. I figure, it will be a good opportunity for him to hone his balancing skills and practice awareness (is that too much to ask of a 19 month old?).

And finally, the entire ensemble:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pumpkin Longies (30 days till Halloween!)

My first pair of longies! We will use them for everyday cloth diapering, but I must admit that I made them post haste with Si's Halloween costume in mind. The costume will have a pumpkin theme (I'm working on the hat right now).
The pattern is named Booty Extreme Knit Pants. For anyone making this pattern for the first time, note that it assumes you know some basics and can figure out a certain amount on your own, Elizabeth Zimmerman-style. If you haven't done short rows before (the technique that allows you to get a nice round behind), this pattern won't teach you how, so consult the wisdom of the interwebs and look up a tutorial. The gauge was for 7 stitches an inch but I made mine with a 5 stitches an inch gauge. Because the pattern is so adaptable, it was quite easy to do the math and proceed with the different gauge.
I had originally thought I'd embroider little pumpkins or leaves and such things. I also contemplated crocheted pumpkin patches (pun intended) or felted do-dads. But frankly, everything I tried looked stupid. Finally, I decided to leave the longies as is. They're orange. They'll do the trick!

Si likes them too, apparently :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spinster and Son

My mom took some pictures of me spinning recently.
It's pretty much impossible to keep the kiddo from becoming involved. While it's not easy, I have found that it is possible to spin while a 25+ pound child is on my lap. I figure it's a good thing that he wants to observe the process.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Estes Vest is off the needles!

Well, I've finally got myself a finished Estes Vest! It took some last minute tweaking after several days of finishing work, but it finally fits just about the way I want it to. The bottom was a bit too wide, and after weighing my options, which included steeking the sides in order to make the bottom smaller and more fitted, I decided to crochet a chain and run it through the bottom, slightly cinching it. This was a much faster fix and seems to have worked without making it look odd.
I have a long torso and I do regret not making it slightly longer than the pattern called for. but I can live with the length.

And now for the pattern variations. First of all, when I was just about 4 inches into the back, I realized that I wasn't following the horseshoe cable pattern and that I was cabling every 4 rows. I suppose I could have fixed it by dropping the cable stitches and redoing them, but I decided it wasn't worth it. The photo below makes it look like the middle cable gets wider at the top, but I think this must be the angle.
Also, there is a discrepancy between the pattern photos and the pattern instructions. The instructions do not include the line of knit stitch separating the hexagons from the cables on the front of the vest. I decided to include this element (see picture below) which makes the front pieces match up with the back piece. Here's what I did (instructions are for left front piece, size 36 1/2 inch).
k 2 salvage stitches, then hexagon for 24 stitches, p1 k1 p1, horseshoe for 12 stitches, p1, k1. When it came time to break for the pocket, I bound off after 20 instead of 22. This allows for half of a hexagon pattern to continue (along with the p1 k1 p1 repeat) between the pocket and the horseshoe cable. As far as I can tell, this will make the pattern more closely resemble the vest pictured in IK than as it is written, which is just with a single purl, rather than the k1 p1 k1 repeat that appears in the pictures and also on the back of the vest.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Yummy yarn thanks to Beth

This is the first weekend since I returned to spinning that I have not spun. I'm on a mission to finish the Estes Vest, which probably won't be completed till Monday or Tuesday, realistically. But that's where all my crafting energy has been directed.

I do have some homespun yarn to show, however! My friend Beth gave me this lovely roving while I was pregnant. It's 85% wool, 15% mohair and was intended to be spun up and knit into something for the baby. Well, I'm a little behind, but finally, a year and a half later, it's all spun! It will have to be knit into something very special... Thanks, Beth!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Political Interlude

Well, this has nothing to do with knitting, but look what arrived in the mail, finally. Love it! DH got one too --a tan t-shirt with Obama's picture on the front and Obama 08 on the back. Silas looks at the picture, points, and says "bah-uma."

I'm making great progress on the Estes Vest and will hopefully finish it over the weekend.