Plain Jane Knits Up A Storm

A few musings about my needlecraft hobbies - knitting, crocheting, quilting, & cross-stitch along with my other love, genealogy. While growing up, I used to HATE the term "Plain Jane", but when it comes to knitting & crocheting, I've realized that I really *am* a Plain Jane in that I don't use fancy yarns.

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Location: Northern Detroit Metro area, Michigan, United States

Saturday, April 30, 2005

More garage sale finds

The garage sale pickings weren't super this week, but I did find these two sweaters:

The smoky green one is a slightly bulky 100% cotton that set me back 50¢, but the real find was the light blue one, which was 25¢, and is 80% silk & 20% cashmere. It's short sleeved, but the cowl collar should have quite a bit of yarn. I couldn't find a compatible yarn on the web, but I did find a 30% cashmere / 70% silk blend that was $32 for a 50 gram / 125 yard ball and a 40% silk, 30% lambswool, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon blend that listed at $11 for a 40 gram / 100 yd skein. All I know is that this is some of the softest yarn I've ever had the pleasure of fondling. Now to get it frogged and to figure out what to do with it.

In other news, I'm closing in on the far end of the Aibhlinn cowl and may even finish tonight. Next project is going to have to be a baby afghan for DH's nephew & wife who are expecting a baby boy in June (something I just learned last night). I think I have enough blue & white Coordinates to make something.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Birth Of A KAL

Thanks to Sallee of Knitnana, the two of us have started a Knit Along (a KAL) for the Aibhlinn cowl that we're both working on. Anyone who would like to join can click on the button here or in the sidebar. I've participated in a number of KALs over the last few months and really enjoyed them, but this is the first time that I've helped to host one.

I've been working along on mine and have about 10" done so far out of the total 28" - wait a minute, I just rechecked the pattern, the circumference is 28", the length is 24" - I'm farther along than I thought {g} Be sure to check out Sallee's version which is being knit in bright red cotton for the Knit Red KAL.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Oh Aibhlinn, Oh Aibhlinn

I cast on last night in the middle of our April snowstorm (9.5" is the official total for Lake Orion) for the Aibhlinn cowl from Knitty. This one is for me, so accordingly I joined the Just For Me KAL (you'll find the button over there in the sidebar). Because I'm knitting the Aibhlinn from the DK weight cream wool that I reclaimed from the 25¢ aran sweater purchased at the garage / rummage sale the week before last, it also qualifies as the REKAL 2005 and the Thrifty KAL - talk about multi-tasking {g}

The pattern is fairly simple once the bobble row is out of the way - a K3, P3 repeat that shifts one stitch to the left every other row. The ribbing also makes the cowl reversible other than the bobbles. I'm thinking of working the bobbles on the other end in reverse so they'd stick out the other side of the fabric - that should make them show up nicely when the cowl is folded over and scrunched around the neck. Something to think about while I knit the next 21".

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Winter Wonderland In April?????????????

After almost breaking a high temperature record last Tuesday when it was 83 here in south-east Michigan, today we have 5" of snow on the ground and more on the way. You'll notice a great similarity between this photo and the ones taken & posted back in January & February, but it was taken less than half an hour ago, and if anything, the snow has started falling even faster since then:

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! It's the end of April!!

On a brighter note, here is a photo of the felted button-hole bag from the recycled Lopi yarn. I may not have left it in the washing machine long enough as I recently read that you shouldn't be able to see the stitches if the item is fully felted, but I like the look and it's both sturdy & the right size to hold a couple skeins of yarn, the project in progress (PIP) and the latest book I'm reading. I like the feel of the handles in my hand. I have enough of the Lopi yarn left that I can make a larger one - maybe I'll felt that one a little more.

The yarn you see peeking out is in the process of becoming more hats for the K4 project. This is the 4th one since Thursday evening. I'm still frogging the earth-tones fair isle and it is a complete *pain* - some of the lengths of yarn are only one width of the piece. I'm getting a fair amount of the beige and the black yarns, but only a little of the other three colors. At least it was only 25¢ and I'm learning a valuable lesson - I passed on a similarly patterned sweater on Friday that was $2 because now I know that frogging one is more trouble than the yarn is worth at that price.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

They've Got My Number

This one is just too good not to share - do they have me pegged or no?? (OK, they made a big goof on the "born to clean" part, but the rest fits..)

You are dishcloth cotton.

You are Dishcloth Cotton.
You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home.
You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean.
You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm still giggling.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What A Difference A Gauge Makes

I've been playing around with gauge while knitting the hats for the K4 project out of variegated yarn. A lot of the yarns will swirl around the hat in stripes, but the Mexicali variegate with six colors tended to work into vertical stripes. That got me wondering what would happen if I knit a little tighter or a little looser. The hat I was working on at the time was swirling to the right, so I tightened up my gauge - not a lot, just 3 or 4 stitches over the usual 66 that I use for one of these hats. The result was sort of WoW!..

The colors started moving to the left, then I loosened up a bit and back to the right they went. I tried it with some red, white & blue variegated and got this:

The one I'm working on now is in the same yarn as the first one, but I'm holding the yarn just tight enough as I work that the stripes are going straight up.

DH's Fuzzy Feet are done - I had a lot of trouble with the kitchener stitch grafting this time around, one of those 'nothing is going right' moments, but the toes are closed and I'm hoping that after they're felted that no one will be able to tell what a mess I made of it.

The yarn from the aran sweater has been washed, rinsed and hung to dry. Here it is before all that happened.

I counted the rotations of the swift on the smallest skein and then measured the skein and did a little math. There's approximately 150 yards in that one and the other four are all at least double that size. I'm thinking that the Aibhlinn takes less than 800 yards and I probably have enough of this cream color wool that I could use it double if necessary to make gauge. Stay tuned.

Ready To Felt

The Button-Hole bag is complete and ready to felt.

Laid out flat like this it measures about 17.5"x12" (not counting the folded bottom). I'm not sure how much the Lopi yarn will shrink when it felts, but once I see what the ratio is, I have enough yarn left to make an even bigger bag. Next step is to graft the toes of DH's new Fuzzy Feet so I can felt everything at once with the next load of bath towels.

We stopped at JoAnne's yesterday and I picked up some more findings for stitch markers as they were having a 30% off sale. I found some 13mm earrings that fit onto a size 13 needle a bit better than the 10mm ones I bought last time. Also picked up another package of the 2" eye pins and a roll of 26 gauge (no 24 gauge in stock) wire to make markers that will fit up to a size 15 needle. Here are the ones I made last night.

All of these, except for the one on the far right, are made with beads from the necklace I bought at a garage sale. The second one from the right uses the 26 gauge wire. I still need to work on my technique for making both the bottom & top loops.

I tested washing a mini-hank of the yarn from the aran sweater in Era & Oxyclean and it seems to have come out ok and a little lighter. I have two of the five balls of yarn I got from the sweater wound into hanks and when the other three are done, I'll wash all of them at once. I was a little surprised at the weight of the yarn. I'm learning that with commercially knit sweaters, the yarn tends to look heavier in the sweater than it does after it's frogged. I was hoping to make the Aibhlinn cowl from it, but looking at the gauge for the pattern, it's closer to what I get working worsted weight yarn on size 8 needles. This cream wool is closer to sport weight than it is to DK, so I may have to reconsider.

I'm sort of dreading trying to frog the grey sweater that's knit intarsia, but a good friend suggested that if I was planning on making a felted bag anyway, I might be able to utilize the body up to the armholes as the bag and just add handles. Given that the pattern in the sweater is so neat, I may attempt to only frog the top half and do exactly that.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Button-Hole Bag

Here's the latest progress on my sweater recycling project. The Lopi circular yoke sweater has been reduced to seven big balls of yarn and I've started a button-hole bag.

I made the bottom of the bag longer and a bit wider than the pattern - 15 stitches across rather than 9, which added about 8 stitches on each side of the body. I'm also making it deeper than called for as after felting I want it big enough to carry a knitting project and a book. I'll probably work between two & three more inches before making the button-hole handles.

I took the darker cream aran sweater apart tonight and have the back frogged and wound into a ball. This one was sewn together with mattress stitch rather than the usual chain stitch you find on commercial sweaters. I noticed that there are a few stains at the bottom of the cuffs and one on the upper chest, so I'll skein the yarn and see if a little ERA and oxyclean will help. The stain on the body isn't readily apparent - so there's a good chance that even if it doesn't come out, that reknitting the yarn into something else which should "scatter" the slightly darker color, would make it less noticeable. I'm going to have to swatch for gauge, but I'm hoping that I can make the Aibhlinn from the yarn.

And speaking of recycling - Moki has discovered a good (to him) use for the wool sweaters pre-frogging:

He does look comfy, doesn't he? The tan, brown & black fair isle should frog semi-easily, but the one done in greys & red may be a challenge. The designs are worked as intarsia, so while I'll get a fair amount of the darkest grey, the other colors may be in lengths too short to use. I should have looked closer, but faced with sweaters for 25¢, I grabbed first and looked later.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Wow! What A Deal!!!

More garage sales today, and while the first few didn't yield much in the way of knitting goodies, an unadvertised sale at the elementary school in the next town was a treasure trove. I found *FIVE* wool sweaters, all large or x-large, for 25¢ each!

From the top down, all in wool, are 1) a hand-knit aran in a cream bulky, 2) another aran in what looks to be a bit darker cream sport or DK weight, 3) a fair isle in 4 colors - dark cream, tan, brown & black worsted weight, 4) another fair isle in 3 shades of grey (dark, medium & light)plus a touch of red, and 5) a hand knit in grey & cream Lopi wool. I weighed the sack when I got home and there's close to 8 pounds of wool here for a total of $1.25! I also bought a red fair isle vest and a denim vest, also a quarter each, just to wear as is. I've got my work cut out for me this week taking these apart.

The red & black sweater that I bought on Thursday has been reduced to balls of yarn. I haven't made it into hanks yet as I found that it was easier to frog into a ball first. I'm working on the blue & black acrylic sweater - it's in pieces and each is about half frogged. I was hoping to use the royal blue for socks, but unlike some acrylic yarns that will cut your fingers in two before they break, this yarn is quite weak so it isn't going to be a good choice for anything that's going to receive much wear. I think I'll eventually turn it into scarves for the K4 project as it's too good to discard even if I'm only out a dime.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Recycle City

Thursday is garage sale day (actually along with Friday & Saturday) and the pickings are getting better. Here are today's finds - a total of $2.10..

The red & black sweater is a size L and 100% wool - it was $1. The blue sweater is acrylic and has a small hole in the front, but it's an XL and it was 10¢ - there's no way I can go wrong with that much acrylic yarn for a dime. The necklaces were 50¢ each and were originally destined to be taken apart for materials for stitch markers. The green & gold one is still going to be used that way, but I noticed that the large metal beads in the other one look like balls of yarn so for the time being I'm keeping that one whole to see if it will fit in with my wardrobe.

At the K4 meeting today, I turned in the 10 hats I finished last week and picked up yarn to make some new ones. The Senior Center is going to have a booth at the flower show in downtown Lake Orion next month and we've been invited to make some things that can be sold so we can raise money for more yarn. Hair scrunchies are quick and easy and should sell well with warmer weather approaching. I wrote out the pattern for the others and will be crocheting a few this week along with working on the hats.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hats, Hats & More Hats

Here's what has been keeping me busy this last week: 10 new hats for our K4 project..

For some reason, I seem to be in the knitting doldrums. Hats don't take much thinking or effort, so they're flowing off my needles while I'm trying to figure out what to do with the yarn I've reclaimed from the three recycled sweaters. Of the items on the To-Do list I posted on March 12th, just over a month ago, I've finished the vest for the Knit Red KAL, the Rosy Forecast Clapotis, either 3 or 4 baby afghans, more booties, lots of hats & the lime green vest that wasn't even on the list. I still haven't touched the Fair Isle vest or the cranberry cabled yoke cardigan that are for me and the adult sized rag-tag afghans for the K4 project haven't gotten very far either. I spent yesterday evening looking through back copies of Knitter's Magazine for ideas without anything catching my eye. The spring fashions on aren't calling my name and searching the net for other patterns has left me a bit bored. Hopefully it's just another symptom of spring fever and I'll get back on track soon. In the meantime, there are always hats, aren't there?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lots of Navy Blue Yarn

A trip back to the garage sale where I found the green tweed sweater yielded a 100% wool navy blue pullover for $1.50 (or half the price being asked yesterday).

This one was a little more difficult to disassemble because of the color and the yarn used for the chain stitches was slightly lighter weight but dyed the same color which made it hard to see. I lost a few yards with a injudicious cut or two. I finally resorted to pulling out the lighted magnifier and was able to finish taking it apart and getting all four sections to start unravelling. Here is the first hank from the back - it's BIG!

The yarn is slightly heavier than worsted weight and definitely destined for a felted bag. I still have the front and both sleeves to unravel.

I gave Mom the lime green vest today and it may be a little small on her. Mom is only about 5' and quite thin. She mentioned that some of the earlier vests that I'd made for her were too big now, so I intentionally made this one smaller and perhaps overdid it. She's going to wear it at least once to see if it really is too small before she gives it back so I can frog it down to the armholes and add a little length.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

That Was Then, This Is Now

The disassembled sweater yielded two large (front & back) and two medium (sleeves) hanks of yarn, plus small amounts of the colors from the fair isle pattern. To give an idea of scale, the hanks are about 10" long. I haven't gotten my nerve up yet to wash the wool, so it's still pretty crinkled. Strangely, this photo taken with a flash is closer to the actual color of the yarn than the one of the pre-frogged sweater taken in daylight this afternoon.

Friday, April 08, 2005

More Recycling

Three garage sales today and while two were complete busts, I did manage to score this sweater for $2.

It's 100% Scottish wool, knit in Thailand, in XL and it feels like it weighs at least a pound. All the seams, even the shoulder ones look like "good" (non-serged) seams, but it may take a magnifying glass to find the seam yarn as it's a close match for the wool. The main color is a beautiful green/gold/brown tweed, though it looks a little washed out in this photo (my camera does not seem to want to handle green shades correctly).

I'm going to try taking it apart and frogging it for the yarn this weekend.

Lacking any other knitting content at the moment, I'm going to answer a few of the comments that have been piling up. All of Blogger's comments come in emails with a "no-reply" return address, which makes it difficult to shoot off an answer, so here goes:

1) For KnitNana (Hi, Sallee!) & Piogga - unfortunately the #9 circular is still among the missing, but I'll guarantee that it will be in the last place I look {g}..

2) Maureen, you may be surprised that after a few meetings held every two to three weeks, there will be members who want to meet every week. That's what happened with our K4 group - we went from two meetings a month to every Thursday.

3) Piogga, I'll be wresting with the swift again this weekend taking the new wool sweater apart. I'm almost tempted to make a board with a couple big nails for the unravelling as was shown in the one "how to recycle a sweater" site. The umbrella swifts do look nice - especially the clamp that keeps them in one place!

4) Amanda, thanks for the invitation to the beaded stitch marker swap, but I think I need a little more practice before they're ready for prime time. Maybe the next swap?

5) Eva, there were a number of quilters who bombarded the Northern people with emails and letters letting them know that you don't quilt with knitting needles! The commercials for Quilted Northern were changed soon after that.

6) Cheryl, I hope your Clapotis in acrylic turns out great. I wore mine yesterday and the size and drape of the one on 10.5 needles is so much nicer - it actually stayed draped without constant readjustment.

I think those are all the ones that I haven't been able to answer via email, if I missed anyone, please drop me a line at janedevlin at ameritech dot com (changing the "at" & the "dot" to the normal symbols and running everything together).

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Spring Fever

It's been in the 70s the past couple days here in the south east corner of Michigan, and I think I have spring fever. Combine that with the on going effects on my system of Day Light Savings Time's Spring Ahead, and I haven't been getting much done. I did finish a couple hats and a baby afghan for our K4 project:

And the reclaimed ramie / cotton blend from the sweater that I took apart last week has dried and is now rolled into balls.

It seems to have shrunk from being washed in hot water as the hanks that came off the swift didn't want to go back and and I had to resort to draping them around three of the arms and over the fourth. I'm still not sure what I'll do with the yarn as this was a 10¢ experiment, but I think I'm glad that it shrunk in the hank and not after I knit it into something. I've been looking at this pattern from Knitty, but I think the gauge is a bit small for this yarn. Maybe it's time to dig out my Elizabeth Zimmerman books and design my own pattern? [You might notice that over there in the sidebar there's a button and a link to a new Elizabeth Zimmerman Fan group.] I like neck down patterns and given that I don't know the yardage that I have with this yarn (or how often I'm going to have to snip out bad sections where one or more of the six thin strands that make it up have broken), knitting top down seems sensible. Once the yoke and sleeves are done, I can continue knitting until I run out of yarn and really, really hope that the sweater turns out longer than the Bad Penny one (or that my jeans ride higher {g})

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Beaded Stitch Markers

First of all, thank you for all the kind comments on #2 Clapotis and the beaded stitch markers! I've had a couple requests to post instructions on how I make the markers and this post will attempt to do that, but I have to add the caution that this last week is the first that I've worked with beads and there may well be far better ways of doing it out there on the web. That being said, here we go....

This first photo shows the tools I use and the parts of one stitch marker. The wire cutters and square needle-nose pliers are from DH's tool box. The round nosed pliers are specifically for jewelry and were purchased at Michael's 40% off sale last week - they're about $8 when not on sale, but they make a big difference in being able to bend the wire neatly. The parts of the stitch marker are three beads, a 2" eye wire, and a 10mm earring finding.

Here are the beads strung on the eye wire and the wire bent at a 90° angle. This angle may not be as important for a marker that's going to hang from a ring, but it holds the beads in place a bit better.

Here I've used the round needle-nose pliers to roll the wire around on itself toward the beads. This will form the loop that will slip over the ring.

The loop can be seen better in this photo. I've used the square needle-nose to flatten the loop and to make sure that nothing is sticking out where it might snag the yarn.

And here is the completed marker with the ring attached. If you have pierced ears, you've probably come across this type of earring. There's a small wire that pulls out of the loop and then is put back in to close the ring. I like them because the style doesn't leave any loose ends or rough edges to get caught in the yarn.

The following is a different style that doesn't use the ring. The ones I'm making here only have one bead because I'm using most of the length of the 2" eye wire to form a loop that will fit over a size 13 needle. (The 10mm rings used in the first marker will fit on a #13, but they do not slid freely.) For this style, the hole in the bead needs to be big enough to accept two wires.

Here the bead is on the eye wire and I've bent it at a 90° angle both at the bead and at the end.

The wire is now formed into a loop around a spare #15 needle (I wouldn't recommend using a good needle as the soft aluminum or plastic can get nicked in the process of making a marker.).

I've used the pliers to bend the wire a bit more and to insert the 90° bend at the end of the wire back into the bead hole. You'll notice that the loop is misshapen at this point, looking more like an egg or a teardrop than round.

This step straightens out the loop, although it will never be completely round given my lack of skill at this. I've forced the loop onto a #15 needle while pressing the bead down toward the needle to round the loop out and to take up any slack between the bead and the small loop at the end of the eye wire. You can see a finished marker on the desk.

And, to prove that markers can be super cheap - here are some I made with wooden beads purchased at the local Dollar Store. The eye wires at JoAnne's were $2.99 for 84 wires (I got them for less during a 40% off sale) and the two packages of beads were $1 each. These are made for smaller needles (they'll fit on a #10) using the same technique as for the small blue ones. For a $5 investment, I could easily make 50+ markers or about 10¢ each!

On the knitting front, the reclaimed yarn from Friday is dry and ready to be rolled into balls, the latest baby afghan is finished (ok, that's crocheted), and I just divided for the front & back yokes on the lime green vest for Mom.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Busy, busy, busy

It's been a couple days since I posted, but I've been busy. First of all, Clapotis #2 is finished!!

I used a little over 1½ skeins (10 oz each) of Caron Rainbow Dreams in the Rosy Forecast colorway and 10.5 needles. I wound up inadvertently with 14 repeats in the straight section as I knitted past the point to start the decrease section and it was easier to keep going than to frog back. The finished measurements are approximately 30x92". It still scrunches up to form a scarf and as a shawl, the drape is much softer & more fluid than the Jetstream one worked on size 8 needles. I'm tempted to christen this one "Avery" because it reminds me so much of my Grandfather's roses that grew on the fence between the yard and the vegetable garden.

In other news, the garage sale season continues to open and at an unadvertised sale this morning I found a ramie & cotton cardigan for 10¢ that I bought to practice recycling techniques. The buttons alone are probably worth a dollar or two, so I figured that I couldn't loose.

I checked the seams and found that only the shoulders were serged, making it a good candidate for frogging. The other seams were joined by chain stitched seams that, once I found an end, came out quickly. The shoulder seams had to be cut out which resulted in a number of short lengths that I put aside for tying the skeins once the sweater was unraveled.

I used the antique swift to make the skeins which wasn't all that handy - i.e. I have quite a backache from bending over. I found that if I put the sweater section that was being unwound on the seat of one of the kitchen chairs and held it there with my knee, it kept the yarn winding around the swift at a level that prevented it from coming over the top of the upper arms and tangling. If I do this very often, I plan on finding a way to fasten a board to the bottom of the swift so I can step on it out of the way of the revolving arms and hold it in one place as it had a tendency to "walk" as I was winding. Once a section was unraveled and wound on the swift, I tied it in a figure "8" on all 4 sides.

I only ran into one serious problem and next time I'll know to look for it. The buttonholes on the front of the cardigan were vertical, so they were overstitched and cut rather than bound off horizontally. This meant that I lost most of the yarn in that section. You can see the stitching here along with the undersides of the buttons (I think that they may be shell) that's really nicer than the fronts.

And here is the salvaged yarn. After taking this photo, I washed it in the bathroom sink and it is now hanging over a towel wrapped curtain rod that's balanced between the top of the tub surround and the shower curtain rod. Once it's dry, I'll put it back on the swift and wind it into balls, then decide what I'm going to do with it.

On a completely different topic, I changed the archiving settings for the blog to weekly as I've been told that it takes a while to load with a dial up connection with all the photos. Having only a week's posts on the main page should help somewhat while keeping the older photos available in the archives.

Acrylics Anon/a