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

Sunday, May 29, 2005

When Nothing New Happens, Take A Quiz...

Actually there have been a few new things going on. The teal shawl is finished and I started one in a dark slate blue this morning. I worked on the baby afghan while watching the Indy 500 this afternoon and I'm closing in on the half way point of the lace border. The garden in planted - 22 tomato plants, 8 basil and 4 sweet red peppers. I'll get the green beans planted from seed in the next day or two and see if I can find the package of zucchini seed I bought last fall and the cilantro seed from a few years back.

Anyway, the quiz was "What Kind of Knitter Are You?".....

Knitting Goddess

You appear to be a Knitting Goddess.
You are constantly giving and are unconcerned with
reward, you simply want others to love knitting
as much as you do. If someone wants to knit
miles of novelty yarns, you are there for them.
If someone wants to learn short row shaping,
you can help. There are no taboos in knitting,
only opportunities to grow. Everyone should
have friend like you around if they want to
learn to knit, and there's a good chance that
your passion has rubbed off on a few others.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm blushing {g}

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Red Face & Red Font

I started the 7th lace row of the Feather & Fan baby afghan tonight and found an error. Working across the first side, the number of stitches before the end marker didn't come out right, so I tinked back a bit, looked at it again and realized that everything was shifted two stitches to the right. Started counting back in sets of six K2TOGs & six YO, K1s thinking that I'd missed a K2TOG somewhere along the line. No, they all added up right. More tinking, just in case; more counting forward in sets of 6 stitches for the YO, K1s & 12 stitches for the K2TOGs. Still off. Look at the pattern again, specifically at the beginning sequence and realize that there's probably supposed to be two K2TOGs right at the beginning instead of one. Dig out the almost 40 year old handwritten version of the pattern and, sure enough, row 7 is supposed to start with K1, YO,(K2tog)2x & end with (K2tog)2x, YO, K1. Those changes have been made to the pattern and I hope no one (besides me)has run into any trouble because of my typo.

Lacking much knitting content today other than my pattern snafu, I'll try to answer some of the comments from the last week or so:

Heather wants to know what I'm going to do with all the stash I'm building up from recycling my garage sale finds. I honestly don't know. I have plans for more of the felted bags, but a lot of the yarn is sitting there waiting for inspiration to strike. BTW, I found an acrylic & mohair sweater coat today in a brown heather for 75¢. I think I need to get another stash bin!

I received some nice comments on my recycling efforts from Leah, Sallee, Susie, Sharon & Sue. Recycling is fun and it's an economical way to obtain yarn and even beads for stitch markers. I have to thank the bloggers who set up the Thrifty KAL & REKAL 2005 for the inspiration. Add in the gang at the Felted Bag KAL and there's this energy zipping around as we come up with new ideas and color combinations.

Now that I have the pattern problem cleared up, I'm off to finish the other three sides of row 7.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And The Winner Is.............

Starting yesterday, I am no longer able to claim that I never win anything. Ok, back in high school I did win the Cherry Pie Baking Contest, but I didn't mean to - I only entered to provide moral support for my friend Carolyn who wanted to enter and I only won because our family pie crust recipe which was handed down from my Great-grandmother (and perhaps from her mother)is *awesome*. Anyway, to get back to the present, on Saturday we took a short break from garage sales to attend the Flower Festival in the village and after wandering around admiring the plants & the art, we - as we do every year - filled out the little slips for the door prizes. Yesterday, when I came home from taking Mom to bingo, the Downtown Development Authority had called to tell me that **I HAD WON** - and my prize was a pair of beautiful earrings from Charlyne's Creations. Aren't they beautiful?

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Saturday's garage sales were disappointing, but the "haul" from Friday was pretty good. Last night I frogged the red acrylic, wool & mohair sweater I picked up a few weeks ago. The black & grey sweaters from Friday's sales are already taken apart. The black one yielded 15.5 ounces of bulky weight wool and the grey, 20.25 ounces of worsted weight. They each cost me $1. Last night I also tried to start frogging the rust (or brick) colored light weight pull over from a couple weeks ago - I don't believe how thin the yarn is - it's like a couple strands of embroidery floss! It's far thinner than anything I've seen in a yarn and while I frogged and wound for 20 minutes, the ball of yarn is only a couple inches in diameter. I'm not sure if I'll be able to use it for anything, even lace. How thin is lace weight yarn anyway?

On more encouraging topics, I finished knitting buttonhole bag #3 - another purple & green creation:

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Two more shawls for the K4 project are completed:

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And the necklaces from last week's garage sales have joined my previous collection and are awaiting reincarnation as stitch markers.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Garage Sale Mania

First of all, before I launch into my latest adventures in garage sales, I'd like to thank Tammy who left me a link to the synopsis of Wednesday's episode of Lost!

Two days of garage sales - and so many sub-division sales that there was no way that we had the time or energy to get to all of them, so we stayed in familiar territory where we knew that last year's sales were good. All in all, I spent a little less than $5 and came home with four wool sweaters for recycling and a quart size zip-lock bag full of costume jewelry necklaces with lots of beads to turn into stitch markers.

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I'm not enthralled by the vivid orange stripes in this sweater but the basic color is a beautiful brown/rust/green tweed. The yarn is 91% wool & 9% acrylic, so it may not felt - I'll try a swatch before I make a bag out of it.

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These are the three I found today - the one on the left is a bulky 100% wool in black that I've already started to frog so I can use it with the purple & green Lopi for more bags. The grey one may be a bit difficult with that deep V neck, but I should be able to get enough wool out of it to justify the price. And finally the one that looks blue in the photo is actually a soft lavender. Both these last two are shetland wool.

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I finished the purple & green bag and gave it to my friend Pat yesterday at the K4 group. She took it home and felted it last night. I ran into her today at the grocery store and she's very happy with the way that it turned out. Pre-felted it was this size.

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I've already started a second one with a green base - these bags are certainly addicting! We already have 24 members in the Felted Bag KAL and many of us have plans to make various styles of bags for Christmas gifts this year. Come on and join us!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

LOST In The Ozone

What's LOST you might ask? Not Commander Cody, but my blooming brain! Today while reading the Detroit Freep (aka the Free Press) I perused a column on ABC's fall schedule which mentioned that LOST, one of my favorites, is being moved to 9 p.m. on Wednesday (opposite my all time favorite West Wing - are these people crazy??) and some how this bit of trivia translated into me thinking that tonight's episode of LOST would air at 9 p.m. **WRONG!!!** I sat in the living room knitting away on felted bag #3 & plotting tomorrow's garage sale expedition with DH right up until 8:57 when I blithely trotted down to the family room, turned on the tv and caught the last three minutes during which all that happened was that the raft which has been a'building for the last few months was successfully launched into the surf. What happened during the previous 57 minutes (minus commercials)??? I sit here tonight checking the Television Without Pity site in hopes that a synopsis will soon be posted.

In other news, button-hole bag #3 is nearing completion - not bad since around 4 this afternoon, it was just up to the end of the increases on the bottom piece. Maybe I knit faster when frustrated?? I have about four more rows before I bind off so I may finish it yet tonight. The purple & lime-green Lopi is certainly brighter than my previous grey & cream versions even with the red checkerboard design I tossed into #2. Tomorrow being Thursday, we have over half a page of small font listings of garage sales - we'll start out at a church rummage sale and then proceed to a large sub-division sale. By that time, I'm probably going to be worn out - climbing in and out of the back seat of a two door Colt time after time is a bit of a workout, but DH drives & I'm not going to let Mom cope with the back seat. I'll be on the lookout for more sweaters suitable for recycling - this is almost as addicting as making the felted bags out of the wool the sweaters yield. Stay tuned for further developments.

Frogging The Night Away

I've been busy the last couple evenings taking sweaters apart. The teal 100% wool pullover in XL yielded 25 ounces of beautiful yarn (my cost $2) and the ice blue 80% silk, 20% cashmere short sleeved pullover (25¢ at a church rummage sale) yielded 15.5 ounces.

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Pioggia suggested that I should photograph a small object along with knit items so as to give some idea of scale - hence the AoxoMoxoA CD (Grateful Dead) along side the balls of yarn. {g} My camera is still refusing to pick up green tones so that in this shot the teal yarn appears to be navy blue, but I played around with the colors in a close up and this is a little truer to the color although a bit lighter.

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I'm thinking about the French Market Bag from Knitty for the teal and a shrug from the silk & cashmere as it would be a shame to waste it on a felted bag.

The large Lopi bag I finished last week is now felted. I stuck it inside a pillow case closed with a big rubber band after reading a couple horror stories about what wool fuzz can do to a washing machine. My faithful Maytag is 23 years old now and except for two sets of new belts has been chugging along fine - I don't want to wreck it!! This time, I started the load out on the low water level and let it go 10 minutes, then moved the timer back to start and increased the water level to medium to add more hot water, then one more time 10 minutes later to the large load level. I let it spin out in the washer and this morning, I tossed it in the dryer for 20 minutes. It felted to about the same texture as the first one and that's ok. I can still see the stitches, but the fabric is condensed enough that nothing is going to push through like an errant knitting needle. It started out at 20" across and 17" tall not counting the folded base, it felted to 17" across & 14" tall. The base is a 9x16" oval. (The CD used for scale in this photo is Jerry Garcia's How Sweet It Is"

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

It Was A Tough Fight, But I Won (I Think)

Frogging the cream bulky sweater I bought yesterday (the 90% wool, 10% angora one) was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. Instead of bulky yarn, it was knit from three strands of heavy worsted weight used in a unusual sequence.

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There would be three rows knit with two strands, and then a row knit with a single strand. This didn't make too much difference while frogging the circular yoke as it just meant that one ball of yarn grew faster than the second ball. But when I hit the sleeves and the body sections, all of a sudden I had three balls of yarn being wound at the same time.

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It got a little tangled from time to time, but I finally finished it and wound up with about 25 ounces of very soft yarn. I'm thinking that I may try dying this once I have it wound into hanks on the swift.

In other news, the second button-hole bag is complete. This one measures 20" across and 17" deep, not counting the folded bottom piece. I'll probably wait to felt it until I've knit up the six skeins of Lopi in green & purple.

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I also finished the lavender shawl but decided to spare you a photo of a simple triangular shawl that looks just like the one from the May 9th post except for the color. I have another one started in a variegated yarn in green, rust, tan & dark taupe. Tonight, I'm either going to work a bit on the baby afghan which has been sadly neglected this last week, start frogging the teal sweater I bought yesterday or start another button-hole bag with the green & purple Lopi. Decisions, decisions {g}

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Rain Started At 2

But before that, the day was perfect for garage sales and the yearly subdivision one in Keatington is a humdinger. The sub is large and a lot of the families participate. We found some small things - cookbooks, a necklace - but the real finds for me were these three sweaters.

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The first one is a bulky cream 90% lambswool, 10% angora in XXL. The middle one is 97% wool, 3% viscose in a dark teal with flecks of other colors which looks to be worsted weight or heavier & the one in front is 100% lambs wool in a dark green heather, probably DK weight. I've noticed when recycling, that the wool tends to look a bit heavier in the sweater than it does when it's unraveled. Total cost for these three was $5. I think at this point I have at least eight sweaters to frog, but when I run across nice ones at good prices, it's hard to turn them down. I did skip over one in a beautiful black tweed because all the seams were serged and didn't buy a 100% cashmere one for $2 because the yarn looked to be even finer than lace weight and I wasn't sure that I could get the seams out without wrecking it.

I finished unraveling the grey cotton sweater - it was really strange as it didn't have any shoulder seams and yet it didn't seem to be knit from one bottom ribbing to the other. I finally had to cut across the width of the body to get a start on frogging. Still, I got quite a bit of yarn out of it and it was only 50¢. I have a few more rows on the buttonhole bag to go and a little more on the lavender K4 shawl - I'll post photos when they're completed.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

If It's Thursday, It Must Be Garage Sales

Another Thursday on the fringes of the northern Metro Detroit area and the local penny advertiser is full of garage sales. It was a little too chilly out there for Mom's tastes so she declined to join us, but DH & I headed off just before 9 with a list that filled an entire 8.5x11" sheet of paper. The first few didn't have much, but at a sub-division sale up in Oxford I started running across wool sweaters and sellers willing to deal. This isn't the best picture of the three I purchased, but the black large sized lambswool in the back was 50¢, the large dark red heather merino wool in the middle (which doesn't show up very well) was 75¢ and the large grey heather one on top, for which I paid $1 is 100% cashmere! These are all men's sweaters with saddle shoulders that I'm hoping will frog easily and the yarn is very light weight, perhaps fingering or even lace weight.

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Here's a better photo of the color of the red sweater that got lost in the above shot. You'll notice that it still has the store tag attached - $19.99! What a deal {g}

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Here is the larger felted bag in recycled Lopi that I've been working on - I have some more grey rows to do, then two more stripes in the cream as I start to decrease up to the handles which will be grey. I doubled the red wool worsted weight yarn from the black & red sweater from a couple weeks ago to do the checkerboard design as the Lopi is very thick.

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And for future bags, my dear friend Pat gave me this yarn that she had been given and didn't need. More Lopi (!!!) in purple & lime green which should make a much more colorful bag than my previous ones.

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Anyway, I'm going to curl up with my book and work some more on either the grey bag or the lavender garter stitch shawl for the K4 project. I brought home yarn from the K4 meeting today to make a couple more shawls, so I should be busy this week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Another Felted Bag

After finishing the K4 project shawl on my size 13 circulars, I decided to start another felted bag out of the rest of the Lopi yarn in that I don't really have another use for it and I really like the first one I made. This one is going to be bigger - I started with 6 stitches (rather than 3) and worked up to 24 (instead of 9) before working the 40 rows of garter stitch and then decreasing back down to 6 stitches.

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The 10" needle will give an idea of the size. I picked up 44 stitches on each side and then increased 4 stitches every other row six times up to 108 stitches. I have two sets of two rows of the cream thick & thin yarn knit in and I need to decide whether to add another color like red.

Speaking of red, I successfully frogged the back of the red lambswool vest last night - the ball only weighs a little over 3 ounces, but a 440 yard skein of Knit Picks lace weight Shimmer only weighs 50 grams or about 1¼ ounces. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the yarn yet, but a lace shawl is a possibility.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Good, The Bad & The UGLY

The GOOD: The bulky aran (sweater #1 in the April 16th post) is now 18¾ ounces of balled yarn and there's a small chunk of it soaking in a jar of bleach to see if it actually is wool and feltable. It only took me two hours total to get it apart and totally frog it, my best time yet.

The BAD: Or maybe not so bad, but the bright red lambswool vest is proving to be almost a lace weight and the seams are being a bit obstinate. I'll go at it again tonight while I'm watching TV.

The UGLY: I didn't look closely enough at the black sweater I bought on Friday - all the seams are serged which means that it was cut out of flat knitted material instead of being knitted piece by piece and that it isn't recyclable. At least I discovered that before I got any further than cutting off the buttons, so I'm going to try it on, see if it fits, and - if so - sew the buttons back on and wear it as is. It is a rather neat style with the Henley neckline and I like the yarn.

On other fronts, I finished a shawl for the nursing home. This one is made with two 3.5 ounce skeins of worsted weight acrylic. I started out with casting on three stitches, knit one row and then at the start of every following row, I K1, YO for the increase. When it looked as though my yarn was running out, I did one row of K1, YO, *K2TOG, YO, repeat from * across, then knit one more row and bind off. It came out 32" on the short sides and about 46" on the long edge which should be ok for wrapping around shoulders and tying in front. I have another one started in lavender worsted - that one may be a big bigger as it's an 8 oz skein.

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But before I get it to the size that requires my #13 circulars, I'm going to use them to make another felted button-hole bag. I've started a Felted Bag KAL where we can exchange patterns and hints on felting. Janet, who was one of the first to join, is working on a button for us.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Recycle Rhythm

I'm getting a little faster at frogging the garage sale sweaters. The oatmeal one in the last post is now 28 oz of balled yarn. Next visitor to the Frog Pond will be the slightly bulky weight aran from a couple weeks ago. I found a small Weight Watcher's type scale at a sale yesterday that I can use to weigh the yarn - not sure yet how to translate that into yardage which could be a hindrance to deciding if I have enough to complete a pattern. I also found a dark red pullover in acrylic, wool & mohair for $1 that I hope isn't going to be too difficult to frog. With all these finds, it's getting to be a case of so much yarn, so little time to knit {g} I'm almost done with the rust colored shawl that I started Thursday night - should have a photo of it for tomorrow's post.

To answer some of the comments, first of all, thank you for all the kind remarks on DED's crocheting projects! And, yes, Granddaughter is still giggling over her Grandma Jane looking like a Boobah - she especially appreciates the link in that post that takes her to the Boobah site. Four years old and she can navigate a computer already. I remember the first computer we had when her mother was about 8 - 4K of memory and programs stored on cassette tapes - how the world has changed.

Pioggia, thanks for the advice on the slub yarns - if I see another nice one, I'll grab it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

Two days of garage sales this week netted these finds:

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The top one is a 80% acrylic, 20% wool in an oatmeal color with blue & rust flecks for 50¢. If it looks a bit funny, it's because it's half frogged - I forgot to take a "before" photo. #2 is a 100% cotton, XL, another 50¢ find. It has navy blue & red stripes across the chest, and the main color is charcoal grey. The first navy blue stripe on the front has the little polo figure embroidered on, so I'll probably lose most of the yarn for about 8 or 10 rows unless I can somehow unpick the embroidery work. I think #3 is wool, but the tag is missing. It's black with little flecks of color and two buttons on the neck placket that would probably set me back more than the 75¢ I paid for the whole sweater. All three of these look to be worsted weight or slightly heavier. The last sweater, #4, is sport or fingering weight lambswool. Even with it being a vest, there should be a lot of yarn in it - again it was 50¢. That means that all four sweaters set me back a whopping $2.25 total. [g]

I finished frogging the red ramie & cotton sweater. It went quite well except for one sleeve that seemed to have way too many breaks in the yarn. I'm still slowly working on unraveling the beige, brown & black fair isle from several weeks ago. Never again! I don't care how many pretty colors are in the sweater, trying to take one apart when the colors change every few rows is too time consuming plus the lengths of yarn are short and need to be continually spliced or knotted. I passed up a couple beautiful sweaters yesterday that were made of slubby yarn because I was afraid that they wouldn't unravel without the yarn breaking. I've noticed in the commercially made sweaters that the yarn is more often than not made up of a number of singles that aren't plied together. With the ramie & cotton yarns especially, too hard a tug breaks one of the singles and means another knot. Has anyone tried recycling a sweater made with yarn that has a slub? Any advice would be appreciated. If either of the sweaters had been under $1 I would have taken a chance, but at $2 & $3, I didn't want to experiment.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Feather & Fan Pattern

I posted the Feather & Fan baby afghan pattern, complete with photo, via a link over there in the side-bar. If anyone runs into questions, my email address is there too. I'm almost finished with the center section and then I'll pick up all the YOs along the edge to start the lace. At that point, it's going to start looking like a wad of knitting - sort of like an oriole nest - until I bind off. I probably won't post another picture until it is bound off and finished because it's not going to look like anything until then.

Not having anything of my own to show off at the moment, I'll brag a little on what my DED (Darling Eldest Daughter) has been doing. These are the baby afghans, hats & preemie booties she's been crocheting as her own charity project. Aren't they neat??? I believe that some have already been sent to Iraq. I'm doing a "happy dance" because the crafting genes have kicked in {g}..

A few things I forgot to mention last week. On Thursday our K4 group sent seven more afghans and a shawl to a local nursing home where I'm sure they'll be put to good use even with summer on the way. (You wouldn't know it around here - we had a few moments of snow flurries on Monday and hard frosts the last two nights.) Distributing the afghans gives us a little more room in the three storage containers that are still pretty well filled with hats, scarves & baby items.

The other news, is that I've signed up to teach knitting at the Senior Center - no takers yet, but I'm hoping to lure a few more people into our K4 group. The only charge for the lessons is going to be that we're asking the students to make either a scarf or a hat and donate it to the project. "Come into my web," said the spider to the fly....

Because I've been finishing up the Aibhlinn and starting the baby afghan, I haven't spent as much time as usual on my K4 projects, but I should still have two hats to turn in tomorrow. I finished one up during bingo yesterday and started the second.

And speaking of the Aibhlinn, my grand-daughter, who is all of 4, got a laugh out of the 2nd photo of me in the cowl - the one where it covers me from the nose down. She thinks that I look like a Boobah from a new PBS kids show. I received a call yesterday telling me, between giggles, of the resemblance (fortunately, only from the neck up!)

Monday, May 02, 2005

There'll Be A Change In The Weather, A Change In The....

...... A change in the blog. I'm slowly but surely discovering the ins & outs of Blogger. A while back, I changed the archives from monthly to weekly in hopes of lessening the band-width demands on my son-in-law's webspace where he very kindly hosts the photos for this blog. The list of archives changed immediately, but the early weeks were empty and not that many entries disappeared from the main page. Today I found that I had to do two things - change the number of days that are displayed on the main page (it's now set at 14 days, down from 31) and republish the entire blog, not just the index. Everything seems to be working now and I even added a link to the archived week that has the instructions for making beaded stitch markers as that entry seems to be popular based on the number of emails I receive about it.

I started in on the baby afghan last night for the grand-nephew to be. It turned out that I didn't have enough Bernat's Coordinates left over in blue & white to make a two colored afghan, but I found this skein of turquoise flecked with white hiding in my stash.

It's a little thinner than the yarn for the last afghan, so I'm using a size 11 needle and may have to work two repeats of the 38 row lace pattern. Those little red threads are there to mark every 10th YO at the beginning of the row. I need 51 of them on each side before I start decreasing to the far corner of the center section.

To answer a couple questions that have come in via the comments on various posts:

1) From Knittin' Momma: "Are you a picker?" No, I learned the English throw method and use it almost exclusively. The neighbor who taught me back when I was 8 had learned from a cousin by marriage who was from England. In the 70s, I learned to use both methods when I'm working a pattern in two colors of yarn. I throw the main color and pick the contrasting color. It makes colorwork go faster and my yarns don't get as tangled. There's a good explanation on how to do this in Lesson 3 of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Workshop.

2) Maggie Ann - by this time, I've reworked the feather & fan pattern enough from the original that it should be copyright free, if it was ever copyrighted in the first place. I'll try to post it soon.

3) And for those who thought that my photos of the Aibhlinn that only showed hair & eyes were "a hoot", here's proof that I actually do have a chin. Because it appears that the cowl will always be folded to some extent, I've pushed the ending bobbles through the knitting so that they're no longer folded to the inside when the Aibhlinn is worn.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Aibhlinn Finished!!

It's finished! Now I have to figure out how to wear it..

It actually seems as though the 24" length is too long unless the cowl is pulled up as a head covering and when it's folded the ending set of bobbles doesn't show as well as I'd like. If I make another one - and I may as the pattern is fun - I think I'll make it about 6" shorter.

In the meantime, I just discovered that I'm going to once again be a Grand-aunt by marriage. DH's nephew & wife are expecting a baby boy in June. I think I have enough Bernat Coordinates yarn in white & blue to make one of the feather & fan baby afghans. The pattern works up fairly quickly on size 13 needles. This is the one I made for Grand-niece a few years ago.

The original pattern, which was given to me over 35 years ago, called for baby yarn on size 7 or 8 needles and each side of the lace border was worked separately with three repeats of the 36 row lace pattern. I made several of them to pattern, but the lace didn't show up all that well considering the amount of work - plus I disliked sewing the corner seams. I bumped the needle size up to 13s and used a circular to pick up all four sides of the center at once and worked one repeat of the lace in the round. The result is a larger, lacier afghan that shows the pattern better. Several of the new moms have told me later that when the baby outgrew this size afghan, they folded it diagonally and use it for a dressy shawl.

Acrylics Anon/a