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

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tivoli - completed

The Tivoli t-top is done and it seems to fit fairly well though it has more ease, I believe, than the original pattern. At least that's my excuse for the photos that make me look sort of like a pale green blimp {g}.

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The pattern is from Grumperina' blog and I made a few drastic changes in that my yarn on size 11 needles had a gauge of 12 stitches to 4" instead of just 19 stitches. I calculated the number of stitches for my top as 2/3rds of the stated pattern, so it turned out a bit big as an extra 1/3rd stitch can add up quickly at that gauge. I used a K1, P1 rib around the neckline and the bottom of the cap sleeves which I made deeper and added a little YO, K2TOG lace. I used garter stitch at the bottom of the body to keep it from rolling as I didn't want ribbing to pull it in.

On a more pleasing visual image, the Seven-Sisters climbing rose across the front of the house is in full bloom.

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This rose is over 50 years old. My Grandfather gave it to my mother when I was a little girl and it climbed over the old milk-house and the windmill on the farm for decades. It took Dad & I over an hour to get even 1/3rd of the rootball dug out when they moved. The first summer, it didn't do too much, but last year it sent three long runners out that I tacked across the front of the house. This spring, those runners sprouted more shoots that budded out and covered it with blossoms. There are more long runners coming up from the base this year that I need to train in some direction or the other. If I go higher than currently, I'm going to need to get out the ladder & protective clothing - the thorns on this rose are wicked.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Merrily We Knit Along....

The Tivoli t-top is coming along. I slipped half of the stitches onto another needle and tried it on yesterday just before starting the front & back darts.

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For having to rework the pattern to fit the gauge of this yarn, I think it's coming along quite well. If it doesn't work as a t-top in the warm weather, it will make a great vest over a turtleneck for winter.

While digging through my patterns, I came upon the one for my little bear that hangs by my computer.

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The pattern was originally from either Family Circle or Woman's Day, but I've reworked it to give the bear a shorter muzzle (the first ones I made looked more like wolves than bears!), ears that are not worked separately plus a few other tweaks. I'm going to post a link to my pattern in the sidebar. He's about 5½" tall and makes a cute Christmas tree ornament. I have a grapevine wreath wrapped in red & green plaid ribbon with about 8 of the little guys in various shades of brown that goes on the door every winter and probably a dozen of the polar bear variety that go on the tree.

Pioggia asked last week if a raglan could be knit from the bottom up rather than top down as I'm making the yellow one. The answer is certainly - it's the slanting sleeve seams that go from the underarm to the neckline that create the raglan styling and more patterns are designed for knitting from the bottom up than the other way around. I tend to rework patterns to eliminate seams and when I make a raglan this way starting at the bottom there are a few rows after the sleeves have been joined to the body where there are too many stitches in too small a space that makes it rough on my hands. That doesn't happen when starting at the neckline so I tend to search out that type of pattern.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Big Bad Bag Lives Up To Its Name!

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It's felted, but in the process the Big Bad Bag lived up to it's name by somehow escaping from the pillow case I thought it was firmly rubber-banded into and scattering wads of black wool all though my washing machine. Fortunately, the machine appears to still be working! I put it through the same routine as I did the last two Lopi bags in green and purple. The bag and the intarsia sweater I didn't think would come apart were put in separate queen sized pillow cases and went into the washer with an old towel and a couple t-shirts. I started out with the low water level and worked up to the high level resetting the timer with each addition of water. When I checked the bag after about a total of 35 minutes of agitation, I discovered the errant bits of wool and that the bag wasn't felted enough. Back into the pillow case it went with two rubber bands guarding against another escape and I repeated the cycle at which point I decided to quit and see what I had. I tossed it into the dryer where it managed to pick up little bits of teal green lint from that old towel. As you can see from the photo, it has shrunk considerably, but it is still not as felted as the Lopi bags were in half the time. One disappointment is that the straps did not felt into solid ropes the way the Lopi bag's did. They are as thick around, but the outer edges didn't lock onto each other so they are open tubes. Still, I think that the bag is quite successful. I like the color combination and it's big around without being too deep so it should be semi-easy to find things. With the strap over my shoulder, the top rides at waist level and the bottom about half way down my thigh. It measures 24" across by 9.5" from the rim to the base, the base is 20" x 10" and the handles shortened to approximately 30".

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It's A Purse.. It's A Suitcase.. It's Big Bad Bag

I just finished the Big Bad Bag and as promised it really really is BIG.. Pre-felted measurements are 28" x 13", with a 22" x 12" base and approximately 33" handles.

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It was worked with a chunky black yarn and a double strand of worsted weight beige - both recycled from garage sale sweaters. I used size 13 needles and the gauge is 11 st & 16 rows to 4". I can't wait to felt this one - hopefully tomorrow or Tuesday.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Roses Are Pink - & Heirloom

I meant to add these photos to the previous post. These roses are transplants from the cabbage rose that was on the farm where I grew up at the time my parents & grandparents bought the land in 1940. When the farm was sold and I was helping Mom & Dad move, I dug out a few roots from the virtual mat of roots behind the house. It was impossible to get out a piece much longer than 6" and because of all the other things going on at the time, I brought them home and heeled them in under the lilac bushes. The next spring, I moved them to a bed behind the garage where I also put the mums I'd brought from out home - the mums took over the bed and the roses languished. Last year, I reworked the bed at the end of the deck and moved the three surviving roses there. With only oriental poppies and some non-invasive day-lillies for competition, the roses are thriving and blooming for the first time this year.

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A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That...

I've spent the last few days jumping from project to project as the whim and circumstances dictated. Tuesday, during bingo, I started another hat for the K4 project - good mindless, no need to think about it knitting - and finished it up on Thursday at the K4 meeting. No picture because it's just like 99% of the other hats I've made - this one with solid cranberry ribbing and the rest in a blue, navy & cranberry variegated.

The dance with the frog continues on the Tivoli tank-top. I forgot one trip to the pond when listing them in the last post. I started out doing the raglan increases with M1 (picking up the strand on either side of the "seam" stitch and twisting it into a new stitch. After a few rows, I decided that I didn't like the way it looked in this heavier than usual yarn, so I went back and reworked the increases by knitting in front & back of the seam stitch and the stitch before it. I'm almost to the point where I want to slip half the stitches onto another circular and try the top on before going any further.

The fair isle pattern on the first sleeve of the yellow raglan was completed Thursday night while watching the Pistons run roughshod over the Spurs - the two home games this week have partly made up for their abysmal showing in San Antonio for the first two games. I'm not normally into sports although I'm considered the family jock because I can at least recognize which ball goes with which game, something that DH could care less about. Still when the Pistons or the Tigers make the playoffs, I find myself sitting in front of the TV - it's good knitting time, right?? As for the sleeve, I'm afraid that it may be a bit long. Right now, it's right on track from the underarm - Matthew measures 15" from underarm (where he's ticklish) to wrist and the sleeve as I'm getting ready to start the ribbing is 13". But the secondary measurement from center back to wrist is 21" and I'm already there. I was planning on a 4" cuff - 2" to the wrist & 2" to roll back so the sweater can grow with him, but the extra width of the body may mean that the sleeves will blouse more than I'd like. No way to just try it on or even hold it up because I'm in Michigan and he's in California. I guess I'll just keep going and figure that he'll eventually grow into it - at 6 he's only a foot shorter than I am!

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The other project claiming my attention is yet another button-hole bag (this one will be #6 if I count the one I gave away) using recycled wool from two sweaters. The black yarn is a chunky or bulky so I'm using two strands of the worsted weight beige to equal it. This one is going to get a longer strap than the purple & green one in last Saturday's post, and it's going to be about the same width, but shorter than the large grey one from last month (May 18th post). So far I like the way that the beige & black are working together. One of the nice things about working these bags in the round is that they soon begin to form their own project bag while still on the needles - all three balls of yarn that I'm using are inside the bag.

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I picked up two more wool sweaters at garage sales this week - a cream pullover with some cranberry & gold striping and a reddish rust hooded pullover with a multi-colored circular yoke. The cream one was 50¢ and the rust one was $1.50. The recycling process takes time and effort, but I continue to be amazed at how much yarn I'm getting in return for very few dollars.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ask Not For Whom The Frog Croaks.....

After two & a half trips to the frog pond, here is the current status of the reworked Tivoli tank top.

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The first trip was for the way that the neckline started in stockinette stitch curled out. The second trip was for the non-symmetrical way the ribbing was working out on 90 stitches. I changed the stitch count and it corrected the problem. The half trip occurred when I cast on for the underarm and - completely forgetting the lesson learned on the neckline - started working in all stockinette. Rather than remove three entire rounds, I used a crochet hook to take every other stitch of the underarm down to the cast on row and then worked it back up in purl creating three rows of ribbing which fixed the curling problem in that area. If anyone has looked at the original Tivoli tank (the link to Grumperina's site is in Sunday's post), you'll notice that I changed the cap sleeves by making them deeper and adding three rows of YO, K2TOG "lace" to the edging before working one row of ribbing and then binding off in rib. So far, I think the tank is working - at least I'm keeping my fingers crossed because I've made enough trips to the frog pond and the croaking is really getting on my nerves {g} I wish my camera would do a better job on green shades - the yarn, which looks sort of grey here, is a soft greenish aqua with a silvery cast.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Cruising For A Bruising

The bags are done, the latest shawl & hat for the K4 project are done and we're visiting friends today which calls for a mindless project that I can continue to knit while keeping up with the conversation. Adding the fair isle to the yellow raglan isn't going to fit the bill, so why, oh why, did I think that starting out a tank top where I need to adjust the pattern to fit my yarn & gauge would be such a project?? Ok, I fell in love with the Tivoli t-shirt from Grumperina's site and I have all these skeins of Darlaine Cotton Silky in a pale aqua that have been sitting around forever (a gift from my good friend Pat who couldn't use them in the lap robes she makes for the Veterans' Hospital). The Tivoli pattern calls for a 19 st = 4" gauge and the Cotton Silky, which is sort of chunky, knits up at 12 st = 4". 12 is two thirds of 18, which is close to 19, so I should be able to reduce the pattern by one third and have it come out somewhere close. Suffice it to say my first attempt was a little less than successful.

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You'll notice what is missing in this photo - right, the knitting needles! These first 5 rows were on the way to the frog pond because of the way that the stockinette stitch is curling out from the neckline. I was able to try the "tank" on at this point and see that the neckline with 90 stitches around is going to probably fit ok. So back to the needles, cast on 90 stitches again and attempt to rib the first few rows - but the raglan increases are supposed to start after on the third row and I want at least 4 rows of ribbing to hopefully hold the neckline from curling. One stitch for the raglan "seam", increase on either side of it - wait a minute, each of the sections are an odd number - 17, 27, 17, 27 - take one stitch away for the seam and now there's an even number of stitches which means that the ribbing will start with a purl next to the knit "seam" but end with a knit before the next "seam" stitch which will give a different appearance to the beginning and end of each section.. NO!! Back to the frog pond and I'll try casting on 86 stitches, making the sections 16, 26, 16, 26. That won't decrease the size of the neckline by too much, but it should give me matching ribbing by the raglan shaping - all this trouble for 4 measly rows of ribbing. {g} Stay tuned. Me thinks the K4 project is going to get another hat this week as the tank top is turning out to be more complicated than the fair isle for the yellow sweater!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Honey, I Shrunk The Bags!

This time I really felted the bags! The two green & purple Lopi ones turned out much more compact than the earlier two made from recycled grey Lopi. I used the same technique of starting out at a low water level and then increasing to medium and finally to high as I reset the timer on the washer. I gave it one extra 9 minute sloshing then, after the rinse cycle, put the bags through a complete wash & rinse cycle without any soap to make sure that they were well rinsed. When I removed them from their pillowcases, I was surprised at how much tighter they had felted.

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This bag started out measuring 16.5" x 9" with the base 13" x 6" - it felted down to 13" x 6.5" with a 10" x 5" base. In the following photo, you can see how tightly the garter stitch bottom felted. The completed bag is just big enough to hold a 3½ ounce skein of yarn which makes me think that it's not going to be of much use as a project bag. I may try to add a bead closure to fancy it up and use it as an alternate purse.

Button-hole #3 - Image hosted by

Button-hole #3 - Image hosted by

The second bag was the one with the shoulder straps. It started out measuring 15" x 11" with a 14.5" x 8" base. The handles were about 18" measured from end to end and when placed over my shoulder, the bottom of the bag hung at hip level. Coming out of the washer, the size had shrunk to 12" x 7" and the base to 10.5" x 6". The handles, which were 9 rows wide, felted into soft ropes. They still fit over my shoulder, but along with the bag are enough shorter that the bottom of the bag hangs at waist level.

Button-hole #4 - Image hosted by

I like the overall effect of the more felted bags, but I'm not sure about the ultimate size. Both of these are more purse size now than what I need to carry a project. The next bag is either going to be knit much bigger than I want the finished size or I'm not going to felt it as long. (The elderly cassette tape added for scale purposes is the Grateful Dead's (Best of) Skeletons From The Closet from 1974)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Green & Purple "Basket"

OK, they're not really baskets, but you try to think up a catchy title {g} I finished Button-hole Bag #4 last night (you can see a photo of #3 in the May 25th post so I won't repeat it here). Both bags are made from Lopi yarn on size 13 needles. #3 pre-felted is 16.5" wide and 9" high, the bottom is 13"x 6".

#4 is made differently. I didn't increase and decrease at the side "seams" on it the way I did on the others and while I bound off 12 stitches for the handle opening, I cast on 50 to make shoulder straps. I used the crochet over a knitting needle cast-on - it's often used for a provisional cast on, but it worked great for putting a firm edge on the handle - even better than the "e-loop, then purl" cast on I did on the earlier bags and much faster. This bag is 15" wide & 11.5" up to the rim, while the handles are approximately 18". I think I could have made the handles a bit longer as pre-felted, they fit comfortably over my shoulder and the bottom of the bag hangs at hip level. I'm a little worried that felting will shorten them too much, but we'll see.

Shoulder-strap version of Button-hole Bag - Image hosted by

In other news, the "Expert" has weighed in and Matthew has requested that the fair isle patterns be added to his sweater. We're headed out to garage sales in a bit - there's a subdivision on just down the road that has had good pickings in past years. Then this afternoon is the K4 meeting - I'll have the slate blue shawl and the yellow hat to turn in and I'm working on a gold shawl and a cranberry red hat.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I'm In Love.........

In love with Meg Swansen's A Gathering of Lace

A Gathering of Lace front cover Image hosted by

It came in yesterday via Inter-Library Loan from the Royal Oak Library (lucky Royal Oakians to have this on their library shelf full time except when someone like me snatches it away for three weeks!) and I picked it up this morning. Fortunately DH was driving as I couldn't pull my nose out of it on the way home. It's an oversized book and I had to be careful not to open it so far that it interfered with the gear shift between the driver's & passenger's seats. There are a number of beautiful shawls in the book, but what really grabbed my attention were the lace vests. Family and friends know that I'm a "vest junkie" - I must have 30 or 35 vests in my closet, on shelves, or tucked away into drawers. I love them! Quilted, crocheted, knit, wool, tapestry, or brocade - I don't care. So these are moving onto my PPIP (Potential Projects In Progress) list:

Cocoon, p. 18, Image hosted by

Cocoon on page 18 - calls for about 1000 yards of laceweight Icelandic wool and size 6 needles to get a 20 st / 33 rows to 4". I get 20 st to 4" with worsted weight on size 8 needles. I'm thinking that oatmeal colored acrylic & wool from the recycled sweater.

Sampler Tabard, p. 91 Image hosted by

This one is a bit difficult to see, but it's has five different lace patterns from bottom to top. It calls for 1100 yards of sport weight wool or mercerized cotton on size 2 needles for the small size, gauge: 26 st & 33 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch. It's nice when the gauge is given in stockinette stitch as it makes it easy to swatch. (I've passed by a couple lace vests where the only gauge was the finished measurement of the vest. Excuse me?? I'd like to know before I go to all that work that the vest is going to fit.)

Rose Lace Vest, p. 106 Image hosted by

This one is hip length & buttons up the front. It calls for Jagger Spun Zephyr (silk & wool), 1450 yards, & size 3 & 4 needles for a gauge of 5.4 st & 9.6 rows = 1".. That's about 22 st to 4", but over 38 rows to 4" and it's over the chart pattern. Hmmm.. This one would be tough to swatch, but it is pretty.

In other happenings, I played around with some fair isle type patterns on a hat for the K4 project as a way of previewing what I had in mind for adding a bit of interest to the bright yellow raglan.

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It helped that the hat I had already cast on was fairly close in color to the sweater, though not quite as bright. I used a light gold and a pale yellow in the pattern and I think I like it. Still, I believe that I'll get the opinion of the "expert" - the grandson I'm making it for. How about it, Matthew? Do you want this pattern around the sleeves and the bottom of your sweater???

In answer to some of the comments on previous posts:

Leah of Itty Bitty Knitting thinks that the wool from the brick colored sweater that I'm in the midst of recycling would work for a lace shawl (or maybe a vest?) and after my weekend trip to the LYS, I agree. Laceweight yarn is that thin.

Pioggia wanted to know if I'd felted the purple & green bag yet. No, but I'm about half way done with a second one which will use up the remainder of the Lopi yarn in those shades and I'll felt them both at once.

I appreciate all the kind comments on the Feather & Fan baby afghan - I'm going to show it off tomorrow at the K4 meeting (and maybe the following Monday at the knitting class) then package it up and ship it off.

Several people have asked about the Rainbow set. That pattern is still in copyright, so I can't share it, but the basic plan is that you make two rainbows starting with red (2 rows dc), orange, two shades of yellow, two shades of green, blue & purple, then square off the top of the semi-circle with the color of the jumper (I used navy) by using slip stitches, single crochets, half-doubles, doubles & triples up to the corner, then back down to scs across the top, up again for the other corner, and down in stitch height for the side. Working out from one side, work a single crochet waist band, then pick up for the skirt and work down increasing along the way to get the fullness. Finish off with rows of sc in the rainbow colors. Start at the top of the rainbow and work two straps that cross in back and button at the waistband. Add in a couple button loops on the open side edge of the rainbow and buttons on the back waistband. The jacket starts out with the same rainbow, pick up and crochet down from the rainbow to finish the back, then pick up along the sides and crochet the underarm, chain to increase for the front armhole edge and keep going, but shape the front neck lower. Do the other side the same, sew or crochet the shoulders together and starting at the underarm, work the sleeves in the round down to the rainbow borders. The collar is picked up around the neck edge in single and then two or three dc in each sc to form the ruffle. I used worsted weight yarn and an H hook.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Tie A Yellow Ribbon.....

Ok, I don't have a yellow ribbon, but whichever of the Sweet M&M's fits into this sweater is going to stand out in a crowd. Boy, is it ever bright yellow. The pattern is a top down raglan from the Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book with a few changes. The neckband is the cabled one from the pattern, but the original version, which you can see on the right hand side of the book, uses YO, K1, YO to form the raglan increases and I didn't like that look.

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I'm using the same three stitch cable from the neckband as a design element for the "seam" and increasing on either side of the P1 stitches that set the cable off from the stockinette stitch. I'm increasing by lifting the bar between the knit & purl stitches onto the needle and knitting through the back loop, which twists the stitch and minimizes the open work effect.

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I have about twelve more rows to work before dividing for the sleeves and body. I'll be adding length to both the body & sleeves because the kids are very tall for their ages and the extra length will let the sweater be worn longer. I've tended to make things for them bigger than I expect they'll need at the moment ever since I made this rainbow jumper and jacket set for Megan and it was too small. It's the same set from an old Family Circle Needlework magazine that I made for her mother back in 1970 or 1971.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Feather & Fan Baby Afghan

I finished the feather & fan baby afghan last night and took it out onto the deck this afternoon to get some photos. This version was done with machine washable yarn (I've managed to lose the skein band) that's about the same weight as baby yarn. I used size 11 circulars.

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I turned in two hats and another shawl at the K4 meeting yesterday and I'm almost finished with the slate blue shawl that I started last Sunday. I still haven't felted the purple & green button-hole bag, but it's on my to-do list probably over the weekend. I want to start another bag and am trying to decide on whether to finish using the last two skeins of the purple & green Lopi or if I want to start the French Market bag, making it about half again as deep, from the teal flecked yarn. I borrowed the Folk Bags book from the library and I'm getting some good ideas from there. Also I was able to borrow Folk Shawls through the Inter-Library Loan program and I'm waiting for Meg Swansen's A Gathering of Lace to arrive courtesy of the same program. There are some beautiful shawls in the Folk Shawl book, but I suspect that making any of them will have to wait until I can afford to get my own copy as I wouldn't be able to complete a shawl during the three week loan period. The Simple Prairie Shawl is very similar to the ones I'm making for the nursing home, but the other lace shawls are beautiful. Another project that I want to get started on (never can have too many PIPs!)is making sweaters for the grandchildren - I found a fairly simple top down raglan pattern that's knit entirely in the round.

Acrylics Anon/a