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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Frogging The Night Away

I've spent the last couple nights of TV time frogging three of the wool sweaters that I purchased over the summer at garage sales. I forgot to enter these in my Excel recycled yarn database, but I'm sure that I didn't pay more than $2 each. The first one was a dark grey aran style knit in Ecuador. I wish I could take a lesson or two from the person who sewed it together because the seams were almost invisible - not much like my seams when I can't figure out a way to knit a pattern in the round and avoid them all together. Once the seams were out, the sweater unraveled nicely and I wound up with just over 33 ounces of bulky wool.

Sweater #2 was a lighter weight cream wool v-neck with stripes of cranberry, blue-grey & gold at the bottoms of the body & sleeves. Getting the sewn-on ribbing off of the neckline was touchy, but once that was done, the raglan sleeves came out easily and it didn't take long to wind everything into balls. The yarn is lighter weight - probably DK - and I wound up with 15 ounces of the cream plus small balls of the other three colors.

Sweater #3 was a challenge. It was bulky grey with a knit in design of cream, also knit in Ecuador. The sleeves were solid grey so they frogged without any problem, but the body of the sweater after I got past the front and back yokes was knit circularly with many stops & starts of yarn. There might be four or more short lengths of yarn in one row, so I lost probably 4 ounces or so until the point where the pattern was such that the two colors were carried all the way around the body. Still, I came out with 22 ounces of the grey, though most of the cream was unfortunately lost to the short lengths. Here are the spoils of my frogging efforts - the bulky greys will turn into felted bags.

On the charity knitting front, I've finished 7 black scarves to make cap and scarf sets out of caps in the bin at the Sr. Center. I also have a set from double yarn (a variegated & a solid) finished and the cap and part of the scarf of another set. I'll add those to the sidebar totals after I turn them in tomorrow. I didn't photograph the black scarves because they're boring, but I did make this small scarf as a trial run at a pattern that was donated to our group a couple weeks ago. It's more stylish than the garter stitch scarves, but I don't think it would be as warm on a cold day.

Right now, I have a total of 23 washcloths for the Cloths For Katrina project finished and most of them even have the yarn ends run in! I want to finish using up the yarn I have and get the cloths into the mail before postage goes up after the first of January. Again no photo as garter stitch washcloths do not exciting blogging make.

But Megan's sweater is finished and here's a photo to prove it. This was originally a crocheted pattern that I reworked so that it could be knit. It's made from Bernat (the turquoise) & Caron Rainbow Dreams (the Jetstream variegated). I'm not sure what brand the purple CC might be as it was in my stash. I like the way it turned out, especially the way that the seed stitch worked with the variegated yarn to produce the pattern bands. It was worked on 10½ needles - circulars, straights & double points and the only seams are the 3-needle bind-offs at the shoulders.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving - aka Turkey Day - is almost over. It was a success - lots of good food & lots of leftovers so I can sit & knit instead of cooking for the next couple days. There were just the three of us - me, DH & Mom - and we took the food over to Mom's house because of the weather. Snow and -7 degree wind chills are not a good idea for someone who is 89.

I've been knitting this week, but boring stuff. I'm on the 7th black garter stitch scarf which is not exactly exciting knitting. Still, they're needed to go with a number of caps in the bin at the Sr. Center with black ribbing or stripes and will make those into cap & scarf sets. I'm almost done with the second 8 ounce skein of black so pretty soon I'll be able to move on to something else. You'll excuse me, I'm sure, if I don't bore you to death with a pile of identical black scarves, right?

On Tuesday, someone dropped a large bag of yarn off at the Senior Center and it was given to me after bingo. Some of it looks like novelty yarn, but most of it is Wool-Ease which will be a nice addition for more hats and scarves. There are also two large skeins of cotton yarn that we don't use for the K4 projects, but I've been given permission by the other members of the group to use donated cotton for the Cloths for Katrina project. I guess once the last scarf is finished, I'll switch over and make some more garter stitch washcloths for CFK. I'll have to hurry as I'd like to get the cloths finished and shipped out before the increase in postage that's coming in January. The one advantage of the simple projects is that they don't take much concentration and I can read while I'm knitting. On the other hand, I'll have to put off the projects that I have in mind for myself. Ah, well.. both projects are for a good cause and I can always knit things for me later on.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Tagged - A Knitting Meme

Sallee tagged me on this one..

What is your all-time favorite yarn to knit with?
When it comes to yarn, I'm still a Plain Jane - give me an acrylic that will go through the washer and dryer and come out looking like new. My super all time favorite was Dazzle by Caron - that was back in the 70s, and they had Dazzle, a smooth acrylic worsted weight yarn with a bit of a sheen that came in wonderful colors and washed like a dream. They also had Dazzleaire which was a fuzzy version that looked like a rag by the second trip through the laundry. Guess which yarn was discontinued - right, the Dazzle! Today, I go to the yarn store and what I see is mostly novelty yarns that just aren't going to hold up over the long run. I use Bernat worsted weight a lot, Red Heart some (it's a little harsher), and - big surprise - those big one pound skeins at JoAnne's feel harsh when you're knitting but turn soft the first time they're washed & dried. I have acrylic sweaters and vests that I made 30+ years ago that still look good. The aran sweater below was cast on the evening that I went into labor for my youngest - almost 34 years ago.

Your favorite needles?
Circulars & double points - they let me change patterns around to knit without seams. I like the Bryspun needles with the concave points, Inox circulars and the Clover bamboo circulars for larger sizes in the 16" length without breaking the bank. I've had a Boye Needlemaster set since they first came out and I use that for longer circulars.

The worst thing you've ever knit?
Oh, boy - probably the horizontally striped turtleneck pullover from either a Ladies Home Journal or an American Home Needlework magazine from the 70s. It was beautiful on the model, but between the time I started it and the time I finished it, I went from a stringbean figure to middleage. I tried it on once and stuck it in the back of the closet. The worst part was that I had followed the pattern and used the sew & slash method for the armholes & the neck, so I couldn't even take it apart without losing a lot of yarn.

The most heartbreaking thing I've knit was a toddler-sized Norwegian sweater in white & blue with snowflakes, reindeer, and trees. This was back in 1969 and I used wool yarn. The sweater got mixed in with regular laundry and came out about the right size for a Cabbage Patch doll which, of course, hadn't been invented yet. It was at that point that I swore off wool until my recent forays into felting. At least now when the yarn shrinks, it's on purpose!

Most valuable knitting technique?
Knitting in the round & three-needle bind-offs for shoulders. I hate sewing things together, so my ideal sweater is one that has 4 or 5 yarn ends to run in when it comes off the needles.

Best knit book or magazine?
Elizabeth Zimmerman's books - they gave me the courage to start designing my own patterns.

Your favorite knitalong?
Felted Bag, KnitRed, & Cloths For Katrina

Your favorite knitblogs?
Knitnana, A Chance to Knit, Knittinology, & Yarn Harlot

The knit item you wear the most?
My grey cabled yoke cardigan - it's worked in medium heather grey in LoveKnit and bopped up in size from a Pingouin child's pattern I made my eldest daughter many years ago. I basically live in this cardigan in the winter. I have one started in cranberry LoveKnit, but I'm afraid that I'm a skein shy of having enough yarn and LoveKnit is no longer manufactured. (Anyone have a spare skein??)

Whom to tag?
I was going to tag Heather at A Chance to Knit - she's been doing so many wonderful things lately, not only knitting, but spinning, dying and even jewelry - but someone tagged her before I got a chance to do so. Sallee tagged me, so she's safe. I wasn't going to do it because Kim, my "partner in crime" in Jaki Designs, is so incredibably busy with college, but she's sure to have some very interesting things to say and there's no deadline for a meme so she can put it off until she has time or needs a break from all that research. Ok, Kim, TAG - you're it..

Friday, November 18, 2005

Baby It's Cold Outside

Winter has returned to Michigan. A week ago we were in the 60s, today the high reached all of 30 degrees and with the wind chill it feels like 22 out there. There's a dusting of snow on the ground & roofs though not enough to actually measure. The puddles and the bird baths are frozen over so we're filling the teakettle with hot water and using it to thaw the former. The birds are flocking to the feeders and the feed levels are going down fast.

These are the hats & scarves that I turned in at yesterday's K4 meeting - 6 hats & 8 scarves. You'll probably notice a few yarn ends sticking out here and there despite my attempts to tuck them under. It's easier to do the finishing work when I'm at the meeting and busy talking and laughing with the other members.

Given the change in the weather, we packed up 35 hat & scarf sets, 20 other adult hats, 9 baby or toddler hats and a couple baby sets for Virginia to drop off at FISH in Oxford where they will be handed out to people who need them. I have another set on the needles and I brought home yarn for four more scarves that will turn single hats still in the bin at the Sr. Center into sets.

I'll keep working on hats & scarves, but I'm also going to pay a little more attention to my personal projects for a while as Xmas is a'coming. I'm down to the ribbing on the second sleeve of Megan's sweater so that should be done this weekend - at least the knitting. I'll take it along to the knitting / crochet class on Monday to run in the yarn ends and tack down the neck ribbing. I always make ribbing for the neckband twice as long as called for and fold it to the inside and tack it down as I like the looks better than a bound off edge at the neck. Once that's off the needles, I'll probably pull the fair isle vest out of the PIPs bin and see if I can remember what I was planning for the armholes on up. I'll need to get my calculator out as this is a pattern that I'm designing as I go. Once that's underway, I want to frog a couple more of the wool sweaters from garage sales and make another felted bag - probably just like the Big Bad Bag I made back in June, but a little deeper so I can cart around a developing Rag-Tag afghan and all the yarn needed for it as I have enough small balls of yarn left over from hats & scarves to make a couple afghans. Now that I write all that out, I think I'm going to be busy between now and Xmas

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Goodies In The Mail

Monday's mail brought a package from Birdsong with lots of beautiful chunky yarn for our K4 project at the Sr. Center. Thanks, Birdsong! There were actually two more skeins of the cream color but one & a half of them went into the scarf that's pictured below. I just couldn't wait to knit with it! {g} Notice the cute card she sent with sheep quilting.

This batch of hats and scarves will be turned in at tomorrow's meeting. The set on the right is done with a strand of tan yarn combined with a strand of a rather wild variegated in teal, magenta & gold with touches of white. I made the hat with 40 stitches on my new size 15 bamboo circulars and finished it off with a 3-needle bind-off as I don't have double points that large for the decrease section. The scarf is worked on size 17 needles. These are both child sized as FISH, one of the local charities that we donate the finished items to, asked for more hats & scarves for kids.

The two navy & variegated hats in the center are also child sized. The scarf to go with one of them is on the needles and the other scarf will be solid navy. I've found that one skein of solid and one skein of variegated will make two sets like this when the hat is 42 stitches worked on size 11 circulars and the scarf is 15 stitches on size 15 needles.

The hat just above them is adult sized and worked with three strands of yarn - brown, tan & cream - on a size 15 circular. I used my largest size dps (10½s) for the decrease rows. (Note to self: get at least some size 13 dps with the next JoAnn's 40% off coupon!) This hat will match the three strand scarf that Gloria just finished. The scarves on the left are all worked on size 15 needles - there are completed hats in the bins at the Sr. Center that will go with each of them to make winter sets.

In an effort to get organized, I bought a couple 30 gallon storage containers this morning. One will corral the odds and ends of the K4 yarn that's left over from all the hats & scarves until I get them crocheted into afghans. I had hoped that the other one would hold the wool yarn I've recycled from garage sale sweaters along with the sweaters waiting to be frogged. I underestimated how much yarn I already had wound into balls - it barely fit into the container (the lid is fastened down, but bulging a bit) and there's no hope that the sweaters or the yarn from them will fit. I'm thinking that maybe I'd better go get another container while they're still on sale for $7.

Afterthought: I forgot to update my progress list - 1) the first sleeve of Megan's sweater is complete and I've picked up the stitches for the second one. 2) The silk and wool felted basket is complete and now I just need to put a load together so I can felt it. At the same time, DH wants his pair of Fuzzy Feet felted a little more so the toes don't stick up in the air. 3) I think I'm on washcloth #16 for the Cloths For Katrina project, but I need to do another count. 4) I picked up 8 skeins of Kmart Sayelle (which gives you an idea of how old the yarn probably is) in Terra Cotta at a garage sale last Friday and may abandon the cranberry cabled yoke sweater in LoveKnit (I need one more skein and the yarn is no longer made) and make one in this pretty rust shade.

I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped this week because after getting my flu-shot last Friday morning, I had a reaction (sore throat, cough, fever, aches) starting that afternoon and I basically slept from then until Sunday evening. When I called the county nurse, she thought that I'd picked up a cold and it was a coincidence that the symptoms showed up a few hours after the vaccination, but I've since corresponded with someone who teaches physiology and she told me that some people have a reaction to the body's production of interferon after the shot. Maybe that explains why I caught the "flu" every time I was vaccinated back in college. Since then (and that was the early 60's) this year is the first flu-shot I've had other than the one for the Swine Flu scare back in the Ford Administration. Now that I know what's causing it, I'll simply plan on a couple days of aspirin & sleep after a shot.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thursday's Progress Report

Another photoless post - at least of my projects - but I thought that a progress report would be in order.

  • Megan's sweater: The front yoke is finished, the shoulder seams and the neck band completed, the first sleeve is done to just below the variegated bands.

  • The silk & wool basket (I've decided that is a more appropriate designation than bowl or "whatever") has about 12 more rows of the bottom & then a 3-needle bindo-off to go.

  • Another washcloth finished and half way through #15, but the yarn ends still need to be run in on all except the first seven as I forgot to pack them in my bag on Monday.

  • I turned in 4 scarves (two adult & two child size) and two hats at the K4 meeting this afternoon (and forgot to take photos before I left home). I'm still working on the one I started in Continental - you'll notice the "started", after about 24" I gave up and switched back to the English style of knitting which is going much faster and with far more even stitches.

So, all in all, it's been a fairly productive week. I'm hoping to get close to finishing the silk & wool basket tonight and I'd like to finish the latest scarf. I finished reading the last book I had out of the library, so I need to dig around on the bookshelves here and see if there's anything that sounds good - otherwise, I know I'll find myself up here on the computer instead of downstairs knitting while I read. I have yarn for another set of hats & scarves plus yarn for a three strand hat to match the scarf that Gloria finished today (brown, tan & cream - nice guy colors), plus I brought home enough yarn to make a scarf to match the double strand hat I finished, but didn't turn in today. That should keep me busy!

My daughter sent me photos last night of Matthew & Megan in their Halloween costumes and also a photo of Matthew in the sweater she crocheted for him. She did a great job on it!

Acrylics Anon/a