Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Milkweed Shawl

We are house bound these days as our dear Simcha is recovering from a difficult neutering surgery that was aborted. The good news is that he's doing well and we are very pleased with his treatment course and the surgeon who will do his next surgery on November 5th.

At his last training session we were delighted to hear that he was 75% trained, until we got home and soberly reassessed the figure at 2%. Nevertheless, we do see strides forward.  And, at the very least, all the cuddling is wearing down his rough edges.  Steve and I have hardly a scar left from his teething phase!

In these photos I'm wearing my newly finished Milkweed Shawl that I knit for weekend wear as an alternative to pulling on a sweater.  Because I spend a great deal of time at home, I like to have things to wear that are fun yet practical and this shawl is perfect for when I take Simcha for a walk or hop on a bike for a quick ride. 

Knitting allows you to express your personal style whether around the house or around about town and is a great way to update your wardrobe by adding just one or two pieces as the seasons change.

 Particulars:  Milkweed Shawl by Laura Chau who blogs as Cosmicpluto Knits; 1 skein Sundara Sock Yarn (350 yards), Dahlia colorway; US4 needles; relaxed post blocking dimensions: 16" x 44" (along curved edge).  The only modification I made was to Chart F.  Beginning with Row 96 I continued the "yo" on both sides of the CDD.  Therefore, on all subsequent pattern rows I had 12 stitches within repeats instead of 11.  I made this modification as I felt a little more ease in the edging was warranted and I'm pleased with the result.  This modification did use more yarn than the original pattern, so take that into consideration.  I also used the yarn tail at the top of the shawl to make a single row of crochet to reinforce the top center (I added about 2 inches of crochet along the top center border).  Finally, for the BO I used the my favorite loose cast off (i.e. k2 (transfer those 2 stitches back onto the left needle and K2T (through the back loop), K1 and repeat).

P.S.  This is my last skein of yarn from Sundara's Petals Collection (each colorway was dedicated to a flower).  The blogs on the other colorways are Bird of Paradise (a "classic" Mr. Puffy post) and Lenten Rose (socks for Steve and, I feel compelled to note, he has yet to wear them).

On a closing note, thank you all for your kind wishes and empathy and I am clearly not alone with work stress.  I will share that there has been an unexpected turn of events and suddenly I have had a large weight lifted allowing my life to returned somewhat to normal.  And, as Fall has arrived early here in SoCal, I am busy knitting accessories and playing around with felting so new projects will be appearing here shortly!  Until next time, be well and love well and have fun making your Fall accessories!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Funky Fall Gloves and Halloween Crafts!

When I first saw these gloves I thought "oh how perfect for Fall!" But then I hesitated. They were knit in pink and day glow white and the effect was just a tad too girlish for a woman of my mature years. But then a kit for the gloves became available in blue and green. Why I could see instantly what a huge difference that made. You can see it for yourself, can't you? These gloves are much more mature and age appropriate...

Okay, so maybe the gloves are teetering on wrong side of the "big mistake" equation. But, it's not like I'm going to wear them to the office. No siree Bob. But they cheer me up and certainly announce the arrival of Fall!

If I wasn't so beleaguered with work these days I would have ripped these back and knit them with bolder stripes and eliminated the orange stripes. Le sigh. Maybe they'll grow on me. I also knit the top I'm wearing. It's knit in Rowan wool cotton on US 4 needles. I knit it years ago, long before I was blogging. I love Rowan wool cotton, it's such a comfortable yarn to wear and holds up really well. The pattern was written out for me by the LYS where I bought the yarn, L'Atelier in Santa Monica. I told them I wanted to knit a top in this yarn and they wrote up a pattern for me. That's one of the nice perks of buying yarn at a LYS.

At the very least, I can wear them to a pumpkin patch to buy a Halloween pumpkin!

Particulars: Dial Up Gloves; 4 skeins Spud & Chloe FINE sock (superwash 80% wool 20% silk) - brown - blue - green - orange; US 2 needles (circular needles and magic loop technique until I reached the fingers and then switched to double pointed needles). I found this pattern frustrating because the color join is very "frugly" despite my best efforts to try and diminish the unsightlyness using various techniques. I'm sure there is a "fix" for smoothing the color join but, frankly, I was just too tired to make the effort, and the yarn did not frog well, so I just pushed forward. These gloves are knit in the round and then turned inside out (i.e. reverse stockinette) and that may have exacerbated the problem. Or maybe it was just me. My only modification was to add some shaping. I began the glove in the large size and then made gradual decreases (1 stitch every 9th row after I was 2 inches from CO edge) until I had the number of stitches for the medium size which took place just before the thumb opening.

Fun and Easy Fall Crafts

As I alluded to above, work has been unbearably miserable lately. I've decided I would not make a good soldier, because when life is reduced to work, sleep, and duty it isn't long before I'm not a happy camper. I do still manage to find time to craft though, as it is necessary to keep me sane. Since I suspect I'm not the only one who is pressed for time I'm going to share some quick and easy craft projects to get you ready for Halloween!

Needle Felt A Magic Pumpkin!

This is a needle felted pumpkin using a "soft" technique and it's perfect for the absolute beginner. I bought this as a kit from Fairie Bling and it came with everything I needed. Instead of making two small pumpkins I opted to make one larger pumpkin. Finished size is roughly 3.5" x 4.5."

Decorate a Vintage Halloween Ornament

The inspiration for this vintage Halloween ornament came from last year's Create & Decorate Magazine (October 2009). It was very simple and fun to make and I'll probably fill this one with candy and give it as a welcoming gift to our new neighbors, once it gets a little closer to Halloween. I haven't actually met these new neighbors yet. I'm hoping they aren't too stuffy. But, if they have moved to the far reaches of Topanga, odds are they are a bit eccentric like the rest of us.

Particulars: paper mache cone (10.5" x 4") sold online at The Craft Shop for $1.99; I painted and decorated it with various and sundry Fall decorations picked up at craft stores. I particularly like the Vampire Blood gift tag (sold as a set of 6). I can also see adding these tags to a wine bottle as a hostess gift or tied onto a wine glass stem like a toe tag/name tag! These ideas just come naturally to me. I think it's my practical nature. Oh, before I forget the tags are made by Crafty Pagan Designs who has an Etsy shop filled with fun paper goods.

Until next time, be well and love well and take the time to decorate for Halloween ~ I know it will make you smile!