Friday, May 28, 2010

Striped Cardigan Vest

I always have a million different things going at once, but now and then I just drop everything and work on something until it's done. This happened to me last week when I was innocently flipping through a catalog that showed up in my mailbox. I saw a photo of a grey cardigan vest, and my brain made several great leaps, and next thing you know I had my Ann Budd book out and was swatching all over the place, and pretty soon I was knitting up a big ol' striped thing, and all the other perfectly good knitting projects already in progress went into temporary hibernation.

The stripes made it easy to stay interested, and not having to make sleeves was a huge relief. I just hate making sleeves.

I always forget how long the "finishing" portion of knitting a sweater can take. I went to bed last night thinking, Yeah, I just have to "finish" it! It's almost done! Got up this morning, started knitting right away, and four hours later…well, you can see where it is.

I'm still imagining I can wear this today, even with wet-blocking. You've gotta have your dreams.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pennant Garland

I've been seeing these pennant garlands around lately (like here and here) and my own little front porch was just crying out for some of the same treatment, so I riffled around in my scrap basket and in two shakes, had this to report.

Aren't they loverly? They're the simplest thing ever, and you'll need neither a pattern nor a tutorial, but just in case, here's what to do:

Draw yourself a goodly triangle, isosceles if you don't mind. Don't be getting out your protractor, I don't know what kind of an angle I used—just make it so it looks nice to you. My pennants are about 12" on the long side, with a maybe 50 degree angle at the point? If there are more proper geometry terms than these, may I remind you that I am too old to be remembering all that stuff...

Now you can make a paper pattern of your triangle if you want, but I just went ahead and cut it out of the fabric. I use a self-healing mat and rotary cutter, and a clear acrylic quilter's rule, and if you don't have these things, I do truly recommend them all; they are unbeatable for getting a super-accurate straight line (and the ruler also has angles to measure by if you are inclined to be that way.) Keep going with other fabrics, cutting all the triangles to match the first one (or, heck, you could have all different triangles if you want—that would look nifty, too.) I cut two of each triangle.

With right sides together, stitch a ¼" seam along the two long sides of the triangle, leaving the short side (the top) open. Turn it and press. Do that to all of them.

Now take a length of 1" double fold bias tape and open out one of the folds. Pin it to the top of one of the triangles, with raw edges aligned. Keep pinning the tape to the triangles until you have run out of either tape or triangles. I made my garland with the corners of the triangles touching, but you can do this your own way.

Stitch the tape to the triangles using a very scant ¼" seam. I tried to stitch just toward the raw edge side of the fold in the tape. Then, fold the tape over to the other side and stitch it down, as close to the edge as possible. That's it! Hang it where it will flutter gently in the breeze and your house will look like a festival tent. Invite some friends over, sit on the porch with a sweating glass of something fruity, and watch the world go by.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jar Cozies

Jam Jar Cozies

So far, it's all crochet, which is funny to me. It seems like I'm always knitting and sewing and embroidering, but the evidence appears to show otherwise, and I can't really understand it. Anyway, I have been crocheting since I was a child (with LONG breaks, mind you, I did go through that knit snob phase where crochet was the red-headed stepchild of which nobody spoke) though the only thing I can recall ever finishing ever, besides the hangers, is a probably godawful baby bonnet I designed myself, crocheted for my new baby cousin Sam—he has an orange Mohawk now, and a pierced lip. I made a lot of looooooonnngg crochet chains and piles of random things that never amounted to anything, and it really never occurred to me that I might actually make an object with a useful purpose. Hence my loser crochet skills which allow me to make square and rectangular things only.

Enter the lovely Lucy at Attic24, whose blog is so enchanting I want to put whipped cream on it and eat it with a silver spoon. She whips up some cool crochet things. Attic24 has pretty much been the direct cause of most of my Blanket Sickness (with help from Ann and Kay at Mason Dixon Knitting and the always inspiring Alicia)—it would actually be pretty easy to mention and link both Lucy and Alicia in every one of my blog posts, because they both inspire me just about every day.

Today, it is all about these gorgeous jam jar covers. I implore you to click over to the Attic and look at the tutorial, since even if this kind of thing is super easy for you and you don't need any lessons, Lucy's photos are so yummy. Visit with her as long as you want, I will wait here until you get back.

As soon as I saw that tutorial, my antennae started vibrating, so I went thrifting and bought four short glasses for thirty-nine cents each, dug into my yarn scrap basket (which is prodigious, thanks to my blanket habit) and in an evening had made five jar cozies. Tuck a candle in there and light it, and man! So gorgeous. They look like stained glass, and I wish the photos could show that effect better.

You'll just have to try them for yourself! I used worsted weight yarns and a size 4.0mm hook, and chained 33 to get started, but you can just use whatever you have lying around, and chain however many it takes to fit your jar.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I just had to granny

It's an enormous granny square made of Dijon mustard! Something in me really loves that color, since I keep buying it. I saw a really beautiful Giant Granny blanket at the Purl blog, and it just sent me over the edge, though of course, Joelle's was made of lovely Koigu in pinks and browns—mmm, it was delicious, and it made me want to granny SO bad! Mine is made of leftovers and whatever worsted I had around the place that seemed like the right thing at the time, and eventually I had to resort to choosing whatever there was enough of to go all the way around it. Let us not even mention the fact that since it is square, it will hang off me all the way to the floor on both sides, while still leaving my feet uncovered. Well, I guess I just had to get it out of my system, and now I can move on to other things.

Though how can I really be expected to concentrate on anything with this outside the kitchen window?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hangers Revisted

In my usual fashion, I have gone off the deep end for these delicious crochet-covered hangers. I saw them again at Alicia, who saw them at Posy, who saw them at Dottie Angel. They are everything I need in a project—small, quick, and thrifty—and I immediately made six, with plans to make a thousand more. (Which sounds crazy, but I have a huge hoard of these vintage wooden hangers sitting in the garage and a massive basket of worsted leftovers. Hog wild, here I come!) Alicia's are gorgeously verdant in stormy spring colors, so I followed that lead and came up with these.

I was reminded of my Aunt Lucille, who taught me to make these hanger covers back in 1977. We had a cottage on a small lake in northern Michigan, and Uncle Marion and Aunt Lucille had one too, a few doors down. Sometimes, if we all happened to be up at the lake at the same time, we'd see each other for a little fishing or, in my case, a little alleviation of the tedium of being away from the TV. Once I'd gone through all the Nancy Drew books I'd brought with me, I'd show up at their door looking for entertainment. (Now, I wonder if they thought, Oh Lord, it's her again…)

Aunt Lucille was a tiny little old lady with sparkly cat's-eye glasses and a gravelly voice. She seemed tough, and she'd once had a career, which made all the family eyebrows go up. I was scared to death of Uncle Marion, so if he was napping in the other room, I'd sit in the parlor of their cottage literally praying the whole time that he wouldn't wake up and come in with his hair all standing up and slept-on, yawning and scratching. He generously never did wake up while I was over there, and one time, Aunt Lucille was making these crochet-covered hangers.

"I want to make those! Can I make one? Can I have some yarn and a hook and a hanger?" (I'm sure she didn't have a huge stash of hangers in a box in her garage.) She gave me all the stuff and showed me the simple shell pattern, which is the easiest thing in the world to do—I did know how to crochet already, not that it would have stopped me if I hadn't—and I had, within fifteen minutes, made a hanger. It was dark blue with a light blue edging. Something about single-crocheting the two sides together was soooooo much fun! "Can I make another one? Can I have more yarn, different colors, and another hanger?" Eventually, she probably said something like, "Uh oh, is that Uncle Marion waking up from his nap?"

I can remember the yarn—Wintuk brand, probably Orlon, so shiny and sticky to work, but so soft—and I had those hangers in my closet for YEARS. In fact, until I started this story and went to look for them, I thought they were there still.