You Make My Day and other blogs

Mr. Puffy with the help of his owner nominated me for a You Make My Day award.

I’m thrilled to be given such an award (Thank you, Mr. Puffy!), despite my lolly gagging to announce it on my blog. I just didn’t know who to pass the award onto. I read so many great blogs these days (59 if they all posted on the same day – thankfully, they don’t). Can you tell I am in desperate need of updating my blog roll? So, with this award, I am going to shine a light on some of the new blogs I recently found and now love to read.

1. I don’t think it’s kosher to nominate the same blog that just nominated you, but I’m not great about following rules. So, I’m listing Mr. Puffy. It’s true; I think Jake is the best dog in the world. Mr. Puffy and his love of tea, willingness to try on various knitted items and encouragement to buy the best yarn on the market puts him in at a close 2nd.

2. Nannybird. You are just in time to learn how she was bestowed with such a nickname. Funny stories aside – of which she has many – she is an avid crafter and knitter. I am always fascinated by what she is doing next. I stumbled across her blog when she was hosting a Recycled Craft Contest.

3. Yarn~Knit~Read~Lit. She started me reading again! I had been stuck on a diet of strictly knitting books. It was good to take a break and read some fiction books. Plus, she has two great dogs. You don’t notice any trend in my blog reading, do you?

4. Yarn for Brains. Great title, isn’t it? Just to prove her point, she lost a pair of knitted socks last week and sent up a cry for help. I’m not sure how much the cry helped, since we can’t rightly go rooting through her house looking for the missing socks, but she found them all the same.

OK, that’s enough of knitting blogs. Onto other blogs.

5. EtsyGreetings. I have to have at least one blog to help temper my insatiable desire for cards, cards and more cards! This blog features the many greeting card sellers which make up the EtsyGreetings Street Team. Right now, they are running a contest. I love contests!

6. Smitten Kitchen. I know. It’s on my blog roll. But, I really love this blog. There are always pictures of yummy food and excellent recipes. I’ve even tried my hand at a few.

7. The rantings of a Mad Hatter wannabe. Glorious Hats turned me onto her. Now, true, I have no idea what she is making right now … I’m a bit too shy to ask for fear it might be rude. But, I am enamored all the same. I love me some hats.

8. Sherri Crochets. Sherri crochets and knits. So, I could have put her up above with the strictly knitting blogs, but, well, this is my blog post and I’ll put them in the order I want! =) From sock monkeys to knitted trolls to crocheted gnomes, she is always making something fun and cute.

9. Knitting Dragonflies. Sounds like another knitting blog, right? Well, right and wrong. She’s a woman after my own heart. She loves to make quilts too.

10. Insert your blog name here. If I commented on your blog, it means I loved reading it. Thank you for making my day!

And speaking of blogs, I volunteered to be the author of a new blog, EtsyKnitters. It is the blog for the EtsyKnitters Street Team and Yahoo Group. I feel so alone in Pottstown some days without a yarn store to stop by at. This is my virtual knitting circle.

Knitting news: I finished my Log Cabin Block. I already have an idea for my final block, but I’m not going to share with you its name. I want it to be a surprise.

No Quilted Blocks Today

I feel like the last two weeks I have done nothing but talk about my Ode to Quilting blocks on this blog. So, today, I’m not going to mention them outside of this paragraph. Well, I have to tell someone that I am 75% done with my 8th block! It is titled Log Cabin block.

Instead, I’ll show off my latest sewing project.

Can you tell what it is?

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t a clue. Dan wanted to help me spread out the tablecloth. I can give you a hint: it’s not a tablecloth.

Rather, it is my roman shade for the dining room windows. One is already hung and mounted to the left window. It has been pulled all the way to the top to train it (allow the creases to form) and to not let onto the neighbors that we only have one window covering up. Goodness knows they already think we are a bit queer.

The shade in the pic is for the right window. I hope to finish it this week and have Dan mount it over the weekend. He is going to be working a lot of long hours this weeks as it is crunch time for the project he is on. So, the chances of him mounting the curtain during the work week are nil.

Spiral Applique Block, 7th in Ode to Quilting Series

This block was inspired by a bias applique quilter’s block.

Pattern for Spiral Applique Block:
Recommended Knitting skill level: Easy

Yarn: Lion’s Wool by Lion Brand or substitute any wool yarn from your stash that meets the below gauge specifications.
1. Color A = Pearl Grey, 1 skein
2. Color B = Pumpkin, 1 skein
3. Color C = Scarlet, 1 skein
4. Color D = Purple, 1 skein
5. Color E = Midnight Blue, 1 skein

Needles: Lion’s Wool recommends size 8 (I used size 5) in both straight needles and double pointed needles.

Materials:
Large blunt sewing needle
Safety pins

Gauge: 4 stitches and 6 rows is 1 inch/2.5 cm in Stocking Stitch.

Stocking Stitch Pattern: Knit all stitches on the right side of the work; Purl all stitches on the wrong side of the work.

Knitting Instructions:
Make 4 strips, one in each color.

  • In Color B, cast on 10 stitches.
  • Work in Stocking Stitch till strip measures 8 inches.
  • Bind off all stitches.
  • Repeat instructions with color C, color D, and color E.

In color A, make 4 small corner squares.

  • With color A, cast on 10 stitches.
  • Row 1(right side of work): Purl all stitches.
  • Row 2: K1, P2, K4, P2, K1.
  • Row 3: P1, K2, P4, K2, P1.
  • Row 4: Knit all stitches.
  • Row 5: Purl all stitches.
  • Row 6: K4, P2, K4.
  • Row 7: P4, K2, P4.
  • Row 8: Knit all stitches.
  • Repeat rows 1-4.
  • Bind off all stitches.
  • Repeat instructions 3 more times.
With color A, make 1 large center square.

  • With color A, cast on 34 stitches.
  • Row 1(right side of work): Purl all stitches.
  • Row 2: K1, P2, (K4, P2) 5 times, K1.
  • Row 3: P1, (K2, P4) 5 times, K2, P1.
  • Row 4: Knit all stitches.
  • Row 5: Purl all stitches.
  • Row 6: K4, (P2, K4) 5 times.
  • Row 7: (P4, K2) 5 times, P4.
  • Row 8: Knit all stitches.
  • Repeat rows 1-8 five more times. (Total rows = 48)
  • Bind off all stitches.
  • Block to measurements (8 inches by 8 inches).

Finishing Instructions:

  • Place one color A corner square on either side of the color B strip.
  • Using safety pins, secure squares to strip.
  • Using a mattress stitch, seam the corner squares to either side of the strip.
  • Repeat instructions with the remaining two corner squares and color C strip.
  • Place the color E strip on the right side of the color A center square. Secure with safety pins. Seam together with a mattress stitch.
  • Place the final strip, color D, on the left side of the color A center square. Secure with safety pins. Seam together with a mattress stitch.

Make 1 i-cord.

  • With color B and two double pointed needles, cast on 2 stitches.
  • Knit these two stitches on row 1.
  • Do not turn the work.
  • Instead slide the work to the beginning of the left-hand needle. Wrap the yarn across the back of the work. Knit the two stitches of row 2.
  • Continue in this fashion until i-cord measures 10 inches.
  • Join in a ball of color E. (Note: When cutting the yarn from color B, leave a long string, measuring approximately 20 inches.
  • Work the i-cord in color E until it measures 10 inches from where color E was joined in.
  • Join in a ball of color C. (Again, leave a long 20-inch string of color E).
  • Work the i-cord in color C until it measures 10 inches from where color C was joined in.
  • Join in a ball of color D. (Again, leave a long 20-inch string of color C).
  • Work the i-cord in color D until it measures 10 inches from where color D was joined in.
  • Bind off all stitches.
  • Leave a long 20-inch string of color D.
  • Do not weave in the ends yet.

Placement of i-cord

  • Arrange i-cord in a spiral on top of the color A center square. Be sure to stay within the borders of the center square. Also, lay the i-cord down so that the right side faces up toward you at all times.
  • Secure the i -cord with safety pins.
  • Using a blunt sewing needle, thread in the long, unwoven string of color D.
  • Hand tack down the color D section with the unwoven end using a running stitch.
  • Once the color D section is fully tacked down, pull the remaining string to the back of the work. Weave in the color D ends.
  • Repeat the last three instructions for each colored section.

Flashing my Organized Stash

It is finally done.

Two Sunday ago, I organized my yarn into separate bins labeled “All Wool”, “Wool Blends”, “Cotton and Cotton Blends” and “Acrylic”. I then wrote down all the pertinent information off the labels – on all the yarn that still had labels, that is. Last Sunday, I uploaded the last of the yarn information to Ravelry.

I should mention that I only organized the yarn that lives in the cedar closet. Yarn received as a Christmas present or yarn currently being used remains unorganized. Baby steps, People!

I even boxed some yarn up that I knew deep down I would never use. The yarn will be shipped to Jennifer Marsh for use in the International Fiber Collaborative. Now before you start singing my praises, let me mention that most of the yarn I am gifting is leftover from a previous project, purchased in one of my yard sale finds, or purchased in one skein amounts.

Yep, that’s right; I’m not as good as I seem. I still have lots of yarn that in my heart of hearts I know I will never use. However, this is yarn that is too beautiful or too soft or too sentimental to use or gift away.

Hopefully all of this organization will keep Dan from finding me in my pajamas, sitting on the basement floor, surrounded by boxes of yarn, rummaging frantically for the skein of yarn I just know I have!

Reading Again

I haven’t read a book in almost a year. About a week and a half ago, I started reading a blog (I suppose blogs don’t count as books; a shame, really, because I read a LOT of blogs) titled Yarn~Knit~Read~Lit. It inspired me to pick up a book.

So, what am I reading? An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. It is about a country girl named Polly who comes to visit a rich family in the city. I am about halfway through the book. Thus far, I’ve seen Polly grow into a woman, move into the city (but not with the rich family) and start a music teaching career. Louisa May Alcott is a famous and well-written author, yet Jane Austen remains my favorite.

In knitting news, I have started on Block #7 for the International Fiber Collaborative panel. The block will be titled Spiral Applique Block, assuming no major changes are made to the design.

Hourglass Block, 6th in Ode to Quilt series

The 6th block in the Ode to Quilting panel:

This block is very similar to the “9-Patch Block“. The only difference is that two of the blocks are made by sewing two right-angled triangles together. Additionally, as with each of the blocks, I used a different stitch pattern. Diagonal ribbing is featured in the Hourglass Block.

Pattern for Angled Nesting Squares Block:

Recommended Knitting skill level: Easy

Yarn: Lion’s Wool by Lion Brand or substitute any wool yarn from your stash that meets the below gauge specifications.
1. Color A = Midnight Blue, 1 skein
2. Color B = Cocoa, 1 skein
3. Color C = Cadet Blue, 1 skein

Needles: Lion’s Wool recommends size 8 (I used size 5)

Materials:
Row counter
Large blunt sewing needle
Safety pins

Gauge: 4 stitches and 6 rows is 1 inch/2.5 cm in Stocking Stitch.
4 stitches and 7 rows is 1 inch/2.5 cm in Diagonal ribbing.

Stocking Stitch Pattern: Knit all stitches on the RS; Purl all stitches on the WS.

Diagonal Ribbing Pattern: Work rows 1-6 in instructions to make ribbed squares.

Glossary:
K = Knit
K2og = Knit 2 stitches together
K3tog = Knit 3 stitches together
P = Purl
P2tog = Purl 2 stitches together
P3tog = Purl 3 stitches together
St = stitch

Knitting Instructions:
In Color B, make 4 ribbed squares.

  • Cast on 18 sts.
  • Row 1 (Right side of work): K2, (P2, K4) twice, P2, K2.
  • Row 2: P1, (K2, P4) twice, K2, P3.
  • Row 3: (K4, P2) thrice.
  • Row 4: K1, (P4, K2) twice, P4, K1.
  • Row 5: (P2, K4) thrice.
  • Row 6: P3, (K2, P4) twice, K2, P1.
  • Repeat rows 1-6 three more times.
  • Repeat rows 1-4 once more. Total rows = 28.
  • Bind off all stitches.
  • Do NOT block.
  • Repeat these instruction three more times to make a total of 4 squares.

In Color A, make 1 square.

  • Cast on 18 stitches.
  • Work in Stocking stitch for 24 rows.
  • Bind off all stitches.

In Color A, make 2 right-angled triangles.

  • Cast on 18 sts.
  • Row 1 (Right side of work): K all stitches.
  • Rows 2-3: Work in Stocking stitch.
  • Row 4 (Wrong side of work): P to last three stitches, P3tog.
  • Rows 5-6: Work in Stocking stitch.
  • Row 7: K3tog, K to end.
  • Repeat Rows 2-7 two more times.
  • Rows 20-21: Work in Stocking stitch.
  • Row 22: P to last three stitches, P3tog.
  • Row 23: K all stitches.
  • Row 24: P2, P2tog.
  • Bind off the 3 remaining stitches.
  • Repeat instructions once more to make 2 triangles.

In Color C, make 2 ribbed squares.

  • Cast on 18 stitches.
  • Row 1 (Right side of work): K2, (P2, K4) twice, P2, K2.
  • Row 2: P3, (K2, P4) twice, K2, P1.
  • Row 3: (P2, K4), thrice.
  • Row 4: K1, (P4, K2) twice, P4, K1.
  • Row 5: (K4, P2) thrice.
  • Row 6: P1, (K2, P4) twice, K2, P3.
  • Repeat Rows 1-6 three more times.
  • Repeat Rows 1-4 once more. Total rows = 28.
  • Bind off all stitches.
  • Repeat instructions once more to make 2 squares.

In Color C, make 2 ribbed triangles.

  • Cast on 18 stitches.
  • Row 1 (Right side of work): K2, (P2, K4) twice, P2, K2.
  • Row 2: P3, (K2, P4) twice, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 3: P1, K4, (P2, K4) twice.
  • Row 4: K1, (P4, K2) twice, P2, P2tog.
  • Row 5: K2, (P2, K4) twice, P2.
  • Row 6: P1, (K2, P4) twice, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 7: P1, (K4, P2) twice, K2.
  • Row 8: P3, K2, P4, K2, P2, P2tog.
  • Row 9: K2, (P2, K4) twice.
  • Row 10: K1, P4, K2, P4, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 11: P1, (K4, P2) twice.
  • Row 12: P1, K2, P4, K2, P2, P2tog.
  • Row 13: K2, P2, K4, P2, K2.
  • Row 14: P3, K2, P4, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 15: P1, K4, P2, K4.
  • Row 16: K1, P4, K2, P2, P2tog.
  • Row 17: K2, P2, K4, P2.
  • Row 18: P1, K2, P4, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 19: P1, K4, P2, K2.
  • Row 20: P2, K2, P2, P2tog.
  • Row 21: K2, P2, K4.
  • Row 22: K1, P4, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 23: P1, K4, P2.
  • Row 24: P1, K2, P2, P2tog.
  • Row 25: K2, P2, K2.
  • Row 26: P3, K1, K2tog.
  • Row 27: P1, K4.
  • Row 28: P2, P3tog.
  • Bind off remaining 3 stitches.
  • Do NOT block.
  • Repeat instructions once more to make 2 triangles.

Finishing Instructions:

  • Take one Color A triangle and one Color C triangle. With right sides facing up, line the diagonal edges of the triangles together. The points of the triangles should meet. Secure with several safety pins. Using a mattress stitch, sew the triangles together. Remove pins.
  • Repeat these instructions.

          • Lay out all the squares on a table. Move them around until you have obtained the Hourglass design (the Color A square should be in the center with the two Color A triangles meeting at the top right and bottom left of the Color A square).
          • Using mattress stitch, seam the squares into three columns.
          • Then, seam the columns into one block, taking care to match the seams up.
          • Weave in any loose ends.

          Better Pictures

          Well, they aren’t perfect, but I did the best I could with the cloudy (snow flurry) weather.

          Without further ado:

          Can I share a little factoid with you? It measures 56 inches at the top (from point to point) and 28 inches in length. Why am I telling you this? Because when I drew out the design, I planned it to be exactly those measurements. And it is. I’m pleased and surprised and a bit giddy.

          I’ve decided to name it Anastasia’s Alpaca Shawl. Why? Well, I do go weak in the knees for alliteration. Plus, my niece ADORES Cinderella, but it seems a bit vain to name your shawl after Cinderella. So, I picked her wicked step sister; that seemed OK.

          The stats:
          Anastasia Alpaca Shawl
          Designed by me
          Started in July 2007
          Shelved in August and September because it was too hot
          Shelved again in December because Christmas was coming
          Finished in January 2008
          Approx 800 yards of lace-weight alpaca wool from Alpacas at White Horse Farm (local PA farm)
          570 Beads

          DONE!

          The alpaca shawl is downstairs drying on top of my ping pong table right now.

          Truth be told, I bound off all the stitches on Saturday. For 24 hours, it sat balled up on the server next to the basement stairs. It was waiting for somebody to take it downstairs and wash it and block it. I knew I didn’t have a hope of Dan taking it downstairs. Dan never even sees items sitting on the server waiting to go down. The trick is to block the doorway; then, he’ll take it downstairs. So, the shawl sat. I did manage to log into Ravelry and mark my shawl as 100% completed; ah, it is funny how much joy that brought me!

          When Nan left me a comment about checking in to see if the shawl was done, it provided the nudge I needed to pick up the shawl and take it downstairs. Thanks, Nan!

          I washed it. Then, conditioned it (since, I felt it was a bit scratchy for alpaca. The mill had erred in following the instructions given and mixed the leg fur with the soft body fur. It is the leg fur that is a bit scratchy since it’s courser to ward off the elements [per my understanding – by no means am I a farmer]). Then, the hard part started. I pinned it to a sheet folded in half. I pulled and pinned. Then, pulled and pinned some more. By the time I was done, my back was screaming and Jake was whining from having his play time be interrupted (yes, I suppose he is spoiled).

          Yet, it was all worth it (unless, of course, you ask Jake. He’s not sure yet).

          Pictures!

          Better pictures coming soon, once it dries and I can bring it upstairs into the sunlight.

          So Close

          2 more rows to knit!

          This count includes the Bind Off row.

          I can almost taste the sweet nectar of victory.

          Half of me wants to stay up and knit until it’s finished. The other half – the logical half – thinks I should go to sleep. Selves don’t let other selves knit while tired. Bad things always happen.

          My Whereabouts

          Guess where I went yesterday?

          One can’t go to center city Philadelphia, home of three fab yarn stores, without going to at least one of them! It’s impossible. I told myself that I wouldn’t have the time and wouldn’t go. When I got out of my dentist’s office early, my resolve grabbed a canoe and headed down river. Next thing I knew, I was walking to South Street.

          Of course, I had to leave with something for my troubles.


          It is organically grown cotton by Blue Sky Alpaca. After swearing off cotton for years, I thought I would give it a try again. Why do I hate cotton, you ask.

          My reasons for hating cotton:

          • If my hands get the least bit warm, it sticks to them like feather to tar.
          • Cotton lacks the stickiness of wool. Wool wants to lay down with its fellow kind. Cotton has no such feelings. Thus, as the Yarn Harlot would say, “it’s not as forgiving as lovely wool”. It separates with the flick of a needle and is slippery to boot.
          • It’s not as warm. In Pennsylvania, the cold months outnumber the warm months. It’s important to have something warm nearby at all times.
          • It’s not as easy, fun or enjoyable to knit as lovely wool. It takes a steadier hand and more patience.

          Knowing how much I hate cotton, I was still wooed by Blue Sky Alpaca’s cotton. First, it’s organically grown. Second, it’s amazingly soft. Third, it was dyed in a lovely brown and Loop only had one skein (I needed 2) of the dyed merino wool that I wanted.

          My plan is to knit this cotton into a Chevron & Diamond scarf for myself. I’ll be reporting back to you on what I think of the yarn.