Another WIP bites the dust

Well, actually two are now finished. My roll up tool case is done and I’ve decided to keep it for myself. It’s really useful for working on projects in the living room because I don’t have to spend time searching for hooks and needles anymore. I leave this on the coffee table, open it, and there’s the thing I need to continue working on something. This system, of course, relies on me being thoughtful enough to return a tool to the case when I’m finished using it. So far so good!

I changed my mind about some things, obviously. I decided not to sew a binding to the edges of the knitting because once I got the liner and pockets done I was simply happy with how it looked without the extra decoration. When I sewed the pockets I opted for a denim look with light colored thread. I also put a backing on the pockets so that each one has two compartments, allowing them to hold more stuff.

Another thing I love about this roll up tool case is that I could do all the sewing with a machine. The knitting was fine enough not to get jammed up under the sewing machine’s foot. I will use this cheap and handy cotton yarn again and again. I think it only took me an hour to cut the fabric, iron it, and sew it.

I’ve also finished a pair of socks. They aren’t blocked but I consider them finished. If you’re a fan of The Knitmore Girls and believe a project isn’t officially finished until it’s blocked, well, that’s your thing. I disagree with this rule. It’s done when I say it is.

socks

My reason for not blocking them, or the other three pairs of socks I’ve finished recently, are that 1) it’s summer, a time when I don’t wear wool socks and 2) I have so many wool socks now that I can leave the blocking until later indefinitely.

Two WIPs down, a few more to go and I’m out of the woods with this lunacy. Have a great weekend! I’m nearing the finish line on my sister’s shawl and then on to getting a cross stitch pumpkin done.

Almost almost finished

It’s amazing what happens when the world leaves you alone so you can really get going on some knitting.

This morning I talked about my mosaic project. I didn’t know what it would become. After saying “I’m not cooking” and ordering a pizza, everything just took care of itself.

First of all, the knitting is done. Second, before deciding firmly on what the mosaic rectangle would become, I took a peak in my fabric stash to see what I had. You see, if I didn’t have anything in my fabric stash, I might have speedily concluded that the mosaic rectangle would become a table runner. However, I found the perfect fabric to line it and create pockets. Behold my theoretical roll-up tool organizer:

mosaicandfabric

It’s night so I’ve had to use some artificial light, but I think you can still appreciate all the difference having the right fabric has made in my decision. The dark blue fabric will definitely go around the outside to frame the mosaic pattern. From here, I’m not sure. I might use the light blue patterned fabric as the inside liner and the dark blue for pockets. On the other hand, maybe I’d prefer to do the reverse. I feel like the piece needs more dark blue. This is why I wasn’t thrilled with the colors in my knitting. The white yarn is too bright and doesn’t contrast enough with the light blue yarn. Anyway, the fabric will make all the difference.

Tomorrow I shall spend some time cutting and ironing fabric. Then, to the sewing machine!

 

Not quite finished

Today I only had to teach one class in the morning so now I am free to do whatever I want. I decided this morning to work on my mosaic knitting rectangle. I think with a couple more pattern repeats this will be taking a direct flight to done city.

mosaic18_2

I’m still not 100% certain about what I want to do with this, but I’m considering either using it as a table runner or turning it into a rolled up storage case for my most often used tools. I’m not really happy with the colors, though, so I’m leaning towards table runner a little more. On the other hand, I was thinking that in the future I could knit another roll up in better colors with a different mosaic design and switch them out. Two is better than one, I suppose. Another idea would be to just give this to someone who wants it and likes the colors for a roll up storage case.

I have finished two more pumpkins although the pumpkin project itself isn’t really done. I think they’re pretty cool.

I’m so glad it’s the weekend!

Text-only Wednesday

No pics today. Nope. Just some text. I want you to feel nostalgic for the days of yore when you were trying to beat The Legend of Zelda and you went over to the GameFAQs site to read the walk through with its ASCII terminal type and maps “drawn” with symbols. OK, maybe you never did that. I did, though.

What made me think of this? Because way back in 2002 I decided to get out the old Nintendo and follow the walk through to beat Zelda, finally. 17 years later I did it again! That’s how I spent my weekend. No, I did not remember all the things I had to do to win the game, so once again I relied on good old Colin Moriarty’s nerdy, ASCII instructions. By the way, Colin, thank you again.

Wait a minute, this is a knitting and crochet (and sometimes cross stitch and sewing) blog. Totally off-topic. I’m supposed to talk about crafty things. OK. Here it goes:

  1. Socks knit with Cascade Heritage Prints yarn: I turned the heel on the second sock.
  2. My sister’s pineapple shawl: languishing in the UFO bin.
  3. Cross stitch pumpkins for Halloween: I’ve got three done and I’m working on a fourth one. I wanted to photograph them but I worked all day and now it’s night time so, nope, no picky-picky. Another time. I’ll be talking about these things for a while, anyway, because cross stitching them entirely is just the first volume of the saga. Once they’re cross stitched I’ve got to decide how I want to sew them together. I also “need” to buy fabric to accent them. I really “need” Halloween-themed fabric.
  4. Cross stitch “Celtic Wheel” throw pillow (or cushion, take your pick): I’ve managed to get some little details done. I’m still in quarter 1 of the chart. I might overstay my welcome in this area given that the details are time-consuming. Yesterday, with about three hours, I got the little thingies that might be rocks or might be snails (not sure what they are supposed to be) stitched up partially. If only Joan Elliott cared about my blog. I follow hers. BTW, Ms. Elliott, if you’re reading this, what are those things supposed to be? Are they magical rocks or magical snails? And please excuse my ignorance. Sometimes I see them as snails and sometimes as rocks, because the thingies that sit in the middle of the piece don’t have antennae, but then the ones that are on the border framing the whole piece seem to have antennae. I debate with myself often if they are snails hiding in their shells or magical Celtic rocks with mystical time travel powers.
  5. Top-down crochet “Telegraph” sweater: languishing in the UFO bin with its cousin, the pineapple shawl.
  6. Crochet cotton tablecloth: languishing yet perched on the back of my sofa, exposed to the elements but certainly free to finish itself if it feels motivated. I tell it often, “feel free to finish yourself” but so far it isn’t getting my drift.
  7. Tunisian crochet afghan: on month 4 of being ignored, yet pleased to be resting in the afghan cubby. It often shouts at the projects in the UFO bin that it’s in the VIP furniture.
  8. Hexagon afghan: Resting peacefully next to its brother, Tunisian crochet afghan, telling him to shut up and leave the non-VIPs alone. It’s not their fault they’re wool and need a line of protection against pests, after all. I’ve even heard Mr. Hexagon say to Mr. Tunisian, “don’t get so full of yourself, we’re cheap acrylic, after all!”
  9. Socks that are finished yet not washed or blocked yet: Those three pairs are in the UFO bin, shouting at Cascade Heritage Prints to get done already, so that maybe they can all have a bath together.
  10. Never-before-mentioned mosaic knitting thingy: I made some progress on it. I still have no idea why I’m knitting it and what it will be. It’s blue and white and a big rectangle. I cast it on some months ago and forgot I had started it. I found it by accident yesterday and knit some on it this week just for fun.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for your attention. Since you are kind enough to stay, I pose the question to you: What the hell would you do with all these WIPs? It’s too much. Some days I feel like putting white dresses on them all, parading them through the town, and leading them to the mountain to sacrifice them to the volcano.

So far the only idea that has occurred to me is that I will finish my socks and then just work my way through all the other projects until they are done before I ever, ever, ever start something new. Obviously the afghans have a low priority given that it’s July and it’s hotter than seven shades. However, the shawl is manageable. I think I’ll try to finish the shawl and the table cloth next while using cross stitch and the mosaic knitting whatever-it-is to take a break from the shawl, table cloth, and cross stitch. I don’t like this idea much because I WON’T HAVE A PAIR OF SOCKS GOING. THE AGONY. But that’s life when you have the attention span of a fish that knows how to knit, crochet, and make other things.

I can talk about my WIPs on a Wednesday

This morning I actually caught a break from working and had time to photograph my WIPs with some good quality sunshine. I’ve been knitting, crocheting, and cross stitching.

My sock made with Cascade Heritage Prints is taking its time. You’d think I’d be pumped to finish the first of the pair since I’ve already finished the foot and most of the leg. But, nope. My hands get too sweaty in this 90 degree (F) weather.

sock

The background for my sock is my crochet tablecloth, which is also progressing slowly because I only work on it for maybe twenty minutes a day. Again, it’s the uncomfortable feeling on my hands in the hot weather. Cotton breathes but while it’s doing that it suffocates my hands!

Anyway, as you can see, it is approaching the correct size of its intended wearer, which is the table that it is resting on. When I use up this second skein of cotton it will be time for me to start a nice border for it with skein 3. I’m thinking about using a filet pattern.

tablecloth

My crochet “Telegraph Sweater” designed by Peter Franzi is also coming along very gradually. If the cotton is uncomfortable in my hands, just imagine how the wool feels. Anyway, this garment can take its time. I’m in no hurry just yet to wear it, considering it’s July and I wish it wasn’t necessary to wear clothes.

Cross stitch – for the most part – has cured my need to create in uncomfortably hot Castilian weather. I’m glad I’ve got back into this pastime. I’ve been spending most of my free time cross stitching and less of it knitting and crocheting. The pattern I’ve chosen, which is Joan Elliott’s “Celtic Wheel Cushion” from her book Magical Cross Stitch, is a delightful challenge with very fine color details. The rose and the bunch of grapes you see have three or four shades. If you think the fruit and the flower look awkward you have a good eye. There is a lot of backstitching to complete for outlining things as well as to add stems and other little details. Right now the poor rose’s leaves are just suspended in midair and disconnected from the flower.

crossstitch

I have already become an over-enthusiastic cross stitcher and ordered more stuff for future projects. I’ve got plenty of Aida cloth in different colors and I’m waiting for some seed beads, floss, and Kreinik metallic threads to arrive in the mail. Yeah, you bet, when I’m in, I’m all in. After placing my order I forgot that I wanted some gold-colored Aida cloth for a bookmark I’d like to make, so I’ll have to buy some more supplies soon.

I can’t wait for the end of the day when I finish work and relax with a little WordPress browsing so I can see what you’re up to with your WIPs.

 

Review: One-Skein Wonders (r) and Designer One-Skein Wonders (r)

One-Skein Wonders (r): 101 Yarn-Shop Favorites, by Judith Durant, Storey: 2006, 240 pages. Paperback and digital editions available. Grade: A

101 Designer One-Skein Wonders (r) by Judith Durant, Storey: 2007, 256 pages. Paperback and digital editions available. Grade: A

So far I haven’t referred to Amazon reviews of the books that I subject to scrutiny on here, but this time I feel it is necessary.¬† I was wary before buying the ones I’m discussing here because I read some negative opinions about them. I want to spread some peace of mind all round the world and, hopefully, fewer people will debate with themselves whether or not to believe the harsher critics on Amazon. Additionally, I’ve decided to compare the first two members of the “One-Skein” series because some people don’t want to spend $20 (estimated digital price) and would prefer to just spend $10, forcing them to choose one or the other.

So, let’s start with the Amazon customer critiques, which are about as reliable as a Yahoo! Questions page. Most people who bought these books gave them five stars without leaving much commentary. The trouble comes from the fact that the more negative opinions are long, which seems to lend them authority. I think this is the problem with anonymous reviews, really, because the individual: 1) actually said something and took time out of his or her day to write; 2) the happy people clicked on stars and left it at that, looking like they didn’t read a thing of the book they bought; 3) the harsh critics got a nice “helpful” rating, which means their positive voters decided not to buy the product and never had the opportunity to experience it for themselves, because “helpful” here means “I didn’t buy it because I made up my mind a priori reading this opinion.”

It’s a waste of our time to go over specific commentaries. Instead, I think it’s best to generalize. I surveyed them quickly. Basically, it seems like a lot of the negative Nancies copied each other. So, according to some critics: 1) there are “too many errors,” 2) the word “one-skein” is meaningless because a lot of the projects use up less than one unit, 3) it’s disappointing to have a yarn in your stash you think you’d love to use only to discover you don’t have enough of it, and 4) it is necessary to understand the mysterious sorcery that is yarn substitution because everything relies on exotic, fancy stuff.

How many errors are too many? 18 of the 103 patterns in One-Skein Wonders (r) have mistakes in them, and they have been extensively corrected in the errata list on the Storey Publishing web site. But, this means that approximately 17% have problems. Is 17% too much? You decide. I’m more of an optimist. 83% have no mistakes at all. As for 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders (r), the stats are a bit more disappointing. 30 out of 103 have needed corrections, which means that roughly 29% are not written up accurately. Still, 71% are perfectly error-free. If you hate following along with errata and insist on spending your money on a book with fewer imperfections, the first of the series with an 83% success rate might be your choice if that’s good enough for you. My opinion? I don’t care, really. If by chance I choose to make something from instructions with errata, I just follow the corrections. Go Internet! You youngsters don’t know what it was like to knit or crochet something from a publication with errors, having to wait for the errata to come out in a magazine and remember to store the corrections some place and not lose them once you found them, which took some time. Not too long ago, it was a paper and wait game.

The next critique we must face is the opinion that the word “one-skein” is meaningless because a lot of the designs use less than one skein. I’m sorry Amazon reviewers, but that is sort of silly. This is not important, especially since the pattern notes state how many of a particular item you can get out of one ball. It’s so exact that there are directions for a mitten that tell us that one unit will make exactly five items – that last mit will remain unpaired with one ball only, so knit two pairs and use the rest for wrist warmers. Anyway, I like this information. If I want to knock out a bunch of one thing to give away to people, I can plan ahead and buy the right amount of yarn. I’m looking at you, “Wine Gift Bag” by Leanne Walker. To make these yarn counting people happy the title would have to be changed to Partial Skein Wonders. That doesn’t sound too catchy, does it? Again, I source my optimism: this set here is good for leftovers, too!

And then we have the whiner who complains about not having enough yarn for a particular project. I think that if you blame the book for the content of your stash you really need a couple of things: 1) an introductory course on logic, available in a college philosophy department near you; 2) a psychologist to help you understand how you – and only you – are responsible for your feelings. I mean, really!

Finally, the comment about “having to understand yarn substitution” made me laugh a lot when I saw it. It’s really easy. First of all, you need to buy some equipment: a microscope, some beakers, a Bunsen burner, litmus paper, the eye of two toads, a purple butterfly’s wings, the legs of an ostrich, the horns of five unicorns… If you think swapping one yarn for another is really problematic, let me help you: try the yarn you want to use and knit up a little swatch, preferably with the main stitch pattern the directions call for. Does the gauge on your swatch match the number indicated in the pattern? Do you like how it looks? If you have answered “yes” to these two questions you now have your official diploma in Yarn Substitution and you’re all set to legally practice this DARK ART at will, any time you wish.

Sometimes it’s tempting to pay attention to Amazon blatherers because it feels like their opinion must be better than our suspicions because they bought the book and took the whole thing in themselves while we did not. Now that I’ve glossed some of the most frequent negative opinions about the two One-Skein Wonders titles, I think we might judge some of these people as trolls, or just plain silly. The only observation that might be reliable or understandable is “too many mistakes.” This, of course, is subjective, but it really could be a valid reason to avoid a book for some people.

On the other hand, the projects in these two collections are really clever and help us yarniacs who tend to collect stray skeins here and there. Some are for crochet, too, even though the majority of them are for knitting. I think crocheters who don’t knit shouldn’t buy these books because the majority of the directions would be useless to them, but knitters who happen to crochet will be doubly thrilled. Both texts have the variety every knitter craves: bags, vests, socks, scarves, cowls, jewelry, various more accessories, and even decorative finishing touches to add to any project. In the original One-Skein Wonders (r) (2006) I particularly love: “Beaded Diamond Bag” by Diana Foster, “Crocheted Bag” by Deidra Logan, “Cozy House Socks” by Sue Dial , “Four-in-One Gaiter” by Nancy Lindberg,“Gossamer Shell Scarf” by Tamara Del Sonno,“Handpaint Highlights Socks” by Leah Oakley , and “Aran Tam” by Carol F Metzger¬†. From the 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders (r) (2007) collection, I really admire “Basic Cable Mittens for the Family” by Marci Richardson ,“Broken Rib Socks” by Kathleen Taylor,“Cable That Bag!” by Chrissy Gardiner,“Kat’s Hat” by Diana Foster ,“Simple Mistake Rib Vest” by Karn J. Minott , and “Tucson Lattice Shawl” by Nancy Miller.

As far as the difference in the titles goes, the second book’s starts with the word “Designer,” which seems to give it more pizazz. In reality, the different wording has to do with where the patterns came from. In the first and earliest published set, One-Skein Wonders (r) (2006), the designs are by pretty cool yarn shop owners who thought it would be useful for their customers to give them patterns that only need one skein. So, the word “Designer” is used for the second one (2007) because the authors are not shop owners or hobbyists. The projects, really, come down to individual taste. If you only want to buy one of these and not both, I would suggest checking them out on Ravelry. You can see finished objects as well as the photos provided in the books. So, go to One-Skein Wonders on Ravelry to see all the patterns for the first title and just click on Designer One-Skein Wonders to see what the second set offers.

Both books organize the projects by yarn weight. This is especially convenient for those times we are thinking about a particular skein in our stashes and want some ideas on what to do with it. This structure makes consulting the text much more efficient. I also like the practical presentation of the designs, with very precise information about yardage and the number of items that can be made from one skein.

I recommend both of these collections to knitters, as well as knitters who crochet, that have some stray yarn and are looking for inspiration. There is enough variety in both books to please just about everyone. Errata haters, I understand your hesitation. For me, personally, it doesn’t matter, just as long as I have access to the corrections so I don’t drive myself crazy while trying to figure out “what went wrong” in the middle of my project.

Review: 150 Knit and Crochet Motifs by Heather Lodinsky

150 Knit and Crochet Motifs by Heather Lodinsky, Interweave: 2011, 128 pages. Paper back and digital editions available. Grade: A+

I think it’s pretty obvious why I bought this book a few years ago. It’s for people who like to knit and crochet. Another motive for getting it is that I’ll never stop adding things to my library, especially motif books and stitch dictionaries. They provide me with lots of inspiration. Finally, I was eager to grab this title because it’s no-nonsense.

It’s just motifs and a handful of projects to illustrate how to use them. The book starts with a visual table of contents. A clear picture of each motif is presented and captioned with its page number. All dictionaries should be planned this way. It’s so much easier and time-saving to just see all the photos and decide which ones are appropriate for the project in mind. There are very few squares in favor of more interesting and unusual shapes. It’s delightful to see circles, leaves, flowers, and many other cool forms.

Although the idea here is to create interesting projects that combine knit and crochet, the reader doesn’t have to do that. I like the idea of combining the two crafts but I haven’t really got serious about it just yet. I see myself trying it out in the future.

After the motifs come five projects using some of the presented patterns: two beautiful afghans, a bag, and a cushion. The directions are very straight-forward and visual. I hope I have time in the future to try one out because they’re really beautiful designs.

At the end of the text comes a little tutorial on techniques. Among the more useful instructions are on how to fit motifs together and planning an original project.

Something that has come to mind while thinking about this book: It’s possible to combine stuff from this book with others from other catalogs, both knit and crochet.

This dictionary most certainly isn’t for everybody because some people only know how to do one craft or the other. I recommend this title to people who equally enjoy knitting and crocheting and would like to have a book with motifs made with the two methods. Anyone who is curious about creating original designs that combine knitting with crochet would also want to add this book to the pattern stash. I’m certainly not sorry I bought it. I hope in the future more references include a visual table of contents. It’s one of the strong points of this collection aside from the fact that I want to knit and crochet all the motifs now that I’ve perused it again!