Monday, March 28, 2011

Buttons for Shalom and Carnaby

I finally got around to making the buttons for my Shalom Cardigan.
I had an idea in my head of the buttons I wanted to make.  So I looked through the colors of polymer clay that I already had mixed from previous projects and picked a few that matched, then mixed a few more to fill in the colors I was missing. 

I stacked my colors and then ran them through the pasta machine a few times to make them thinner - stacking and restacking as I went. 
Then I impressed several different patterns (rubber stamps, ball stylus and an adding machine paper part) into the stack to move the colors around a bit.  This is called mokume gane which is a Japanese metal working term. 
 I sliced through the stack to reveal wonderful patterns.  I love this part!
I cut thin slices from this stack to cover the button bases that I prepared.
I finished by adding a striped edging and then baked.  Finally I sanded and buffed the buttons and added a button shank.  I love how they turned out.

If you are interested in making your own buttons from polymer clay, Lisa Clark from Polka Dot Cottage has a wonderful tutorial for beginner button makers.  Check it out.

While I was at it, I made buttons for my Carnaby Skirt that I finished recently.
I had a cane that I had made a few years back that matched perfectly with the yarn for my skirt so I made some simple buttons and I think they turned out well.
And we will end with a picture I took of myself before I handed my camera to my daughter who took a much better picture.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

22.5 Degrees

I forgot to mention in my last post about the Mitered Crosses Blanket that Kay Gardiner is donating the proceeds from her pattern to Mercy Corps to go to the relief in Japan.  And she has reported that she has now donated $5,000 from the sale of her pattern!.  So in just a few days, she has sold more then 1000 copies of her pattern.  That's amazing!
I recently finished knitting the 22.5 degree shawl.  I love it.  I used Noro Kureyon Sock yarn and I just love how it gradually changes color.
I just love a good mindless knit and garter stitch is the best for that.  I only had to remember to increase at the center stitch on every third row.  Everything else was smooth sailing.  And the very clever edging really adds to the finished project.

I did have a bit of an accident early on with the project though.
 My husband and I went out to lunch so he drove my car while I sat in the passenger seat and worked on my 22.5 degree shawl.  When we got home, the shawl came out of the car with me but I didn't notice.  A few hours later, I went to pick up my daughter from softball practice after school.  Luckily, I knit at stop lights (why waste any idle time?).  So I reached for my project at the first stop light and realized that my knitting bag had fallen to the floor - and then the light changed.  So at the next light I picked up my bag and noticed that the yarn was caught in the door.  The light changed again.  So I started driving again and began imagining that my precious handknit might be dragging along side my car so I pulled over.  I reached over and opened the door, pulled on the yarn hanging out the door and my shawl plopped into my lap.  It was covered in a fine grit and a bit beaten about the edges - but still on the needles.  If I had not been a stop light knitter, then It would not have been noticed (except by an observant and be-mussed driver or two) until my daughter got in the car 10 miles or so farther.  I took it home and gave it a good bath, needles and all.  There were some fuzzy abraded areas and my stitch marker and Addi lace needles were all scratched up but beyond that it was going to be fine.  I gave it a good trim of the fuzzies, sanded the needles with fine sandpaper and it was practically good as new.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mitered Cross Square

Kay from Mason Dixon Knitting has come up with a new blanket square that I just love - The Mitered Crosses Blanket.  She was influenced by a new quilting book and quickly translated a quilting pattern into a knitting pattern.  The new square combines two of her favorite knits - mitered squares and log cabin knitting.  I too love the mitered square and I'm just now knitting my first log cabin blanket.  I can see how someone could easily become obsessed.  I wanted to try out this new pattern and what better way then to knit up a sample in dishcloth cotton.
I love this pattern.  It's a great simple knit and a great travel knit.  Kay's version is knit in Noro Silk Garden so I will have to add to my collection and will start on a blanket version sometime in the future.

I first started follow the Mason Dixon blog around the time that Kay and Ann were obsessing over mitered squares so I jumped in feet first. 

First of all, I translated the knitted version into a polymer clay cane.  The knitting came next and I knitted up a mitered square scarf with polymer clay buttons.

This is still my favorite scarf and I wear it often.
I made all sorts of things from my mitered square canes.  Above are some of my stitch markers for knitting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Which square will become a blanket?

My next project is going to be a lap blanket for my 80 year old mother in law.  She seems to always be cold and I asked her if she would like for me to make her a blanket and she said yes.  She's not the crafty type so I have not done much knitting for her.  But I will love to make her a blanket to use while she sits in her favorite chair.  I know it needs to be washable so I have thought a lot about what I want for her.  I thought I wanted superwash wool or cotton so I went to a quilt shop in town that just started carrying knitting supplies.  

I found some nice cotton - Fantasy Naturale.  They didn't have many colors to choose from so I picked six that I thought would go fairly well together.  I thought I might make a log cabin blanket as made very popular by those Mason Dixon gals.  I thought I would make small squares with three colors each like this blanket.  Or I could try the Cranberry Island blanket in the newest Interweave Knits magazine.

And then the day after buying the cotton yarn, I went to JoAnn’s and found several options for machine washable yarns.  I really wanted to stay away from acrylic yarns but I found Bernat’s Mosiac and knew it would be perfect.  I had thoughts of making a Barn Raising Quilt but then I saw this version of the log cabin quilt and decided I might knit up a square from each and see which I liked best.
So here are the four squares that I knitted.  I carried them around with me, asking several people which they liked best.  And of course, I got several different answers.  But I think I am going to go with the cotton log cabin (the one with the white edging in the photo).  My sister loved the Cranberry Island square and I loved the unusual construction.  I also love the Barn Raising Quilt square and I will work on a few more squares as it is an easy project to carry around.  It would be a perfect gift for my niece Lily.  But for my mother in law it will be a log cabin blanket from the Fantasy Naturale.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope everyone is wearing green.  I sure am.  I'm wearing my favorite shamrock pin that I made from polymer clay a few years back.  I'm wearing it with my Sassymetrical sweater that I knitted recently with some yarn that I dyed with Easter egg dyes.

Have a very green day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pi Day

Yesterday was Pi Day - March 14th - 3/14. 

My daughter's 6th grade math class celebrate Pi Day last Friday because they are on spring break this week.  A request for pies was made and we decided to make a fudge pie.  Kate iced the pie and cleverly decided to start the circle of dots coming from the 3.14 to indicate the fact that the numbers just keep going and keep going.

My sons' 4th grade class had a pajama party/read-in all day to celebrate the fact that everyone in the class met their AR (accelerated reading) goal.  We looked through many cook books and decided to make a big cookie using the sugar cookie recipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies book.  We had too much dough for one cookie so we made two.  I wrote "Read" and "AR" on the cookies and Ethan did all of the stars.

And we ate the leftover icing for the next three days!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shalom Y'all

I finished my Shalom Cardigan last week and I just love it. 

I still need to make matching polymer clay buttons and so far I have only picked out a few colors of clay and will need to mix a few more to match the colors in the yoke.  Then I will play around and come up with a few different button ideas and see what looks best.  I have already worn my cardigan twice and I used one of my polymer clay pins to pin it together at the neck.

The Shalom pattern is written for a bulky weight yarn so I had to do a lot of math to compensate for my worsted weight yarn.  I pulled out my copy of Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman and used her EPS (Elizabeth's Percentage System).  The back of my copy of the pattern is covered in calculations.

Gauge: 4.5 stitches/inch
Bust size : 36 inches
Cast on: 90 stitches
Increase similar to the pattern but after completing three repeats, I was only about 7 inches into the yoke and I needed 9 inches.  I also needed 243 stitches for my final stitch count on the yoke so I did another increase row to get me to that number (I was pretty close at 221).  I changed to the brown yarn and knitted until I had 9 inches for the yoke.
Knit 36, place 44 stitches on waste yarn for arms, knit 74, place 44 stitches on waste yarn, knit 36.  On the next row, cast on 12 stitches under the arm.  I began waist decreases about 2 inches under the arm.  I picked up 56 stitches for each arm.  I only needed to do 3 or 4 decreases as I knitted the elbow length sleeves.
I really enjoyed working with Knit Picks new Chroma yarn and love how the cardigan came out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Favorite Financial Crooner

I'm always so excited when the Mason Dixon Knitting Blog has a new Merle Hazzard song.  You've got to go check this one out:  Feeling Lousy.

If you like that one, then check out Merle's website for more great songs!