Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Art and Needlework by Rebekah: February 2010

Feb 25, 2010

Stitch Switch

I subscribe to Crochet Today magazine and even though I read each issue cover-to-cover the first day I receive it, I like to reread my issues again and again. Just to satisfy my eye candy cravings and to gain some inspiration. This habit of mine came in handy when I set out to crochet a placemat for my brother. I knew I wanted to do something really different and try out a difficult crochet stitch pattern for this placemat--just to keep things interesting. I quickly remembered a cable pattern from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of CT and went with it. I never did cables in crochet before so I delved into the unknown. . .

I took the stitch pattern from the Layering Cardi pattern:

And made it into a placemat:

Psst! Want to try out the yummy empanada that's being served on my placemat? Read about my empanada kitchen episode on my cooking blog, Sabbath Supper.

Here are some pattern notes:

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Coffee, about 6 ounces
Hook: Size F.
Stitch Patterns: Cable and Puff and Diagonal Pattern found in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of CT.

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Feb 23, 2010

2/24/10: My Finished Liesl

Ahem. I. Am. Done. :)

My Liesl is finally finished after hibernating off and on for about a year. It was finished Saturday night and blocked Sunday. It fits well and I think it looks so pretty! I did go ahead and crochet around the armholes because there were a few loose loops that needed to be tended to. I can't wait for warmer weather to come along!

So here it is. . .

And here is a closeup of one of the armholes that I crocheted around using single crochet.

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Feb 19, 2010

2/19/10: Almost Done with My Liesl

I'm keeping true to my earlier post by spending a good deal of time this week knitting my Liesl, a lace cardigan designed by Ysolda Teague. At this moment I am about 5-6" away from being done. I'm working on the lower body and since there is no change in pattern (no decreasing and whatnot) I am coming along speedily. I think I should be done by this coming Tuesday! :) I can't wait!

OK, now for some notes. . .

1. Problem separating sleeves - I ran into a problem when separating the sleeves from the body section. I had to bind off some stitches for the armhole on the first row and on the succeeding row I needed to cast on stitches whilst knitting. I haven't cast-on whilst knitting much before so I wasn't sure what cast-on method I should use. I just quickly skimmed through my knitting reference book and chose the twisted loop cast-on. This was not a good choice as I soon found out. For when I needed to knit the following row I found it impossible to knit into the tight cast-on loops. Thinking that I was doing something totally wrong, I posted my question on a Ravelry forum devoted to all things Ysolda Teague. The second response I got pinpointed my problem: I should not have used the twisted loop method, but instead should have went with the knitted cast-on. I ripped my work to the problem area and did the recommended knitted cast-on. It worked splendidly! I had no problem knitting into the cast-on loops! Yay!

2. Lifelines to the Rescue - Lace patterns can be tricky. So when I cast-on Liesl I knew from the start that I needed to have a back up and it came in the shape of lifelines. Lifelines are smooth, thin yarns that are threaded through the stitches that are on the needle to help you rip work back without the worry of laddering and ripping too far. I use a long, blunted yarn needle and size 5 crochet thread in a contrasting color (orange for this project) for my lifelines. And I usually place the lifeline right before I need to do some major pattern change, such as separating sleeves. Yeah, that one came in handy!

OK, the photo above is of what I've done so far. You can see the two armholes I made and about 2 inches of body below them.

Close up of one of the armholes. I have rather loose knitting so the armhole looks kind of loopy in areas. I'm planning on doing a round of single crochet around the armhole just to make it more finished looking.

Just as I said before, lace knitting can be tricky. That is why I like to keep stitch markers every 20 stitches. I use normal safety pins for markers.

Here is a close up of the shrug. See that line of orange? That's one of my lifelines.

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Feb 12, 2010

2/12/10: Sweater Vow

Ah, Liesl. A beautiful sweater designed by a young Scottish designer named Ysolda Teague. She is one of my favorite designers and Liesl is one of her best designs. So I buy the pattern from, buy the oh-so-soft Cascade Luna yarn at a yarn shop, and start knitting. That was about one year ago and I can't seem to find the sweater in my closet. Instead I find it in a plastic drawer in the sewing room with needles still holding a multitude of stitches. Yeah, I'm still working on it.

I love the pattern and everything there is to it, but there it lies unfinished. Why? Because I'm making the sweater for myself, and if it is for me, it takes 10 x longer.

That is why I decided to write a post on it. If I feel that I would have to write a similar post in another year, well, that would just be too humiliating! So in order to get my Liesl juices flowing, I will say right here that I will finish Ysolda's sweater for Spring. There, I said it.

I wrote a few notes about my knitting so far, so here they are:

January 11, 2009: Bought pattern.
Mid-February 2009: Bought yarn from New Ewe Yarn Shoppe in Michigan. Was a birthday gift from my parents. :) The staff at the shop were so very helpful! I don’t know where I would have been without their help. This yarn is so soft and I have found that it is a dream to work with because it doesn’t split at all.
April 7, 2009: After a tedious time of deciding what needle to use (I tried size 7 all the way to size 11), I finally came to using size 10, even though my gauge doesn’t match the pattern’s gauge. (My gauge: 3.5” for one 12 stitch rep / pattern’s gauge: 4” for one 12 stitch rep.) That is OK with me because I will just use my smaller gauge with the next larger size. I’ve used this method before when knitting my Veste Everest.
So what version am I doing? I chose to do the “pink” version (one being worn by the girl in the red dress). It has a high neckline and cap sleeves.
So how is it coming? I must be honest by saying that it is rather difficult to understand the chart instructions. This would be my first time using lace charts so I have to go slow and take my time to learn these new symbols. It will come to me in time. And I am having trouble trying to follow the pattern without schematics. I know this pattern was designed in such a way as to allow the knitter to personalize it by trying it on often, but I still miss my schematics. :) It’s hard to break a habit, I guess.
November 23, 2009: I placed this project aside for many months now and I’m completely mortified by it! It always seems like I never finish a project if it is for myself; I never see the necessity of it. But my family has been pushing me so I’ll do it to make them happy! :) Now it is going to be difficult to find where I left off, that teaches me not to leave a pattern mid-way. Wish me good luck!

Update, February 12, 2009: One year since I started. Will try to finish this sweater for Spring.

My Liesl swatch

Yarn for my Liesl by Ysolda Teague

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Feb 9, 2010

2/9/10: Socks on the Knitting Machine

I own a standard gauge, Japanese knitting machine. A Compuknit III Knitking by Brother to be exact. For the longest time I've been trying to find an easy-to-follow pattern for a pair of socks and I came across this video on Diana Sullivan's blog. I've been watching them this morning and they are wonderful! I'm definitely going to try making socks again soon!

Here are the terrific videos:

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Feb 7, 2010

2/7/10: Interweave Knits' Best Vest, IMO

In late winter last year, I knitted a vest for my youngest sister as a birthday gift. I found the pattern in the Fall 2005 issue of Interweave Knits magazine--one of my favorite magazines of all time! I recorded the whole experience on, a knitting and crocheting community and database. It is a dream of a website! (My username is needlestohook, btw.) It is probably this website that made me finish the vest on time. I joined one of the Ravelry knitting forums specifically targeted to Interweave Knits magazine lovers (like me) and joined a knit-a-long just for this vest. What a fantastic source for motivation.

So here are all my notes whilst knitting:

January 2009:
Prepared to knit vest by beginning a Knit Along on the group, Interweave Knitters. Check it out here.

I had a rather difficult time trying to match my sister’s size with the pattern’s sizes. She is right in between the patterns 34” and 41 1/2” sizes. I remedied the problem with help from one of the members of the KAL–MaryDenise. I wound up following the 41 1/2” size using my gauge, which is smaller compared to the pattern’s original gauge. So in a nutshell: I am knitting a smaller vest than what the instructions were meant to do. Pretty sneaky, don’t you think?
February 3, 2009: I have achieved to knit 3 1/2” of the BACK. This is my first time knitting cables and I am truly enjoying it! I thought they were going to be hard to do but I actually can have my thoughts wander and watch t.v. while I’m knitting. So as you can see they don’t take much concentration, they become natural to you in a matter of minutes.
February 5, 2009 Knitted 3 1/2” more inches of the BACK. Coming along…
February 15, 2009 I am shaping the armholes for the BACK. Oh, a side note…You’re probably wondering why I am using a circular needle when I am working the vest flat. I chose a circular needle rather than a straight because I find it more comfortable to work with (the knitting falls right in the middle of my lap rather than to my sides). So it is just a personal preference! I’ve noticed a lot of people choose to use them over straights, so I guess I am not the only odd ball!
February 21, 2009 I am finished with the entire BACK and I placed the shoulder stitches onto holders. I didn’t place the middle stitches of the back neck onto a holder like the pattern said to, but rather, bound them off. I will pick them up later when I do the entire neckline. I believe that binding them off will give consistency to the neckline, since the other neckline stitches are bound off. It will also give durability.
I don’t use your typical stitch holder. My holder is a small double pointed needle that has two tiny rubber bands wrapped around each end to prevent stitches from sliding off. The makeshift holder works well so why not, right? :)
I’m going to cast on the FRONT today.
February 26, 2009 I am 4 inches into the FRONT now. Because the Lenten season began yesterday I will be spending more time knitting this vest. I am abstaining from watching t.v.! :) It is definitely a hard sentence when the Knit and Crochet Today show is waiting for me!
April 1, 2009 Didn’t have much time to knit during March but now I am back and have some updates to share. I am still working on the front and have reached the neckline and armholes (both are shaped at the same time). I had a very scary experience when I dropped a stitch right at the neckline! Since I have to decrease there it was rather difficult to pick it up but I made it through and it looks fine. Whew!
April 5, 2009 I am officially, indubitably, positively DONE. Yes, the vest is finally all in one piece and neckband and armbands are here, too. :) The last two days before I finished this vest I was working frantically on it. My mad dash to the finish line had nothing to do with the KAL nor the deadline. It all had to do with that little voice in the back of your mind that keeps on saying, “You’re almost done, you’re almost done…” I think every knitter has experienced this sensation one time or another, so you know what I am talking about.

So how did everything go with the knitting? There were no real “stuck” moments like I usually have when trying to decipher the instructions, all of it came to me with the help of my knitting dictionary.

There were many milestones for me with this pattern, too. This would be my first time to knit a vest, do cables, neckbands, armbands, decorative rib, and picking up stitches. So yeah, this pattern has really helped my advancement into the world of knitting.

What about the yarn? Scrumptious! Very soft and durable, no problem with it whatsoever.

One last note. I said earlier that I bound off the back neck stitches rather than placing them on a holder. Well, I thought you would like to take a look at the finished neck so I took a picture of it. Look at photo #2 from the top.




Veste Everest Front

Veste Everest Neckline

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Feb 6, 2010

2/6/10: Potholders for the Sunflower Lady

A couple of weeks before Christmas last year, my siblings and I wanted to give a friend of ours a pair of sunflower-themed potholders as a Christmas present. She is known as the Sunflower Lady to us so you can understand the unusual theme!

Since I made a load of potholders back in October I knew what to do right away. When I was running through the sewing room's fabric stash, I found there was only one small piece of sunflower fabric left--I panicked.

But only for a bit. Knowing that I should really limit the amount of this fabric, I chose a quilt block that could use small pieces. I chose one from the Quilter's Calendar that I received from my aunt. Here it is:

I needed to resize the diagram because the finished block would have measured 10"; I needed it to be 8". I did this by scanning the diagram and resizing it using an image editing software.

The way I made the block is different from what I was used to. Pre-sunflower-potholder, I've made blocks by making my paper templates, adding a 1/4 inch to all sides, and then sewing them together using a 1/4 seam allowance. Easy to explain but not always easy to keep triangles, squares, and whatnot, uniform. The technique that I learned by way of this calendar is easy to do. Try making a block yourself by following their instructions here:

Once I made the block and the quilt sandwich, I bounded the edges and added a loop. Done! And just three days before Christmas, too. Whew! Made it!

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Feb 5, 2010

2/5/10: The Blogger's Come Back

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth! It's been a couple months since my last post but I'm still here, and will be doing a much better job with this blog's content, I promise. I will pick up exactly where I left off, and that is showing the finished quilt I made for my sister back in November of last year. Here are the long overdue photos. . .

So I did end up using the excess quilt backing for the binding. I simply trimmed it and the batting, folded and pressed the edge under a 1/4", folded the backing to the front, and made a long line of stitching (with help from my walking foot) all around the quilt, keeping very close to the 1/4" fold I made. I had no problems whatsoever using this technique and I found it much easier and faster to do than cutting out bias strips.

The quilt has found a very happy home! It hasn't left my sister's bed since I made it and that can only make me smile from ear to ear! :)

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