A Good Thrifting

January 11, 2009 at 3:25 am (Knit)

We had a good day at the thrift stores today.  Well, I am cheating a bit — I hit one of the stores on Tuesday — lots of sweaters.  Most of them I intend to unravel and respin, but I bought a few to felt and cut up as well.  I also had fun posing the sweaters to photograph.

This sweater is from Les Copains; I believe it is from France because of the way the tag looked.   It is 85% wool, 5% cashmere, 5% silk, and 5% angora.  Even though he’s French,, this one is saying, “whaddup, G?”

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This is Banana Republic, 82% wool, 10% cashmere, 8%angora.  “Heeeayy”

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Beautfiul pink J. Crew, 100% lambswool.  The sleeves are oddly long, though.  I wonder what that’s about. “Me bought sweater for Jane.”

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This was THE find of the day.  John Ashford, 100% cashmere, double ply, in an absolutely stunning shade of crimson red.  “Would you like to dance?”

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Gap, 100% wool.  Nothing spectacular about this except the yarn is a good sturdy medium-weight.  The taupe and eggplant colors did not show up well in the photo.  I plan to unravel this one and ply it again, possibly with a cashmere.  “Care to go fro a pint after the Rugby match, mate?”

Thrifty Sweaters by you.

And this quartet from my secret shop.  Clockwise from top, a cotton, striped Tommy, a pink cotton from Yarnworks, an Old Navy cotton and silk cabled shrug, and a wool, cashmere, and acrylic from Liz Claiborne, proving that even the big fashion houses still have problems with color pooling.

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This one is John Ashford, 100% cashmere.  “Put your hands in the air, like you don’t care.”

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Fiber Fest II – The 2008 Version

December 24, 2008 at 12:13 am (Knit)

It would have been impossible to predict that 2008’s Fiber Fest at Hill Country Weavers could have been as windy as last year’s.  It was uncanny.  Again, we had to tie down tents and weight tables.  Jennifer’s ingenious hat display lost a few coconut prongs. (She is making the cutest, squared off bucket hats that she calls The Breakfast Hat.)  But with brightly knit scarves waving in the passers-by, this year was again a success.

Meiling Chang had some beautiful sweaters, as usual.

I had lots of hats and handspun yarn.  Robin, of RobinCat and I shared a table.  (below)

Stacy, of Silver Moon Studios had her amazingly cute project bags there.

Several local weavers brought rugs and wall hangings.

Dana, of ToughKnit, had cute little scarves and wrist warmers, all made from recycled apparel.

Below are hats in clockwise order, from Kathy at Platypus Dreams, Kortney Moon of Angry Olive, more hats by Pretty Purl, and lots of wet felted hats made by Mary McCauley.

And a good time was had by all!

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Pretty, Pretty Yarn

July 22, 2008 at 2:29 am (Knit) (, , )

Six months ago I found this great sweater; it’s a lamb’s wool, angora, nylon, cotton blend. I bought it at my secret thrift store, where good sweaters are still $2.00 each, and they sometimes are half-price. Don’t even ask. I won’t tell you where it is.

I used a veterinary syringe with no needle to paint/draw the dye onto the sweater. These are food-grade, non-toxic dyes, so my safety measures were pretty lax, consisting of putting some wax paper under the sweater.

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Here it is, fresh out of the oven…well, microwave. I rolled up the sweater and microwaved it, 3 minutes at a time, until there was no more dye in the water.

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The picture of it hanging to dry in the backyard revealed too much ‘backyard junk’ to be fit to show the public, so imagine it drying on an old fashioned clothesline, in a thick, grassy yard, surrounded by a white picket fence. The sky is bright blue, with a few lingering, drifting, Simpson’s clouds. The light breeze slowly wafts the sweater dry, as the ice slowly melts, and condensation drips off the pitcher of lemonade/tea/margaritas on the picnic table. Got it? Good.

The sweater was in good condition, which made it easy to deconstruct (unravel). It was a cardigan, so I couldn’t do anything with the front panels, but I couldn’t throw them away either, so they’re in reserve in the scrap crate, awaiting fresh ideas and inspiration.

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And here is the final swatch. The cast-off edge in the upper right shows the interesting ‘Ramen’ effect of an unraveled sweater. About the only way to get the crimps out is to respin it, but this yarn came out so great as it was, I didn’t see the need to spin it.

I love the randomness of the whole thing. I painted the colors in sort-of-stripes, but then there is the unravel. The lengths of the original rows come into play here, determining the lengths of the colorways. Then there is the make-up of the fiber itself. The nylon did not take up any dye, and the cotton, just a little pastel tint, while the angora and lambswool took up most of the dye, resulting in the darkest colors. But Angora, the good little fiber it is, continues to throw off, sinfully soft stray hairs, making it’s signature halo, and softening the color of it’s dye. With all of these factors, it would have been impossible to try to force a particular outcome. So I just pick some colors that I like, and rest assure that I will like the outcome. I just love the randomness of the whole process. Did I say that already? Well, I do.

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And I’m Back

July 8, 2008 at 1:26 am (Knit)

I’ve really been completing a lot of projects. So many, in fact, that my hold up is photographing them and writing about them. I’m going to try to catch up, in no particular order. First up is my felted French Market Bag by Polly Outhwaite, from Knitty.com.

I wanted it to be summery, so I used Cascade Heather for the yarn. Here it is in action. Very cute action. Remember in the bunny post when I asked ‘what is cuter than a cage full of baby bunnies?’ Well the answer obviously, is a felted bag full of kittens.
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And the finished bag, before it was felted.
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And the finished, felted bag, before it was put into use.
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DIY Needle Project

January 18, 2008 at 2:27 am (Knit)

O.k. not exactly, totally DIY. More like a DIY modification. I bought an 11 pair set of straight bamboo needles on eBay, but I didn’t read the listing carefully, because they were 13 inchers. I would have bought the anyway because I got them for so cheap. I need more bamboos b/c I’m flying at the end of the month and I read that bamboo needles are more likely to go through security.

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When I unwrapped them, I started to wonder if I could shorten them. So I pulled at the caps of one pair, and with a little bit of work, they came right off.

So I gathered my tools: a tape measure, a pair of PVC pipe cutters, pencil, wood glue, and paper plate.

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I measured and marked the needles. Snapped of the excess with the cutters.

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Dipped the ends in wood glue and stuck them back on.

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Viola! It took all of about 8 minutes, including gathering the supplies and camera. I’m not going to cut them all yet, but wait and see what I need and cut them if needed, as needed.

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Thanks to my husband for having all his tools in the dining room, where I could easily find the cutters and wood glue. ; { It made the project go so much faster.

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That for Which There is not That Much Interesting to Show

January 15, 2008 at 2:25 am (Knit)

(Yoda wrote my title.)

Did some housekeeping stuff today. I enjoyed it, but nothing much to look at. Took a needle inventory and entered it into Ravlery. Sanded some circs that I bought off of eBay that came with some sort of sticky finish. Bought some cabinet handles at Home Depot.

Oh yeah, and my new online column, “A Moveable Feast” is up at Airstream Life.com. Also, be sure to check newstands and bookstores in February for my article on Farmer’s Markets.

Here’s a preview of something handspun and yummy:

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The Wind Beneath My Wings

December 18, 2007 at 3:28 am (Knit) (, , , , )

First off, I really hate that song. Really. On the list of songs I hate, it’s number two. Number one being of course, Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston. That one’s even worse. EXCEPT when Joe sings it at graduation in Say Anything. Then, it’s pretty cool, but we all know, and Corey reminds us, that “Joe lies.” So, what does it all mean anyway? I’ll get to that in a minute.
DSCF1093.JPGHCW Storefront on S. Congress

Way back when, before Christmas, but just barely before, Hill Country Weavers held their second annual Fiber Friends Fest, in which they invited several artist/knitter/designers to showcase and sell their work at the prime HCW location on South Congress, in South Austin. I was honored to participate and had been spinning and knitting up a storm in preparation.
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Handknit sweater and scarf by Mei Creative

We had booked a spot at Pecan Grove RV park, so we could stay in style, and also go “out” at night and not worry about driving home. It seems that any weekend we stay at Pecan Grove, the weather dieties try their best to spoil our stay. We have camped through freezing rain, torrential rain, foggy rain, and just about any other kind of rain. As the HCW-FFF weekend approached, it looked like it this weekend would be no different.

We have a general no TV rule in the camper. We can use the computer to watch DVDs if we want, but no regular TV. When we arrived at camp, it was drizzling rain and the whole campground was spongy and muddy. We could not, however, watch our favorite old-people-channel to find out what the weather had in store for the weekend. I asked Robert, the park manager, who disappeared behind a room divider, whereupon I heard lots of whizzes and whirrs, gears turning, etc. He reappeared a few minutes later with something he had printed off the internet that amounted to this: windy. Hhhmmm. “Any chance of rain?” I asked. “Didn’t say anything about rain,” he replied. “Is that all?” I asked. “About it,” was the response. Robert is a man of few words.
DSCF1104.JPGSome of my knits and a knitting project bag by Stacey Smith of Silver Moon Studios in Fredericksburg

I spent the night embroidering some finishing touches on a few hats and went to bed early. We awoke the next morning to the brightest, sunniest day we’d seen in a long time. It was a beautiful, bright December day in Texas. I couldn’t have asked for any better sidewalk shopping weather, until I stepped outside, and apparently into some NASA-orchestrated wind testing event. The wind was gusting. It had, however, blown the rain out to the east, providing a cloudless day, perfect for shopping, so it was, thus, the wind beneath our wings.
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My Muppet Scarf, blown into the fallen leaves among the lilies. Very French cinematique, no?

Arriving at HCW, I set about to help set everything up, thinking, naively, that the wind would die off as the day progressed. Boy was I wrong. We staked tents, hung Christmas lights, trailed extension cords. Scarves were flying. Hats were unceremoniously tossed off of tables. Sweaters were thrown on the ground faster than a freshman dorm after the first football game. As soon as we picked things up, they were tossed about once again. I was supposed to do a spinning demonstration, but that was postponed, because it was just too windy. I was scheduled to work until 12 that afternoon. I stayed a bit later, but only to supervise the cash register while the others moved most of the displays to the leeward side of the building. Not the best for visibility and business, but definitely better than dealing with the wind.
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Mary MacCauley makes nature inspired felted goodies like hats, flowers, and vases to put them in.

By the time I left, we had already seen a lot of business, so my spirits were up. Eric picked me up with his friend Kurt and we had lunch at Polvos. Went back to the park, met up with friend and fellow Airstreamer, JB, who was driving out into the bright midday in his 1958 Pontiac. We talked about trailer polishing and vintage vehicles for a bit. He left. Kurt left. We took a nap. Called Dan and Dawn, who met us later with another friend, and we walked over to Baby Acapulcos for snacks and margaritas. Any day that ends with a margarita is a good one, I say.
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Kourtney Moon is the artist behind these adorable and sometimes twisted hats. Not only does she come up with the designs, she writes the most endearing vignettes about each ‘character’ she makes. Seen here is Chocolate Mousse, Stomp the Rhino, and Lazy Swimmers. See more of her work at AngryOlive.com

Sunday was uneventful. We woke up late, ate some breakfast. Drove home with the trailer, then I drove back into Austin later that evening to pick up any unsold merchandise.

It turned out to be a pretty great weekend after all. I got to meet a lot of talented local artists at the show. Did a little networking. Spent some time on South Congress. Soaked up a little South Austin nuttiness. Spent time with several good friends. Reconnected. Spent some good camping time with my cool husband and loyal dog (or vice versa). Made a wee bit o’cash. What more could you want in a weekend?

More photos of the weekend:
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New Knits

November 23, 2007 at 9:35 pm (Knit)

Here are some things I’ve been working on lately for a Christmas artist sale at the LYS.

DSC01286.JPG This is a prototype of a series I’m working on. It’s supposed to be a cat skull and crossbones. The intarsia pattern didn’t come out exactly like I planned, so I’m back at the light board fixing it.

DSC01281.JPGDSC01280.JPG For the urban chic kiddo.

DSC01276.JPGHere I was experimenting with what I call a twist stitch because I don’t know if it has a real name. Basically, you knit 5 to 6 rows, then on the 6th (or 7th) you twist the left needle clockwise 360° at intervals. On this hat I twisted every 5th stitch.

DSC01273.JPG A really cut picot edge, which I LOVE, except that it takes so long to cast on.

DSC01277.JPGAnd some generic stripey hats for boys (or girls.)

I have lots of handspun yarn to show you, but they are still on the bobbins.

It’s black Friday, and that’s about all they are covering on the news. I hate shopping and would gladly pay extra, if I could do it when there are not tons of people around. If I was famous or rich, I think I’d do like Oprah and make the store stay open after hours so that I could shop alone. Anyway, for those of you who do go out and shop Black Friday, are the sales really that good? Because I’m thinking that all the hype is just a ploy, and the prices aren’t that great, they are just trying to convince us they are.

As for me, I’m sitting here with a cuppa hot chocolate, with the heat on, but not too much. Ruby, the dog, is deep asleep at me feet, dreaming, and slightly kicking my chair every so often. I’m about to get up and go unpack a couple more boxes. Some day I’ll be finished. I’m making chicken and dumplings for dinner and then I’m going to knit some more.

So, how ’bout you, have you found your car yet, in that endless sea of steel and cellphones that is the mall parking lot?

ETA: This is not how the weather is today. Today, it is cloudy, blustering, and quite chilly for central Texas.

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Free Pattern – Double Layer Short Scarf

November 6, 2007 at 2:36 am (Knit)

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This scarf is not double knitted, I just designed it so that it would fold over onto itself naturally. It knits up very quickly, and has added interest from the seed stitch cuff on each end. (See seed stitch below.) I used a variegated red/pink/gray worked together with a solid pink worsted weight.

Important note: slip the 1st stitch of every row, to prevent one side looking loose.

Using 2 worsted weight yarns held and worked together for the entire project, and size 11 needles,

CO 18 stitches.
Work in Seed Stitch for 2.5 inches.
Work in Pattern (see below) for 32 inches.
Work in Seed Stitch for 2.5 inches.
Bind off.
The long edges of scarf should naturally fold back onto the wrong side. You can, if you like, baste them together with a running stitch, although it’s probably not necessary.

Make 2 pom-poms and attach 1 to each end. This would also look good with 2 smaller pom-poms on each end, but I was running low on patience.

PATTERN:
RS row – Slip first stitch, K across.
WS row – Slip first stitch, K2, Purl until three stitches from end, K last 3 stitches.

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Knitting Tip

November 6, 2007 at 2:23 am (Knit)

for knitting 1×1 Rib and Seed Stitch

Definitions:

1×1 rib is knitting 1 knit stitch, then 1 purl stitch across the row, on the next row you purl the knits from previous row and you knit the purls from the previous row. This results in a very stretchy fabric with defined rows.

Seed Stitch is just like a 1×1 rib, except that you alternate from row to row. A stitch that you knit on one side, you knit again on the other, and one that you purled, you purl again on the reverse. This creates an interesting, textured fabric that is almost as stretchy as ribbing.

Technique so you don’t have to think about it:
In a 1×1 Rib, the total number of stitches, when divided by 2, should be an even number. If you do this, you can start every row with a knit stitch and don’t have to worry about where you are or reading the stitches.
80/2=40 GOOD
78/2=39 BAD

the reverse is true for Seed Stitch. The total stitches, when divided by 2, should be an odd number. Doing this will ensure that every row ends on a knit stitch, then when you turn for the new row, every row begins with a knit stitch, keeping the seeded texture.
90/2=45 GOOD
88/2=44 BAD

Do your thinking when you are planning, before you start, so you can free your mind while you knit and don’t have to count or ID stitches.

Lastly, if you can learn it, try doing 1×1 rib in Continental Knitting. One you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how much faster it will go.

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