Monday, March 24, 2008


A lacy little spring-time coverup made from Rowan Handknit Cotton. This is a 100% cotton yarn, listed by Rowan as a DK weight, with 85m/50 g. ball -- color, aqua. It was soft and very pleasant to work with; hopefully it will be pleasant to wear also.
It was worked in one piece from the hem to the armhole openings. From there the back and each front piece were worked separately. The pattern stitch used for the body was from a Japanese stitch dictionary -- "Crochet Patterns Book 300", pattern #139. I've mentioned this book before, and it is turning out to be a real treasure trove of attractive stitch patterns. It was purchased from YesAsia, although I don't know if they still carry it.
The short sleeves are worked in a simple mesh stitch, and edged with picot.
The front border pattern is from "Complete Book of Crochet Border Designs" by Linda Schapper. This is an older book in my collection (copyright 1987), so I'm not sure if it is still generally available. It is also a book I go to time and again when I want a nice border. It has 342 different designs, with stitch patterns arranged by the (predominate) type of stitch used, and patterns are both charted and written, and range from simple to quite complex. Production values are fairly primitive (seemingly hand drawn charts, black and white photos) but I wouldn't part with it for the world. If you enjoy putting together your own designs it is well worth snapping up if you ever run across it anywhere!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Few Links

Every once in a while I get asked about sources for Japanese needlework items. I've listed the few that I have used in a sidebar to the left. I can't guarantee your success with them, but I have had absolutely no problems ordering from any of them. For those of you in the US, just be aware that items are shipping from outside the US and don't expect instantaneous delivery -- especially for items qualifying for free shipping. If you're outside the US, you'll need to check with the individual retailers about their shipping policies, as I don't know what they are for anywhere but my own mailbox.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A hint...

...of spring in Old Virginny --
and a hint of how the latest project is turning out --

You've seen it as a swatch, and now it's almost all grown up -- just a cap sleeve and lower border to go!

This is the project that went with me on vacation, and I'm hoping some of the happy 'fun in the sun' vibe has carried over into the design. More later...

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Public Service Announcement

Going on a cruise can be a lot of fun. Sun, sand, tropical breezes, frothy fruity rum drinks and food buffets that stretch for miles are just a few of the pleasures of life on the high seas. But Mother Nature is blessed with a wicked sense of humor, and sometimes those high seas are very high indeed -- say, 15 - 20 feet with winds of up to 50 mph. So, as a service to others who have not yet gotten their sea legs (or tummies), here are a few tips gleaned from our recent trip.
  1. If seas are rough and you feel a bit "delicate", perhaps the dining room -- with its panoramic views of those aforementioned waves and its sometimes exotic food aromas -- is not quite the place to be.
  2. Ah, I see you've ventured out regardless, and now that "delicate" feeling is full blown (pun intended) nausea and you are disgorging your previous meal into several cloth napkins. (Let us pause here and pray that the ship's laundry has strong detergent and plenty of hot water. Amen.) Of course, anyone could be caught unaware -- well, perhaps not completely unaware, as you spent 15 minutes or so telling your companions that you felt ill...but I digress. Perhaps now is a good time to return to your cabin and apply a cold compress to your forehead?
  3. No, apparently you wish to remain in the dining room. Yes, it was a very unpleasant experience (for all of us, in fact). May I suggest that we don't need a moment-by-moment recap of the event though? We were, after all, sitting right there as it happened.
  4. Oh, what supportive friends you have -- now they're sharing just how "delicate" they feel too! Someone mentions they have heard that bananas will settle an upset tummy. They're not quite sure where they heard that, but hey, it might work. Let's go get bananas! Wait, wait, maybe it was apples? So, a helpful friend brings back a large bowl filled with bananas, apples and oranges (oranges?????) Oh, and let's throw in a few rolls of bread for luck. All this for a lady who has just been ill into multiple napkins.
  5. I fear my advice has been too subtle: STOP EATING AND LEAVE THE DINING ROOM!

There, I feel so much better, and I think (just perhaps) soon you will too.

This has been a public service announcement from everyone sitting within ten feet of you, dear lady.

Some of you might assume that I have exaggerated for comic effect -- alas, it is all too true.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Time Out...

...for some tropical sun -- back soon!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Step lively!

Another pair of socks, these made from "Step" by Austermann. Fingeringweight yarn - 459 yards per 100 g. skein. The yarn contains jojoba oil and aloe vera to help soothe dry skin -- allegedly it lasts through 40 washes, although that seems a bit optimistic, given the strength of the detergents most of us use today. We'll see.
I didn't notice much softening of dry/rough hands while working with it, but perhaps the secret is in the wearing -- although really, unless you wear a pair everyday ...well, how much softening could you really expect?
And no, they weren't knit on the sock knitting machine. Still working on getting that going -- it's sold with the caveat that there is "a steep learning curve", however in my case it's more a Mt. Everest learning curve. I'm nothing if not stubborn though, so one day...
And in an abrupt change of subject: any serious birders out there? Apparently this little fellow thought our bird feeder was an all-you-can-eat buffet, as I noticed him chowing down on one of our regulars.
Fuzzy photo taken through the kitchen window and screen. He's about mourning dove sized, medium grey head and back with rust/cream striping on the chest and red eyes. My guess is a sharp-shinned hawk, but I'm open to other suggestions. I'm sorry I missed the actual capture, although I do feel sorry for the little one expecting to get a meal who instead became a meal. Ah well, eat or be eaten, I suppose.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fight Club?

Frankly I think I could take on a few more, but the survey really didn't take the dreaded "Mom Look" into account. 25

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Whole Lot of Swatchin' Goin' On...

I'm always amazed that some stitchers don't like to swatch -- for me it's the fun part of the project, in addition to being a fantastic time saver. So much better to spend 15 minutes finding out you really hate working a particular stitch pattern instead of taking all that time with a project that isn't giving you any happiness in the execution. But, to each her/his own, and here's a few I have been working on lately.

This simple square motif is from a Brazilian site (can't get a working link, the address is, it's from issue #17 Colete Ventura. Instructions are in Portuguese (nope, don't speak it) but are also charted, and I do speak Symbolcraft. It's made in Rowan Handknit Cotton, which I am trying for the first time. The swatch is quite firm, which tells me I could most likely go up a hook size, although for that particular garment I may want firmer motifs.

Next we have two random motifs from a Japanese crochet stitch compendium --

They're done in Italy Baby from Plymouth Yarn Company -- 100% cotton, 178 m./50g. I like both of them, but they may turn out to be too large for a project I have in mind.

And yet another random motif, also from the Japanese book, but this time in Rowan Handknit Cotton --

I like the design, but the yarn is too heavy for the hook size I used. It's also on the large size to use in a garment -- try again!

This time I went with an allover pattern from a different Japanese stitch dictionary:
Also in Rowan Handknit Cotton, but this time the yarn/hook/stitch all work together for me. I have a feeling that this may turn into a sweet little spring topper in the not too distant future -- where's my pencil and paper? -- it's time for some pattern math!