Archive for August, 2007

Living With Love

I don’t have much needlework content to share with you today because I’ve been busy with something much more important, and here she is:


In my last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned my best friend Mel and her new baby girl. Well, I’d like you all to meet Slinkey. That’s her nickname, of course; unfortunately, there are too many crazy people in the world for me to put her at risk by publishing her real name, but I think Slinkey fits her, don’t you? It reminds me of the old Slinky toy commercial: “Slinky, Slinky, what a wonderful toy! Slinky, Slinky, fun for a girl and a boy.” And she is lots of fun for everyone blessed enough to know her. Let me tell you a little about the miracle of Slinkey:

Her Mom, Mel, and I have been friends for over 20 years. Almost 19 years ago, she fell in love with ‘CD’ who had custody of his two children from his first marriage. His daughter ‘AL’ was seven years old, has Cerebral Palsy and is profoundly handicapped (can’t talk, walk, feed herself, is in a wheelchair), and his son ‘NA’ was four years old. At the age of 21, Mel and CD married and she committed her life to being a wife to CD and a mother to his kids. As the years passed and we raised our children together, we grew closer and became more like sisters than friends. We all just naturally assumed that one day, Mel and CD would have a child of their own, but it never happened. About 5 years into their marriage, they tried fertility treatments and Mel did become pregnant, but the baby never developed and she miscarried. After that, she contented herself with being Mom to AL and NA.

Last fall, as Mel was nearing the end of her 30’s, she and CD decided that they would give fertility treatments one more shot. Mel made an appointment with a fertility doctor, but decided to go see her regular GYN first to make sure there were no issues that might interfere with the fertility treatments. Per routine, they did a pregnancy test and it came back positive. Oh, the excitement and joy! The third person in our BFF trio, Vickie, and I permanently attached ourselves to Mel and reveled in every moment of her pregnancy. Mel generously allowed us to throw her a huge shower and even let us decorate the nursery. It was so much fun preparing for the arrival of her miracle.

Because of Mel’s age, the doctor’s decided to do some tests to check for genetic anomalies in the baby. That’s when we found out Slinkey has Down Syndrome. It was hard to accept at first, but we soon realized that God doesn’t make mistakes and if we trust Him, things will always work out for our good and His glory. For the next few months we prayed, believed, waited and hoped that the tests were wrong and she was ‘normal’ (whatever that is?). When she was born on July 2, 2007 we knew two things right away: she does have Down’s and that we love her madly and completely just like she is! She truly is a miracle and a gi-normous blessing in our lives.

Thankfully, Slinkey has a ‘light’ case of Down’s. She has great muscle tone and no heart and digestive problems that so often plague Down’s children. Unfortunately, she does have Hydrocephalus, more commonly known as “water on the brain” and had to have a shunt put in yesterday to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure in her head. She came through with flying colors and is doing well. I am headed up to the hospital shortly to see her and hold her and tell her for the 4 billionth time how beautiful she is and how much I love her. If you believe in prayer, please take a moment and whisper a prayer of blessing and healing for our little miracle. Just call her Slinkey; God will know who you’re talking about.

Our little star!

Just to help retain the theme of this blog (Needleworx, remember?), here is a picture of the crib set I made for the nursery. A little sewing content is better than nothing. Happy stitching to you all.
















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Playing in the Dyepot

I am a happy knitter this morning: I finally finished my first I Love Gansey sock from the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo! group, and it turned out pretty good. There are a couple of things that need tweaking, and I’m seriously thinking about doing just that on the second sock. That would mean that the two socks won’t be identical, but who’s going to know but me? For reasons I will reveal later in the post, I have decided NOT to give these socks to my friend Mel. Don’t worry, she is going to get some socks, just not these. Here is a pic of the finished ILG:

First ILG

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I have been playing around with dyeing yarn. What you have to understand is that I am a complete novice at yarn dyeing, but when life hands you ugly yarn, what else can you do? The picture on the left is what I did yesterday. The small ball of gold yarn is the original color, and yes, it is the same yarn I used to knit the ILG sock above. You may remember that I stated I have several skeins of this yarn. The two balls of variegated brown in the middle were dyed using red, green and yellow food coloring. You heard me right: food coloring! I figured if it works on eggs it will probably work on wool and I was right. I wasn’t necessarily going for a variegated color, but there was too much yarn for the amount of ‘dye’ I had in the pot. I dyed 2 skeins at the same time and had to add more dye twice while the yarn was in the pot to get it to this color. Since this was all experimental and I don’t plan on trying to repeat the colors, I did not measure the amount of food coloring nor take notes on the process. It was a true ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ effort. The green ball to the far left is two skeins wound together and was dyed using green, blue and just a couple of drops of red to tone it down. The yarn took the green dye better and is more consistent although there are places where the yarn is lighter or darker. It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty satisfied with the results.

The picture on the right is from my first dyeing attempt a few weeks ago. As you can see, the yarn started out white. The teal color was done with blue and green food coloring, and the neon yellow came from yellow, green and a few drops of blue. I have three more skeins of this white yarn that I plan on dyeing in some more bright intense colors and then using them all together to practice my fair isle technique.

Dyed gold yarn

White dyed yarn Fearless Fibers yarn

Now that you’ve seen what a complete newbie can do with a little dye, some yarn and a ‘go for it’ attitude, let me show you the results of someone who has mastered the process. This absolutely gorgeous yarn came from Deb Kessler’s Etsy shop, Fearless Fibers. There are 550 yards of 100% superwash Merino wool hand-dyed yarn in this skein and this, my friends, is going to become the socks for my best pal gal Mel! I knew as soon as I saw it that it would make perfect socks for her with enough yardage left over for a matching pair for her new baby girl. The price was very reasonable for the amount of yardage, so if you’re looking for some beautiful hand-dyed yarn, please check out Deb’s shop; you won’t be disappointed.

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Busy Weekend

Sad to say, but I’ve not finished my first I Love Gansey sock yet. I was hoping to have it completed and already started on the second sock, but we had a busy weekend which has caused me to fall behind. Oh well, I think I can still make the goal of having the socks finished and in the dyepot before the end of the month. So, what’s on your needles right now?

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I Love Gansey Progress

I am making fairly good progress on the I Love Gansey sock; I have reached the heel flap and will be ready to turn the heel this evening. The sock is turning out okay, but I have to admit that sometimes it has been very frustrating. I am knitting these on size 0 needles so the stitches are very small and when I drop one (which I have done more times than I’d care to admit), it can be a challenge to pick it up. I told my BH (Better Half) the other day that one of the things that has come in very handy while knitting this sock is the ability to ‘read’ my knitting, and by that I mean the ability to look at it and tell when and where I made a mistake and be able to correct it without ripping back. That has been invaluable as I have spotted various errors where I worked a purl stitch instead of a knit stitch or vise-versa 6 or 7 rows below and have been able to drop the single stitch down to the error and correct it. If I ever have the opportunity to teach a knitting course, one of the first things I would do after teaching students how to knit and purl would be to teach them to look, REALLY LOOK, at their knitting and see how the stitches are formed, how they are oriented on the needles and how to reproduce those stitches if the need arises. In my opinion, this is an essential part of learning to knit.

ILG progressHere is a picture of the back of the sock showing the seed stitch hearts pattern. I just have to tell you this is some of the ugliest yarn I have ever seen. If you are over 35 years old you should remember the 1970’s ‘organic colors’ that were so popular: avocado green, harvest gold, earth brown, etc. Well, this yarn is a perfect shade of harvest gold and it sends shivers down my spine. I won it on an eBay auction a few years ago when I first became interested in sock knitting. I got it pretty cheap which, looking back, was an obvious clue that people wth good taste new enough to stay away. As soon as it arrived and I saw just how hideous the color was I hid it away in a drawer thinking that I would eventually attempt to over-dye it to a less nausea inspiring color and there it has sat waiting for it’s turn on the needles.

Recently, however, I came to the conclusion that I needed to do some serious de-stashing, so when I discovered the Six Sox Knitalong group I decided the yarn had ripened long enough. Being an impatient person, I decided to go ahead and knit up the socks and then dye them. I’ve never attempted that before, so it should be an interesting experimILG Hearsent. I’m thinking a medium brown, or maybe a rich olive green. I have several skeins of this yarn so I will definitely practice first. Even if I totally botch the job, they can’t get any uglier!  I’m not too worried about shrinkage as this is superwash wool. I’ve posted a message to the SSK group inviting members to offer me some dyeing tips. If any of my readers have some tips on dyeing they would care to share, feel free. I could use all the help I can get. I plan to finish this first sock by the weekend and start on it’s mate right away; I hope to have the pair in a dye bath before the end of the month.

Here are a couple more pictures of the stitch patterns expanded so you can see them better. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give our blue plastic drinking glass model a big hand! Didn’t she do a wonderful job? I am hoping the irregularities in the stitches even out when I wash them. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? P.S.: I’m guessing you can tell that I’m a lousy photographer, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

ILG CablesBefore I sign off, let me recount a recent incident regarding these socks: Last Wednesday, my two best friends Mel and Vickie and myself took Mel’s new baby to the photographer for portraits. While waiting for the photog to get back from lunch, I pulled out my sock to get a couple of rounds done. When my friend Mel asked what I was knitting, I said, “socks.” This, my friends was her response: “Well, I hope they’re not for me because that is some ugly yarn!” Without blinking an eye, I replied, “I know, but I’m planning on dyeing them brown when I finish.” That was the end of the exchange, but inside I was thinking, “how did she do that?”, because I was in fact thinking about knitting these socks for her when I cast on. We’ve been friends for far too long and know each other too well for me to be offended by her statement, but I am a little freaked out that she somehow sensed that I was knitting these socks for her. I still plan on giving them to her if the dye job turns out halfway decent. It is a travesty to have a best friend of 20 + years and never having knit her a pair of socks!

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I can’t believe it’s already Friday; where did the week go? I guess it slipped away while I was busy knitting. Let me see, where should I begin?….

Dressy Jacket and stitch markersHow about an update on my progress with the Dressy Jacket. Here’s a picture, but as you can see there’s not much to talk about. It’s about twice the length it was when I first introduced it and I think I like the striping that’s going on. This, my friend, is good TV knitting because it’s a simple seed stitch: k1,p1,k1,p1,k1,p1…..ad nauseum. I have about 3 1/2 more inches before I get to the armhole shaping, so things should liven up some then.

If you’re wondering what those cross-shaped objects are, well those are some little trinkets I picked up at a local hospital gift shop. They were meant to be charms, but I’ll bet you other knitters see what I saw…..STITCH MARKERS!!! They had tons of different ‘charms’, but how could I as a Christian, and minister’s wife to boot, pass these up? I tried to take a better photo of them, but the sun is not cooperating this morning. Take my word for it, they’re not all the same. Each has a different saying (“Sing His praise”, “Peace be with you”, “Miracles happen”, “Give thanks”) as well as a different pattern. They are solid metal so they’re a little bit too heavy to use on my current project, but when I start a winter sweater pattern out of beefy yarn you can bet I’ll put them to good use.

I Love Gansey Socks

And this is the other knitting that’s helped my week fly by. Why, it’s the I Love Gansey socks from the Six Sox Knit-along Yahoo! group. After several false starts I have settled on some vintage fingering yarn in harvest gold on size 2.0 mm (US 0) needles. I’d never heard of the SSK group before this Tuesday when I was reading Tiennie’s blog (check it out; you won’t be sorry). I don’t know how this group managed to fly under my knitting radar since 2004, but I immediately ‘applied’ for admission and was accepted. I tend to be a lone-wolf knitted, but this group looked interesting and I thought it might help keep me on track.

ILG closeup

Here is a closeup of the stitch pattern; it’s intricate and very pretty. I was planning on knitting both socks at once on two sets of DPNs, but I couldn’t manage to find my other set. Even though I had seen them just last Saturday in one of my knitting bags, when I went to get them Wednesday morning they had vanished. I have searched the house several times, and I just can’t find them. This is not the first time this has happened; things have a weird way of disappearing around here. Sometimes they turn up, sometimes they don’t. I have this sneaking suspension that there is a constant prayer rising from this house: make me a bird so I can fly far, far away! On the positive side, while searching for my needles I found my son’s long lost flash drive under the sofa (you don’t want to know what else I found; note to self: clean under the sofa more often). Of course, I had bought him a new flash drive the night before, which only goes to prove that old saying true: the surest way to find something you’ve lost is to buy another one.

On a closing note: this is the sky I woke up to this morning. It was full of rumblings and a little rain. Not complaining though; it helps keep the temp down to a tolerable level. Have a great Friday and an awesome weekend.

Storm clouds

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A present for me?

Oh, looky, looky, looky what came in the mail today:

Folk Socks

Last week I was shopping around for one of Nancy Bush’s other books Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns when I came across this title. I think I have seen it around the web before, but I didn’t even give it a second glance. I have the Folk Bags book and am not real impressed with it, so I guess I assumed this book would be about the same. However, after using an online “look inside this book” feature, I absolutely fell in love! I can’t wait to knit every single project from this little treasure. I also love the first few chapters in this book which are all about the history of socks. There’s a standard chapter on the anatomy of a sock (has some good cast-on info) followed by a chapter filled with instructions for several different heels and toes.

I purchased the book from Wal-Mart online. Although I found it a couple of dollars cheaper from some other online stores, I saved a few dollars overall with Wal-Mart’s $.97 shipping. You heard me right; just $.97, and delivery took less than a week from time of order. Just so you’ll know, I have no affiliation with Wal-Mart, just a happy customer. And what about my original item of interest, Knitting Vintage Socks? Well, after “looking” inside that book, I decided it wasn’t nearly as interesting or exciting as this one, so I passed.

Although, I would love to dive right in and cast-on for one of the gorgeous socks in this book, I think I’m going to save this as a New Years treat for myself. My plan is to start with the first pattern in the book and work through each pattern in order at a rate of one pair a month until I have made each and every one! That’s 18 months of sock knitting goodness to look forward to. I have no particular reason for doing it that way other than that’s the thought that came to me as I was taking my first look through the book this afternoon. I can hold out for 4 1/2 months. I…am…strong…

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Sew much fun!

This weekend is my daughter-in-law’s birthday, so we get to keep the grandkids while my son takes her on a getaway. GP is 6 and MJ is 4, so as soon as they got in the door yesterday they went straight for the GameCube.  I let them play for about an hour, but then I had something fun planned: they got to sew their own pillows! I had some Scooby-Doo print fat quarters that I had bought a while back; I let each of them pick out two for their pillow front and back. This kind of exercise will tell you a lot about a kid’s personality. GP picked out the same two for his pillow (he insisted the front and back had to match) while MJ picked out two very different prints. Anyway, I worked with MJ on his pillow first while GP played video games. We did not cut anything, just layed the twoMJ and pillow fat quarters right sides facing and I showed him how to pin them together. It’s been a long time since my boys were little, so I had forgotten how underdeveloped a 4 year old’s fine motor skills can be. I was patient though and he finally managed to get the pins in with a little help from Grandmama. Then it was off to the sewing machine.

I let him help me pick out the right color of thread, showed him how to thread the machine, and let him turn the wheel to bring up the bobbin thread. We put the fabric under the presser foot, and I showed him how to lower and raise the foot. Since seam width didn’t really matter, I let him choose which guideline he wanted the edge of the pillow to follow and we were off and sewing. He sat in my lap while I used the foot control and we guided the fabric together. Every time we got to a pin, I let him take it out and stick it into the cork wall behind my sewing desk. He got to lift and lower the presser foot when we turned corners and hold the reverse button at the beginning and end. 15 minutes later, whe had a pillow!

We then went to the breakfast bar and I showed him how to put his hand inside the opening we had left and grab the corners and pull them out. Once we got it turned, I did a quick press while he ran back to the video game. No amount of prodding could pull him away from “Dora and the Purple Planet”, so I let him playGP and pillow and began to help GP with his pillow. We followed the same steps, but since he was older I let him do a little more, like thread the machine himself (with a little help from GM) and guide the fabric on his own. Once we turned the pillow right side out, he couldn’t wait to stuff it. I showed him how to take handfulls of stuffing and poke them into the corners and then just keep putting stuffing in so it was fat as a Thanksgiving turkey.  To close the opening I threaded a HUGE doll sculpting needle (so it would be easier for his small hand to grasp), and showed him how tho do a whipstitch to close the opening. I held the edges together while he very competantly sewed the pillow closed. Viola, one pretty good looking pillow and one extremely proud 6 year old!

I tried several times to get MJ to abandon Dora to stuff his pillow, but no go. GP kept volunteering, so I figured why not? I let him stuff his brother’s pillow and I helped him sew it closed. Mission accomplished: two little boys with two cute pillows they helped make themselves. What could be better I ask you? Fun for them and Grandmama to boot!

I have a couple of more adult sewing projects planned in the next few weeks. I recently picked up 2 yards of this green twill at Jo-Ann’s and then came across this remnant of brown print at our local Wal-Mart which has not yet begun to eliminate their fabric department, thank goodness. I have very different skirts planned for both these pieces. The green twill will become a long straight skirt with big pockets and a drawstirng waist, while the brown print is destined to morph into a flared elastic-waist dress sirt. I have a couple of brown jackets and tops that will look awesome with this skirt come fall. I also picked up this NewLook pattern (shhhh, don’t tell hubby). I love wide legged pants! I will also use the skirt pattern and probably the gaucho length pants, too. Three different looks from one pattern: that’s a winner I tell ya’.

Green twillBrown printNewLook patten

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