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DIY Anniversary

Our 30th anniversary was Sunday Sept. 16th and I wanted a new dress to wear to church. I could live with the fact that we didn’t get to take that trip to Montana for this milestone. I could live with the fact that there would be no special get-together with family and friends to celebrate 30 years of love and commitment. Truth be told, I’ve always considered wedding anniversaries kind of private, just the two of us; our special day. But I really wanted a new dress because, even after 30 years, I wanted to look extra pretty for my fella’, so I went shopping and found…. nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. There was nothing in the stores that interested me one bit. So, being the resourceful person I am and having enough fabric hoarded away to open my own fabric store (don’t ask), I decided to make myself a dress. Nothing too fancy, just a nice simple pull-over dress out of a lovely print. I happened to have a pretty floral with just the right amount of yardage to make this:

30th anniversary dress

A few hours of cutting and sewing and I had the makings of a new outfit. As you can see, it’s sleeveless and there’s no way I’m taking my saggy bare arms out in public, so it’s another trip to the store to find some kind of jacket to go over the dress. What I had in mind was a cute little short sleeve sweater in this pretty caramel brown, as I thought it would be a really nice complement to the navy background of the dress fabric. I just love khaki and blue together.

Floral print in anniversary dress

Being in a crunch, I did not have time to do much shopping. On Saturday evening, I went to a couple of stores to see what I could come up with. No cute little caramel colored short sleeve sweaters to be found. However, I did come across something that I thought would work with the dress. It’s not what I had originally pictured and wasn’t my first choice, but beggars can’t be choosers and I really wanted to wear the new dress to church, so I settled. The winter white is a perfect match to the white in the floral print and it has navy blue trim to boot. It was on the clearance rack at 70% off and was missing a button, but that wasn’t a problem as I have a pretty substantial button collection. After a little deliberation, I decided to go ahead and buy it and wound up paying a whopping $4.14 after tax! Now that’s something I can live with. I sewed on a rhinestone button to match the rhinestones next to the blue trim and took myself off to church Sunday morning with a smart new outfit that did in fact please my sweetheart, and me too. Turns out necessity is the mother of invention just like my Mama said.

30th anniversary outfit

   Navy trim on jacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pink Monkeys

Here is a picture of the Coronet hat finished and blocking. It turned out pretty well and is going to my daughter-in-law Kim for Christmas. This hat was an easy and fun knit. The only problem I had is that the 9” length specified in the pattern for the 22” head circumference was too long, so I had to frog back and remove 4 rows; once I’d done that, it was just right. I have 1 3/4 skeins of the yarn left, so she will probably be getting a pair of matching mittens. It shouldn’t be too hard to make a pair of cuffs to match the cable band, then pick up and knit the hands using a generic mitten pattern.

'Coronet' in Bernat Cashmere Natural Blends

I also started a pair of socks for my BFF Mel for Christmas using that luscious hand-dyed merino I blogged about a few weeks ago (scroll down to bottom of post for info). I LOVE THIS YARN! It is so soft and springy, knits up like a dream, and looks great in the Monkey pattern. This pattern is really making the blog rounds, and to be honest, after looking at the finished socks on some blogs, I didn’t find the pattern that interesting. I didn’t even remember it was published in Knitty, even though I read (yes, actually read) each issue. When I decided it was time to cast on for Mel’s socks, I immediately went to the Knitty archive and browsed the sock patterns. Low and behold, there’s the Monkey pattern that’s so popular. I took one look at the designer’s prototype sock and knew that it would look gorgeous in the variegated pink yarn, so I cast on and am already to the foot on the first Pink Monkey!

The stitch pattern looks complicated, but is really easy to memorize and  interesting enough to keep my attention. And I was right about the yarn looking gorgeous in Cookie A’s pattern! I made one slight customization to the sock: I worked the heel in Eye of Partridge stitch instead of plain stockinette. I only did that because this yarn is 100% wool (no reinforcing nylon) and I wanted the added cushioning and strength that the slipped stitches would provide. I should be through with the first sock and started on the second by tomorrow. My goal is to have them finished before the new Six Sox Knitalong pattern comes out on Oct. 1st. I will be very proud to give these to Mel for Christmas because I know she’s going to love them!

  Pink Monkeys

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Let the Games Begin

Although it’s only the middle of September, the pressure of Christmas knitting has hit me hard for the last couple of days. I have been trying to ignore it and be faithful to my Dressy Jacket, but yesterday afternoon it reached fever pitch and I cast on for Coronet using the Bernat Natural Blends Cashmere I bought a few weeks ago. I’m a little over halfway through with the cable band and the yarn is working up nicely. I’ve been wanting to knit this pattern since it first came out and am just now getting around to it.

CoronetLast year, I made hats for my sons and scarves for my daughter-in-laws; this year I’m making hats for the girls, and I haven’t decided yet what I’ll do for the guys. I picked up the Patons Men pattern booklet yesterday and it has some really great sweaters that my boys would love, but there’s no way I can complete 4 sweaters by Christmas, so they may wind up with gloves or socks.

I also picked up two other Patons pattern booklets: Next Steps Two – Create Your Own Pullover and Next Steps Three – Create Your Own Cardigan. These booklets are a good size to fit into a knitting bag (approx. 5.5” x 8.5”), have multiple style options, and the patterns are sized up to 5X! But the best news is that I used 40% off coupons at Jo-Ann’s so they only cost me $2.99 each. There are a few more of the Patons booklets I’d like to buy, but Jo-Ann’s did not have them in stock. I guess I’ll have to check back the next time they have a sale.

Peru DK Luxury yarnHere is what else I picked up while out yesterday: 5 balls of Peru DK Luxury yarn in a lovely shade of purple. This yarn is a blend of 70% merino, 20% alpaka, 10% silk and it’s very soft. Each ball has 124 yards for a total of 620 yards and it was only $2.99 a ball. Purple is a favorite of one of my daughter-in-laws, so this is destined to become a hat and gloves set for her.

On a side note: my husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this Sunday. He was planning on surprising me with a trip to Montana, something I have desired for quite a while, but things did not work out as planned. I told him that it was OK; it meant the world to me that he even thought about it. He does have a special surprise planned for me tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to that. For me, it doesn’t matter what we do or where we go; it’s enough that we’ll be together. When we were first married, 30 years seemed like an eternity and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what our lives would be like when we reached this milestone. Now, here we are and I can’t help but see how blessed we’ve been to arrive at this point, still together and still in love. To my darling husband, here’s to the next 30!!!

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Dyed Ganseys

As promised, here are a few pictures of my Gansey Socks post-dyeing. The color in the pictures is pretty true to the real color: a rich dark reddish-brown… Barn Red! I was going for a more brown color, but I can live with this. I dyed these socks using food coloring. A lot of red, a good bit of green to take it to the brown side, and a few drops of both blue and yellow till I got a color that was close to what I was looking for. The dye in the pot looked more brown than this, but then again, the yarn started out that harvest gold color, so I can only surmise that the original color of the yarn is what tipped it more towards the red.

Dyed Ganseys                        Wearing Ganseys

As you can see, the dye did not saturate every stitch, particularly around the cables and at the double thickness heel, so I’ve got some vertical striping going on. I’m still trying to decide if that bothers me enough to send them back to the dyepot. Right now, I’m leaning toward leaving it; it kind of adds to the wonkiness that’s already going on with these socks (read previous post). As you can also see, I wasn’t kidding about the Flintstone feet! On a final note, the washing and blocking did wonders for the sloppy stitches; they tightened up beautifully. I think we can call these socks done and get onto something new. I have three weeks until the Oct/Nov Six Sox pattern comes out. I’m going back to my Dressy Jacket and see how much I can get done between now and then.

P.S. Here’s a final picture showing a closeup of what were once sloppy stitches standing straight and at attention.

Gansey Cables

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I Love Gansey Socks Finished

Hooray! I was beginning to think this day would never come, but I finally finished the I Love Gansey socks from the Yahoo! Six Sox Knitalong group. Here they are in all of their ugly grandeur:
Completed I Love Gansey socks

You can’t tell from this picture, but the second sock is not identical to the first as I made some minor changes to accommodate my particular knitting style/technique/ability. The first change I made was to rework the Celtic knot so it intertwined correctly; this particular mod was well discussed among the group and was easy enough to do. Here is a closeup of the cables on both socks showing the changes:

ILG Cables

The pink arrows on the left show the first sock knit according to the pattern; notice how the cable crosses over, then over again? The arrows on the right show the correct intertwining of the Celtic knot on the second sock; over, then under/under, then over. It’s a small but noticeable difference. BTW, ignore the wonky stitches: I haven’t washed and blocked these socks yet (yeah, like that’s really gonna make a difference).

The second change I made was to eliminate the final seed stitch heart on the heel. Since the yarn I used is very fine and I didn’t have something appropriate to use as reinforcement, I decided to double the yarn while working the heel. That worked out very well, except for the look of that final heart, so I opted to eliminate it on the second sock. It’s gonna be in my shoe; who will miss it but me?

Seed stitch heart on heel

Speaking of the heel, here is another change I made: see the very noticeable line on the first sock on the left? (and I’m not talking about the bright pink one). When I began the heel turn, I knit across the first row which caused that dividing line. When I came to the heel turn on the second sock, I worked across the first row in pattern, eliminating that divide which contributed a lot to the overall appearance of the sock, IMHO. Don’t you think the heel on the right looks better? Oh, and please forgive the really, REALLY bad photography. I can knit, but I can’t take a decent photo to save my life!

ILG Heel

No pink lines needed tell the difference in this photo. On the first sock (the one on the left), although I worked one more seed stitch heart than the pattern called for, I still wound up with a lot of empty stockinette stitch down the center of the foot. It’s not the designer’s fault; my stitch gauge was different than the one specified, not to mention that these were knit to fit my huge Flintstone feet so they were longer that the prototype for the pattern. On the second sock, I continued to work as many hearts as would fit into the length of the sock, which turned out to be one more. I like to think I just took that last heart that was supposed to be on the heel and moved it to the foot. Does that mean I wear my heart on my foot?

ILG Foot

The final mod I made was to correct a questionable decision I made on the first sock. When I got to the toe shaping on the first sock, I arbitrarily decided to carry the pattern down the toe for a few more rows. Don’t ask me why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. When I knit the second sock, I ended the pattern in line with the beginning of the toe shaping. You can see it on the photo above, but here’s another photo that’s been marked to show the difference:

ILG Toe

The arrow pointing down shows where the toe shaping begins on the first sock, while the horizontal arrow shows where I ended the pattern stitches. The second sock on the right is per pattern instructions. The one addition I made was to cross the cables on the first row of toe shaping because it just happened to fall on the row that was supposed to cross. I think that one little detail really added to the look of the sock.

If you’re reading this final paragraph, that means you’ve stuck with me through this entire post, which means you really, really love to knit socks, or you really, REALLY need to get a life. In either case, just let me say thanks for ‘listening’ to my ramblings and I’m glad you’ve stopped by. Just so you’ll know, I’m not really through with these socks yet. Yes, I’ve finished knitting them, but did I fail to mention that they’re truly ugly? 1970s Harvest Gold is not my favorite color, so these socks will be going into the dyepot this afternoon. Hopefully, I will be able to post this evening with pictures of how they turned out, so please feel free to stop back by. Until then, happy knitting!

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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:

Precious!

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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