Thursday, August 31, 2006

Don't Sweat the Bag, or I Heart Algebra

One of the rules in the Knit Sock Kit Swap was "Do not fear the bag." So, I didn't. What I did do, though, was think about it for a long time. See, here's what happened: when I initially signed up for the swap, I started planning a really cute bag, maybe bug-shaped, maybe with flowers, but definitely girly. Then I got my swap partner's name from Bev. Okay, time to re-think the bag, 'cuz Dave doesn't come across at all girly.

I asked myself what kind of bags men carry. My answer was briefcases, messenger bags, backpacks, and duffle bags. Aha! A duffle bag! That's what I would make. One with handles and zippers and pockets... Denim would be good, with a lining of soft striped flannel... sort of like jeans and a comfy flannel shirt. (That's maybe not quite as clever as it sounds; the blue and white striped flannel was near the top of the first box of my fabric stash I opened.)

No pattern, I just decided to wing it. First cut was the handles, then the outer pocket. I dug around for a template for the round pieces at the end, and came up with the lid of a plastic margarine container. The diameter was 6 1/4". Here's the really exciting part... I got to multiply by pi! Isn't that awesome!?! Since this wasn't rocket surgery, I did do some rounding, multiplying 6.25 by 3.14159. The measurement around the bag needed to be in the neighborhood of 19 3/4 inches. Adding some for seam allowances plus the fudge factor, I cut a rectangle as wide as I thought the bag should be by 22 inches. I used the outside pieces as a pattern to cut the lining and interfacing, then just started sewing stuff together. Here's the only in progress pic I managed to remember to take:

(like my fancy ironing board cover?)

Thanks to my years of working in fabric stores, and of just being a pack-rat in general, I have quite a collection of all sorts of sewing pieces-parts, including a nice assortment of zippers. I just dug into the zipper box and found a few likely-looking candidates and inserted them here and there for some pocket fun.

The lining was assembled the same way as the outer bag (well, except no handles), then hand-stitched to the zipper. A lick and a promise with my iron, a few lampwork bead zipper pulls, and there you have it!

Tomorrow: My birthday swap package is here!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

My KSKS Package Arrived!!

On Saturday Chuck the mailman knocked on my door and presented me with a lovely sight - a package from Canada! Because of a .ca email addy early on, I was pretty sure my pal was Canadian, and I was right. In fact, my pal was my pal, Dave, of Criminy Jickets. Shades of deja vu - Ruth was my pal both ways for Dye-O-Rama. If I'd had my thinking cap tied on tightly, I would have thought to ask Chuck to pose for a picture. Oh well, maybe next time.

Zach the Cat scored with this really cool toy. It's a springy wire with little thingies on the end, and drives him crazy when I wiggle it along the floor.

A few weeks ago Dave posted about his bag, and I remember thinking how very cool it was. It's the Fold of Function from Vicki Square's Folk Bags , based on a Korean jumeoni. His pictures are better than mine, so be sure to go take a look.

It's knit of silky soft cotton demin, with green embroidery and I-cord drawsting. Hey Dave, is that the same green as your Tiger Swallowtail Shawl? Dave's knitting is so nice and even, very professional-looking. He mentions being concerned about the looks of the inside of the bag, so of course I had to turn it inside out and perform a close inspection. Dave, it's perfect!

And the yarn. The yarn! There is enough for two pair of socks, both very luxurious. On the left is Auntie Marts Angora Sock Yarn, which is 45% wool, 25% angora and 30% viscose in the loveliest shades of green, blue and mauve. The other is Lucia, in the June Hothouse colorway, 30% cashmere and 70% merino. I may have already accidentally cast on with this yarn.

Also in my kit was a set of 6" bamboo double-points from Collection, with an ultra-smooth finish and just-right points. (The urge to test-drive these needles was a factor in the accidental cast-on.) Some very nifty spiral needle-holders, a bag of toffee (my favorite!!), and some Maple Syrup in a maple-leaf-shaped bottle rounded out the kit. Am I lucky, or what?! Thanks a million Dave, you're a swell pal.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

August Sock-A-Month - Done!

The thing about having umpty-'leven socks in progress is that it can take a long time to complete a pair. Here it is nearly the end of August and this is the first pair of socks I've completed.

Yarn is Kona 2-Ply Superwash Fingering from Sheila at Wool2Dye4, dyed with Dharma acid dyes. I used my Chiagoo bamboo 2.25mm double-points over 60 stitches with a short-row heel. The sock on top has been machine-washed and -dried, and has bloomed and softened. I. Love. This. Yarn. It's very pleasant to knit with, and even nicer to wear. The washing has softened the colors, but I think it's more a case of the yarn blooming as opposed to the colors fading.

Tomorrow: My KSKS package arrived!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

World-Class Contender

I'm pretty sure that I've managed, quite by accident, to create the world's ugliest hand-dyed sock yarn. I set out to dye this skein of Kona 2-ply Fingering Superwash pink with just a touch of brown. Okay, back up a little here..... last spring I participated in a cooperative buy for acid dyes from Dharma. There were many color choices, but budget constraints dictated I not choose one of everything. I specifically decided not to buy any brown dye. In fact, I remember thinking, "Well, that's just plain silly, buying brown dye. Anybody can mix up their own. It's a piece of cake. All I need to do is just mix complementary colors and I'll get brown." Heh. Pride goeth before a fall, eh?

Fast forward to August... I used my $50 gift certificate from Wool2Dye4 (Thanks again, Sheila!) to get two 1-pound cones of Kona 2-ply plus an eight-ounce hank of Kona DK. Except for a slight blue fingernails incident, I was fresh off the success of dyeing my KSKS pal's yarn (hi Dave!). I used the kettle-dye/ sprinkle dye/overdye method (patent pending) and came up with some pretty nifty wool, if I do say so myself. But enough of that - anybody can dye gorgeous yarn. This story's about the antithesis to gorgeous.

I started with an overall dye of pink of fairly light intensity. Next step was to blend turquoise and yellow (no green, see above) and dunk part of the pink skein into the pot. I checked on it after about ten minutes and started having some doubts about my master plan... it wasn't looking so good. An hour or so later when the dye was exhausted, I was sure of it. I was heading down the ugly highway.

Next I decided it needed to be pinker, so back into the pot with the whole skein along with a lot more pink dye. Wow - it's not getting any better. In fact, we're getting pretty close to hideous by now. What else could I do but add more dye to the pot? In went some turquoise and yellow and a pinch of black for good measure. I may have used more colors; I'm rather vague on the details by this time.

I really am an optimist. When the dye exhausted (again), I remember thinking, "Oh, it'll get better once it's dried. Surely it will. Won't it?" Clearly I was delusional. Are you ready for it? Can your stomach handle it? I had to take multiple shots, since none of these come near showing the true hideousness. If you think it looks pretty, then rest assured that's an accident of the light. Fair warning.....

My apologies to sheep everywhere.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Herringbone Rib

Lori in Michigan asked for the pattern, and since Blogger won't tell me how to contact Lori, you all get it! It's a very simple four-stitch, two-row repeat:

Row One: Knit
Row Two: *K2, Slip 1, K1, YO, PSSO* repeat from *

I found this pattern, along with Jill's recommendation, at Aloha & Oreos, although I can't find the specific entry right now. Thanks to Jill for sharing!

ETA: This stitch pattern as written above is for knitting in the round. If you are knitting flat, row one would be purl.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

KSKS Bag Sneak Preview

The kit for my KSKS pal is winging its way north. So, even though I'm very pleased with the bag and am dying to show it off, today there are only little bits and pieces so as not to give too much away.

The yarn is Wool2Dye4 Superwash Supersock, dyed with Dharma acid dyes. My fingernails were blue for almost a week after this!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Welcome Back, Old Friend

It's good to see you again. I've missed you. After a mere seven and a half weeks of procrastination, I finally resurrected my Singer Quantum CXL to stitch the bag for my KSKS pal. So far, all I've done is hem flannel blankies for Sister Jane's pups. (After a good cleaning and oiling, that is.) I tell you what, it feels good to be back at the controls of a sewing machine again. This one has seen a great deal of service, that's for sure. More than a hundred quilts have passed between the presser foot and feed dogs, as well as countless articles of clothing. I have three more blankies to hem, then I'll wind the bobbin (can't find the box of spares) with blue thread and get stitching on my pal's bag. I'll be pretty much winging it as far as a pattern goes... I know exactly what I want it to look like, so here's to hoping I can match reality to my imagination!

In other, actual knitting, news, I've joined a couple more knit-alongs. For the Mystery Sock KAL , I'll be knitting one of three patterns I've scouted out. We're to knit a sock using any pattern found online, as long as it has no picture. Sounds like fun, eh?

The other is the SAM2 hosted by Knittin'Mom Chrissy. This KAL should be no problem at all for me as the only requirement is to knit at least one pair of socks each month. The socks can be started any time; it's the completion date that counts here. Heh, I've got so many single socks that I could just knit second socks for the entire six months. Currently on the needles I have a black stockinette sock for SocksforSoldiers (second sock), rainbow anklet knit from Kona Superwash Fingering (second sock), Amble knit with Yellow Kroy (another second sock), pink-and-green anklet using the wool dyed especially for me by Ruth (another second sock), Aran Braid for Teri using Melody by JoJoland (yet another second sock), and finally, the one and only first-sock-in-progress, using Claudia Handpaint Blue Sky and the herringbone rib pattern lifted directly from Jill.

Actually, that's pretty good, right? I mean (aside from the fact that there are so many of them), they are all second socks. Maybe someday soon I should list all the single socks waiting for a mate. or maybe not.