Knitting Progress

I am done with the Congenial Afghan. I have just a few more ends to weave in and then I’ll be finished. It turned out very nicely. This is the first time I used a double strand and such large needles. It certainly makes a difference in how fast it can knit up. Since the yarn is acrylic I really don’t even have to block it. As soon as it’s completely finished I will add it to our collection of afghans draped over the quilt rack in the living room for use on a chilly night.

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I’m still working on the back piece of this little number.

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I will be working on this for a long while yet. The yarn is very fine and it takes a lot of knitting to progress a few inches. Still I look forward to working on it. Since the Congenial afghan is out of my hair I went looking to see which other of my ongoing projects I could resurrect and finish. I found this one.

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I started this top-down sweater sometime around February of last year. I remember I had a few problems trying to figure out how to increase stitches while doing a seed stitch pattern for the main body. When I couldn’t figure it out easily, I put it away. Now that I examine it , it doesn’t seem like such a hard problem. It took me a while to figure out where I was in the pattern ( I need to learn to keep notes when I knit), but I soon was knitting along happily on it.

I’ve already made a trial sweater out of this pattern a few years ago.

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It was the first sweater I ever knit. I wear it in the house once in a while when it gets chilly. It was a good learning experience but the finished product is kind of ugly because I used some cheap rather unattractive yarn. I started my new version in some nicer yarn. I added the solid color detailing at the neck, which will be at the cuffs also. And I’m using a seed stitch instead of a plain stockinette stitch on the main body. I love the bright colors in this yarn. I’m sure I will like the new one much better.

Sunday

Two days in a row of working in the sewing room, I can hardly believe my industriousness! I decided to do some multi-tasking in there. I put The Original Philosophers Two Handed Fair Isle knitting video into the player and started unsewing one of my old T-shirts that I want to alter. I got the knitting video a few years ago on Christmas along with the companion book.

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It has a good explanation of how to do fair isle knitting. Since I have been toying with the idea of starting a fair isle project, I figured it was a good time to study the video. It is produced by Ann and Eugene Bourgeois who own a farm in Canada, grow their own sheep, spin and dye their own yarn, knit beautiful sweaters and pullovers and sell yarn kits and patterns.

While I was watching the video I ripped out the hem of a T-shirt that I had altered already. I had cut this shirt down from an extra large size. It was a gift from the Richard Burgi fan club and it has the little RBFC logo on the front. I really wanted to wear it and that is why I went to the trouble of altering it. Unfortunately it still is a little too loose and I have been meaning to take it in a little more. I like the shape and length of the sleeves, so I also wanted to make a pattern of the sleeves and use it to reshape some of my other T-shirts.

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I watched the whole video, but didn’t get too far with the T-shirt. I guess I’m not very good at multi-tasking after all.

Saturday Sewing

I headed into my sewing room today to whittle away on my pile of things to do in there. First I ironed out the green practice shawl I knit some time ago. I had this green scrap yarn and decided to try out the leaf lace shawl pattern and work out some of the things I didn’t understand in the instructions. It turned out great. I love the leaf pattern and it is actually very easy to knit. When I finished the little practice shawl I was excited to see how it would look when I blocked it out.

Unfortunately when I did the wet blocking it didn’t take. That is when I realized that the yarn is probably acrylic and doesn’t respond to blocking like real wool does. I was disappointed because it was still all crimped up and you couldn’t appreciate the lace pattern on it. Later I read on the Internet that it is possible to stream press acrylic flat. In the terms of the knowledgeable, you “kill” the acrylic yarn by this process. Steam pressing destroys the ability of the acrylic yarn to bounce back to it’s original shape. I figured I had nothing to lose, so a few weeks ago I experimented and steam pressed half of the shawl. It worked! After pressing, it stretched out to a larger size and lay flat.

This morning I finally got around to steam pressing the rest of the shawl. It now works nicely as a small shoulder shawl and you can really see the nice lace pattern. I think it looks great.

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Next I decided to work on fixing this apron. I removed the binding and unsewed all the rest of the parts sometime ago so it was ready to cut down to size. I bought this apron at Ross but it never fit very well. When the ties were were wrapped at my waist, the bib came up too high on my chest. I finally decided that I would have to alter it if it was ever to fit properly.

This is how it looked with all the parts layed out before I reshaped the top. The red line indicates how much I needed to cut off.

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It was more work that I thought to cut, reattach the edge binding and then reattach the neck and waist ties. I modeled the finished product for Marty.

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Vintage Books

I got one of my eBay purchases all the way from Australia today. It’s a vintage fair isle knitting pamphlet. The format is a little smaller than it seemed in the auction picture but I’m pleased with it. It has lots of pretty sweater designs. I would only make a few as illustrated, but I would like to try patterns and styles from a number of them.

In other things, I’ve been trying to get my sewing room in shape again to do some work in there. Yesterday I cleaned up a bit and today I cleaned and oiled my 20U33 Singer machine. It was way overdue for a good oiling. I know I have neglected it and I was sure some of the problems I was having with it lately were probably due to it needing maintenance. I unscrewed the top and face plate on the machine and oiled everything that moved. I saturated an oil pad that was bone dry with oil. I also removed the drive belt so that I could lift the machine up and oil the undercarriage mechanisms.

I think I did a good job. Once it was all back together I did some test sewing. It felt and sounded smooth and quiet, much better than before.

I also finally got rid of the ancient clamping light that I’ve had here for so long. It stopped working and I replaced it with this black adjustable clamp light that I used to have at work. It works great. So I’m all set to start working on my sewing projects again.

Memorial Day Weekend Knitting

This is what I have been knitting on again.

It’s one of my on-going projects. The Congenial Afghan is almost done, but it bored me a bit so I switched to the sweater. I’m working on the back piece right now. I’m using a fingering weight yarn in light blue that my MIL gave me years ago. I’m glad to finally be putting it to good use. This is an old pattern out of the 1955 McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft book I bought on ebay last year. Like so many of the old patterns the sizing is geared toward very small sizes. I used the largest size available in the instructions. I’m hoping it will fit me. Here’s what I have so far.

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I’ve been knitting on the Congenial Afghan again. I started this project over a year ago and then kind of lost interest. But now I’m very close to finishing. It’s the relaxing type of knitting project, very repetitive, so you can watch TV at the same time. It will be a nice afghan to add to our collection.

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I bid and won one more ebay auction tonight. I had seen this item before and missed a chance to bid. It’s a vintage knitting book on fair isle sweaters. I saw it go up for auction again a few days ago and decided to try and win it. I put in a bid tonight and sometime during the night the I won it. For just $8.90 I get this fair isle knitting book, all the way from Australia.

That’s it for ebay. I won’t even go browsing there anymore. It’s addictive.

Knitting Books

I received some books I ordered from Amazon which included this one.

I have lots of knitting books and I know I will never knit most of the things from them, but I love looking at them.

Late this evening I was keeping tabs on an ebay auction that was offering a Vintage 1940s Knitting Pattern Book of JACK FROST Sweaters for sale. I have lately been perusing these auctions of vintage knitting patterns and have bought a couple. I was able to swoop in at the last minute and win this auction for $11.89, which included shipping and handling. This is the book I won.

It has dozens of patterns for beautiful sweaters, twin sets, cardigans and boleros. I especially like this set, which I truly intend to try to knit for myself.

Color Pencil Reference

I’ve been working on filling in my color pencil palette booklet which I got from colored pencil artist Linda Lucas Hardy during her workshop on the Mexican Riviera cruise. It is a very handy reference to have when working on any colored pencil drawing. It makes it easy to chose the right color for any of your needs. It lists all the colors that Prismacolor makes organized into major color groups. All I have to do it fill in the color boxes with the designated color and so have them on file, so to speak. It’s been a long job because there are about 180 colors to document.

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The Gallbladder Weight Loss Plan

I have discovered a surefire way to lose the pounds. First go on the Nutrisystem Diet for a month, then go on a cruise where they try to feed you 24 hours a day. Get back home and have a gallbladder attack. Worked for me.

I had to have gallbladder surgery last week. The weight loss I had with the Nutrisystem plan combined with what I lost during the wretched week I was recovering from the surgery put me at 11 pounds lost. I’m at about 147 pounds, which is the less I have weighed for over 10 years.

I’ve had low level gallbladder problems for a few years. In fact knowing that a gallbladder attack could be lurking around the corner after any unwise meal choices made me very cautious. I slowly lost about 10 pounds pretty effortlessly on the “I’m Afraid to Eat” diet over those couple of years. I’ve heard that any sudden weight loss ( such as on the Nutrisystem diet) can actually aggravate the gallbladder quirkiness. And even though I didn’t gain any weight during the cruise, I certainly ate richer foods than I normally eat. I think this combination of events is what caused my gallbladder to completely freak out. Oh well, good riddance to the gall bladder. Back to the sewing!

We’re Home!

The cruise was fabulous. We spent 7 days aboard the beautiful Princess Diamond, pampered by the crew, offered scrumptious food at every turn, with great on board entertainment to chose from and the opportunity to take colored pencil workshops with talented teachers. All that while being transported aboard a floating 5-star hotel to a different Mexican port every other day. This is the way to vacation!

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We boarded the ship about 3:00 pm after a mad dash across the Vincent Thomas bridge. At the last minute we got a bit confused about which port the ship was leaving from and had to make some panicked calls from the car to the Princess Cruises’ emergency number for help. The problem was that we had gone to the Long Beach port, when we were supposed to be at the San Pedro port. Fortunately we were not too far from the right place.

After we were finally on board we were able to relax a bit. We watched from our cabin balcony as the the ship maneuvered out of the harbor.

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Before we knew it, it was time to head to the first meet and greet with the Colored Pencil workshop organizers and other participants at one of the ship lounges, the gorgeous Wheelhouse lounge. Most of the other participants were already there. The woman standing in the center of the picture is Ann Kullberg, colored pencil artist and organizer of the Colored Pencil on the High Seas workshops.

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She was immediately recognizable to me having seen her picture in her books and on her online magazine. She is just as zany and bubbly in person as I thought she would be. We had a turn round the room with everybody saying their name and where they were from, which of course went in my one ear and out the other. There were about 50 people there, all the workshop participants plus lots of their spouses.

Pretty soon after that we all headed out to our first dinner at sea. Marty and I were assigned to the first seating at the International Dining Room where we were treated to the first of many incredible five course meals. The dining room was beautiful to behold.

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Over the next week we enjoyed the ship….

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and the food…

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and the workshops

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and the sightseeing.

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I certainly am up for doing this kind of thing again. Hmmm… I wonder if there are any sewing cruises out there?

Oh Yeah, almost forgot! The cruise wardrobe worked out great. :-)