Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth Day at Flushing Town Hall

Earth Day was celebrated at Town Hall with Arts and Crafts, Dance and Food Demonstrations—all international in nature as you'd expect in a neighborhood that boast 179 language!

My DD lead the Food Demonstrations, making carrot salad and cooked greens—Also available was fresh carrot/apple/ginger juice. Young Ms C was enthralled by Indian Dancing (or maybe just by the colorful costumes and music) and her sister Ms J played hostess to a number of young children who were more excited by a baby than by stir fried Chinese broccoli stir fry.

It was a beautiful day—the rain held off till we were home, though we did lose the morning sunshine last after noon.

This AM, hems and buttonhole—and now its just sewing on the buttons and the newest shirt dress will be done.  I still have a huge pile of fabric  and I am full of ideas on what to do with each piece.

I have no idea what will come next--High on the list is a grey skirt, and then a plum one, (both solids) and huge chunk of blue fabric (almost 3 yards, 60 inches wide) is slated to become  a set--a skirt and a vest, and shirt dress (or perhaps a sleeveless jumper.) The solid blue will match several prints I own, will make some mix and match separates--a solid vest with a print skirt, or over a shirt dress, or a blue skirt with  several of the print skirts I made last year--And with several other prints I have in the pile.

I plan to make some hats for the girls--at 3 months, their eyes are still blue--and they will need summer hats with brims to shade there eyes.  Busy, busy, busy, I'll be, with knitting, sewing and babysitting.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Gone With the Wind Dress

Was finished, and made it's debut on Saturday—when the twins did, too. This past winter was a cold one, and the girls had very limited outing for the first 3 months—So Saturday was a major day for them—and they were troopers! They garnered more attention and got passed around eagerly--(more popular that a blunt!) They were gracious and well behaved (and still perfect babies—they put on a bit of show about being hungry and wet---but once those issues were resolved, they were all smiles and gurgles again.

I came home exhausted (and the girl clearly were too, by the end of the day!)--and haven't knit a stitch since. I have the sewing bug—and have been bugging out at my machine.

Sunday, I got another pattern laid out—Yet another version of the shirt dress. This one has a yoke, and it's also proper buttons down the front shirt dress –not a zippered one. In a print, so no decorative sewing, just the basic stuff—and with a proper length of fabric, it's a little longer than the pattern suggests (which is above the knee)

It still needs: Sleeves, hems and button holes (buttons, too!)but its looking like a dress. I might work on it again tonight (after dinner) but not tomorrow. I did work on it--and got the sleeves in... I haven't stopped working on it yet--I will get the button holes placed... and the hem folded and pressed and ready to go.

 Tuesday is Earth Day, and since DD is once again promoting the local CSA she helped start, so Nana (me) will be keeping the girls entertained.. We'll get out and take a walk (since the local weather promises to be lovely) and we'll play games and sing songs.. and do all the things grandmother are supposed to do.   

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Combined.

One thing I love about my apartment (which is in a co-op, and I own) is it keeps on increasing in value Partly this is because the co-op keeps not just maintaining, but renovating the buildings, and partly because the owners are doing the same to their apartments. When I moved in, I redid the kitchen –a total renovation, and redid the main “great room” (my living room, dining room and computer room are one continuous space--) and added new flooring, built ins, and a new coat of paint.

The other part of the equation is all the exterior maintenance—New lobby's, lots of exterior work (bricks re-pointed, terraces upgraded, huge chunks of side walks replaced) and with these improvements, lots of noise.

My neighbor to the right and my neighbor to the left have done major renovations (new kitchens, new baths, and removal of non-load bearing walls!) So have my neighbors above and below me.

At times it seems like endless noise from contractors! All these project interrupt me making videos, (I work in my living room, not in a studio.) --The noise is now at a lull—so I hope to get some new videos made.

In the past few weeks, there have been several post about working Cast Ons in ribbing.
These are a perennial new topic! There are several methods for doing cast ons in ribbing. This is the first (made, but not really the first of the series) of videos showing how to cast on in ribbing.

A short list of cast ons that can be worked in ribbing includes:
Knit cast on (worked as a knit and purl cast on) this method is suitable for 1 X 1 or any ribbing patterning

Cable cast on (again worked as a knit and purl cast on) Also suitable for 1 X 1 or any ribbing pattern.

The simple cast on –with the same qualities as above.

The forward and reverse Long tail cast on –another cast on that can be worked in any rib pattern

All of the above cast ons are suitable for any ribbing variations, 1 X 1, 2 X 2, or even uneven cast ons like 3 X 1, or 5 X 1)

The Chinese Long tail cast on—which is already a hybrid cast on (using 1 long tail cast on stitch and one half stitch) is another that can be readily adapted to 1 by 1 ribbing. This cast on sort of looks like a tubular cast on, but is MUCH easier to do.

The Open/Closed Cast On (aka the Estonian cast on)--yet another version of long tail, is a cast on that is suitable for 1 X 1, or 2 X 2 ribbing. I suspect it would work with any multiple of 2 (4 X 2, 4 X 4, etc)--though I haven't tried them all out. It is not suitable for uneven cast ons like 3 X 1, or 5 X 1.

The tubular cast on belongs on this list, too. I think this cast on is only suitable for 1 by 1 ribbing, but people have used it for 2 by 2. I don't like it for 2 by 2, and don't teach this. (It's MY web page and blog, and you get MY opinion!)

And there are the special long tail cast ons..
The twisted cast on (aka Norwegian or German twisted) which have a twisted stitch in the base row, and is one of the stretchier cast ons, or the Austrian cast on, which has a twisted stitch in row zero..

Let me take some time now and explain row zero. A long tail cast on has 2 parts the thumb loop and the index finger loop. The thumb loop is a simple cast on stitch. The index finger loop is similar to worked row. But this row is never counted! It's row zero.

Some knitters don't like a long tail cast on because, as its worked, the cast on creates a row of knits on the front of the work. Turn the work to start knitting, Row 1, and these knits (row zero) look like purls—and if you are starting in stocking knit, (or other stitch patterns,) you might not want to start with a row purl.

All of the long tail variations that are suitable for ribbing DON'T make the same set of purls on the wrong side. Or perhaps, more accurately, they make some purls, and some knits (ribs!) on row zero.

In addition to all the many long tail variations, you can mix and match elements—to create totally new cast ons—It's something like the old Chinese restaurant menu system—take 1 from column A, and 1 from column B—and make your own combos.

Take the Twisted long tail with a twisted base stitch—this can be alternated with a standard base.. or with a reverse base, or with a standard base, but Austrian (twisted)long tail for twisted stitches in row zero.

There is no rule that says you can't cast on 1 or 2 or any number of stitches in style 1, and then cast on some more stitches in style 2. YOU have the ability to customize your cast ons. You can fine tune the details and get just the effect you want!

So—(out of order!) is a new video—one that features a Austrian long tail cast on with a half stitch that is characteristic of Chinese long tail, to make a cast on that is ribbed (1 X 1 ribbing) and the ribbing is made up of twisted stitches—starting from row zero. Like the Chinese long tail, it looks similar to a tubular cast on (one one side) and its a lot easier to do.

My swatch as some mistakes (you can easily see them!) because I prefer to make combo (aka Eastern mount ) purls. --but as I went on, I paid better attention, and got a nice even set of twisted ribs.

If you knit combo (and work all the purls in Eastern mount) or if you knit standard purl, you won't have this unevenness—It only occurs when the stitches are alternated.

A link to this video is also available on my web page, in a new section of Page 1 of the Cast On tutorial called Casting on in ribbing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One Shirt Dress—Done

Well I think its done.. I am still toying with the idea of adding more machine embroidery—maybe on the collar, maybe on the sleeve. But I think there is enough. Maybe next time I make a dress, I will plan ahead and add more details and touches. I really think this is enough for now.

Some of you might recognize this fabric—I already have a skirt, a vest and jumper out of it. I call the set my Gone with Wind collection. The fabric original was used to cover up uneven wall in a commercial location where I worked. The store went out of business—(it was never planned to be a long term tenant or business location), the building was being gutted. We were just a “tax payer tenant” --a little bit of income (enough to pay the property tax) to the owner as he waited for the other tenants leases to expire. One of those rare, month to month commercial tenents.

Since the place was being gutted (they actually started to take down walls before we vacated the location!) I just helped a bit and took down the fabric that was wall treatment. Recycling fabric from the walls seems so much like Scarlet O'Hara recycling the curtains—that I dubbed all the various garments as Gone with the Wind garments.

And now, the gone with the wind fabric is gone. There are few scraps –that I have compulsively packed away—they may become patches, or something.. but there isn't enough to do anything REAL with.

The sweaters only had another inch added--(so they are now just past 5 inches) so I didn't bother to take a picture. Maybe there will be a significant change by tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


And then, failed again. So, the plan was to make a pocket with a flap (a detail I like.. I love button down pocket flaps, and sometimes just plain pocket flaps...)

And the plan was to trim the pocket flap with some machine embroidery—but since the pocket flap came to a point---the most natural thing would be to make the embroidery come to a point, too.

Several flap (and half a spool of thread) later, the plan changed! A pocket with an embroidered top cuff. No flap. And if any more embroidery was going to be added, a new spool of thread was needed!

All the failed tries at a mitered, embroidered corner had used up miles of thread. So the dress is still not finished. But it's getting closer each day. The embroidery thread comes in what looks like normal spools, but there is only half the yards of a regular spool—and wide, dense zig-zags use up a lot more thread than a simple seam.  Today, I will set in the sleeves, (and embroider them, too) set in the zipper, (this shirt dress is going to be a zippered one) and finish the  hem.

Yesterday in the afternoon, I was summoned to baby care—DD was taking a running class (she is running a 5K in a few weeks, and a half marathon later this year) and off I went.

I got some 4 rows knit on the way over to her house—so I did get some knitting got done. Once there, I decided to take the girls for a walk—and packed them up in their stroller. It was still beautiful late afternoon (it was still 63° an hour later when the news came on)--so off we went. Our destination was a local store that had some sewing supplies, our goal a single spool of the embroidery thread. Fortunately, the store had the thread-- well that is, a single spool in the desired color. I also got some buttons for the sweaters. They are not my favorite buttons, but.. I want to have the sweaters finish by the end of the week, and I will need buttons, to have that happen. We then continued our way around the block and headed home.

Back home after this short outing—Miss C was up in arms... Someone had wet her diaper, and she couldn't stand it! How could anyone be so mean? And she was starving.. Her mother never feeds her, she complained! Woe is me!

Her sister Miss J, was exhausted from the outing, and slept through all of Miss C's carrying on.
In short order she had a new dry diaper, and was feed, and became her cheerful self again. She backtracked a bit, and acknowledged, yes, she might have had something to do with the diaper getting wet, and yes, her mother did feed her, but she really was starving—all the fresh air, and excitement, who wouldn't be hungry? Didn't I know she was a growing child?

Miss J woke from her 20 minute nap, and she too was wet and hungry—but this time, I was prepared.. The changing table had everything handy (Well actually everything is handy, it's just I don't always know where everything is) and a bottle was waiting for her.. No fumbling with putting on a nipple or anything else.

Soon enough DD was home, (and the girls greeted her as if she had been gone for days, not 2 hours) and Daddy soon followed –and both girls clambered for his attention (and got it.) And then it was time for me to leave. I came home exhausted, and didn't knit a stitch after that.

Next week Grandma--(Dad mom) will visit and listen to all the girls stories..and for the next month after that, we will continue to alternate. But there will be more occasions with the girls. We (me, mommy and girls) are doing earth day together—and that is just next week! And they are having a coming out party this weekend, and there are doctor appointments, other occasions that will require our presence.

They are growing and changing by the minute—so it's good to visit them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

Three, four, many inches more! With every row, they look more and more like sweaters. I want to add at least 4 more inches (for 8 inches from the underarm) and have resolved the bottom edge—a short ruffle. So 2 or so inches more of stocking knit, then another 2 inches in a ruffle and the body of the sweaters will done. I will work the sleeves flat (and do all 4 at once).

So at the beginning of the weekend, the sweaters were a scant inch below the underarm, (but almost 2 inches past the lace) and now they are just about 4 inches measured from the underarm. The yarn is pooling—and the fronts have resolved into uneven stripes, with a tweedy mix of colors in the back. Not perfect, but it's OK. I haven't bothered to work alternate rows with different skeins...I did that the first time, and I didn't find it made much difference.

I got some sewing done, too this weekend.. But I still have  not finished a simple shirt dress.  I did rework the pattern to start--First I re-enforced it.   I ironed the tissue paper on to some plastic coated paper so the pattern is now heavy grade! Then I made some changes-- I added a yoke.  So its a bit more shirt-dress

This time (this is the third time I am making this pattern), I added some machine embroidery, too. I am not sure how much I am going to add.. I am starting small. (I can always add more) I still have work to do—mostly stuff that 'crosses seam'.. I have the most basic parts done (front, back, yoke and pockets.)

And I've sewed up the sleeves and collar and press them as well, as well as all the seam on the basic dress. Now its time to bring all the pieces together, to sew on the patch pocket, the collar and sleeves.

That leaves the hem  to do.  Since the whole thing was made from scraps—and in theory, I didn't have the length to make a dress--some of the changes i made were to make use of the fabric I had.  The yoke helped,  to add some length,  the hem extensions will help, too. Besides, I like having some small variety—the pattern is a super simple one, so its easy to make these changes.   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Inching Along

Finally some progress!

Yesterday the yokes finally got finished, and now the sleeves have been sectioned off.

An inch (well actually more than an inch—but why quibble) is done on the body part of the sweaters.

The first version of the sweaters were a scant 20 inches.. (and the girl measure 20 inches at the torso) No ease, no room to grow. Now the body of the sweater is 26 inches (and the girls have grown to 21!)

With 4 to 5 inches of ease these sweaters will fit now, and later this year.. There body shape will change, but most toddlers are only 22 to 23 inches in the torso—so this newest version will have some room to spare.

The plan is to have them finished by next week—So the pressure is on.

Today I plan to sew up the dress I cut on Thursday--(and maybe get it finished!) and will work on the sweaters in the evening. This afternoon might find me at the crafts store in search of buttons.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Yoke is Done (again)

Well almost done, just 3 more rows, (a welt) with no Yarn Over's or K2togethers. I have corralled a bunch of markers, it's time to do the math and set the placement for the sleeves, and get them onto stitch holders.

I am thinking of continuing the lace columns down the body of the sweaters—but I haven't decided yet.. (it will depend on stitch count and where the lace lands on the body...

Stocking knit is boring but baby sweaters aren't that big, so it might be easier to just leave it plain.

That was Tuesday—AM--Since then, not much progress. Most of Tuesday was taken up with laundry--(all 4 loads washed, dried, folded, or hung up and put away!)--And another load sorted for later this week--(Spring cleaning means curtains, and throw pillow, and other miscellaneous cloth to wash—plus some cotton to preshrink before it gets sewn.)

The hard part of the sweaters—the last bit of math-- was done, and documented, the markers added...
Then yesterday, a busy morning, and no progress made (or posting, even!) Yesterday afternoon was unexpectedly busy, too. By the evening, I had no energy go knit. So nothing has changed (well 1 row of purls and markers added) has changed since the last photo (taken on Tuesday AM)

This morning—Some previously preshrunk cotton is getting cut to make a shirt dress—and tomorrow, maybe some more cutting (or sewing) —but first thing tomorrow morning I will be doing is visiting my lovely little granddaughters—and joining them on a visit to the doctor.

I have an urge to sew, and I am going with it. I have some lovely fabric, and some functions (nothing special)—but I still want some new clothes.

The long days are energizing—winters lethargy is finally abating. So now its time to make hay while the sun shines.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Third Time is the Charm.

Yes, third time. On Saturday I frogged the 4+ inches I knit back to the ribbing, and started again.

And this time I am satisfied with the look and size of the sweaters. Still lace spokes radiating from the neck but is better balanced, has  better increases, and is, over all, better looking. There is some pooling.. but well that is somewhat the nature of the yarn—and the pools are smaller this go round.

Late Saturday night, I made a mistake--the pattern is simple and these sweaters are almost mindless knitting.--but not mistake proof. I tinked it back 2 rows yesterday morning, and stopped there

I will make the sweaters long—babies change shape, and grow unevenly—I want these sweaters to be a bit big-- so they will still fit in the fall. They are being made with a super wash wool—It's not uncommon to have a few cool days in the summer—but bigger (not too small) is the plan.  I want them to fit for more than a week.   The girls are noticeable bigger than they were just a week ago—Out growing clothes every day.

I haven't bought any buttons yet, but I am thinking one sweater will get blue and the other sweater pink –to differentiate them a bit. The pooling does that a bit already--but its nice to have some differences.  My daughter doesn't make it a habit to dress them the same--well at least not all the time.  But she was "showered" with many matching outfits, and they do, at times, get dressed in matching outfits.  

Yesterday afternoon, the girls were receiving visitors—a houseful! Aunt and uncles, and great aunts and cousins—plus Nana (me). They got their deviled egg hats, too. The hats are still big---but fit better than they did just a few weeks ago—and they were very well mannered and wore the hats to be photographed. I am waiting to get the photos of them with the hats on.  My sister M is the photographer-- she sent dozens of images--but none featured that hats! (you'll have to wait till tomorrow).

I hope a the weather cooperates and presents a cool day when the sweaters are finished—and they will be as cooperative. Hand knits always look better on the human they were intended for.

And then there is this.. Finished and forgotten—I look at it and think I must be losing my mind. Why did I knit this? I hardly ever wear the shawls I knit, to begin with, and never this style of shawl--I like rectangular ones better, and full and half circles, and find triangular ones the least interesting and the least effective for me.. when I am cold, my arms are cold, and this will do nothing for my arms.  I like scarves—pretty lacy ones as accessories, and the occasional one for warmth. but i I ask myself again--why did I knit this?

It's pretty enough—but is one of those mad impulsive projects—totally useless! But is done.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A New Beginning

So yesterday I mentioned that I was giving up on the baby sweaters—I pulled them off the needles, and started some new sweaters—but I haven't frogged the work yet.

Here is a nice image of one of the sweaters.. Pretty, but way to small for 11 week old girls. I want them to have some use of them so sweater for them need to be a bit big right now—so they will still fit in another month (or 2 or 3!) This sweater is pretty--but newborn size--Take 2 will be six to nine month size. 

Here is the new beginning... and what a nice beginning it is. The same cast on –I like this cast on.. not quite a picot edge, and up close it looks almost like a tubular cast on—It's the Chinese version of long tail. This cast on alternates standard long tail stitches with one more like the I
Italian cast on—not to hard to do or learn, and a nice edge results.

More stitches this time—just a half dozen, to start, and a few more in the row of purls just below the ribbing,  but the result is a totally new stitch count. While I could have worked out the details and count for the zigzag petal pattern detailing.. I passed. This time, just simple columns of lace, radiating out from the neck edge. (Of course I had to work out the placement of the columns--but...)

Already in these first few inches, I am very happy with the results. The different stitch count has changed the way the yarn pools —I like the tweedy result much better than the pools of blue and pink.

I started with 10 ball of this yarn, and worked the yoke(s) in a single ball, and then had started using two balls (to minimize—or so I thought) the pooling of colors... I still had 4 balls of yarn remaining. I am using 2 these right now, and will have another 2 to continue. I'll unravel the work of the first attempt sweaters tonight or tomorrow, and wind the yarn onto skeins on my niddy-noddy, and then let them relax a while before making them back up into balls (or cakes, if you prefer).

I haven't decides if I am going to continue the lace columns past the yoke...but I have some time to think about what I am going to do. And to think about what sort of hats I will make to match the sweaters.  

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Nothing to Show--

Negative progress! The girls are growing faster than I can knit—the sweaters are about to be frogged, are restarted—bigger and bigger—since they are just too small.

No knitting done yesterday, and not much will be done today—This is one of those weeks were social and other commitments are keeping me busy. If I make unexpected progres, I'll stop and take a photo—but otherwise don't expect much!   

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Egged Out.

Egg number six is done—I now have a half dozen for the babies--who might enjoy the colors, but will other wise be oblivious to them. I'll get some more done (for myself) just 1 or 2... I want to add to my collection. Next year when the girls are old enough to grab things and play with them, I want to have a some  for them to play with, at home and when they visit me.  Needless to say, I'll be knitting more next year, and likely the year after that. 
 I enjoy making these little projects, and could easily knit another dozen eggs. Once I get started on fun little projects like this—well they are like potato chips--You can't stop at one! All the ones I have this this go round have been simple-I want to do some interesting ones, now, too.

But I have other knitting to do, sweaters to finish, a shawl to finish, and scarf that is an other WIP--(and truth be told, there are easily another dozen or so WIP's in hibernation.)

Speaking of eggs, last night I had some wonderful curried eggplant. I am a bit of picky eater—it's not just flavors, but textures that influence my tastes. There are many vegetable I don't feel confident about cooking too. Eggplant is one. Done right, it is delicious, done wrong, it's bitter and yucky.

The easiest way to have success is to bread, fry and cover with tomato sauce and cheese--(but then, I feel confident that cardboard that has been breaded, fried, and covered in sauce and cheese would taste good!)

While I sometime spend the time to make up curried dishes, more often than not, I cheat and buy prepared dishes. Sometimes, it's just too much effort to cook up something with a dozen ingredients and several pots for just myself. Last night I had plain broiled chicken and Punjabi style egg plant... and wow was it good..

At first, it was sweet.. Sweet enough that I checked the ingredients for added sugar! There was none. But moments later, it was savory—the onion flavor kicked in, and so did some of the spices.. but as I finished the first mouthful, I felt the heat—not a lot, but most definitely there. And each mouthful was the same—moving from sweet to savory to hot. I wish I could cook as good as this--This eggplant dish was one of the best eggplant preparations I have ever had. I wish I had bought more of this particular dish (I hope the I can find it in the store again!)